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Youth orchestra Condenser Microphones
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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Thread Starter
Youth orchestra

I am about to record a youth orchestra's debut in a 300 seats hall. 10 meters wide, with concrete walls...

There are not so much string players, so there is a inbalance.

What would you use for microphones?

I have
  • 3 pairs of Gefells (SDC and LDC omnis, UM70 LDC (omni/card/fig8)),
  • 2 pairs of Line audio omni en sub cardio (OM1 and CM3)
  • 2 pairs of ribbons.
  • a soundfield microphone
.

I will run a multitrack recorder and a backup stereo recorder.

would you use AB with omnis? or reduce the hall signature pickup by using
cardio or figure 8 ?

outriggers?

thanks,

Emmanuel
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by monitor View Post
I am about to record a youth orchestra's debut in a 300 seats hall. 10 meters wide, with concrete walls...

There are not so much string players, so there is a inbalance.
I record the local youth orchestra four to five times a year. I imagine all youth orchestras face recruitment challenges (how can kids learn that classical music is 'cool' if they don't get exposed to it at school, by their parents, etc.?) and often one section or another ends up under-represented. It is really up to the conductor to deal with the balance and there are many possible solutions, ranging from careful selection of repertoire to putting adult pro or volunteer musicians in certain sections. I would say its best for the recording engineer not to get involved in balance questions other than to ensure that solos are audible in the final mix - e.g. spot micing a clarinet solo if required.

As to your hall with concrete walls, would you say that it has a nice acoustic with a pleasant reverb tail or perhaps it has problematic slap back and flutter echo? If the latter, then you need to take steps to deal with the problems, for example, trying Tony Faulkner's original figure 8 ribbon array. If the hall sounds nice, any of the well-tried techniques will give you something tasty...whether AB omnis, ORTF or Blumlein MS. Personally I usually put up a Boojum/JNorman array with omnis flanking an MS pair if I am in a nice church, etc. No need for spots unless there are soft solos, no need for flankers unless the orchestra is very large or very wide. The last thing you want is the kids, or their parents, tripping over a bunch of mic stands that you have scattered amidst them. Keep it simple. That is my $0.02 worth of advice.

I really enjoy recording young musicians - you never know what you will get, but sometimes its marvelous and always it is satisfying.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by monitor View Post
I will run a multitrack recorder and a backup stereo recorder.

would you use AB with omnis? or reduce the hall signature pickup by using
cardio or figure 8 ?

outriggers?l
If it were me I would run a 70cm set of AB spaced omni with outriggers splitting the string sections. You'll need to adjust positioning to get a good compromise between Presence, balance and spread. I'd start at 320cm on the mains and outriggers and adjust from there.
Add a pair of wide cards for the woodwinds (I split mics on either side of the principal Winds), a double bass spot and tympani overhead and you're on your way.
With this setup you should be able to get a good static balance that will work for the whole program. Listen to your mains and pan your spots to match the perspective of the mains. Running up the spot microphone should not change the positioning of the source in the stereo image.
As always, YMMV.
All the best,
-mark
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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Thread Starter
thanks for the replies guys

the orchestra would like a '1 central stand approach'

that means no WW, CB, timp spots and no flankers

I might use my Soundfield, so I change on balance in post.

On the same bar an AB of omnis, which I'll probably prefer.
and a pair hall mics out of sight.

but that leaves the question which omnis? a flat or little HF rise, lots of HF rise, extreme HF?
And tube or solid state mics?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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i hardly ever felt the need for the use of mics with a hf rise, unless they were used as ambis far away from the orchestra/choir in a large cathedral - probably even less needed in a hall with concrete walls nearby and much (?) reflections.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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Thread Starter
well if i don't spot the WW and the timp, I guess a more crisp main pair would be better.

regarding the flankers: would a pair omnis on the floor do the job?
there's no time to hang mics.

regarding reflections, it's only 10 meter wide, so maybe parallel fig 8 would be a
good choice as main pair?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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hughesmr's Avatar
It's a youth orchestra, so backing up from the podium is probably a good idea

Seriously, though ... 300 seat hall 10m wide? I'd say run several options on a wide stereo bar. Try the Faulkner (20cm parallel fig8s) ... I was never personally crazy about what I got with it, but the room makes a whale of a difference. Add a wide pr of Gefell SDC omnis; add the CM3s in NOS. Track everything, mix/choose/select in post.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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you can probably get as many opinions as options...

i liked your idea of using a soundfield in the center and the use of mics with some directivity for flanked a/b, the omnis in a/b for at the back of the hall.

if you have additional inputs available but no further mics on stands are allowed, you may put any of your sdc on the floor/use them as blms for spots. you could use cardioids to get some separation.

[i personally don't like using fig8 as main pairs, i rather use hypercardioids (and no, i don't ever feel i'm missing low end from mics with some directivity: i even do spots on basses with cardioids). directivity/side attenuation/rear rejection always wins over lush sound, unless everything goes straight to 2track. but even then, a quantec can add what the mics may miss]

in reverberant spaces or halls with lots of early reflections, i prefer coincident pairs (except blumlein) over spaced pairs. if you're not using the soundfield, this might be an option - or ortf - in fact, if i'm not using l/c/r in the front (not decca), i'm mostly using ortf!

just my approach...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
How about a single stand that contains both an A-B stereo pair of omnis along with your soundfield mic? That should provide enough mixing possibilities while meeting the Orchestra's "one central stand" requirement.

One option to mount those 3 microphones on a single stand would be the Grace SpaceBar stereo mic system with a 66cm bar coupled with a center mount bridge (SB-CMB) which can be seen in the 1st and 3rd pictures on their site here: spacebar stereo systems.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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so, what technique did you use and how are the results?
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Thread Starter
concert is in two weeks
if I have to do it on 1 mike stand only,
thinking about 1 omni pair to recorder 1 and a second ortf to recorder 2.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by monitor View Post
concert is in two weeks
if I have to do it on 1 mike stand only,
thinking about 1 omni pair to recorder 1 and a second ortf to recorder 2.
I'm doing similar recordings - youth orchestras in usually not very good halls. Can you really do ORTF and omni spaced pair on the same bar from the same distance? I have been using ORTF, which has to be somewhat back from the orchestra. A spaced pair of omnis has to be right over the orchestra, right?

Asking because I'm considering the same combinations, but I think I need two stands for it, one over the orchestra (omnis) and one back (to align the stereo recording angle with the width of the orchestra).
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Early21 View Post
... Can you really do ORTF and omni spaced pair on the same bar from the same distance?
Omnis and cards on the same bar is the basis for both the Boojum/Jnorman and the (second) Faulkner array. There are many discussions here on Remote Possibilities about the technique - some like it, others not so much. It is obviously a compromise, but it is very useful when you have to get something up quickly to record a concert. One of the two pairs will usually sound a bit better - it can be used by itself or blended with the other pair. Tony Faulkner discusses how he came to this array here, at 32:14 - YouTube
Old 6 days ago
  #14
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i haven't found any use for these kind of arrays - i'd rather put the stereo mic system of preference on the stand and use the other mics as blms on the floor in wide a/b or as spots or as ambis in the back of the room...

how are you going to sync your two recorders?
Old 6 days ago
  #15
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Thread Starter
I am going to use one omni pair for the recording.

Maybe I add some flank omnis to add decorelated bass.

the other battery powered recorder gets a LDC cardio ORTF just in case things go wrong. If I hate that sound I can change it to 20cm parallel fig 8 to cancel wall reflections.

no sync needed between the recorders. as I am not going to mix both pairs.

I could however record the output of the battery recorder to my multitrack , to see if there is drift and time stretch if i change my mind about mixing both pairs.
Old 6 days ago
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
Omnis and cards on the same bar is the basis for both the Boojum/Jnorman and the (second) Faulkner array. There are many discussions here on Remote Possibilities about the technique - some like it, others not so much. It is obviously a compromise, but it is very useful when you have to get something up quickly to record a concert. One of the two pairs will usually sound a bit better - it can be used by itself or blended with the other pair. Tony Faulkner discusses how he came to this array here, at 32:14 - YouTube
Hi jimjazzdad,
Thanks for that video; good information. I was just pointing out that since the OP wants the cardioids in ORTF and the omnis in A-B, then ORTF needs to be back from the orchestra far enough so that the orchestra is within the SRA, while the A-B mics need to be over the conductor's head or even in front. He doesn't intend to blend the two pairs; they will go to separate recording systems so that he has backup.

So if he wants to prioritize the A-B (as he has since said) he should put the common bar over the conductor, and he should realize that his ORTF backup will probably pin outer instruments to either left or right, and will pick up little or no hall. So it should be better if his backup is a second pair of omnis in A-B.

At least that's how I understand it!
Old 6 days ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Early21 View Post
Hi jimjazzdad,
Thanks for that video; good information. I was just pointing out that since the OP wants the cardioids in ORTF and the omnis in A-B, then ORTF needs to be back from the orchestra far enough so that the orchestra is within the SRA, while the A-B mics need to be over the conductor's head or even in front. He doesn't intend to blend the two pairs; they will go to separate recording systems so that he has backup.

So if he wants to prioritize the A-B (as he has since said) he should put the common bar over the conductor, and he should realize that his ORTF backup will probably pin outer instruments to either left or right, and will pick up little or no hall. So it should be better if his backup is a second pair of omnis in A-B.

At least that's how I understand it!
don't agree on three things: you can easily use omnis and cardioids at the same distance - ortf doesn't pin outer instruments to the sides - and of course you get some room sound with cardioids, just less than with omnis...

anyway, everybody has his/her own way of approaching things - i do not recommend using omnis in a/b in a room with lots of reflections (concrete) and recording on two non-synced recorders... - good luck!
Old 6 days ago
  #18
Well, if instruments are sitting outside the stereo recording angle in ORTF, then wouldn't you agree that only one of the cardioids is picking them up? For example, bass section on the right, ORTF over the conductor's head, SRA of (96 degrees? I think?), then the basses are only going to appear in the right mic.
Old 6 days ago
  #19
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Early21 View Post
... I was just pointing out that since the OP wants the cardioids in ORTF and the omnis in A-B, then ORTF needs to be back from the orchestra far enough so that the orchestra is within the SRA, while the A-B mics need to be over the conductor's head or even in front. He doesn't intend to blend the two pairs; they will go to separate recording systems so that he has backup.

So if he wants to prioritize the A-B (as he has since said) he should put the common bar over the conductor, and he should realize that his ORTF backup will probably pin outer instruments to either left or right, and will pick up little or no hall. So it should be better if his backup is a second pair of omnis in A-B.

At least that's how I understand it!
At the time I replied, I didn't know the OP was planning two separate recordings - one ORTF and the other AB omnis. When I set up a Boojum/Jnorman array, I try to set the stand to suit the ORTF pair and then adjust the spacing on the omnis to match the SRA of the cards. Often I use a MS pair instead of ORTF. Generally I think of the omnis as being there to improve the bass and add a bit of the room; they are usually blended at -9 dB or less. Sometimes the omnis sound better. In that case, they become the primary pair. This sort of array just gives me more options in post; its not to say it gives the best or purest capture, but I have been happy with the results so far.
Old 6 days ago
  #20
jimjazzdad, makes sense to me, thanks for clarification.
Old 5 days ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Early21 View Post
Well, if instruments are sitting outside the stereo recording angle in ORTF, then wouldn't you agree that only one of the cardioids is picking them up? For example, bass section on the right, ORTF over the conductor's head, SRA of (96 degrees? I think?), then the basses are only going to appear in the right mic.
no... - but of course i wouldn't recommend a setup that doesn't seem to have the potential of properly displaying the full width of the orchestra: if one needs to do so (for whatever reason), it's mostly an easy swap from ortf to (nos,) lte or ebs and the use of additional outriggers or blms is always a valid option.

it's very hard to tell the difference of the above mentioned (in fact: almost all) techniques - you may want to check out my little thread on this topic...
Old 5 days ago
  #22
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Thread Starter
from my limited experience with multiple pairs on 1 stand, I know
that spaced pairs work better. anyway: I have to 'obey orders' and use maximum 1 stand visible for the public, but I can add an invisible AB pair of omnis to record some decorrelated bass. Does anyone have experience with putting BLMs on the floor near 2nd desk first violins and cellos (instead of outriggers on stands) or BLMs against the side walls?

the strings are something like 7-12-2!-4-4 :
are BLMs an option as spot mikes for strings?
on the floor? taped to the chair or music stand?

That pair with the KORG MR1000 is just my safety net in case the electricity goes down, as my UPS is broken.

I could buy this K&M 80cm stereo bar ( now I only have a 40cm bar)
Customer reviews about K&M 23560 Stereo Bar – Thomann UK
and record 3 pairs simultaneously.
Theoretically I could record fom coincident to large AB:
  • Soundfield WXYZ in the middle
  • MGefell 691 + UM70 in ORTF
  • fig8 20cm AB ribbons, or the MV691 + UM70
  • Line audio CM3 in NOS to KORG MR1000
  • omnis 40-60-80cm MV690 or MV582 +mk55, m58, m93 or m69 Line audio OM1
  • BLMs

Maybe I need a case to assemble all the mics to the stereo bar beforehand

but still I think less is more, 1 AB pair, a second pair in case of...
and maybe adding outriggers or a hall pair.
Old 5 days ago
  #23
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I disagree with the idea you should add outriggers or BLM's to add an impression of 'more strings than there are'

BLMs (esp on music stands, or even the floor) will just reinforce the idea of 'fewer, but closer strings'....and because this is a debut performance (for the orchestra, or in that hall ?) probably scratchier/ screechier as well ! That is exactly the impression you want to avoid !

The BLM or outrigger is essentially a spotlight on the very aspect you would like to conceal....that there are not enough strings

I would use a single BLM on the best double bass player, on the floor or music stand in front, as it's too easy for that instrument to be under-represented in the overall balance !

If you are going to employ omni outriggers, take a tip from Tony Faulkner (the Rode TFM/Anima Aeterna video) and at least point them upwards towards the ceiling, or even backwards out into the hall.

This shaves off the HF information that gives clues as to how many strings there are....and replaces it with a diffuse sense of 'massed strings'....without cues as to the number of players. That is perhaps the best way to hide the smaller numbers.

Since you aren't allowed to have woodwind spots (which you could easily do with a single stand and XY cardioid at 2 metres height directly above the players...largely invisible to the audience, see attached photos *) then it's desirable to highlight these from the main pair...so I suggest ORTF or AB with rising HF, to reach out and pull the WW and tymps in to the mix.

* in the pics, you can see the OH pair and the outrigger, but can you honestly see the WW spot, at least from an audience distance..... really ?

Don't highlight/spotlight deficiencies.....work with their strengths
Attached Thumbnails
Youth orchestra-orch-ww-spot.jpg   Youth orchestra-orch-entire-crop.jpg  

Last edited by studer58; 5 days ago at 04:31 AM..
Old 4 days ago
  #24
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if your mains are close to the orchestra and the orchestra is 'spaced out' along a wide stage, outriggers could cover the width.

(if pointing upwards or to the rear, they make some strange kind of room mics: imo room mics should be positioned out of the direct soundfield, so in the back of the hall where reverb occurs).

blms could be used to bring up something that's too weak (most likely celli in this case) or as replacement of the above mentioned outriggers.

if using blms (or sdcs used as blms), you have to put them on the floor or you create a hp filter...

or just use spot mics on music stands.

i don't think less is more: more mics give you more options - you don't have to use all the signals though...
Old 4 days ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
if your mains are close to the orchestra and the orchestra is 'spaced out' along a wide stage, outriggers could cover the width.

(if pointing upwards or to the rear, they make some strange kind of room mics: imo room mics should be positioned out of the direct soundfield, so in the back of the hall where reverb occurs).

blms could be used to bring up something that's too weak (most likely celli in this case) or as replacement of the above mentioned outriggers.

if using blms (or sdcs used as blms), you have to put them on the floor or you create a hp filter...

or just use spot mics on music stands.

i don't think less is more: more mics give you more options - you don't have to use all the signals though...
Much of this is redundant... as the OP makes it clear he's allowed only 1 main pair stand....no stands for outrigger/flanks, woodwinds, tymps etc.

So BLM's is all he's going to have as additional. BLM's don't magically capture everything around themselves in a 5 metre radius....like any other mic they capture what's closest, and with the strings projecting upwards and the BLM's floor mounted...well, you can guess ?

Where boundary mics come into their strength is if they can be wall mounted, so if there's a way to do so on the side walls this might help, if you can get them 3 metres up, one on each side wall ?

Any other spot miking (eg attached to music stands) is simply going to gain-focus the 3 or so players closest to that mic...and thus emphasize how few of them there really are !

Your main task is to choose your main pair really carefully (and perhaps the Soundfield gives you the most options in post-production)
Old 4 days ago
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
(if pointing upwards or to the rear, they make some strange kind of room mics: imo room mics should be positioned out of the direct soundfield, so in the back of the hall where reverb occurs)
You completely missed my point. They are intended as outriggers, to capture the wider strings, not as room mics (which, as you correctly say, would be located further back in the room...and quite impossible and not allowed in the OP's scenario)

They (outriggers/flankers) are pointing either vertically up or backwards, as TF explained, so as to capture a deliberately 'out of focus' generic, massed, string presence...and not with enough detail to tell you how few strings players were actually there !
Old 4 days ago
  #27
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i'm not missing the point: we just have different opinions of how things could get done.

i do recommend to pick up what's too weak (as i almost always put a mic on a harp). in this case, there gonna be just two celli so i'd pick them up and manipulate the signal in post to make them sound as if there would be a few more... not a purist's way, but pretty effective! many thx to eventide.

of course i have read that the op is not allowed to put up more than one mic stand: that's why i suggested using outriggers on a (rather wide) bar - or blms: these are not gonna magically pick up everything in a large radius, but maybe enough to bring up those instruments that might be somewhat out of the pickup of the main mics - and no, they don't have to be on the side walls...

i'm getting forced into using a different approach way too often and cannot always rely mostly on the mains mics - in fact, i've done live broadcasts of orchestras with just two blms left and right of the conductor and two ambis which were shotguns pointing to the audience...

go figure - and to the op: use whatever does the trick! (but you need to have enough signals and/or efx devices to apply some tricks...)
Old 4 days ago
  #28
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Thread Starter
new scenario



the space just behind the conductor has been declared a no-go zone for mic stands, as it's needed for the presentation of the event

request by the conductor : record as close as possible, in order
to have less public noise (kids?).
Old 4 days ago
  #29
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...then use the voice mail function of the conductor's cell phone and tape it to his head!
Old 4 days ago
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monitor View Post


the space just behind the conductor has been declared a no-go zone for mic stands, as it's needed for the presentation of the event

request by the conductor : record as close as possible, in order
to have less public noise (kids?).
Are you likely to have any space immediately to the left or right of the conductor (out of reach of a conducting baton !) If a stand will fit there you could attach a lightweight boom arm to the top and still get your mics above their head...but better to go for lightweight SD mics in that case if possible ?
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