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Mic strings live in a very acoustic setting Condenser Microphones
Old 22nd September 2017
  #1
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Thread Starter
Mic strings live in a very acoustic setting

This isn't really 100% a live recording question (although the performance will be recorded) but rather more a sound reinforcement question so I hope it is not too off base here.

I have an ensemble of 5 strings (string quartet + c. bass) and 5 woodwinds playing arrangements where the strings were originally written for a small orchestra instead of individual players as in a quartet.

I want to lightly amplify the strings and apply some gentle processing to broaden the sound -- not in an attempt to make them sound like an orchestral section because I realize that is a lost cause -- I just want to add a little depth, warmth and a touch of volume to balance better with the woodwinds.

I have two questions:

1 - any mic suggestions?
2 - thoughts on the smartest way to apply tasteful processing?

The winds will be miked with 2 mics across the section (and with no processing besides possible reverb) and the overall performance volume level will be only slightly above pure acoustic and intended for concert venues of a couple hundred seats.

I read the current thread about recording string sections along with rock bands but this application will not have the drastic bleed issues of that context.
Old 22nd September 2017
  #2
Gear Addict
I do live sound, live recording and often both simultaneously for folk and world
and some classical music. I routinely use Sennheiser MKH8040's(cardiod) and
8050's (hypercardiod.) They have flat frequency response, very smooth
off-axis tone, and good bass extension.
The sound for the PA and for recording is
very natural with no need for channel EQ
and no feedback problems. Highly recommended.
Bill
Old 23rd September 2017
  #3
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Thread Starter
Thank you, folkie. I'll bet it sounds great. I was hoping to find something for less than the $1200 that the MKH 80x0 costs. I'll need to buy 4 and the $5k is too steep for me right now.
Any suggestions for a smaller budget?
Old 23rd September 2017
  #4
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Is renting mics an option? Then you don't have to compromise on mic quality.
Old 24th September 2017
  #5
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You could do lots worse than four Line Audio CM3s. Four would cost you $500.00US, plus shipping and time for transit. There are a couple of distributors in USA and Europe (you don't say where you're located) so this might not work, depending on schedule.

I own two, and use them regularly for choral and orchestra recording and reinforcement. They won't go as high and low as my MKH8040s, but on small-form applications, that's not really an obstacle. What they are is smooth, refined and slightly wider cardioid pattern.

Good luck.

HB

Line Audio Design - Made in Sweden
Old 6th October 2017
  #6
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Thread Starter
Thanks for that , hbphotoav.
$500 for 4 is even better than I was hoping! Plus, they are small and I could easily travel with them.
Old 6th October 2017
  #7
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
Note however that the MKH8040 is cardioid and the MKH8050 is super cardioid, whereas the CM3 is a wide cardioid...just something to keep in mind when using them for sound reinforcement. Perhaps at the levels you are proposing feedback will not be an issue; spill may be.
Old 6th October 2017
  #8
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Hello! Look at Beyerdynamic (930 - cardio, 950 hyper, 910 omni), Deep sound at an affordable cost. $ 800 per pair.
High sensitivity makes it possible not to have a top class PRE.
Old 6th October 2017
  #9
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

I think this may well be a case of needing to massage the arrangements...
Old 7th October 2017
  #10
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I have 4 CM3s for portable micing of various ensemble capture assignments: feedback and spill have not been a problem for me however it is very important to experiment with placement during a rehearsal to avoid these potential problems.
I also have several ATM450 side addressed condensers that I initially acquired for acoustic guitar, mandolin and fiddle in Bluegrass live performance. Their sonic capture is ideal however the CM3 wider card pattern is probably more suitable to your application.
Hugh
Old 7th October 2017
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hook of View Post
Hello! Look at Beyerdynamic (930 - cardio, 950 hyper, 910 omni), Deep sound at an affordable cost. $ 800 per pair.
High sensitivity makes it possible not to have a top class PRE.
+1. I often do sound reinforcement with a pair of 930 of choirs and ensembles.
Their great and smouth off axis works very well in these situations. And yes they have a 30mv sensibility, very usefull when the pre arn't top !
Old 7th October 2017
  #12
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by circle110 View Post
This isn't really 100% a live recording question (although the performance will be recorded) but rather more a sound reinforcement question so I hope it is not too off base here.


I want to lightly amplify the strings and apply some gentle processing to broaden the sound -- not in an attempt to make them sound like an orchestral section because I realize that is a lost cause -- I just want to add a little depth, warmth and a touch of volume to balance better with the woodwinds.
.
Balance and level are not the only issues. PRESENCE matching will come into play, hence my first suggestion of taking a long, hard look at the arrangements.
Trying to implement a technical solution to a musical problem has its risks.

How are you going to introduce the reinforced sound into the hall? Careful attention to the placement and type of speakers will be required, but the bottom line is that you'll have the string sound emanating from two different sources, the instruments themselves PLUS the loudspeakers. It will be extremely difficult to balance the presence of the strings to the winds and any smear due to differing arrival times will not be consistent across the listening area.

The likely solution to the presence problem would be to simply reinforce everything and then stand a chance of maintaining coherent audio presence between the strings and winds. To try to match miked and unmiked sources presence-wise is extremely risky and not something I'd like to hear.

Last edited by Wyllys; 7th October 2017 at 05:41 PM..
Old 7th October 2017
  #13
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyllys View Post
Balance and level are not the only issues. PRESENCE matching will come into play, hence my first suggestion of taking a long, hard look at the arrangements.
Trying to implement a technical solution to a musical problem has its risks.

How are you going to introduce the reinforced sound into the hall? Careful attention to the placement and type of speakers will be required, but the bottom line is that you'll have the string sound emanating from two different sources, the instruments themselves PLUS the loudspeakers. It will be extremely difficult to balance the presence of the strings to the winds and any smear due to differing arrival times will not be consistent across the listening area.

The likely solution to the presence problem would be to simply reinforce everything and then stand a chance of maintaining coherent audio presence between the strings and winds. To try to match miked and unmiked sources presence-wise is extremely risky and not something I'd like to hear.
Thank you for your well thought out response.

I apologize, I was not very clear on this point in my original post. All instruments are being miked and amplified, so the matching isn't necessarily a problem. The arrangements work just fine as they are.

I am trying to accomplish something else.
Example: A guitar sounds just great without a phase shifter, so adding a phase shifter isn't trying to solve a problem, it is an additional enhancement that, in certain instances, adds to the musical context. Many (most?) times it doesn't.

So it is with the string quartet compared to a string orchestra. Sometimes the quartet, due to its drier, more incisive sound, works even better than a string section. 8 violins are not very much louder than one violin so balance is a pretty minor difference between a quartet and an orchestral section. I am looking for ways to take advantage of the amplification of the strings to find creative options for enhancing the sound of the quartet (actually it is a quintet because there is an added string bass.) I am also looking for ideas on how to mic the strings. Since I made the original post things have changed and I'll be doing this in several cities and countries. Some of the quartets will have pickups on their instruments, adding another sound reinforcement option, and they are used to playing amplified. Other quartets are not as used to being amplified and don't have pickups on their instruments.

As to how to present it to the house -- since it will be presented in a variety of venues, each with its own sound system configuration. I will have to deal with each situation one by one. I just have to hope for experienced yet open minded sound techs.
Old 7th October 2017
  #14
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 

IMO, there's not a pickup made that sounds as "good" (i.e., "true to the source") as a DPA mic on each acoustic instrument. I own and use 4061 (2) and 4099 (4) at every opportunity where the goal is a "natural" acoustic sound. However...

There are many times where the goal requires a direct pickup, and a good DI. In those instances, I have no problem pulling out my Klark Technik/Countryman/Radial DI boxes. But they are what they are. 4099s remain my first choice for amplifying acoustic instruments of pretty much any sort. They also work well as choral support mics... hypercardioid, with smooth off-axis. I wish I'd bought them years ago.

If you do not have a "tech rider" that specifies the mics, foldback, FoH "main" mixing/monitors desk(s) and main PA you require to amplify "your" vision, and you cannot travel with a basic gear pack to achieve "your" sound across numerous venues, then you're doomed to "whatever the house has available", and lose any real control over the sound of your performances. I'd be not happy at all in that situation, were I in your shoes... and that is why I have built a solid, well-known-to-me set of gear for "my" gigs (small-form PA and location recording), allowing repeatable sound quality in most venues.

One old guy's opinion... YMMV.

HB

Last edited by hbphotoav; 7th October 2017 at 08:27 PM..
Old 7th October 2017
  #15
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

Picking nits:

Assuming equal output from each of the 8 violins, the laws of physics state a 9 dB increase in output over one violin. In real world terms this equates to "twice as loud".
Old 7th October 2017
  #16
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

OK. Given the updated information here are some observations:

1. Any processing/sweetening of the strings SHOULD require individual mics or transducers. Applying processing to area or section mics will not give good results...to put it politely.

2. You'll want separate control over the processed and unprocessed string signals. This means either individual instrument mics split into two channels each or individual mics for the FX processing and area/section mics for boosting the natural sound.

{Edit}

I see you'll be relying on house sound technicians to implement your concept. The statements above regarding individual instrument mics still apply. Trying to massage area/section mics live opens a few cans of worms, so be flexible. If you can contact the local mix-person in advance, lay out your concerns and ideas and take their input, you'll be miles ahead.

P.S.

Affordable instrument mics for your kit to drive the wet signals would be AT Pro70 on the low end and AT Pro35 for the intermediate. I would put the $$$ into the area/section mics and not spend more than necessary to drive the FX.

Good luck.

Last edited by Wyllys; 8th October 2017 at 07:33 PM..
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