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LDCs or SDCs for classical/choral works

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LDCs or SDCs for classical/choral works

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 9:13 pm
by george_vel
I know some of the forum’s members use a type of Faulkner’s array where in one stereo bar two LDCs are placed in stereo config i.e. ORTF, XY, etc. (very often a pair of Neumann TLM 193) and at the ends of the bar 2 omnis are placed as well (again often MKH series of Sennheiser).

Now, I cannot afford this setup, it’s still beyond my budget.

If I have to select only a pair from this setup to be a main pair, what would you recommend:
- a pair of TLMs 193 OR
- a pair of cardioid MKHs (8040 if I remember correctly) in the same config as TLMs

My concern is related to the off-axis response of LDCs. I witnessed many times statements that for classical works SDCs are better than LDCs.
But what about TLM 193? Is it good for the purpose? I saw too many live recordings where LDCs are faced again choir/orchestra and the sound is quite good.
Or I should stick to SDCs for this genre and spare for Sennheiser MKHs, instead of wasting money for TLMs and have off-axis issues afterwards?

Re: LDCs or SDCs for classical/choral works

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 9:45 pm
by Aural Reject
There are no hard and fast rules...if someone is in the lucky situation where they have a choice, then that’s exactly what you make...sometimes it’s for practical reasons, sometimes artistic, sometimes you’re asked for something particular by a client or producer...

The bottom line is that the less equipment you have, the more flexible it is the better...for that reason, good switchable pattern LDCs can be good, or SDCs with interchangeable capsules. Which you choose is really up to what you want and what you work best with.

It’s often best to borrow / rent some different models to try before you commit your money.

Re: LDCs or SDCs for classical/choral works

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 9:49 pm
by Hugh Robjohns
^ exactly that!

Re: LDCs or SDCs for classical/choral works

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:39 pm
by george_vel
Guys, you sound like a very expensive consultants - “you can do this or that or anything else, it depends on your vision and you can make either this or that way without relying too much on the past...” :mrgreen:

It’s not a question of fast and hard rules, it’s rather what’s your experience.

Are LDCs good for a distant main stereo pair or not (because of their off-axis coloration)?
And if not, why do people use it? Or if yes, but depends on brand/model, then which ones?

Or stay away from LDCs and use SDCs for main stereo pairs, use LDCs only for close solo works, etc.?

At the end, there are some hard rules conducted by the laws of Physics, right? If not, why there are so many recommendations not to use LDCs as a main pair, because of their off-axis response?

Even if I make a test drive (rent in our case), the laws of Physics are there to stay and will not help me much, unless I understand better what are the challenges of LDCs vs. SDCs in this type of work. :roll:

Re: LDCs or SDCs for classical/choral works

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 11:08 pm
by Hugh Robjohns
There are no rules, just a range of pros and cons which need to be balanced depending on the situation, the expectations and the preferences. There is no 'best solution', just experience, pragmatism, and individuality.

LDCs generally suffer more off-axis colouration than SDCs, but the actual amount and effect depends on the specific model of mic and selected polar pattern. Some are better than others... LDCs are usually also quieter than SDCs which might be a consideration in some (exceptional) cases.

But whether LDC off-axis colouration matters or not depends on how much off-axis signal you have reaching each mic, and its role/significance in the recording -- and that also depends, in turn, on the recording venue's acoustics and the specific stereo array configuration.

So sometimes LDCs will work well, amd sometimes they wont... I use LDCs for some gigs, and SDCs for others. Sometimes the colouration is welcome. Sometimes it's a problem. Sometimes it's irrelevant.

The point AR made above about the practical benefits of multi-pattern LDCs is a very good one. Often I use LDCs specifically because I want the versatility offered by switchable patterns, allowing flexibility in stereo array configurations without needing to physically change the mics.

You'll get as many recommendations for different mic models as there are different mics and different recording engineers. And the same applies to stereo mic configurations. The Faulkner ORTF/omnis combo is just one configuration, but there are many others with alternative pros and cons.

If i decide to use LDCs, I use AKG C414s, Neumann SM69, or Gefell M930s, and often borrow Neumann TLM170Rs (fabulous mics, tonally similar to 193s, but multi-pattern). BTW, TLM193s are often considered to be a 'dark sounding' mic, and so might not be a good choice for some recording situations (but ideal in others...).

For public recordings, though, a stereo array of LDCs can be physically large and heavy, so requires heavy-duty mounting hardware -- with both potentially spoiling audience sight-lines. SDCs -- especially the 'active capsule' types -- are a lot less intrusive and conspicuous, and can be safely mounted on much more subtle hardware.

For SDCs I use mostly Sennheiser MKH20/30/40/50s, or Neumann KM84s and KM183/184/185s, and my Soundfield ST450 is best classed as an SDC too.... I also sometimes borrow DPA 4000s and various Schoeps CMCs if they are more appropriate to the task.

But these are just my personal preferences and the mics I have acquired over several decades of building experience and developing an interest in specific genres of recording. Other engineers have different preferences...

If you're inexperienced and unsure of what you need/like, then the advice to hire first and build your experience is a very sensible. Mics at this level aren't cheap, and can't be bought on the basis of a whim or a casual drive-by forum post.

Re: LDCs or SDCs for classical/choral works

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:13 am
by Mike Stranks
Any particular reason it has to be those mics?

Have a think about two Line Audio CM4s in DIN or NOS configuration, flanked by two Line Audio OM1s. Spacing between the OM1s is 66cm.

Blend to taste...

Re: LDCs or SDCs for classical/choral works

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:38 am
by forumuser840717
The choice of recording venue and where one puts the choir and mics in the space are all so much more important than the choice of mics.

Apart from anything else, changing the venue, or performers, or even the conductor, will all contribute to which mics are most suitable in any given setup. And moving the mics will have at least as big a difference as changing them.

In the position of being able to afford ony one main setup, I'd base my decisions more on whether I'm going to be recording the same performers in the same space, doing similar material all the time, or if I need maximum flexibility to get the best I could out of the widest range of combinations of venue, performers, and programme. The latter might require compromises compared to the former but if one has to record in circumstance which aren't always optimal, the more options one has, the better.

Re: LDCs or SDCs for classical/choral works

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2021 2:58 am
by Bob Bickerton
All good responses and probably not what you want to hear!

For what it's worth (which may not be very much) the TLM193 (and TLM170) are regarded as being MediumDCs, not LDC or SDCs, so a capsule size somewhere between 'Large' and 'Small'.

A common set-up I have used in a particular venue has been the ORTF TLM193/MKH8020 Faulkner combo. It works well for me in that venue, especially for chamber music. In another venue where I often record chamber choir, I'll more often than not work with spaced omnis, so yes, dependent on venue and performers.

And just an additional note. I was intrigued with Hugh's article on what he calls the Gerzon array in the November issue of the magazine. Cardioid SDCs with 50mm spacing and a mutual angle of 120º. By using a technique called shuffling, you can enhance the spaciousness of the recording (in post) in a not dissimilar way to the effect of adding the omnis to the ORTF pair in the Faulkner array.

I had to record a chamber music festival recently in the venue where I would often use the Faulkner array and decided to trial the Gerzon array against the Faulkner set-up. I preferred and ended up using the Gerzon array!

This may not help of course - but the idea of hiring and trialing is probably a very sensible one.

Bob

Re: LDCs or SDCs for classical/choral works

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2021 6:26 am
by george_vel
Bob Bickerton wrote:All good responses and probably not what you want to hear!

The responses are actually great and it’s not a matter of what I want to hear, but what I have to hear. :-)
I just wanted more experience to be shared, not ending the topic with only “go hire and test”.
I was wondering why I see LDCs often used (last October I even saw a pair of U89s used for recording in front of a semi-circled choir on open space in a mountain), and Hugh explained it perfectly.

Thanks, Hugh, Mike, forumuser840717 and Bob, for your inputs!

Re: LDCs or SDCs for classical/choral works

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2021 8:19 pm
by Vox Gnus
Mike Stranks wrote:Any particular reason it has to be those mics?

Have a think about two Line Audio CM4s in DIN or NOS configuration, flanked by two Line Audio OM1s. Spacing between the OM1s is 66cm.

Blend to taste...

I completely agree with Mike: excellent mics, and they are very unlikely to be the downfall of your recording sessions. In fact, the usual downfall is a sub-par (or sub-stellar) performance.

I've been fortunate enough to use a variety of mics (Neumann, DPA, A-T, Sony, etc) for choral and orchestral recording, but for most sessions, most of the time, I'd suggest you strongly consider the cost of the equipment. With the exception of a small group of brand-name people and brand-name ensembles, the money can be pretty tight in choral/orchestral recording. So unless you're sure of your place amongst the elite, it may not be advisable to buy superb equipment in order to record good performances.

Prima la musica, secunda la technica!