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solo lute miking recommendations
Old 22nd August 2019
  #1
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solo lute miking recommendations

solo lute recital soon, baroque repertoire...anyone here have recommendations regarding mic type, spacing, distance etc ? I don't expect to be restricted as to where mics can be placed....old large church, nice acoustics

My 1st guess would be a pair of AB omnis, MKH8020 or OM-1...I don't see that near coincident would be necessary, and my preference would be for a single pair, rather than main pair plus spot ? Perhaps a floor BLM/PZM could be an additional capture option here ?
Old 22nd August 2019
  #2
If no restrictions (also visually):
a phased Faulkner pair of your best ribbons (AB 20cm, e.g. Rode NTR*) quite close (1 to 2m), which will give a center-focussed spread for details.
A pair of your best omnis farther away to capture the whole image.
Lute can be beautiful. It can also be ugly. It needs a dedicated engineer :-)

(In the past, I have been remarkably happy with a similar array of Sure SM81s!)
Old 22nd August 2019
  #3
I love spaced omnis for solo lute/guitar. I recorded this album in an empty stone chapel with a pair of DPA4006s.
Your sennheisers might look less visually obtrusive.

https://youtu.be/wMy1sbqDoro?list=OL...pJTJs0aORiQJ1k
Attached Thumbnails
solo lute miking recommendations-5706dbd3-58e7-4fe4-b058-db0b28fae2b6.jpg  
Old 22nd August 2019
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avillalta View Post
I love spaced omnis for solo lute/guitar. I recorded this album in an empty stone chapel with a pair of DPA4006s.
Your sennheisers might look less visually obtrusive.

https://youtu.be/wMy1sbqDoro?list=OL...pJTJs0aORiQJ1k
Love the unpowered, mechanically-coupled sub bass chamber ! Would you recommend a similar mic height for a lute played sideways (like guitar), or perhaps lower...facing the plane of the soundboard ?
Old 22nd August 2019
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apotheosis View Post
If no restrictions (also visually):
a phased Faulkner pair of your best ribbons (AB 20cm, e.g. Rode NTR*) quite close (1 to 2m), which will give a center-focussed spread for details.
A pair of your best omnis farther away to capture the whole image.
Lute can be beautiful. It can also be ugly. It needs a dedicated engineer :-)

(In the past, I have been remarkably happy with a similar array of Sure SM81s!)
I wonder if a parallel spaced pair of cardioid (eg CM3) would work similarly for the centre-focussed detail, in place of the ribbons (which i don't have) ?
I'm torn between a single optimally placed pair vs 2 pairs, as you've outlined here.
I'm sure both are capable of a good rendition, if conditions and experiment time are favourable ?
Old 22nd August 2019
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
I wonder if a parallel spaced pair of cardioid (eg CM3) would work similarly for the centre-focussed detail, in place of the ribbons (which i don't have) ?
I'm torn between a single optimally placed pair vs 2 pairs, as you've outlined here.
I'm sure both are capable of a good rendition, if conditions and experiment time are favourable ?
Might work as well, worth a try and a listen.
The reason why I would use two pairs, is that most lute players (or early music players in general) that I know and work with, want both a rich lush sound with ambiance, ànd a lot of detail. Problem with fretted instruments is the amount of noise they make with their left hand, so a pair of carefully placed ribbons might help to bring out the detail of the sound without too much of the frets. Only an omni pair will either be too close (= too much noise) or too far (= not enough detail), unless you have an excellent room with an excellent player and excellent humidity conditions for the gut strings and frets...
I would set up both pairs anyway and play for half an hour. Then decide what works best. Looking for the optimal position of both pairs is of the utmost importance here, of course, as it is for a single pair. And for all microphones, of course, if there is time.........!
Best of luck!
Old 22nd August 2019
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apotheosis View Post
Might work as well, worth a try and a listen.
The reason why I would use two pairs, is that most lute players (or early music players in general) that I know and work with, want both a rich lush sound with ambiance, ànd a lot of detail. Problem with fretted instruments is the amount of noise they make with their left hand, so a pair of carefully placed ribbons might help to bring out the detail of the sound without too much of the frets. Only an omni pair will either be too close (= too much noise) or too far (= not enough detail), unless you have an excellent room with an excellent player and excellent humidity conditions for the gut strings and frets...
I would set up both pairs anyway and play for half an hour. Then decide what works best. Looking for the optimal position of both pairs is of the utmost importance here, of course, as it is for a single pair. And for all microphones, of course, if there is time.........!
Best of luck!
Thanks for a very good summary of the competing demands of detail and ambience....which certainly validates the use of 2 pairs !

So you're suggesting to either place each pair for optimal balance, or else commit to having a detail pair complemented by an ambience pair (with each dedicated to a particular role, and working together in tandem) ?
Old 22nd August 2019
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
solo lute recital soon, baroque repertoire...anyone here have recommendations regarding mic type, spacing, distance etc ? I don't expect to be restricted as to where mics can be placed....old large church, nice acoustics

My 1st guess would be a pair of AB omnis, MKH8020 or OM-1...I don't see that near coincident would be necessary, and my preference would be for a single pair, rather than main pair plus spot ? Perhaps a floor BLM/PZM could be an additional capture option here ?
i'm mostly using a directional spot mic, often ldc, on solo instruments; directional to avoid some of the reflections and ambient sound to be picked up and 'cause one can more easily mix it in without bringing up the room too much in case the spot gets used to emphasize the articulation of the instrument in softer passages; a pzm could also work; maybe less so if using a carpet (to attenuate some early reflections).
i'm hardly ever using stereo spots unless an instrument is very large or i want to portray any movements in the stereo soundfield - i assume you will not want this in this situation.
and of course the spot does not necessarily need to be mixed in!

for mains, use whatever sounds best: why not a spaced pair or m/s in this situation. i'm personally not much of a fan of blumlein but it sure is another option.

should you decide to use an ortf (kinda in between coinicident/directional and spaced/less or non-directional), i then suggest you put up and additional pair of widely spaced omnis at larger distance which you could use to widen the image should this be needed and of course also to add room sound.

the approch of using spot/mains/ambis allows you to go from mono/direct/close from the spot mic to (more or less) wide/stereo/'normal' distance of the mains to very wide/diffuse/distant from the ambis and hence gives you the most options while mixing - imo this approach is less critical in terms of mic placement: the spot just needs to cover the instrument and not much around it, the mains can still be relatively close (say at 2-3m) and dry (which can be a benefit if recording in front of an audience) and the ambis can be placed either on the side of the stage, anywhere off from the audience (or at larger distance towards/in the back of the room if there is no audience present).

but of course you can go with any pair of stereo mic (or mic array), find a sweet spot and commit to tape: if you hit it, you're done with recording and mixing!



p.s. if you have enough gear and can waste a few tracks, you could also use two different main mic systems to compare...
Old 22nd August 2019
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Love the unpowered, mechanically-coupled sub bass chamber ! Would you recommend a similar mic height for a lute played sideways (like guitar), or perhaps lower...facing the plane of the soundboard ?
I don't like to go too low as to avoid early reflections from the floor/music stand, etc. I doubt I'd go below eye-level (player's). As I'm sure you know, it all depends on the sound of the instrument in the room. Depending on the instrument and repertoire, the lute will most likely be quieter than a modern guitar, but I've heard some that are just as loud.

I'd most likely start with stand(s) in front of the lutenist and boom in to get closer (always staying taller than the performer's head). Spacing for a lute would most likely be much tighter than what you see in the photo I posted. I'd start somewhere between 30-50cm.
Old 22nd August 2019
  #10
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Very unortodox approach: wide omnis (perhaps CM3 would work as well) around 1,5 - 3 meters, 1,5m high and 1,5m away. Enormous 3D sound, like a cloud. Did it few times at home with a classical guitar in a small room. Sounded incredibely real (like being there) and beautiful. Definitevely different, but certainly very fine to try, does not metter if room is nice or not.
Maby just give it a try as a second (third) pair?
Old 22nd August 2019
  #11
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Stereo ribbon mic or Blumlein pair. Consider a Neumann USM69.
Old 22nd August 2019
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by apotheosis View Post
If no restrictions (also visually):
a phased Faulkner pair of your best ribbons (AB 20cm, e.g. Rode NTR*) quite close (1 to 2m), which will give a center-focussed spread for details.
A pair of your best omnis farther away to capture the whole image.
Lute can be beautiful. It can also be ugly. It needs a dedicated engineer :-)

(In the past, I have been remarkably happy with a similar array of Sure SM81s!)
Seconded! A pair of ribbons can give you beautiful depth, spread, tone, and reach. I'd start at 40-50cm spacing. Adding omnis can also give you extra/natural verb if you want it.


Here's a quiet guitar concert with just a pair of Rode NTRs through Pueblo preamps:



The one of the mics is visible at 3:37. Good luck and share some samples!
Old 22nd August 2019
  #13
Arrow

No ribbons - no worries! (Sorry, just catching up to the conversation...)

Here's a soft guitar trio with MKH800 Twins in cardioid. Run through Midas preamps.



For a solo lute, I'd aim for a "bigger" sound. (Closer, lower than this hanging array.)

I know a prominent classical guitar producer that always uses spaced omnis, but.... a) all the spaces are meticulously chosen and quiet, and b) he is known for a relatively distant and reverberant sound, so that works for him. If you don't already know the space and exactly what the client wants and expects, I'd cover your bases with both cardioids (first) and omnis.
Old 22nd August 2019
  #14
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Baroque repertoire would indicate a somewhat larger instrument - probably 10 or more courses (strings), with the extension being to the bass notes. It probably won't project as much as a guitar (but it does depend on the player and particular instrument), generally a lutenist covets a narrower "range" of dynamics, if that makes sense.

Listen to some Sylvius Leopold Weiss to get an idea of the kind of repertoire and instrumental sound you might be dealing with (an incredible composer not well known outside of lutenists by the way).

Here's Nigel North (top player and a great ambassador for the instrument) playing some Weiss: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAeshHlvAO4

I wouldn't be too worried about fret or string noise - the type of strings the player will be using, along with gut frets, don't generally produce buzzes and squeaks like a modern guitar - but watch cloth noise from the movement of the player's right arm rubbing on the instrument body, which can be audible depending on the fabric.

My opinion would be that a lute is not something you want a false "intimacy" with, so something that will represent the room well would be my first choice. apotheosis puts it well - players want ambience, but the details can easily be lost if your sweet spot is off.

Others have given technical recommendations, but hopefully this illuminates a bit of the particulars of the instrument (disclosure: I played lute for a while as a total amateur!)

It would be great to hear what you end up with.
Old 22nd August 2019
  #15
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I know it is very subjective, but personaly I do feel like having my head just before the guitar :D Just need more air. Listening on headphones now, probably speakers with the room will make it nice and comfortable to listen
Old 22nd August 2019
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
Seconded! A pair of ribbons can give you beautiful depth, spread, tone, and reach. I'd start at 40-50cm spacing. Adding omnis can also give you extra/natural verb if you want it.


Here's a quiet guitar concert with just a pair of Rode NTRs through Pueblo preamps:



The one of the mics is visible at 3:37. Good luck and share some samples!
Not to fanboy but the NTRs sound fantastic! Wonderful in the lower mids. Is this a feature of all ribbons or do the NTRs have some kind of special quality? Anyway, I'll take a pair of these along with some DPAs and Sonodores please.
Old 22nd August 2019
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by metalsquirrel View Post
Not to fanboy but the NTRs sound fantastic! Wonderful in the lower mids. Is this a feature of all ribbons or do the NTRs have some kind of special quality? Anyway, I'll take a pair of these along with some DPAs and Sonodores please.
That'd be a killer combo!

Ribbons in general have beefy lower mids and smooth (or non-existent) highs. Having used ribbons from Peluso, Sontronics, Samar, Cascade, and Royer, I find the Rode NTR to be the most robust, versatile, and the least susceptible to interference. That last point is a big one. A microphone isn't useful if you are getting buzzes or the local radio station...
Old 22nd August 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
That'd be a killer combo!

Ribbons in general have beefy lower mids and smooth (or non-existent) highs. Having used ribbons from Peluso, Sontronics, Samar, Cascade, and Royer, I find the Rode NTR to be the most robust, versatile, and the least susceptible to interference. That last point is a big one. A microphone isn't useful if you are getting buzzes or the local radio station...
I can attest to that having used older U89s that were only missing a "tuner" knob! Good info though, thanks. Anyway, sorry for the derail...
Old 23rd August 2019
  #19
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Wow, thanks guys..one and all, for your most generous contributions here. I will certainly take it all on board as I negotiate the realities of the event.

I hope to have about an hour of experimental time, so I'll have several pairs rigged to go, and should be able to try a few combinations before alighting on something that works and gives me some mix flexibility back at home.

What a great forum this is....and I'll hope to have some video to share of it early to mid next week too.
Old 23rd August 2019
  #20
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Originally Posted by metalsquirrel View Post
I can attest to that having used older U89s that were only missing a "tuner" knob! Good info though, thanks. Anyway, sorry for the derail...
I've only experienced U89 radio pickup (I think it was AM band) once, but boy, was it bad (even with star quad)!!

What makes them so susceptible....and is there any mic cabling pin connection or shielding strategy (or cable type, eg Gotham ?) to fix this
Old 23rd August 2019
  #21
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In addition to all the great advice here, don’t forget how good a Schoeps MS pair can be for capturing string instruments in acoustic spaces.
Old 23rd August 2019
  #22
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Originally Posted by Simmosonic View Post
In addition to all the great advice here, don’t forget how good a Schoeps MS pair can be for capturing string instruments in acoustic spaces.
Quite true Simmo...I feel yet another calling up my hip-pocket resources before too long !
Old 24th August 2019
  #23
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Practices vary enormously. I'm a big fan of spaced omnis (I use OM-1s for this) - I was in a pretty reverberant space for the below with some hissy pre-amps (I've since upgraded) and low recording level - the lute is quiet!

You can preview excerpts of various tracks here from an album I recorded last summer:

https://music.apple.com/album/fantas...ury/1441291750

Here's a photo of the setup (pretty intimate)

https://francisshepherd.co.uk/wp-con...8/IMG_0616.jpg

c.50cm spacing, just over 1m away, about 1.25m in height I think. It's nowhere near perfect but the punters seem to love the big airy sound.

I have it on good authority that Paul O'Dette (famous US lutenist) 'always uses two Schoeps on a stand 12 feet away and 6 feet up.' No idea of the AB spacing.

FWIW.
Old 24th August 2019
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tenorfran View Post

I have it on good authority that Paul O'Dette (famous US lutenist) 'always uses two Schoeps on a stand 12 feet away and 6 feet up.' No idea of the AB spacing.

FWIW.
Indeed
Attached Thumbnails
solo lute miking recommendations-7b2a594e-d558-4246-9022-7d4110f6617a.jpg   solo lute miking recommendations-dc60ffa7-10df-498e-9bbb-eebcea0abf92.jpg  
Old 24th August 2019
  #25
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Thanks for sharing these, Andres!
Old 24th August 2019
  #26
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When choosing mics for solo lute, a vanishingly low noise floor would be an important selection criterion.

Last edited by David Spearritt; 25th August 2019 at 12:08 PM..
Old 25th August 2019
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tenorfran View Post

I have it on good authority that Paul O'Dette (famous US lutenist) 'always uses two Schoeps on a stand 12 feet away and 6 feet up.' No idea of the AB spacing.

FWIW.
Those pictures look more like 6 feet away and 12 feet up, no?
(also looks like a pair of Sennheiser mkh800 below the Schoeps)
Old 25th August 2019
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avillalta View Post
Indeed
As has already been mentioned, looks like a pair of MKH800s in there as well.

Also pointing out the obvious that he’s in some kind of concert hall or similar which is presumably very quiet to begin with, which is one of the factors behind getting something useful at that distance from such a quiet instrument.

But don’t get me wrong, there have been some great and informative pics on this thread, and these are some of them!
Old 25th August 2019
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tenorfran View Post
Here's a photo of the setup (pretty intimate)

https://francisshepherd.co.uk/wp-con...8/IMG_0616.jpg
Great pic, makes me want to listen to it!
Old 25th August 2019
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avillalta View Post
Indeed
Cool. What does the little riser do?
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