The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 All  This Thread  Reviews  Gear Database  Gear for sale     Latest  Trending
How has the typical full-orchestra recording setup changed over the past 60 years?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #31
A couple of quick comments from out here in the cheap seats...
Quote:
Originally Posted by househoppin09 View Post
I suppose I could track down dozens upon dozens of different documentaries and sets of pictures and suss out the trend shifts from a comprehensive survey of them all, but that doesn't seem very practical...
I'm sorry, but if you don't have even a cursory understanding of the basics, you have no idea what question you are even asking. Do the research first. There are reams already written about the topic. Once you do this basic research, then make a list and contact the people that can answer your questions. Nobody can do the work for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric D View Post
Well,very simple: a lot of great Decca recordings were done with only 3 microphones, same for RCA Living stereo . I don't refer to a specific vidéo .
Having remastered Living Stereo for SACD, I can virtually guarantee that with the exception of a couple of chamber music records, virtually none of the Living Stereo recordings were done with 2 or 3 mics. If you listen carefully, you will hear obvious fader moves all over the place and significant balance jumps at edits. A typical production for Living Stereo was between 12 and 20 inputs depending on the time(Fewer before 1960, more after) and the musical forces. The mythology surrounding these recordings is mind boggling. These were pragmatic engineers trying to make good recordings, not not purists adhering to dogma.

Quote:
Several very good Erato recordings were done with a single ORTF pair, and the intergral Mahler symphonies recordings were done in the eighties with mostly a single pair of Bruel and Kjaer omni microphones for the Denon label (Eliahu Inbal and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony orchestra) . These are remarkable, and just a few examples of what can be done with 2 or 3 (or very few microphones) .
More humbly, my personal experience has showed it is perfectly possible to record a full orchestra, even with soloists, with only a pair of microphones, and obtain great results .
Sorry for my poor English, but when I was speaking about "tons of microphones and tracks ", I was referring to the "hundred tracks" evoked by Plush .
And of course, my point of view applies only for classical music recordings, jazz, pop or rock music are an other story !
Again, in the world of reality, making commercial recordings is a business and if one sticks to dogma rather than applying good engineering practice, you will not be long for the business. My 30 years of working experience have taught me that the pragmatic approach is the best. I put out the microphones that will allow me to do the things I will be asked to do in post production. The quickest way to not get the call back is to not give the client what they want. Since there are so few people out there making commercial recordings of orchestras, there is really very little information that is accurate about how the process is done. As I say to people all the time, WRT classical recording, nobody wants to know how the sausage is made, they just want a tasty sausage.
Also,This idea that I'll stop an orchestral session and tell the conductor that he as to do another take because the oboe is a little under-balanced is not reality when session time costs $400/min. Orchestral sessions are amongst the most high pressure work in the business. Chamber music, yea, we'll discuss balance and performance issues, but orchestras are a different thing altogether.
As always, YMMV.
All the best,
-mark
Old 3 weeks ago
  #32
Here for the gear
 

I've learned some very interesting things from this thread so far--really fascinating, thank you so much to all who have shared!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue View Post
I'm sorry, but if you don't have even a cursory understanding of the basics, you have no idea what question you are even asking. Do the research first. There are reams already written about the topic. Once you do this basic research, then make a list and contact the people that can answer your questions. Nobody can do the work for you.
I regret making the remark to which you were responding here, as I can see now that it must have seemed rather flippant. Let me reassure everyone that I'm not in any way looking to be spoonfed or to avoid doing my own research. What I had meant to say there was, no matter how much research I do, I simply don't see how there can be any proper substitute for the direct observations of veterans who observed the progression of the recording process first-hand over a long period of time. I certainly will not be using this thread as my only source of information, or even my main source--I've simply intended for it to be a supplement and a sanity check on exactly the kind of "basic research" you describe. Sorry for not making that more clear above. And thanks for sharing your own experiences as well!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #33
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by househoppin09 View Post
I've learned some very interesting things from this thread so far--really fascinating, thank you so much to all who have shared!



I regret making the remark to which you were responding here, as I can see now that it must have seemed rather flippant. Let me reassure everyone that I'm not in any way looking to be spoonfed or to avoid doing my own research. What I had meant to say there was, no matter how much research I do, I simply don't see how there can be any proper substitute for the direct observations of veterans who observed the progression of the recording process first-hand over a long period of time. I certainly will not be using this thread as my only source of information, or even my main source--I've simply intended for it to be a supplement and a sanity check on exactly the kind of "basic research" you describe. Sorry for not making that more clear above. And thanks for sharing your own experiences as well!
No problem...if you get a good mark, share it with us . It's often fun for us here to trawl through older stuff, as new nuggets (like that newly-posted Decca/Ring video) can appear at any time, without fanfare
The difficulty with hoping for neat, linear-progression, evolutionary improvements or innovations in recording methodology is that...that's not how it goes !

There were/are broad movements, as well as little silo-factions, in co-existence always...some tip their hat to accepted acoustic theory, many don't (or bend it in ways never intended). If you add surround/3D/ambisonics you create an even bigger whirlpool (or rabbit-hole) of possibilities....

The history of discovery, innovation, adaptation and evolution of ideas and practice rarely conforms to neat academic pigeonholes...and stereo recording is no exception !
Old 3 weeks ago
  #34
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
The difficulty with hoping for neat, linear-progression, evolutionary improvements or innovations in recording methodology is that...that's not how it goes !

There were/are broad movements, as well as little silo-factions, in co-existence always...some tip their hat to accepted acoustic theory, many don't (or bend it in ways never intended). If you add surround/3D/ambisonics you create an even bigger whirlpool (or rabbit-hole) of possibilities....

The history of discovery, innovation, adaptation and evolution of ideas and practice rarely conforms to neat academic pigeonholes...and stereo recording is no exception !
Right, that's one of the things that's really clicked for me thanks to this thread. I had somehow come under the impression that there's always been a fair amount of "The Way Things Are Generally Done" in the recording of orchestras, and posed my question with that assumption in mind. With the music itself being so formalized and traditionalistic, I guess I kind of figured the engineering for it might tend somewhat in that direction as well? The responses I'm getting here are making it pretty clear that I was way off the mark about that and that it's *far* more individualized than I had imagined, which is actually very cool. It will come as a shock to no one that I haven't done any serious large-scale location recording myself (heh), so I guess I fell into the layman's oversimplified assumptions about the level of artistry involved. Reading some of these reminiscences has been eye-opening to say the least!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #35
Lives for gear
You can't fail also to give due credit to some technological advances, which open up new doors and ways of working.

Just a multichannel mixer (ie greater than 2 mic inputs...and up to unlimited, if you factor in DAWs) immediately lets you plant more mics out there...whether they end up going to individually stored multitrack files or tape tracks, or simply mixed down live-to-stereo on the spot, as many if not most live to air radio broadcasts are still done....

Multichannel DAW storage opens up yet more possibilities, for capturing multiple perspectives and spot snapshots, even if they're not necessarily used much (or at all) in the ultimate mixdown phase.

None of this is necessarily advocating a multichannel/track recording approach vs a simple 2 mic live to stereo approach...except that the technology (and relative accessibility of the hardware) allows this latter approach at relatively little cost, except for setup time (and mic-forest visual pollution )

Because, technologically, it can be done...means that it often is (multimiking that is)
Old 3 weeks ago
  #36
One thing I noticed from being around a lot of great recording people, Joanna Nickrenz, Marc Aubort and Jack Renner is that they all subscribe to the KISS principal, (Keep it simple, stupid). See https://tapeop.com/interviews/54/marc-aubort/ and https://www.analogplanet.com/content...-marc-aubort-0 and https://www.analogplanet.com/content...-marc-aubort-0 I think a lot of the multi-microphone crowd does it for the reasons stated by Mark Donahue in his postings on this topic. I also think a lot of people use a lot of microphones so they can charge more money for their recordings (more mics = more investment = bigger fees). I once did a recording session with a very well known producer, who I don't want to name, who put out a lot of microphones but only used about 3 of them. She said that the more microphones the better the recording is what most musicians think so she puts out 8 to 10 microphones. One of the players in the group we were recording noticed that the microphones on the other three player were closer and he wanted his microphone closer. I did as requested and he said it was "much better" even though none of the microphones were turned on or patched into the console. FWIW
Old 3 weeks ago
  #37
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
She said that the more microphones the better the recording is what most musicians think so she puts out 8 to 10 microphones.
Excellent, a great tip for how to get more use out of the "stunt" mics and beaten up XLR cables I keep around!

This reminds me of the story of an engineer who never got rid of any old rack gear, whether or not it worked. If the meters lit up and moved, it was left on and fed signal, for the benefit of the clients
Old 3 weeks ago
  #38
Lives for gear
 

to kiss or not to kiss

i'm using multiple mics (mostly between twelve and eigtheen) to have options of portraying ensembles in different ways, especially when working with producers who i don't know (well), when working in surround and in high pressure situations when i cannot afford to reposition just a single mic but must deal with however mics were set up (or put into places which i did not favour but were choosen to please our friends from the video department) - also, there are more sophisticated ways to align spots these days than 40 or more years back.

cannot recommend 'kiss' under these conditions... - using more mics just to charge more is pretty poor behaviour though! (if i'm on my own, i charge less when someone prefers the 'mix' of mains only)
Old 3 weeks ago
  #39
Gear Addict
 

Put out as many microphones as you think you might need in post during the session but use as few as you can get away with in the post. I go by this rule.



Best regards,

Da-Hong
Old 3 weeks ago
  #40
Yep, that is the approach I have found to be best. Put up what you think you might need during the session, use only what you absolutely need for the recording. Good coverage is essential for location recording.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #41
KISS is a fine philosophy, and I think we should all adhere to it in our own way (ie don’t take on more than you are confident you can chew) but as an informer of how records have been made, it is a flawed concept, as everyone’s definition of “simple” is different.

If you are a graduate of Detmold, which teaches in their Tonmeister degree program a philosophy based on the techniques of Philips engineer Volker Straus, a “simple” setup likely consists of multiple pairs of microphones even for something as seemingly simple as a solo cello or piano, and many more for more complex ensembles. After all, if that’s how you learned to make a recording, then using that many microphones is concept basic to your understanding of recording, and while to some that may seem overwhelmingly complex, if you understand how the system works, it’s relatively simple.

I think an excellent case study in the fluidity of a concept like “simplicity” in an historical context is the evolution of Decca’s classical recording techniques. Their engineers started with a relatively “simple” 3 mic setup, moving to 6 as stereo became more of a standard and as the channels became available, and by 1960 it was not uncommon to have as many as 12 mics on a recording. Through the 60s this expanded as the channel counts on mixers expanded, and the engineers used the additional channels available to address problems they were encountering. Listen to the Monteaux “Pelleas” from the late 50s; that’s 6 mics (tree, outriggers, mono choir spot). By the mid-60s, a recording of that piece would have included a single pair of woodwind spots, and 3-4 additional choir mics. By the mid-70s, you would see the addition of harp spots, percussion spots, contrabass spot, brass and horn spot.... all added to give a bit more controllability and finessability to the stereo balance, and all building on the rather simple Tree-and-outrigger foundation that was established in the 50s.

The kicker for their usage? With very few exceptions, ALL of it that you hear on those records was rather simply tracked live to stereo. All the way up until the late 90s when Universal decided to lay off the Decca recording team. They would take a limited multitrack backup for safety on some very complex sessions, but almost always the stereo mix that left the sessions is what was edited and cut onto the master.

And that is a brief history of one major labels approach to classical recording.

There is also, off the top of my head, unique approaches developed at DG, Philips, CBS, RCA, Mercury, Erato, EMI, VOX (and later Delos, Telarc, Teldec, HM, Chandos, etc.)

The best companies doing this kind of work nowadays, IE the engineers at Soundmirror, Polyhymnia, Tritonus, EBS, Classic Sound LTD, BIS, Phoenix Audio, Floating Earth, Abbas, and guys like Shawn Murphy, they all have their roots in the traditions of those major label teams, with Philips, Decca, and DG probably dictating the direction that classical recording technique has headed the most.

All that to say, how they did it “back then” is really not that different from how things are done now (things that are done well, anyways) save for the sample rates and multitrack counts, and the prolonged workflows that come with them .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
One thing I noticed from being around a lot of great recording people, Joanna Nickrenz, Marc Aubort and Jack Renner is that they all subscribe to the KISS principal, (Keep it simple, stupid). See https://tapeop.com/interviews/54/marc-aubort/ and https://www.analogplanet.com/content...-marc-aubort-0 and https://www.analogplanet.com/content...-marc-aubort-0 I think a lot of the multi-microphone crowd does it for the reasons stated by Mark Donahue in his postings on this topic. I also think a lot of people use a lot of microphones so they can charge more money for their recordings (more mics = more investment = bigger fees). I once did a recording session with a very well known producer, who I don't want to name, who put out a lot of microphones but only used about 3 of them. She said that the more microphones the better the recording is what most musicians think so she puts out 8 to 10 microphones. One of the players in the group we were recording noticed that the microphones on the other three player were closer and he wanted his microphone closer. I did as requested and he said it was "much better" even though none of the microphones were turned on or patched into the console. FWIW

Last edited by king2070lplaya; 3 weeks ago at 02:22 AM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #42
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
After some years of recording I moved into the tape op chair for Decca here in Chicago. We always had a Sony 1630 and a Mitsubishi X-850 multi-track on orchestra dates. And yes, the two mix was critical and was often used.

I define simple as "classic." With that definition there is no confusion about what simple means. Based on classic techniques of Decca.

Germany, where I worked for 18 years, uses much different approaches that I'm not going to get into or muddy the waters with now. Concisely, there are many more directional mics used in German technique than is common in other approaches.

I don't subscribe to the notion that simple is misunderstood. Simple is 12-16 mics on an orchestra and a few more if chorus is on the program.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #43
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Simple is 12-16 mics on an orchestra and a few more if chorus is on the program.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #44
Thank you for proving my point!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
After some years of recording I moved into the tape op chair for Decca here in Chicago. We always had a Sony 1630 and a Mitsubishi X-850 multi-track on orchestra dates. And yes, the two mix was critical and was often used.

I define simple as "classic." With that definition there is no confusion about what simple means. Based on classic techniques of Decca.

Germany, where I worked for 18 years, uses much different approaches that I'm not going to get into or muddy the waters with now. Concisely, there are many more directional mics used in German technique than is common in other approaches.

I don't subscribe to the notion that simple is misunderstood. Simple is 12-16 mics on an orchestra and a few more if chorus is on the program.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #45
Here for the gear
 

king2070lplaya, that was a really fantastic mini-essay you wrote there--huge thanks, I've got some excellent leads to pursue now!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #46
Gear Addict
 

"Simple is 12-16 mics on an orchestra and a few more if chorus is on the program."

In a simple, generic setup, as may be entailed in the quote above, how might those mics be laid out? A main pair. Flankers. And then what? What sections spotted, and in stereo or mono?

Thank you for any additional comments.

Regards,

DG
Old 2 weeks ago
  #47
Lives for gear
 
Yannick's Avatar
 

My main technique is double MS plus two flankers, plus a bass section mic. (6 mics).
Then a ms wind mic, plus french horn section, plus the other side of the winds (4)
Then you probably need at least one timpani mic.

That gives a total of 11 mics.
If there is harp, 12.
Then, often there is percussion or double percussion, 14.
If that is the case, a small or big brass section, 16.
Or a soloist, which needs a stereo spot.

Most of the time, I manage with 13-14 mics, rarely more than 16. (Choir and if some producer wants string section spots).

As a rule, I never spot string sections, except double bass. It kills a nice string sound if there is one. With a good orchestra I find it quite easy to have too much string sound in the main pickup, the balance is up to the composer and the chef.

As a side note, the sound difference between just the main+flankers and the entire mix is not big. The section mics are there for clarity and precision.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
My main technique is double MS
Please describe your double MS technique.
Thank you.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
We always had a Sony 1630 and a Mitsubishi X-850 multi-track on orchestra dates. And yes, the two mix was critical and was often used.
I really liked the 1630. The 3/4" video recorders, not so much. Still they were more compact than rolling a DASH machine around, at the time.

When I was doing lots of big band concerts, I'd say 85% of the time we kept the two-track we mixed during the concert rather than remixing from the multitrack.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #50
Lives for gear
 
Yannick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildplum View Post
Please describe your double MS technique.
Thank you.
Mkh800twin plus Mkh30.
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