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Recording Baroque Orchestra? Condenser Microphones
Old 19th December 2010
  #1
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eman's Avatar
 

Talking Recording Baroque Orchestra?

I'm recording a 25 piece Baroque orchestra with 3 soloist (2 violins & a cello). Any ideas for mics and techniques? I have 1 B&K 4011, Mojave 201, CV-12, AKG 414, 2 ksm 137's and some others not really worth mentioning... I got one shot at this and don't want to mess this up, as I can get a full time gig from this. Also, I have acsess to some pretty good options for Mic rentals...
Thanks
Old 19th December 2010
  #2
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Rent two Schoeps mics, find the sweet spot and record X/Y.
Old 19th December 2010
  #3
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First of all do a search for orchestral recording threads- there are a ton of them here and you'll get far more ideas than you will in a single thread like this.

Ultimately, you'll probably want some sort of a 3-point array across the front at a minimum. Usually that would be some sort of stereo pair in the center and omni flanks. From there, there are more options. For a baroque group, I'll usually spot the harpsichord (sometimes an organ). Soloists may or may not need a spot depending on what the hall/ensemble sound like.

And yes, you'll probably want to rent some mics so that you have pairs to work with.


--Ben
Old 20th December 2010
  #4
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eman's Avatar
 

Thanks, the harpsichord was a concern as well as the harp, "which I imagine should be spot miked as well". Also, The concert hall for this particular concert sounds pretty bad and the conducter doesn't like performing there. Will adjusting the height of the mics reduce the room ambience?
Old 20th December 2010
  #5
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You might consider hanging big curtains. Sometimes in a church concert they drape tha in some crucial places.
Old 20th December 2010
  #6
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Harp in a baroque orchestra? Sounds strange to me...

If that is the case, than you may want a spot there. As for the ambience, yes moving the mics will affect the amount of ambiene in your recording. The art of classical recording is figuring out how much of a room versus an ensemble you are going to mic. This includes polar pattern and general system of mics to use.

I work in rooms that you'd never imagine omnis working in, but positioned correctly, they are fantastic. At the same time, rooms that I'd think omnis would be great in sometimes just can't support them. This is why I'm being purposely vague in my answers. Many of your questions are answered with experience.

As I said before, read the threads on orchestral micing/recording and then figure out what microphones to rent to get the job done.

--Ben
Old 20th December 2010
  #7
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eman's Avatar
 

Thanks, reading threads right now & finding alot of yr info very helpfull. The conductor said haprsichord & harp, not sure about the 2 in the orchestra.
So, stereo mics/mic above conducter & 2 omnis flanked would be a good start with spotting the harpsichord?

Last edited by eman; 20th December 2010 at 02:21 AM.. Reason: needed to
Old 20th December 2010
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eman View Post
The conductor said haprsichord & harp, not sure about the 2 in the orchestra.
So, stereo mics/mic above conducter & 2 omnis flanked would be a good start with spotting the harpsichord?
Sounds like a good plan.
I have recorded ensembles with harp - maybe its more typical in renaissance ensembles, its works in the continuo group like a theorbo.
Also consider spotting the continuo-cello/gamba, it can be nice to have the bottom in the recitatives.

-jon
Old 20th December 2010
  #9
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eman's Avatar
 

Thats very helpfull. I plan on using 3 matched pairs of mics, 2 DPA 4006's, & 4 4011's or 2 DPA-4011's with 2 KM-184's (that might sound confusing). Anyways, these are the best I can do right now but I think these mics will do great... Hard to find schoeps for rent, even in San Francisco!
Wanted to spot the cello, I think as many spot mics I can use, the better.
Old 20th December 2010
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fifthcircle View Post
Harp in a baroque orchestra? Sounds strange to me...
Have you heard many baroque orchestras?

The harp is a very common member of the continuo section. So are guitars, lutes, chitarrones, theorbos, harpsichords, organs, and............ If you look at facsimiles of many works you will often see these instruments printed right on the title page.
Old 20th December 2010
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eman View Post
Thats very helpfull. I plan on using 3 matched pairs of mics, 2 DPA 4006's, & 4 4011's or 2 DPA-4011's with 2 KM-184's (that might sound confusing). Anyways, these are the best I can do right now but I think these mics will do great... Hard to find schoeps for rent, even in San Francisco!
Wanted to spot the cello, I think as many spot mics I can use, the better.
Just spotted a cello in a live mix yesterday (contemporary worship band) with a (new to me) Neumann TLM193. My favorite sound yet, for this guy in this setting, over the past year...

The KM184s might be a touch bright compared to the others you've mentioned. I don't own a pair... but they might be more "at home" in close-mic'd "cut-through-the-mix" pop-type stuff than the other mics you mentioned. That said... position in the room will be more important than those choices, as has been mentioned. Learning what to listen for has been my biggest struggle...

In this setting, I might pull out my Jecklin device and a pair of omnis (Gefell or DPA, in my case), closer rather than farther. Spot as necessary.

HB
Old 20th December 2010
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eman View Post
Thanks, the harpsichord was a concern as well as the harp, "which I imagine should be spot miked as well". Also, The concert hall for this particular concert sounds pretty bad and the conducter doesn't like performing there. Will adjusting the height of the mics reduce the room ambience?
Please do not ever, ever, ever, ever, mic a continuo harpsichord. The instrument is there for rhythm and texture, and sometimes to provide a little counterpoint, and it creates it's dynamics and shapes by how many notes are being played in various tesituras and in which divisions of the tactus. You do not want to hear some sort of pointillist version of a continuo part. You want to hear shapes not notes. It's even more important when the person playing the harpsichord isn't a harpsichordist. In that case, suggest putting a blanket over the instrument.

As a keyboardist, if I was ever unable to convince an engineer to not mic the harpsichord, I simply would have unplugged the mic. But they were always convinced so they always removed it (the mic). Perhaps having a strong feeling that the mic would be disconnected as soon as they left had something to do with it. And they always, without exception, found me afterwards to say that I was correct. And that the instrument was easily heard.

Knowledgeable engineers don't point mic's at harpsichords.
Old 20th December 2010
  #13
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eman's Avatar
 

I'm getting some great advice here, Thanks! would you recommend spotting the soloists only? 2 violins, 1 cello. Or, only overhead placement?
Old 20th December 2010
  #14
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Good hall = main pair
Bad hall = lots of spots
Typical hall = main pair plus some spots after listening or guessing.
If you have time, tracks, and budget, you can set up more spots and use only those you find you need.

Generally the first things needing spots are double bass, cello, timpani (yes!) and most woodwinds (the latter needing careful fader riding, you need the spot only in low registers!)

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.
Old 20th December 2010
  #15
Gear Addict
A lot will depend on the acoustical environment. Many baroque instruments do not have the volume or sustain that modern instruments do.

I would look at either a pair of Schoeps MK 4 's in ORTF or a Decca tree I would also add a pair of outriggers to either setup.



You may have some balance issues to deal with given a distant mic'ing technique. The Viola da Gamba will be louder than the Thiorbo. The gut string violins will not carry like modern violins. Etc.

I would set up spot mics and section mics, record them and decide after the fact if they are required. If you are unsure where to spot mic any particular instrument, ask the player. You may receive some surprising, (yet correct) answers.

I would also listen to as many recordings of Baroque and Baroque ensembles as I could. This will give you an idea of what other people think this music is supposed to sound like.

Regards;
Danny
Old 21st December 2010
  #16
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eman's Avatar
 

I've been listening to Bach Brandenburg concerto, and yes, the strings sound more lush and mellow rather then modern ones and less overall dynamics to the strings. This was part of my concern to begin with. This is great advice guys, thanks.
Also, this is a 25 piece baroque string orchestra, which I believe should make things a little easier.
Old 21st December 2010
  #17
If you are checking out recordings, Joshua Bell recently did the Four Seasons with Richard King recording and mixing.

I think it's a beautiful recording that I reference often.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEGG View Post
Knowledgeable engineers don't point mic's at harpsichords.
I know your point, but as a "konwledgable" engineer, I must disagree. I do a lot of original instrument orchestral recording and the harpsichord as often as not needs a spot.

Why? It depends on the instrument and the ensemble. While there are plenty of very loud harpsichords that absolutely do not need spotting, there are also plenty that have very small sounds. Inside the texture of 12-20 string players, that small sound needs a bit of help. When mixing, you do not feature spot mics, but rather the use of such mics helps the overall clarity and image of the ensemble. It is a fine line with any spot between where you hear that the mic is there and where the music is served by a focus and clarity that does not exist naturally with just a stereo pair.

As we all know, mics do not pick up the same way as our ears. Often we need to adjust our micing to give us the result that our ears will hear in the hall.

--Ben
Old 22nd December 2010
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fifthcircle View Post

<snip>

As we all know, mics do not pick up the same way as our ears. Often we need to adjust our micing to give us the result that our ears will hear in the hall.

--Ben
Ah, and there is the art of it all.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #20
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Walk around ith you headphones on whilst placing the mikes, do not leave any moment of the rehearsal unused. DPA's and Neumanns are fine too. Get high stands, a sweet spot above reach of average mic stand is very well possible. Good luck!
PS Borrow an Orpheus!
Old 22nd December 2010
  #21
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NetworkAudio's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by hanuman View Post
Walk around ith you headphones on whilst placing the mikes,!
That I would like to see!
I have played on countless classical recordings and I have yet to se an engineer do that. Do not go there!

Ben,
harps did occur in continuo use, but they were diatonic and more lutelike in character than the modern chromatic harp.
There would also be a number of different type of basses, from 6 string violone to three string fifth tuned basses. All fulfilling different functions that most often were not notated.
I would not personally use the harp as I find lute and theorbo to be much more musically effective in the context of continuo.
Most modern period ensembles of quality skip the harp and go for other instruments.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #22
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^^^^^^ I have done the "walk around with headphones on" routine. I feed them from the appropriate mics through a recorder. True, it looks weird. But in a new hall I can get an idea pretty quickly of where the sweet spot is. That's the way this beginner does it. When I know my craft I will have other ways. Until then I just have to look like a geek. heh
Old 22nd December 2010
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klaukholm View Post
Most modern period ensembles of quality skip the harp and go for other instruments.
Unless you're doing Monteverdi. The famous harp obligato in "Possente Spirto", from L'Orfeo, gets me every time. I also saw a production of "Poppea" once that used harp alongside two theorboes and two harpsichords. Gorgeous!
Old 22nd December 2010
  #24
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NetworkAudio's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by matyas View Post
Unless you're doing Monteverdi. The famous harp obligato in "Possente Spirto", from L'Orfeo, gets me every time. I also saw a production of "Poppea" once that used harp alongside two theorboes and two harpsichords. Gorgeous!
Obbligato is not to be confused with continuo, I was referring to continuo.
Monteverdi was also quite specific about intrumentation and tended to include harp in his instrumentations.
I would cinsider hi the oddball out
Old 23rd December 2010
  #25
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Klaukholm.
Why?
Do you listen with your ears where the sweet spot is and then place mic(s) in that position?
Old 23rd December 2010
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klaukholm View Post
Obbligato is not to be confused with continuo, I was referring to continuo.
True, but Monteverdi does in fact specify the harp for continuo as well in L'Orfeo, albeit usually in conjunction with other instruments.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEGG View Post
Knowledgeable engineers don't point mic's at harpsichords.
I was trying to figure out a polite way to disagree, but I see that Ben has already beat me to it. thumbsup
Old 23rd December 2010
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hanuman View Post
Klaukholm.
Why?
Do you listen with your ears where the sweet spot is and then place mic(s) in that position?
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.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #29
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So you set up microphones, leave and then you are just the annoying guy?
I could imagine the orchestra wants a good recording and accept the sound engineer to do his job equally well.
(That said, photographer behavior is appauling...)
Old 23rd December 2010
  #30
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NetworkAudio's Avatar
You have a window to move mics around, the soundcheck. That is your time, and you do what you need to do.
If you have the budget and time to record the preceeding rehersal, then you move mics in the break.
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