The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
too many mics... Ribbon Microphones
Old 1st January 2011
  #1
Lives for gear
 
jnorman's Avatar
Talking too many mics...

lang lang with NY phil. i was stunned by the virtuosity of this amazing pianist. but... just too many mics on the stage, a mix that was far too heavy on spots and not mains. i have gotten to where i have a problem listening to mixes where every instrument is placed on the same level as every other instrument - it just doesnt sound real. spot mics are supposed to supplement the mains - not take the place of the mains.
Old 1st January 2011
  #2
I'd agree, this is a negative trend... seems symptomatic of maybe a whole "overwroughtness" that comes with too many options-- too many channels, too many possibilities, too much worrying about "detail-ism" and no one ever just sitting back and asking, "okay, what have we got here? How does this sound?"

Somehow... don't know why this has to be the case... it takes a certain kind of bravery to stand firm with your subjective judgment that "the blend we got here is good, it's musical."
Old 1st January 2011
  #3
Lives for gear
 
NetworkAudio's Avatar
On the other end of the spectrum are releases such as some with the CBSO the last few years. Beautiful colour and blend, but very remote sounding.
I find there is an increasing spread in aesthetic judgement, which is good and counter to much of what is going on in other genres IMO.
Old 1st January 2011
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
lang lang with NY phil. i was stunned by the vituosity of this amazing pianist. but... just too many mics on the stage, a mix that was far too heavy on spots and not mains. i have gotten to where i have a problem listening to mixes where every instrument is placed on the same level as every other instrument - it just doesnt sound real. spot mics are supposed to supplement the mains - not take the place of the mains.
If you're trying to make any kind of critical judgements about the recording based on what you hear coming out of the end of 3 different satellite uplink/codec hops and your cable providers pumping agc you're deluding yourself. I was in the control room for the rehearsal yesterday afternoon and can tell you for a fact that the source material was of a quality that everybody here should be trying to achieve-
You should be complaining about the quality of sound in the transmission chain, not the balance of spot to mains.
All the best,
-mark
Old 1st January 2011
  #5
Gear Addict
 
Tuberizer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue View Post
If you're trying to make any kind of critical judgements about the recording based on what you hear coming out of the end of 3 different satellite uplink/codec hops and your cable providers pumping agc you're deluding yourself. I was in the control room for the rehearsal yesterday afternoon and can tell you for a fact that the source material was of a quality that everybody here should be trying to achieve-
You should be complaining about the quality of sound in the transmission chain, not the balance of spot to mains.
All the best,
-mark
Dont agree. I'm more with joelpatterson here. Seems that the more detailism ppl try to achieve in their setup when recording orchestras the more muddyness they actually get. When I'm in a concert hall I dont put one of my 75 ears at each instrument, I listen to the ensemble as a whole.
Old 1st January 2011
  #6
I did not get a chance to see this broadcast, but Larry Rock is one of the finest classical engineers on the planet so I doubt that there was anything wrong with his mix.

Broadcast limiters can wreak havoc on classical mixes, and by the time the signal has gone through the multiple encoding/decoding stages, compression, etc. the mix can be completely FUBAR. Some TV and FM radio broadcasts verge on being unlistenable - this seems especially the case with classical music on TV.

Some TV broadcast mixers I have worked with will try to get themselves a feed of the broadcast itself so that they can hear what it is that the home audience is hearing.
Old 1st January 2011
  #7
Lives for gear
 
tenor39's Avatar
 

The problem here is usually a result of visual imperatives with Television, not audio concerns. The Directors never want to see mic's flown in the shot, nor large boom stands on the stage. Had many an argument with TV Production people about this very thing. That would interfere with their 8-10 camera postions, including the 1 or 2 jibs in the hall. While Mark has a point about the downstream losses and compression, I tend to agree with jnorm about the sound. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

BTW, we had a T-shirt made up one year that read: "No one ever hums the jib shot!"heh
Old 1st January 2011
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue View Post
If you're trying to make any kind of critical judgements about the recording based on what you hear coming out of the end of 3 different satellite uplink/codec hops and your cable providers pumping agc you're deluding yourself. I was in the control room for the rehearsal yesterday afternoon and can tell you for a fact that the source material was of a quality that everybody here should be trying to achieve-
You should be complaining about the quality of sound in the transmission chain, not the balance of spot to mains.
All the best,
-mark
This is spot on. There is so much processing done in the transmission chain it is rediculous. It is far worse than it used to be with analog only.
Old 1st January 2011
  #9
Lives for gear
 
d_fu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuberizer View Post
When I'm in a concert hall I dont put one of my 75 ears at each instrument, I listen to the ensemble as a whole.
The usual comment that ignores the fact that ears (together with the eyes when one is in a concert hall) hear things differently than microphones do. If that weren't the case, nobody would be using spots in the first place...
Old 1st January 2011
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Yes, recording an orchestra without spots or with just two mics is a completely amateur and whimsical idea betraying inexperience and ignorance of what the job is about.

When you are trying to squeeze an orchestral soundfield out through two loudspeakers in a loungeroom, the two mics/two ears misconception has nothing to do with it.
Old 1st January 2011
  #11
I thought it sounded fine. I am not about to start making judgements on sound based on what is coming throught my television speakers. Granted I was only listening at a very low volume, but the balance sounded right, perhaps just an overly bright and harsh piano sound.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #12
Lives for gear
 
jnorman's Avatar
david - i am not sure if you are serious, or being facetious. but my point was not that spot mics are unnecessary - it was that spot mics should, IMO, be used like spices, gently, and only as much as needed to bring out softer instruments.

i certainly did not mean to be critical of the engineers involved in the production - i have no doubt that they know far more than i about what they are doing.

however, as others commented above, an orchestra is not supposed to sound like every instrument and section has the same weight in the mix, and the instruments should not all sound like they are 3 feet away from you. yes, you can hear everything perfectly - but it doesnt sound real.

anyway, here is a clip from an orchestral recording made with nothing but a single royer SF12 - sounds pretty good to me...(it is from the royer promo CD)
Attached Files

sf12.wav (5.93 MB, 252 views)

Old 2nd January 2011
  #13
Lives for gear
 
tourtelot's Avatar
I am hopeful that Mr. Spearritt would have placed a smiley face after his first sentence if he had not thought that we all here would not have understood the sarcasm in his comment??

D.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #14
Lives for gear
 

I was being serious.

Perhaps two mics can work with a small orchestra is a perfect acoustic, but I am sure it can be done better for a full symphony with multi-main mikes and spots.

This is what I mean. Listen to the main video on this page.
Berliner Philharmoniker | Digital Concert Hall

These are worth a look as well.
http://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/play/1-1
http://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/info/behind
Old 2nd January 2011
  #15
Lives for gear
 
boojum's Avatar
Mercury and other labels made some stunning stereo recordings with two or three mics. They are still regarded as high art. Is is solely because they had an excellent venue (did they?) and spot-on mic placement? And if it worked thirty years ago, why cannot it work today? This is a question not challenge.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Well I don't agree that those low channel Mercury recordings are better than the early 90's Decca Charles Dutoit Montreal recordings or some of the modern Berlin Phil recordings.

Also, this is a stunner.
Amazon.com: Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances/ Vocalise/ Etudes-tableaux: Oue: cnd/Minnesota Orchestra, Sergey Rachmaninov, Eiji Oue, Minnesota Orchestra: Music

The Mercury are very nice, but they are not the pinnacle IMHO.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #17
Lives for gear
 
boojum's Avatar
Perhaps what is being discussed is personal preference and taste. Maybe there is no absolute answer. Maybe we are heading into another of the "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" discussions. They are almost always about microphones and how to use them, it seems.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #18
Lives for gear
 
d_fu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
david - i am not sure if you are serious, or being facetious. but my point was not that spot mics are unnecessary - it was that spot mics should, IMO, be used like spices, gently, and only as much as needed to bring out softer instruments.
David was not referring to your statement, but agreeing with mine, which was a comment on this posting...


Daniel
Old 2nd January 2011
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobAnderson View Post
...
Broadcast limiters can wreak havoc on classical mixes, and by the time the signal has gone through the multiple encoding/decoding stages, compression, etc. the mix can be completely FUBAR. Some TV and FM radio broadcasts verge on being unlistenable - this seems especially the case with classical music on TV...
This sounds reasonable enough, but then... at the same time it sounds entirely bizarre. It's not the goal of everyone who's involved with the transmission of the audio to make it as transparent and authentic as possible? Does the video exhibit strange color inconsistencies or out-of-focus shots? I've certainly heard things I've done coming over the air and yes, they're "different," "compacted" in a way, but not fundamentally unrecognizable.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #20
Lives for gear
 
Nobilmente's Avatar
 

The early Beecham recordings done by HMV with a crossed pair are excellent, not to say special - a well rehearsed orchestra and every detail in its place.

Those early Mercury recordings are separated by quite a number of years from the Decca 90's recordings, but I love the offerings from both of those companies.

In classical music, just as many as are needed and no more appeals to me. I too have an aversion to too many spots, and perhaps even more relevant, too much level in the balance from those that are used, as though instruments had been pasted into place.

There is obviously no one answer to fit every situation.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #21
Lives for gear
 
tourtelot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
I was being serious.

Perhaps two mics can work with a small orchestra is a perfect acoustic, but I am sure it can be done better for a full symphony with multi-main mikes and spots.

This is what I mean. Listen to the main video on this page.
Berliner Philharmoniker | Digital Concert Hall

These are worth a look as well.
Berliner Philharmoniker | Digital Concert Hall
Berliner Philharmoniker | Digital Concert Hall
I actually think you are probably right for large orchestras. My mistake for not reading more carefully.

I think that there is way too much reliance today on the "more mics, more channels, more mixing" theory of capture than there used to be and it makes for a lot of flat sounding recordings. I have had some results that pleased both me and the artists using as few mics as I could get away with, often times two.

There is, because it's easy to do if you have the gear, lots less anxiety when "every single instrument" has it's own mic and track. But to have a sense of a venue and the performers and step out over the edge; to go with my ears and gut, and come home with a beautiful balance, and soundstage is really a good feeling.

And way easier to do if there isn't a lot of money being thrown at the project; most all of my recordings of music are avocational and that DOES make it easier to experiment.

D.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #22
Lives for gear
 

The requirements for TV sound and non-TV sound are obviously different - if the TV producer has the viewer effectively sitting next to (say) a flute soloist in the orchestra, he'll want the flute not to sound like it's somewhere up the back. In an overall shot, he'll not want the flute to sound like it's somewhere other than where it naturally is. Eye and ear must correlate at least a bit.

But on the wider matter of use of spot mics, I think there is a often overlooked factor of balance vs focus. Balance to me is to do with the relative level of instruments. Focus is to do with the relative closeness of instruments. If you use spot mics to change focus of course the spots have to be close to the target but hardly any level is added - you raise the fader only to the point where you can just perceive a difference. Using spot mics to change balance tends to mean placement more on sections and less difference of direct vs reverberant sound compared to main pair, and probably more level applied at the fader.

What is required on any given occasion is totally variable imho and a flexible non-dogmatic approach is essential.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Don S's Avatar
 

Not sure who does the mix for TV/PBS NY phil concerts, but it always sounds close and overmixed whenever I tune in. I'm not sure if this due to compression or codecs used in the broadcast chain. I remember a performance of Belero where the snare spot was kept above the level of the orchestra for the entire piece! Sort of a Ravel concerto for snare drum. Hillarious, but also frustrating.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #24
Lives for gear
 
NetworkAudio's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozpeter View Post
The requirements for TV sound and non-TV sound are obviously different - if the TV producer has the viewer effectively sitting next to (say) a flute soloist in the orchestra, he'll want the flute not to sound like it's somewhere up the back. In an overall shot, he'll not want the flute to sound like it's somewhere other than where it naturally is. Eye and ear must correlate at least a bit.
I find the notion that audio follows picture in concert broadcasts ridiculous.
I can tolerate it if the picture follows the music which it rarely does.
Good productions do not do this!
I get seasick when I hear comical mixes that follow the camera.
It is bad enough when the camera tends to focus on the cute girl in the back of the violas (berlin anyone?) or the stunning blond on third flute in the opening of Brahms violin concerto (forget which production).
This is not a requirement of a different medium, it is simply what happens when you get people involved who have no idea what they are doing.
Just as an engineer with a major studio background does not automatically know what to do with an orchestra, a TV producer does not automatically know how to capture an orchestral date.
Thankfully the majority of DVD releases of great orchestras sound great and the mix is done to serve the music, not the picture. That being said, i have played on a number of productions for Swedish television and depending which city it is in, it can be horrible.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #25
Tend to agree with those finding difficult to judge sound/mix quality with broadcasted programs.

Also agree with those finding mix re-interpretations are too much in error, more-or-less missing the conductor’s presentation in most cases.

Suggest auditioning my attempt to compare a highly funded commercial classical performance mix with same conducted performance from earlier practice session using a single stereo-surround mic, but being clandestine with no access, recording was a bit farther away than optimum, but still the comparison works to show what went wrong with the commercial mix.
http://www.sonicstudios.com/mp3_2slp.htm#comparison

I also find most those ‘special effects’ studio mics popular for spot-recording acoustical instruments do not sound very natural at all. Suggest auditioning the real sound of acoustic instruments as recorded by an uncommonly natural sounding mic array.

These all raw samples recorded by a SF professional musician with little recording experience, but good access to position a mic within performance spaces.
http://74.208.10.48/mp3/dukeyguy.mp3
http://74.208.10.48/mp3/hayden.mp3

Of course the current addiction to multi-track recording is NOT going to change. There’s way to much at stake for manufacturers to keep making huge numbers of effects mics for multitrack purposes and console makers can rest assure the need for more and more channels will fuel the successful economics factor of all standard recording activities forever.

This is the train multi-track recording has put the industry on, and while has made a fortune from mic/preamp/cable/preamp/console gear sales and labor costs of producing recordings in this manner, the ability to record the natural sound of acoustic instruments and conducted interpretation of classical performances has largely been lost.

But this issue is not really important to many except music lovers as economics drives the recording industry, and not the ability to produce more satisfying natural sounding and 3-dimensional imaged recordings.

With all that said, suggest using a single stereo-surround mic to simultaneously record the performance so that later while doing the multi-track mix an accurate interpretation is available to help steer the mix in the right direction to sound more like the conducted performance.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #26
Lives for gear
 
NetworkAudio's Avatar
Conductors (and composers) are some of the worst offenders when it comes to demanding rebalancing, so the notion of getting closer to the conductors ideal by using few mics is wrong in most cases as it assumes that the conductor was happy with the balance in the performance.

Orchestral performance is always a huge compromise in balance, dynamics, time, articulation etc.
This is no different for even the best orchestras with top conductors at the helm. As such there will always be need for compromise in the control room.
Maybe the english horn solo gets a little lost because of the middle strings, the harp can finally be heard in a passage where it is always buried, should it remain lost?
What is the intention of the score, can in fact the composers idea be realized in our medium in a way that is imposible in concert?

Maybe a great orchestra has a home in a terrible hall, not all orchestras are as lucky as Mr. Donahues clients. But even symphony hall has its challenges.

I would love to hear the recording referred to by the OP in its original form as well as the mangled broadcast version as taped in the receiving end.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #27
Lives for gear
 
pkautzsch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
Mercury and other labels made some stunning stereo recordings with two or three mics. They are still regarded as high art. Is is solely because they had an excellent venue (did they?) and spot-on mic placement? And if it worked thirty years ago, why cannot it work today? This is a question not challenge.
It is NOT solely because of venue and mic placement. (However, they DID have way more time to place their mics than anyone would allow/pay for today!)
It is also about placing the musicians in a way the limited number of mics can pick up a good balance, it's about covering large areas of the audience seating with heavy cloth, and mostly it's about VERY concentrated and well-rehearsed playing - all the time keeping in mind that they were playing for the recording.
Most of this can't be done in a live concert, and even less can be done with camera folks complaining about each and every microphone they can find.

Quote:
Originally Posted by klaukholm View Post
Conductors (and composers) are some of the worst offenders when it comes to demanding rebalancing, so the notion of getting closer to the conductors ideal by using few mics is wrong in most cases as it assumes that the conductor was happy with the balance in the performance. (snip)
What is the intention of the score, can in fact the composers idea be realized in our medium in a way that is imposible in concert?
+1,000,000
Old 3rd January 2011
  #28
Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuySonic View Post
Suggest auditioning my attempt to compare a highly funded commercial classical performance mix with same conducted performance from earlier practice session using a single stereo-surround mic, but being clandestine with no access, recording was a bit farther away than optimum, but still the comparison works to show what went wrong with the commercial mix.
[FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]http://www.sonicstudios.com/mp3_2slp.htm#comparison
Very cool samples, Guy Sonic, and I do indeed prefer the HRTF house recording over the "professional" multitrack.

It is pertinent to note, however, that the multitrack doesn't have to sound like that. What the multitrack demonstrates is the producer's (or engineer's, or conductor's) affinity for strings which led them to over-ride the orchestral ensemble sound. I've heard this done with minimalist recordings as well.

Sorry to be contrary. I'd love to hear more comparisons like this!
Old 4th January 2011
  #29
Lives for gear
 

No question that it is easy to stuff up a multichannel mix. Even some recent recordings from Emil Berliner studio are disastrous (Zimerman Rach Conc Boston Symph Hall). As always, this is a rope you can hang yourself with.

But its also capable, if mixed correctly, of providing a much richer, larger than life, exciting but still plausible rendition than two mics can ever do.
Old 4th January 2011
  #30
Quote:
It is pertinent to note, however, that the multitrack doesn't have to sound like that. What the multitrack demonstrates is the producer's (or engineer's, or conductor's) affinity for strings which led them to over-ride the orchestral ensemble sound. I've heard this done with minimalist recordings as well.
I have to agree with that. This is a definite case of poor mixing. Relying too much on spot mics to create the majority of the stereo image and loosing the center almost completely. This is a frustration I'm sure alot of us have with engineers who just don't know how to work with the material. Perhaps because they come from a studio or other non-classical background.
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
huub / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music and Location Recording
18
audioman / So much gear, so little time
15
smartalek / Gearslutz Secondhand Gear Classifieds
3

Forum Jump
Forum Jump