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 10th September 2018
  #1
Here for the gear
 

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.

Mics:

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.

Recording:

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 10th September 2018
  #2
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?

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/tags/woodwind/
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/tags/brass/

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 10th September 2018
  #3
Arrow

Recent recording:


Sennheiser MKH40 mains
Sanken CO-100K additional mains
A few MKH8040 spots
Mix of Pueblo preamps (MKH40) and Yamaha RIO preamps
Old 11th September 2018
  #4
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.

Tom
Old 11th September 2018
  #5
Here for the gear
 

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 4 weeks ago
  #6
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.

Tom
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
The New York Chapter of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections presents their December 2015 program:

THE ART OF RECORDING THE BIG BAND
Presented by Robert Auld

YouTube

Last edited by studer58; 4 weeks ago at 11:40 AM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Addict
 

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

THE ART OF RECORDING THE BIG BAND
Presented by Robert Auld

YouTube
Great video.

Wish the wife would quit talking so I could watch it all the way through.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Alright, so I got the gig! And they really waited until the last minute to tell me. I was hoping to order some extra equipment, but I don't think I'll have time (for shipping). The first concert is Saturday the 13th. I'd love to get some feedback on my semi-final gear choice. Here's what I have in mind:

2 Shure SM81 in ORTF
2 AKG C414 set to omni in A-B
Mics on a stand a few feet behind the conductor, about 8-10' high
All 4 mics into an Audio Technica AT8506 48v supply
From there, all 4 mics into an ART S8 transformer-isolated splitter
All 4 mics into a Focusrite Clarett 8Pre, then into a Macbook Pro running Pro Tools
The redundant 4 mics into a Focusrite Scarlett, then into a second Macbook Pro running Pro Tools

I really wanted to buy a ZOOM F4 as the second recorder because it eases my mind a bit not to be using a computer and Pro Tools for the backup recording, but I'm not sure I'll have it in the budget for this first concert. I still need to scrounge up some really tall mic stands. Now for the questions:

Should I feel comfortable having all 4 mics on one stand? I was thinking of having the ORTF on top, then with a small attachment slightly lower, mounting a bar with the AKGs. Or should I try to get 3 mic stands and do an ORTF behind the conductor and then flanks with the AKGs?

If I'm unable to put the mics behind the conductor, is there another sort of "go-to" place to put the mics that won't sound terrible? I know that's really dependent upon the room, but just wondering if any of you have had experience with that.

Okay, I think that's all for now. Thanks again for all the help. I really appreciate it!
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 
jimjazzdad's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thetimequake View Post
... I still need to scrounge up some really tall mic stands...Should I feel comfortable having all 4 mics on one stand? I was thinking of having the ORTF on top, then with a small attachment slightly lower, mounting a bar with the AKGs. Or should I try to get 3 mic stands and do an ORTF behind the conductor and then flanks with the AKGs? ...
The stand(s) question is really important - if you continue to do location recordings, stands are as important as your mics. A good stand must be robust enough to take multiple mics (very robust if LDCs are involved) and yet light enough and compact to be easily transportable. Sandbags or other forms of ballasting the base are essential, both to protect your mics from crashing to the floor and to avoid injuring people. There is a lot of information about tall stands here on this Remote Possibilities forum; do some research.

If you are short on time and suitable equipment, the three stand format you propose may be your best bet for this gig.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
The stand(s) question is really important - if you continue to do location recordings, stands are as important as your mics.
Good call on the importance of mic stands. I just got a tall and very sturdy lighting stand that can hold microphones as well. I also picked up 4 sandbags. I did a test run in my living room (which has very tall ceilings), had 2 LDCs and 2 SDCs with shock mounts and cabling and stuff about 14' high (sandbagged) and it was solid. I'll also bring a few standard K&M boom stands just in case.
Old 5 days ago
  #12
Here for the gear
 

I finished the test recording/dress rehearsal last night. I haven't had too much time to go back and listen to the recordings, but it's sounding pretty good. Unfortunately the stage is quite small for a 50+ member wind band, so there is no way to put the mic stand on stage behind the conductor. The only place I could put it (and the place the venue had set aside for me) was in the back of the house. Luckily it's a small venue and my spot was only about 20 rows back from the stage.

I'm using 414s in a cardioid pattern set up in ORTF and it works well all the way back there. I also tried SM81s in XY and ORTF, but honestly, those mics just don't sound that great. I'll still record them, but I probably won't incorporate them into the final mix. Here are a few photos. I'll post recordings early next week when I finish the actual gig. And again, thanks so much for all the advice. You all are the best!
Attached Thumbnails
Which gear setup for recording a concert band?-img_0009.jpg   Which gear setup for recording a concert band?-img_00121.jpg  
Old 5 days ago
  #13
Valiant first effort! Thanks for sharing. Stick around and stick to your guns and I bet it'll get better each time. Looking forward to hearing a sample.
Old 5 days ago
  #14
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by thetimequake View Post
I finished the test recording/dress rehearsal last night. I haven't had too much time to go back and listen to the recordings, but it's sounding pretty good. Unfortunately the stage is quite small for a 50+ member wind band, so there is no way to put the mic stand on stage behind the conductor. The only place I could put it (and the place the venue had set aside for me) was in the back of the house. Luckily it's a small venue and my spot was only about 20 rows back from the stage.

I'm using 414s in a cardioid pattern set up in ORTF and it works well all the way back there. I also tried SM81s in XY and ORTF, but honestly, those mics just don't sound that great. I'll still record them, but I probably won't incorporate them into the final mix. Here are a few photos. I'll post recordings early next week when I finish the actual gig. And again, thanks so much for all the advice. You all are the best!
It'll be great to hear recordings from the show. The location for your recording gear is ideal....you might even be able to supplement with a single video camera on a tripod behind you, if you have one that's powerful enough for the zooming required in the lowish concert lighting ?

That aside, the usual advice about getting the mic stand close to the ensemble can't apply in this case....so hopefully you'll capture a meaningful blend of all the players, without too much audience noise spoiling the capture (and whatever the room ambience contributes to the sound as well) ?

Given that you have 4 concerts there with the band, it would be great if there was some way to locate your stand in the generous space on the floor directly behind the conductor (obviously not on the stage behind him) The access ramp shows that there's enough space to allow for such stand placement...and it's mean-spirited of the venue not to have allowed that for you ?

Perhaps they (mistakenly) thought that your 'recording table' needs to be a short distance from the mic stand.....which isn't the case if you use longer mic cables. It would be ideal if, at next rehearsal, you could record 10 mins of a piece from your current stand position and 10 mins of the same or similar piece from the 'ideal' stand position....and then present the band/conductor/venue management with the 2 pieces.

I'm sure it will be a night and day comparison in terms of immediacy, detail, freedom from audience noise.....so much so that they might relent and allow you the more desirable stand location up front ? However, you got the gig...which is the first hurdle....and a successful concert recording from the back is the next one. Stealth and thinking ahead might get you an optimal stand location for coming events ?
Old 4 days ago
  #15
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
That aside, the usual advice about getting the mic stand close to the ensemble can't apply in this case....so hopefully you'll capture a meaningful blend of all the players, without too much audience noise spoiling the capture (and whatever the room ambience contributes to the sound as well) ?

Given that you have 4 concerts there with the band, it would be great if there was some way to locate your stand in the generous space on the floor directly behind the conductor (obviously not on the stage behind him) The access ramp shows that there's enough space to allow for such stand placement...and it's mean-spirited of the venue not to have allowed that for you ?
Great advice! The test recordings I did turned out really well, but I could hear some "audience noise" even with no real audience. There were maybe a half dozen people in the hall other than performers, and I did capture a number of coughs and stuff. But all in all, the blend of instruments was about as good as I could hope for given the circumstances. There was a small buildup of low-mids from the room ambience, but I'm sure I can clean that up a little with some delicate EQ in post. Unfortunately none of my mic placement changes were able to dissipate that low-mid buildup, but it's nothing too severe as to ruin the recording by any means.

The other three concerts will be in a different theater. The other theater is much larger and will give me more options for mic placement. I'm also pretty sure it has a fly system, so I may be able to fly the mics into position and not have to deal with stands at all. Flying mics comes with its own set of concerns and troubles, but that's for another day to worry about! I do think the recordings will continue to improve as the season goes on, and I'm really looking forward to it. It definitely helps that they're good players, too! Professional source material makes my job infinitely more enjoyable!
Old 4 days ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 

when you fly mics on a rig/rope/bar, i recommend using a laser for adjusting their orientation/angle (when no one is on stage!) which imo is pretty helpful for getting an idea of what the mics will get to 'see'/'hear'.

try setting up once, not multiple times and only adjust if desperately needed: as with a live production, be the first to be ready when the truss goes up, way before video folks and lighties got their stuff sorted out! but prepare for a different mic position (and the use a mic boom on a clamp): the beamer and center speaker usually fight for exactly the same position as the main mics (and recordist mostly seem to loose this battle)!

in hoc signo vinces...
Old 3 days ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 
James Lehmann's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thetimequake View Post
Should I feel comfortable having all 4 mics on one stand? I was thinking of having the ORTF on top, then with a small attachment slightly lower, mounting a bar with the AKGs [in omni pattern].
I think the answer to that depends entirely what you are aiming for.

It sure looks nice and feels convenient to have 4 mics on one stand, but if these are omni & cardioid pairs - all other factors being equal - it's a somewhat arbitrary choice to deliberately place them at precisely the same distance from the source. In terms of acoustics it's rather a meaningless equivalent because these two mic pairs will behave so differently, not least because of the Microphone Distance Factor, explained in the link by Shure.

I would try to work with two stands if at all possible - it will give you much more flexibility in getting the most out of the hall.
Topic:
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 Reverb.com 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