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Solo Violin
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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Solo Violin

I'm recording a solo violin. The recording is for an audition to a top tier symphony. The audition is by invitation and came with specific instructions on how the recording should be made.

The instructions directed that the microphone should be 8 feet off the floor and 6 feet from the performer and in mono.

I was surprised that the instructions for the audition included mic placement criteria.

Anyone else find the instructions surprising?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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Plush's Avatar
The micing instructions are for uniformity when doing the listening.

Use a ribbon microphone as instructed and move ahead of the crowd in
pleasant-ness and a good result.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodwindy View Post
Actually, doing an audio submission instead of video is very outdated. Even school band directors know that audio is easily manipulated, so they’ve stopping using it in lieu of video.
The way to keep the audition blind is to have an independent staff person look each submission to ensure It’s legitimacy, and then the adjudicators can listen blindly, knowing that the audition has already been authenticated.
well, you can 'manipulate' the audio for video... - and no, audio only is still the medium of choice for auditions, at least around here (old world).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
The micing instructions are for uniformity when doing the listening (...)
what plush said - record in a nice venue, use a fine mic (and get a decent preamp when using a ribbon mic)...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
The micing instructions are for uniformity when doing the listening.

Use a ribbon microphone as instructed and move ahead of the crowd in
pleasant-ness and a good result.
Okay, setting up for second day. I’ll try this.

Thanks

Incidentally, the reason for the second day is performance related. There is no room for anything less than "perfect" in this particular audition.

I am curious why the ribbon? Pleasant-ness etc?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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Quote:
well, you can 'manipulate' the audio for video... - and no, audio only is still the medium of choice for auditions, at least around here (old world).
This holds true here for a major symphony so I have to believe that this remains the standard, at least in classical. I did an audition recording for a Jazz player and video was necessary.

I'm not sure this is genre specific but I can also believe that established symphonies are slow to change any protocols. They are organizations steeped in tradition.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
... audio only is still the medium of choice for auditions, at least around here (old world).
Interesting. In the US it's been video, single locked-off camera, for quite a while. And this isn't just for orchestras and operas, it's colleges and even fancy performing-arts high schools. Then again, around here people put down deposits to wait-list their unborn fetuses for pre-school. Any day now, those places will start requiring sonograms.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
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Quote:
Interesting. In the US it's been video, single locked-off camera
One possible explanation for why this isn't the case here is because there was an initial audition by recording. This is the second recorded audition and if the candidate makes it to the final round the audition will be live and in person. Also, there is a certain amount of implied integrity at this level of performance.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
A ribbon will tame some of the harshness of the violin and give a rounder, fuller, sound. My partner is a world class string player (viola in symphony and chamber, violin in our band). I went through many microphones trying to get her the best sound and ended up with a 4038 (with a 1073 clone as pre, API are too "hard") and a pair of 414 BULS as room mics. Funny, without the room much you can get away with some slight tuning, multiple mics give a chorus effect. Try not to let her move around too much when recording.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
Also, there is a certain amount of implied integrity at this level of performance.
There's also a feeling among many people that the video requirement might work against you if you happen to be, for example, black or fat.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
and a pair of 414 BULS as room mics
I have a pair of 414s but I didn't get the impression that room mics were necessary and from your post and considering the specific mic placement instructions I'm thinking room mics might as easily detract from the end result as enhance. I have about 10 minutes to make this decision. So far I chose to putz around on GS rather than set up the 414s. But seriously, probably going without them but might set them up just to be prepared.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Interesting. In the US it's been video, single locked-off camera, for quite a while. And this isn't just for orchestras and operas, it's colleges and even fancy performing-arts high schools. Then again, around here people put down deposits to wait-list their unborn fetuses for pre-school. Any day now, those places will start requiring sonograms.
as far as i'm told, it's the legislation: remember that most any orchestra over here gets heavily funded - not so much from private sponsors but they are state-subsidized.

in order not to discriminate, applications often get anonymized and only when you make it into the 'semi-finals' of an audition, they lift the curtain (literally).

but yeah, institutions move slowly: one of the most famous european orchestra had to get forced into finally accepting female musicians some years ago...!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
I have a pair of 414s but I didn't get the impression that room mics were necessary and from your post and considering the specific mic placement instructions I'm thinking room mics might as easily detract from the end result as enhance. I have about 10 minutes to make this decision. So far I chose to putz around on GS rather than set up the 414s. But seriously, probably going without them but might set them up just to be prepared.
I'm assuming from the instructions you shouldn't use room mics as they want it in mono - probably from a single source. If you don't have a ribbon, a 414 will work, just really listen to the placement to avoid harsh string noise.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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As much as I love my ribbons, let me make a competing suggestion. Use an accurate small diaphragm condenser (I'd suggest an appropriate Schoeps). At a 6'x8' matrix, the air has scrubbed some of the potential harshness from the sound. The linearity of a great SDC will give a true picture of the player in the room. The choice of Omni vs some level of directional pattern is up to you, depending on the situation (removable capsules are a plus in this situation). A good LDC set to Omni will be close but not quite as linear.
As a side benefit, many orchestras are recorded using SDC mics like this and may provide an easily recognizable sound to the committee. Always helpful.

Good luck to you and the player you're recording!

As always, YMMV.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
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Here is the results:

First is just the ribbon

Second is the ribbon with two 414s in omni as "room" mics.

What do you all think?
Attached Files

Mozart Eb Tk 2 no room mics.mp3 (3.80 MB, 1850 views)

Mozart Eb Tk 2 with room mics.mp3 (3.80 MB, 1763 views)

Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
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Quote:
Use a ribbon microphone as instructed
Took your advice. Results above.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
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Plush's Avatar
A good start. Sounds too close, however.

I would suggest moving back another 3-4 feet. Too many mechanics are heard in the playing. Simply a matter of getting more air in the sound with distance. Roll off treble from sound with some equalization.

Currently, the player is under a microscope
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
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Plush's Avatar
A good start. Sounds to close, however.

I would suggest moving back another 3-4 feet. Higher up too. Too many mechanics are heard in the playing. Simply a matter of getting more air in the sound with distance.

Currently, the player is under a microscope.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post

Currently, the player is under a microscope.
That may be what they want and why they gave specific instructions. They'll have a chance to hear how the player can fill a room if they want later when the audition is in person. This is still a preliminary audition in a way. Keeping it up close and personal probably lessons a variable and evens the playing field as well, IMO.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
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vernier's Avatar
1st track (mono) is awesome.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
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Thanks for the responses. To answer Plush, if I moved the mic back 3 - 4 feet it would be in the neighbors space. This is about 8 feet high and 6 feet away per the instructions. But there is a significant amount of room treatment in the space so not much by way of concert Hall effect. I could use a plug in to recreate the effect of a larger space but I don’t think that was what they are after. As pointed out above, consistency between the candidates submissions is more likely the goal.

And yes, the player is quite good.

Also, times up the and the recording is not the focus, rather it’s the performance. In that respect I think we achieved our goal.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
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Incidentally, I did use a slight amount of HOF but mostly to lower the noise floor a bit. It wasn’t terrible but it is there and needed to be tamed a drop.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
Here is the results: [. . .] First is just the ribbon [. . .] Second is the ribbon with two 414s in omni as "room" mics. [. . .] What do you all think?
Indeed, I found the single ribbon [far] more flattering than with the room mics.

But I have two questions. . .

Which ribbon mic did you use?

Did you happen to try different models of ribbon mics before settling on the one you chose? And if so, any thoughts?


Best regards,

Ray H.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
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And, one other point. Plush’s comment about too much audible mechanics is well taken. Whether I can limit it in some way I’m not sure and I am loath to effect the sound in any way.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath View Post
Indeed, I found the single ribbon [far] more flattering than with the room mics.

But I have two questions. . .

Which ribbon mic did you use?

Did you happen to try different models of ribbon mics before settling on the one you chose? And if so, any thoughts?


Best regards,

Ray H.
Use an AEA R84. Don’t have another flavor. Haven’t felt a pressing need for one. But, I am interested in the cardioid ribbon AEA makes now that doesn’t cost 5k.

Also, this session was not about mic selection. It is 93% performance and 7% recording technique. I exaggerate but you get the point. What we wanted was the best possible performance the player could draw out of herself.

There are quite a few other clips, some really nice playing, but I’m not comfortable posting too much of a private session.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
Thanks for the responses. To answer Plush, if I moved the mic back 3 - 4 feet it would be in the neighbors space. This is about 8 feet high and 6 feet away per the instructions.
Okay, then. To comply with the letter of the law AND sound good, it needs to be 8 feet high and 6 feet away in a much bigger and livelier room.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Okay, then. To comply with the letter of the law AND sound good, it needs to be 8 feet high and 6 feet away in a much bigger and livelier room.
I agree - to an extent. That is to extent that we didn’t have a much bigger room available. The player was pleased with the result so that counts for something even if the GS consensus was it needed more space.

If I'm called on to do this again I would try a little different room orientation. The problem is that the room is not very big and it has a grand piano and a fairly large desk in it. Doesn't leave a lot of options for player location. Also, the room is set up for recording jazz quintets, quartets, trios, etc. That's mostly what happens here with a smattering of pop music production.

I've done string quartets too but in my opinion, this is not the best room for a string quartet unless it is for overdubs on pop songs. In that case the room is just fine. This is New York City and space is expensive.

With regards to space in NYC, a little digression:

At one time I had a loft in Dumbo that would have been great for all this but other than size it was an awful place to live, with a horrid landlord and rising costs. It was 2k a month and that was 10 years ago just when the area was becoming the next yuppie outpost. No such space exists in that area anymore.

Years ago a friend of mine moved into a huge loft in Soho. My head almost exploded when he told me he was paying $2000.00 per month. Now that is funny. A space like that is minimum $15,000.00 a month now. But, that's what happened to all the good spaces we used to use for music in NYC.

About 4 years ago I was rehearsing at a building in midtown. When I walked in my jaw hit the floor. Apparently the building, which was located in Chelsea (one of the most expensive locals in NYC) was bought years ago by some rock star who was never identified. He was planning to turn the building into a rehearsal/recording/performance space. He allegedly lived on the top floor. The first floor was a decent size performance space. The second floor was a rehearsal/recording space that was an excellent sized space. Unfortunately nothing much was ever done with the space. Some basic building and setup was done but it was minimal and a bit rough and needed much more work. It would have been great. Rumor was that the owner ran out of money and by this time was too old to give much of a shnit about the whole thing. Don't know what eventually happened to the space but probably not much. I heard it might have been available at some point but that was likely just part of the rumor.

Also, Saul Rubin, the great guitarist (Sonny Rollins & many others to his credit) had a loft in midtown that was a performance space/recording studio. It was a wonderful location and a beautiful spot. That space would have been perfect for this recording. It was more performance than recording space but it was fantastic. Of course the price went through the roof and Saul was gone. The space was irreplaceable in today's market.

Many of the music venues from years ago are gone. Only a handful remain. There was a place called St. Nicks Pub that was a great Jazz location. It's long gone. The Lenox Lounge was a beloved location - gone. All because of economics. There is a crop of new places, small and economically unstable. They usually last a few years and then disappear when the owners get tired of working so hard to hardly make any profit.

My space may be small but its comfortable, workable and best of all, rent stabilized because its not designed as a commercial space. Also, it its very conveniently located in Harlem a short walk to the 1,2,3,6,A,C & B train. I use it as both a commercial and residential space. The way things are I consider myself lucky to have it.

I've digressed quite a bit but the point is, we make do when it comes to space in NYC. Not really much choice these days.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
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I know I've digressed a lot about space but this is a major concern in NYC. Artists used to be able to find space all over the place in the remnants of the industrial revolution. But that is all gone now and its not coming back.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
I know I've digressed a lot about space but this is a major concern in NYC. Artists used to be able to find space all over the place in the remnants of the industrial revolution. But that is all gone now and its not coming back.
Can you not get access to a university's or church facilities in NYC for such a circumstance as this audition to a top tier symphony?

Also, I've worked many years as a business consultant, and believe there are numerous CEO's who would say yes to nonsensitive areas in support of the arts if they were reasonably approached. Are you hitting LinkedIn?


Best wishes,

Ray H.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
I'm recording a solo violin. The recording is for an audition to a top tier symphony. The audition is by invitation and came with specific instructions on how the recording should be made.

The instructions directed that the microphone should be 8 feet off the floor and 6 feet from the performer and in mono.

I was surprised that the instructions for the audition included mic placement criteria.

Anyone else find the instructions surprising?
No. It shows there were very valid complaints in past years over different mic placements.

Considering the current level of talent for players, most players are going to be indistinguishable from each other - just a different flavor of spectacular. Moving the mic just a few inches can alter the perception of the judges more than the actual performers since they are all playing on the same stellar level.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
I know I've digressed a lot about space but this is a major concern in NYC. Artists used to be able to find space all over the place in the remnants of the industrial revolution. But that is all gone now and its not coming back.
That's why God made New Jersey.
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