underwaterjon
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#1
5th April 2009
Old 5th April 2009
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Question Mic'ing a 45 piece concert band

I recently acquired a gig recording a 45 piece concert band, all winds plus a small percussion section(timpani, bass, snare, bells). I came to ask your advice on the best micing technique. I'm using two small diaphragm AKG C1000's for my stereo pair, as well as a Blue Baby Bottle. The room is in a church cafeteria area, carpeted with fairly high ceilings. I've gotten to hear them play in the room already and the acoustics aren't bad at all. I currently have two tall boom stands so I can get the C1000's as high as I need to.

So my question is, should I try a spaced stereo pair, with the Bottle front and center, or an X-Y configuration without the Bottle? Should I try to suspend the C1000's over the band, or place the 3 mics across the front? Should I spot mic the percussion section with an SM57 or Beta 52?


I'm looking forward to hearing your advice!

Thanks
#2
5th April 2009
Old 5th April 2009
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A stereo pair in ORTF configuration is hard to mess up. Knowing how many tracks you have available is the first step.
underwaterjon
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#3
5th April 2009
Old 5th April 2009
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Originally Posted by bishopthomas View Post
A stereo pair in ORTF configuration is hard to mess up. Knowing how many tracks you have available is the first step.
So you're saying go without the bottle? I have 8 tracks available since I'm going through my firepod and into logic.
#4
5th April 2009
Old 5th April 2009
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Yeah a coincedent pair like XY or ORTF and just find the best spot in the room. If the conductor is willing. I would record 4-5 passes and move the mics on each one, then listen back and see which sounds best. I would also use a stereo bar of some sort, and not seperate stands.

Good Luck man! This is exactly how it starts. I am super excited for you! Just make sure you don't forget to record anything, don't erase anything that you think you don't need, bring all the extension cords and power distribution that you need, and be early!

Robby
underwaterjon
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#5
5th April 2009
Old 5th April 2009
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An ORTF will give me a little more stereo width than an XY(correct?), so I think I'll try that. I really want to try the 3 mic set up across the front but I don't know if time will permit. And if i have enough cable I'm still going to spot mic the percussion with a Beta-52 just to see how that sounds.

Any suggestions on how high I should try to get the stereo pair? I can go about 15 feet with the stands I have, maybe more.
underwaterjon
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#6
5th April 2009
Old 5th April 2009
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Originally Posted by fallforward View Post

Good Luck man! This is exactly how it starts. I am super excited for you! Just make sure you don't forget to record anything, don't erase anything that you think you don't need, bring all the extension cords and power distribution that you need, and be early!

Robby
Oh don't worry I nevvvveerrr erase anything during tracking! That's what external drives are for . And extension cords are already on my list.

Thanks!
#7
5th April 2009
Old 5th April 2009
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You might also consider NOS instead of XY or ORTF.
I have found it a nice alternative.
underwaterjon
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#8
5th April 2009
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Originally Posted by Dale View Post
You might also consider NOS instead of XY or ORTF.
I have found it a nice alternative.
I'm also considering NOS just to get a wider image. Thanks
#9
6th April 2009
Old 6th April 2009
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smarsland's Avatar
 

What sort of stereo-bar device can I use to try the NOS technique? I've never done it.
I need a good, adjustable stereo bar.

Looks like 30cm between the mics and an angle of 41.5 degrees to perpendicular?
#10
6th April 2009
Old 6th April 2009
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boojum's Avatar
Williams has published a paper on setting up spaced arrays dependent upon the width of the group to be recorded and the mics to be used. You will see that the ORTF, NOS, DIN, DINa and so on are compromises. ORTF seems to give the most even distribution. But do check the Williams paper: http://www.microphone-data.com/pdfs/Stereo%20zoom.pdf
#11
6th April 2009
Old 6th April 2009
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JD Latorre's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by underwaterjon View Post

So my question is, should I try a spaced stereo pair, with the Bottle front and center, or an X-Y configuration without the Bottle? Should I try to suspend the C1000's over the band, or place the 3 mics across the front? Should I spot mic the percussion section with an SM57 or Beta 52?

Thanks
As a band director myself, I can't stand concert band recordings that don't accurately capture the low end of the ensemble (below 250 Hz). I think people see the many high instruments (flutes, clarinets, trumpets, oboes) and much fewer low instruments and expect that the sound will reflect that imbalance--with a good band, and a good recording it should not. If you listen to a professional ensemble (any of the top military bands, or the Dallas Wind Symphony for example) or really good college recording you will hear a big rich low end, sometimes even more that what you hear in orchestral recordings.

I have a pair of c1000s that haven't seen the light of day in years for that reason. Not only is the low end weak, but the high end is hyped IMHO. I would go with your 1st idea if you have enough set up time: the bottle in the middle and the AKGs on the sides--I've never used the bottle, but I would hope that it would give you a more accurate capture of all the frequencies present. The bottle should provide a solid center image and then the AKGs can be use to fill out the stereo field.
I would not bother spot micing the percussion section with the shure--in a band that size the bigger danger is the percussion being too loud for the winds.

All of this depends on the ensemble too of course. If they have one tuba, two trombones and a bari sax, the low end will be pretty thin no matter what you do

Just my 2 cents.
#12
6th April 2009
Old 6th April 2009
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"""I have a pair of c1000s that haven't seen the light of day in years for that reason. Not only is the low end weak, but the high end is hyped IMHO. I would go with your 1st idea if you have enough set up time: the bottle in the middle and the AKGs on the sides--I've never used the bottle, but I would hope that it would give you a more accurate capture of all the frequencies present. The bottle should provide a solid center image and then the AKGs can be use to fill out the stereo field.
I would not bother spot micing the percussion section with the shure--in a band that size the bigger danger is the percussion being too loud for the winds."""""

Very good advice but I would emphasize the "if you have enough setup time". Reading between the lines I would say that the ease and relatively safety of the stereo pair approach might be better. Matched pair = easy and won't suck; Baby bottle and c1000s array = tricky and has suck potential. Just take your time listening to the band warm up and find the right spot/angle/stereo technique
#13
6th April 2009
Old 6th April 2009
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I agree and stand by my statement that ORTF is the hardest to screw up. If you have the channels and time maybe mic the quieter and lower pitched instruments like tuba and bari sax. More mics never hurt but remember you don't have to use them all in the mix.
#14
6th April 2009
Old 6th April 2009
  #14
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You only really have three options; an XY (coincident) array (or variant - ORTF, NOS etc.), an AB (spaced) array, or an LCR. If you could beg/steal/borrow a fig8 mic it may be worth trying MS with flanks (bottle as the M), but with the stuff you have I would personally lean toward LCR - because the C1000s don't sound great and the sound would be augmented by a better microphone.

Also, FYI, it's a mid-diaphragm (0.75") condenser, not small diaphragm.
#15
7th April 2009
Old 7th April 2009
  #15
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Tommy-boy's Avatar
 

I just did a similar recording last week. It was a wind ensemble with a full percussion section.

I used two Fathead IIs in a blumlein config. Just for sh1ts and giggles (and partly to have a Plan B), I threw up an pair of 57s in and XY config (right below the fatheads).

The fatheads were running into a TRP. All mics were recorded by my R-44. My mic stand was near the back middle of an auditorium (didn't have a choice on this).

Frankly, I'm glad I put up the 57s. As expected, they had the high and mid ranges covered but totally lacked any low end. They also lacked detail. However, I was shocked at how the fatheads performed. I expected a somewhat flatter response than I got. They were extremely bass heavy. Very detailed, but bass heavy. Also very clean from a noise perspective thanks to the TRP. I had the TRP cranked a bit and it was just a clean sound.

It seemed like either the 57s alone or the fatheads alone didn't cut it. So I blended the 57s and Fatheads together - which resulted in a pretty decent recording.

When I get a free moment I'll post some audio clips. I'm wondering if my expectations of the fatheads were unrealistic or if I did something wrong along the way.

Anyhow - my point in posting this is to say it never hurts to have a few extra mics put to work if you have the mics and channels available!
underwaterjon
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#16
9th April 2009
Old 9th April 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD Latorre View Post
As a band director myself, I can't stand concert band recordings that don't accurately capture the low end of the ensemble (below 250 Hz). I think people see the many high instruments (flutes, clarinets, trumpets, oboes) and much fewer low instruments and expect that the sound will reflect that imbalance--with a good band, and a good recording it should not. If you listen to a professional ensemble (any of the top military bands, or the Dallas Wind Symphony for example) or really good college recording you will hear a big rich low end, sometimes even more that what you hear in orchestral recordings.

I have a pair of c1000s that haven't seen the light of day in years for that reason. Not only is the low end weak, but the high end is hyped IMHO. I would go with your 1st idea if you have enough set up time: the bottle in the middle and the AKGs on the sides--I've never used the bottle, but I would hope that it would give you a more accurate capture of all the frequencies present. The bottle should provide a solid center image and then the AKGs can be use to fill out the stereo field.
I would not bother spot micing the percussion section with the shure--in a band that size the bigger danger is the percussion being too loud for the winds.

All of this depends on the ensemble too of course. If they have one tuba, two trombones and a bari sax, the low end will be pretty thin no matter what you do

Just my 2 cents.
I will put the bottle up regardless, and as much as I want to try an A-B-C configuration I think I will stick with the ORTF to be safe. Hopefully I can work with them again and I'll get a chance to test something new.
#17
9th April 2009
Old 9th April 2009
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sonare's Avatar
If you want to try 3 across the front THEY MUST BE IDENTICAL MICS.

If the bottle is omni your idea is good--- simply roll off the HF and keep it perhaps 10dB below your main pair. If it is a cardioid (and not likely to have much LF) then keep it simple-- stick to a cardioid pair and use EQ to try for some bottom.

There really isn't much substitute for a pair of omnis for mains, tho. I use ORTF for mains perhaps 2 or 3 times a year-- FWIW.

Try to concentrate on the musical impression rather than the gearhead stuff.

Rich
underwaterjon
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#18
9th April 2009
Old 9th April 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonare View Post
If you want to try 3 across the front THEY MUST BE IDENTICAL MICS.

If the bottle is omni your idea is good--- simply roll off the HF and keep it perhaps 10dB below your main pair. If it is a cardioid (and not likely to have much LF) then keep it simple-- stick to a cardioid pair and use EQ to try for some bottom.

There really isn't much substitute for a pair of omnis for mains, tho. I use ORTF for mains perhaps 2 or 3 times a year-- FWIW.

Try to concentrate on the musical impression rather than the gearhead stuff.

Rich
The Bottle is cardiod, thanks for your imput
#19
9th April 2009
Old 9th April 2009
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonare View Post
If you want to try 3 across the front THEY MUST BE IDENTICAL MICS.

If the bottle is omni your idea is good--- simply roll off the HF and keep it perhaps 10dB below your main pair. If it is a cardioid (and not likely to have much LF) then keep it simple-- stick to a cardioid pair and use EQ to try for some bottom.

There really isn't much substitute for a pair of omnis for mains, tho. I use ORTF for mains perhaps 2 or 3 times a year-- FWIW.

Try to concentrate on the musical impression rather than the gearhead stuff.

Rich
I understand what you're saying with this, but it's not like using a DPA 4006 for left and a Trion 7000 for right - the LR image could be maintained with the C1000s, and the Bottle mixed (as a centre) to taste. If taste dictates, this could be silent! I also understand the reason for suggesting omnis, but the OP doesn't have any - what would you suggest given what he owns?
#20
9th April 2009
Old 9th April 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mohthom View Post
I understand what you're saying with this, but it's not like using a DPA 4006 for left and a Trion 7000 for right - the LR image could be maintained with the C1000s, and the Bottle mixed (as a centre) to taste. If taste dictates, this could be silent! I also understand the reason for suggesting omnis, but the OP doesn't have any - what would you suggest given what he owns?
Seems to me that a stereo bar on a tall stand with the C1000s in ORTF and the Bottle in the center of the bar, each input to its respective track, might be the simple, safe setup. When you mix the Logic session post, bring up the Bottle in the center against the L/R to fill in the LF. Maybe? Keeping all three mics in as close proximity as possible would minimize phase and timing issues at mixdown.

Also... from a visual perspective... buy black extensions and use black gaff tape on any spikes that are in the open. I hate orange/yellow/fluorescent green power cables in concert situations. Spike the cable runs well, and pick up some mats from Home Depot or Lowe's to cover the runs across aisles and walkways. Your liability extends to your cables, especially in public venues. And... be sure to clean up any goo that's left when you pull up the spikes. It's a good way to get invited back. That, and making a nice recording.
#21
9th April 2009
Old 9th April 2009
  #21
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Plush's Avatar
Use four mics to mic this set-up.

A central pair of cardioid mics in NOS and two omni outriggers.

Classic technique yields classic results.
#22
9th April 2009
Old 9th April 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Use four mics to mic this set-up.

A central pair of cardioid mics in NOS and two omni outriggers.

Classic technique yields classic results.
Hi Plush, I have a similar gig coming up, but with a balalaika orchestra. I'm not sure of the room yet, but in my case I know I'll have to reach for the bottom.

In general, would you have a starting point to spacing the omni outriggers?

Do you just move them around to find the sweetest spot?

Is there a percentage of NOS/omni to listen for?

Thanks for all your insight, past and future.
#23
10th April 2009
Old 10th April 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mohthom View Post
the Bottle mixed (as a centre) to taste. If taste dictates, this could be silent! I also understand the reason for suggesting omnis, but the OP doesn't have any - what would you suggest given what he owns?
If the bottle is simply contributing a different sound (as it most certainly will) why use it at all if it is only in the center?

I think he is best off doing what was originally suggested-- his AKGs in either ORTF or NOS with the HF rolled off.

Rich
underwaterjon
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#24
10th April 2009
Old 10th April 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hbphotoav View Post
Seems to me that a stereo bar on a tall stand with the C1000s in ORTF and the Bottle in the center of the bar, each input to its respective track, might be the simple, safe setup. When you mix the Logic session post, bring up the Bottle in the center against the L/R to fill in the LF. Maybe? Keeping all three mics in as close proximity as possible would minimize phase and timing issues at mixdown.

Also... from a visual perspective... buy black extensions and use black gaff tape on any spikes that are in the open. I hate orange/yellow/fluorescent green power cables in concert situations. Spike the cable runs well, and pick up some mats from Home Depot or Lowe's to cover the runs across aisles and walkways. Your liability extends to your cables, especially in public venues. And... be sure to clean up any goo that's left when you pull up the spikes. It's a good way to get invited back. That, and making a nice recording.
That is exactly what I'm going to try. And thanks for reminding me about the extension cables thing, yellow is going to look tacky but it's all I have : /
underwaterjon
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#25
10th April 2009
Old 10th April 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonare View Post
If the bottle is simply contributing a different sound (as it most certainly will) why use it at all if it is only in the center?

I think he is best off doing what was originally suggested-- his AKGs in either ORTF or NOS with the HF rolled off.

Rich
There is no low pass switch on the C1000's. I'm setting them up in ORTF and putting the Bottle up regardless if I use it in the mix or not.


I'll definitely post the recordings sometime next week once they're finished to let everyone know how they turned out!
#26
10th April 2009
Old 10th April 2009
  #26
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Your task is to get a balanced recording of the whole group, this will be made more difficult by incorporating the extra mic (especially a directional mic!!). For every hypothetical problem that you are fixing there is an actual problem that arises----The image will collapse towards mono depending on the dynamic. The middle of the band will be louder than the sides. Will your mixing fix or exacerbate these problems? It defeats the whole point of using ORTF in the first place. If you want to run the Bottle, maybe use it as a room, hall, or audience mic.

Setting up an extra mic does indeed cost you greatly. That is time you could have been spending fine-tuning the placement of your main pair (or as was suggested, comparing results from several different positions). That is the crux of the whole thing and will determine the quality of the result to a surprising degree.

What you should be asking, is "How can I find the best spot to put my mics". If you can find that spot (and have a stereo bar to put your pair there) you will have a fine recording, Bottle or no.
underwaterjon
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#27
17th April 2009
Old 17th April 2009
  #27
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The recording is done, I'm happy with the way it turned out.

I attached a few clips if anyone wants to listen, comment.

Thanks!
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 PWEsample3.mp3 (5.57 MB, 355 views)
File Type: mp3 PWEsample2.mp3 (3.56 MB, 194 views)
File Type: mp3 PWEsample1.mp3 (1.70 MB, 185 views)
#28
19th April 2009
Old 19th April 2009
  #28
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JD Latorre's Avatar
 

Sounds like it turned out pretty well. Did you end up using the bottle at all, or is that just the AKGs?
underwaterjon
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#29
19th April 2009
Old 19th April 2009
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD Latorre View Post
Sounds like it turned out pretty well. Did you end up using the bottle at all, or is that just the AKGs?
Thanks, I mixed the bottle out, it just wasn't necessary and defeated the stereo image I had with the pair.

I just bought a stereo bar though and they've asked me to come back tomorrow and record the actual concert. I'm looking forward to it.
#30
11th February 2012
Old 11th February 2012
  #30
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Capt. Kirk's Avatar
 

I do a little bit of this type recording and I use an Mbox and two AT 4033's on large boom all the way up with the ortf pattern and get good results even from the audience/applause. I've gotten invited back again and again..

Nothing hi-tech.
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