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Miking classical violin and, sometime, piano: beginner questions

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Miking classical violin and, sometime, piano: beginner questions

Postby marco.swe » Tue Oct 27, 2020 8:34 pm

I am struggling with recordings basics and I hope you could have some tips.

This what I would like to record:
• Violin solo
• Violin and Piano
• Trio, Quartet and Quintet (prio 2)

This is the equipment I have today:

• Zoom f8n
• RODE NT55 stereo marched pair with both cardioid and omni capsules.
• DAW: Studio One 3 Artist

I am considering in upgrading the mics. I find the Rodes too bright/harsh and I would like to get a better pair of mics that could give me a good and warm balanced main stereo image (max budget 2000€).
I was considering Neumann KM184 (cardioid) or KM183 (omni) in stereo matched pair. I like more the Omni as I find the X/Y quite boring and a bit too ”narrow”.
Maybe you have some tips about other types?

Just to not to be too theoretic, let’s make 4 examples:
1. Violin solo recording in medium size concert hall
2. Violin and piano recording in church
3. Violin and piano recording in medium size concert hall
4. Piano Violin Cello Trio in medium size Concert hall

• Maybe 2 mics for the main stereo image and spot mics only if necessary?
• Which mic technique, mic type and setup would you advise me to play with for these 4 examples?
• How do you usually deal with phase cancellation in AB or spaced pair setups?
• How do you usually mix the different tracks (main stereo image, spot, ambient)
• How do you work with delays?

I know these questions do not have direct/unique answers because all the factors that can generate huge differences depending on the application. Anyway I will find very valuable your opinion and comments.

The sound engineer we usually works with has the same ZOOM F8n but very expensive mics and of course a lot of knowledge within the subject.

He usually get the main stereo image with 2 Pearl elm-A pretty far away up together with DPA 4011 as spot mics in case of need of more definition (usually one for the violin and 2 inside the piano).
Sometimes he has only used the 2 PEARL elm-A without spot mic.

Thanks a lot for your time and will to help :-D
marco.swe
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Re: Miking classical violin and, sometime, piano: beginner questions

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Oct 27, 2020 9:30 pm

marco.swe wrote:This is the equipment I have today:
• Zoom f8n
• RODE NT55 stereo marched pair with both cardioid and omni capsules.
• DAW: Studio One 3 Artist

All equipment perfectly capable of high quality recordings if used appropriately.

I am considering in upgrading the mics. I find the Rodes too bright/harsh and I would like to get a better pair of mics that could give me a good and warm balanced main stereo image (max budget 2000€).

The Rode mics are good for the money, but they aren't as refined as top end mics. But for that kind of budget you really need to try for yourself than rely on Internet warrior recommendations. So I'd suggest hiring likely candidates for a session to see if you can really achieve the kind of warm soundscape you imagine. Money well spent if you want to avoid buying something expensive that still doesn't do what you need.

I was considering Neumann KM184 (cardioid) or KM183 (omni) in stereo matched pair.

If you think the NT55 is bright you won't get on with the KM184, although it does have better resolution. The 183 is equalised for the diffuse field so will also sound bright if used in the near field.

I'd certainly suggest trying the new Rode TF-5s (cardioids), and pretty much anything from Schoeps sounds lovely on orchestral instruments... But there are a lot of manufacturers and options...

I like more the Omni as I find the X/Y quite boring and a bit too ”narrow”.

XY with cardioids will always sound 'boring and narrow' unless you put the array right on top of the source, because the stereo recording angle is over 180 degrees. People often rig them far too far away and then wonder where the stereo Mage is!

If you want to stick with cardioid mics then you'd be better off exploring near spaced array options like ORatF, NOS, DIN etc, which have narrower SRAs (so wider images) and a greater sense of spaciousness (because of the inter-channel timing differences).

Spaced omni arrays are popular for the kinds of thing you're talking about, and I think they sound more natural on complex instruments than cardioids which can often sound a bit phasy to me.

But omnis can be equalised for the nearfield (flat) or the diffuse field (HF boost), and which you need will depend on the distance from the source and the environment acoustics (the Critical Distance of the venue, in fact).

Some omnis are switchable (like the Sennheiser MKH20), some have interchangeable grilles (DPA 4006) and some are fixed so you'd need different capsules.


Just to not to be too theoretic, let’s make 4 examples:

• Maybe 2 mics for the main stereo image and spot mics only if necessary?

Sounds right to me! If you can trust your monitoring then it's usually possible to find the sweet spot with a simple stereo array. Adding spot mics complicates matters and can be difficult to blend in... But it really all depends on the circumstances and confidences...

• Which mic technique, mic type and setup would you advise me to play with...

That's a whole other book... And one I'm not writing tonight!
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