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What mics should i use for recording chamber ensemble?
Old 27th February 2020
  #1
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What mics should i use for recording chamber ensemble?

Hi, I'm new at this forum, and new at recording music. I want to start recording chamber ensemble (around 7 to 10 people) or small orchestra (20-30 people) but my budget is small. I heard, that one of the best option is to use XY configuration and outrigger mics. I can use max 4 mics and my budget is around 500$/€. Has anybody used lewitt's mics? What are ur favorite pair of mics? Should I start with better main microphones or should I buy 4 weaker at the same time? Thank you for all answers.
Old 28th February 2020
  #2
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
How long is a piece of string? The answer to your question is the same: it depends. How much do you want to spend for each part - recorder/interface, DAW, mics? What kind of spaces will you record in? Is the recording for you, for the archives, for promoting the artist? I could go on, but rather answer me directly, take several hours / days to browse this Remote Possibilities forum, and then shape your questions. There is lots of expert guidance here; you just have to ask specific, not general, questions (and give lots of background information!).

Edit: I'll point you in some general direction - read the threads about Line Audio OM1, CM3 & CM4 mics. Read the threads about recording chamber music and read the threads about spaced omni recording and coincident recording set ups. After that you will have questions.

And welcome!

Last edited by jimjazzdad; 28th February 2020 at 01:07 AM.. Reason: addition
Old 28th February 2020
  #3
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Ok, understood I will gain more knowledge and I will come back to this thread soon. Thank you very much for pointing out these mics.
Old 28th February 2020
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jszt1 View Post
Ok, understood I will gain more knowledge and I will come back to this thread soon. Thank you very much for pointing out these mics.
The problem is that you are asking also about our favourite mics and you will maybe get lots of answers. BUT, you then say £500 for 4 mics. Most people on GS use mics that cost at least 500£/$ and many others pay more like $1000 to 3K$ for a mic. It also depends on what you are recording and where. We need a lot more info and, for example if you asked me I would say that for classical music ribbon mic's may be best - but these often cost upwards from $1,000 each.

So more info needed before people can give reasonable advice. (And the space you record in will also matter a lot and also could change the advice on mics).
Old 2nd March 2020
  #5
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I have just posted a reply in a thread with a similar question.
Old 2nd March 2020
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jszt1 View Post
[. . .] I can use max 4 mics and my budget is around 500$/€. [. . .] Should I start with better main microphones or should I buy 4 weaker at the same time? [. . .]
Start with a better main pair. . .the best pair you can afford.

Find great sounding rooms to record in.

Invest in microphone stands/support that can position the mics well above the talent.

Read and interact with the wonderfully talented classical recordists on GS.

Find ways to train and trust your ears.


Keep at it. . .rinse and repeat,

Ray H.
Old 2nd March 2020
  #7
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what ray said!

good news is that good gear got relatively affordable and one can indeed get great results using just a single pair of mics, an interface/laptop or handheld recorder!

i suggest you invest in a few mics so you can switch between three to four different mic setups (x/y, ortf, m/s, a/b).

having two more inputs available (for spot mics or for use of all inputs with a multi-capsule array) would further widen your options.
Old 2nd March 2020
  #8
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Papanate's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jszt1 View Post
Hi, I'm new at this forum, and new at recording music. I want to start recording chamber ensemble (around 7 to 10 people) or small orchestra (20-30 people) but my budget is small. I heard, that one of the best option is to use XY configuration and outrigger mics. I can use max 4 mics and my budget is around 500$/€. Has anybody used lewitt's mics? What are ur favorite pair of mics? Should I start with better main microphones or should I buy 4 weaker at the same time? Thank you for all answers.

Some suggestions - Studio Projects C4 matched pair. A SDC mic that hits way above their weight class. The Studio Projects B3 IMO has the best performance per dollar of most of the lower budget LDCs. If it were me I would buy a matched pair of the SP C4s and two SP B3s. If you won't need the Figure 8 or Omni you could get the same capsule in cardiod in the SP B1.

I am not impressed with the Lewitt budget microphones - to my ears they have a harsh rise that peaks out at 8 Khz - and doesn't translate well nor is very smooth above 5 Khz.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
i suggest you invest in a few mics so you can switch between three to four different mic setups (x/y, ortf, m/s, a/b).
In my opinion, XY is absolutely useless as a (single) main pair. It gives absolutely no sense of space and also has too wide SRA for practical distances to the ensemble. What you need is some near-coincident technique.

What I suggest is the DIN method. By the way, I think it is greatly underrated. Unlike ORTF, it does not require measuring some weird angle - just place two cardioid microphones 20 cm between capsules, 90 degrees between axes. Easy to remember, easy to set up. Moreover, the SRA is also 90 degrees, which simplifies calculations. In fact, the SRA of this setup is slightly greater, but if we use the 90 degrees figure the difference will act as a safety margin.

The setup can be as simple as placing the DIN pair at a distance of about L/2 from the ensemble, where L is the width of the ensemble.

But XY also has its use cases. It is benefical to install an XY pair close to the ensemble to augment the main AB pickup. This gives AB better detail. You can think of it as of a very wide Decca Tree with an XY pair in the place of a center microphone.

Last edited by E.C.; 4 weeks ago at 11:16 AM.. Reason: Spelling correction
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
XY is absolutely useless as a (single) main pair. It gives absolutely no sense of space and also has too wide SRA for some practical distances to the ensemble
i fully disagree!

you'd have to ban m/s then too as depending on setup, you get the exact same results as from x/y - just saying...

also, please note that i suggest the op should get an interface/recorder with more than two mic inputs - which could be used in a way you mentioned (modified decca with center x/y)...

... but also for x/y (or nos or ortf) as mains plus an ambient a/b pair, preferably very widely spaced/largely uncorrelated - i MUCH prefer the latter setup on most occasions over a decca!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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See, I'm not impressed with M/S either.

Of course, I've been talking about the absolutely minimalist case of recording an ensemble using the only main pair. For this I will always prefer some spaced technique. When there is a possibility of using more channels, things start to get different.

Generally I find that it is phase difference which gives the recording a sense of space. Coincident techniques (on their own!) sound flat to my ear.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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Quote:
Generally I find that it is phase difference which gives the recording a sense of space.
...as much as spaced techniques lack definition and localisation!

coincident systems have the benefit of that ambient sound can get 'mixed in' while with spaced mics, the room sound is 'baked in'... - pick your poison!

i suggest one does so depending on venue, goals, options, taste and sometimes even genre/repertoire! - which mostly results in setting up two different systems, to be used alternatively/not together in my case.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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Sorry for not answering, my audio interface is audient id44, so I'm not afraid of leak of mic preamps. These Studio Projects seems (and sound) pretty nice IMO. I will take a closer look at them. The room (which is my main recording place) is a concert hall in the music school. This is pretty new room, with nice acoustics, people come from all over Poland and musicians say, that this hall sounds marvelous. The room is pretty high, I hadn't mesure it, but it has like 7-9m. Also there is space for around 250 people.

Edit: I mean, this is enough mic pre's for me right now, someday I will buy Audient ASP800.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
My advice is either stick to your budget and get a pair of LineAudio CM4s and a pair of OM1s; or, amortize your investment over a period of time and get a the nicest pair of microphones you could justify.
If you choose the latter, skip the middle-of-the-road Neumann KM100/Røde etc. and aim for DPA 4000 series, Gefell M900 series, Schoeps, Sennheiser MKH, etc. At that level of investment, you'll have to choose a single polar pattern unless you decide to really go for it and get the few multi-pattern options from those brands. Seriously consider your return on investment. The high-end mics should last you a lifetime. Look at the used market. Don't waste money buying mid-level mics and then waste time and and money selling them to fund ever increasing high-end investments for marginal improvements in audio performance.

My preference is omni. And if I only had a pair of single pattern microphones, they'd definitely be omnidirectional. Probably the DPA4006 or Gefell M221. I've made great recordings in terrible rooms with omni mics. Learn where to put them (it takes time), and be kind and collaborative with the musicians you work with. They'll be more amenable to listening to your suggestions for best arrangement of performers to take advantage of your mic-array and room limitations.

If you do stick to your budget, the LineAudio microphones are truly remarkable for the price. You should be able to make stellar recordings once you learn where to place them.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avillalta View Post
... I've made great recordings in terrible rooms with omni mics. Learn where to put them (it takes time)...
Thanks for the post - really interesting. The use of omnis in lousy rooms is totally counterintuitive. Could you elaborate?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by rmaier View Post
Thanks for the post - really interesting. The use of omnis in lousy rooms is totally counterintuitive. Could you elaborate?
I may well be wrong and do not want to speak for someone else, but he *may* mean close or very close miking. This is what I do with a bad room to get rid of all those unwanted reflections that ruin the sound.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avillalta View Post
My advice is either stick to your budget and get a pair of LineAudio CM4s and a pair of OM1s; or, amortize your investment over a period of time and get a the nicest pair of microphones you could justify.
If you choose the latter, skip the middle-of-the-road Neumann KM100/Røde etc. and aim for DPA 4000 series, Gefell M900 series, Schoeps, Sennheiser MKH, etc. At that level of investment, you'll have to choose a single polar pattern unless you decide to really go for it and get the few multi-pattern options from those brands. Seriously consider your return on investment. The high-end mics should last you a lifetime. Look at the used market. Don't waste money buying mid-level mics and then waste time and and money selling them to fund ever increasing high-end investments for marginal improvements in audio performance.

My preference is omni. And if I only had a pair of single pattern microphones, they'd definitely be omnidirectional. Probably the DPA4006 or Gefell M221. I've made great recordings in terrible rooms with omni mics. Learn where to put them (it takes time), and be kind and collaborative with the musicians you work with. They'll be more amenable to listening to your suggestions for best arrangement of performers to take advantage of your mic-array and room limitations.

If you do stick to your budget, the LineAudio microphones are truly remarkable for the price. You should be able to make stellar recordings once you learn where to place them.
In place of the Gefell M221, I would recommend the Josephson C617. They both use the same Gefell capsule, but
Josephson gets capsules picked for a tighter frequency tolerance (+/- 1dB, 10Hz to 20kHz) vs ( +/- 2dB, 20Hz to 20kHz)
for the Gefell M221. Also the Josephson C617 has a higher sensitivity, 66 mV/Pa, vs
50mV/Pa for the Gefell M221.
The Gefell does come with a 30mm and 40mm sphere whereas the Josephson only has a 40mm sphere as an optional accessory.
I have a pair of 617’s and they sound so good-clean, quiet, incredible transient response, like being there.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lurcher_lover View Post
I may well be wrong and do not want to speak for someone else, but he *may* mean close or very close miking. This is what I do with a bad room to get rid of all those unwanted reflections that ruin the sound.
“Terrible room” is relative, I suppose. But, yes. Get in close enough that direct sound from the source is significantly louder than the room. Then add reverb. If you can’t minimize the room, get out.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avillalta View Post
My advice is either stick to your budget and get a pair of LineAudio CM4s and a pair of OM1s; or, amortize your investment over a period of time and get a the nicest pair of microphones you could justify.
If you choose the latter, skip the middle-of-the-road Neumann KM100/Røde etc. and aim for DPA 4000 series, Gefell M900 series, Schoeps, Sennheiser MKH, etc. At that level of investment, you'll have to choose a single polar pattern unless you decide to really go for it and get the few multi-pattern options from those brands. Seriously consider your return on investment. The high-end mics should last you a lifetime. Look at the used market.
Thank you very much for your advice! I know, that more expensive microphones (usually) live longer (i think that's because people respect them more), but in my situation I can't aford to buy such a microphone :P That idea with pair of CM4 (or Studio Projects C4, i have to think about that) and pair of OM1 sounds great, and I think I will stick to that.

Edit: Also, I want to start doing it professionally but right now i'm in highschool, and i have to work hard to get any money.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jszt1 View Post
... Also, I want to start doing it professionally but right now i'm in highschool, and i have to work hard to get any money.
good for you for taking this on. You will have plenty of time to collect fancy gear...right now concentrate on: 1) a great performance; 2) a good-sounding space; 3) decent mics - Line Audio CM4 or OM1 certainly qualifiy; 4) a recorder that does a 24 bit recording (either of the possible recorders you mention will do). Spend lots of time trying different mic positions and heights during the sound check and set levels to peak around -12 dBFS. Enjoy the performance. Voila - you will produce a recording you will be proud of!

PS: come back here and put up a sample for us to hear.

Last edited by jimjazzdad; 4 weeks ago at 11:14 PM.. Reason: Added PS
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post


PS: come back here and put up a sample for us to hear.
I will It'll take some time, bcs I can only work on holidays but I will share my recordings some day.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jszt1 View Post
... Also, I want to start doing it professionally but right now i'm in highschool, and i have to work hard to get any money.
I made my first stereo recording in 1969, on my father's Wollensak T-1515 tape recorder, during my senior year in high school. His church was just across the street from the school, and that's where the tape recorder resided, along with his pair of Shure UniDyne 565SD microphones. I "borrowed" it and the mics to record the spring concert of my jazz band, in which I held down the coveted position of "bass trombone".

While the tape disappeared several years later during one of my parents' moves while I was in college, and the Wollensak was replaced with a Norelco Cassette (for recording sermons), the microphones remain, currently residing in my SKB mics case with their modern cousins, SM57s and SM58s. The 565s still sound great, and occasionally come out to play.

Most importantly, my love for recording "significant" musical events in and around my life was spawned, and continues to this day. I'm sure when I decide to stop doing audio for pay, I will continue for the love of it. I also still have my first "real" tape machine, purchased in 1975... a (still functional) TEAC A3340S 4-channel multitrack machine, though now I tend to multitrack acoustic concerts through a Midas M32R console (fed by a D.A.V. Broadhurst Gardens 8 channel mic amp) with some pretty nice mics, including a pair of Line Audio CM3s. And it all started in 1969.

Keep up your good work... it's a rewarding passion, for you, and also for those whom you record. Always buy the best mic(s) you can afford. It's all about the transducers.

You'll not be making a mistake with the CM3s. Cheers!

HB
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
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Originally Posted by hbphotoav View Post
...... though now I tend to multitrack acoustic concerts through a Midas M32R console (fed by a D.A.V. Broadhurst Gardens 8 channel mic amp) with some pretty nice mics, including a pair of Line Audio CM3s
Interesting rig Harry...am I right in thinking that there's no onboard USB recording to a thumb drive with the Midas*, that it's USB 2.0 out to a computer instead ?

The Midas promo material (link below) is a little confusing, as it mentions 192KHz ADC/DAC yet for the recording section it seems to max at 44.1 or 48k at 24 bits, but maybe that's just for the full 32 track utilization ?

https://www.midasconsoles.com/Catego.../M32R/p/P0BI9#

* there is a USB thumb drive socket on the top panel, for a stereo recording of the master output..but not for individual multitrack channels ?

Last edited by studer58; 4 weeks ago at 11:23 AM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
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as with most gear from companies under the umbrella of evil b, information and specs are euphemistic if not misleading (to downright wrong): all desks below midas pro series desks/dl series stageboxes run at 48khz.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Interesting rig Harry...am I right in thinking that there's no onboard USB recording to a thumb drive with the Midas*, that it's USB 2.0 out to a computer instead ?

The Midas promo material (link below) is a little confusing, as it mentions 192KHz ADC/DAC yet for the recording section it seems to max at 44.1 or 48k at 24 bits, but maybe that's just for the full 32 track utilization ?

https://www.midasconsoles.com/Catego.../M32R/p/P0BI9#

* there is a USB thumb drive socket on the top panel, for a stereo recording of the master output..but not for individual multitrack channels ?
There are both! The USB port on the face of the console is 44.1/48 only, and you can assign what feeds it. Makes for a nice quick rough when assigned "Main L/R", or when I use the desk to create a "broadcast/podcast" mix at an event. That port is also where you load/save scenes to a drive, and do firmware updates.

The USB/B port on the back of the desk is the tap for multi tracking. I'm still stumbling along in Logic X at 24/48kHz, but it works a treat. Onboard mic amps aren't bad at all... but there's just something about the BG8.

HB
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jszt1 View Post
Edit: Also, I want to start doing it professionally but right now i'm in highschool, and i have to work hard to get any money.
This is an example of what can be done with a near-zero budget:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-giZW-ym9M

This recording was made using Behringer C-2 stereo pair set up in a DIN configuration (20 cm between capsules, 90 degrees between microphone axes) connected to Zoom H4n Pro in four-channel mode (built-in pair active, but unused).

Microphone position can be seen on the footage from a right side camera.

The source file format is 48 kHz 24-bit WAV.

Notice that video was deliberately rendered in HD720p with low bitrate due to technical limitations of the channel. But the audio was set to 256k AAC (although YouTube of course re-encodes it).

Last edited by E.C.; 4 weeks ago at 01:30 PM.. Reason: Clarification
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E.C. View Post
This is an example of what can be done with a near-zero budget:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-giZW-ym9M
WOW! That's amazing recording for that budget! You gave me power
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jszt1 View Post
WOW! That's amazing recording for that budget! You gave me power
Yes, and this leads me to think that a lot of this lust for expensive gear is unnecessary. (Justifiable for professional engineers and anyone making a living from recording).

But will those expensive mics and other gear really make much difference to what many people record? They may lead to a feeling of satisfaction, simply because of the cost, but will the average listener notice any difference? Of course really cheap gear will make it harder to get good results, but middle priced gear (for example mics costing in the range £300 -£700 if used well will do the job very well), and it comes down to the expert use of equipment, and the room accoustics, as well as very good performers, to really make the difference.

(I know some people on GS will come back with "use the best and most expensive equipment and it will last almost for ever ...") If only that were true!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lurcher_lover View Post
Yes, and this leads me to think that a lot of this lust for expensive gear is unnecessary. (Justifiable for professional engineers and anyone making a living from recording).

But will those expensive mics and other gear really make much difference to what many people record? They may lead to a feeling of satisfaction, simply because of the cost, but will the average listener notice any difference? Of course really cheap gear will make it harder to get good results, but middle priced gear (for example mics costing in the range £300 -£700 if used well will do the job very well), and it comes down to the expert use of equipment, and the room accoustics, as well as very good performers, to really make the difference.

(I know some people on GS will come back with "use the best and most expensive equipment and it will last almost for ever ...") If only that were true!
Quality gear is definitely worth it and, especially with microphones and monitors, it's always best to get the best you can afford.

But - like the old adage that a professional photographer can take a superb photograph with a Box Brownie and the man in the street would take a terrible photo with the best kit available - the same is true for recording: a skilled recordist will be able to make a good recording with the most basic of equipment - BUT - he(she) would be able to make a much better recording with the best tools.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jszt1 View Post
WOW! That's amazing recording for that budget! You gave me power
Thanks.

By the way, the background noise you hear comes from the air compressor of the pipe organ. The instrument used is a self-contained unit with the compressor built-in, so, when powered, it emits quite audible noise.

This had cost me about three hours of editing. See, the audience was ignorant enough to applaud after EVERY SINGLE MOVEMENT, and, unfortunately, the church officials were not kind enough to allow me to record a minute of an organ noise after everyone had left the venue to later use as a substitute for applause. You know, one does not simply replace the applause with a digital silence. So I had to seek for a clean piece of noise in a record - the only useful part was approximetely 0.5 seconds long, so then it was necessary to duplicate it to last for some ten seconds, and only then it was possible to edit out the applause using this semi-synthetic substitute.

It is hard (and unnecessary?) to cover everything in one post, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Quote:
and it comes down to the expert use of equipment, and the room accoustics, as well as very good performers, to really make the difference.
Yes, great musicians are the key ingredient to a great recording. So kudos to my friends for all the talent and passion they've put into this performance!

Last edited by E.C.; 3 weeks ago at 10:21 AM.. Reason: Grammar correction
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