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Recording Baroque Orchestra? Condenser Microphones
Old 23rd December 2010
Lives for gear

Haha Klaukholm. Not at all.
I assumed (apparently for no reason at all) that the orchestra comes, rehearses and engineer has to make the best of it.
Actually K. I was really interested if a seasoned pro like you 'walks around with headphones' during soundcheck or do you have a better receipt?
Old 23rd December 2010
Originally Posted by klaukholm View Post
For one, walking around while a professional orchestra is rehersing is something you need to keep to a minimum, it is very annoying and distracting. Walking around trailing a cable, while also getting in the sightline of a player is enough to get the rehersal stopped until you are gone.
It is also one of the best ways to get you (the recordist) fired.
Old 23rd December 2010
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NetworkAudio's Avatar
Most of us learned by assisting experienced engineers and producers.
I also had the benefit of observing and talking with a parade of well known engineers that come through while I was working in various british, swedish, danish, norwegian and american professional orchestras.
Doing that you learn that a whole slew of different approaches to main rigs as well as spotting. After a while you will get close enough in the setup phase that you only need to fiddle a little bit with the spots if any.

Usually we do not have time to even consider the spots, we get the main rig right and go. Sometimes we have no soundcheck at all. Last time that happened was a score for a TV series where the composers came up with 75 minutes of music of Ravel level difficulty and we had two services to do it in...
thankfully we knew the hall and the orchestra.

There are a million ways to do the fine tuning in the soundcheck.
Most producers I work with have tolerance for soloing mics for a short window of time only. They need to hear the big picture, and I am there to take their mind off the rig.
Old 23rd December 2010
Lives for gear

It has already been touched on, but an experienced engineer can walk into just about any room and get pretty close with their mic setup. Occasionally, a small tweak may need to be made, but those can easily be done in the breaks of the rehearsal. When I'm setting up, I make sure that paths to microphones are easy to get to and all hanging mics are rigged in ways that they can be moved from off-stage. Even then, an orchestra may get upset if they see mics moving during a rehearsal- if for no other reason than the liability if something comes loose. The last thing you ever want to do is put a musician and their instruments in danger.

In the end, this is the reason why it is important that you know your rig and that is the reason why experienced engineers can command a bigger rate for their work. An experienced engineer doesn't need to mess around to try to get things right. An experienced engineer will also not usually put a new and unfamilliar piece of gear in a critical location the first time it is used. When I get new mics, for example, they serve as spots- regardless of how good they may be.

Why? Spots in a classical orchestra are usually burried in the mix. They are high enough to bring clarity, but low enough that you don't hear a microphone there. This way- if you don't like what you are getting, you don't run the risk of putting the whole recording in jeopardy. If you have the time to swap that mic out, great. Otherwise, you're not screwing yourself. It is generally considered bad form to be swapping out a mic microphone- the exception being that if something goes bad, it must be swapped.

Old 24th December 2010
Gear Head
eman's Avatar

Question: I'm buying my mics right now and some stands, but I'd rather make a tree stand then buy one. Any advice on making a decca tree? I found some shaky ideas but worried it might crash down on the conducter but I know there has to be a sturdy design to make one.
Also i'm going to purchase 2 DPA 4006's to start and rent 2 4011's " I own one already".
Also at fullcompass they recommend the mojavi 100 tube mic for decca tree applications. Has anyone used these before for orchestras?
Old 24th December 2010
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NetworkAudio's Avatar
I cannot say either way about the Mojave, Ben might as he has used it.

As for fullcompass, they do a lot of orchestral recording there do they?
I would take their recommendations with a grain of salt and ask someone who records orchestra for a living.

For boom use, a tree should be rigid, yet as light as possible.
For hanging, you can weld a simple T bar of solid metal.
Old 24th December 2010
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boojum's Avatar
FWIW - To clarify what I posted earlier about walking around with a recorder and earphones. I have done this a couple of times to check out a new hall and make sure that the stage manager is full of sticky brown stuff. They seem to think that putting the mics a huge distance from the music is a good idea. I did the earphone routine to satisfy him, and end his protestations, and to zero in on what I though would be the sweet spot: row A. I do not stumble about on the stage doing this. I can pretty much place spot mics OK without the weird getup. And I can quite often get the good spot in a run-and-gun situation.

But if I want to make sure and am not interfering with the rehearsal I feel no shame in walking about with earphones. I can walk about with one ear covered but I cannot get to stand ten feet tall that way.

At a recent chorale rehearsal I re-checked my mic location. At every break I lowered the mics a bit. At home when I listened to the takes I found that the original position was still the best one. But I did want to make sure. One test is worth a thousand opinions.
Old 26th December 2010
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Originally Posted by pkautzsch View Post
A "baroque" orchestra today might even play 19th century music which often has a harp in the orchestra. Heck, I've heard them play Mahler! Not sure if they should, but they do.
A typical "Baroque" orchestra today is one that specializes in Baroque music but will play any period, sometimes mixing completely different genres in the same program, with combinations of instruments which can differ considerably from one piece to the next, and often under rehearsed. In a situation like that it's not a bad idea to set up more than one recording strategy.
Old 26th December 2010
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by eman View Post
Question: I'm buying my mics right now and some stands, but I'd rather make a tree stand then buy one. Any advice on making a decca tree?
If you are handy with epoxy, fiberglass and carbon tubes you can make a light but stiff decca tree contraption.

I made a T-section from slightly thicker tube (24mm or something) with female bronze 3/8" stud epoxied at the approximate balance point. Then I made different length (150, 120, 90 cm) slightly thinner cross tubes with 3/8" screws epoxied in the ends and corresponding length front pointing tubes with screw in one end only. I stick the parts together with black gaffer tape, with hanging mic suspensions there is no danger of sudden rotation. Looks professional enough from 4 meters...
Old 26th December 2010
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NetworkAudio's Avatar
The one thing to remember is that this contraption hangs high over someones head as well as million dollar instruments.
As such you should only hang a home made tree up if you are an experienced welder or the like IMO.
You may actually have to have it certified by the unions saftery reps the same way anything suspended over the orchestra is, such as concert lights and reflectors.
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