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Mic'ing an Organ
Old 17th March 2005
  #1
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Mic'ing an Organ

How would you mic something like this?

This guy controlls everything from the organ..and yes..he play's those instruments. I'm thinking it's all air controlled. Second picture from the bottom is some of the air pumps used for the pipes.
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Mic'ing an Organ-pipe-organ-collage.jpg  
Old 17th March 2005
  #2
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i'd first try a spaced omni pair situated behind the player. after that, i'd have to hear playback to know what to change, if anything.

crazy looking setup! should be fun. heh
Old 17th March 2005
  #3
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yeah, somewhere there's a big-ass compressor driving all those instruments. before recording it, make sure they get it tuned and tape up those air conveyers as much as possible. the recording i did was pre-taping-up and there's an awful lot of noise floor.

check out this thread, too.
Old 17th March 2005
  #4
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btw, a lot of those old pipe organs are retro-fitted w/ PCs and midi systems, turning it into the equivalent of a player piano.
Old 17th March 2005
  #5
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I've been following closely the creation of a set of microtonal instruments in Belgium through local composer Warren Burt who wrote music for a lot of them... most of them operate via solenoids and a MIDI master computer.

Thats possibly how the one pictured is operating, but using air does seems like an easier route. Very impressive! thanks for sharing...
Old 17th March 2005
  #6
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That thing is AWESOME! Where is it?
Old 17th March 2005
  #7
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My experience, if you DON'T want to drive yourself crazy, is to find the spot in the hall where the organ seems the most present and evenly balanced, and stick a crossed stereo pair (of figure of eights) there.

Then you'll also probably want a spot mic close near the percussion loft. and perhaps another one near the bass pipes.

With all that extra hanging stuff, you're on your own! you may find you've got enough in the stereo pick-up or you may want spot mics... but until you do a test you won't know for certain.
You might want to bring a few shotgun mics to try to get a better shot at those far away items.

hope this helps!

My only other word of advice is that it was intended to fill the hall... don't try for unreasonable presence.
Artistic issues aside, it's not PRACTICAL.(without the aforementioned driving yourself crazy)
Old 17th March 2005
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by wwittman
My experience, if you DON'T want to drive yourself crazy, is to find the spot in the hall where the organ seems the most present and evenly balanced, and stick a crossed stereo pair (of figure of eights) there.

Then you'll also probably want a spot mic close near the percussion loft. and perhaps another one near the bass pipes.

With all that extra hanging stuff, you're on your own! you may find you've got enough in the stereo pick-up or you may want spot mics... but until you do a test you won't know for certain.
You might want to bring a few shotgun mics to try to get a better shot at those far away items.

hope this helps!



My only other word of advice is that it was intended to fill the hall... don't try for unreasonable presence.
Artistic issues aside, it's not PRACTICAL.(without the aforementioned driving yourself crazy)
Pipe organs are about the room mic the room not the pipes. I dont think you want to get anywhere near the pipes
Old 17th March 2005
  #9
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Randy,
tell me there won't be people in there when you record that beast!

If so, you better get those mics WAY up there. It would be a shame to capture such a magnificent instrument and hear people's wine glasses and forks etc.
Old 17th March 2005
  #10
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That's nice in theory, Lou.
But in practise, I've found that often there just isn't enough bass in a stereo pair from a distance.

One certainly doesn;t want a mic a foot from any single pipe.

But a dedicated mic near the long pipes (and by 'near' I mean 10 feet from them) sometimes helps bring out that low end.

It's also true that any little noise in the hall is going to be quite evident.

Our brains have a way of tuning all that out, and bringing up the bass!, in a way that microphones don't.

I did one recording where even the sound of the organist pulling stops was making loud clicks that were louder than the soft passages he was playing.

Your experience, Lou, may of course differ.
Old 17th March 2005
  #11
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Wow - a wurlizer? Love the lights!

Hopefully the room will empty.

Don
Old 17th March 2005
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musiclab
Pipe organs are about the room mic the room not the pipes. I dont think you want to get anywhere near the pipes
from the post i made in this thread about mic'ing a friend's pipe organ:
Quote:
i did a test recording of a pipe organ last year. i set up mics like this:

1. x/y pair in the sweet spot in the house, about 30' feet away from the main chambers
2. two mis-matched condensors, each pointing at one of the chambers, about 15' away
3. a spot mic on a xylophone

results:
- the x/y pair captured too much room
- the 15' mics did well
- the spot mic was unnecessary

in the mix, i mostly used the mics from 2. and brought up the mics in 1. to capture a bit of the room and the xylophone, which they picked up quite well.
i'd thought that the room mics, in the sweet spot, would be all i'd need. but there was too much room noise and, guess what, i needed more bass.
Old 17th March 2005
  #13
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Thanks for all your responses.
I'm not sure if I'll be recording it yet, but while awaiting a response I thought it would be fun to talk about

The organ is at a place called "Organ Stop Pizza" in Mesa (suburb of Phoenix). You come in, order your pizza and get your drinks, then sit in the main hall while this guy plays all kinda stuff on this organ thing. It's quite an experience.
There's a glass wall in front of the pipes on either side, and the glass has been split into panels that open when the pipes in front of them are playing. There's a ton of stuff hanging from the ceiling too, various zylophones and such. There's a piano on the left upstairs, behind that panel of round metal "drums". On the right is another piano that plays like one of the old western types. There's also a ton of percussion stuff in front of the pipes as I'm sure most of you noticed.

I think if I went to record this thing, I'd need a good stereo pair in the room and various spot mic's to pick up the "solo" instruments. I'd assume there would be no-one in the place. It's also got an upstairs area towards the back and on the side. That might be a great place to put mic's too

I do hope I can get this gig. I'd have a field day with this thing.

Either way..it's still fun to talk about
Old 17th March 2005
  #14
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I've recorded quite a few theater organs (that's what you're working on there) and even more pipe organs.

A spaced OMNI pair at a focus point in the room will give excellent imaging and PLENTY of bottom-end. This is providing that the room doesn't screw-up the sound! The wierd arrangement of various instruments with baffles to attempt blocking the louder parts of the 'beast' may be working against you, however.

In any case, putting mics 10' from a set of pipes will not give you bass. The lowest octaves don't even start to develop until a good 50' away. A crossed pair of cardioids will never give good bass response at a distance, hence my suggestion to use spaced omnis.

Work in the off hours without the customers there...
Old 17th March 2005
  #15
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Michael brings up a good point about the low end.
Also, one pair may not get you everything you need. You could try putting an ORTF or near coincedent pair closer to the pipes (for image) and the omnis about 10 - 15 feet behind and to the side. It will also give you more control of things in post. The omnis will give you the breadth of the soundstage and definately low end. Unless you can get very far away from the room, it might be deceiving how much low end is in the cans or monitors. Best of luck!
Don
Old 17th March 2005
  #16
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i just re-examined my session files.

my spaced omnis picked up:
1. a lot of the room
2. pronounced bass

the LDCs, closer to the chambers, picked up:
1. tons o' high frequency
2. still a lot of bass

in my test recording, i'll buy the argument that the omnis picked up lower freqs. but i needed bass from the closer mics to get a full bass sound.
Old 18th March 2005
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by wwittman
That's nice in theory, Lou.
But in practise, I've found that often there just isn't enough bass in a stereo pair from a distance.

One certainly doesn;t want a mic a foot from any single pipe.

But a dedicated mic near the long pipes (and by 'near' I mean 10 feet from them) sometimes helps bring out that low end.

It's also true that any little noise in the hall is going to be quite evident.

Our brains have a way of tuning all that out, and bringing up the bass!, in a way that microphones don't.

I did one recording where even the sound of the organist pulling stops was making loud clicks that were louder than the soft passages he was playing.

Your experience, Lou, may of course differ.
I've only recorded one pipe organ, the organ at Trinity Church at wall st & broadway. To be honest the mics were permanently installed at the direction of the then organist, a great musician named Larry King. There were apair of mics about 10 or15 feet out hung from the ceiling. There were another set of mics in the center of the church also hung from the ceiling. There were pipes in the front and main set of pipes in the gallery in the rear. Bottom was never a problem, then again the trinity organ is absolutley amazing. But so much is about the room. The organ at St Bart's sound's crappy compared the trinity organ, because the room is
nowhere near as live or nice.
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