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Mike and Mixer Recommendations for Recording Singing Bowls and Gong
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
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Mike and Mixer Recommendations for Recording Singing Bowls and Gong

Hi all. New member after some lurking. Should be a basic question, hopefully I chose the correct forum.

I am a member of a spiritual fellowship, and a friend does some sound baths with crystal singing bowls, a gong, chimes, and a keyboard.

I already own a Zoom F4 that I use for recording workshops and other verbal sessions.

Recently I recorded the bowls, gong, etc with two AT 4040 mikes and got pretty good results. I would like to get it good, so I’m thinking instrument-type mikes, maybe one for each two bowls, one for the gong, maybe two or three for the chimes they are on a rack, six chimes spaced nine inches apart).

My question is, which mikes are recommended for this? Can I use AT Pro 37s, or something in that price range? Different mikes for chimes/bowls and the gong? How many? Can I start with one between each set of gongs an chimes and expand, will that be good enough?

Finally, to use the F4 to record (can I assume it will provide good quality?), can you recommend a mixing board that will serve me moving forward, meaning cover my high-end expected expansion (I guess twelve or sixteen mikes), and provide nice output of the sound for the Zoom to record? Or am I not even looking at this properly?

Thanks to anyone willing to offer advice on this...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
You’re probably better off getting an interface with enough inputs and mic pres to record separate channels (to mix down at leisure).

A mixer feeding 2-4 tracks from 16mics is going to be making compromises.

If you’re not keen on lugging a laptop around, there are a few digital mixers that as well as working as an interface for a computer (or as a front of house console) can record to SD memory card - so you get the best of both worlds. Transfer these files to a DAW for mixing.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Thank you for the response!

So, my question is, can I get an interface for twelve mikes for three to five hundred dollars? If so, or if not, what specific units are recommended? I have a Focusrite 2i2 that I used the a few years ago to record the bowls with a MacBook Pro. So is a bigger unit like that what I want? Is 3rd gen going to be that much better for my purposes than 2nd gen?

Also, when you say I will compromise by using a mixer to feed into two or four channels, what is it that I am sacrificing- control, or quality, or what? I ask because while on retreats, I will be recording discussions and conferences as well, so it would be nice to minimize the equipment I bring and use.

Lastly, does anyone have suggestions for mikes on these instruments?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Okay, considering the level of activity in this discussion board and the rsponse I received, I get it.

Can someone recommend another discussion board where the members are more likely to engage a post such as mine?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pjr587 View Post
Okay, considering the level of activity in this discussion board and the rsponse I received, I get it.

Can someone recommend another discussion board where the members are more likely to engage a post such as mine?
ok, patience - we don't owe you anything!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pjr587 View Post
Thank you for the response!

So, my question is, can I get an interface for twelve mikes for three to five hundred dollars? If so, or if not, what specific units are recommended? I have a Focusrite 2i2 that I used the a few years ago to record the bowls with a MacBook Pro. So is a bigger unit like that what I want? Is 3rd gen going to be that much better for my purposes than 2nd gen?
That's a bit on the low side. Assuming US$, and doing some googling on your behalf,

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...udio-interface

has 8 mic ins. most interfaces will be either 8 or then jump to 16.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...-digital-mixer might work for you - you'd need a tablet to control it, but it's got enough IO for you. Have to say I'm surprised how cheap it is!

You would need to be prepared to do all control via the tablet though - including main volume.

Quote:
Also, when you say I will compromise by using a mixer to feed into two or four channels, what is it that I am sacrificing- control, or quality, or what? I ask because while on retreats, I will be recording discussions and conferences as well, so it would be nice to minimize the equipment I bring and use.
Control AND quality - you'd be submixing mics on location, so you're stuck with your balances and mix there. Far better (especially when inexperienced) to record first and balance later.

Quote:
Lastly, does anyone have suggestions for mikes on these instruments?
small diaphragm condensers in your price bracket would be my first suggestion, but I've never recorded them so I couldn't say! Maybe Rode NT5s? or for a more ambient sound, large diaphragm condensers a bit further back.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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Thank you for the informative response.

I only asked for a referral because I moderate a few boards myself, and when there's heavy traffic, such as here, if a thread doesn't get activity for a day or so, it usually dies. So I wasn't expecting anything from anyone, I just didn't want to keep posting and getting no substantive responses and bother you all. If there wasn't going to be a response, I had no problem taking the question elsewhere.

And I appreciate that you googled on my behalf. I googled for forty five hours before posting, and ten or twelve after, but having little knowledge on the topic doesn't measure up to someone who has actually used the equipment, and that's why I asked, and why this is in the newbie subform. So I apologize if you think I came in here cold and wanted others to do my research for me, or was impatient, but that isn't the case.

Thanks again for the response.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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12 to 16 mics and the ancillary cables (and stands) is a large expenditure in itself, and also requires a large expenditure for an adequate interface and/or mixer.
I don’t claim any particular expertise in this area, so I’m curious why these ensemble collections of instruments can’t be miked with a higher quality (and more expensive) stereo pair and a few spot mics.

I would recommend a pair of the Aston Starlight small/medium diaphragm microphones. They are my current favorites on just about every source. So feel free to factor in whatever fan-boy enthusiasm you detect.
The Starlights have exceptionally good shock mounts, a stereo bar, and multiple low pass and voicing settings to adjust the microphone to the particular task. They have spot lasers to help in positioning the mics, especially useful if you are repeating live setups in different venues. Their tumbled stainless steel barrels and sintered metal bead heads are exceptionally rugged.
What’s not to like?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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I agree completely re: expense for getting set up on this... Both of you guys are correct, and that's one reason why I was trying to keep the individual costs lower for mikes and interfaces. Which can be completely disastrous, and the couple hundreds of dollars saved almost always leaves one with a pile of, well, you know...

That said, I'm wondering if perhaps I am better getting two more AT 4040s (or something better that may be recommended on here) and staying with the Zoom F4 for recording until I get a better feel and understanding of what is going on. The Zoom will give me four separate tracks to attenuate at will. Would spreading four mikes strategically provide for better capture/blending/mixing of the sound, or do you feel that two higher quality mikes like the Aston Starlights will be just fine once I find the right positioning? I don't mind getting it wrong a few times to finally get it right.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
To be clear, I haven’t compared the Starlight to the AT4040. I have a generally high opinion of the AT mics above the 20 series, so calling the Starlight a “higher quality” mic is an unsupported guess at best.
I will say that the off-axis response of the Starlight is more uniform over frequency than any LDC mic I’ve ever looked at, so that may be why it sounds so realistic to me. As a result of that pattern consistency, the Starlights pick up less off-axis “mud” than any LDC I’ve looked at. That is also of increased benefit as you combine multiple mics.
Positioning and pointing mics in every axis is something that you learn over time. If you have multiple shots at this before you have to produce a recording for someone else, that’s a positive.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pjr587 View Post
I agree completely re: expense for getting set up on this... Both of you guys are correct, and that's one reason why I was trying to keep the individual costs lower for mikes and interfaces. Which can be completely disastrous, and the couple hundreds of dollars saved almost always leaves one with a pile of, well, you know...

That said, I'm wondering if perhaps I am better getting two more AT 4040s (or something better that may be recommended on here) and staying with the Zoom F4 for recording until I get a better feel and understanding of what is going on. The Zoom will give me four separate tracks to attenuate at will. Would spreading four mikes strategically provide for better capture/blending/mixing of the sound, or do you feel that two higher quality mikes like the Aston Starlights will be just fine once I find the right positioning? I don't mind getting it wrong a few times to finally get it right.
4 mics give you options. It really depends on how you approach things. 4 mics arranged around one instrument are likely to cause phase issues; 4 mics split into a close and ambient stereo pair less so. Kind of like a drum kit.

If you like the 4040s, nothing wrong with sticking with them.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Thanks for that input. The 4040s are my first decent mikes, so I am open to ideas for others. I would imagine two pairs of different mikes arranged as you suggest can provide more options, and also help me see what actually works better.

So, anything a little less expensive than the Astors in a mid diaphragm size that someone may think would be effective for these instruments?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I've done bowls quite a few times. Even the smaller ones are loud as hell and they go everywhere. There's no point to doing anything more than a spaced pair fairly high up. Even for a big bunch of bowls.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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large glass bowls are much more quiet than high pitched brass bowls - i've been using pzm's and blm's and various ldc's and sdc's for gongs; mics always on the backside for practical and sound reasons; as with any large instrument, it's about the room as much as the instrument...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
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Interesting, thank you for that. In my research, I did come to one theory that boundary mikes may work well... I bought four of them, and used one with the 4040s during the last session. I discounted that track, focusing on the ldcs. I'm going to go back in and look at that track, maybe use two and two in the next session to compare the results.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
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decocco's Avatar
 

Are you recording these instruments live? Or is this all being overdubbed and then the recording is played later during a service/gathering?

I would try a mic on each instrument, counting the bowls as one instrument and chimes as one instrument. It will give you greater flexibility and the bleed between mics can provide ambience. I would also try a stereo pair for the entire ensemble. Ideally you could use close mics and the pair together for recordings.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
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This is live recording, with the idea of using it during future meditations or other similar sessions.

So, there are about ten bowls arranged in a semi-circle around the player, let's say six foot diameter... Do you think one LDC is sufficient for that, or is two better? The chimes are on a rack of six, in a line spanning four feet. The gong is next to them, and they are arranged behind the player. Then there is a keyboard that runs through DAW and to a monitor, which can be captured by any of the LDCs.

I recently listened to the track of the single omni boundary mike, and aside from being a little heavy on the gain, it sounded surprisingly good, considering it was just sitting on a carpet behind the player. I'm considering placing two BLCs on reflective surfaces next to the two LDCs as they were positioned in the last session, and see how they compare side by side. That will be this coming Tuesday.

Thursday we start a four day retreat that should see the instruments used daily, so I will try several of the concepts offered throughout this thread.

Thanks again to everyone for your time and considerations of this process.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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decocco's Avatar
 

If you use two mics on the bowls, you can get closer to them (if needed to reduce bleed/increase separation) and give them some stereo spread. Otherwise you can use a single mic with a wide cardioid pattern. One approach is not necessarily better, that is more subjective and depends on your needs.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I've done bowls quite a few times. Even the smaller ones are loud as hell and they go everywhere. There's no point to doing anything more than a spaced pair fairly high up. Even for a big bunch of bowls.


I have recorded a number of these "sound bath" things with the bowls, the bells and whatnot. And I agree, loud as hell. IMO, the most representative sound is going to be the sound you get from a distance. That's what they are for- resonating out into the space.

I would put most of my money into a pair of very high-quality mics and one high-end stereo preamp. and try to get a really accurate point of view capture in some form of stereo.

If, after experimenting with different positions, you truly feel the need for spot mics or room mics, then add them later. Get an interface now with 2 or 4 channels that can accept an ADAT expander, most of which will give you an extra 8 channels. But keep in mind that sheer volume and omnidirectional spray of sound from the bowls (especially) will bleed so much onto the other mics that the concept of "spot" miking will be almost moot.

My advice is to focus your expenditure now on really getting a great capture of what is going on in the space. Playing with mixing a lot of "elements" is fun, but IMO, this is not the type thing that will deliver better results the more mics you use. Even 'close miked', the supposedly different "elements" will have only the barest degree of separation, making mixing them a chore.

OTOH, maybe playing with all the mics and mixing all the channels is one of your goals. I am just assuming that "best possible recording" is the only goal.

It would be one thing if you are bringing them into a studio, but I seriously doubt the performers will allow you to set up gobos at the event to separate the instruments.

Under no circumstances would I mess with a mixer. If you are going to run spot mics, IMO, you want each one living on its own channel, to be able to adjust them in post. Which will be tough enough. What a nightmare it would be to feel the pressure to get the balances correct, right there at the performance, with the instruments blaring away and only a pair of headphones to guide you!
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