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Three Mixes: A Boojum/JNorman case study Condenser Microphones
Old 23rd May 2014
  #1
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Three Mixes: A Boojum/JNorman case study

Here are a few samples from my latest concert capture of a chamber orchestra with a Boojum/JNorman array. I thought they might be of interest as a demonstration of how the two pairs can be adapted in post to different instrumentation and physical placement of players.

Setup: DPA 4006As at 60cm with silver (straight-sided) grids, Gefell M300s in DIN on the same bar, flown about 8 feet above and 7 feet back from the podium in a medium-sized church. (This is a few feet farther back than some of my earlier recordings in this hall, per suggestions I've received from this very helpful Remote Possibilities community.)

Sample #1 is strings with a very subtle harpsichord continuo. The mix for this is perhaps 55 or 60% omnis and 40 or 45% cards.

Sample #2 is strings, two horns, and solo bassoon (!). The bassoonist was positioned on a thrust well downstage of the podium, almost under my array, while the horns were very far upstage. This mix is almost all omnis, as the bassoon sounded odd on the cards, perhaps because it was so far off-axis….there's just a touch of the cards to try and bring out the horns more.

Sample #3 features a soprano and strings, with the conductor playing a piano placed at the podium location with the keyboard facing the audience. This mix is mostly cardioids, to get the vocalist, with enough of the omnis to bring in some fullness and low end.

As always, feedback and comments are very valued!
Attached Files

StringsSample1.mp3 (2.17 MB, 4196 views)

BassoonStringsSample1.mp3 (2.25 MB, 3955 views)

SopranoSample1.mp3 (2.69 MB, 4065 views)

Old 26th May 2014
  #2
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Very nice! To my (probably uneducated) ear the different balances between the omnis and cardioid in the three samples sounds very natural. If I had to choose I would say I prefer #1.

Regards, Christine
Old 28th May 2014
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by connloyalist View Post
Very nice! To my (probably uneducated) ear the different balances between the omnis and cardioid in the three samples sounds very natural. If I had to choose I would say I prefer #1.
Thanks for that! I like the feel of #1 myself. I think it's the most dimensional, and presents the strings (which were the nucleus of this concert) to best effect. But it sounded a lot less good when the different instruments and singer came into play, which is why the mix options are so nice.
Old 3rd April 2015
  #4
Old 3rd April 2015
  #5
IMO I also like #1 more myself.

Imaging is a bit strange in #2 .

Soprano sounds a tad distant in #3 .

Overall sounds great!

u47u67u87
Old 3rd April 2015
  #6
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I love the flexibility of the Boojum/JNorman array. I usually use MS in the middle, which adds another variable you can mess with in post. Actually, it can be a curse - agonizing if I have the balance and the width right!

60cm spacing on the omnis yields a total SRA of about 90 (+/-45) degrees. OK if the array is quite far away. I usually end up with 40 - 45cm spacing on the omnis if my stand is right behind the conductor. This yields a total SRA of 120 - 140 (+/-60 - 70)degrees.

I enjoyed all 3 samples but #2 was a bit bass-heavy for my taste. If it were me, I would have the cards dialled up and the omnis dialled down a bit. YMMV.
Old 3rd April 2015
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u47u67u87 View Post
IMO I also like #1 more myself.

Imaging is a bit strange in #2 .

Soprano sounds a tad distant in #3 .

Overall sounds great!

u47u67u87
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
I love the flexibility of the Boojum/JNorman array. I usually use MS in the middle, which adds another variable you can mess with in post. Actually, it can be a curse - agonizing if I have the balance and the width right!

60cm spacing on the omnis yields a total SRA of about 90 (+/-45) degrees. OK if the array is quite far away. I usually end up with 40 - 45cm spacing on the omnis if my stand is right behind the conductor. This yields a total SRA of 120 - 140 (+/-60 - 70)degrees.

I enjoyed all 3 samples but #2 was a bit bass-heavy for my taste. If it were me, I would have the cards dialled up and the omnis dialled down a bit. YMMV.
First off, many thanks to u47u67u87 for the bump! A nice unexpected bonus this morning to find this thread re-surfaced.

And, yeah, the bassoon piece (#2) was the most challenging. During rehearsals they'd had the soloist up closer to the podium; I was kind of surprised during the show when he set up way out front. I would definitely have liked to add a touch more card to the mix, as they add some shimmer that complements the bass from the omnis, but in this instance the cards sounded nasty, I think because they were pointing almost 90 degrees away from the soloist and lost a lot of the harmonics off the bassoon. So it was a case of making the best of it, and appreciating the boojum/jnorman options!

Also, JimJazzDad, you're right - in subsequent recordings I've found that moving the omnis closer together (about 50cm) results in nicer imaging and a better sound.

Really appreciate the feedback - and I'll just add that the orchestra decided to use recording #1 as their first foray into sharing concert recordings with their subscriber base, which made me happy.
Old 3rd April 2015
  #8
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sandy and I developed this array to deal with location recordings where we had little or no knowledge of where or how we would be able to set up our mics when we arrived on location, and situations where we were unfamiliar with a hall and what its reverb characteristics were like. the combination of ORTF pair with AB omnis allows for great flexibility during post to make the best use of whatever reverb and ambience were present during the recording, tightening up a very live space by using mostly (or only) the cardioid pair, or livening up a more dead sounding space by blending in more of the Omni pair. in the event of a pretty good space, the detail of the cardioid pair could be enhanced with a bit of the spaciousness offered by the Omni pair. it is a very versatile array, as evidenced by the clips provided by the OP.
Old 4th April 2015
  #9
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This array sounds like the Faulker array, only with cardioids instead of MK21's. Is this correct?
Old 4th April 2015
  #10
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Don - the primary Faulkner array comprises a spaced pair of figure 8 mics. He sometimes adds a wider spaced pair of omnis if he wants more ambience.
Old 4th April 2015
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don S View Post
This array sounds like the Faulker array, only with cardioids instead of MK21's. Is this correct?
Which Faulkner array? I understand there are (at least) two in wide spread use. One is his use of AB figure 8 mics -- just like AB omnis, but replace the omni's with figure 8s. This often becomes 67cm spaced fig. 8s as you might imagine.

The other is at least similar to, and maybe nearly the same as the Boojum / JNorman array (which came first? I have no idea and it's not important anyway). I think Faulkner calls it his phased array. That's cards in ORTF, and omnis in AB, on the same space bar, with all four capsules aligned.

There are of course variations -- like using M/S instead of ORTF in the phased array. The point of this is exactly what the OP has done -- blend the two pairs together as is appropriate for the task at hand. It works beautifully IMHO, especially when confronted with an unfamiliar hall and/or limited setup time.
Old 4th April 2015
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
The other is at least similar to, and maybe nearly the same as the Boojum / JNorman array (which came first? I have no idea and it's not important anyway). I think Faulkner calls it his phased array. That's cards in ORTF, and omnis in AB, on the same space bar, with all four capsules aligned.

There are of course variations -- like using M/S instead of ORTF in the phased array. The point of this is exactly what the OP has done -- blend the two pairs together as is appropriate for the task at hand. It works beautifully IMHO, especially when confronted with an unfamiliar hall and/or limited setup time.
Thank you Bruce that's the one I am thinking of! I am aware of the spaced figure 8's, but Tony also uses the MK2 and 21's on a bar. I've been using it lately and love it. I can see how the MS in the middle would also work well.
Old 4th April 2015
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Which Faulkner array? I understand there are (at least) two in wide spread use. One is his use of AB figure 8 mics -- just like AB omnis, but replace the omni's with figure 8s. This often becomes 67cm spaced fig. 8s as you might imagine.

The other is at least similar to, and maybe nearly the same as the Boojum / JNorman array (which came first? I have no idea and it's not important anyway). I think Faulkner calls it his phased array. That's cards in ORTF, and omnis in AB, on the same space bar, with all four capsules aligned.

There are of course variations -- like using M/S instead of ORTF in the phased array. The point of this is exactly what the OP has done -- blend the two pairs together as is appropriate for the task at hand. It works beautifully IMHO, especially when confronted with an unfamiliar hall and/or limited setup time.
I can't find a primary source at the moment (I think it's a comment in a video), but per a couple of references on the net, the spec for the "other" Faulkner array is subcardioids angled at 90 degrees 46-47cm apart, and omnis at 66cm.

Here's what the esteemed Mr. Faulkner said in another thread here. I think the part about "forward gain" is especially interesting:

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyF View Post
The four-way array of Schoeps MK2H's and MK21's follows a similar concept really. Putting a set of microphones into a time-aligned system enhances resolution rather as antenna systems work and the stereo imaging acquires more phase information which is helpful. Also the MK2H's have a full frequency response which fattens the bass in comparison with just using an ORTF style pair of directional mics.. With the combination you get forward gain which makes the system act as though the microphone array is closer than the mics actually are. It is a practical solution to recording live orchestral concerts without cluttering the stage with too many microphones, stands and cables all over the place for people to fall over. It sounds good and is popular with video directors because there is less clutter in their pictures to avoid.
.
Old 4th April 2015
  #14
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Thank you for the quotes. The experiments are very good and show that there are several ways to cook an egg. For the record, I never termed any of my setups "Faulkner Arrays". This term was first bestowed generously by Francis Rumsey in one of his excellent books linking what we do in recording to what science is helpful to understand.

As a creature of habit I use two so-called "Faulkner Arrays". The first is a two-mic setup of parallel figure-of-eights on a regular stereo bar. This started out as a desperate measure to find clarity and a credible stereo image in a rather large church recording a small group of singers including solos. I ended up with two Schoeps CMC58 fig8's about 20cms apart. The pattern helpfully minimised reflections and reverberation from above, below and from both sides of the mics.. I have used wider spacings in some churches and chapels to try to make the space sound a bit wider than live, but I would be cautious to space fig8's wider than 30cms if you want the ambience and stage-width to remain stable unless you are a long way back from the performers. One problem with fig8 mics is that real-world commercially available fig8's can sound "less than audiophile" on a big full orchestra or on a full-size grand piano. I have had encouraging results using the new Rode NTR ribbons.

The second array consists of a wide stereo bar with omnis spaced at around 67cms, and a pair of directional mics in between them spaced at around 47cms apart (both sets with the mics angled outwards). This is a very handy rig for recording live orchestral concerts because it will often cover a full orchestra on its own unless the stage is very deep. As a bonus, video directors are usually very happy to see only one high stand and few camera shots compromised by mics and mic stands scattered all over the stage. For these arrays I normally use Schoeps CCM series or Rode NT6 mics. When using the Schoeps I would use CCM2H omnis and CCM21 subcardioids. When using the Rodes I would use their regular omni capsules on the outside and their regular cardioids in between. All small diameter capacitor cardioid microphones have a particular sound quality character which should be used sparingly, and although the Rodes SDC's are better than many (to my ears) they are still not flattering to orchestral massed strings on their own without omnis to fatten the low end, to add weight and to add depth. The Schoeps CCM21 subcardioids are warmer sounding than typical cardioids which is helpful, but they do not reach quite so far into the back of the orchestra.

Both of these arrays have logic which is based in science and works in action. The problem with many minimalist mic systems used on their own in typical performance spaces is that they can have one fatal flaw from musicians' point of view - they end up sounding a bit distant and a bit unfocussed. Using arrays gives you forward gain so you find more presence and detail than say three omnis on separate stands or a single Blumlein crossed fig8. For me the objective (or game as some prefer) is to come up with a main array which paints a canvas of what sounds like a plausible live sound, without resorting to the pebble-dash approach of putting out dozens of mics, turning on the digital reverb and playing the role of a neurotic DJ pumping faders. This may seem like a lot of fun, and it often must be, but it seldom serves the model of representing what happened live. The pebbledash approach also can be unpopular with performers (especially conductors) if the engineer is assuming the role of balancing an orchestra and adjusting dynamics + perspectives. Conductors believe that this is their job.
Old 4th April 2015
  #15
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Your summary and explanations are very much appreciated by many here I'm sure Tony, and your experience across a wide variety of locations and ensembles has the weight of verified proof supporting your practice ! All I'd add is that you can see a good close-up example of Tony's 'phased array' in this video...at the 1:19secs point, illustrating the "angling out" of the mics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smdX--nrzFg
Old 4th April 2015
  #16
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I've started experimenting with a Faulkner array on choir in a reverberant church, the array consisting of two Royer Sf-1 mics facing straight ahead, placed 10" apart. I am happy with the results in that on some pieces of music the end result works better than using spaced omnis, SF-24 MS, or a native b-format array in the same hall. Esthetically, the sound is intimate and warm (although the mics are placed further away than the other arrays), with more focus on the choir and less on the hall, with a pleasantly simplified, centered and suggestive stereo image, the choir more removed from it's surroundings. Technically, the sound is less spacious, with the hall reverb percieved as coming from the rear of the hall rather than from all around. Odd artifacts which would crop up using the other techniques are left out, making it a very reliable array to use.
Old 4th April 2015
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyF View Post
...omnis spaced at around 67cms, and a pair of directional mics in between them spaced at around 47cms apart (both sets with the mics angled outwards).
Subcards at 47cm spacing. That's considerably wider than I was thinking. I was thinking more along the lines of 17-25cm spacing. Interesting. Have to give that a try.

Thinking about it, it would seem that wide spacing should result in a narrower SRA. Probably the reason to go with subcards rather than cardioids, to widen the SRA back out some. Hmmm.... Making my head itch again.
Old 5th April 2015
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Subcards at 47cm spacing. That's considerably wider than I was thinking. I was thinking more along the lines of 17-25cm spacing. Interesting. Have to give that a try.

Thinking about it, it would seem that wide spacing should result in a narrower SRA. Probably the reason to go with subcards rather than cardioids, to widen the SRA back out some. Hmmm.... Making my head itch again.
I've been wondering the same thing. Playing around with the Sengpiel tool, 90deg/47cm subcards yields an SRA of 73.91 deg; and 67cm spaced omnis yields 100.3 deg. Perhaps Tony could comment on how this works together. Is the difference in spacing between each side's omni and subcard mic a critical distance as well?

I have seen others reporting on using a similar technique but with the center array at NOS spacing, which with subcards gives an SRA of 104 deg - much closer to that of the 67cm omnis though I'm not sure if that amounts to anything.

I'm also hoping Tony could please comment on what spacing he would recommend for such an array that is a good distance away from the ensemble out in the hall, rather than close-up as in a studio.
Old 5th April 2015
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These fixed SRA's with various arrays are what makes the MS in the middle seem a good idea to me. However, I am more interested in what Tony says than what I think on this.
Old 5th April 2015
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
These fixed SRA's with various arrays are what makes the MS in the middle seem a good idea to me. However, I am more interested in what Tony says than what I think on this.
thank you boojum. I was hesitating to ask Tony this question myself ....

anyway I used the fased array together with parrallel fig8 spots and have to say
it is difficult to judge the distances and angles for this.

I ended up with a 45 cm and 75 cm (MK 4 and MK2H) angled 90 and 60 degrees.
was not impressed with the MK4.... stupid me, I should have used subcards.

I however doubt that Tony is concerned that much about matching SRAs

I think he likes systems with greater focus to be used a bit further away
and also not to big spacings?
Old 5th April 2015
  #21
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As far as I am concerned, nothing is set in stone in terms of spacings. As intimated, my 4-way system was arrived at to get reach and detail from a distance. Using a pair of angled-out omnis at around 67cms spacing is not original - Kenneth Wilkinson used this approach successfully when I was still wearing shorts and a cap at secondary school, and there is a reference to parallel omnis in the original Blumlein patent from the 1930's. What you do in-between is up to you. I tried ORTF in-between and the results did not achieve what I was looking for on the day I tried it out. The spacings I quoted are for me starting points and different engineers will fine-tune their spacings to suit their tastes.

What I want to avoid is that sound of in-phase near-mono ambience from using a pair of coincident or near-coincident cardioids. It comes from the omni component in a cardioid pattern, and I do not like to listen to ambience derived from coincident omnis pulling the room-tone to the centre of the image when it should remain diffuse and as incoherent as our ears would hear. These are personal tastes. Another thought to add is that the SADiE system I use has a width control you can apply to pairs of channels, so if necessary the width can be tweaked before you send the client any master.
Old 5th April 2015
  #22
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Quote:
Another thought to add is that the SADiE system I use has a width control you can apply to pairs of channels, so if necessary the width can be tweaked before you send the client any master.
Here in the more humble (but quite effective) Reaper DAW I use the free Voxengo MSED width control in similar fashion as a standard item on stereo tracks.
Old 5th April 2015
  #23
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Hi Tony,

Thank you so much for your info!

Fwiw I've tried the 4-mic array, with the appropriate Schoeps mics, with the center pair as NOS spec and with the 46cm spacing and I find the sound and blend much better with the 46cm spacing that you spec. So to those worrying about the math, fret not. Good sound is not mathematically quantifiable.

I'm curious, Tony, about that Wilkie reference; was he using this for chamber recordings? I know of his piano technique, which is narrower, and then his various tree adaptations (late 2-mic, standard 3 mic, late 60s/early 70s 4-mic) but I'm always curious to learn more about his techniques and innovations, from those who knew him.

Thanks again so much!
Old 6th April 2015
  #24
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Ken Wilkinson talked to me about 2-mic and 3-mic techniques, mainly after his retirement from Decca when we worked together on Reader's Digest recording sessions with Charles Gerhardt. My friend John Dunkerley (ex Decca engineer) would have more detail than I have. My history does not include much experience with Decca 3-mic Tree systems. My early days were often spent recording Renaissance polyphony is big reverberant churches, where I never got along with Tree techniques because they sounded too big and bloated for me in the context of the music and the acoustics. Much of my work has been in big reverberant spaces where Trees can be a bit much. Ken's greatest work was in better controlled acoustics like Walthamstow and Kingsway. My impression was that he considered 2-mic rigs with M50's worked rather well too - he talked to me about 2ft3ins or a little wider spacing which is not so different from 27cms. Not only for chamber music.
Old 8th April 2015
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyF View Post
...he talked to me about 2ft3ins or a little wider spacing which is not so different from 27cms.
I'm going to be presumptious and say that I think he means not so different from 67cm. Just to avoid confusion.
Old 8th April 2015
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Your summary and explanations are very much appreciated by many here I'm sure Tony, and your experience across a wide variety of locations and ensembles has the weight of verified proof supporting your practice ! All I'd add is that you can see a good close-up example of Tony's 'phased array' in this video...at the 1:19secs point, illustrating the "angling out" of the mics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smdX--nrzFg
I have to add my gratitude to Tony and all the others who have chimed in as well - to me, this thread is definitely a "Miracle of Gearslutz" moment, that has taught me a lot and put a smile on my face for several days.

And thanks, Studer, for the video link with image of the array. Helpful in general, and it also made me feel better about my Sabra-Som stereo bar, seeing one in use there by folks who could be using anything!
Old 8th April 2015
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCtoDaylight View Post
I have to add my gratitude to Tony and all the others who have chimed in as well - to me, this thread is definitely a "Miracle of Gearslutz" moment, that has taught me a lot and put a smile on my face for several days.
Yes indeed! This little corner of the internet is a special place. I am very grateful for all those whom share so unstintingly of their knowledge and experience here on Remote Possibilities.
Old 8th April 2015
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyF View Post
<snip>
What I want to avoid is that sound of in-phase near-mono ambience from using a pair of coincident or near-coincident cardioids. It comes from the omni component in a cardioid pattern, and I do not like to listen to ambience derived from coincident omnis pulling the room-tone to the centre of the image when it should remain diffuse and as incoherent as our ears would hear. These are personal tastes. .
Amen to this. I've been preaching this concept for years.
All the best,
Mark
Old 11th April 2015
  #29
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
Faulkner Array

Cm3 and my Schoeps Cmmt30s
Attached Thumbnails
Three Mixes: A Boojum/JNorman case study-image_9301_0.jpg  
Old 11th April 2015
  #30
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Hopefully the incandescent spotlights were not on dimmers. Filament vibrations caused by SCR or thrysistor dimmers can get pretty loud...
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