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Wind Orchestra recording

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Wind Orchestra recording

Postby studer58 » Sun Jun 09, 2019 4:50 am

I'm going to be recording a wind orchestra for CD release next year, and am wondering if SOS has ever produced a 'Techniques' article on this subject (either concert or session recording)....on a quick search of the SOS archives, I couldn't find one. Hugh R...is this an area of interest or specialization for you ?

I'm wondering about issues of whole ensemble using ORTF, spaced omni, ribbons or Decca Tree and whether sectional/individual spot miking is recommended ? It's a completely different animal to a strings only or typical mixed strings/woodwind/brass ensemble...in terms of direction of sound propagations, overall blend, spot miking requirements etc

If there's already an article or series devoted to this on SOS (or elsewhere) I'd be most appreciative if readers here could please point me towards it !

PS.....I did find this one, from 10 years ago : https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=11124&hilit=Wind%20band%20recording#p101417

Cheers,
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Re: Wind Orchestra recording

Postby John Willett » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:49 am

If the space is good I woukld just use a simple technique of ORTF or MS - or a phased array of ORTF with omni outriggers. :thumbup:

With lots of mics you get multipath distortion.
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Re: Wind Orchestra recording

Postby Aural Reject » Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:47 pm

John Willett wrote:With lots of mics you get multipath distortion.

Or alternatively the ‘sound world’ that a particular client / producer requires ;)
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Re: Wind Orchestra recording

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Jun 09, 2019 1:09 pm

A good acoustic space is essential, and then look to something like John’s suggestion. I often use ORTF with Omni outriggers. I’d only spot mic if absolutely necessary. Having said that, it’s quite a good idea to spot any soloists just in case you need to bring them up in the mix.

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Re: Wind Orchestra recording

Postby studer58 » Sun Jun 09, 2019 5:42 pm

Thanks for all your suggestions thus far....the space is likely to be fairly dry and non reflective/non ambient, but I count that an advantage, against the other extreme alternative (a too wet or splashy acoustic, which clouds and confuses imaging and/or has standing waves) A dryish acoustic can be wettened up suitably in post. I'm anticipating adding some spots for quiet percussion and perhaps for piano, harp and any soloists.

For CD recording, the load will be upon myself and the producer to determine if the miking is deficient (in the sense that it should replicate that balance which the conductor and/or first x rows of audience could reasonably expect to hear as a mix balance) and rectify that via re-seating players, or compensating with spots.

Fortunately, there should be ample chance for trial recordings of rehearsals in the same space, prior to sessions beginning.

I was wondering if there are particular sections of the typical wind band which tend to 'submerge' or 'disappear' with typical concert miking arrays, as mentioned by the contributors above ?
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Re: Wind Orchestra recording

Postby Ariosto » Sun Jun 09, 2019 6:11 pm

Hi Studer58
Some instruments like flutes, cor anglais, and some lower winds can disappear or be rather swamped in the overall balance, depending on various set ups and factors, as sometimes can tubas and lower instruments depending on positioning and room/studio/hall acoustic.

Clarinets usually come through loud and clear, as do trumpets, trombones, and usually horns.

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Re: Wind Orchestra recording

Postby John Willett » Sun Jun 09, 2019 6:21 pm

studer58 wrote:Fortunately, there should be ample chance for trial recordings of rehearsals in the same space, prior to sessions beginning.

This is always a good idea as you have some music to "patch" if necessary. ;)

I have done this several times when recording live recitals to patch the odd bad note in the live performance.
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Re: Wind Orchestra recording

Postby Aural Reject » Sun Jun 09, 2019 6:44 pm

John Willett wrote:
studer58 wrote:Fortunately, there should be ample chance for trial recordings of rehearsals in the same space, prior to sessions beginning.

This is always a good idea as you have some music to "patch" if necessary. ;)

I have done this several times when recording live recitals to patch the odd bad note in the live performance.

That’ll be ‘fun’, John if the miking / arrangement of the band etc etc are different.

This is for a CD session....so all that should be caught during the session by the ‘ears’.

One thing to keep in mind is that - unless contractually excluded - it’s highly likely that the MD and others will likely express an opinion. Often that can range from “I don’t like it” through “I need more of the 13th triangle in bar 7” or “this needs to be 25% faster”...and IME this is more likely the less well recorded the artists / MD are.

Whether you want to accommodate that is down to either the contract or whether you can be bothered.

I accept that pointing mics at things can be a little tedious, but if it allows you to deliver the project as required it means they might come back ;)
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Re: Wind Orchestra recording

Postby Mike Stranks » Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:05 pm

To the OP:

'Aural Reject' specialises in this type of recording... His advice is thus well worth listening to.
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Re: Wind Orchestra recording

Postby studer58 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:47 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:To the OP:

'Aural Reject' specialises in this type of recording... His advice is thus well worth listening to.

If he's telling me that pointing mics at instruments is tedious, then I'm not sure what the intended take-away message is ? I intend to mic the ensemble adequately, sufficiently, appropriately...not tediously. LDC, SDC, ribbons, dynamics...any advice on that front ?
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Re: Wind Orchestra recording

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jun 10, 2019 2:33 pm

I think his comment is aimed at John's reference about spot mics causing problems with 'multipath distortion'. AR is saying that placing the extra spot mics might seem tedious (to a stereo purist like John) but offers options which are often essential when working with inexperienced commercial clients.

As to the choice of mics? There are no rules. Understand the individual characteristics of the mics you have and deploy them accordingly to achieve the best sound you can in each position.

Personally, I tend to use SDCs or ribbons for the main stereo array. Everything else is on a case by case basis, depending on the tonal character I seek and the control of spill.

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Re: Wind Orchestra recording

Postby Aural Reject » Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:25 pm

As usual, Hugh is on the nose here, and I'd echo everything he says.

Stereo pair recordings are fine if they can achieve the results that the commissioners of the recording desire. The caveat to which I was alluding is that often the choice isn't left up to the engineer...and if one goes down that road and suddenly the client asks for a complete rebalance in post, you're stuffed (and yes, it's happened to me, despite being contracted for a stereo only recording - the 'limitations' of which were made clear up front and the balance of which was agreed between all parties at the session - the client has come back with "this needs more xyz...").

So the point I'm making is if you've got them, rig them (sensibly! I have an acquaintance that believes it a good idea to mic individuals or in pairs....unless you're after a particular kind of cinematic balance that really isn't necessary), then you have the flexibility in post.

If that doesn't trouble you then you can go down the route of minimal mics - I know from your exploits on GS that you're a follower of the CM3 and / or 4 mics on a bar arrays...and they can be great (I'm quite a fan of a pair of CM3s in a 30cm / 90° configuration (I would say NOS-like but Hugh will shout at me :p )).

In terms of what to point at other things...again, Hugh is on point...the answer is, as usual, "it depends". There are no definitive rules as to what mic should be pointed at what instrument....so one can't say "I always spot mic an oboe with a CMC622"...and the internal balance of a band will depend on the players, the venue, the MD's direction and so on, so one can't always say one has to mic the tuba....as the player may blow the rest of them away....

I'm really not trying to be difficult - it's just the reality of real world sessions as you're aware.

The other limitation of course could be channel count...in which case I'd potentially be led by the score as to what may be an issue.

Like you've indicated though, you've got plenty of chance to practice - which is a luxury quite often not afforded to us.

Have fun with it ;)
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Re: Wind Orchestra recording

Postby studer58 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 3:43 am

Thanks AR (and Hugh)....it's clear now what you were intending. Overall pickup first, then 'insurance cover for possible re-balances' section mics, then spot mics for focus and 'disappearing instruments' ?

I think I can manage that with my preamp tally...will just need to hire another 8 channel cable loom. We'll have reasonable isolation in an adjoining foyer (with window vision and talkback facility)...but not enough isolation for speakers, so it'll be Sennheiser HD580 and 600's. Much appreciated guidance and advice chaps, thank you !
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