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Live recording of an orchestra in a "dead" hall...
Old 8th March 2007
Gear Maniac

Talking Live recording of an orchestra in a "dead" hall...

Dear all,

I would like to seek your advice for a live recording of my friends orchestra. It is a pretty accoustically "dead" hall (kind of a multifunctional city theatre, so there are a lot of heavy curtains around the stage), basically not much reverb. Therefore I want to reverb the recording afterwards. I will most likely use samplitudes own reverbs for that task.The audience sits quite close and is extremely noisy (I know from last year...), yet the stage is 1,3m above. 1st Violin will sit in 5 stands to the left (16; Viola will sit right with 4 stands, behind them 1 stand Double Bass, Cello will sit right from the middle. There wil be three stands from conductor to wood winds.

The conductor doesn't want too many visible mics stands (you could guess...), I don't feel like hanging mics there, since this will be practically impossible.

Programm will be Sibelius Finnlandia, Mozart Violin Konzert D major, Brahms 2nd Symphony.

Mics presently avaiable for that recording are: 2x km184, 2x km183, 2x mk21, 5 MBHO omni caps and four MBHO cardioid caps. I may be able to get more cardioid caps (I have 7 MBHO mic bodies)

Please comment on my setup idea:

Three stands for the main setup: 120 degree XY KM184 pointed 45 degrees downwards with KM183 omnis outtriger roughly above the third stand to the left and right. The XY willmost likely be narrowed down later on accordingly to my needs. I took that setup from succesful application of an XY instead of a centre omni. So I would conser this to be amidfied ABC setup...
Thats why I did not take ORTF in the first place. I also wanted to have four mics of the same "characteristic" sound as a main setup (that why I didn't use the Schoeps, since I don't have two moni Schoeps available).

I wonder whether an "add-on" AB (don't know the correct term in English) 4m in front of orchestra (so right in the audience) will be very helpful (noise vs. more sound). This will also be an additional stand...

As a "combi spot" on one stand for wood and back row strings I chose a 120 degree XY with the mk21 something like 1,5m in front of the woods in 3m height. I chose XY for the narrowing issue and the Schoeps here since they will give a better brass sound. Also the wide cardioid will give me more strings.

Since I suppose I would like to have a soloist spot, I do use this spot as spot for the first violin in Sibelius and Brahms. I would also like to give cello, double bass (especially after "reverberisation") and timpani more presence, so I will place an "invisible" stand for the first stand of those and possible a spot for the french horns (depending on the "curtain situation"). I decided to leave the second and viola since they will be more mic stands, however I could possibly set up a stand for the first stand on both as well, if you would suggest to me (I am unsure on that)

The spots will get no reverb. the mk21 will get more reverb than the XY-omni setup, in order to improve spatial distribution of the orchestral a little.

I would like to discuss with you, whether this setup makes sense to you, whether you would suggest something completely different (I have also considered a five omni curtain - yet MBHO are not as good as the Neumann for a good "naturally airy" brass sound illusion) or whether you have anything to suggest to me.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me in advance

Best regards

Old 10th March 2007
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
A little Leif bumpage...
Old 10th March 2007
Lives for gear
hughesmr's Avatar
Hmmm, I've not had the "pleasure" of recording an orchestra in such a dead room, but I have had experience with both MK21 and KM184 as orchestral mains. I know that my first choice would definitely be the Schoeps as mains with flanking 183s. The 184s were, to my taste, much too bright and ugly on strings ... in a dead room I think the ugliness might just be compounded. I'd probably instead use the 184s (or the MBHO cards, but no experience there) as WW spots, mixed in low. A narrow spot array to minimize brass bleed is wise.

Do you have a rehearsal to test drive setups?
Old 10th March 2007
Lives for gear

If it were my gig, I'd go with the MK21's as a main pair. Put them on a long stereo bar and set them at about 14-16 inches and at about 100 degrees. From there 183's as flanks will work although you may want to position them a bit higher than the mains to smooth out your string sound which will get decidedly brighter.

From there, spots as needed on woodwinds and soloist. You won't need much on these mics as in many dead rooms they will stick out very easily.

Now, you'll want to mix with reverb. Your trick here is going to be mixing with 2 verbs instead of one. One will be a short verb (say 1.7-1.9 sec) and one will be long (2.4 sec or so). Mix the short where you want an ambience (like spots) and the long where you want a tail. You're basically making your own early versus late reflections. EQ your verbs to taste and you should get a pretty convincing recording despite the room.

Old 10th March 2007
Gear Maniac


thanks for the bumpage and the advices

Since you both prefer the Schoeps and suggest a real main mic setup (which I heavily thought over as well, but I took the 4 KMs for better "sound coherence" (if you know what I mean...)), I could very easily imagine to use the MBHOs as flanks, since they are less hyped in the high frequency compared to the KMs. I will stick to your advice placing the flanks higher, this makes kind of sense for blending purposes if I have a real main mic.

I am also very happy about your comment on multiple reverb instances, since I have worked with two reverb instances on last years recording as well (that was a five omni curtain, I gave the center additional reverb, which is not completely fine, but lets say alright... sorry, I forgot to mention earlier)

Unfortunately I won't have a rehearsel before for a "test drive", since I want this rehearsel to be recorded. Therefore things need to be rather idiot proof than completely perfect.

Thanks again and feel free for any additional advice!

So, how high would place the mk21 main mic? Rather low in order to use wood spots more intensiley in order to give the woods more reverb?
Old 12th March 2007
Lives for gear

Place your main pair in such a way that you could do without any other microphones. Listen to wind versus string balance and place from there. For an orchestra, I'll usually start at about 9 or 10 feet high and a couple feet behind the conductor. Flanks are similar height (or in your case with the 183s a bit higher) and distance from your musicians. I usually place my flanks at about the 2nd row of players. MBHOs can be fine for flanks if you use your omnis. I wouldn't use the cardiods there. I just don't know those mics as well as the Neumanns.

From there, woodwind spots will add articulation to their sound. Perhaps a touch of track delay to time align will also help.

Old 12th March 2007
Gear Maniac


It comes down to main mic with flanks and spots as desired, no tricks...
That seems to be promising.

I'll let you know in roughly two weeks, how everything ended up.


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