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Harpsichord in a big church
Old 8th May 2006
  #1
Talking Harpsichord in a big church

I'm about to record a solo Harpsichord in a church that is quite big...hmm i don't know the exact dimension but it has to be something like 15m x 30m and quite high as well
anyway if you think this is important I could go and mesure a little closer

I was there and the thing is the reverb decay is quite long, so when in faster passagis it can become quite mixed, but it is a celan reverb, meaning not very warm

and because it is quite a big place the lid would have not to be removed but like 60° or I don't know how much it is so that the public gets the sound better

so my question is essentially how do I mic that? I want it stereo of course
and is there an optimal position for the instrument to be? I know there should but , we won't have all day to experiment :( the shape inside is standard, with a half circle and a rectangle

if you could give me a few pointers as to what I should try, it will make me gain a lot of time

also at one point there will be a singer accompanying for one piece that will stand just in front of the harpsichord (close to where the curve on the instrument is), so this is also to be considered

I have almost no experience in this domain so your help is welcome and very appreciated!

p.s. I have no omnis, but if you think this yould require I might rent some
Old 8th May 2006
  #2


If you have faith in the group who is setting up the concert, you should do an ORTF stereo recording about 2-3m high in the center about the 4th row.

If you have extra channels, you might put a spaced pair of mics on the Harpsicord (cardioids are fine) about a foot away and 3 feet apart. Add a spot mic for the singer and a couple more for ambience. Then you can mix it later.




-tINY

Old 9th May 2006 | Show parent
  #3
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T.RayBullard's Avatar
 

you cannot use traditional thinking with harpsichord recordings, it is one of the most difficult instruments to record. If it isnt done well, the insrtument will sound "tinkly" and not pleasing at all. FWIW, I most always use spaced omnis, never coincident/near coincident...

Proceed with caution!

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/Mar0...orecording.asp
Old 9th May 2006 | Show parent
  #4
I wonder if a harpsichord was designed to be played in smaller places!

http://www.anoca.org/harpsichords/in...he_harpsichord
Old 9th May 2006 | Show parent
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules
I wonder if a harpsichord was designed to be played in smaller places!
well actually it was, harpsichord was for musica da camera (chamber music in the living room) and opposes organ which was for musica di chiesa (religious music in churches), but anyway it's clear that the sound in churches is much nicer

tINY so you would suggest putting the mics really far away? hmm as there is allready a lot of ambiance won't I lose some clarity?

[QUOTE=tINY]If you have extra channels, you might put a spaced pair of mics on the Harpsicord (cardioids are fine) about a foot away and 3 feet apart. [/QUOTE=tINY]

if the lid isn't completely open I fail to see how I could do this...

T.RayBullard, you would suggest something like the link you provided, from distance and spacing?


ok , could you listen to this small sample I once recorded and tell me what you think about it?

http://www.darksite.ch/donutsbadtrip/haspi.mp3
Old 9th May 2006 | Show parent
  #6


The idea with the ORTF pair is to put them, essentially, in the best seat in the house.

With the spaced pair, a partially open lid will be fine, you just have to put the mics a bit lower . Put the mics a foot from the open side and about 3 (or more) feet apart. Yes, you will have more plectrum in the left side.





-tINY

Old 9th May 2006 | Show parent
  #7
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
If the harpsicord is place within the orchestra I would place a spot mic on the instrument and blend it in with your main mic setup.

If the Harpsicord is in front of the orchestra (and depending on the music performed) you could use your normal mic setup.
Old 9th May 2006 | Show parent
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T.RayBullard
I most always use spaced omnis, never coincident/near coincident...
I do the opposite of this and use Blumlein if possible on solo harpsichord. There is so much mid-high frequency interference from the harpsichord with any spaced techniques, if you want to relish comb filtering, this is how to hear it.

We have had superb results with Blumlein, because the image is rock solid and there is no comb filtering.

Summarising, my experience is that spaced techniques are great for large spread out sources, orchestra, choir, where as, small ensembles and solo instruments are much better served by coincident techniques.

Try recording solo oboe or clarinet with spaced omnis, you will see where they got the original space invaders sounds from.

Last edited by David Spearritt; 9th May 2006 at 10:07 PM..
Old 9th May 2006 | Show parent
  #9
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Interesting! Spaced omnis have worked beautifully for me, never had any issues*yet* thank God!. I also use spaced omnis with Pipe Organ, and coincident/near coincident with Orchestra, generally. Takes a lot more time to situate spaced pairs, but it works for me. I would never use spaced omnis on a small instrument like clarinet,violin etc..but piano, organ, harpsichord, , the more "spread out" instruments do well with it, at least in the places I record..typically Huge Cathedrals and the like.

This comes without any scientific explanation , just from what my ears like. Admittedly, my ears and approach seem to buck traditional wisdom. heh















Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt
I do the opposite of this and use Blumlein if possible on solo harpsichord. There is so much mid-high frequency interference from the harpsichord with any spaced techniques, if you want to relish comb filtering, this is how to hear it.

We have had superb results with Blumlein, because the image is rock solid and there is no comb filtering.

Summarising, my experience is that spaced techniques are great for large spread out sources, orchestra, choir, where as, small ensembles and solo instruments are much better served by coincident techniques.

Try recording solo oboe or clarinet with spaced omnis, you will see where they got the original space invaders sounds from.
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #10
As a general rule... made to be broken... the closer you are to a sound source, the more clarity you can get out of it. My philosophy... made to be argued with... is that a recording that has real, true-to-life clarity is just going to be inherently more mesmerizing to listen to. And that when the mics are placed well back from the sound source, you kind of get an old record kind of thing--clear and lifelike and essentially kind of vaporous...

Even if your mics are nearly under the lid of the harpsichord, you still get lots of the room, and the more better the room sounds, the better the whole take-- you can't avoid picking up the room, it's not like you could shut it out if you tried.

In any situation, I like to multi-track several pairs of mics and a few spot mics, and sort it all out later. When it comes to crafting a mix of a concert... you really are creating something that didn't exist at the time. Your CD of the show will sound a billion times better than what someone heard in the fourth row.
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #11
thanks for your input, I see that there are a lot of aproaches as usual, I'll try them and ultimately I'll choose what sounds best to me ;o)

I still have a question, but regarding microphones, I've looked around abit for renting some omnis , and in my area there is almost no renting, so the only brands are akg, sennheiser and shure...would you recommend one mic?

hmm maybe i should try and ask the studio guys in my area if they could rent me their shoeps or neumann =P
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #12
I'd go for the most expensive omni's you could beg, borrow or steal. Of course, I'm a recent convert to Earthworks... which I feel like finally at long last give me a sound that's not all "microphonic," if you know what I mean.
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #13
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T.RayBullard's Avatar
 

Sennheiser MKH 800 are stunning.
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #14
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Jim Easton's Avatar
 

Teddy,

why not have the musician perform on a casio keyboard and use the harpsichord patch plugged in direct?!?! Hahaaaa


All kidding aside, I would use a pair of UMT70S, one in omni over the right shoulder of the musician and the other mic on card about 18" above the strings at mid point facing the plectrum.

~jim
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #15
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T.RayBullard's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2db
Teddy,

why not have the musician perform on a casio keyboard and use the harpsichord patch plugged in direct?!?! Hahaaaa


All kidding aside, I would use a pair of UMT70S, one in omni over the right shoulder of the musician and the other mic on card about 18" above the strings at mid point facing the plectrum.

~jim
heh

Once i did this pipe-organ in holland and it has no line-out ......
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #16
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For solo keyboard instruments, a spaced pair can work very well as the instrument isn't going to move. I often do piano recordings with a spaced omni pair.

Harpsichord is a b!tch to make sound good. As an instrument, it can get very bright and harsh. Many harpsichords don't have a particularly good sustain to the sound which doesn't help things either. If your room has a long reverb, then things will get muddy fast. In this case, I'll usually mic closer to the instrument, but with a non-directional pair. You can keep the detail of a closer pair, yet still pick up the ambience of the room. Some harpsichords project very well and others don't... You'll just have to listen to the instrument and make a judgement call.

David Spearitt's suggestion of blumlein is great. I'd probably reach for my Royer SF-24 first if I was doing the gig and my AKG 426 a close second. If I were to go omni, I'd probably have them a few feet out and spaced about 3 feet apart or so (no wider, you'll get a hole in the center of the image).

If you use an ORTF pair, just make sure your pair of mics is not too bright. Schoeps, Sennheiser MKH, etc... would be great first choices as they don't have a rising top end at all.

--Ben
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #17
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Yannick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by T.RayBullard
Sennheiser MKH 800 are stunning.
a little off topic : how do MKH800 and MKH80 compare in your experience ? I only know/use MKH20/30/40/80s. Are they really different (I still don't understand why they cost the same)
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by T.RayBullard
Sennheiser MKH 800 are stunning.
Initially...
What pickup pattern would you set them in?
How would you place the mics?

best regards
Lars
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick
how do MKH800 and MKH80 compare in your experience ?
Good question! I've been intrigued by the MKH80/MKH800 for quite some time. The 800 is supposed to have an extra octave into the inaudible range, but is there a difference in the audible range?

best regards
Lars
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #20
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T.RayBullard's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by larsfarm
Initially...
What pickup pattern would you set them in?
How would you place the mics?

best regards
Lars
I used them once on a piano recital..spaced about 1/2 meter..omni

once on a string quartet blumlein, and once on a violin and bouzouki, spaced.omni
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #21
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Remoteness's Avatar
As you may already know, the MKH80 has been discontinued. The MKH800 is the replacement and has a retail value of $ 3100.00 USD. The MKH80 if I'm not mistaken was a lot less expensive then the MKH800.

I never had the opportunity to A/B them but, Duke Markos borrowed a pair of MKH800s to use on an acoustic piano during a live radio broadcast for WBGO-FM. It sounded pretty amazing on piano.

I really "want" a pair of these puppies -- I must be more frugal so I'm going to wait until I "need" them before I buy.
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #22
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The MKH80 is still on their site, maybe it is no longer in production, but there is some stock ?

MKH80 and MKH800 were always the same price here in Belgium, around 2850 euro. You can find MKH800 in Germany for 2777-2990 incl VAT.
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #23
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T.RayBullard's Avatar
 

Good thing I dont Pay VAT. I really want a pair too.
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #24
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick
The MKH80 is still on their site, maybe it is no longer in production, but there is some stock ?

MKH80 and MKH800 were always the same price here in Belgium, around 2850 euro. You can find MKH800 in Germany for 2777-2990 incl VAT.
The MKH80 is not on the SennheiserUSA.com website or listed in the USA dealer price guide.

Maybe it's still available outside of the States while supplies last.

Wow, it's about $500.00 USD above the USA price in euro.
Are you talking 2777-2990 EUR or DEM? And what's the VAT fee nowadays?
If you're talking DEM, that's pretty cheap for that mic.
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #25
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T.RayBullard's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness
The MKH80 is not on the SennheiserUSA.com website or listed in the USA dealer price guide.

Maybe it's still available outside of the States while supplies last.

Wow, it's about $500.00 USD above the USA price in euro.
Are you talking 2777-2990 EUR or DEM? And what's the VAT fee nowadays?
If you're talking DEM, that's pretty cheap for that mic.
Current VAT is 16 percent here in Germany. those are EUR prices, I think.

If you need to save some dough, and dont want to pay VAT...shoot me a pm. I
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Addict
 

Why doesn't anyone respond to the mp3 that I-quality posted ?
I think that would be most helpful for him.
He knows how he recorded it, so if you say "this sounds to direct" or something like that he knows what to change....

I'm no expert but interested in what is good/bad in this example.
For instance i think it sounds good but there's much mechanical noise. Is that normal or is it recorded too close/from a wrong place ?

Hans
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #27
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Yannick's Avatar
 

I found the example to be too much L-R stereo (treble left - basses right), a bit on the bright side, but most importantly the instrument doesn't seem to have 'body'.

While being quite bright a harpsichord does have a big physical presence, you shouldn't loose that. Too much mechanical noise I don't know, it can be the instrument, or maybe the mics were too close, but I'm not against that.

Was that mic on axis or at the tail, quite high ?
Old 12th May 2006 | Show parent
  #28
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Haigbabe's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zilver
Why doesn't anyone respond to the mp3 that I-quality posted ?
I think that would be most helpful for him.
He knows how he recorded it, so if you say "this sounds to direct" or something like that he knows what to change....

I'm no expert but interested in what is good/bad in this example.
For instance i think it sounds good but there's much mechanical noise. Is that normal or is it recorded too close/from a wrong place ?

Hans
Greetings Hans.

Good point, we should listen.

I'd agree with Yannick's comments.

I enjoyed the sizzle of the closeness to the mechanism, but either a) the instrument in question has no balls below 500hz; or b) I'd move a bit further out to try and capture a little more balance.

I love the harpsichord, but also love Sir Thomas Beecham's description that "it sounds like two skeletons copulating on a tin roof".

Best regards,

Haigbabe
Old 12th May 2006 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Addict
 

You had me at "Harpsichord in a big church".

Anyone trained in the world of signal flow, knows that recording
a performance, begins with the performer, him/herself.

As you may know; for hundreds of years, classical type music
was written with the size, shape, and construction of a room in mind.
I am concerned that if you put a peformer at the helm of a harpsichord,
concerning a piece designed for a small room, inside of a large room, the immediate result will be the befuddlement of said performer. Seriously altering the intended conditions of keyboard performance does, oftentimes, have dire effects.

I have known many classical peformers who, perhaps playing on a less-than-perfect
piano, have found themselves so thrown off by not hearing their expectations, that their mindset was cast into that of an improvisation. With that in mind, I will add
that I have never, personally, known a stricly focused classical performer that could improvise, vamp, or even write effectively.

This might sound outlandish; but I suggest that you might look into
using a few gobos to isolate the performer's ears from a large portion
of the reflections.

As for the actual recording. Reverb (especially natural) sounds excellent on harpsichord. The heavy church reverb should add a healthy amount of lovely body. The instrument should have no trouble cutting through this.
It's a harpsichord, as piercing as a sitar or farfisa.

Use your ears, follow the other suggestions, and work from there.
I beleive you'll do best if you close-mic + mic from other areas further back.

Good Luck, I bet it will sound excellent no matter what,

Rob.
Old 12th May 2006 | Show parent
  #30
hey I hear you completely now that you say that my example has no body....but I guess that reveals that this example was close mic'ed

it is quite bright as the mics were bright and that the 8foot and 4foot were playing (the normal strings and the strings 1 octave higher) which didn't help...and this was one of the only recordings where I cut some highs for a bright issue! -2db at 16khz medium Q, man is that a difference I tell you ehehehe

actually it was in a living room where the room sound wasn't nice at all, so i mic'ed quite close in xy, inside the instrument at an angle of 45° towards where the plecters pluck the strings at a distance of 50-70cm

I had tried other techniques like ortf and ab but the stereo image was much less convincing, generally much wider

now you're making me think of another matter, if I choose to close mic and mic from a distance where should the stereo pair be? close to the source or far from it? or maybe use a cardio pair close and a omni pair far? this seems like a phasy thing
I guess close miking with one mic and having a pair further away makes more sense, but maybe i am wrong. What's your opinion on that?

as usual it is great to have such knowledge kindly offered, thanks everyone!!

damn I can't wait to record in this church it's gonna be fun! I'll post examples when I am done, but that is only a month from now (for now as you see I'm still doing my homework ;P
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