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String Quartet Cello Spot: omni or card? Condenser Microphones
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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String Quartet Cello Spot: omni or card?

I would like to spot the cello in a string quartet.

I rarely work with strings, so am even more ignorant that usual.

I won't have much time to setup or experiment.

Wondering about mic choice for spotting cello, and how to achieve best isolation (this is a church hall, not a studio). Cardioid will certainly aid this goal, but, since cello is a lower instrument, concerned about bass proximity effect if I get too close. Alternatively, I could use an omni andwith really close placement, relying on closeness (and relative intensity vs. other instruments) rather than mic polar pattern (to attenuate other instruments).

Thank you for any comments.

DG
Old 1 week ago
  #2
How close are you planning on getting to be worried about proximity effect? If you are withing 2 feet of the instrument, you are probably too close.

I would stick with a cardioid, behind and either just above or below the stand. Do your best not to capture stand reflections.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgpretzel View Post
I would like to spot the cello in a string quartet.

I rarely work with strings, so am even more ignorant that usual.

I won't have much time to setup or experiment.

Wondering about mic choice for spotting cello, and how to achieve best isolation (this is a church hall, not a studio). Cardioid will certainly aid this goal, but, since cello is a lower instrument, concerned about bass proximity effect if I get too close. Alternatively, I could use an omni andwith really close placement, relying on closeness (and relative intensity vs. other instruments) rather than mic polar pattern (to attenuate other instruments).

Thank you for any comments.

DG
FYI, here is the video that goes along with Richard King's book. His idea on mic placement is interesting. He writes the main pair (omnis) is positioned above (10 feet - though this will depend on amount of reverb desired), 70 cm apart, almost half way between the ensemble but very slightly closer to the front players with the rear players on axis. This gives an even presentation of all the players with a sense of depth. Spots shouldn't be necessary but good to have in case, I suppose. You can also see where he puts the spot for the cello.

I personally would prefer the mains to be slightly closer (i.e. narrower).

For a warmer sound on the cello, place the spot lower.

If a conductor's podium is available, or a soloist box, you can place the cello on that to compensate for the lower position and a spot may not be necessary.



Last edited by shosty; 6 days ago at 05:26 PM.. Reason: clarified 'narrower'
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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i cannot recommend putting the cello on a podium: imo it mostly creates more issues than it solves - same with just a single spot within a quartett unless one instrument is really weak. i'm either relying on the musicians ability to balance themselves (and use no spots) or use spots on every instrument, even though i may not use any of them or just rarely while mixing - adds a lot of options though!

i recommend using cardioids too, especially when recording in reverberant spaces. in case you might get too much proximity effect ( but you'd need to go very close), you could use an adjustable low cut filter.

and on a small ensemble in a reverberant space, i'd go lower and more narrow with the main mic pair.
Old 6 days ago
  #5
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Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i cannot recommend putting the cello on a podium: imo it mostly creates more issues than it solves - same with just a single spot within a quartett unless one instrument is really weak. i'm either relying on the musicians ability to balance themselves (and use no spots) or use spots on every instrument, even though i may not use any of them or just rarely while mixing - adds a lot of options though!

i recommend using cardioids too, especially when recording in reverberant spaces. in case you might get too much proximity effect ( but you'd need to go very close), you could use an adjustable low cut filter.

and on a small ensemble in a reverberant space, i'd go lower and more narrow with the main mic pair.
Hi deedeeyeah, Wondering if you could clarify why raising the cello up some causes more problems than it solves. I'm curious as to what issues it resulted in for you. Thanks.
Old 6 days ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shosty View Post
Wondering if you could clarify why raising the cello up some causes more problems than it solves. I'm curious as to what issues it resulted in for you.
i think it's not necessary to bring up all instruments to a more or less similar height as the distance to the main mic pair will only be slightly affected - moving forward would probably have a bigger effect.

the somewhat unusual position might (at least initially) affect the cello player and (continuously) the ensemble if they are not used to rehearse/play this way. the cello player will probably also notice a slight change in sound (regarding early reflections). finally, not all podiums are heavy and/or sturdy enough to prevent resonances.

go for it if it helps the sound you are getting and everybody's fine with it - i've had not much luck using a podium on cello when i tried years ago...
Old 6 days ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shosty View Post
Hi deedeeyeah, Wondering if you could clarify why raising the cello up some causes more problems than it solves. I'm curious as to what issues it resulted in for you. Thanks.
I think it depends on the tyoe of platform. If it's closed on all sides, then it can create a resonant cavity under the player which could do some weird stuff. If it's an open platform with a skirt around the sides, then it shouldn't pose much of a problem.

But, I rarely see string quartets playing with platforms. Usually I see stri g players using platforms in pit orchestras or full symphonies and it's just to improve the sight lines between the player and conductor. Raising a cello up by 8 inches isn't going to dramatically affect the sound just because it's higher.
Old 6 days ago
  #8
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Earcatcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler View Post
I think it depends on the tyoe of platform. If it's closed on all sides, then it can create a resonant cavity under the player which could do some weird stuff. If it's an open platform with a skirt around the sides, then it shouldn't pose much of a problem.

But, I rarely see string quartets playing with platforms. Usually I see stri g players using platforms in pit orchestras or full symphonies and it's just to improve the sight lines between the player and conductor. Raising a cello up by 8 inches isn't going to dramatically affect the sound just because it's higher.
Hmm, I think for a good cello recording (in a quartet) a good platform is very important to avoid boominess and blur of the cello sound. Very often a spot mic for the cello is no longer needed when you put it on a platform, because of the better defitiniton of its sound. It is extremely important though that you use a good platform. I built my own, with a piece of very sturdy hardwood floor on top and a bunch of styrofoam blocks beneath it, in order to leave no cavity for resonances. Players love it, as they find out how much better they can hear themselves and the other players. Keep the platform as small as possible, so you don't get early reflections from it. The longer travelling of the sound to the real floor helps in getting better core definition.

The choice of microphone for spotting a cello is highly depending on the particular instrument and how it is played. Sometimes you want to spot it for more grain, sometimes you want more tone. Some players need a ribbon, some need a high definition "sharpish" mic. You really have to make up your mind on the spot. Just be prepared to have some mics to choose from. My best experiences with cello spots are with Schoeps boundary layer mics (BLM3): no early reflections, yet very spacious, so you can blend them easily with the main array.
Old 6 days ago
  #9
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I can see the point that some podiums may create unwanted resonances. The cello end pin can carry a surprising amount of vibration. I have access to some very sturdy podiums that simply do not vibrate. They are heavy and made of metal.

And I can also see the point that some groups may not feel comfortable with the change. Others, though, like Earcatcher mentioned, may like the change.

But I agree with Earcatcher that, assuming a proper podium, it can help create some extra clarity for the cello.
Old 5 days ago
  #10
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If you use a platform, be sure to include a raised rim to keep the chair legs from slipping off. Not
good for cellists (or their instruments).
Old 5 days ago
  #11
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Earcatcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Folkie View Post
If you use a platform, be sure to include a raised rim to keep the chair legs from slipping off. Not
good for cellists (or their instruments).
I have once seen a cellist drop off another platform with his chair which I took as a solid warning for my own platform. However, mine does not have a rim, because I have also seen how a cellist once stumbled over it, nearly squashing his instrument, when stepping off the platform.

I have a special stool (originally a drum throne) with a hard type of memory foam in the cushioning that can be adapted in heigth very precisely and that is ultra comfortable for cellists to sit on for prolonged times. It has sturdy anti-slip feet that I will also tape to the platform. Most cellists that have been in a recording with me want to buy such a stool for themselves as they find it so great to sit on. Unfortunately it is no longer being made.
Old 5 days ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
I have once seen a cellist drop off another platform with his chair which I took as a solid warning for my own platform. However, mine does not have a rim, because I have also seen how a cellist once stumbled over it, nearly squashing his instrument, when stepping off the platform.

I have a special stool (originally a drum throne) with a hard type of memory foam in the cushioning that can be adapted in heigth very precisely and that is ultra comfortable for cellists to sit on for prolonged times. It has sturdy anti-slip feet that I will also tape to the platform. Most cellists that have been in a recording with me want to buy such a stool for themselves as they find it so great to sit on. Unfortunately it is no longer being made.
How about a rim only where the chair is, but not where they are climbing on and off?
Old 5 days ago
  #13
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Earcatcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Folkie View Post
How about a rim only where the chair is, but not where they are climbing on and off?
Of course, such refinements are possible and even necessary when using standard chairs. For me such an edge would be less desirable for the way I pack everything in the tiny car that I use sometimes for transportation of my stuff. But if you have the space: do it by all means.
Old 3 days ago
  #14
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Don S's Avatar
 

To answer your original question: Wide cardioid/MK21. Assuming you're using omnis for mains.
Old 3 days ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don S View Post
To answer your original question: Wide cardioid/MK21. Assuming you're using omnis for mains.
...so for someone using a (close to) coincident pair for mains you'd recommend a different pattern for a spot mic?!
Old 3 days ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don S View Post
To answer your original question: Wide cardioid/MK21. Assuming you're using omnis for mains.
Thank you for your comment. I always appreciate words form the "voices of experience" that frequent this forum.

I wound up using a KSM141 in cardioid. (Yes, had omnis for main pair.)

In past applications for similar spotting, I used a CM3 to great effect. As I mentioned previously, I don't work with strings much, but, in past, have had a couple occasions: once in a concert band which had a cello part; another time in a concert band which had a mandolin part. (The mandolin was totally inaudible without the spot.) In both cases, I had the spot up very close-- less than a foot. In the case of the mandolin, I'd say more like 6 inches or less.

DG
Old 3 days ago
  #17
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Don S's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
...so for someone using a (close to) coincident pair for mains you'd recommend a different pattern for a spot mic?!
No, I love the MK21!
Old 3 days ago
  #18
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Plush's Avatar
I mostly use a Schoeps CMC522 on the cello. It gives a beautiful sound.

Basis for quartet is mostly spaced onmis. The esteemed engineer, Simon Eadon, uses the Jecklin disc with Schoeps omni mics.

Hear that technique when listening to his award winning recordings of the Takács String Quartet.
Old 3 days ago
  #19
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brhoward's Avatar
 

I have used a TLM 170 in omni and a CMC62 for cello spot. Both worked very well, but their is bleed. I normally prefer omnis or figure-8 pattern for string spots, but I haven't had the opportunity to try the schoeps mk22 capsule. I can imagine the focus and omni-like bass is a nice combo.

Are any folks using mk21 for cellos spots?
Old 3 days ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brhoward View Post
Are any folks using mk21 for cellos spots?
i'm using mk21 or mk4 on most instrument as spot mic, mk41 if a tighter pattern is needed but no fig8 (as i don't like getting as much from the rear of the mics)
Old 3 days ago
  #21
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rojaros's Avatar
I record acoustic cello quite often in Jazz context. There is a DPA mic that can be fastened to the strings behind the bridge.

Best results ever.
Old 3 days ago
  #22
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fred2bern's Avatar
 

By my side TLM67 in cardio, gonna test soon the MK22. I never use omni microphones to spot.
Fred
Old 2 days ago
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rojaros View Post
I record acoustic cello quite often in Jazz context. There is a DPA mic that can be fastened to the strings behind the bridge.

Best results ever.
I have some DPA 4060s, and they come with such a fasterner. I mentioned it once to a string player, and it was thought quite unacceptable to attach anything to the instrument. I haven't ever suggested it since.
Old 2 days ago
  #24
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rojaros's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dgpretzel View Post
I have some DPA 4060s, and they come with such a fasterner. I mentioned it once to a string player, and it was thought quite unacceptable to attach anything to the instrument. I haven't ever suggested it since.
Of course I don't know how detailed you explained it to him in which way the mic is attached. People are understandably reluctant to attach something to the body of the cello using some kind of clamps or adhesives, but the string attachment doesn't do anything to the cello or to the sound (IMHO).

The problem with all spot mics that are attached to a mic stand is that they do not follow the movement of the cello (or cellist ;-) so they need to be a bit further away if you don't want to have ups and downs in the sound. That in turn implies always more leakage or the use of very directional microphones.

For the latter I have good experience with AKG C451 fitted with CK3 hypercardioid which is a very fine mic IMHO (or even better a C460B Jim Williams moded plus reduction ring to CK3). Or C414 XLS in hypercardiod or supercardioid mode...
Old 2 days ago
  #25
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