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Early music / Tallis Scholars Condenser Microphones
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Early music / Tallis Scholars

So I bought the new Tallis Scholars' Josquin "Gaudeamus," to add to my many other Talllis Scholars recordings, and figured I'd query the cognoscenti about approaches to recording such an ensemble, in a space like the Chapel at Merton College.

The recording was engineered by Philip Hobbs.

While I would naturally welcome somewhat more specific comments about recording an ensemble of the caliber of Tallis Scholars, in a space as wonderful as the CaMC, let this be--hopefully--a wider ranging conversation on recording such music, vocal, or otherwise.

I've seen pictures of the scholars performing there, but I wonder if, strictly for recordings, if they are arranged somewhat differently. I wonder about mic placement, microphone selection, and to a lesser extent, other gear in the signal chain.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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I asked Steve Smith about the productions in Merton Chapel. It came about after I did some research to find out where each of the Gimell recordings were made. Merton Chapel has the most recordings. In his responses to my questions he said...

"The microphone technique in Merton has never changed so any improvements or otherwise will be due to the equipment used and the exact distance of the singers from the microphone."

"recorded using a pair of Sennheiser MKH800 microphones, see Sennheiser MKH Series - High-resolution recording microphones
and DAD convertors. We always place the stereo pair in the same sweet-spot in the Chapel."

No idea where the sweet-spot is. I certainly prefer the 21st century recordings over the recordings from 1980s-1990s

I do know where the sweet spots are in a number of auditoriums where I have performed...something learned over decades of singing, playing, and listening.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Cant go wrong with MKH 800's
Ive just swopped C12a's and some ribbons for a pair
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by facej View Post
I asked Steve Smith about the productions in Merton Chapel. It came about after I did some research to find out where each of the Gimell recordings were made. Merton Chapel has the most recordings. In his responses to my questions he said...

"The microphone technique in Merton has never changed so any improvements or otherwise will be due to the equipment used and the exact distance of the singers from the microphone."

"recorded using a pair of Sennheiser MKH800 microphones, see Sennheiser MKH Series - High-resolution recording microphones
and DAD convertors. We always place the stereo pair in the same sweet-spot in the Chapel."
So brilliant. A single pair of mics in that space. I love that that's it. No spots, no other arrays. But then, I guess it shouldn't be a surprise given the caliber of the group, and of the recordist, and of the acoustics of the space.

I'm assuming the mics were in omni and spaced...no?

What would be the advantages of using the MKH800s in omni versus a pair of MKH 20s?
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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Yannick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pieter k View Post
What would be the advantages of using the MKH800s in omni versus a pair of MKH 20s?
No narrow HF response, which makes them behave quite differently. Can be a big advantage on wide groups.
You can also switch to wide cardioid in a pinch.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
No narrow HF response, which makes them behave quite differently. Can be a big advantage on wide groups.
You can also switch to wide cardioid in a pinch.
Very interesting thread and comments! Could I ask: I understand the benefits of the MKH 800 (selectable polar patterns and no narrowing in HF response) versus a pure pressure single-diaphragm omni, but what (if any) would be the disadvantages of using MKH800s versus a pair of pure pressure omnis? Presumably, given that it is comprised of two cardioid capsules coincidentally mounted back-to-back, the bass response in omni cannot compare to a pure pressure omni SDC? However, would it be fair to say that, if recording a group/ensemble where the frequency range does not extend to below 40Hz, this is of no consequence?
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pieter k View Post
I'm assuming the mics were in omni and spaced...no?

What would be the advantages of using the MKH800s in omni versus a pair of MKH 20s?
I would put them up in omni. The "room" is as much of the sound as the voices. I have heard the Tallis Scholars in an unfortunately large auditorium that did no justice to the music. Had to do head contortions to get a proper "blend".

I suspect that the multiple pickup patterns on the MKH800 make it a far more flexible microphone than a strictly omni-directional microphone. Could be that's just what's in the toolbox.

I am intrigued by the MKH800 TWIN which can have the pickup pattern adjusted remotely. Of course my needs are as an amateur, so I won't be getting those...I am content to have 3 SDC microphones with switchable capsules, omni and cardioid. I can cover any size group with those, and they conveniently connect to my portable recorder. Now if I could swing a proper Triad-Orbit Decca tree (and a couple of sandbags)...
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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The 800 Twins are really great tools to work with. Being able to adjust in situ and then to choose definitely when you're back in your control room is just... Great!
It is a new way to work for me since last summer; I recorded around 20 concerts from solo to symphonic and it's another world!
Sometime Omni is too large and wide cardio too small, just adjust to taste and... done!
Before I used to work with Omnis+Cardios on the same bar, today I smile when I think about it.

Fred
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
No narrow HF response, which makes them behave quite differently. Can be a big advantage on wide groups.
So the polar response of the MKH20 in the high frequencies is less than perfectly 360 degrees? Or do I misunderstand?

Somewhat following on JohnPK's comments, I'd have thought that in this application, there'd be a preference for a true pressure-gradient capsule, sub-40hz response issues aside.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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I checked the polar patterns of the MKH 800 and the MKH 20 and the 800 has a much better pattern in the high frequencies, while the 20's look very narrow because the mic body creates a very directional pattern. I have the MKH 8020's and they seem even worse. A mic like the Earthworks QTC40 design has a more perfect pattern, more like the 800's but with superb bass response. The directional high frequency response of most Omni's is why I like them.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sd270 View Post
I checked the polar patterns of the MKH 800 and the MKH 20 and the 800 has a much better pattern in the high frequencies, while the 20's look very narrow because the mic body creates a very directional pattern. I have the MKH 8020's and they seem even worse. A mic like the Earthworks QTC40 design has a more perfect pattern, more like the 800's but with superb bass response. The directional high frequency response of most Omni's is why I like them.
I could never find Sennheiser's polar patterns, nor extended technical specs. I finally did. They're buried in the download section.

So yes, I see it now too. It's all quite clear.

So clearly, in the Merton Chapel, with these singers, they decided that the wider HF of the MKH 800s in omni was better suited to the task.

I'm starting to understand the allure of MKH 800s more now, other than simply selectable polar patterns. Neat.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Here for the gear
I asked Steve Smith years ago about his technique back around ca 2000, as I recall he described doing his thesis project in the early days on the Blumlein technique and used Peter Phillips and his (then-new) ensemble as an example... he said he's used Blumlein for them ever since.

Last edited by Klimermonk; 6 days ago at 03:23 AM.. Reason: Spelling
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by fred2bern View Post
Sometime Omni is too large and wide cardio too small, just adjust to taste and... done!
Before I used to work with Omnis+Cardios on the same bar, today I smile when I think about it.

Fred
Hello Fred,
This thread has been reminding me to consider the 800 twins for the future. I almost always use a two-pairs mains array and what you describe is obviously very appealing.

If you have a moment, I'd be curious to hear what kind of spacing(s) are typical for you when you are not 100% certain which pattern you will end up selecting in post-production. In other words, I could imagine a fairly standard spacing for omnis feeling a bit wide if you decide later it would be nice to play with cardioid or figure 8. Do you have any preferred starting point in general?
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukedamrosch View Post
Hello Fred,
This thread has been reminding me to consider the 800 twins for the future. I almost always use a two-pairs mains array and what you describe is obviously very appealing.

If you have a moment, I'd be curious to hear what kind of spacing(s) are typical for you when you are not 100% certain which pattern you will end up selecting in post-production. In other words, I could imagine a fairly standard spacing for omnis feeling a bit wide if you decide later it would be nice to play with cardioid or figure 8. Do you have any preferred starting point in general?
Hello Luke,

I use them as a main pair for live recordings. In studio I use M150 and I can really say that, to me, we are in the same league. Not the same sound of course, but the same quality as a main microphone to capture the main signal.

You must remember that the 800 twin is a made with 2 cardios in push pull...

I always start to find the best spot in the omni configuration (both cardio capsules are very good in the low register). In good halls it works, in big churches sometimes it's not good from the start, so I start to low the rear capsule and so on... I try to find the best option regarding what I want to get with the ratio "stage/room".
Back home, most of time, it's ok or nearly ok, but you still have the option to find the exact amount of room you want.
So I never make some ORTF or whatever with these microphones, I use them in AB configuration.

At the end, before buying Schoeps with MK2/H/S, MK21, MK22, MK4 to cover most of configurations, giving a look at the twins can be a good idea...

Fred.
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Early music / Tallis Scholars-800twin.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Lives for gear
Its Blumlein 800/800, not spaced technique.
Like the BPO recent live release
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