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Recording a brass band in a cathedral Condenser Microphones
Old 30th January 2018
  #1
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guosh's Avatar
 

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Recording a brass band in a cathedral

Hi everyone,

I might have an opportunity to hold a recording session with a brass band for their charity CD this year. We'll likely be recording in a cathedral, and I had the chance of recording them live for their Christmas concert last month.

I was hoping to get some comments about the recording I did with them using a Jecklin disk with 2 MBHO linear omnis, 6 feet behind the conductor and 6 feet above the ground.

You can find the recordings here:

Lion City Brass Band Xmas Concert 2017 by GuoshACChoir | Guosh ACChoir | Free Listening on SoundCloud


Personally I found the venue a little too wet and was thinking of dampening the reflections a little, especially at the sides of the cathedral.

I was also thinking of changing the setup to ORTF cardoids and A-B at a distance for ambience, and adding spots to the percussion (Rode NT5s) and the tubas (Hebden Sound omnis)


I'm pretty excited because I've not been recording for a while, and it's my first closed door recording session on my own. Any comments would be great. Thanks lots!
Attached Thumbnails
Recording a brass band in a cathedral-brassband1.jpg   Recording a brass band in a cathedral-brassband2.jpg  
Old 30th January 2018
  #2
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Cathedrals can be very wet with brassy things
You may have to get directional and inside the critical distance for intelligibility
Roger
Old 30th January 2018
  #3
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Trouble with brass bands often is the instruments radiate all towards different directions. You can see this clearly in the second picture. Trumpets aiming at the floor in front of the conductor, tubas to the ceiling, and so on.
Therefore a typical main pair somewhere over conductor's head might not work on its own, but you might need a few (directional) spots to cover all those instrument patterns.
I like the "distant spaced pair" approach to gel it all together. Brass may well have quite a wet sound as long as it's a "good" wetness without boominess.
Old 30th January 2018
  #4
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Hello Guosh,

Nice band! But yes, omni is probably not the way to go in this kind of acoustic...
I only record classical music and to me the most important is the quality of the room where I record...

There will be no audience if it is a recording session, am I right?
If it's the case and if you have the option to, maybe you could:
- Put some carpets on the floor where are the musicians (just ask each of them to come with one carpet, it should be ok)
- Stretch a sheet between the stage and the audience seats with the help of several big microphone stands, or better with a cable (you can find big protection covers for the floors used by the painters)
- Try a figure of eight pair as main, the null will help to cancel the side walls reflections and their back 'll be attenuated by the sheet/covers
- Spot mics.

Have fun!

Fred.

Last edited by fred2bern; 30th January 2018 at 09:11 PM..
Old 30th January 2018
  #5
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h

Quote:
Originally Posted by fred2bern View Post
Hello Guosh,

Nice band! But yes, omni is probably not the way to go in this kind of acoustic...
I only record classical music and to me the most important is the quality of the room where I record...

There will be no audience if it is a recording session, am I right?
If it's the case and if you have the option to, maybe you could:
- Put some carpets on the floor where are the musicians (just ask each of them to come with one carpet, it should be ok)
- Stretch a sheet between the stage and the audience seats with the help of several big microphone stands, or better with a cable (you can find big protection covers for the floors used by the painters)
- Try a figure of eight pair as main, the null will help to cancel the side walls reflections and their back 'll be attenuated by the sheet/covers
- Spots.

Have fun!

Fred.
Yes, fig 8'a are a good choice. They will
also help by rejecting above and below
as well.
Old 30th January 2018
  #6
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Plush's Avatar
I suggest to augment your main pair with close mics on each instrument. I use ribbon mics but others will work too.

This fulfills the guideline that good sound is a blend of something far(ther) and something close(er).
Old 6th February 2018
  #7
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In some ways it depends on what their expectation is of how the end product will sound - have you got a point of reference / comparison from them?

In the U.K. the majority of commercial brass band CDs - at least of the more well known bands - are multimiked as Plush has suggested (the main exception are CDs produced from contest archive recordings).

The main pairs depend on all sorts of things but the venue, producer preference and the engineer will all play a part...pretty much all of the main techniques are used by various people / companies...but most of the major companies place spot mics in a similar way on most sections of the band and occasionally in situ on featured instruments.
Old 6th February 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guosh View Post
Jecklin disk with 2 MBHO linear omnis...
I was also thinking of changing the setup to ORTF cardoids
A-B at a distance for ambience, and adding spots to the percussion (Rode NT5s) and the tubas (Hebden Sound omnis)
i have assisted jürg jecklin through many years (starting in the early eighties), so i thought you might find it interesting to hear that he hardly ever used his own technique... (if he did, it was mainly on smaller ensembles or if m/s or ortf wasn't getting him a picture he was looking for).

i'd also support the idea to have a main pair (or multi capsule array), spaced a/b for ambi/room sound and a bunch of spot mics with some directivity: you might end up using more of the spot mics than usual - and putting up a few drapes to dampen some nasty reflection could also help.
Old 9th February 2018
  #9
Just my 2 cents.

Are you able to get the mics high up? It would allow the sound to blend whilst making sure you get enough of the bass instruments. Yes, brass instruments are highly directional, but I think if you find a 'sweet spot' in terms of distance I tihnk you could be ok with two mics.

Remember, groups like this are supposed to balance themselves. That is what the sheet music and conductor is for.

Old 10th February 2018
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexvdbroek View Post
Remember, groups like this are supposed to balance themselves. That is what the sheet music and conductor is for.

They are....but very often they don't.... I'm often asked for balance changes in post and even things like "this should be 25% faster"!

It often doesn't go down well if you tell them the MD should have new batteries

If the OP goes down the minimalist route it might be prudent to explain the limitations to the client....and even then they'll still ask....
Old 10th February 2018
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexvdbroek View Post
Just my 2 cents.

Are you able to get the mics high up? It would allow the sound to blend whilst making sure you get enough of the bass instruments. Yes, brass instruments are highly directional, but I think if you find a 'sweet spot' in terms of distance I tihnk you could be ok with two mics.

Remember, groups like this are supposed to balance themselves. That is what the sheet music and conductor is for.

the question is, how much rehearsal/experimenting time are you likely to get...to be able to confidently nail the 'sweet spot' in 3 dimensions...and then be able to locate your mic pair "Just There" ?

Groups and individuals and conductors often don't conform to what they're 'supposed' to do...they just do what's most convenient...and then they repent ! (isn't that a steal from a Bob Dylan song ?)
Old 12th February 2018
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
the question is, how much rehearsal/experimenting time are you likely to get...to be able to confidently nail the 'sweet spot' in 3 dimensions...
soundfield mics help you not to worry too much about two dimensions, so it's down to making an educated guess about the height :-)

(if using ambient/room mics, i don't get the point of having mics way up in the thin air - if i could, i'd have my main mics at ear height of the conductor!)
Old 12th February 2018
  #13
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Roland's Avatar
Height is important, but because of the “square” setup that brass bands traditionally adopt this means you can’t go too silly. Mulitimiking is the often used approach, however this is often not ideal as the presentation becomes very artificial. A good solution is a spaced pair of spots to cover the tubas, this will bring your balance back and preserve a decent stereo image. Of course, depending on piece, percussion spots are sometimes required.
Old 12th February 2018
  #14
Roland, out of curiosity, what might your choice of pattern/mic be for such spots in this specific situation?

Thanks!
Luke
Old 12th February 2018
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukedamrosch View Post
Roland, out of curiosity, what might your choice of pattern/mic be for such spots in this specific situation?

Thanks!
Luke
I'm not Roland...but I do quite a bit of brass band stuff...

The bass spots often depend on where you're recording and who's doing the recording (some producers can be specific in their requirements)...in the UK you'll quite often see 4006s used, although some people prefer LDCs (you frequently see 414s being used which is perhaps a hangover from BBC days where they used to use a lot of them)...personally, though, I tend to reach for CMC62 if I'm wanting a SDC omni for this purpose or TLM170R and vary the pattern depending on what I need.

Given that the perx is more often than not directly behind the basses, sometimes you get enough of it in this rear pair...sometimes it'll need some definition from spots...but I'm generally less specific in my choice for them (though recently I've been liking CMC622 on some things)... I usually use something like KM184 or CM3 on timps...
Old 12th February 2018
  #16
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I used fig 8s and height
If soloists were feeble they could be placed in the rear of the 8s, as could the percs
I recorded the conductors balance and it worked very well imho
However in the edit the 'committee' wanted all sorts of tweaks, luckily this was impossible
Thats why you need a producer....
Roger
Old 12th February 2018
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
However in the edit the 'committee' wanted all sorts of tweaks, luckily this was impossible
Quote of the year!

KMJohnson: Thanks for sharing your thoughts... I too am a big fan of CMC62 in this (or any) purpose, but have had no experience yet with louder brass and percussion in a cathedral setting, where I would have thought that omni spots could be problematic in their ambience pickup. Of course it must all depend, as usual, on the specific ensemble, venue, and material. Thanks again!
Old 12th February 2018
  #18
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Roland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lukedamrosch View Post
Roland, out of curiosity, what might your choice of pattern/mic be for such spots in this specific situation?

Thanks!
Luke
I would use cardioid, not omni as there is a risk of reverse comb filtering towards the front of the band. The idea are for these to lift the bass/rear of the band, large or small diaphram I don’t think is too important, I’d be happy with anything from a km 84/ cm4 to a 414/U87 as your main “picture” should be your main pair. When I mentioned spotting percussion I was talking about things like timpani, and xylophone, that type of thing, as at a distance they can loose tone and sound thin.
Old 12th February 2018
  #19
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Roland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
I used fig 8s and height
If soloists were feeble they could be placed in the rear of the 8s, as could the percs
I recorded the conductors balance and it worked very well imho
However in the edit the 'committee' wanted all sorts of tweaks, luckily this was impossible
Thats why you need a producer....
Roger
I see your point and I agree that fig 8’s can make excellent spot mics because of their pattern control, however, lack of bass end might be a issue in this instance.
Old 12th February 2018
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland View Post
I would use cardioid, not omni as there is a risk of reverse comb filtering towards the front of the band. The idea are for these to lift the bass/rear of the band, large or small diaphram I don’t think is too important, I’d be happy with anything from a km 84/ cm4 to a 414/U87 as your main “picture” should be your main pair. When I mentioned spotting percussion I was talking about things like timpani, and xylophone, that type of thing, as at a distance they can loose tone and sound thin.
Thanks very much!
Old 13th February 2018
  #21
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Roland
MKH 30 s are not LF light!
Old 13th February 2018
  #22
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bitman's Avatar
That could get brassy!
Old 13th February 2018
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukedamrosch View Post
Quote of the year!

KMJohnson: Thanks for sharing your thoughts... I too am a big fan of CMC62 in this (or any) purpose, but have had no experience yet with louder brass and percussion in a cathedral setting, where I would have thought that omni spots could be problematic in their ambience pickup. Of course it must all depend, as usual, on the specific ensemble, venue, and material. Thanks again!
Yep, they can be...I'll occasionally swap them out for wide cardioids (either KM143 / CMC621 or a switchable pattern LDC)...I rarely use cardioids over the basses / tubas...
Old 13th February 2018
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Roland
MKH 30 s are not LF light!
Not subjectively light perhaps, but the MKH30 does employ a fixed, inbuilt "cutoff filter below 30Hz to suppress disturbances due to low frequency air or body noises (subsonic signals)"
Also the LF filter which (if used) cuts in quite early (700Hz) to deal with proximity effects and "to avoid low frequency interference due to footfall vibration"

See pgs 14, 18: http://recordinghacks.com/pdf/sennheiser/MKH_30_P48.pdf

Sennheiser Electronics Corporation MKH 30 | RecordingHacks.com
Old 13th February 2018
  #25
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Roland's Avatar
I really like mkh30’s, but most fig 8’s are bass light the mkh has equalisation to do it, the Royer and the STC are reasonable for low end, but with tubas I’d want it full.

Chandon made some decent brass band recordings, some of the Doyen ones were good, but some were a little of a mixed bag. Never cared for the studio music ones, far too overmiked for my liking.
Old 13th February 2018
  #26
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Most 8 s might be a little bass light ,but not the MKH30
Its perfect for music if mounted in a decent lyre, run it with no frequency attenuation
No need for the proximity filter unless v close working
Footfall depends on stand and shock mount, both vital ingredients to good SQ
Old 14th February 2018
  #27
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Roland's Avatar
I agree with you assessment of the mkh 30, but I would also say that with the likely placement they would be slightly too narrow in pickup patter. Wide cardioid and cardioid s are near perfect for this work.
Old 10th March 2018
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by KMJohnson View Post
They are....but very often they don't.... I'm often asked for balance changes in post and even things like "this should be 25% faster"!

It often doesn't go down well if you tell them the MD should have new batteries

If the OP goes down the minimalist route it might be prudent to explain the limitations to the client....and even then they'll still ask....
Communicate clearly with the leader before you start so you can warn them of any potential balance issues. Micing everything is artificial and will be a pain in the arse.

A.
Old 10th March 2018
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexvdbroek View Post
Micing everything is artificial and will be a pain in the arse.
no - you better learn to mix...

i'd be much more interested in the results the op got.
Old 10th March 2018
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexvdbroek View Post
Communicate clearly with the leader before you start so you can warn them of any potential balance issues. Micing everything is artificial and will be a pain in the arse.

A.
As you rightly say, people management and management of expectations is a large part of delivering a project....but however well one communicates, there are often instances where in post they’ll still ask for something you’ve told them isn’t either reasonable or possible.

Similarly with the miking...this isn’t about what I want...it’s about delivering what the paying customers want...and quite often that requires more than two microphones, so you have the opportunity to ‘fix’ things for them so they’ll pay the bill. It matters not if it’s artificial...just that it’s what you’ve been asked to deliver.

Of course there are projects where the client leaves it to you, and the choices are then made by the engineer and / or producer...but, for example, when I rock up to Brighouse & Rastrick Band with Prof David King conducting I know pretty much how demanding his expectations are and an ORTF pair of whatevers won’t cut it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
no - you better learn to mix...

i'd be much more interested in the results the op got.
Quite.
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