View Single Post
Old 27th July 2019
KISS is a fine philosophy, and I think we should all adhere to it in our own way (ie don’t take on more than you are confident you can chew) but as an informer of how records have been made, it is a flawed concept, as everyone’s definition of “simple” is different.

If you are a graduate of Detmold, which teaches in their Tonmeister degree program a philosophy based on the techniques of Philips engineer Volker Straus, a “simple” setup likely consists of multiple pairs of microphones even for something as seemingly simple as a solo cello or piano, and many more for more complex ensembles. After all, if that’s how you learned to make a recording, then using that many microphones is concept basic to your understanding of recording, and while to some that may seem overwhelmingly complex, if you understand how the system works, it’s relatively simple.

I think an excellent case study in the fluidity of a concept like “simplicity” in an historical context is the evolution of Decca’s classical recording techniques. Their engineers started with a relatively “simple” 3 mic setup, moving to 6 as stereo became more of a standard and as the channels became available, and by 1960 it was not uncommon to have as many as 12 mics on a recording. Through the 60s this expanded as the channel counts on mixers expanded, and the engineers used the additional channels available to address problems they were encountering. Listen to the Monteaux “Pelleas” from the late 50s; that’s 6 mics (tree, outriggers, mono choir spot). By the mid-60s, a recording of that piece would have included a single pair of woodwind spots, and 3-4 additional choir mics. By the mid-70s, you would see the addition of harp spots, percussion spots, contrabass spot, brass and horn spot.... all added to give a bit more controllability and finessability to the stereo balance, and all building on the rather simple Tree-and-outrigger foundation that was established in the 50s.

The kicker for their usage? With very few exceptions, ALL of it that you hear on those records was rather simply tracked live to stereo. All the way up until the late 90s when Universal decided to lay off the Decca recording team. They would take a limited multitrack backup for safety on some very complex sessions, but almost always the stereo mix that left the sessions is what was edited and cut onto the master.

And that is a brief history of one major labels approach to classical recording.

There is also, off the top of my head, unique approaches developed at DG, Philips, CBS, RCA, Mercury, Erato, EMI, VOX (and later Delos, Telarc, Teldec, HM, Chandos, etc.)

The best companies doing this kind of work nowadays, IE the engineers at Soundmirror, Polyhymnia, Tritonus, EBS, Classic Sound LTD, BIS, Phoenix Audio, Floating Earth, Abbas, and guys like Shawn Murphy, they all have their roots in the traditions of those major label teams, with Philips, Decca, and DG probably dictating the direction that classical recording technique has headed the most.

All that to say, how they did it “back then” is really not that different from how things are done now (things that are done well, anyways) save for the sample rates and multitrack counts, and the prolonged workflows that come with them .

Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
One thing I noticed from being around a lot of great recording people, Joanna Nickrenz, Marc Aubort and Jack Renner is that they all subscribe to the KISS principal, (Keep it simple, stupid). See and and I think a lot of the multi-microphone crowd does it for the reasons stated by Mark Donahue in his postings on this topic. I also think a lot of people use a lot of microphones so they can charge more money for their recordings (more mics = more investment = bigger fees). I once did a recording session with a very well known producer, who I don't want to name, who put out a lot of microphones but only used about 3 of them. She said that the more microphones the better the recording is what most musicians think so she puts out 8 to 10 microphones. One of the players in the group we were recording noticed that the microphones on the other three player were closer and he wanted his microphone closer. I did as requested and he said it was "much better" even though none of the microphones were turned on or patched into the console. FWIW

Last edited by king2070lplaya; 27th July 2019 at 02:22 AM..