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What is Your Recording Strategy for Jazz?
Old 6th September 2016
  #1
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What is Your Recording Strategy for Jazz?

If you were to record a jazz trio in a room, which of these approaches would you use, and why?

A. Rely mainly on a stereo mic, and mix in a little of the spot mics if needed.

B. Rely mainly on the spot mics, and mix in a little of the stereo mic if needed.

C. Either approach is just as valid.

D. None of the above.

Until now I've only been recording solo instruments and vocal overdubs, but I'm going to record my first band in a couple of weeks! I have the right gear, now I just need a bit of guidance from you salty dogs.

Thanks!
Old 6th September 2016
  #2
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Hey Chris, I typically vouch for option A! I find I spend quality time on experimenting with the main mic system, get the room and timbre as good as I can from there, then bring in spots if needed.

That being said, there are some considerations as well (when aren't there any?). Depending on your availability of mics to select from, or the acoustics of the room you are recording in, you could absolutely use spot mics and bring in your main mic system as support. Whatever gives you the best timbre and recording at the end of the day.
Hope this helps.
Cheers
Old 6th September 2016
  #3
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
What instruments? What's the room like? What gear do you have?
Old 6th September 2016
  #4
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drBill's Avatar
I tend to head halfway between A and B. It also depends on how great your room sounds. That could be the determining factor. A pair of M49's in Blumlein or Spaced can be a wonderful sound all by itself.
Old 6th September 2016
  #5
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The room is huge, unfortunately it's all solid concrete. It has been acoustically treated as much as I could afford, but I will ask the musicians to try and not go above mezzo forte. Really loud sounds do not agree well with my room.

There will be a double bass, an electric guitar, and a saxophone.

I don't want to get too specific with this post, I am looking more for general guidance rather than to solve only this one specific problem. However, since Brent asked, I will gladly oblige in my next post. :-) Thanks for all the help guys, keep it coming!

Last edited by chrismeraz; 6th September 2016 at 05:35 PM..
Old 6th September 2016
  #6
Deleted 7f9cade
Guest
A

Close mics can be beneficial for solo breaks. But a properly set up set of high dollar mics in stereo is the bread and butter of small combo group recordings. IMO.

Take your time though. Record some takes of the stereo mics in different positions and listen back. Moving the stereo pair around to get it just right takes a bit of time.

Ill usually ride up close mics just a tad for solos.
Old 6th September 2016
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrismeraz View Post
If you were to record a jazz trio in a room, which of these approaches would you use, and why?

A. Rely mainly on a stereo mic, and mix in a little of the spot mics if needed.

B. Rely mainly on the spot mics, and mix in a little of the stereo mic if needed.

C. Either approach is just as valid.

D. None of the above.

Until now I've only been recording solo instruments and vocal overdubs, but I'm going to record my first band in a couple of weeks! I have the right gear, now I just need a bit of guidance from you salty dogs.
It depends...room acoustics and the band's needs/wants, playing style and competence will certainly be deciding factors.

You cannot rely on stereo room mics if the acoustics of the room is not suitable, and/or if the musicians, especially the drummer don't play with control.
Old 6th September 2016
  #8
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrismeraz View Post
The room is huge, unfortunately it's all solid concrete. It has been acoustically treated as much as I could afford, but I will ask the musicians to try and not go above mezzo forte. Really loud sounds do not agree well with my room.

There will be a double bass, a
I'd change my opinion to #2 then. The room is probably going to fight you. Also, asking musicians not to go above mf is kind of dumb IMO. You are going to hinder their playing right out of the gate, and that's far more important than how they "sound".
Old 6th September 2016
  #9
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
... asking musicians not to go above mf is kind of dumb IMO.
In a couple of ways. A tenor sax is at mezzo forte sitting in the case. And jazz cats will understand your Italian terminology but it may not endear you to them.
Old 6th September 2016
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
In a couple of ways. A tenor sax is at mezzo forte sitting in the case. And jazz cats will understand your Italian terminology but it may not endear you to them.
Okay, thanks for the feedback. Never mind that. :-)
Old 6th September 2016
  #11
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Here's my plan, for those of you who were curious about the gear:

STEREO MIC
MA-100SP SDC tube mics in a Jecklin disc
Langevin dual mono mic pre

SAX
MA-200 LDC tube mic
ADL600 tube pre
Manley ELOP

DOUBLE BASS
Studio Projects C1 cheap LDC tube mic
LA-610 pre and compressor

E GUITAR
SM57
ADL600 tube pre
Manley ELOP
(DI also directly into my UA Apollo)
Old 6th September 2016
  #12
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Assuming that's your only option for the bass mic. If the bass player has a pickup I'd DI that as well. You might not use it but it can't hurt.
Old 6th September 2016
  #13
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chrismeraz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Assuming that's your only option for the bass mic. If the bass player has a pickup I'd DI that as well. You might not use it but it can't hurt.
When I say double bass I mean the huge acoustic instrument, not an electric bass guitar. Am I using the wrong name? You're the second person who suggested a DI for that.

Yes. I am all out of mics, that is the last option...
Old 6th September 2016
  #14
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrismeraz View Post
When I say double bass I mean the huge acoustic instrument, not an electric bass guitar. Am I using the wrong name? You're the second person who suggested a DI for that.
You're using the right name, we both knew what you meant, and we're both suggesting that if the huge acoustic instrument has a pickup on it, record it. :-)
Old 6th September 2016
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

I'd prefer a good dynamic for double bass in that situation. Actually i'd prefer dynamics on all these instruments, if the room has the tendency to give harsh feedback. Using some gobos around the bass might help the condensor to not pick up too much ugly stuff from the sax. I record a lot jazz in that kind of setting and find one of the most important things is to use mics that have nice off-axis response, like omnis or ribbons generally.
And i'd definitely opt for B if the room is anything but great.
Old 6th September 2016
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lou latch View Post
I'd prefer a good dynamic for double bass in that situation. Actually i'd prefer dynamics on all these instruments, if the room has the tendency to give harsh feedback. Using some gobos around the bass might help the condensor to not pick up too much ugly stuff from the sax. I record a lot jazz in that kind of setting and find one of the most important things is to use mics that have nice off-axis response, like omnis or ribbons generally.
And i'd definitely opt for B if the room is anything but great.
Thanks Lou, I'll try to borrow an omni for the bass.

Thanks Brent, I'd never run across one of those on a double bass. Naturally, if he has a pickup I'll take the DI.

When the band arrives, I will focus first on getting them to sound great together in the room. If I can't get it to sound great to my ears as I'm standing there, then I'll go for option B.
Old 6th September 2016
  #17
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Let me just preface this by saying I haven't done any jazz ensemble recording in the past 10+ years so I'm quite out of touch. Anyway, most of the current jazz releases I'm hearing on radio are extremely shiny and way too bright. It almost sounds like they are mastering these records with aural exciters or something.

Sometimes I feel like my ears are pressed against the bell on the ride, ouch! I'm sure Rudy Van Gelder would not approve. Are major jazz releases still recording taking the "room is key" approach? Or are there only independent acts taking the "least amount of mics possible" route nowadays? I've been curious about this for some time now.






[EDIT] Don't discount ribbon mics for upright bass!

Last edited by Funny Cat; 6th September 2016 at 09:41 PM.. Reason: added EDIT
Old 6th September 2016
  #18
This greatly depends on the instruments being used, the size/sound of the room, as well as if the players have played together much. If the room is massive, and has a poor sound, then I would lean toward relying more upon close mics and trying to find some way of utilizing the room sound. Also, if the players have not played together that much, they may find it difficult to balance their own sound within the room, hence why relying on a stereo mic for the room might become difficult. This question just depends on so many factors that it really comes down to a "every situation is different" kind of answer. However, overall I would see myself going with close mics first, and then mixing the room sound in to my liking. Cheers!
Old 6th September 2016
  #19
Old 6th September 2016
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrismeraz View Post
Thanks Lou, I'll try to borrow an omni for the bass.
it really depends on the room, set up both if you can... the omni might work or not work as well. could be good to learn more about your room anyways.

good luck!
Old 7th September 2016
  #21
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Drumsound's Avatar
From what you say about your room, and because the artist is releasing a in 2016, not 1952, I wouldn't rely on a simple stereo pair. I would use a stereo pair (or maybe even two pair) for ambience, instead of fake reverb. I would mic the instruments individually, using polar pattern to help isolate, and have the stereo mic(s) as an sweetener.

I'd set the bass player in the middle and have the guitar and sax on the outside, so that I had a nice bass center image. I'd consider an M/S pair somewhat close and either a coincident or spaced pair further out.

Do you have other dynamic mics? Some ribbons?
Old 7th September 2016
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrismeraz View Post
A. Rely mainly on a stereo mic, and mix in a little of the spot mics if needed.

B. Rely mainly on the spot mics, and mix in a little of the stereo mic if needed.
I have people requesting "A" all the time. But for jazz, I always run spot mics as well. When it comes to mixdown, they almost all start asking for more of the close mics. Often it gets to the point where the 'main pair' has been reduced to a 'room mic'.

Everybody talks the talk about the "A" technique, they all know what they are supposed to want - but as Drumsound says, its 2016 and it turns out a lot of them don't really want that. They are just in love with the idea of that. If I sound cynical, it's because I work very hard to get the requested "main pair" sound and so many people end up burying it.

A great jazz player that I know played me something he did with other monster players in a great room with a super-exotic stereo mic. Even so, they had to put the bass player on a riser and move him closer to the mic. They ended up being positioned somewhat strangely. It was certainly not one of those 'set up normally on stage and give the mics the best seat in the house' kind of thing. A lot of trial and error, and then he admitted that they ended up adding a spot mic on the piano anyway.
Old 7th September 2016
  #23
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If I were recording a jazz trio in a huge concrete room I would only use the ELOP on the sax and guitar with it switched to "bypass" and not use the comp on the 610 for the bass.
Old 7th September 2016
  #24
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
I'd set the bass player in the middle and have the guitar and sax on the outside, so that I had a nice bass center image.
I'm a bit torn about this, because jazz bass players are almost never in the middle, even though the low end of a record ought to be.
Old 7th September 2016
  #25
Unless you have an amazingly well tuned room, you will be fighting all kinds early reflection "tonal bumps", etc. How do these two songs sound? O.K. it is 4 people in the first song! https://www.dropbox.com/sh/n0t6h3h1b...aVgFjXAMa?dl=0

Live at the Simon Holt Restaurant. Nanaimo B.C. Aug 2016.

The purest in jazz also need to record using a grand piano (6' 7" or larger), but want the separation/isolation from the drummer, so you have to put the lid on the short stick and cover the piano with packing blankets in the room. No micing arrangement with them 4 inches from the strings is going to sound good. They should just use a MIDI weighted keyboard to a nice V.I.
Old 7th September 2016
  #26
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chrismeraz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I'm a bit torn about this, because jazz bass players are almost never in the middle, even though the low end of a record ought to be.
I'm also a bit torn about this. I think it would be easier to get a great mix with the bass in the middle, but the sax is the lead instrument in this group...

Is there a good reason why the lead instrument needs to go in the middle? I am tempted to move her to the side to provide balance against the electric jazz guitar.
Old 7th September 2016
  #27
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I'm a bit torn about this, because jazz bass players are almost never in the middle, even though the low end of a record ought to be.
I'm definitely thinking "a record isn't a gig" with that. Kind of like Paul Buckmaster's string setup.
Old 7th September 2016
  #28
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrismeraz View Post
I'm also a bit torn about this. I think it would be easier to get a great mix with the bass in the middle, but the sax is the lead instrument in this group...

Is there a good reason why the lead instrument needs to go in the middle? I am tempted to move her to the side to provide balance against the electric jazz guitar.
Coltrane is off center in the Van Gelder recordings.
Old 7th September 2016
  #29
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Read through the whole thread and didn't see anything about the actual recording device.

Because jazz is a spontaneous and improvised art form it requires a good source mic and room.

What really comes to mind is the dynamics of Steely Dan.

I think you should go into DSD.

Great converters AD/DA are also very important.

Try the Korg or Tascam DA-3000 or even hire one.

Cheers
Old 7th September 2016
  #30
I'd go with the first or second option on a 'whatever sounds best' basis.

I did a session for the BBC a couple of months ago and ended up using a mono M49 on room, 67 on Sax, 87 on bass, D12 on kick and a D19 as a mono overhead. Sounding awesome.
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