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Recording in pubs

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Recording in pubs

Postby forumuser915213 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:07 am

I'm involved in running some music events in pubs, and had some reasonable results from recording using omnis in AB arrangements along one wall (they have to be against a wall for space reasons and because people may reasonably be expected to move about.)

I haven't tried it, but I'd guess I could use cardioids in xy with a single stand, so long as I got the mics above the crowd.

Here's an example from a project reviving old Kent carols:
https://youtu.be/HtjkeCDqNfE

And here's another of our traditional tunes workshop members playing an old favourite.

https://youtu.be/EhZ7lPnICYU

The recordings were made using a pair of Behringer B5s and a Tascam DR100 mkii.

As some of you will understand from the Youtubes, we have quite a lot of fun.

But this weekend I had some difficulty working out how to record successfully in two settings.

One was in a long narrow room in which people were taking turns to sing or play. The situation was complicated by an open arch half way down tge room through which comes a lot of chatter from the pub's bar. In this setting I used the Tascam's omnis and was disappointed to find (I) the Tascam omnis were a bit on the dull side (and wouldn't take eq very well) and (ii) with the amount of bar noise it picked up. An example... https://youtu.be/Uh-Q7nxukxs

There's no doubt in my mind the B5s would have done a far better job.

But these points also make me think about using cardioids in some stereo arrangement with their backs to the chatter - but I really can't think of anything appropriate. Whatever confoguratio I can think of, I'm going to have people way over to one side or another. Perhaps I shouldn't worry... But still I think there will be bar noise...

Alternatively, perhaps I should use a single omni and not worry about noise.

Does anyone have any ideas please? (We like the venue, btw.)

Also on Saturday night we had a barndance with tunes workshop members and friends playing. With 15 of them, we couldn't all get on the stage, so played from the floor.

I haven't tried recording these evenings before but tried using xy from the front row of the band without success. The stand couldn't be further forward because of the dancers and caller, and the result didn't pic up nearly enough of the widely arranged band.

I didn't realish the idea of booming the mics over the band from the stage for fear of an accident.

Once again, I'm thinking that I would have been better served by using the omnis in AB arrangement again. Unless of course someone has a better idea!

If anyone can help, thanks for your thoughts.

Mics-wise I have a small selection of SDCs and LDCs, including a figure of 8 LDC - though that might be a bit obtrusive in this sort of setting.

Gavin
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:30 am

Delighted and excited to read this because what you're doing parallels what we're doing in Bradford on Avon with carols from Wiltshire and Somerset. Here's an example I recorded from one of our carol sings, I Hear Along Our Street from Dunster in Somerset. Here too for your interest is our website.

The mic arrangement I used on that occasion (which is the default I tend to use for this sort of recording) was to put two cardioids in X-Y arrangement in the middle of a suitable wall plus two omnis placed one to the left and the other to the right as outriders. This works pretty well in giving you good coverage plus some control over stereo width. The mics have to be against a wall for the same reason as you: the pubs tend to be really packed with people at these events and there's nowhere else you could put them.

Anyway, all that's by the by. In the narrow pub I'm a bit unclear where you're placing the mics now - are they some way back from the performers? It sounds like they're quite distant from the performers. I'd be inclined in that setup to mic the performers quite closely using your cardioids in X-Y and have separate mics for the audience to pick up people joining in with the choruses.

For your barndance I'd try adding your omnis as outriders to your cardioids in their current X-Y arrangement. That way you'll get more of the width of the band.

So far as pub chatter is concerned, it's a pub, it adds authenticity and I don't worry about it. It doesn't usually drown the singing or the playing.

Back to the carols again. Have you tried accompanying the carols with musicians? We do with a lot of ours as you can hear on the example above. Basically the vocal parts are divided among the musicians in real west gallery style and it's good fun and very effective.

Thanks for sharing this, it's always good to talk to people who share your passion for something and the old gallery carols are marvellous to sing. We've seen George Frampton's book; our equivalent is Carols of the West Country by Glyn Court.

Cheers,

CC

Edited: the significance of your using the Tascam DR100 has just dawned on me. Looking at the manual it seems it only records two tracks at once, am I right? If I am that's very limiting, it makes a bit of a nonsense of what I was saying above which all require the ability to record four tracks simultaneously. Hmmm. I don't know, perhaps someone else will be along who can suggest better stereo recording options in your trickier venues. My advice would be to see if you can beg, borrow or steal something that can record more tracks - it will increase the options available to you immensely.

A second option would be to use a small mixer to mix the four mics down to two channels which you can then record but this takes away the ability to make decisions during mix down - you have to get it right at the recording stage.
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby forumuser915213 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:08 am

Your recording sounds great. Of course I know about your carolling from reading the English Folk Dance and Song Society's house magazine.

I hadn't thought of going to four channels. I'd be a bit adverse to having more stands about the place, but hearing your recording I guess it's a possibility if and when my ship comes in...

The pub setting is difficult. In that recording the performers were no more than four feet away, but other takes from that night were of singers and players up to maybe 15ft away in one direction and 12 ft in the other. The issues are the length, and that it's not possible to place omnis around the room, and that I don't want the gear to be obtrusive - I haven't seen any evidence of it making people anxious, but I'd obviously prefer to avoid that.

So far we've avoided playing instruments. Obviously, much of this material is from the West Gallery era of church music and instruments would be perfectly appropriate, but from the beginning it seemed to us that there was a lot of work to do on the singing - and we've focused a lot on re-pitching the tunes for average voices and developing descant harmonies. It's perhaps not authentic but has worked for us.

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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby forumuser915213 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:09 am

Your recording sounds great. Of course I know about your carolling from reading the English Folk Dance and Song Society's house magazine.

I hadn't thought of going to four channels. I'd be a bit adverse to having more stands about the place, but hearing your recording I guess it's a possibility if and when my ship comes in...

The pub setting is difficult. In that recording the performers were no more than four feet away, but other takes from that night were of singers and players up to maybe 15ft away in one direction and 12 ft in the other. The issues are the length, and that it's not possible to place omnis around the room, and that I don't want the gear to be obtrusive - I haven't seen any evidence of it making people anxious, but I'd obviously prefer to avoid that.

So far we've avoided playing instruments. Obviously, much of this material is from the West Gallery era of church music and instruments would be perfectly appropriate, but from the beginning it seemed to us that there was a lot of work to do on the singing - and we've focused a lot on re-pitching the tunes for average voices and developing descant harmonies. It's perhaps not authentic but has worked for us.

Gavin
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:33 am

forumuser915213 wrote:Your recording sounds great. Of course I know about your carolling from reading the English Folk Dance and Song Society's house magazine.

I've just told my wife that and it pleased her immensely - she wrote the article. In case anyone else is interested here's a link to a PDF of the article. The middle picture is a lovely one of her

I'd still advocate using more than two mics, you've got them and it seems a shame not to use them. As I say a small mixer will allow you to do so and they're pretty cheap, you'd only need to wait for your small canoe to come in :)

CC
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby Sam Inglis » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:49 am

These are both fantastic projects by the sound of it, I'm very envious! I love those old folk carols and it's great to hear them sung really well.

Re the recording made in the long narrow room -- for me, the ambient noise isn't really a problem, it adds to the atmosphere, but the tone of the recording is very thin. I think just using better mics would make a big difference. However, I doubt that there is going to be any one place where a single mic array will do a good job on all the performers. You'll probably need to move the mics around during the evening.

As for recording a 15-piece band with one stereo pair, that's always going to be tough unless you can spend some time physically arranging the people so as to get the best results. If they're all in a long line then it becomes impossible to get the mics close enough without over emphasising the musicians in the centre. Could they stand in a semicircle?
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby Wonks » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:14 pm

A mixer would allow you to place several pairs of mics in the long room, and use the mixer to select the pair of mics closest to the performers.

You could even think about having them permanently installed (but obviously removable), or at least the wiring for them if you feared them being stolen.
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby forumuser915213 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:58 pm

Good points Sam. I'm sure you'd be very welcome to join us some time down here in mid-Kent, or at the Somerset sings.

Listening again, I think I should have perhaps have pulled something down in the lower mids.

I really want to avoid reminding people I'm recording - so don't want to add more stands and mics, and really don't want to go moving mics around or indeed fiddling with mixers.

I'm thinking, though that a single xy pair high up might be the answer. There will still be room reverb, chatter and the rest, but it might enable me to get the whole room in, and using better mics than tge Tascam's omnis, I have a chance if achieving a sound that seems more natural when I get home.

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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby forumuser915213 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:53 pm

There's also the little challenge that I have to concentrate on running the evening and can't think about gear during the course of events...
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Nov 28, 2018 4:04 pm

Yes, I'm very familiar with that one.

What do you want to achieve with your recordings? If it's just a record of what happened at the event your DR100 on its own will be pretty good for that using its own internal mics. I have a record of all our sings going back to when we started in 2010 using my trusty LS10 field recorder. I sling it up high somewhere using a gorillapod to attach it to something, set it going and voila! The quality of that is surprisingly good.

If, however, you want to make recordings that are intended for repeated listening and you have ambitions to approach or achieve professional quality then you're going to have to accept that recording in obscurity is pretty difficult to achieve. You're going to need more mics and appropriately placed mics* and - horror of horrors - people will see them. In fact in my experience that is rarely a problem with punters, it's more often organisers who get the wind up about being able to see kit. The general public just think, "Oh, they're recording this" and then forget about it and go and have a good time.

Give it a whirl, you might be surprised :)

CC

* and maybe better mics but see how far you get with what you've got first.
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby forumuser915213 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:39 pm

The question about purpose is usually interesting. The purpose is to put the recordings on line with the aim of:

- Encouraging more singers to join us
- Encouraging other folks in Kent to explore sing the old carols
- Encouraging folks in other areas to do something similar with their own carol repertoires
- Remind our singers of the fun they've had

I'd similarly like to encourage more people to come to our sessions and tunes workshops.

I think in our modern age people are accustomed to hearibg so much professionally recorded material, anything that strikes folks as rough might not have the intended effect. Otoh, how Youtubes get played in dreadful PC speakers...

I'm pretty disappointed with the DR100 Mkii's built in omnis as I explained further up the thread. The Behringer B5s have worked much better with the carols, which are generally far easier to record, not least because I feel able to use mics on stands.

I know you have favourites of your own in mics, but I expect my more recently acquired Studio Projects C4s will be better than the B5s - that's my impression so far. (In recording more generally, I got on better with the B5s once I'd learned to use the 10db pad more often.)

The regular mixed sings and tunes session in the long narrow room is a much bigger headache.

As I also said earlier, with the performers dotted around the room, I really can't go moving things... So perhaps an x-y approach well above seated folks' heads would do it...

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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:45 pm

Just a thought and a question to both...

... ever thought of, or tried, boundary mics actually on the wall?
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby ConcertinaChap » Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:56 pm

forumuser915213 wrote:So perhaps an x-y approach well above seated folks' heads would do it...

Try it and let us know how you get on. Everything you say about purpose rings bells with me. The carols and sessions are not the only things I record but they are significant.

Mike, I've never used boundary mics and wouldn't know where to start with them. How would you use them to solve Gavin's problem?

CC

PS My experience with Studio Projects mics has been generally good. I would definitely expect them to be a clear step up from the Berrys.
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:49 pm

ConcertinaChap wrote:
forumuser915213 wrote:So perhaps an x-y approach well above seated folks' heads would do it...

Try it and let us know how you get on. Everything you say about purpose rings bells with me. The carols and sessions are not the only things I record but they are significant.

Mike, I've never used boundary mics and wouldn't know where to start with them. How would you use them to solve Gavin's problem?

CC

PS My experience with Studio Projects mics has been generally good. I would definitely expect them to be a clear step up from the Berrys.

I've only ever used them in mono, but I know others who've used them as room mics... there was quite a vogue for it when I were nobutalad...

Use them like spaced omnis and fasten them onto the wall... back in the day the preferred method was onto a piece of board about 300/400mm square and then to hang that like a picture. Space to taste...
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby forumuser915213 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:27 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:Use them like spaced omnis and fasten them onto the wall... back in the day the preferred method was onto a piece of board about 300/400mm square and then to hang that like a picture. Space to taste...

I remember that - I seem to remember people bought them from Tandy's.

I used them to make handy left hand bugs for melodeons.

Handy idea though. I wonder what a pub landowner will think of me hanging things on their walls...
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby blinddrew » Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:33 pm

Depending on the nature of the pub there might be something that you could take off the wall and temporarily and replace with your boundary mic?

Which reminds me, I need to get mine back!
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby forumuser915213 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:55 pm

Btw... To my list of reasons for recording, I'd add the benefit of giving non-readers or hesitant readers an opportunity to get familiar with the tunes.

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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:38 pm

forumuser915213 wrote:
Mike Stranks wrote:Use them like spaced omnis and fasten them onto the wall... back in the day the preferred method was onto a piece of board about 300/400mm square and then to hang that like a picture. Space to taste...

I remember that - I seem to remember people bought them from Tandy's.

I used them to make handy left hand bugs for melodeons.

Handy idea though. I wonder what a pub landowner will think of me hanging things on their walls...

A good point, but if the board's big enough - ie nearer 400/450 - there's no reason why you couldn't put the boards on stands and put the stands as close as possible - eg round-base stands - to the walls.

I know as well as anyone the compromises that have to be made when recording 'live', but I'd be a little concerned at placing omnis or cardioids too near walls, because of reflections. But maybe that's just me.
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby Sam Inglis » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:29 pm

Well, in theory, if you placed an omni right up against the wall it would become a boundary mic, no?
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Re: Recording in pubs

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:09 pm

Sam Inglis wrote:Well, in theory, if you placed an omni right up against the wall it would become a boundary mic, no?

Of course! :oops:

Bit of gaffer tape and job's a good 'un...
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