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Recording String Trio (..tonight!)
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Recording String Trio (..tonight!)

The repertoire will include pieces by Bach, Mozart and Vivaldi so I'm going for a classical capture as opposed to pop/modern.

The acoustic space is pretty dead. Not a lot of character, a bit boxy.

The mics available are:
-1x C414 XLS
-1x TLM103
-2x C42 (matched pair)
-1x R-10

My initial thoughts were to setup the pair of C42s in some near-coincident array, either ORTF or a 90-degree variant (NOS, DIN, XY15, etc). To deal with the possibility of the 'disappearing viola' I read about in some other string trio threads, I'd have a ribbon spot mic on the viola (plus omni 414 on cello) to max out my 4 channels.

However, it occurred to me that maybe a better option to avoid the 'disappearing viola' might be a more centre-focused array like MS: C42 facing the viola, with more violin/cello-dominant sides. My hesitation with that one is that I think I'd need to be pretty close in to avoid picking up too much of the boxy acoustics.

I'm iffy on the TLM103 as a mid mic for it's wider pickup in a poor acoustic. As a spot mic, I think it may be altogether too bite-y that close in.

So that leaves me with: C42/414 Mid-Side, plus a ribbon spot for the cello. Seems like a logical solution to mellow out the violin vs viola, but logic might go out the window when I arrive at the session.

Back to the pair of SDCs: I've never messed with near-coincident angles less than 90 degrees. Could that be an option for un-mellowing the viola tone compared to violin and cello?

If I were to use an 103/414 MS array.... would stereo spots (C42s in narrow AB) for the viola ever be a viable option?

Any help appreciated! Session's in a few hours. Will share whatever comes of it.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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maybe unorthodox: i'd use a mono main and 3 spot mic's... - get a few more mic's and tracks for your next recording!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Nut
Well, maybe this will catch you in time.

C42s in NOS, ribbon spot on cello. Done. Make sure you play with height and downward angle. Don't over think it; the viola can turn out slightly more to project into the space.

Deedeeyeah! You're wild man! Just for fun, what's your straight classical recording string quartet setup?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VillageOp View Post
(...) what's your straight classical recording string quartet setup?
i'm not much into what others call 'straight' 'cause i mostly want to have multiple options while mixing... - i was rather serious with my proposal how to use mic's for the trio under given circumstances ("The acoustic space is pretty dead. Not a lot of character, a bit boxy" according to the op) and together with limited resources, i would have relied on spots to build the foundation of the mix and would not have 'wasted' another channel for stereo pickup!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i'm not much into what others call 'straight' 'cause i mostly want to have multiple options while mixing... - i was rather serious with my proposal how to use mic's for the trio under given circumstances ("The acoustic space is pretty dead. Not a lot of character, a bit boxy" according to the op) and together with limited resources, i would have relied on spots to build the foundation of the mix and would not have 'wasted' another channel for stereo pickup!
It's an approach I can concur with...when the acoustics are truly dire... and need to be hidden as a first priority... you might as well create stereo out of spots-panning, mic to reduce the room, and then recreate an idealized (but still "proportionally credible") space 'in the box' with hardware or plugins.

A caveat I'd add is that mic placement even in these conditions is an art...you want to get a not-too close and rounded perspective of each instrument, even incorporating some adjacent bleed from neighbouring instruments if possible, while selecting mic patterns and aiming them to minimize the intrusion of a small/dead/boxy space.

To achieve that takes careful monitoring on site...to get that max/min balance right, at the source.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
It's an approach I can concur with...when the acoustics are truly dire... and need to be hidden as a first priority... you might as well create stereo out of spots-panning, mic to reduce the room, and then recreate an idealized (but still "proportionally credible") space 'in the box' with hardware or plugins.

A caveat I'd add is that mic placement even in these conditions is an art...you want to get a not-too close and rounded perspective of each instrument, even incorporating some adjacent bleed from neighbouring instruments if possible, while selecting mic patterns and aiming them to minimize the intrusion of a small/dead/boxy space.

To achieve that takes careful monitoring on site...to get that max/min balance right, at the source.
hm... - can you elaborate a bit on why you think mic placement and monitoring on site remain critical with this approach?

i'm not trying to downplay their importance and i'm certainly somewhat biased (as i often have to use lots of close mics to get the orchestra heard over jazz or rock bands on loud stages an cannot rely on what in acoustic music is considered to be the 'main' mics)...

... but imo this approach is easier and less critical on the recording side - it requires more time, gear and experience on the mixing side though.

if there aren't many options in post either, then you're indeed in trouble if not getting most things right on the way in!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
hm... - can you elaborate a bit on why you think mic placement and monitoring on site remain critical with this approach?
In a great room, you typically want to highlight the interactions the instruments have with the space, and obtain just enough of the required closer-focus with the spots.

In the current scenario, you want to minimize room pickup, but still keep a good relationship of one instrument to its neighbour, as well as capturing a good rounded sense of the instrument itself (without an overly zoomed-in aspect)

So it's still a mic selection and placement balancing act, and still relies on careful listening to optimize the between-instrument relationships... and the good aspects of the (more limited) capture of the space around them.

I don't think you can achieve the same outcome with reverbs, eq-ing and delays alone, after the capture is completed
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
In a great room, you typically want to highlight the interactions the instruments have with the space, and obtain just enough of the required closer-focus with the spots.

In the current scenario, you want to minimize room pickup, but still keep a good relationship of one instrument to its neighbour, as well as capturing a good rounded sense of the instrument itself (without an overly zoomed-in aspect)

So it's still a mic selection and placement balancing act, and still relies on careful listening to optimize the between-instrument relationships... and the good aspects of the (more limited) capture of the space around them.

I don't think you can achieve the same outcome with reverbs, eq-ing and delays alone, after the capture is completed
in a not so great room, i'm using mostly directional mics, not only to take the reverberant aspects out of the equitation but also the interaction/spill from neighbouring instruments; 'mains' act as a reverence and still contribute a bit to the sound, but the balance becomes much different.

i truly believe that when using 'this' previously mentioned approach, one can come as close as wanted to results as if using 'that' approach/things recorded in a more traditional way* - the point is though that under mentioned circumstances (and quite often otherwise), that's not my goal...

any technique is artificial...

[just beause a technique was established a while back with the gear at hand at that time does not tell much about its value and as mentioned by other experienced engineers (in various other threads), some revered results were not achieved by simple means but with lots of gear, even back in the early sixties! at the same time, it would be silly though to use multiple mics, pres, converters, efx and whatnot if one likes results just from a pair of omnis - i charge less if that's the case...]



* maybe we should do this once in a while: record both ways and try to match results as close as possible! would be for the fun of it; otherwise, this would come dangerously close to 'discussions' such as 'how to fake...' a specific sound with this or that gear or technique: one cannot, one better uses the original or a very close copy!

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 2 weeks ago at 10:21 AM.. Reason: edited twice for additional comment
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
in a not so great room, i'm using mostly directional mics, not only to take the reverberant aspects out of the equitation but also the interaction/spill from neighbouring instruments; 'mains' act as a reverence and still contribute a bit to the sound, but the balance becomes much different.

i truly believe that when using 'this' previously mentioned approach, one can come as close as wanted to results as if using 'that' approach/things recorded in a more traditional way* - the point is though that under mentioned circumstances (and quite often otherwise), that's not my goal...

any technique is artificial...

[just beause a technique was established a while back with the gear at hand at that time does not tell much about its value and as mentioned by other experienced engineers (in various other threads), some revered results were not achieved by simple means but with lots of gear, even back in the early sixties! at the same time, it would be silly though to use multiple mics, pres, converters, efx and whatnot if one likes results just from a pair of omnis - i charge less if that's the case...]



* maybe we should do this once in a while: record both ways and try to match results as close as possible! would be for the fun of it; otherwise, this would come dangerously close to 'discussions' such as 'how to fake...' a specific sound with this or that gear or technique: one cannot, one better uses the original or a very close copy!
Yes that would be a good exercise for the fun and instructive aspect certainly

Note also that I'm not sure how your 'mono main' mic would work in this context (I mean if there is no PA at the concert which needs to be fed by these mics)

If you made this mic as your main pickup (instead of say an ORTF pair) and it was high in mix level, it will tend to draw the images of the spot mics toward the centre...assuming the spots are panned ?

If the spots are all panned centre, then you have a mono mix (ideal for PA !) and no problem, if you are happy with a mono recording. The mono room mic will also tend to pull the room reverb to the centre...although you will probably be creating a spatial 'reverb field' for each spot mic, as you add them to the mix.

You may get close to a realistic stereo pickup (minus bad room) in this way...I'm simply not doing so often enough to predict the outcome ?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Yes that would be a good exercise for the fun and instructive aspect certainly

Note also that I'm not sure how your 'mono main' mic would work in this context (I mean if there is no PA at the concert which needs to be fed by these mics)

If you made this mic as your main pickup (instead of say an ORTF pair) and it was high in mix level, it will tend to draw the images of the spot mics toward the centre...assuming the spots are panned ?

If the spots are all panned centre, then you have a mono mix (ideal for PA !) and no problem, if you are happy with a mono recording. The mono room mic will also tend to pull the room reverb to the centre...although you will probably be creating a spatial 'reverb field' for each spot mic, as you add them to the mix.

You may get close to a realistic stereo pickup (minus bad room) in this way...I'm simply not doing so often enough to predict the outcome ?
it would be presumtuous to pretend one could predict an outcome but with our somewhat unique scenario here (not so unique in the studio context: i know plenty of folks who use a mono room mic on drums - and results are very convincing!), there's a good chance to get good results 'cause we're having enough material to work with (a track of every instrument and some room information)!

i would start by setting the spots at a level balanced stereo soundfield with the necessary spread (and use dynamics and eq; see below).

i then would feed the mono 'main' into a mono in/stereo out efx device on a large room or hall setting, preferably with largely unrelated/modulated stereo outputs; not sure i'd use the dry signal at all.

most likely, i'd feed the spots into another efx device with a chamber/room setting (without much early reflections 'cause those are already captured by the spots) and/or feed them into the first efx device (i'm mostly using three efx devices with largely different settings if not feeding things into a quantec...)

i'd probably use dynamics on close mics to mimic what some air between a mic and a source usually does (which is levelling out the dynamics a bit); same for eq.

by now, we should have a fairly resonable mix which however still might need a little bit of limiting (i prefer to level out things on two stages rather than using steep settings in one step) and which of course needs to be compared with mixes done with 'normal' technique and for mono-compatibility.

it would not be for the sake of using all the toys 'cause we have them but using them in reasonable way which should stick close to the acoustic model of how an ensemble works in a room and what could be heard from a specific position: we then try to re-model that position with whatever gear is needed to do so.



p.s. i'm giving a fair deal of attention to mono compatibility (with my preference for coincident mic techniques maybe even a bit more than some other engineers) but i'm not much of a fan of mono-centric mixes, not live nor for recordings: stereo and surround are just too much fun that i would favour mono over them! :-)

and regarding mono vs stereo (or surround) in live sound, there's a HUGE thread going on in the live sound forum...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i would start by setting the spots at a level balanced stereo soundfield with the necessary spread (and use dynamics and eq; see below).

i then would feed the mono 'main' into a mono in/stereo out efx device on a large room or hall setting, preferably with largely unrelated/modulated stereo outputs; not sure i'd use the dry signal at all.

most likely, i'd feed the spots into another efx device with a chamber/room setting (without much early reflections 'cause those are already captured by the spots) and/or feed them into the first efx device (i'm mostly using three efx devices with largely different settings if not feeding things into a quantec...)

i'd probably use dynamics on close mics to mimic what some air between a mic and a source usually does (which is levelling out the dynamics a bit); same for eq.
Thanks for such clear and detailed info for that spots + mono room method. That's something I will definitely try out when I get back in that space, and just in general when I have these similar far-from-optimal acoustic situations and 4-track limitation. Just love the idea for handling the mono room FX routing, that clinched it for me. I can see how in this situation, best not to get attached to a stereo-room pickup. I didn't have a chance to implement it in time for this session. With 20/20 hindsight, it feels like the stereo mains have somewhat limited my options in post.

For this setup I was limited to 4 tracks: Babyface+iPhone with an ID22 (not mine) via ADAT - Just what I could carry in one bag for this particular situation. Other times, it's the ASP800 via ADAT into the Babyface, skipping the cruddy breakout cable.

The attached mp3 uses the mains and a bit of the cello spot. Have a listen if you like!

I've added my comments / post-mortem below.

They setup wth the cello in the middle. I temporarily ditched my curiosity for M/S and went with C42s in XY15 about as far back as I could go which was about 5 feet in front of the the ensemble. A bit of a balancing act between being too close to the back wall vs too close to the violin... didn't foresee that challenge. They were a pronounced U-shape (lots of eye contact) with the cello relatively further away. I used a ribbon spot for viola and omni spot for cello.

Next time, I'll use the ribbon on cello as VillageOp mentioned, because I find the omni was violin-dominant at times, not to mention the room character... could really use that null-point!

The mains sound a bit wide so I'd change the XY placement (IE: narrower angle or closer spacing?), or better yet just do as deedeeyeah suggested and keep it mono+spots.

Viola spot hasn't been used. To my ears it seems quite prominent in the mains.

The comments have been very eye/ear-opening and I'm eager to roll out the new suggestions. Thanks to all for weighing in!
Attached Files

ex1a.mp3 (2.02 MB, 92 views)

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