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Recording an orchestra in a wide room
Old 26th April 2020
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Recording an orchestra in a wide room

Hi all,

I have to make an orchestral recording in a wide, but not so deep room.
The dimensions are: 20m/66ft wide, 8m/26ft deep, 7m/23ft high.
The reverberation time is quite short.
What microphone arrangement would you use, so that the sound image is not too wide and to give some depth perception?

If I insist on decca tree, how would you set it up?
I have five Schoeps MK2s.

I have possibility to use spot microphones but I would like to avoid using them too much.

Thank you very much for any suggestions!
Tom
Old 26th April 2020
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

Here are some photos of the room.
On the first one, you can see the temporary decca I tried.
There was too extreme left/right separation in the sound.
Attached Thumbnails
Recording an orchestra in a wide room-492a78fa-2ae8-47e1-906e-875bbdcf5b6d_1_105_c.jpeg   Recording an orchestra in a wide room-e9fdb8fb-f6bd-4092-8eaa-4c07f62e0ae4_1_105_c.jpeg   Recording an orchestra in a wide room-6d160e70-0b93-4930-beba-e7fdfcc8031f_1_105_c.jpeg  
Old 26th April 2020
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt View Post
Here are some photos of the room.
On the first one, you can see the temporary decca I tried.
There was too extreme left/right separation in the sound.
This room is just too small for an orchestra, I would forget about omnis, record with cardioids, getting the least room sound as possible and adding reverb later.
Old 26th April 2020
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt View Post
Here are some photos of the room.
On the first one, you can see the temporary decca I tried.
There was too extreme left/right separation in the sound.
if using a decca tree, i'm pretty sure i wouldn't like the l/r mics being this close to a reflective wall - i'd go higher.

and i guess that - if being forced to record an orchestra in this room which is simply too small - i'd either base my mix on spots or then use a m/s (or ortf) as center system plus two directional 'flankers' for a very wide l/C/r; i'd position stands for the main mics on the balcony.
Old 26th April 2020
  #5
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt View Post
Here are some photos of the room. [. . .]
OUCH! Clearly way out of my depth!

Wondering about social distancing, though?


Stay safe,

Ray H.
Old 26th April 2020
  #6
Lives for gear
That's not a room, that's an orchestra pit .....like they employ for opera ! Well, not quite....but not too far from it. You could do well by employing similar techniques to recording an orchestra in a pit. These you'll often find with carpeting up the side walls, to absorb reflections for the players.

Your Decca Tree, I can see the T array above the conductor...but a Decca Tree is actually a 5 mic array, where are your flank or outrigger pair ? In the pictured case they would be vital for capturing the width of the ensemble, so I'd advise incorporating these as well...otherwise you risk getting a very centric-heavy recording.

Your 3 mic tree is also too low, and you could even consider raising it to the height of the top handrail of the guard fence upstairs. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the complete orchestral sound 'floats upward' quit a lot, and that is how a regular orchestra pit works also...simultaneously muting some of the sharp attacks to give the singers a chance to predominate.

See how high you can raise your mics to the upper level before the sound becomes indistinct, and then perhaps lower them from there a little. The guard rail situation upstairs affords you a unique and convenient spot miking opportunity, as you could run several nylon ropes across the top, attach mic cables and mics to these and suspend the spot mics above the players or sections that require these. If you wanted adjustability of height you could even attach small pulleys at intervals along the ropes, and run your mic cables through these. However, given the curtailed from to back depth of the orchestra, you may not require spots at all ?

As gonzalo mentions, cardioid mics might permit you to go higher with less ambience contribution from the 'upper deck' ...but then again, that might be exactly what is necessary to give your recording the spaciousness it needs, without recourse to artificial reverb.

In some ways, if you simply adopt the mic stand height recommendations for a regular orchestral room with Decca Tree (9.0-10.5 feet above lower floor level) you might be surprised at how closely the 'upper room' functions for you as your ambience chamber. If it's possible to apply some selective damping to the walls surrounding the players (eg heavy drape material hung from curtain rods), they might thank you for it...if they are currently bombarded by a cloud of dense early reflections ? I see there are red curtains down there already....these might help a lot if drawn closed ?

An alternative to the Decca Tree could be a single central ORTF pair above the conductor, at top fence rail height or higher...angled down at the rear row of players, supplemented by a wider pair of either Omni or sub-cardioid outrigger flanks ...as per Decca Tree usage of these

As Ray H says, clearly in violation of current social distancing criteria now....even if the air-con units had industrial grade coronavirus filter pads fitted (lame joke !)

Since your photos show the Tree in place, are you able to supply an audio sample here of what you've recorded already, as that might give some clues as to further suggestions...based on these ?

Last edited by studer58; 26th April 2020 at 02:04 PM..
Old 26th April 2020
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

Thank you very much for your replies!
The room is fairly dry, there are no annoying early reflections at all.
The pictures I attached, are almost 2 years old. In these "social distance times" every musician is at home.
I will attache an old recording with these setup soon.

Tom
Old 26th April 2020
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
As gonzalo mentions, cardioid mics might permit you to go higher with less ambience contribution from the 'upper deck' ...but then again, that might be exactly what is necessary to give your recording the spaciousness it needs, without recourse to artificial reverb.
I don't have cardioids but the MK2s, but I have KA40 sphere attachments for them. Using the spheres maybe it is better, when I go higher with the decca.
Old 26th April 2020
  #9
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt View Post
I don't have cardioids but the MK2s, but I have KA40 sphere attachments for them. Using the spheres maybe it is better, when I go higher with the decca.
Yes, the spheres will give you some helpful directionality, almost cardioid-like, at least at high frequencies. A perfectly valid alternative to a 3 mic Tree (in the centre) is a 2 mic AB pair ...experiment with spacing of 46-67cms....while retaining the outrigger or flanking pair as outlined earlier
Old 26th April 2020
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
there are no annoying early reflections at all.
Quote:
There was too extreme left/right separation in the sound.
i suspect the exaggerated l/r separation stems from the l/r mics being too close to the wall: early reflection may not need to become annoying but they can enhance directional cues...

...and of course you could use an a/b pair in the center with whatever flankers but you'll get a vastly different soundfield than from a l/c/r system using a single (decca), a coincident (m/s) or close-to-coincident (ortf) center mic.

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 26th April 2020 at 06:37 PM.. Reason: p.s. added, edited by mod, then deleted by me
Old 26th April 2020
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt View Post
Here are some photos of the room.
On the first one, you can see the temporary decca I tried.
There was too extreme left/right separation in the sound.
Is this Miskolc Symphony Orchestra rehearsal hall?

Regards,
Norm
Old 26th April 2020
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Yes, it is.
Do you know it?
Old 27th April 2020
  #13
Yes, I was there to study conducting with Prof.Yuri Simonov, kindly hosted by Miskolc orchestra long time ago.
Must be 1998 or so.
Nice memories

Very difficult to record there, in my opinion..

Norm
Old 27th April 2020
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post

Very difficult to record there, in my opinion..

Norm
Yes, it is. And I don't have too many experience, and opportunities to experiment. That's why, I'm asking, how to try.
Old 27th April 2020
  #15
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Plush's Avatar
There one will always get the "small room sound."

Abandon that place for any quality recording.

OK for amateur captures to hear quality of playing.
Old 27th April 2020
  #16
Obviously, this is not an ideal place to record (nor rehearse, for that matter!). But hey, it's a challenge!

In my experience, you should definitely use omnis for "mains", and you might even get a decent sound if you are able to position them above the orchestra and over the side walls (balcony level), avoiding the early reflection mess.

You will, for sure, have to use a lot of spots as well and balance that with the omni mains. With the tight seating arrangement, this might be tricky, though.

Enjoy!

Dirk
Old 27th April 2020
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Thank you, I will try it!
Old 27th April 2020
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Here you can hear a decca tree recording with the setup, shown on the pictures above.
This is just the 3 microphones without any process.

https://soundcloud.com/tam-sk-roly/t...-09-20/s-JLQ6e
Old 27th April 2020
  #19
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tourtelot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
if using a decca tree, i'm pretty sure i wouldn't like the l/r mics being this close to a reflective wall - i'd go higher.

and i guess that - if being forced to record an orchestra in this room which is simply too small - i'd either base my mix on spots or then use a m/s (or ortf) as center system plus two directional 'flankers' for a very wide l/C/r; i'd position stands for the main mics on the balcony.
This! Just like in an orchestra pit.

D.

Sorry. Didn't read down to see Studer's good post.
Old 27th April 2020
  #20
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt View Post
Here you can hear a decca tree recording with the setup, shown on the pictures above.
This is just the 3 microphones without any process.

https://soundcloud.com/tam-sk-roly/t...-09-20/s-JLQ6e
Oy. That's one bad sounding room.

The thing about a Decca Tree is that it's very good at showing you the quality of the room. It lets you hear just how great a great room sounds, and just how bad a bad room sounds. It is not your friend here.

What I suggest here is to capture as little of the sound of the room as possible. I'd be looking to multi-mic the heck out of it, and planning for longer than normal post processing sessions.
Old 27th April 2020
  #21
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tourtelot's Avatar
Is there no other place to record? Are these just archives of orchestra rehearsals? What a weird space to rehearse. Can't even sound good sitting in the orchestra. What does the performance space look like?

D.
Old 27th April 2020
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Is there no other place to record? Are these just archives of orchestra rehearsals? What a weird space to rehearse. Can't even sound good sitting in the orchestra. What does the performance space look like?

D.
I have to make some records here, because we don't have other possibilities.
The performance space is ok, but very expensive for these recordings.
I have to get the most out of this.
Old 27th April 2020
  #23
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tourtelot's Avatar
Ah, got it! Good luck.

D.
Old 27th April 2020
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtf View Post
Obviously, this is not an ideal place to record (nor rehearse, for that matter!). But hey, it's a challenge!

In my experience, you should definitely use omnis for "mains", and you might even get a decent sound if you are able to position them above the orchestra and over the side walls (balcony level), avoiding the early reflection mess.

You will, for sure, have to use a lot of spots as well and balance that with the omni mains. With the tight seating arrangement, this might be tricky, though.

Enjoy!

Dirk
...while my point is to better NOT use omnis as mains (and no decca either) in a room which has a poor ratio between direct, reflected and diffuse sound:

i'd use directional mics to get as little as possible room sound and to avoid some of the early reflections coming from the nearby walls. if setting up any omnis, i'd use them as ambis and position them as far away as possible from the pit - but only to get a reference and then replace the presumably less-than-satisfying room sound with efx.

is there an option to have a curtain along the front wall to reduce some of the early reflections? again, it's relatively simple to add efx while mixing but no way of getting rid of it if there's too much (in relation to the direct sound).

___


however, i haven't been in this venue and my suggestions are based but on the pics - could well be that flying the main mic system much higher would yield a bit better results?!

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 2 weeks ago at 01:08 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 28th April 2020
  #25
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt View Post
Here you can hear a decca tree recording with the setup, shown on the pictures above.
This is just the 3 microphones without any process.

https://soundcloud.com/tam-sk-roly/t...-09-20/s-JLQ6e
The space is actually a ballroom....dancers go downstairs, dance band goes upstairs in oval formation

Even with your tree recording linked here, it still sounds dry, so no advantage in using omnis. Still, do try again...with higher mics as I suggested above....

If that doesn't improve things, try closer cardioid mics as deedeeyeah suggests...and use the directionality to wrest a lot more strings sound back from the overpowering brass, and then add reverb as necessary. A combination of a higher central ORTF main pair with 4 overhead (from upper balcony) mics for the strings, and spots for other instruments not picked up by the main pair.

It's a hard space to work in, but maybe a combination of carefully placed spot mics can correct the imbalances to some degree ?
Old 28th April 2020
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Thank you very much, for your suggestions!
I will try them, and I will share my next recording here. (after the virus)
Thank you!
Old 29th April 2020
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt View Post
Here you can hear a decca tree recording with the setup, shown on the pictures above.
This is just the 3 microphones without any process.

https://soundcloud.com/tam-sk-roly/t...-09-20/s-JLQ6e
Thanks, very helpful. I am surprised about how usable it sounds - it's not even as bad as I thought. I suspect that the ceiling helps a lot. The orchestra also plays well in this acoustic, which often is NOT the case in rehearsal spaces.

Contrary to most others here (I assume), I actually had to record much larger ensembles in much worse rooms for commercial releases. This is where recording becomes interesting. Or, let's rather say, "interesting".

My experience: The only way you will get good results is in consistently using cardioids et. al. for each section and add the mains to this, as well as artificial reverb. Obviously, using just mains will not work, so it becomes a matter of balancing these layers of direct sound, early reflections and reverb.

If I'd be in the neighbourhood, I would actually enjoy coming by to help a hand.

Good luck!

Dirk
Old 29th April 2020
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtf View Post
Thanks, very helpful. I am surprised about how usable it sounds - it's not even as bad as I thought. I suspect that the ceiling helps a lot. The orchestra also plays well in this acoustic, which often is NOT the case in rehearsal spaces.

Contrary to most others here (I assume), I actually had to record much larger ensembles in much worse rooms for commercial releases. This is where recording becomes interesting. Or, let's rather say, "interesting".

My experience: The only way you will get good results is in consistently using cardioids et. al. for each section and add the mains to this, as well as artificial reverb. Obviously, using just mains will not work, so it becomes a matter of balancing these layers of direct sound, early reflections and reverb.

If I'd be in the neighbourhood, I would actually enjoy coming by to help a hand.

Good luck!

Dirk
Thanks a lot!

I will try to get the best out of the situation and share the results.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #29
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt View Post
Here are some photos of the room.
On the first one, you can see the temporary decca I tried.
There was too extreme left/right separation in the sound.
You've no leeway here to rig an ideal stereo main pair, I can't see any advantage to recording in this room, only disadvantages.

Sometimes you get pressure from the people you're recording because of the hall being convenient or not costing, but it's fools gold as far as obtaining a good recording goes. They often don't understand, and may not even have the advantage of listening to good recordings on decent equipment to make a comparative judgement. It's awkward because you can come across as being fussy - which is the way you have every right to be.

I was invited to look at a room very similar in shape to this, but without the overhead space, I rejected it because of all the problems that would have ensued in trying to make a good recording. You're basically at the mercy of the room!

My decision was also helped as there were two flights of stairs to scale with the gear to get to the room!!

Obviously, if you're going to set up mics you'll get some kind of recording, but it won't be as good as it might be if you recorded in a really suitable room.

It's a "too many problems" kind of hall, and your abilities will be judged on what is produced, that's the problem.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #30
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Poulton View Post
You've no leeway here to rig an ideal stereo main pair, I can't see any advantage to recording in this room, only disadvantages.

Sometimes you get pressure from the people you're recording because of the hall being convenient or not costing, but it's fools gold as far as obtaining a good recording goes. They often don't understand, and may not even have the advantage of listening to good recordings on decent equipment to make a comparative judgement. It's awkward because you can come across as being fussy - which is the way you have every right to be.

I was invited to look at a room very similar in shape to this, but without the overhead space, I rejected it because of all the problems that would have ensued in trying to make a good recording. You're basically at the mercy of the room!

My decision was also helped as there were two flights of stairs to scale with the gear to get to the room!!

Obviously, if you're going to set up mics you'll get some kind of recording, but it won't be as good as it might be if you recorded in a really suitable room.

It's a "too many problems" kind of hall, and your abilities will be judged on what is produced, that's the problem.
This has already been addressed in the thread; its a no-option situation. The challenge is how to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear...

Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Is there no other place to record? Are these just archives of orchestra rehearsals? What a weird space to rehearse. Can't even sound good sitting in the orchestra. What does the performance space look like?

D.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt View Post
I have to make some records here, because we don't have other possibilities.
The performance space is ok, but very expensive for these recordings.
I have to get the most out of this.
Unfortunately it makes for a lot more work - lots of directional, close mics and then trying to re-create a sense of a decent space with 'verb and other tropes.
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