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Pipe organ recording, any ideas?
Old 16th April 2008
  #1
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Gerax's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Question Pipe organ recording, any ideas?

Hello fellow remoters.

In a few days I'll be recording a gig that's kind of new for me. It will be a pipe organ and several other acoustic instrumenst (I think flute and strings) for a classical/contemporary piece. I'm thinking of handling this my typical way, which would be with a main ORTF pair and spot mics for the instruments, but a pipe organ in a church can be a real monster, so I hope somebody among you has actually recorded one and has some useful tips tips to share on mic selection and placement.

Thanx

L.G.
Old 16th April 2008
  #2
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maestro's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Omnis for low frequencies?

If you have a spare mic or two walk around the church while the organist is playing and find the room sweet spot.

Best of luck with it.
Old 16th April 2008 | Show parent
  #3
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Gerax's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'll look into that. Also, any need for close spot mics on the organ? I once talked to a guy who was an organ music fan and he told me about the several set of pipes the organist could use to achieve different tones. How about that?

Thanx for the reply

L.G.
Old 16th April 2008 | Show parent
  #4
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John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Smile

I would use a pair of MKH 8020 (or MKH 20) on the organ, both would get the bottom end of the organ beautifully (8020 goes down to 10Hz and the 20 to 12Hz).

Listen to how the organ drives the room before placing them - you may also want to consider a Jecklin disk for them.
Old 16th April 2008 | Show parent
  #5
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerax ➑️
I'll look into that. Also, any need for close spot mics on the organ? I once talked to a guy who was an organ music fan and he told me about the several set of pipes the organist could use to achieve different tones. How about that?

Thanx for the reply

L.G.
Pipe Organs are normally set up and calibrated to sound best out in the congregation area of the church; the characteristic sound of each stops should come through nicely out there. So unless you were going for a special effect, you probably don't need to spot mic anything.
Old 16th April 2008 | Show parent
  #6
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When I do the pipe organ thing, I set a pair of Earthworks QTC-30's, in ORTF, up about fifteen feet in the air, maybe about twenty or thirty feet back from the pipes.

The whole concept (I think) is that the sound rattles the rafters of the whole room and you get that blooming, overwhelming, force-of-nature thing. Too close to the pipes, you might not get as natural a sound.

With the acoustic players, I'd mike the "zone" around wherever they are-- hopefully they're sitting fairly close together?

And then balance the "organ/room" set with the "spot/zone" set. Sounds like a cool gig!
Old 16th April 2008 | Show parent
  #7
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Corran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
An omni coupled with a ribbon in M-S once yielded me a fantastic organ sound, even in a terrible hall. The bass frequencies were ridiculous.
Old 16th April 2008 | Show parent
  #8
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Jim vanBergen's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The toughest thing I have found is dealing with organ registers in different parts of the church. Listen carefully and discuss with the organist. I truly believe that a good stereo pair is best for organ, but you are right to be concerned about the other instruments- especially for time delay issues! Even in some smaller venues, I have had timing problems between the organist and orchestra.

So...I think you have received some very solid advice, but I would get in touch with the composer (assuming this is the composer's recording) or the artist (if this is THEIR recording) and talk about the way they want the piece percieved. A listener's perspective (classical stereo pair) as we all seemed to initially respond, makes a lot of sense in classical music. But make sure this is their intent. I have done a Philip Glass-type piece with organ in a large church that ended up being all spot miked and very rock and roll in style --not my choice, but the needed perspective for the client & final mix.

Just my $.02, and I bet you end up with your original plan. Good luck, take some pics and let us know how it goes!!

JvB
Old 16th April 2008 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 10 years
a **** load of room mics and overheads? Too bad its not a miniature air valve organ . haha.
Old 16th April 2008 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 10 years
If the flute player and organ are happening at the same time, you might need to mic the flute. Or tap into whatever mic setup is being used by the flute player. Flutes just don't have the same dynamic capabilities of a large organ.

For the organ, room mics should suffice. Unless you plan on micing each pipe individually. As visions of a 1,000 mics, mic stands that stretch all the way to the ceiling, and cables dominating the venue comes to mind. A regular scene from star trek. Or some roswell spoof. Bear in mind that each key triggers several pipes for the notes they generate. With some selectability as to which pipes get activated at the keyboard. And there's more than one keyboard on most of them. You probably want to stick with room mics. Although there are smaller versions that you could mic the speaker cab of like you would a guitar. But I've never seen any of those outside of a practice room or house.
Old 16th April 2008 | Show parent
  #11
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Gerax's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thanx everybody for the replys and ideas. What you've said kind of reinforces the idea I had about placement and distance. According to this I'll almost certainly stick with the approach I talked about in the beginning, which is how I always start these kind of classical/acoustic gigs, and move stands around as necessary. Hope I can get a good coverage and enough isolation for spot mics on solo instruments. I've yet to check out the room we'll be recording in, and unfortunately I won't be able to 'till recording time, as I'm currently on another project...I'm crossing fingers about that.
As for mics, my main ORTF pair is KM184, spot mics range from DPA 4060 to Audio Technica 40 serie, or BLUE Baby Bottle.

I'll try to take some pics of the gig and I'll eventually post some sample once the project is finished (it'll take a few days as they want to go thru all the recorded material and then start editing which I'll be doing later).

Thanx

L.G.
Old 16th April 2008 | Show parent
  #12
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hughesmr's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I do organ and instruments all the time. The room is the dictating factor. Do NOT close mic the organ, as it's not voiced to be heard from right up on the facade. The capture of the room's ambience is ABSOLUTELY necessary for bringing the sound of the instrument together. There is no formula for placement, only good judgment by LISTENING on site for achieving good balance of both clarity and room capture. A/B omnis are usually the first choice for your main pickup.

After you get your mains placed for good capture of the organ, THEN listen to the instrumentalists. If they need a little help with clarity, add some subtle spots as needed. Using more directional mic for spots is fine.

Good luck. Recording the "king" of instruments well is always a challenge, but when done well, is extremely rewarding!
Old 18th April 2008 | Show parent
  #13
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson ➑️
When I do the pipe organ thing, I set a pair of Earthworks QTC-30's, in ORTF, up about fifteen feet in the air, maybe about twenty or thirty feet back from the pipes.

The whole concept (I think) is that the sound rattles the rafters of the whole room and you get that blooming, overwhelming, force-of-nature thing. Too close to the pipes, you might not get as natural a sound.

With the acoustic players, I'd mike the "zone" around wherever they are-- hopefully they're sitting fairly close together?

And then balance the "organ/room" set with the "spot/zone" set. Sounds like a cool gig!
Joel, I thought ORTF was for cardiod directional mics. I also have some matched omnis and never considered using them in an ORTF array.
Old 18th April 2008 | Show parent
  #14
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🎧 15 years
ORTF is for directional mics... Put too omnis close together in a diffuse field and you get basically mono...

I do this all the time as well. The treatment of the organ completely depends on the music and the room. Some instruments work well just bleeding into the "instrument" mics. I'll put up a coincident pair plus flanks with a spot or two and the organ sounds great. Other rooms, I mic the instruments and then a pair of spaced omnis is put up high in the room. In my case, usually the omnis are DPA 4006 mics, but just about anything will do. One thing to listen for is making sure that the brilliance of the instrument is preserved. When I use the DPAs, I usually put on the black grids. If I use my Schoeps MK2 mics, I'll eq the top up a touch...

--Ben
Old 18th April 2008 | Show parent
  #15
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick ➑️
Joel, I thought ORTF was for cardiod directional mics. I also have some matched omnis and never considered using them in an ORTF array.
I would generally agree with this point, however, the QTC 30/40/50 mics are a bit different. I have used QTC 40s in an ORTF setup before and they do function as mostly as you would expect an ORTF pair would, with exception of the big wonderful omni low end. I would have never thought to do such a thing, but it is recommended in the product literature that came with the mics so I thought I'd experiment with it. Suprising results.
Old 19th April 2008 | Show parent
  #16
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 5flagsaudio ➑️
I would generally agree with this point, however, the QTC 30/40/50 mics are a bit different. I have used QTC 40s in an ORTF setup before and they do function as mostly as you would expect an ORTF pair would, with exception of the big wonderful omni low end. I would have never thought to do such a thing, but it is recommended in the product literature that came with the mics so I thought I'd experiment with it. Suprising results.
I'd bet the literature suggests that kind of technique close to an instrument so you'll get some stereo out of it.

I use several omni pairs including QTC-40s. I would not use any of them --as Ben says-- "in a diffuse field" else you'll "get basically mono..."

To pick up a whole room AB is better, a spaced array, or at least use a Jecklin or Schneider disk to get separation.

My most frequent omni setup is matched Josephson C617s on a Schneider disk. Tomorrow night I'll record an orchestra that way (as omni mains in front) with a 140 member choir behind the orchestra captured by matched Schoeps MK41s in ORTF. A few spots will be in there too.
Old 19th April 2008 | Show parent
  #17
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Corran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Earthworks actually suggests to even try X/Y with their omni mics. I'm very interested to try this on an orchestra/band recording. I'm not sure what the physics is behind it, but I'm sure the EW mics are a little different than other omnis.
Old 19th April 2008 | Show parent
  #18
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cppi's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I did a documentary of pipe organ recordings for the British and French Organ Society in France at the St. Sulpice Cathedral with David Roth. If this is for the Artist you might want to oddly get his/her perspective from the organ platform. I got many stereo tracks (near, far, cards, omnis, ribbons, everything imaginable) all over the cathedral to cover different room perspectives so they could have different ambience/perspective tracks. From a listeners perspective you could mix to taste, from the players perspective it always sounded to roomy for the player. The player hears the organ differently, this may or may not be the case but ask what the end result is going to be. Organ geeks are a different breed!!
Old 19th April 2008 | Show parent
  #19
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran ➑️
Earthworks actually suggests to even try X/Y with their omni mics. I'm very interested to try this on an orchestra/band recording. I'm not sure what the physics is behind it, but I'm sure the EW mics are a little different than other omnis.
If this thread was about drum kit recording I'd shut up.

Small capsule omnis in ORTF or XY deliver very little amplitude stereo information if they are a main pair that's near or outside of critical distance. That's why people use Jecklin and Scheider discs.

The only literature I could find on the Earthworks "recommendation" was a 1996 EQ mag review in which the reviewer says Bruce Swedien used Neumann M49s in an X-Y array over the drum kit. M49s are not 1/4". They're variable pattern LDCs with much more directionality at high frequencies than SDC omnis.

I'm sure that the Earthworks mics can make a drum kit sound great in a similar pattern because two uncoupled transducers are more interesting than one. So I can't disagree with such a technique over drums in a rock mix or close to sources.

It's just not a useful method for acoustic ensembles and organs. A more distinct LR amplitude stereo difference is needed from the main pair.
Old 19th April 2008 | Show parent
  #20
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cppi ➑️
I did a documentary of pipe organ recordings for the British and French Organ Society in France at the St. Sulpice Cathedral with David Roth. If this is for the Artist you might want to oddly get his/her perspective from the organ platform. I got many stereo tracks (near, far, cards, omnis, ribbons, everything imaginable) all over the cathedral to cover different room perspectives so they could have different ambience/perspective tracks. From a listeners perspective you could mix to taste, from the players perspective it always sounded to roomy for the player. The player hears the organ differently, this may or may not be the case but ask what the end result is going to be. Organ geeks are a different breed!!
I agree. The organists I've recorded like to hear the voice of individual pipes. In my experience most acoustic musicians like to hear things a bit drier than mid-hall.
Old 19th April 2008 | Show parent
  #21
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joelpatterson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick ➑️
... It's just not a useful method for acoustic ensembles and organs....
What I love about this forum is the wide variety of successful approaches that people employ to get great results.

It might seem counter-intuitive or non-intuitive or anti-intuitive to use two omni's in an ORTF configuration, but the results are glorious. Having this bobbing over the conductor's head, about three or four feet back, is a fool-proof way to get an accurate, stunningly life-like "picture" of whatever the conductor's looking at.

Look, I know this-- and I am a fool.
Old 19th April 2008 | Show parent
  #22
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson ➑️
What I love about this forum is the wide variety of successful approaches that people employ to get great results.

It might seem counter-intuitive or non-intuitive or anti-intuitive to use two omni's in an ORTF configuration, but the results are glorious. Having this bobbing over the conductor's head, about three or four feet back, is a fool-proof way to get an accurate, stunningly life-like "picture" of whatever the conductor's looking at.

Look, I know this-- and I am a fool.
Joel,

I tend to trust 30yrs of experience, though I'm still learning. Large cap omnis like some DPAs and Neumanns make sense to me. Earthworks omnis, on the other hand, being as non-directional as could be, make less sense in ORTF.

I'd love to hear an organ or large ensemble recording with matched SDC omnis, capsules 17cm apart. Got any clips you can share?
Old 19th April 2008 | Show parent
  #23
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hughesmr's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cppi ➑️
I did a documentary of pipe organ recordings for the British and French Organ Society in France at the St. Sulpice Cathedral with David Roth. If this is for the Artist you might want to oddly get his/her perspective from the organ platform. I got many stereo tracks (near, far, cards, omnis, ribbons, everything imaginable) all over the cathedral to cover different room perspectives so they could have different ambience/perspective tracks. From a listeners perspective you could mix to taste, from the players perspective it always sounded to roomy for the player. The player hears the organ differently, this may or may not be the case but ask what the end result is going to be. Organ geeks are a different breed!!
Couple of minor corrections:

[1] St Sulpice in Paris is not a cathedral, but rather a (large) parish church.

[2] The titular organist at St Sulpice is Danel Roth. David Roth sang with Van Halen. heh

Was your project for Christina Harmon (French Organ Music Seminar chair)? I went on her tours there in '93, '95 and '97.
Old 20th April 2008 | Show parent
  #24
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joelpatterson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick ➑️
J... Got any clips you can share?
I do indeed... (that sounded like a W.C. Fields impersonation for a second...)


Has anyone fixed the MP3 upload option yet?
Old 20th April 2008 | Show parent
  #25
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joelpatterson's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
Here goes nuttin'...

Rats!....


11 "Saul's Camp" from King David_Honegger.mp3:
Upload of file failed.



Well, I guess that doesn't prove anything then.



Edit: I would refer the curious to post #42 of this thread...
Old 20th April 2008 | Show parent
  #26
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Corran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Actually the suggestion of X-Y is actually in the Earthworks manual. I haven't tried it (I only have one EW right now) but it seems some have used omnis in ORTF fine. I'll just try it and see when I get another EW
Old 20th April 2008
  #27
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Gerax's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Wow, this thread got long in these two days...I haven't had the time to check it out, as I was holed up the Tuscany hills for this session, and hard at work in the studio yesterday for some editing.
Anyways: here are some pictures of the gig. Unfortunately they are quite low res, as I was so in a hurry that I forgot my digital camera, and had to take them with my cell phone. I'll try to take better shots next time, as we've scheduled a second session for more material to be recorded. As I hope you'll see in te pics the organ was in quite an uneasy position: it was on a balcony 5m high, with only 1m of clearance from the organ to the balcony's lip. I haven't been informed of this so my usual boom stand coluldn't get that high from the ground. The sound I was getting from that position was too much confused and unfocused. I had to put the boom stand up on the balcony, and point it outward, 2m, with the mics aiming back at the organ pipes in an ORTF position (Km 184). I also had to anchor the mic stand to the balcony's floor with two nails and iron wire as the mics and boom arm were too far in the air with most of the wight outside. The flute was on the balcony as well, so close the the organ that a spot mic was useless. I think I got a good balance of direct sound from the organ and flute and natural reverb from the back of the church. At first I was a bit concerned with the noise of the mechanics of the organ, but the chappel maister told me it was "how it should sound" as that kind of organ (with more than 800 pipes and lots of possible tones and combinations) has that peculiar sound.

I'll be updating this thread with some samples as long as I have the editing completed and the approval from the client.

Stay tuned

Old 21st April 2008 | Show parent
  #28
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sonare's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
In my experience the two essential accessories for recording organs are a stand that goes up 22 feet (the JTL Black Tower) and with the AEA extension another 15 feet, and a 1m stereo bar. In a normal church acoustic you will get an appropriate sense of space and openess with omnis at this distance-- and with organ pin-point imaging is not a plus.

You definitely want to get up at least 15ft to avoid floor reflections. As noted earlier, the direct sound should be more prominent than diffuse sound-- how much so is a matter of taste.

Rich
Old 21st April 2008 | Show parent
  #29
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran ➑️
Actually the suggestion of X-Y is actually in the Earthworks manual. I haven't tried it (I only have one EW right now) but it seems some have used omnis in ORTF fine. I'll just try it and see when I get another EW
I teach recording engineering at a respectable university and I can't help but correct the misinformation flowing on this subject -- young recording engineers are going to read GS and believe it.

The formal definition of ORTF given by its inventor deserves some respect. You can align microphone bodies at 110 degrees and space their capsules 17cm apart like an ORTF array, but it it's only ORTF if the microphones are cardiod.

Placing omnis close to a source like an acoustic guitar can sound great, but it's worth noting that the stereo image will result more from capsule spacing than the angle of incidence; with omnis it's really an AB method that just looks like ORTF.

XY is less formal; you can cross any two mics, I suppose, and call it XY, although cardiod mics have the directional characteristics needed to make both array types, ORTF and XY, reliable methods to capture a stereo sound stage.
Old 21st April 2008 | Show parent
  #30
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d_fu's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Sorry to chime in late, but the idea of recording an organ without omnis (pressure transducers) strikes me as odd - you lose so much bass it isn't funny...

Depends on the repertoire up to a point, of course, but I would not use ORTF only on an organ. On one occasion, we had a parallel AB and ORTF setup in a concert with choir and organ (in an extremely reverberant cathedral), then decided that the ORTF was a bit nicer, but added bass from the AB setup (low pass filtered around 100 Hz). Makes a significant difference, also musically... A "De Profundis" without those extremely low bass notes just doesn't quite sound right... Will post a sample, if you want... Do take along that 4060 next time, even if it's just for bass.


Apart from that, I've also used setups with the stand on the balcony and a boom facing away from the instrument. Sometimes I've set up an extra pair of omnis somewhere in the church for extra ambience.


Daniel
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