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Recording an Orchestra - Cold

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Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby jimh76 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:33 pm

Hi,

So there is a possibility that I could be recording and orchestra for a concert (looks like about 10-20 piece) they are doing in a church, but would only be able to set up about 1 hour before and will not get chance to do test recordings, set levels etc.

My brief is that I'm not to interfere with the look of the stage too much and I can't block out performers with mic stands etc.

My mics are'nt top of the range, so I've listed them below:

Rode nt1 (original grey)
Rode NT 1a
Rode M3
SE x1a
2 x Red5 Audio RV4
1 x SE 1a
other dynamics like SM57s x 3 etc, but assume I wouldn't be using these.

Tascam DSP32SD (8 inputs)

My thoughts are as follows, and just want to welcome any other opinions.

Set up the 2 Rode NT mics on the front left side and front right side facing backwards towards the middle of the stage, about 6-7 feet up in the air on stands. I would use these with ART tubeMP preamps into 1 & 2 (my quietest mics).

Set a stereo bar with the 2 RV4s in the x/y setup in the front middle of the stage facing backwards to where I assume the conductor will stand. As per the brief I can't be too obtrusive so thought the max height would be about chest high (not ideal I know). The RV4s are not matched by the way. Inputs 3&4
Setup a general stereo mic set up on the piano (se1a on bass strings & SE X1 on the upper strings?). Inputs 5&6.
Audience mic needed for the applause? If so, mono or stereo?

I'm basically intending to use the first piece they do as a level setting exercise, ready for piece 2.

I'm doing this for free, so there's no real pressure, but I want them to want me back to perhaps record future performances, so want to do well.

Any thoughts welcome.

Cheers,

Jim.
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby jimh76 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:29 pm

Sorry. Just realised I posted this in the wrong section. Not sure how to move it though.

Moderators?
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Forum Admin » Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:39 pm

jimh76 wrote:Sorry. Just realised I posted this in the wrong section. Not sure how to move it though.

Moderators?

No problemo - only Mods can move posts. I've moved it now to the Recording: Gear & Techniques forum for you
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby jimh76 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:42 pm

Thanks for that.

Jim
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby blinddrew » Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:25 pm

Hmmm. Am I right in thinking you've got no fig-8 microphones in that little collection?
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby jimh76 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:58 pm

Correct. All cardiod. I think the main compromise will be the rv4s as the aren't the quietest of mics and will only really be at performer head height.
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby blinddrew » Thu Sep 19, 2019 9:05 pm

If I read the specs right the RVs only go down to 50Hz - not sure if that's a genuine -3dB or something more optimistic so you might find your set up is a bit bass-light.
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Sep 19, 2019 9:31 pm

Two big issues...

1) You don't have two of any of your mics save the RVs which aren't that suited for this task.

2) The restrictions on mic stands.

Would you be able to put in one thin tall stand? If you could get approval for that you could use a standard non-boon stand with one of these extenders (https://www.thomann.de/gb/km_2000530055.htm?M_184862_0_fb120ee9-bc48-4fe2-a6c7-e83959669769=undefined) on top. Relatively thin and unobtrusive.

Then as you've not got anything approaching good matched mics I'd just record in mono - stand behind conductor - and use the NT1. Anything else and you'll have a compromised recording.
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Sep 19, 2019 9:42 pm

That's what I would do as well with your existing mic locker :thumbup: If you had a fig 8 mic or a pair of something then stereo becomes an option but you haven't so take Mikes advice.
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Wonks » Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:21 pm

Whereabouts are you? If there are other SOS forum members close, I'm sure someone would be happy to lend a matched pair or a fig-8 mic for mid/sides recording.
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Aural Reject » Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:50 pm

It’s a compromise situation, but if you’re absolutely limited to the mics on your list look at using the RV4s in a near coincident configuration like ORTF or NOS.

The height of the stand may provide a problem with front-back balance. If you’ve a way of getting them higher without using a stand, have a look at that.
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby jimh76 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:14 pm

Cheers for the input peeps.

Would any of my setup sound better than a handheld recorder like the zoom models?

Would it sound awful to the layman, or is it just to us sound engineers?
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Arpangel » Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:38 am

As someone else said, where are you? I have stands cables etc I could lend
It should be possible to do this with the mic's you have, but ideally, you need two "suitable" mic's of the same make, at the least. From what you say about placement, it sounds as though this is a performance rather than a "recording session" first and foremost, priorities would be a lot different, and also quallity expectations.
I would have a word, in the most diplomatic way, to explain that unless you're able to have free reign, within reason, on mic placement, then compromises will have to be made on quality. It depends on how important this is to you, but sometimes these things can be more hassle than they are worth.
Also a sound check is absolutely necessary, and a seperate room for monitoring, on this basis alone I'd walk away, I know others will say different, but honestly, it's you that has to educate people sometimes, it's not a one way street.
And yes, a handy recorder correctly placed on a single stand may do the job, it all depends on what their expectations are.
I'm sure there are Grammy award wining engineers out there that could turn in a spectacular recordings in these circumstances, but.....
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Arpangel » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:54 am

PS

If you had one figure 8, you could make an M&S pair as the main mic's, and the two mic's don't have to be from the same manufacturer, and you have a few spot mic's left if you need them.
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:36 am

Arpangel wrote:Also a sound check is absolutely necessary, and a seperate room for monitoring, on this basis alone I'd walk away, I know others will say different, but honestly, it's you that has to educate people sometimes, it's not a one way street.

Well here I am, an "other who will say different". :)

I've done countless recordings of this type where the first note you hear is in the performance, and monitoring is sitting in a corner at the back wearing decent noise-attenuating headphones. And often straight to stereo...

The key inhibitors here are stand height and lack of suitable mics for stereo. I, too, would be willing to pitch up with a matched-pair of tiny mics or two and suitable stands and T-bars to help out. In this situation I'd fall-back on the four-mic Faulkner array - a life-saver when mics, stands and cables have to be kept to a minimum.

OP: I'd approach the organisers again about mic stands. They may be thinking that it'll be loads of stands as in a pop/rock setting. Explain that it'll be one vertical stand with mics well above sight-lines.

But on one thing (at least) Arpangel are agreed... sometimes if the restrictions will make your job almost impossible then you walk away. I've done it a few times and I think that Hugh has too.
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:06 am

jimh76 wrote:So there is a possibility that I could be recording and orchestra for a concert (looks like about 10-20 piece) they are doing in a church, but would only be able to set up about 1 hour before and will not get chance to do test recordings, set levels etc.

Oh Joy! :lol: Still... we all like a challenge... eh? But as Mike says, I too have walked away from 'doing a favour' when unreasonable impositions made a decent recording impossible!

If your location and the timing works, then I'd strongly recommend taking up one of the offers of assistance and mic loans from our generous forum members. That way you'll have more appropriate gear to use, some useful experience to tap, and make a new friend in the process!

But if that's not possible, given the situation, the available equipment, and the imposed restrictions, I'd go down the spaced mics route -- Bob Fine stylee... :-) (check out Mercury Living Presence if the name means nothing!) .

The lack of matching between mics won't be so noticeable if they are widely spaced and capturing different parts of the orchestra anyway. So I'd place one beside the conductor, one half-way between the conductor and the back desk on the left, and another half-way to the back desk on the right. Pan the outside mics fully left/right, and the central one.. er... centrally!

I don't know what you have by way of stands, but they'll probably need to be as high as they'll go -- ideally you want the distance from the instruments at the back of the orchestra to be about 1.5 to 2 times the distance from those at the front to achieve a reasonable sense of depth without a distorted balance. If you can't do that, you may need to slip in a couple of additional mics to cover the rear half of the orchestra. Having high stands also puts the bulky mic bodies well above the sight-lines so there's only the slim stand pole in the visuals, which is hopefully acceptable.

Audience mic needed for the applause? If so, mono or stereo?

If you could set the front mics to omni pattern they they'd pick up enough audience anyway, but as they are all cardioid I'd place a couple of mics to the sides pointing across the audience at 45 degrees to capture both the audience and some room acoustic.

I'm basically intending to use the first piece they do as a level setting exercise, ready for piece 2.

When the audience are in and chatting you'll hear them on the orchestra mics, and I'd set their gains to give a level around -40dBFS (it would be lower for a larger, more powerful orchestra). That should get you in the right ball park. If you're going with the spaced mic idea, precise level matching between mics isn't that critical, so you can set the gains by eye and sort out the stereo balance when you mix.

Good luck!
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:13 am

Mike Stranks wrote: I, too, would be willing to pitch up with a matched-pair of tiny mics or two and suitable stands and T-bars to help out.

I guess aa number of us might be willing to help out depending where the concert is. Where is it?

Mike Stranks wrote:In this situation I'd fall-back on the four-mic Faulkner array - a life-saver when mics, stands and cables have to be kept to a minimum. .

This is one of those times when you realise you must have been dozing while the grown-ups were discussing something. What's a four-mic Faulkner array? Not to worry, Google is my friend ...

CC
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:29 am

Image

Image borrowed from 'the other place' for educational purposes!

The four-mic array is basically a pair of cardioids (or hypo-cardioids) spaced at about 47cm, with a pair of omni outriggers spaced at 67cm, all four being angled outwards at 45 degrees from the centre line.

The cardioid/hypo-cardioid spacing can be adjusted to suit the acoustics, source width, and required stereo recording angle, but the omnis should always be 10cm further out to each side.... according to Tony, anyway. :-)

Balance the directional and omni pairs to taste...

H
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Arpangel » Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:30 am

Mike Stranks wrote:
Arpangel wrote:Also a sound check is absolutely necessary, and a seperate room for monitoring, on this basis alone I'd walk away, I know others will say different, but honestly, it's you that has to educate people sometimes, it's not a one way street.

Well here I am, an "other who will say different". :)

I've done countless recordings of this type where the first note you hear is in the performance, and monitoring is sitting in a corner at the back wearing decent noise-attenuating headphones. And often straight to stereo...

The key inhibitors here are stand height and lack of suitable mics for stereo. I, too, would be willing to pitch up with a matched-pair of tiny mics or two and suitable stands and T-bars to help out. In this situation I'd fall-back on the four-mic Faulkner array - a life-saver when mics, stands and cables have to be kept to a minimum.

OP: I'd approach the organisers again about mic stands. They may be thinking that it'll be loads of stands as in a pop/rock setting. Explain that it'll be one vertical stand with mics well above sight-lines.

But on one thing (at least) Arpangel are agreed... sometimes if the restrictions will make your job almost impossible then you walk away. I've done it a few times and I think that Hugh has too.

Yeah, you can give it a go under any circumstances, and it's always a thrill when you get something worthwhile down.
But sometimes you just get a slightly sneaky feeling that you're being treated like you're bottom of the priority list, and is it worth it?
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Arpangel » Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:34 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Image

Image borrowed from 'the other place' for educational purposes!

The four-mic array is basically a pair of cardioids (or hypo-cardioids) spaced at about 47cm, with a pair of omni outriggers spaced at 67cm, all four being angled outwards at 45 degrees from the centre line.

The cardioid/hypo-cardioid spacing can be adjusted to suit the acoustics, source width, and required stereo recording angle, but the omnis should always be 10cm further out to each side.... according to Tony, anyway. :-)

Balance the directional and omni pairs to taste...

H

That's interesting, I take it the two outer most mic's are Omni's? and the two in the centre are cardioids?
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