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Lute and Violin recording - only 4 microphones
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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Thread Starter
Lute and Violin recording - only 4 microphones

Dear members,
I would like to ask how would you set up a configuration to record a violin and a baroque lute in a nice sounding room/small church if you only had 4 mics. (2 cardioids and 2 omnis) ?
Would you use both cardioids for the lute, to compensate for the soft volume and let the violin be capture by the omnis in AB, or would you rather use 1 cardioid for each instrument + the omnis as AB to capture the reverb of the place ?

Thank you
Herman
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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Just because you have 4 mics doesn't mean you have to use them all

If it's a recording session rather than a concert then you could have both players seated (and facing each other) and place an AB omni pair between them, perhaps closer to the lute and lower to the floor (maybe put a rug on the floor between the players to soak up some floor reflections) to capture lute detail.

Vary the distance between the players and mic AB spacing/height (and relative distance between each player and mics) until you get a good instrumental blend and sufficient ambience, while retaining focus for the lute.

With the 4 mics you could use them in a boojum/norman/ faulkner 4 mic phased array (plenty of threads on the method in this forum) with instruments side by side-ish...and if the violin dominates, it can be situated further back (although this may negate eye-contact, which is a very bad thing....to be avoided)

Aim for a better balance with 2 mics only (AB omnis or ORTF/NOS cardioids) to begin with..and add spots as necessary. Don't forget that an omni can also function very well as a lute spot, used closer than a cardioid, and will also blend better into the soundscape, as it will have a reverb component attached.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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RobAnderson's Avatar
Main pair omni's - work hard to make it sound like the record with no spots.

Then put a single cardioid spot on each instrument for safety. Find good sound with decent isolation for each instrument. Spike chairs and stands to avoid drift throughout the session, what with breaks and such.

At the end of the session, do a sync clap into each mic from the position of the instrument it was spotting, so if you need to use it you will have some means of delaying to the mains, should that be necessary.

Hopefully there is no need for the close mic's. But you'll be glad you have them, should the need arise later on in post.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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The sitting vs standing violin player issue will have a substantial impact on the relative balance and tone of the instrument against the lute.

Whether you follow Rob's or my or other suggestions, the trial and repeat seating and siting arrangements to arrive at the best balance for your main mic pair will be critical...so factor in this experimentation time, rather than relying on spots alone as 'focus fixup' later on.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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Thread Starter
Thank you very much for your answers.
Both players will be sitting, and they asked to be recorded in their usual concert position.
The faulkner array sounds interesting, but I still can not imagine how to deal with the big sound difference between the instruments.
Anyway, thanks again for your time in replying.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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Will you be monitoring this recording in a separate room from the players...with headphones...or speakers ?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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Thread Starter
Headphones...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herman Heil View Post
Headphones...
...and the separate room component ?

If you're well enough away from the players, and/or have sealed earcup headphones, you'll be able to make those judgements about sufficient detail from the lute quite easily. If you're sitting close to them, with open-back headphones, the judgements will be compromised
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
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Thread Starter
No, I will be in the same room, with closed headphones, but I guess that will not be enough for a neutral appreciation.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herman Heil View Post
No, I will be in the same room, with closed headphones, but I guess that will not be enough for a neutral appreciation.
With long enough mic cables you'll be fine, hide yourself around a corner ideally...and have a picture in your mind's ear of how detailed you'd like the lute to sound in the recording before you begin...spend some time listening to them both up close and from further away (without headphones on, just acoustically in the room/church) before you begin recording.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Without speakers and control room and with the musicians insisting on their traditional positions please go for the safety strategy... cardiods as spots for both instruments, all mics being recorded to dedicated tracks.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

One comment about the directionality of the instruments; the violin's sound will project mostly up and away while the lute's sound will project more forward.

The violin is also held higher than the lute.

It might be interesting to experiment with placing your AB omnis lower than usual to split the difference to achieve a good balance. Of course, this will mean less ambiance so the omnis may need to be placed further back to compensate.

Just a thought...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
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Thread Starter
Yes, it is clear by now that I will be using the spot mics on both instuments. My only concern is whether the lute will not sound weird with only one spot, as I will have.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
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RobAnderson's Avatar
Is it baroque violin? "regular" lute, or theorbo? If it's a theorbo against baroque violin, your problem may be the other way around - the pluck can cut through pretty powerfully. Baroque guitar can also be surprisingly loud. Plain old lute, maybe not.

As others have observed, higher may not be the better move to get your blend. Find a spot out in front where the instrument balance is good, and start there. Plan time to listen and make adjustments. Record the sound check, and keep some notes so you can get back to something if you end up preferring it.

Don't be afraid to ask musicians to adjust their seating or playing to help get the best result. But first, listen in the hall as they play, and see what the actual balance is. You might be surprised at the ability of players to balance themselves.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herman Heil View Post
Thank you very much for your answers.
Both players will be sitting, and they asked to be recorded in their usual concert position
If their usual concert position is somewhat distanced apart and perhaps facing in to each other 45 degrees, they might be ok with facing each other fully....and having the mics between them ? Otherwise if they are both facing the audience you'll have more of a pronounced left/right separation
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
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Thread Starter
Yes Rob, it is a baroque lute (very soft instrument!) and a baroque violin.

Their position es facing the audience, but I guess I can convince them to record facing each other. Do you think that this way, if I place the 2 omnis in AB (as if pointing to the stage, and not so high) I could get a better balance (+ spot mics) ? It makes sense really.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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To avoid wearing out their playing chops before recording begins, I'd do the following.

Long carpet (not wide) or rug on floor to soak up reflections (and thus comb-filtering)....maybe it's already there ? Omni AB pair, only 4-5 feet high, in middle of carpet's length. Seat lutenist 4 to 5 feet away from mic pair. Adjust height and distance of mics from lutenist so you get a nice balance of room ambience and instrument detail. Keep honing this distance until happy.

Introduce violinist opposite/facing lutenist, 9 or more feet from mic pair. Both are playing together now. Gradually bring him/her closer to the mic pair until you have the desired blend of instrumental richness and ambience, as you've already obtained with lute. Almost certainly the violin will end up located further from the mic pair than the lute. Hopefully at this stage they both still have carpet/rug under them ! Only now....add your 'insurance spots'.

As Rob says, "work hard to make it sound like the record with no spots" If you go about it in reverse, placing spots first and then the AB pair last, you'll get a studio type of sound...close miked mono instruments, with the AB pair as your 'reverb buss", which is not going to sound anywhere near as natural and lifelike as the reverse outlined above.

You'll do a lot of walking back and forth from headphone listening to mic adjusting...hope you are fit, or bring an assistant to do this for you. You need a really clear mental 'ear picture' of the sound balance you are shooting for, listen to several CD's of similar works to help refine this picture before the recording.

If they can somehow arrange for their rehearsals to take place in the same church/hall as the final recording, and you can do this experimenting with them in the days beforehand...imagine how much better prepared you will be on the Big Day/Evening itself !
Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
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Thread Starter
Thank you very very much for the detailed answer!. Just to be sure, if I place the musicians facing each other, the omnis will be pointing to the sides and not directly to the players then, right ?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herman Heil View Post
Thank you very very much for the detailed answer!. Just to be sure, if I place the musicians facing each other, the omnis will be pointing to the sides and not directly to the players then, right ?
There is some HF directionality, even with omnis, and you may want to use this to get a little more detail on the lute...by pointing them towards the lute...or else you may get more even-ness of ambience pickup by pointing them up at the ceiling (my preference)

Try a few quick mic angle direction changes with the lute only, and see what sounds best. Remember that the pivotal role of the omni pair is to establish a common shared ambience field for both instruments, rather than favouring one at the expense of the other. It also depends if your omni pair is designed to work in the near field or diffuse field (ie close or further away)...that's inherent to the particular model/type you have.

That's just how i would approach it...I hope others will chime in here with their preferred methods also !

Last edited by studer58; 2 weeks ago at 01:11 PM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #20
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Thread Starter
Yes, it would be very nice to hear different opinions.

The omnis I have are the Schoeps Mk2h, which are supposed to work best at a medium distance, so originally I thought something like 2-3 meters from the source but not high so I have some directionality from the lute, though what you suggest really makes sense.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #21
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Take comfort in the fact this music, which I assume is from the Baroque era, is being performed on period instruments by musicians that are likely experts on the performance practice of that time. This means the sound coming off the stage is what they, and the long-dead composer, wants the audience to hear. It may seem like the violin will overpower the lute, and at times it may, but the timbral difference between a "pluck" and a "bow" is enough of a contrast that the lute will be heard.

Here is an interview with Paul O'Dette: Paul O'Dette Interview with Bruce Duffie . . . . .
It covers a lot of ground (the recording discussion is roughly in the middle) and the man knows what he is talking about.

(Main Pair - AB Omni's)
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Herman Heil View Post
Both players will be sitting, and they asked to be recorded in their usual concert position.
Ah, so they are used to this, and can self-balance their levels as they would have to do for playing a concert.

In that case, if the room is really nice sounding, a pair AB omnis sound suffice. If the room is less nice, an ORTF pair of cards might work better. No spots in either case, because the musicians will be making the musical choices of balance; you won't be making those choices for them in post.

IOW, just treat it like a concert. You should be fine, they should be happy.
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