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Unusual String Quartet Session
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
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Unusual String Quartet Session

Hey, all.

I do a fair amount of orchestral and choir recording, but have never recorded a string quartet. I've got Richard King's book and have read through a number of very informative threads here. But this session will be string quartet and...bass clarinet.

This will happen in a very nice but generally dry studio. So even though I know this is a bit of a shot in the dark, I'd be very interested in any initial thoughts about how to approach such an oddball combination.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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Old Foof's Avatar
 

Sent you a PM.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
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lukedamrosch's Avatar
 

I suspect more people, myself included, will be able to contribute a few thoughts if you can elaborate a bit further on:

What kind of space you will be recording in.

What material is being performed.

What mics are at your disposal.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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Approach it like any other quartet/clarinet quintet. Stereo pair out front, perhaps a set of outriggers. Get the mics in the right spot and that's all you'll need. Occasionally in some rooms, I'll add a cello spot, but it's rare.

--Ben
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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A Royer SF-12 might be all you need.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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depends a lot on the size of the studio: if not large enough, chances are that a stereo main pair alone will not do it... - where's the bass clarinet positioned?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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The studio is decent-sized, and a very nice sounding Chris Pelonis-designed room. Pretty neutral and dry, so I won't be counting on the room for ambience.

Mic options include multiple KM140's, CM-3's, OM-1's, Jim Williams-modded AKG 460b's (with various capsules), TLM103's and Gefell UMT70s's, plus if I need a spot, a 1972 U-87, an R84, an M930 a Lawson L47MP, and a Mojave MA-200. No Royers, I'm afraid.

I'm still waiting to hear from the client on their stage configuration, and at this point all I know about the repertoire is that it's for bass clarinet and string quartet. Old Foof was kind enough to send me a video of a nearly identical group he recorded, and they were set up in a U-shape with the clarinet at the back. That would be nice, but I'm sure they'll want to set up however they normally set up on stage. Their setup will, of course, help determine the best mic configuration.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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i'm not familuar with all of these mics - if using spots (which i would certainly wanna try), my pick would be 3x akg c460 on the higher strings, m930 on the cello and tlm103 on the bass clarinet and maybe om1's for ambis at the largest possible distance: even if ambi tracks will not get used in the mix (which is likely as you say the room is rather dry), imo they can be useful to get sent to efx devices.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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If the room is dead, I’d probably avoid close mics if at all possible. Close string mixing is how you get a scratchy sound. Even when I mic close, I still tend to go off axis to mellow the sound out.

The bass clarinet is likely to have a big sound. It will also likely bleed into spot mics turning them into clarinet mics. With the collection you have, I’d probably start with either an ORTF pair of CM3 a or an AB pair of OM1s. If the sound feels scratchy, also try micing the group at about shoulder level and relatively close (say 4’ out). If you can, I’d also try using a pair of omnis as outriggers. If you have Omni caps for the 460s, I could see that working well- space perhaps 10’ wide and put 6-8’ back and 8-10’ high.

If you need a cello spot, try your ribbon, putting the bass clarinet in the 90 degree null of the fig-8 pattern.

If the group balances acoustically, you won’t need much.

-Ben
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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I would be amazed if the group balances acoustically. 99/100 the bass clarinet will be overpowering the rest. Get a decent string quartet sound and try to get the bassclarinet ridiculously soft in that capture.
Then add a bassclarinet spot mic.

That is what I would do in that kind of room, as I am also quite sure the bassclarinet part will be solistic in nature.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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Thanks for all the suggestions, folks, lots to think about. This will be a well-rehearsed group with at least one live performance under their belts, so I'm hoping they've self-balanced by the time they get into the studio.

My first choice would be a single stereo pair, either AB omnis or ORTF/NOS cardioids. But I'll do whatever is needed, and we should have enough time for me to try multiple options at the session. I'll report back afterward, but it isn't until October.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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how many tracks do you have available to record to ???

can't you just put everything up and sort it out later ??? in other words ... get a great Stereo Sound and then add all the spot mic's you want .. or have the time to place ..

you already have the Stereo Side in Mind to capture the MAIN Look at the Performance ...

how big is the space ??

can you get up high if you need to ??

sounds like a unique, cool experience is going to happen for you to record !! awesome ...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
how many tracks do you have available to record to ???

can't you just put everything up and sort it out later ??? in other words ... get a great Stereo Sound and then add all the spot mic's you want .. or have the time to place ..

you already have the Stereo Side in Mind to capture the MAIN Look at the Performance ...

how big is the space ??

can you get up high if you need to ??

sounds like a unique, cool experience is going to happen for you to record !! awesome ...
Thanks, my thoughts exactly. The space is more than adequate with a high ceiling, and tracks count isn't an issue. So unless we're all absolutely blown away by the minimalist setup alone, I'll likely take the time to place spots wherever I can fit them in, and use them, if they help, in the final mix. My only hesitation would be the spending of too much time on technical stuff with finicky musicians and losing the vibe, but I'll feel that out on the day.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
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A bass clarinet is a hard instrument to spot mic because it is so very long -- there's no single point where you can put a mic close to it and capture the full sound. If you absolutely have to spot mic it you may well need two mics, but better to avoid it if possible.

I think my starting point would be to have a pair of spaced omnis with the quartet on one side and the clarinet on the other.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peller View Post
A bass clarinet is a hard instrument to spot mic because it is so very long -- there's no single point where you can put a mic close to it and capture the full sound. If you absolutely have to spot mic it you may well need two mics, but better to avoid it if possible
Putting on my clarinetist hat here. In a classical setting, there is never a need for 2 mics on a bass clarinet.

Put the microphone at least a couple feet out- position to the players right side right about the break between the top and bottom joints. You’ll get a great sound.

If the bass clarinet is way too loud, a pair on the quartet with the bass clarinet facing them in the center behind the main pair (taking care for imaging) can work. Probably would need to spot the bass, but I’ve had some rare situations where that can work.

Downside of that is that you lose ensemble continuity in your feel/image.

-Ben
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
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Turns out this ensemble sets up exactly like the one in the video Paul sent me, with the bass clarinet at the back of a U shape and the violins out front. He got a really good sound with a couple of Rode ribbons in a Faulkner array and no spots, so I'll definitely start with an ear toward getting a good balance with some sort of front pair (or a pair of pairs), with mic choices and stereo configuration to be determined by how they sound once I've got them in the room. This studio is really even, so I may not need any spots. But I'll have some standing by...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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A single stereo setup is the way to go IMHO. Blumlein is always what i try first now (UMT70S's might be pretty cool instead of ribbons). Never tried Faulkner array, though.

If you decide to spot mic the bc, make sure to get the lower register right (low end energy with articulation). Bleed or amb mics will take care of the rest of that instrument.

Last edited by bicarbone; 2 weeks ago at 11:35 PM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicarbone View Post
A single stereo setup is the way to go IMHO. Blumlein is always what i try first now (UMT70S's might be pretty cool instead of ribbons). Never tried Faulkner array, though.

If you decide to spot mic the bc, make sure to get the lower register right (low end energy with articulation). Bleed or amb mics will take care of the rest of that instrument.
Agreed. Some of my other choices may be more transparent, but I love the M7 presence of the Gefells. They're actually my first choice on classical piano. I'll be surprised if I need to spot the bass clarinet, but the cello might need a little support, especially since he won't be facing the front mics.
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