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Omni for recording group vocals?

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Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby Kev Adams » Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:59 am

I'm in the middle of a recording project with a six piece acoustic band, five of whom sing. I'm contemplating trying to get hold of an omni mic for recording overdubs of ensemble harmony sections.
(Mental picture -something like the Beach Boys all gathered round one mic to sing, all wearing headphones half-on).
Have recorded BV's in this fashion as a performer with someone else engineering- I should have taken note of the mic, although I'm guessing it was a Neumann, being at the Beeb.

Two questions:
Is this a valid way to go for a project studio without a properly treated room?

If yes, any ideas for a budget mic that'll do a passable job?

Or shall I just record everyone on their own separate mics? (Three questions, then!)

Edit: 4th question of my two: Or should I use my matched pair of NT5's as a stereo pair? Question of usefulnes of an omni still remains. Thanks all.

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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby Bossman » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:44 pm

I've had good results using as MS array to record group vocals.. I would use an omni for the mid - that way the performers can be positioned anywhere around the mic array.

I've used the Rode NT2A for this with success.. the NT2A will do Cardioid, Omni & fig.8.. so a pair of them will give you a decent MS array, with a choice of either cardioid or omni mid.

The omni mid might not be the best choice in an untreated room though so try a cardioid mid to see what works best for you. The omni would pick up more of the rooms acoustics.

One advantage of using a MS array is that, at the mixing stage, you can choose to use just the mid mic on its own, or blend in any amount of the side mic for stereo width/spread.
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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:34 pm

Kev Adams wrote:Omni Mic: Is this a valid way to go for a project studio without a properly treated room?

Yes... although minimising room reflections by hanging some duvets, etc, is always a good idea -- especially if you plan on compressing the vocals.

Getting everyone to sing into the one mic is often good from the performance point of view, and provided you spend a litle time optimising people's positions to get the right balance, makes life easier at the mixing stage. But it does mean that your BVs will be in mono (unless you double track and pan the different takes to different places)

If yes, any ideas for a budget mic that'll do a passable job?

The omni response of most mics is quite passable, but a small diaphragm omni will give the best results sonically, even if it doesn't look as cool!

Or shall I just record everyone on their own separate mics?

More flexibility in balancing, but balancing work to do...

Or should I use my matched pair of NT5's as a stereo pair?

If you want stereo BV's that's another way to go...

Question of usefulnes of an omni still remains.

Always useful, and omnis do sound nicer than cardioids to my ears.

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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby twotoedsloth » Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:22 pm

Anything less than an omni and you're short-changing the bottom end.
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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:24 pm

There isn't much bottom end in vocals to make much difference, usually, but the omni LF extension and phase accuracy certainly makes a difference with wider bandwidth sources.

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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby twotoedsloth » Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:47 pm

With respect - Russel Braun, Bryn Terfel and Sam Ramey might disagree with you regarding the bottom end on vocals.
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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Mar 22, 2013 7:32 pm

The next time I hear them singing with 40Hz fundamentals I'll remember your comments... ;)

The reality is that the lowest fundamentals even in the deepest male voice will be not much lower than 100Hz -- 90Hz is about the lowest I've ever measured. That's at least 1 to 1.5 octaves above the roll off of a decent pressure gradient mic, and three octaves above that of a decent omni.

The are real advantages to omnis in some situations, and I'm a fan of their use on voices and many other natural acoustic sources, but LF extension isn't the reason. Phase coherency is part of it, and the absence of off-axis Colouration is most of it.

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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby twotoedsloth » Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:17 pm

Not trying to pick a fight, but I think the "money note" for a bass-baritone is the low C, which, If I am not mistaken, corresponds to around 65hz.
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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:59 pm

Haven't tried the omni BV technique but an obvious comment would be to add the NT45 omni capsules to your existing NT5s, giving you a nice stereo omni option.

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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:16 pm

twotoedsloth wrote:Not trying to pick a fight, but I think the "money note" for a bass-baritone is the low C, which, If I am not mistaken, corresponds to around 65hz.

Don't think so. THIS Report suggests the lowest voice note on record is E2, which is 82Hz. I don't think I've ever heard anything below low F2 (87Hz).

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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby Kev Adams » Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:52 pm

Lots to think about, thank you.
These vocals are not BVs, they are ensemble lead, though there are some BVs to do as well. The thing is that the blended group sound is so sweet I wondered whether it would be captured better in mono around one mic.
I must pursue the mid-side idea.
I think I'm definitely going to look for a omni (or two). Was wondering about the NT2a anyway. EBay here I come. And thanks Bob for pointing me at the NT45- wasn't even aware of them.
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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:00 am

The omni capsules for the NT5 are probably the best mics Rode make! I'd certainly take those over an omni NT2.

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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby The Elf » Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:49 am

Kev Adams wrote:And thanks Bob for pointing me at the NT45- wasn't even aware of them.

I totally agree with Bob about the NT45 caps, but I also suggest you consider Rode's NT55 as a replacement for your NT5s. These also come in a matched pair, with matched cardioid and omni caps, but they have the advantage of pad and bass roll-off switches. If you don't need those facilities then adding a couple of NT45 caps is a cheaper option.
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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby Tamika Caleigh » Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:26 pm

It has a theoretical 360° pick up response, which means that it responds equally to sounds coming from all directions. Ideal for group vocals, sound effects, and room ambiances. Omni patterns are pressure sensitive and therefore less sensitive to wind noise than directional (velocity sensitive) mics. They also give less of an impression of proximity than directional mics so they're
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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:34 pm

I'm posting a correction: it seems that there are exceptional bass voices that can reach the ridiculously low pitch of A1 (55Hz), and that there are some works that call for Bb1 (58Hz). So I apologise unreservedly to twotoedsloth and happily stand corrected and far better informed! ;)

As far as the choice of omni or cardioid mic for vocals is concerned, I've always been a fan of omnis for close-miking natural acoustic sources for a variety of reasons as I've already explained... but bass extension wouldn't be a major factor in mic selection for me in this kind of application. Issues like room acoustics, proximity effect, and spill colouration would all be more important influences.

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Re: Omni for recording group vocals?

Postby GlynB » Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:55 pm

I'm surprised that the default option suggested in these circumstances isn't a stereo pair of mic's positioned close together, thus giving stereo but without too much separation? What are the negatives of this approach? Just curious to learn.
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