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I have an electric-acoustic violin, the Realist RV5 that fiddlerman did a video with. Recently I have been experimenting with various settings with a preamp and an effects pedal trying to get the most natural sound possible. I want to be able to make a recording outdoors in a location with too much ambient noise to be able to use a microphone.
So far, I have not been terribly successful. I can certainly create some wild rock and other-worldly sounds, but I have not been able to get as close to a "real" violin sound as I would like. It's difficult to explain but basically rather than the la-la-la sound of an acoustic violin, the plugged in sound is more like ba-ba-ba. Like there's a fast attack or a consonant at the start of each note change.
Any advice would be appreciated.
FYI, I've tried both a plain vanilla preamp (ART DualPre USB) and a Zoom G3X (many combinations of effects including straight pass-through).
I could be wrong, but I don't think it is actually possible for a pickup to sound exactly like the acoustic instrument. Whether it's piezo or magnetic, the signal from an electric instrument always is a bit different than that acoustic sound, so far as I have every heard. Whether it's guitars, violins or whatever.
On the other hand, a purely acoustic violin can never sound quite like an electrified acoustic like yours (when using the pickup) or a "solid body" electric violin, either.. All a bit different. I mean, record direct from pickup and then with a mic and compare the waveforms and envelopes. Definitely different.
"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman
Have you tried a Compressor/Limiter? I haven't played around with them much myself, but it's my understanding they can be used to reduce the attack of a signal (among other things) and 'soften' it up somewhat.
I agree with Daniel that an electric instrument will never sound exactly like an acoustic. But only a very trained ear can tell the difference. I'm often fooled by synths, and I've seen street performers with electrics that I wouldn't have known were electrics if I hadn't seen it.
Compressors and limiters are steps in the other direction. They create a harsh distortion filled sound common to rock electric guitars.
The closest I've gotten so far is by using a graphic equalizer with higher frequencies suppressed or by using a comb filter effect who's settings I don't understand yet.
The distortion comes from pushing a signal through at high amplitude, which gets clipped by the compressor.
Compressors are commonly used for voice recording to reduce the mic 'pops' (attack) and to 'normalize' the signal.
Compressors often have attack and release controls that vary the rate at which compression is applied and smooth the effect.
I've done a bit more reading / listening and am thinking that maybe something like the LR Baggs para acoustic DI might be the answer. I've heard some acoustic guitar demonstrations where they started with the same sort of sound I described so poorly and ended up with a pretty natural acoustic sound. I've also seen one recommendation by an acoustic-electric player.
This unit not only has equalizer capabilities but also notch filter settings.
Now, if only someone were giving them away
P.S. Here's the best demo I've found so far
I came up with a setup that I'm fairly satisfied with. It's close enough to sounding "real" to me to use for the time being and mess around with details as I go.
On my zoom G3X, I'm using two stages of the Parametric Equalizer. The first stage is used to suppress very low frequencies and very high frequencies. This got rid of both the excessive consonant sound at the beginning of each note as well as some scratchy sounds while leaving most of the audible overtones.
With just the 1st stage, the sound was still subdued in the lower registers (I have a low C string) and nasal sounding around the A string (440 Hz). So, in the 2nd stage, I bumped up the gain, with a low Q, at 400 Hz and 2 KHz.
I still want to do more experimenting but this setup has resulted in a relatively warm, smooth, more natural sound. Adding a little reverb makes it pretty sweet sounding... at least when I hit the right notes
Oh, one other thing I discovered that might make a difference... the preamp I had tried has a 300K Ohm input impedance whereas the G3X as an 1Meg Ohm impedance. The output impedance of the RV5 is 10Meg Ohm so the G3 is a better (though far from perfect) match.
Video maybe later.
I do not know English well and I'm using an online translator -. -''
If I understand your problem I can help you by telling you what I'm using:
Piezel electric Fishmann V100 passive ->
Pre Amplifier: Equalizer boss or pre Fishmann II->
Now two choices which I think is equally valid:
A) Multi Guitar Effects Zoom 606 - no limiter, no compressor, light corus, light reverb, noise gate off, equalizer flat.
B) boss chorus + delay
Finally: the ultra DI 100 Behringher. In Italy costs about 50 € but it is the best DI I've ever tried.
With this setting can make the sound more truthful, with both the violin and the viola sound.
With the electric violin work a lot on the 'equalization because the pick-up active tends to darken the sound.
Amplifier: Imho the best is an amplifiers for voice (flat).