The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Which gear setup for recording a concert band? Condenser Microphones
Old 1 week ago
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
Which gear setup for recording a concert band?

Hi all. I will be recording a series of 4 concerts for the city's concert band. I have 15+ years experience with studio recording and live sound, but this will be my first concert band live recording. I've been doing some research and checking these forums, but would like some input on my ideas for recording. All feedback is welcome.


I own 2 Shure SM81s, 2 AKG C414s, 1 AKG C214, and a number of dynamic mics that aren't really appropriate for this type of gig (SM57/58, SM7, etc.). Because my microphone choice is somewhat limited, my initial ideas for mic placement may be the way to go. A pair of SM81s in either ORTF or NOS configuration above and behind the conductor, and a pair of AKG C414s as flanks. I'm not exactly sure where/how to place the flanks, though. And I'm also a little nervous about blocking the view of the conductor with a large mic stand.


My initial idea was to record into a Zoom F4 then dump to Pro Tools for a little post-production cleanup. While I am still considering that option because it seems pretty reliable, I am now entertaining the idea of using my Focusrite Clarett 8pre into a mid-2012 Macbook Pro running Pro Tools 10. If I do the Macbook setup, I'll definitely want to come up with a backup recorder option just in case something goes awry (if you couldn't tell, computers make me nervous for 1-take, do or die recordings).

What do you think about this setup? Will the SM81/C414 combo cover the frequency spectrum sufficiently or should I consider sourcing different mics? And has anyone done these types of recordings into a Zoom F4 or something similar? I appreciate all input and suggestions, and would love to learn as much as possible. Also, I plan on recording one of their rehearsals to iron out any kinks before the first concert date.
Old 1 week ago
Lightbulb Tags and Tips

"The President's Own" United States Marine Band on YouTube

Mic'ing a 45 piece concert band
Marine Band Releasing Back Catalogue on YouTube
Sennheiser MKH8020 wind ensemble samples
Windband Mic/Band Positioning
recording wind bands
Wind Ensemble / Large Ensemble Recording Question
mic placement advice needed for location recording wind orchestra
Wind Ensemble Setups?

Listening to 100 videos is a good start. =)

My recommendation: put the 414s in the center. Be ready to move the mics and switch polar patterns based on what you hear. Don't expect the studio or live experience to help, other than making sure you don't clip. Go get 'em!
Old 1 week ago

Recent recording:

Sennheiser MKH40 mains
Sanken CO-100K additional mains
A few MKH8040 spots
Mix of Pueblo preamps (MKH40) and Yamaha RIO preamps
Old 1 week ago
Lives for gear
Tommy-boy's Avatar

My vote for somebody doing this type of recording for the first time is to use ORTF. It's a very forgiving array. Might not sound as good as a well placed AB pair, but it will not sound bad. If the acoustics aren't that great - it will still be OK.

If you want options, put an AB pair and ORTF up at the same time and choose in post. Could put the 81s in ORTF with the 414's in omni for an AB pair if you wanted to go this route.

Stereo Recording Angle - Not sure whether to go into this or not as you probably already know enough about this given your background in recording. Long story short - in studio recording one typically close mics and creates a synthetic stereo image by panning. For remotely recording a band, a well placed main pair should capture a performance with the group filling out the stereo field. If you place the ORTF structure too close or too far you'll end up with either stuff bunched at the edges of the stereo field or having too narrow a stereo picture. The stereophonic zoom is a good read. The Stereophonic Zoom - Archived – Rycote

Recording device - regardless of what you use for your main recorder, use the second one as well. So use the F4 and the Macbook. I always have two recorders running using a passive transformer splitter. I also tend to put up more than one stereo pair and have the phantom provided for each pair provided by different recorders. Plan your setup so that any part of your chain can die without killing your ability to pull a decent recording.

Dress rehearsal? If they have one - record it. It should help you figure out how to adjust mic placement and will serve as a backup should something go wrong during the concert.

Finally, make sure you read and listen to what NorseHorse posted.

Old 1 week ago
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
Tommy-boy, thanks much for the advice. I think you're on to something with the 81s in ORTF + 414s in AB. I'm wondering if I should bother trying to source a few more mics for spots or just leave it at this. In the studio, I'm tempted to over-mic but find "less is more" to be true quite often. I imagine this may be just fine. I may have the opportunity to record the dress rehearsal, so that will give me a lot of time to experiment with placement and angle and make any necessary tweaks.

Also I didn't think about the phantom from two different sources. That's a great idea. I have access to a handful of Radial ProMS2 passive splitters, so recording to two sources and pulling phantom to each pair from a different source is totally doable.

NorseHorse, thanks for the links! I had seen a number of those forum posts, and there is definitely some great stuff in there. That marine band is wonderful. And I'm sure it helps to be recording such great players! I'll have to check out those Sennheiser MKH40s. They sound super good. Probably a little out of my price range for this project, but I'll keep them on my radar for future.
Old 1 week ago
Lives for gear
Tommy-boy's Avatar

One/Two stereo pairs is probably enough for the first time on this type of gig. If you decide to add flankers at a later date, consider placing them half way btw the main pair and the edge of the ensemble to start. Then move them around to adjust the sound.

You probably dont need to rent mics. However, Down the road you could consider renting schoeps or sennheisers if you wanted to hear how some higher end sdc mics sounded.

Old 2 days ago
Lives for gear
The New York Chapter of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections presents their December 2015 program:

Presented by Robert Auld


Last edited by studer58; 2 days ago at 11:40 AM..
Old 1 day ago
Gear Addict

Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
The New York Chapter of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections presents their December 2015 program:

Presented by Robert Auld

Great video.

Wish the wife would quit talking so I could watch it all the way through.
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.

Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump