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Big Band Jazz Studio recording Condenser Microphones
Old 20th July 2017
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by ajfarber View Post

Here is a mix of another tune. How does the bass work for you here?
These are nice recordings! My initial reaction to this one though was that the mix as a whole seems a bit bass-light.
Old 20th July 2017
Lives for gear
ajfarber's Avatar

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Originally Posted by Peller View Post
These are nice recordings! My initial reaction to this one though was that the mix as a whole seems a bit bass-light.
I think you're right. It'n not the volume of the bass as much as the frequency. I rolled off a bit from 120Hz, I'll go back and leave the bass tracks flat.

The bass was recorded with 2 mics. RCA77DX on the strings just above the bridge, and an EV 664 on the body of the bass, G-string side just below the f-hole. No DI of course.
Old 31st July 2017
Arrow Big Band musings and some example recordings...

I have recorded and mixed a number of big band albums and agree with others in this thread about how challenging they are!

One of the biggest challenges is panning as this thread has witnessed. I did one big band album where the composer wanted sections of the band panned hard left and right along with the drums panned hard to the left. I struggled with this for a while, listening to Stan Kenton records with this setup for reference. The same composer also likes drums mixed pretty far back which also did not initially appeal to me.

Another difficult part to emulate that has also been mentioned here is the smooth reverbs of the 50s and 60s big band recordings. I was able to emulate it pretty well with the McDSP Revolver and some EQ. There's this glossiness to the reverbs of that era that is hard to nail with modern verbs. I think I'd have better luck these days with some of the latest models from Slate Digital's VerbSuite Classics plugin.

At any rate, you can hear some of the big band recordings at this link that I've worked on with a quick guided tour from me. Most of these performances are by the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra:
  1. Check out tracks from the Birth of the Cool record first. I love them all but the "Venus de Milo" is really special. This live recording was made with a combination of close mics on every instrument, section mics covering the horn section, and some bigger picture stage mics. I think this is the best big band sound I've gotten so far because it is so natural and uses a more of these ambient mics rather than relying entirely on close mics...depends on what you're going for, of course...
  2. Next try the Fleet Street album, big band arrangements of the music from Sweeney Todd. This was a highly edited album with a lot of Melodyne work so everything was close mic'd with no ambient mics used. As a result, I had to use some tricks with effects to create a space after the fact. Doing this tends to remove some of the magic that mics in the air can create. The melodies are so strong from this musical that this album was a real pleasure to mix once the tedious note edits were made. Try out the first track, "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd". You can hear the glossy verb tail on the trumpets, especially, when they are blaring away and then stop immediately.
  3. Now check out tracks from the Progressive Jazz and Beyond album. This is the project with the radical panning and glossy verb I was talking about above. It is still a bit of challenge for me to listen but it certainly is easy to discern all the movement in the horn lines. This type of panning is very close to the original Stan Kenton records we were working towards. You might try "Ahora es el Tiempo"
I hope you enjoy checking out these recordings. This is a fun thread to be a part of. All music needs more horns!
Old 2nd August 2017
Gear Nut
Originally Posted by ajfarber View Post
Hi gang, I just recorded a new CD with a 16-piece jazz band. 5 reeds, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, and 4 rhythm.
The recording process was a hybrid between a classic 1960s-era recording style, but with modern gear. Here's a link to the studio website. Oktaven audiO
I cannot say enough good things about Oktaven and the owner/engineer Ryan Streber. First of all, the space was designed for acoustic music to be played live in the room, so there are no weird nodes and frequencies bouncing around in there. Also, Ryan is a Juilliard trained classical composer, so he knows music.

We mic-ed everything, as opposed to a 50+ year-old big band date where fewer mics would have been used. However, we used minimal micing on drums and piano. In the piano we had a single M49 (like they would use at Columbia 30 street) and a Schoeps in one of the holes (like RVG). In the mix, I blend the two mics. On the bass, we used a RCA77DX on the strings just above the bridge, and an EV664 on the bass body, G-string side, just below the F-hole. (that last phrase sounds a bit naughty;-)) No DI of course. The guitar player brought an archtop acoustic with bronze strings that we mic'ed with a KM-84 or something like that. He played and electric archtop on two tunes, and we mic'ed the amp with an early U87.

The drums had a single C-12 to capture the whole set. Also, we added a Schoeps CM6, or something like that for the snare/hi-hat area. An AKG D12-e is on the bassdrum but not really needed because the bassdrum leaks into the other drum mics.

If you look at the Oktaven website, you'll notice they have a nice mix of vintage mics and new mics. I don't really care about vintage mics, I mean if a new LDC tube mic sounds great, like a Lawson L-47 as an example, then who needs an old U-47? I love old RCAs but new Royers, AEA, and Coles are just as good, maybe better.

Anyway, some photos from the session can be found here

Here's a quick mp3 temp mix of one of the tunes.

This one is a WAV file of another piece:

You mentioned one of the mics being in one of the holes on the piano harp, but wasn't sure where you put the other piano mic.

Old 2nd August 2017
Gear Nut
Originally Posted by ajfarber View Post
Okay gang, here's another mix.
I made the stereo spread a bit mare narrow.
I also rebalanced the rhythm section to sound more natural when monitoring in mono.
I changed the bass compressor a bit, and removed the eq from the bass mic.

I still have the imaging pretty much the same, but I moved the alto solo to the middle and shoved the clarinet solo over to 9 o'clock.
I think this version sounds phenomenal. I'm using Grado headphones and think it sounds really good as far as stereo imaging is concerned. I think it is cool that you were experimenting with the extreme panning that was done on the earlier jazz albums from late 50s early 60s.
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