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Old 20th July 2019
Here for the gear

There are several interesting points here. Lute is historically an instrument, I’d say, private in nature and tradition. Theoretically, therefore, it is perfectly suitable for a phonographic recording, much more than for a public concert in any hall with audience. But everyone hears it (and creates its phonographic picture) according to his own imagination.

A year ago I participated in a CD recording with a small, about 20-person choir in rich acoustics of large interior of a Renaissance chateau. There were also solos for one voice and a lute. After a few months I got the first mix and was struck by the overall beauty of the recording. Technically, the choir had several stereo pairs of mics in front of them, some in very wide stereo, the other close ones, including the Schoeps MSTC 64. I had one spot mic (dynamic!!) and a little further away and higher a pair of fingers in AB configuration. I was siting on one side, slightly bent towards the choir. The result was that the acoustics of the interior dominated over everything, rendered exceptionally rich. Unfortunately, the sung text disappeared, and the lute was only in the reflected sound, no details, articulation, internal dynamics. I admit it discourages completely from active participation in creating the piece, as you can actually play anything. After my reaction to this, I received a second mix, basically similar, with the difference that there was more very direct sound from the lute (perhaps from this dynamic mic?), as if glued on top of it, not organically effluent from the rest.

I admit, from that moment I become to hate the _rich acoustics_ of the space, but also the role of the recording person, who basically write his own score using a forest of mics, which he uses selectively according to his own idea, and is a connoisseur of ‘great acoustics’. A musician’s point of view seams much different, I’m afraid.

My initial idea with MS was based on the fact that above all there is the Mid mic there, and the Side one only serves to create space and panorama, but in moderation. The combination of these channels would be in my hands, but only to create space. Unfortunately, my technical experience is fare too small to assess the risk.

The concert is unique, but providing I’d benefit from this solution, I still don’t know how to mount a thick and heavy M179 parallel with the finger mic in a way that does not make a sensation in the audience. Although I have enough stands and bars at home, the mounting has so many adjustable connections that I would never, never! dare to do it half an hour before the concert.

From a painfully practical side, note that just before the concert musician’s attention and emotions are focused solely on playing/singing. I remember a situation a few years ago, when I finaly managed to set everything …in mid-summer, back wet from the sweat! The concert was very important. Only later I realized I forgot to turn on phantom power. Since then I am trying to limit the amount of technical activities to be carried out to an absolute, but absolut minimum …but I will not use a ‘shaver’ I know the sound engineer's approach is completely different.