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Need advice on recording a cello solo in a concert hall
Old 19th January 2021
  #1
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Need advice for miking cello in a concert hall

Hi guys,

I've been given an opportunity to shoot the video of a solo cello performance in a concert hall.

I would like to get some advice on how I can set up the mics for my shoot. Usually I shoot theatre, where I just tap the audio off the mixer, but this will be my first acoustic classical performance.

I've decided on a pair of omnis, about 40cm apart and about 2-3 feet from the bridge. I've listened to recordings of omnis vs cardioids in halls and I much prefer how the omnis bring out the characteristic of the hall. I take my inspiration from this video where the stereo recording sounds so much fuller. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vykeJnHEYyU

I would like to do 1 more mic, this will give me an additional option during editing and also helps me in my learning process. I will be recording to my Zoom H5.

So, I can....
1) add a mid side mic to my Zoom H5
2) add a AKG P420 (omni preferred?)
3) add a AKG C215 (cardioid only, will this miss out in getting in the characteristic of the hall?)

bonus question: Do people even want the characteristic of the hall?

I'll probably(most definitely) end up spending more money on gear then what I'll making from the shoot, but that's fine. That's what I like about my job, I get to play with new gear and learn new things at the same time. Hopefully this can get me more classical concert shoots in the future.

Thanks!
Old 19th January 2021
  #2
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didier.brest's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by rueyloon ➑️
a solo cello performance in a concert hall.
(...)
I've decided on a pair of omnis, about 40cm apart and about 2-3 feet from the bridge.
Why so close if the acoustics are good ?

Bach cello suites by Jean-Guihen Queyras: omni AB at about 5 feet ?.
Old 19th January 2021
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
Mike M's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
What I would do...

Halls usually have some sort of resonant quality (ring) to them vs auditoriums.

On a stage I'd make sure that the performer is seated closer to the front of the stage ie; in front of the proscenium. This way you will get more natural "hall effect" rather than the sound getting lost in the rafters.

You indicated a solo cello....or is it a solo cellist with piano accompaniment?

I wouldn't mic to closely - have the performer play (he/she will want to warm-up in the space beforehand anyway). At that time you can walk the room and use your ears. Pick one or two locations to place a single mic.

Let the hall do the work for you!!

Once the recording has taken place, if you have any post-take control over the sound portion (EQ, etc.) I would look at rolling back the highs a bit as stringed instruments tend to sound edgy/tinny when amplified/recorded. (To me it does, anyway.)

Once again: Let the hall do the work for you!!
Old 19th January 2021
  #4
Wuf
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Add a stereo pair if the hall is good!
Old 19th January 2021 | Show parent
  #5
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hmm... you would recommend 5 feet?
Old 19th January 2021
  #6
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I just made a recording like this. World-class cellist (that helps!) in a good-sounding (not great) concert hall.

I had three "layers" of mics. A pair of Schoeps Mk22 in the room, in the seats, maybe 30 feet away from the performer, about 12 feet high.

An M/S pair of Schoeps, an Mk8 and an Mk4, just above the lip of the stage to keep them out of the three cameras' frames.

And a Neumann U47 FET on the stage, on a short stand three feet away from the instrument.

In the final mix, I used none of the "room pair", used the M/S pair as my main pair to position the cello in the room and added a touch of the spot mic to add detail.

Worked well.

Sorry I can't add a clip but I don't own this music.

D.
Old 19th January 2021 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Head
I'd say 2-3 feet is the absolute minimum for recording classical cello. At that distance you'll really only get a spot mic, with very little hall sound. If it were me recording (it's not) I might do a single spot mic at around that distance, and then set my stereo pair back 8-10 feet. Adjust to taste.

So maybe try the Zoom MS mic as a spot mic, and then your omni pair a bit further back.
Old 19th January 2021
  #8
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hmm.... no need for a Large diaphragm condenser?
Old 19th January 2021 | Show parent
  #9
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didier.brest's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by didier.brest ➑️
It seems that there is also a pair of TLM 170 at a larger distance for the reverberation (1'26" and 7'00).


Similar positioning of the main AB pair here (4'21''). Its sounds beautiful.

Last edited by didier.brest; 19th January 2021 at 06:32 PM..
Old 19th January 2021 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by didier.brest ➑️
Nice video.

Spacing critical. Two hands width.
https://youtu.be/5QNmbUXXqN8?t=155
Old 19th January 2021 | Show parent
  #11
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by rueyloon ➑️
hmm... you would recommend 5 feet?
Well, that's the spot mics sorted...now to work on the main pair !
Old 19th January 2021
  #12
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Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I really like how she made the sound. Chapel adds its magic. Great player.
Old 19th January 2021
  #13
Gear Maniac
Poll: Are she and I the only ones who use TLM170 as an ambi?
Old 19th January 2021
  #14
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
If you're talking about just recording 1 solo cello in a good concert hall, I really don't think your setup needs to be more complicated than a pair of mics, especially as this is your first foray into a recording of this type.

The things I would be concerned about:

Venue noise (HVAC, external traffic, etc)
Venue acoustics
visual/aesthetic impact with video

If it's a quiet, beautiful hall, and I can hang the mics, I'll probably go with a single pair of omnidirectional mics. A placement like 7' in front of and 7' above the player, spaced 18", would be a good starting place.

If you can't hang, but you have freedom over camera placement (IE it's not a live concert), then you might be able to get away with the same pair on a stand. if the venue has a lot of background noise or isn't pretty-sounding, You might have to use a more directional pair of mics. NOS/ORTF/AB cardioids would all work pretty well here. There is a good argument to be made for just starting with a Straus packet for the flexibility, if you are unsure of exactly what the final setup will need to look like, as cameras and mics are moved before the recording starts.

Worst-case scenario, you can't hang and you can't control camera placement, then maybe a 2-pair setup of low/close directional spots (something like 12-18" spaced, 18-24" off the floor) and room mics might be necessary. The room mics won't be super useful though if the room or audience is noisy or doesn't sound good, in which case a good artificial reverb or two will need to be used to build a room sound.

Some ideas for a room pair would be widely-spaced AB pair (12' apart and 12-15' in the air, omnis or rear-pointed cards 15-20' from the stage), Narrow spaced AB pair (same distance from the stage but spaced 2-3' and 12-15' feet in the air), or rear-facing NOS/ORTF pair (same distance from stage and same height as previous). If the floor is pretty open and empty of feet, a pair of floor mics can also work pretty well for this purpose.

This last setup is not uncommon for video'd live events when hanging isn't an option, and can be quite effective, but it would never be my preferred method. One of the first 2 options listed above will almost always yield a more natural sound and require less post work, which is always my preference.

Last edited by king2070lplaya; 20th January 2021 at 03:10 AM..
Old 20th January 2021
  #15
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
You need to bear in mind what the camera angles will be. The audio has to complement the video, it's not separate. It would be disconcerting for the camera to be close but the sound far away with a lot of hall ambience. Also bear in mind that once recorded room ambience is hard to take out, and even removed it won't sound like a closer-miced cello. Ambience is easy to add with a reverb.
Old 20th January 2021 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Guru
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Klimermonk ➑️
Poll: Are she and I the only ones who use TLM170 as an ambi?
you're not alone!
Old 20th January 2021
  #17
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by rueyloon ➑️
Hi guys,



I'll probably(most definitely) end up spending more money on gear then what I'll making from the shoot, but that's fine. That's what I like about my job, I get to play with new gear and learn new things at the same time. Hopefully this can get me more classical concert shoots in the future.

Thanks!
You might consider renting mics especially if you aren't certain that you will continue to use the same mics over and over.
Old 20th January 2021
  #18
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I discussed cello recording in a prior post:

An introduction to cello recording

From there you can follow another link to my discussion of spot mics for cello.

David L. Rick
(recording engineer and cellist)
Old 20th January 2021 | Show parent
  #19
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Ya, it is a concert hall, 1600 seater. Solo cello, no accompaniment.
Old 20th January 2021 | Show parent
  #20
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tried, could not find in my neck of the woods, most rental houses here stock wireless mics for events.
Old 20th January 2021
  #21
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Any reason why small diaphragms are used instead of large for the room?
Old 20th January 2021
  #22
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NorseHorse's Avatar
Lightbulb

Here's one with two mics:

Attached Thumbnails
Need advice on recording a cello solo in a concert hall-cellosession.jpg  
Old 20th January 2021 | Show parent
  #23
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by rueyloon ➑️
Any reason why small diaphragms are used instead of large for the room?
Small diaphragm mics, directional and omnidirectional, have a more uniform off-axis response (in general) than large diaphragm mics. And since most of the sound captured by room mics is going to be off-axis, this makes them (in general) a better starting place.
Old 20th January 2021
  #24
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I want to mention one caution about using spaced omni techniques for cello. You need to be careful unless you're working in a large hall. In a smaller space, the room's "critical frequency" may be high enough that isolated room modes can cause pressure differences between the two microphones which depend on what note is being played. That can cause the soloist's apparent localization to fly back and forth in a disconcerting fashion. In larger spaces, the critical frequency (aka "Schroeder frequency") is low enough that there are many overlapping modes and this effect does not occur.

You are less likely to hear this in a minimally-reverberant studio setting, but cellists hate playing in such dead spaces.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 20th January 2021 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Guru
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya ➑️
Small diaphragm mics, directional and omnidirectional, have a more uniform off-axis response (in general) than large diaphragm mics. And since most of the sound captured by room mics is going to be off-axis, this makes them (in general) a better starting place.
this - however, if the mics are getting used at large distance (at the rear of the hall), higher self noise of sdc's can become an issue.

another reason why the advantage of sdc's (in terms of colouration from off-axis sound) isn't relevant is when using ambient mics in wide a/b: they behave a dual mono mics and as such will always sound 'coloured': there's a nice example somewhere on the schoeps homepage (in the video dealing with 'stereo sound') how a single mic (sdc) sounds versus a stereo system (sdc's in m/s iirc)...
...so my point is that one will want to adjust their timbre and use some filters anyway; in this case, i rather go with the mic which performs better in term of self noise than with a mic which has a slightly less-coloured off-axis sound.

i'm quite often using the tlm103 for this very reason as distant ambi pair or then the tlm170 or tlm107, the latter two in whatever pattern is suitable/depending on the positioning and room.
Old 21st January 2021
  #26
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🎧 10 years
The self noise of even relatively 'budget' SD mics can be respectably low enough to not be a factor in outweighing their off axis advantages: for example....

https://www.seelectronics.com/se8-mic

What's the noise floor (self noise) of the room they're being used to record in anyway...once you factor in lighting buzz, air-conditioning, traffic intrusion, audience (coughs, program pages turning etc) ?

Better quality SD mics (e.g. Schoeps, Neumann KM, Sennheiser MKH) are likely to have significantly lower self noise than the already ok example above...
Old 21st January 2021 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Guru
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➑️
The self noise of even relatively 'budget' SD mics can be respectably low enough to not be a factor in outweighing their off axis advantages: for example....

https://www.seelectronics.com/se8-mic

What's the noise floor (self noise) of the room they're being used to record in anyway...once you factor in lighting buzz, air-conditioning, traffic intrusion, audience (coughs, program pages turning etc) ?

Better quality SD mics (e.g. Schoeps, Neumann KM, Sennheiser MKH) are likely to have significantly lower self noise than the already ok example above...
the argument that other sources are being more noisy than the mics gets often repeated but imo is missing the point:

noise - any noise - stacks up!

of course there are different sources and forms of noise and not all of them are equally embarrassing but if you can eliminate any, i strongly recommend doing so, especially when using a multitude of mics (and even though noise removal via dsp has become more efficient in the last three decades, artefacts can hardly get avoided and/or it takes way too much time and effort trying to reconstruct the ambient sound via efx, at least for my taste).


___



more on topic: i'm mostly using a single ldc as main mic on solo instruments such as cello, guitar or sax but occasionally add a sdc, pointing to the fingerboard in this case, to get some additional articulation/definition - i'd add a closer and a more distant ambient pair and blend in to taste.
Old 21st January 2021 | Show parent
  #28
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➑️
the argument that other sources are being more noisy than the mics gets often repeated but imo is missing the point:

noise - any noise - stacks up
Sure, no argument there...but then it eventually comes down to what's a minimum acceptable noise floor, for whichever mic you're going to use ?

And then, if you're going to add more mics (than say a single main pair), then their contribution of self noise adds up also...perhaps equalling or exceeding the figure that a single main mic pair contributes ?

You might be better off getting your 'ambience' from a plug-in or hardware effects box...which will contribute less noise than an extra pair of room mics ?
Old 21st January 2021 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Guru
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➑️
Sure, no argument there...but then it eventually comes down to what's a minimum acceptable noise floor, for whichever mic you're going to use ?

And then, if you're going to add more mics (than say a single main pair), then their contribution of self noise adds up also...perhaps equalling or exceeding the figure that a single main mic pair contributes ?

You might be better off getting your 'ambience' from a plug-in or hardware effects box...which will contribute less noise than an extra pair of room mics ?
there's no way around it: the more mics, the more noise...

...and what's acceptable probably depends on the task at hand and how well one does when comparing to reference tracks.

i've adjusted my recording technique to some extent to keep noise low; whenever possile, i'm using a) mics with low self noise, b) mostly directional patterns, c) expanders and d) artificial efx - this goes for most spot mics; no expanders on mains of course and choice of pattern/system depends on various other factors, (crowd) noise being just one of them.

the ambi mics i don't wanna miss though: their signals often feed in to the efx devices but don't get routed to the main bus (or just provide a basis for comparison between 'real' and 'artificial' room).

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 21st January 2021 at 10:31 AM.. Reason: edited once and typo
Old 21st January 2021 | Show parent
  #30
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didier.brest's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➑️
there's no way around it: the more mics, the more noise...


The more signal also...
What matters is the SNR. The SNR of a mix is between the minimum and the maximum SNRs of the tracks (for uncorrelated signals and noises).
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