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Recording a Brass Band

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Recording a Brass Band

Postby Pablo Diablo » Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:48 pm

I've been asked to record a couple of pieces by the local brass band in their rehearsal room this Thursday - yep, preparation is everything - and I could really do with some advice about mic positioning and placement as I have only recorded solo instruments before.

Location:
The room is not very high with a false ceiling so I may find all sorts of unpleasant reflections but I won't have time to do many adjustments nor get a particularly high mic position. Can't imagine there will be much in the way of natural reverb, either.

Equipment:
AKG414XLS
Pair of matched Rode NT5s
Audix D6
2 x SM57s (don't know if they will be any use!)
SE Reflexion vocal booth (again, not much point in this scenario methinks)
all into a Fireface 800 into Logic Studio.
I do have access to a Liquid Channel preamp too

Requirement:
This doesn't have to be a high-end recording, but it may be played on local radio so I really want to get the best results that I can for what we've got.

Any thoughts out there would be much appreciated.

Cheers

p
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Aural Reject » Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:15 pm

Easiest thing to do is to use the NT5s in either ORTF or XY and use the 414 as a solo mic if you need one (it depends on the repertoire they're recording). You can potentially employ the reflexion filter here as well if isolation is problematic.

You'll be relying on the band being self balancing (which they should be - although an extra pair of ears familiar with what they're doing in a production capacity is never lost), and you can balance the front to back with the height and angle of dangle of the main pair.

Alternatively you could rig an NT5 and the AKG as an MS pair...

The first option is easier.
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Pablo Diablo » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:21 am

Thanks for that. Option one seems the easiest option like you say - hopefully phase problems won't be an issue.

What sort of height would you place the NT5s? As high as possible? I suppose that the height and angle will depend on the balance of the band, like you say, but any tips for a good, overall sound?
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Aural Reject » Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:52 am

This is where I'm going to be distinctly unhelpful, I'm afraid and say "it depends" :tongue:

Without knowing the room + band I can't really tell you anything upfront. Using a single pair you'll need to balance the front to back of the band using a combination of height (or lack of!) and the downward angle of the mics...but you'll just have to listen to find the best position.

If you haven't already search out some reference recordings so you know approximately what you're listening for, but bear in mind most of the commercial band recordings will be multimiked.
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby John Willett » Wed Sep 02, 2009 3:01 pm

When it comes to recording Brass Bands you listen to everything that Aural Reject says - he's the expert.

Unless you are based in easy distance of Cheshire - where you are close enough to be competition - in which case do the opposite of what he says. ;) :D :bouncy: :beamup:
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Aural Reject » Wed Sep 02, 2009 3:22 pm

I don't just stay in Cheshire ;)

Funnily enough Cornwall is beckoning fairly shortly...and Yorkshire, Wales, The Midlands....

I"l need a passport for the whippet soon...
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Pablo Diablo » Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:07 pm

Thanks guys ... I'll suck it and see, to coin a popular phrase ...
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby tacitus » Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:49 pm

I've flipped up some, most or all of the ceiling tiles in a suspended ceiling before now to open up the acoustic. Can't say it's perfect, but it might help. And it'll depend on what sort of space there is above the tiles. I'd go for the NT5 pair with the 414 for spot or to fill in the back row/percussion if you find the NT5s can't go high enough to get a good front to back balance.

If you do find you have balance problems, you might want the 57s for percussion, but I wouldn't use amy more mics than I absolutely have to. And bear in mind that the better the band, the nearer you can put the mics. If it's a poor band, you might have to keep the mics well back and add some reverb later to paper up the cracks. I've also done other 'underhand' tricks like speeding up the recording a few percent to make the band sound tighter - it you get them to play a march slightly underspeed with good articulation, it can sound amazing just a few percent faster. It can also sound terrible, so don't rely on it!

On the reverb side, I've added convolution reverb from one of the buildings in the library that comes with Peak Pro to a dead recording made in a carpeted room with 11' ceiling and it was not horrible.
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Aural Reject » Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:52 pm

Good stuff...but you're a bit late...it's Friday ;)
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Pablo Diablo » Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:44 pm

Thanks to Aural Reject and to Tacitus (though that was a little late - it might serve next time - if there is one).

I'm now listening back and the NT5s sound a little bright. I know that this is a mic forum, but do you have any brass band post production tips?

I've been fiddling with a low pass filter to take out some of the top end which sounds okay, but I hate guessing when there are some much more experienced people out there who could lend me a hand! :)

Cheers
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby tacitus » Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:16 pm

On the same lines as keeping the recording simple, I'd tend not to do anything too complicated with post work. So your eq solution is probably the way to go, since you want (presumably) to keep the 2-mic stereo as original as possible while ameliorating your worst problems - in this case the brightness. In the days when I used Adobe Audition for this sort of work I'd use the 31-band eq and that's about all. Since I moved to Peak pro I haven't done so much plain stereo recording but when I have I haven't had to do much to the overall sound - it's been more editing out of fluffs and ragged starts. But using NT55s I do get fairly bright recordings which might sound even brighter to younger ears. I've been adding convolution reverb which seems to work reasonably well in small doses on a deadish recording. Hardy purist, though!
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Aural Reject » Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:26 pm

Purist - what's that? It's a brass band :tongue:

Do whatever you need to to make it sound right or close to your references....you nay find that using multiple instances of an EQ cut rather than using a shovel yields better results ;)
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby lje » Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:46 pm

Aural Reject wrote:Purist - what's that? It's a brass band :tongue:

That is very funny - let us hope that no Brass Band folk read this list :bouncy: :bouncy: :bouncy:
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Aural Reject » Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:49 pm

lje wrote:
Aural Reject wrote:Purist - what's that? It's a brass band :tongue:

That is very funny - let us hope that no Brass Band folk read this list :bouncy: :bouncy: :bouncy:

Don't worry Larry, I'm safe...I'm an insider ;)
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Pablo Diablo » Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:37 am

Hello all,

There is a first pass of one of the tracks on this page:

http://www.hillsidestudio.co.uk/Music.html

(I'm having trouble loading it on my Mac but it works fine on a PC - dunno why!)

I'd value your opinions!

Cheers
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Aural Reject » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:49 pm

Could just be my installation of Quicktime....but I'm getting a progress bar with no audio in Firefox & IE8 on PC....
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Pablo Diablo » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:05 pm

I bet the other two songs work okay on there, though. Can't figure it out ...
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Aural Reject » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:06 pm

Don't understand this new fangled technology....but I got to it by downloading it to real player.
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Pablo Diablo » Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:06 am

Finally got the page working so please feel free to have a listen - all constructive criticism and general abuse welcomed!
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Re: Recording a Brass Band

Postby Aural Reject » Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:34 am

It's not bad ;)

For my taste it's rather light in the bass end, the euphonium(s) sounds rather thin (it could be the player, though), the snare drum's a bit heavy. This is most likely down to the recording environment as much as anything else....as soon as the tubas start blowing loud it gets hard, and that's normally a sign the room is too small.

I also felt the image is possibly a bit lopsided.....but bear in mind I was listening on the laptop after having sat in an NHS hospital for 6 hours....whereby the solo cornet bench was a little too central and the right hand side of the band - so the euphoniums, baritones and trombones were quite far over to the right....that's also down to personal taste and (producer) preference though as much as anything else.

It's nicely detailed :) (which the soprano player - who should know better in the first section than to try and put the octave in just before the bass solo and splash it all over the ceiling on a recording)

Did you record multiple takes and are you able to edit out the duff stuff?
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