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String Quartet in small room
Old 30th September 2019
  #1
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String Quartet in small room

Tomorrow I will record a string quartet in a small room.

ROOM

Room is about 15 x 15 with a grand piano and a mixing "desk" taking up a good deal of space. Low ceilings too. Lots of acoustic treatment and available gobos.


MICROPHONES

Flea 47;
AEA R84;
2 Neumann KM183s;
2 AKG 414 XLS.

(The rest are dynamic mics that don't seem useful in this situation)

Wondering what others would do with this challenge?


Note:

I did this once before and used only the Neumanns in a spaced pair. Sound was not great. Too much string screech, not enough blend. I don't want concert hall sound. Rather would like a "Hollywood" style sound. At least I think that's what the composer want.
Old 30th September 2019
  #2
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Don't go at all high with your mics, you'll just get an ugly ceiling bounce compounded by the upward projecting harshness of the strings....so aim for 5-6 feet high only, and go in front of the ensemble rather than above.

You won't get much ensemble blend in a small room, and the boundaries (ceiling, walls and floor) will tend to impose a 'small space' imprint of slappy reflections on the overall sound.

I'd go for close-ish miking of each instrument, aiming for a dry sound, and then aim to glue them all together with eq and reverb later...

You have a fig 8 pattern inherent in the AEA mic, and switch selectable in the 414, so use this characteristic to null out the boundary pickup by pointing the deaf side of each towards the nearest room surface.

Believe it or not, this is one situation where dynamic mics could rescue you, because their relative insensitivity and lack of reach can mitigate the boundary-bounces....so try them out as spot mics, in preference to condensers ( in this specific instance)

Good luck, and try to remove as much room as possible....via room treatments (eg wall drapes, blankets hung over chairs) fig 8 and dynamic mics, and close, low miking. If you have to use the KM183's...go in a lot closer to the instrument than you usually would (as a spot mic) and expect to eq some of the rising HF out of it later
Old 30th September 2019
  #3
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what dynamics? you might want to use them as spots if they are cardioid or hypercardioid and show reasonable fr (such as the beyer m201).

i'd probably try the c414's in a cardioid setting as mains in front of the ensemble and the km183's to pick up ambient sound which then gets fed into efx but more importantly, throw out the piano to make some space!

even better (and more sensible), get into a larger room!
Old 30th September 2019
  #4
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I'd suggest looking at it with Richard King's setup for small room. 3 (LCR) mics positioned near center at 6 ft and then spots (2 mics when recording a large room positioned high with flankers; 3 mics when going low and small on quartet with the center dropped signficantly in the mix but pointing towards the bass)

https://www.soundonsound.com/people/...stic-ensembles
Old 30th September 2019
  #5
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Crazy4Jazz's Avatar
 

Quote:
what dynamics?
Okay, lets see...I have 2 SM57s, an SM58, an AKG D112, and 2 Sennheiser E604s.

I have tried the D112 on Acoustic Bass before and it wasn't bad. The Sennheisers are problematic because they are designed to clip onto drums and the Shure mics are what they are.

As I said, I have quite a few gobos that I could use both behind the mic and behind the player I guess.

I went back to another tracking of a string quartet but that one was with a live Jazz ensemble so it was extraordinarily difficult. Nonetheless, the pair of KM183s on the strings wasn't bad. I had the players in a circle around the mics about 5 fee off the ground. Players were all seated.

By the way, the ceiling is treated as well. Maybe not the best treatment but effective.

So, now what do you think?
Old 30th September 2019
  #6
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Crazy4Jazz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Don't go at all high with your mics
Already made that mistake once. Don't plan on doing it again. I'm considering using the Km 183s as a main spaced pair with the ribbon on the cello, the Flea on viola and the two 414s on the violins as spot mics. I will use the spot miking if it sounds good.

As far as getting the room out of the recording as much as possible, I whole heartedly agree.
Old 30th September 2019
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
I'd suggest looking at it with Richard King's setup for small room. 3 (LCR) mics positioned near center at 6 ft and then spots (2 mics when recording a large room positioned high with flankers; 3 mics when going low and small on quartet with the center dropped signficantly in the mix but pointing towards the bass)

https://www.soundonsound.com/people/...stic-ensembles
This looks good. Seems more like a concert hall technique but I defer to the experts.
Old 1st October 2019
  #8
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Look at the Goat Road sessions (the room isn't big) or his discussion in "Making Arrangements" section and "Dealing with the Room"
I would have never thought to use 3 mics in a small group in a small room (as I mostly do Decca on large scoring stages where the center mic fills the hole in the spaced L/R) but his intention on how they will be mixed makes sense. And he knows he'll be adding reverb later to make up for the room.

So in your case, this seems to fit your needs (plus, of course, King's quartet recordings are exceptional)
Old 1st October 2019
  #9
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I've done it a few times in a small, deadish room. Spaced overhead ribbons (18" more or less) plus a low spot on the cello to add a little beef. Not complicated. You'll hear what the right altitude is.

A violin's always gonna be screechier in a studio setting than in a hall; some players know how not to screech and some don't. Including some big names I've worked with. Vaya con Dios.
Old 1st October 2019
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
Okay, lets see...I have 2 SM57s, an SM58, an AKG D112, and 2 Sennheiser E604s.

I have tried the D112 on Acoustic Bass before and it wasn't bad. The Sennheisers are problematic because they are designed to clip onto drums and the Shure mics are what they are.

As I said, I have quite a few gobos that I could use both behind the mic and behind the player I guess.

I went back to another tracking of a string quartet but that one was with a live Jazz ensemble so it was extraordinarily difficult. Nonetheless, the pair of KM183s on the strings wasn't bad. I had the players in a circle around the mics about 5 fee off the ground. Players were all seated.

By the way, the ceiling is treated as well. Maybe not the best treatment but effective.

So, now what do you think?
The 604's are meant for very close miking (Pink Floyd even used them for live vocals in the 70's !) and the D112 will have a big bass lift, so probably not entirely suitable (or sensitive enough), but the SM57's are worth a try, if you really find the room making a big footprint on the sound of any condensors or ribbon mics you try ? All worth experimenting with...won't take long to do !
Old 1st October 2019
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
The 604's are meant for very close miking (Pink Floyd even used them for live vocals in the 70's !)...
Are you sure that you aren't thinking of the Senny 509 and it successors the 609 & 906? The E604 is a clip-on drum mic...not certain if the Floyd ever tracked vocals with it
Old 1st October 2019
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
Are you sure that you aren't thinking of the Senny 509 and it successors the 609 & 906? The E604 is a clip-on drum mic...not certain if the Floyd ever tracked vocals with it
Yes Jim I'm sure you're right: 509/609 most likely
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pil_BhgZbZg (the Pompeii scene, not the Paris studio with Neumann....)
Old 1st October 2019
  #13
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Crazy4Jazz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
Are you sure that you aren't thinking of the Senny 509 and it successors the 609 & 906? The E604 is a clip-on drum mic...not certain if the Floyd ever tracked vocals with it
Was wondering what was up with that. It’s definitely a clip on drum mic. I know because it’s clipped onto my drums.
Old 6th October 2019
  #14
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
Are you sure that you aren't thinking of the Senny 509 and it successors the 609 & 906? The E604 is a clip-on drum mic...not certain if the Floyd ever tracked vocals with it
Sennheiser MD509 (in Europe) and MD409 (in the States) and their successors, the e609 and e906 are indeed the "Pink Floyd" vocal mics. The e604 is definitely a clip-on mic.
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