I have an opportunity to record a local jazz band, which consists of drums, electric bass, keyboard, trumpet and electric guitar. No audience, the focus is recording. They want to be able to play just as if they were performing a live event. I have access to a small church sanctuary about 35’X45’. I am accustomed to live choral and orchestral recordings capturing the event with a stereo pair and flanking microphones, but I need to have a few of my concerns addressed with regards to the jazz band recording.
1. Would you try to mic all of the instrument amps separately along with the drums and trumpet?
2. Or would you rather use a stereo pair to capture the entire group, (the room is not all that great)?
3. Or would you use a combination of both? If I would use a combination of both techniques will there be a problem with delayed sound arriving at the stereo pair?
The gear I have available for the project is, stereo pair of Schoeps MK41s and a pair of MK21s. Rode NT4, stereo pair of DPA 4006, one earthworks TC30K, two sm57s, one sm58, two Neumann TLM 103s. I will be recording to an Alesis HD24xr with enough mic pres and cabling to do almost any configuration. But I would prefer a minimalist setup.
Jazz generally doesn't need large halls - most jazz records seem quite dry when you're accustomed to choral music.
Such a group could work out fine with just a pair of MK21s (has worked out great for me once - drums, bass, hollowbody electric guitar, trombone), but will probably need some spot mics. As they have a keyboard and electric bass, it's not the most purist jazz approach. That's another hint that you'll probably be better off with close miking.
I'd probably use the 57s for the amps/cabinets of bass and guitar. Probably the bass amp will also have a DI out which I'd definitely use (use the mic for some "speaker dirt" and mids). Keyboard: DI out, and if he uses a cabinet and you've got enough channels you could put the 58 there.
Trumpet: I know this sounds fantastic into MK21. In Jazz, I could also imagine some ribbon if you have access to one.
Drums: TLM103 near the drummer's right ear is what Steve Remote often does - I've had great results even with a cheapo Oktava in that position. Good "mono main mic" for the drum set. You could (and probably want to) augment this with a kick and a snare mic (dynamics would be good here - put the 58 on the kick rather than on the keyboard cabinet, maybe use the other 103 for one amp instead of the 57) and the MK41s as overheads.
That's what I'd do with that mic list. Others' opinions may vary.
Sounds like fun, especially with that potentially nice sounding room.
Assuming the players are good and the room sounds nice here’s what I would do:
Imagine a circle on the stage or a nice sounding spot in the room. The circle will have a radius of about 4-5 feet.
Set-up the drums so that the batter side of the kick is tangent to the circle and faces the center of the circle. In other words, the BD is just inside the circle. If possible place 3-4 foot tall gobos on either side of the drums (this is no big deal but nice if you can).
Now place the guitar and bass on opposite sides of the drums about 2-3 feet to either side with the front of the amps also tangent to this imagined circle. Think of the amps as being just outside the circle facing the center, one to the drummer's left and the other to the right.
The center of your circle is ground zero. On that spot, place a coincident (whatever coincident type you like) pair in omni mode (second best is figure of 8, third best is cardioid) so that their height is about 1 inch above the bass drum hoop (but still 4-5 feet away from the drums). If you were to draw a line from the “center” of the drum set to ground zero, it should bisect the angle between your mics (i.e. mics are not pointing directly at drums). One mic should point directly at the guitar amp (elevate the amp if needed) and the other at the bass amp. Choose mics that capture low end well and are detailed.
Now place a cardioid or hyper cardioid mic above the drummer. Rather than pointing it stright down, angle it lisghtly toward the center of the circle, pointig at the spot where the beater hits the BD. This mic must be in phase with the other 2 mics:
-all 3 mics equidistant from the “center” of the drum set.
-The phase setting on the OH preamp should be the opposite of the GZ premps.
The guit and bass amps should be in the null of the OH mic. Gobos help with this but are not necessary. What is the “center” of a drum set? In this case I would consider it the spot where the beater hits the BD head.
Once these 3 mics are set-up, record the drummer hitting a few very staccato and loud snare and BD hits (not together). Check your DAW for phase:
-zoom in on the tracks and make sure the waves start at the same time
-make sure the sound waves are moveing in the same direction.
Then adjust the position of the OH mic as needed. During mixing use the OH track to fill in the gaps your ears may hear from the ground zero mics. The drums should sound nice in the GZ mics but may lack some definition. A touch of compression will help this as well (but save that for mixing).
Place the keyboard amp opposite the drums pointed at ground zero. The XY mics will capture the keys. Move the amp for balance. If the amp is stereo, all the better! Just make sure the stereo field of the amp is centered with that of the GZ mics. Close mic this amp just in case. If your ground zero mics are figure-of-8 then you shouldn’t need another mic for the keys. If they are omni you probably will. If they are cardioid place the keyboard amp in the null of the GZ mics and close-mic it.
You can put the trumpet player wherever you want, close miced. Just make sure the other sound sources are in this mic’s null. The best place should be between the keys and the bass amp facing ground zero with a cardioid mic facing out from the middle of your imagined circle.
One alternative is to swap the bass amp position with the drum set's position. One of the GZ mics should point at the drums and the other at the guitar amp (after all, you are simply swapping the bass and the drums) and the bass right down the middle. This may allow you to get rid of the OH mic. In this case I would place the trumpet between the keys and guitar.
Place a flanked stereo pair in the room.
Don't use the NT4 as your ground zero mic. I like those but they exhibite a pronounced proximity effect and will sound thin in this role.
5-7 mics and it should sound awesome! Post a sound bite when you get a chance.
Thanks for detailed responses and the time it takes to post, I appreciate the effort a great deal. I hope to hear more from others. It will be at least a month before I have a sound bite to post.
I am not familiar with close micing while using a main stereo pair, and I am depending on the stereo pair (MK 21s) as the only source of capturing the trumpet and hopefully a nice blend of the whole band. What I am considering doing is essentially what has been suggested,
• Schoeps stereo pair
• DI and Close mic electric bass and guitar
• DI only on the keyboard
• Drums, SM57 on the base and 103 by the drummers right ear.
I have two basic questions,
1. Does close micing in conjunction with a stereo pair cut the likelihood of phasing issues?
2. I am concerned about the 103 on the drums, could you elaborate a little more with the positioning? Also I thought I would place the drums to the left so one of the stereo mics is direct on him. Bass in the center.
Please let me know if I am off the wall on this! This is the first time I've done any individual tracking, I usually try to find the optimal placement balance between the room and the performance.
As to the "how to combine close mics and main pair" question:
Usually that isn't a problem, since you're very close with the close mics, and quite far away with the main (or room) pair. That means: what the main pair hears is quite different from what the close mics hear. It's the way it's done in most classical recording.
However, you might want to watch out for phase issues, and if something sounds thin or muddy when you sum close mic and main pair, you need to move one (or flip the polarity of the close mic).
Placing the drums to the left...you can do that, but I'd place them wherever the musicians want them, as they have said they want to be able to perform "just like in concert". It can be strange to hear the drums from your right when you're used to hearing them from the left.