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Decca tree with ribbons and blumlein front mic?
Old 1st August 2017
  #1
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Decca tree with ribbons and blumlein front mic?

Hi there

Recording some solo cello soon in an unfamiliar studio. Mics / gear won't be a problem and nor will the room, player or instruments (so all the pressure is on me!)

Solo cello isn't something I record too often. I heard a really nice cello recording recently which was recorded using a decca tree setup with ribbons (Royer 122s I believe) (Winona Zalanka's Bach recordings)

Has anyone had experience with using ribbons in decca tree, with phase etc? Is it safer to use onnis? My reasoning is because I love ribbons on cello.

My second question, could i use a ribbon blumlein pair as the front mic? I know MS has been used. Will this get too phasey?

My reasoning being is that the composers want options, so I thought about having a close mic just in case, the front blumlein to get the bulk of the sound and then the rear decca ribbons as a more roomy option.

Any knowledge would be appreciated!
Old 1st August 2017
  #2
Hi Garlic - Why Decca tree? No need to mess up the sound!

Try two mics in a good spot.



Give parallel ribbons a try. And keep condensers on your radar. Last two cello recordings, we had ribbons up as a maybe. Chose the condensers both times.
Old 1st August 2017
  #3
(If you want options, just record with two good arrays at different distances.)
Old 1st August 2017
  #4
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Roland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarlicJimmy View Post
Hi there

Recording some solo cello soon in an unfamiliar studio. Mics / gear won't be a problem and nor will the room, player or instruments (so all the pressure is on me!)

Solo cello isn't something I record too often. I heard a really nice cello recording recently which was recorded using a decca tree setup with ribbons (Royer 122s I believe) (Winona Zalanka's Bach recordings)

Has anyone had experience with using ribbons in decca tree, with phase etc? Is it safer to use onnis? My reasoning is because I love ribbons on cello.

My second question, could i use a ribbon blumlein pair as the front mic? I know MS has been used. Will this get too phasey?

My reasoning being is that the composers want options, so I thought about having a close mic just in case, the front blumlein to get the bulk of the sound and then the rear decca ribbons as a more roomy option.

Any knowledge would be appreciated!
Two points I would make, firstly anything blumlein or ms fig. 8's are going to get strange outside of your nominal pick-up 90 deg angle, i.e. They will exhibit pattern flip, not great when using close to an orchestra/ensemble or when used in conjunction with outriggers.

Every big, commercially successful, classical recording company, location recording company steers clear of regular usage of ribbons as main microphones. As beguiling as the sound can be, the aforementioned pattern problems are part reason, lack of bass extension and poor hf response are another as is noise floor. A ribbon as a spot on the cello might be well worth a try due to its smoothness and side rejection giving you good isolation. Omni and sub cardioid condensors from people like DPA, Schoeps, Neumann and Sennheiser will win a sonic quality test as mains every time, Decca, Deutche Gramaphone, EMI, Phillips, Telarc, etc all prove this.
Old 2nd August 2017
  #5
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I'm slightly baffled by the idea of using a Decca Tree for a solo instrument -- it was a technique developed especially for large ensembles. And I'm not convinced that you can have a Decca Tree with ribbons anyway. The left and right mics need to be omnis (perhaps with some directionality at HF). Sounds to me like you are over-thinking this. As others have said, stick with a good pair of omnis, or possibly ORTF depending on the room.
Old 2nd August 2017
  #6
I like ribbons on cello and strings generally but they do sometimes not work (as mentioned already). There are some excellent cello recordings made with ribbons though when everything is right. OK, other mic's work well too, I'm not denying that, and I have DPA's as well which are quite good and can be more reliable.

i thought the cello recoding video posted above was OK'ish but it's not my kind of cello playing, but that's down to taste and others may feel differently.
Old 2nd August 2017
  #7
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I've watched that documentary on YouTube, then bought the CD. It's a fabulous sound - I'm not exactly sure if the sound from the YouTube clip is the same as in the CD though.

Anyway, if you tried to use a conventional Decca Tree it might be a little odd, the spacings are always bigger than people imagine (2m between the L and R mic) and I think you would end up with a very mono sounding recording or if you mixed the C mic back a lot you would get an overly wide sounding recording.

In the Zelenka videos the engineer certainly has the mics spaces a lot smaller than a traditional Decca tree. This makes sense but, to me at least, using a spaced pair of Ribbons with a C mic on the same mic bar makes more sense so you can manipulate the stereo width of the instrument subtlety after the session without changing the free field/diffuse field ratio.

A spaced pair would be my first option, then possibly a M/S pair which you could also do with ribbons.

Ps, with the active Royer mics used in the video they are quite hot output due to onboard electronics so no extra noise there. And passive ribbons have no noise at all, you just need a good preamp so statements like 'ribbons are noisy' are a bit redundant...
Old 2nd August 2017
  #8
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Roland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveyJones View Post
I've watched that documentary on YouTube, then bought the CD. It's a fabulous sound - I'm not exactly sure if the sound from the YouTube clip is the same as in the CD though.

Anyway, if you tried to use a conventional Decca Tree it might be a little odd, the spacings are always bigger than people imagine (2m between the L and R mic) and I think you would end up with a very mono sounding recording or if you mixed the C mic back a lot you would get an overly wide sounding recording.

In the Zelenka videos the engineer certainly has the mics spaces a lot smaller than a traditional Decca tree. This makes sense but, to me at least, using a spaced pair of Ribbons with a C mic on the same mic bar makes more sense so you can manipulate the stereo width of the instrument subtlety after the session without changing the free field/diffuse field ratio.

A spaced pair would be my first option, then possibly a M/S pair which you could also do with ribbons.

Ps, with the active Royer mics used in the video they are quite hot output due to onboard electronics so no extra noise there. And passive ribbons have no noise at all, you just need a good preamp so statements like 'ribbons are noisy' are a bit redundant...
Perhaps I should have said that ribbons generally have low output so therefore need more gain so more preamp noise. It is a real world problem, though not so much if the performance is loud.
Old 2nd August 2017
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
And keep condensers on your radar. Last two cello recordings, we had ribbons up as a maybe. Chose the condensers both times.

Yep, I have done exactly this as well on cello and also chose condensers. I keep coming back to this sound as being close to ideal.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aR7OllFJQTs
Old 9th September 2019
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
Hi Garlic - Why Decca tree? No need to mess up the sound!

Try two mics in a good spot.

Give parallel ribbons a try. And keep condensers on your radar. Last two cello recordings, we had ribbons up as a maybe. Chose the condensers both times.
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post

Yep, I have done exactly this as well on cello and also chose condensers. I keep coming back to this sound as being close to ideal.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aR7OllFJQTs
And when you both say "condensers" I guess you mean, cardioids?

Which distance from source and mic spacing did you end up with in these cases?
Old 9th September 2019
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oortone View Post
And when you both say "condensers" I guess you mean, cardioids?

Which distance from source and mic spacing did you end up with in these cases?
Could be cardioids, sub-cardioids or omnis. Could be simple AB spaced, or angled...at a variety of spacings and angles.

It all depends...on the room, the instrument, the desired ratio of direct to ambient pickup...on all sorts of factors
Old 9th September 2019
  #12
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I have recorded my share of solo celli. And agree with those above who suggest picking a good pair and going with it. Pick a pair and listen to a rehearsal and move it to the place it sounds best. Easy-peasy.

D.
Old 9th September 2019
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
I have recorded my share of solo celli. And agree with those above who suggest picking a good pair and going with it. Pick a pair and listen to a rehearsal and move it to the place it sounds best. Easy-peasy.

D.
Yep...and quite often the place it sounds best is not dead central (perpendicular to the strings), but rather 45 degrees off that, roughly in line with their left knee, and pointing in toward the instrument's centre
Old 9th September 2019
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Yep...and quite often the place it sounds best is not dead central (perpendicular to the strings), but rather 45 degrees off that, roughly in line with their left knee, and pointing in toward the instrument's centre
Definitely! From one side you have high, brighter strings, from the other side strings are lower and darker sounding. Depends on the venue, music, wanted character you an play with the color of the recorded performance. Also every instrument sounds different if you go higher or lower.
I wouldn't go for the omni mics of you don't have a good sounding hall.
Old 9th September 2019
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stradivariusz View Post
Definitely! From one side you have high, brighter strings, from the other side strings are lower and darker sounding. Depends on the venue, music, wanted character you an play with the color of the recorded performance. Also every instrument sounds different if you go higher or lower.
I wouldn't go for the omni mics of you don't have a good sounding hall.
If you go in reasonably close to the instrument with Omni mics, you'll get proportionally less of the room...and the cello may or may not excite much room/ hall reflection, depending on size, construction, geometry, floor coverings, etc ?
It's also feasible to array an AB mic pair vertically instead of horizontally, to get broader coverage of the instrument's radiating surface.
Old 9th September 2019
  #16
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Take a look at this diagram.

D.
Attached Thumbnails
Decca tree with ribbons and blumlein front mic?-cello-radiation.jpg  
Old 9th September 2019
  #17
Gear Nut
Just a pair of TLM170. Done...
Old 9th September 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
If you go in reasonably close to the instrument with Omni mics, you'll get proportionally less of the room...and the cello may or may not excite much room/ hall reflection, depending on size, construction, geometry, floor coverings, etc ?
It's also feasible to array an AB mic pair vertically instead of horizontally, to get broader coverage of the instrument's radiating surface.
You are right, Ray. One instrument is also less complicated if it comes to the stereo image, still it can get a nice wide air in the recording. With the carefull placement it might work.
Old 10th September 2019
  #19
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Klimermonk View Post
Just a pair of TLM170. Done...
My absolute fave for cello.

D.
Old 10th September 2019
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Take a look at this diagram.

D.
Yes, like a lot of these plots it would appear nigh impossible to choose one 'piece of air' which samples all these frequencies. Which establishes the instrument's signature best in the ear/brain: fundamentals or harmonics ?
Old 11th September 2019
  #21
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i sonically much prefer using a single directional spot mic and a stereo 'main' system which suits the room well: definition and articulation comes from the spot, room impression/width comes from the 'mains'.

(i'm writing 'mains' as all mic can become equally important - another vote for the tlm170 for the spot mic).

i'd never use a decca or any other multi-mic array as a main system for a solo instrument though (unless the 'main' system is mostly directional and there is another pair of mics to capture the room)!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
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Here DPA omnis as main pair (2'20") and TLM 170 for reverb (7').

Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by didier.brest View Post
Here DPA omnis as main pair (2'20") and TLM 170 for reverb (7').

I like the space. Did you record this?

If you did, did the TLM-170s work in the final mix for reverb? I have tried and tried to use room mics, in a good space, for verb and have been consistently dissatisfied. I don't know why it doesn't work. It just seems to sound "wrong" to me. I have tried timing the rooms mics to the main pair, and leaving them where they actually were in the timing spectrum. I have tried near room mics and far. No success. Altiverb with a good impulse, either the actual room or just a good preset seems to me to sound "truer" to the original.

Why am I having such a bad experience with room mics?

D.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
I like the space. Did you record this?
No !

The sound engineer and artistic director is Cécile Lenoir, whom you see in the video.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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Sorry, my bad. I just listened to the music at the head. I will pay more attention.

D.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Why am I having such a bad experience with room mics?

D.
Two guesses:

I time-align spots to to the room pickup based on DPA's technical notes on aligning which is based on the first reflection (usually the floor) distance verses the direct sound.
Linking to this:
https://www.dpamicrophones.com/mic-u...ical-orchestra
But there used to be a full white paper on the testing of time aligning.

You probably position (or pattern) your spots to already capture the room which doesn't work as well when you have room mics to blend in. I pre-plan my spot setup knowing that I'm going to use the room mics when positioning the others.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
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I am a little curious about Cécile Lenoir's angling of the omnis with the nearfield grids at that distance. I'd imagine that straight ahead A-B with the capsules in the same position would be the same result. The only thing I can think of is she just didn't have a stereo bar long enough. (maybe that's mentioned in the conversation in French when the mics are being brought out)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
maybe that's mentioned in the conversation in French when the mics are being brought out
No. There is just a joke from Jean-Guihen Queyras wondering whether Cécile's hands might have shortened during the night...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
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tourtelot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post

You probably position (or pattern) your spots to already capture the room which doesn't work as well when you have room mics to blend in. I pre-plan my spot setup knowing that I'm going to use the room mics when positioning the others.
I almost never use spot mics EVER. Maybe that's the problem.

D.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
I almost never use spot mics EVER. Maybe that's the problem.

D.
Did you say what mics you had tried for room?
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