The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 All  This Thread  Reviews  Gear Database  Gear for sale     Latest  Trending
Portable setup to record opera soprano on-site
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Portable setup to record opera soprano on-site

I am helping an operatic soprano record demo songs for auditions. Auditions will be recorded in various places (auditoriums & practice rooms), so we need a portable recording setup.

For her first demo, we borrowed a Zoom H4N-Pro builtin microphones, which we found to give bad quality (OK to record a lesson, but too poor for a clear audition recording).

We also tried the H4N-Pro powering an AT4050 mic, which we thought gave very good quality sound.


Before we buy an H4N-Pro and 4050 mic or similar, I thought I would see what the prevailing wisdom is here on a portable setup for this application or what the tradeoffs are. For example, do the Zoom preamps compare to something decent in the less-portable category?

Ideally, we would like to be sub-$1k to get set up.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
Amsoily's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tessitura View Post
I am helping an operatic soprano record demo songs for auditions. Auditions will be recorded in various places (auditoriums & practice rooms), so we need a portable recording setup.

For her first demo, we borrowed a Zoom H4N-Pro builtin microphones, which we found to give bad quality (OK to record a lesson, but too poor for a clear audition recording).

We also tried the H4N-Pro powering an AT4050 mic, which we thought gave very good quality sound.


Before we buy an H4N-Pro and 4050 mic or similar, I thought I would see what the prevailing wisdom is here on a portable setup for this application or what the tradeoffs are. For example, do the Zoom preamps compare to something decent in the less-portable category?

Ideally, we would like to be sub-$1k to get set up.




The best choice imho is to look at the starter bundles and build your own built around a laptop running windows.

The best choice here imho is a Razor Blade Stealth Laptop PC and a Presonus Starter Bundle.
If both purchased on sale you could be under 1k.

Building your own setup.
Used Razor Blade from 2017, Recording with Reaper Software, Steinberg UR22 Interface, Headphones, two microphones Shure PE65L and So many choices for a "Large Diaphram Condenser". Type that into eBay then set your selection to Auction and Ending Soonest, Oktavas, Shures, Audio Technicas...so many brands new and used for 50-100 right now.

Converters and your budget. Don't worry too much, you would need a really nice, expensive Sony handy recorder to hear a diffeence. If that is what you want then look up https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...-sony-pcm-d100 or better.

A nice soft or hard case with laptop, audio interface; mics, cables, apc surge strip, collapsible mic stand and pop filter is great running reaper.

If you go the laptop route and whant to kiss your bugdet goodbye then we could have some super fun.

Choose great items with a great history and reputation and build or buy Razor Laptop or Presonus Bundle imho will do great for you.

If you just want to capture audio and have someone else work with the file you can go the field recording route. Think mobile pc vocal stage and booth setup is still better for you.

You could make a sound pannel using roxul sound insulation, fabric covered in a small wooden frame and sing into that and be fine using a LDC or use a Dynamic mic or Stereo Pair for stage. So many people here will have mic experience for choir and stage. If you do use a dynamic mic I would add a Cloud Lifter to give the mic a clean boost. It uses the same phantom power from the audio interface you would use for a Condenser mic.

https://insideaudio.net/en/blog/prod...ield-recorders








https://musiccritic.com/equipment/st...ic-production/

https://www.gearnews.com/starter-rec...see-one-right/

https://ehomerecordingstudio.com/stereo-microphones/

https://microphonetopgear.com/best-choir-microphones/

https://musiccritic.com/equipment/be...e-for-singing/



Have fun,

Welcome to GS
Reaper and Studio One recording at 32 bit floating and 44.1-CD, 48-DVD, 96k-overkill is super fun and you will not hear clipping, watch the faders and meters to stay under 0db.

In Studio One you can use the Built in Channel Strips or Prests for Vocals, male or female.

Keep replying here on your progress no matter what setup you use and in the end if you keep at it, you will have a great recording.

Last edited by Amsoily; 1 week ago at 02:51 AM..
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 

I don't really like using computers for remote gigs like this unless I have to. I'd rather use a field recorder like the Tascam 701d, Zoom f4 or the Sound Devices Mix Pre 3. The advantage of the Mix Pre 3 is it can also serve as an audio interface, so if you wanted to use it with a computer you could, either on location or for mixing in post. 3 channels would give you a spot mic and a stereo pair, which should be plenty for a single singer. It might stretch your budget just a bit, but you could do some nice recordings with the Mix Pre 3 and 3 modded Oktava mk12s, maybe 2 omnis if you're in great rooms, or 2 cardioids in ORTF for lesser rooms, plus a cardioid or hypercardioid as the spot.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Christian (norsehorse) taught me a really great technique for doing voice and piano, and I’ve seen it done also on some live DG recordings (Kathleen Battle at Carnegie Hall specifically) where you use your typical cardioid AB pair (18” or so spacing) at around knee to thigh height and 6-10 feet straight out from the middle of the piano. You can adjust the height to tilt the balance towards the singer (up) or piano (down). This has the benefit of keeping the mics low and relatively out of frame while retaining a good balance and stereo image.

I often set up a piano spot and a room pair for safety, but wrt balance you can tilt that slightly toward the voice and call it a day, and add fake verb for room too.

You can certainly get a kit for under a grand, but for a little bit more you could net a used pair of km184s, a MixPre 3, and the requisite cabling and stands. I use a backlight stand and short extension made by Matthew that I found on B&H, but there were cheaper models of both parts available. For stereo bar, I use the Sabra Som stuff with aftermarket hex, though there are other options there as well.




Quote:
Originally Posted by tessitura View Post
I am helping an operatic soprano record demo songs for auditions. Auditions will be recorded in various places (auditoriums & practice rooms), so we need a portable recording setup.

For her first demo, we borrowed a Zoom H4N-Pro builtin microphones, which we found to give bad quality (OK to record a lesson, but too poor for a clear audition recording).

We also tried the H4N-Pro powering an AT4050 mic, which we thought gave very good quality sound.


Before we buy an H4N-Pro and 4050 mic or similar, I thought I would see what the prevailing wisdom is here on a portable setup for this application or what the tradeoffs are. For example, do the Zoom preamps compare to something decent in the less-portable category?

Ideally, we would like to be sub-$1k to get set up.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Tommy-boy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by over-man View Post
I don't really like using computers for remote gigs like this unless I have to. I'd rather use a field recorder like the Tascam 701d, Zoom f4 or the Sound Devices Mix Pre 3. The advantage of the Mix Pre 3 is it can also serve as an audio interface, so if you wanted to use it with a computer you could, either on location or for mixing in post. 3 channels would give you a spot mic and a stereo pair, which should be plenty for a single singer. It might stretch your budget just a bit, but you could do some nice recordings with the Mix Pre 3 and 3 modded Oktava mk12s, maybe 2 omnis if you're in great rooms, or 2 cardioids in ORTF for lesser rooms, plus a cardioid or hypercardioid as the spot.
+1. Dedicated recorders keep it simple. Sennheiser e914 are nice, relatively inexpensive, cardiod mics. Paired with an SD mix pre would be a good combo.

Tom
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
Amsoily's Avatar
 

These people know their stuff.

My desk and chair are just getting to the point where I am comfortable.

Then I too will follow the previous advice.


With my street budget and mobility I needed my gear to cover many tasks from tracking to uploading.

There is a very rare ocasion that I have left the desk to work on anything.

To my back and size bag is heavy. If you just need to record disregard everything I typed.

;D
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
fred2bern's Avatar
For this kind of demo I would use the kit I use to record small ensemble before going on sessions:

Zoom H6 (can also be used as an interface)
2x Line audio CM-4 (CM-3 maybe no more available).

With the included microphones in some H6 bundle it gives you at least 4 tracks.

You still have enough money for one stand and a stereo bar... It's super light and you don't need any power plug.

I'm always surprised by this combo result if you know where to set up the main pair.

Fred.
Attached Thumbnails
Portable setup to record opera soprano on-site-h6-cm3-combo.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya View Post
Christian (norsehorse) taught me a really great technique for doing voice and piano, and I’ve seen it done also on some live DG recordings (Kathleen Battle at Carnegie Hall specifically) where you use your typical cardioid AB pair (18” or so spacing) at around knee to thigh height and 6-10 feet straight out from the middle of the piano. You can adjust the height to tilt the balance towards the singer (up) or piano (down). This has the benefit of keeping the mics low and relatively out of frame while retaining a good balance and stereo image.
The AB (ie both mics parallel) also gives a good sense of stereo with strong centre fill, rather than the see-sawing left to right stereo image shifts you get with ORTF, NOS etc.... as the singer turns their body and head to face the width that the audience occupies. Very few singers maintain the stillness that we'd like...and Christian's method certainly minimizes the L/R sway !

It also helps much if they're not holding the score up to face level, which can act as a baffle for their direct voice clarity...and that can require a slightly higher placement of the mics to avoid such shadowing... eg: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO1FsN5g9Eo

Last edited by studer58; 1 week ago at 05:46 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Thank you all for the replies! I like the idea of the dedicated recorder/self-contained system with no laptop. (I have access to spec’ed out laptops and desktops to process the file, but prefer not to drag extra stuff around to record).

- I notice you guys are recommending a pair of little condenser mic’s (Sennheiser e914, CM4, etc.). How do these compare to something like the AT4050 I was playing with? Will recording with a single mic damage our sound quality (Obviously we won’t get stereo, but I’m not sure it matters for her demo tracks—we mostly just want to show a clear vocal. We also don't really care about the quality of the piano recording).

- I should have said that setting up the microphone in front of the singer or wherever is best is no problem, but what may be a problem is not-so-great recording rooms.

- How do the preamps/sound in something like a Zoom H4n compare to the H6, MixPre3, F4, etc? I get the sense that it will make a very small difference compared to setup/room/etc.—is this correct?

Again, thanks for tolerating the newbie questions!
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
Stradivariusz's Avatar
Please don't underestimate the sensitivity of the judges who will receive the recording. Nice sounding one will get much better reception. Believe me, I've been one of the judges...
If she really cares about her future she needs to take care about the details. Imagine this work of the jury who receives hundred of the recordings...they start the file and if it sounds like... they just switch it off before it even came to the vocal part.
Do it nicely and make the work of those people a plesure not hell
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
The best thing to do would be to hire an experienced recordist to make your recording. The stakes are too high to do otherwise.

Believe me--other serious singers will be making sure they submit top notch material.

Don't record in mono. In fact YOU don't record it at all.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Thanks. We will likely have a professional do some of her recordings, but we're going to get gear anyways -- one can't always plan on/off singing days, and when she has a large stack of demos to record, it's nice to have the option to record when it suits.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 
fred2bern's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tessitura View Post
Thanks. We will likely have a professional do some of her recordings, but we're going to get gear anyways -- one can't always plan on/off singing days, and when she has a large stack of demos to record, it's nice to have the option to record when it suits.
Of course.

By the way, these small recorders are made for this purpose. You'll probably never reach the final sound of a "real" production regarding quality, but with the right gear you'll have something interesting to work with.

The result will at least help the singer to improve, it's always important as a musician to hear and criticize herself.

I'm not scared of people making demo with portable gear. In fact, I ask for this audio material when I don't know and can't go and listen to the artists. It already saved my life more than once...

No mono recording, this is clear!

So have fun, record your singer and when you'll both think it's time to make something more serious hire a - serious - recording team, a sound engineer and a real artistic director.


Fred.

Last edited by fred2bern; 1 week ago at 01:25 PM..
Old 3 days ago
  #14
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya View Post
Christian (norsehorse) taught me a really great technique for doing voice and piano, and I’ve seen it done also on some live DG recordings (Kathleen Battle at Carnegie Hall specifically) where you use your typical cardioid AB pair (18” or so spacing) at around knee to thigh height and 6-10 feet straight out from the middle of the piano. You can adjust the height to tilt the balance towards the singer (up) or piano (down). This has the benefit of keeping the mics low and relatively out of frame while retaining a good balance and stereo image.

I often set up a piano spot and a room pair for safety, but wrt balance you can tilt that slightly toward the voice and call it a day, and add fake verb for room too.

You can certainly get a kit for under a grand, but for a little bit more you could net a used pair of km184s, a MixPre 3, and the requisite cabling and stands. I use a backlight stand and short extension made by Matthew that I found on B&H, but there were cheaper models of both parts available. For stereo bar, I use the Sabra Som stuff with aftermarket hex, though there are other options there as well.
This worked very well for me recently....main pair of SD Neumann omnis overhead, 18" spaced thigh-height pair of parallel CM3 around 4 feet in front of soprano, tilted up for voice preference as Kevin mentioned above, no additional piano mics...audio sample attached below. No limiting, compression, reverb or other processing.

Maybe a bit sibilant, but I could eq that away ...and you can still detect a little head turning, but not too much...
Attached Files

soprano.mp3 (9.49 MB, 108 views)

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