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cd project - single pair or multiple mics?
Old 12th May 2017
  #1
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jnorman's Avatar
cd project - single pair or multiple mics?

new cd project for flute and piano sonatas in a medium sized auditorium. mediodre acoustics. do I use my normal boojum/jnorman array and choose in post, or do I throw up every mic ive got and have a main pair and spots on both piano and flute? if I multiple mic, should I arrange the players in normal performance positions, or separate them to get more isolation in the spots? I am inclined to stick with just a main pair and performance type arrangement, but I know that is not how most studio guys would do this. how would you do this? thanks.
Old 12th May 2017
  #2
IF you have the time... why not do both? Work on getting the best sound with your array, and then spot mic everything too and record those tracks too?

The trick will be having the discipline to not even listen to the spot mics in post unless you find that something is "wrong" with the main array.
Old 12th May 2017
  #3
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tourtelot's Avatar
I always mic "sessions" differently than performances, and that definitely includes spot mics. As Tim says, the main pair will do the heavy lifting but if acoustics need to be tamed or "flavor" added, spot mics are a good way to help out. As well, solos sometimes need some help. So for me, yes. Multi-mic.

D.
Old 12th May 2017
  #4
Take time for the best single pair balance you can make. Then add spots for "just in case".
Old 13th May 2017
  #5
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jnorman's Avatar
Thanks guys.
Doug - so you are saying stick with a standard performance arrangement for the players and add spots to both in addition to the main pair, right? I understand the idea, but from my experience, close mics never sound good on flute, and only rarely do close mics sound even remotely normal on piano, which is why I was considering not bothering with spot/close mics at all. Does that mean that, in your experience, you might find the spots useful only as barely noticeable reinforcement of whatever is needed to enhance the main pair- i.e., spots very low in the mix? Also, in the past when I have tried this, the flute mic always picks up so much piano that even a small amount of flute spot changes the balance of the piano in a bad way. If I use a ribbon and place null to minimize the piano, it gets odd trying to maintain normal player positioning. If you have a moment, please expand on your answer.
Old 13th May 2017
  #6
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And btw, the players picked out ulrike Anton and Carlos riviera performance of Doppler Hungarian pastorale as a reference (from anton's cd "follow your dreams"). I have listened to it carefully and have no idea how it was recorded, but it is stunning. I can post a short clip of it if it won't violate rules.
Old 13th May 2017
  #7
Gear Addict
Hey jnorman, Are you sure there is no other place to record the CD project? A church with nice acoustics and a good piano, for example?

I mean, it's so much work to put into a project, I imagine you want to have a certain satisfaction return for your efforts.
Old 13th May 2017
  #8
for studio sessions I much prefer to turn the solo instrument around the face the piano, and mic both instruments with their own spots. I'll also place a pair of room mics. This gives control over the balance and the ambience.

This approach depends, though, on the spots being placed precisely so that the piano and flute sound in balance and as if they are in the same space. The goal for me is to give myself a threshold that I can turn each up or down a few DB without losing that perspective. Its deceptively easy to mess this up, and I almost always have to take a few minutes to listen and move mics and people around a little bit to make sure all the elements (bleed, timbre, direct and indirect sound, balance between the instruments) are gelling.

The nice thing is that it forces you to get your mix most of the way together before you start tracking. Also, because you've got control over the elements, the room can be a little sub-par and still work ok. Though in small and overly reflective rooms the bleed can become a big problem and a simpler approach then is probably better.
Old 13th May 2017
  #9
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Shorty - the space is not bad (230 seat, large raised stage). It is just not very live, but they just got a new Yamaha CFX, plus I'm getting it for $50/ hr.
Old 13th May 2017
  #10
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Kevin - thanks for your response. Could you please give some more detail on your approach? How far apart are the players, stereo or mono spots, how far out are the room mics (I assume you mean pretty distant and not what you might use as a main stereo pair), how do you achieve a natural sound from a mix that uses mostly close mics (I never seem to like close mics on anything)? Thanks again.
Old 13th May 2017
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
I understand the idea, but from my experience, close mics never sound good on flute, and only rarely do close mics sound even remotely normal on piano, which is why I was considering not bothering with spot/close mics at all.
One of my favorite approaches to recording is to use just one main pair, but to very carefully monitor test recordings and gradually move the musicians around, untill the overall sound and balance are right. It's a disciplined approach to getting a coherent recording, and the monitoring must be done isolated from the live sound. This approach works best with just one main pair, as opposed to a post blending of two main pairs (spaced omnis and spaced cards) or using mid-side with post adjustment, because you know exactly what you will be getting. The mixing is done by moving the musicians around on location, not in post. If you are one of the musicians you can monitor test recordings in between takes.
Old 13th May 2017
  #12
All stereo spots, typically cardioid for the solo instrument and Omni for the piano. room mics are omnis about 20' back from the stage.

These photos are from a recording session I did at UMD in January, and at University of Illinois in the last year, using this approach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
Kevin - thanks for your response. Could you please give some more detail on your approach? How far apart are the players, stereo or mono spots, how far out are the room mics (I assume you mean pretty distant and not what you might use as a main stereo pair), how do you achieve a natural sound from a mix that uses mostly close mics (I never seem to like close mics on anything)? Thanks again.
Attached Thumbnails
cd project - single pair or multiple mics?-img_1446.jpg   cd project - single pair or multiple mics?-img_1447.jpg   cd project - single pair or multiple mics?-img_1448.jpg   cd project - single pair or multiple mics?-img_1449.jpg   cd project - single pair or multiple mics?-img_1450.jpg  

cd project - single pair or multiple mics?-img_1451.jpg   cd project - single pair or multiple mics?-img_1453.jpg  
Old 14th May 2017
  #13
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surflounge's Avatar
great info, thanks. How far apart where the senn 800 mics?
Old 14th May 2017
  #14
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tourtelot's Avatar
I'll get back in the AM. Just got home.

D.
Old 15th May 2017
  #15
11 inches

Quote:
Originally Posted by surflounge View Post
great info, thanks. How far apart where the senn 800 mics?
Old 15th May 2017
  #16
Gear Nut
Here is a sample of flute and (badly out of tune) piano; recorded in a decent hall setup almost exactly like king2070lplaya has outlined- except no room mics, just piano and flute pairs. Milab DC196 on flute and Schoeps MK2S on piano.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/k3uafoc91n...n%201.wav?dl=0
Old 15th May 2017
  #17
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jnorman's Avatar
thanks for the example village.

kevin - you are using spaced AB cardioids to maximize rejection of the piano in the flute mics, right?
Old 16th May 2017
  #18
I'm using cardioids to control bleed, but I'm using AB because I prefer the stereo image it presents the source in.

Recording trombone concertos today and tomorrow with concert band, using similarly-spaced AB ribbons for the solo trombone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
thanks for the example village.

kevin - you are using spaced AB cardioids to maximize rejection of the piano in the flute mics, right?
Old 16th May 2017
  #19
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mljung's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by VillageOp View Post
Here is a sample of flute and (badly out of tune) piano; recorded in a decent hall setup almost exactly like king2070lplaya has outlined- except no room mics, just piano and flute pairs. Milab DC196 on flute and Schoeps MK2S on piano.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/k3uafoc91n...n%201.wav?dl=0
Just curious about the Dc196 flute pair, was it AB and how far apart were they?

::
Mads
Old 16th May 2017
  #20
Gear Nut
Hi Mads,

Yes A-B and 11 inches. The null of the cardiod pattern was cancelling the Steinway logo. I should also mention that we took the piano down about 2dB to diminish the crunchy intonation; and that the flute player got into the festival
Old 17th May 2017
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VillageOp View Post
Hi Mads,

Yes A-B and 11 inches. The null of the cardiod pattern was cancelling the Steinway logo. I should also mention that we took the piano down about 2dB to diminish the crunchy intonation; and that the flute player got into the festival
I used a pretty similar setup recently for piano and vox (tenor).
2 x Milab DC-96c for vox and DPA 4060 omnis for piano / room.

::
Mads

Last edited by mljung; 17th May 2017 at 01:04 PM..
Old 17th May 2017
  #22
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lukedamrosch's Avatar
 

Thanks very much for posting the great documentation! Would you happen to know the height and spacing of your room pair pictured here?

Old 19th May 2017
  #23
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hughesmr's Avatar
Mic the instruments separately, but (if the acoustic is good) from perspectives that allow them to naturally balance each other re direct vs reverberant sound. This gives you good control in post.

Attached is a pic from a violin + piano CD I recorded last year (MSR Classics - Haoli Lin "Romantic Journey") - some samples here.

Mics were 50cm spaced DPA4006As w/ trapezoidal grids on the piano (and for vln ambiance as well), and 9" spaced 8040s on the vln. Both pairs were almost right on top of each other, musicians had good sightlines.
Attached Thumbnails
cd project - single pair or multiple mics?-wp_20151121_001.jpg  
Old 19th May 2017
  #24
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jnorman's Avatar
Michael and Mads - thanks guys!
Old 30th May 2017
  #25
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya View Post
All stereo spots, typically cardioid for the solo instrument and Omni for the piano. room mics are omnis about 20' back from the stage.

These photos are from a recording session I did at UMD in January, and at University of Illinois in the last year, using this approach.
Very nice, I don't live far from there. That's a great hall. I attended a dual piano arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue a couple of years ago and it sounded wonderful.
Old 7th June 2017
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hughesmr View Post
Mic the instruments separately, but (if the acoustic is good) from perspectives that allow them to naturally balance each other re direct vs reverberant sound. This gives you good control in post.

Attached is a pic from a violin + piano CD I recorded last year (MSR Classics - Haoli Lin "Romantic Journey") - some samples here.

Mics were 50cm spaced DPA4006As w/ trapezoidal grids on the piano (and for vln ambiance as well), and 9" spaced 8040s on the vln. Both pairs were almost right on top of each other, musicians had good sightlines.
Can I ask a question about the mic setup in the photo to help my learning about audio recording?
Why are the mics not placed a little nearer each instrument rather than being roughly in the middle?
I have listened to the sample tracks and it obviously works really well !!
Thanks for any help in understanding this.
Mark
Old 7th June 2017
  #27
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lukedamrosch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by M4granger View Post
Can I ask a question about the mic setup in the photo to help my learning about audio recording?
Why are the mics not placed a little nearer each instrument rather than being roughly in the middle?
I have listened to the sample tracks and it obviously works really well !!
Thanks for any help in understanding this.
Mark
For acoustic instruments in a hall to sound natural or "correct" (depending on repertoire) it is usually necessary to place microphones some distance away in order pick up a good balance between

1) direct sound from the instrument, and
2) reverberation from the space,

which integrates to form the complete "picture" of how the instrument's character is represented in the recording. A large percentage of the total sound is produced by the room, and its character will of course vary according to many factors like dimension, materials, humidity, whether or not there is an audience which will absorb some of the reverberation, etc.

Needless to say this is a very general oversimplification of something which is subtle, has many schools/approaches, etc.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
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jnorman's Avatar
Reviving this thread - I am doing this again, and thinking of setting the duo up facing each other about 10’ apart, with an AB pair of omnis maybe 6’ from the piano, 4’ from the flute, and adding a single cardioid (cmc64 or akg c481) at maybe 3-4’ from the flute. What say?
(Note - last time, I wound up having to video the performance so I just used an ORTF pair of cmc64s about 10-12’ out, which worked fine.)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by lukedamrosch View Post
Thanks very much for posting the great documentation! Would you happen to know the height and spacing of your room pair pictured here?

Didn’t see this reply back then, sorry Luke! Usually i go about 15’ ish high and 2’ish apart. Was surprised it worked as well as it did the first time I tried it, but work it did.

The performance from those photos can be seen/heard here:

https://youtu.be/-zQOSQPehc0

On reflection, Piano is a bit hot and pingy for my taste, but this could be corrected by lowering the volume of the piano spots and moving them a bit to de emphasize the high end. If I had it to do again. Might also go for a slightly higher (vertically) flute spot.

Last edited by king2070lplaya; 4 weeks ago at 04:27 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
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these days, i'm almost always using spot mics (single directional mic on most instruments except for very large instruments such as piano or marimba), mains and ambis.

i like having the option to change the balance between mics while mixing or 'replace' room sound with efx devices - more gear and work but more options.

wouldn't wanna go back to simple single stereo pickup and get stuck with what (often) gets decided unter subpar monitoring conditions on location...
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