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ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

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ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby bragimike » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:15 am

In a previous post of mine:

'Is a Pre-Amp necessary?' many people advised that my orchestra should purchase our own recoding equipment as a longer term investment.

Well, I've persuaded the committee to part with some cash! Thanks to the good people who responded to the previous post I was able to compile a list of equipment. The mics that I requested are Line Audio CM3s. However, our conductor has suggested soundfield mics as an alternative.

My current view is that a matched pair in an ORFT configuration would be better value for money for what the orchestra wants to achieve and more straight forward to work with.

I would value opinions from people who have more experience.

Thanks.
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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:36 am

It's ORTF - named after the Frech public broadcaster.

And yes, it is usually cheaper and much easier to use!
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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:50 am

The Line Audio CM3s are obsolescent, but have been replaced by the CM4.

Both the CM3 and CM4 have wider than standard cardioid response patterns so are not best suited for ORTF working. I use my CM3s in NOS configuration - 90 deg angle of incidence; 30cm spacing between capsules.

You are going to pay a LOT more money for a soundfield mic. The Rode NT-SF1 is well thought of here. However, it is not as simple or straightforward to use as a pair of cardioids and to get the most from it you'd need more complicated recording gear.

My recommendation to someone in your position would probably be for a pair of Rode NT55s which give you good cardioid mics plus the ability to switch to an omnidirectional option should you choose.

To what will you be connecting your mics?
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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby Sam Inglis » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:59 am

I think you're probably right that a simple set up such as ORTF or spaced omnis would be the easiest and most foolproof solution.

A SoundField mic would be much more flexible and open up lots of possibilities, but it would also be more expensive, and would require significantly more skill and experience from the user. There is also a fundamental difference between the sound of spaced mics and that of a coincident array like the SoundField -- I happen to like the precision of the latter, but the former are much more prevalent in classical recording generally, so a well placed spaced array might have more of a familiar sound to it than the SoundField.

A while ago we did a
Session Notes with some audio files that show the difference between spaced omnis and a SoundField mic, albeit on choir rather than orchestra.
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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:59 am

bragimike wrote:The mics that I requested are Line Audio CM3s.

Good choice, but the CM3s have been discontinued and replaced with the CM4s, as discussed at considerable length here:

https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=66995

But the CM4s would be a good and very cost-effective choice for your application, and actually better than the CM3s in an ORTF array as they have a better defined cardioid polar pattern.

And as Mike has suggested, a better idea still would be to go for a stereo set of Rode NT55s as these give you both cardioid and omni capsules, and thus a lot more options. Spaced Omnis is a much favoured technique for orchestral recording.

However, our conductor has suggested soundfield mics as an alternative.

I suspect that's the only high-end mic he's heard of! ;-) Even a simple A-format soundfield mic, like the Rode NT-SF1, means you're looking at an investment of at least £850, compared to £250 for a pair of CM4s...

Other A-format mics (SoundField SPS200, Sennhesier Ambeo, etc) are much more expensive. More importantly, monitoring on location is difficult becuase you need a software decoder to convert the A-format signals into B-format, and then convert those to stereo so you can hear what you're doing... so unless you have a high end recorder with A-format decoding built in or are running a laptop, mic placement becomes rather tricky....

The cheapest full-function SoundField mic with decoders built-in, the ST450, would set you back around £,7000....

Don't get me wrong -- I love the SoundField mic and I have two (an obsolete SPS422B and an ST450Mkii)... but I'm not sure the expense would be justified in your situation and -- probably more importantly -- the sound quality from a coincident array like the SoundField is not as flattering as that from an ORTF array, and mic positioning is a lot more critical.

My current view is that a matched pair in an ORFT configuration would be better value for money for what the orchestra wants to achieve and more straight forward to work with.

Absolutely -- spot on. I concur!

With the money saved, I'd suggest investing first in a decent mic stand that won't cause problems with sight-lines. I'd recommend the combination of K&M 26007 tube with a K&M 26700 round base. (Shown here fitted with a radio-mic antenna, but a small ORTF stereo bar works perfectly well too!):

Image

And then maybe a slim two-channel multicore mic cable, such as the Van Damme Blue Series Studio Grade 2-pair multicore (268-202-060) which makes a quick, easy, and very neat single cable run:

Image

http://www.van-damme.com/vandamme_product/van-damme-blue-series-studio-grade-up-ofc-pre-jacketed-multicore/

The two inner cables are jacketed, so all you need to do is strip back the outer sheath to reveal a sufficient length of each mini cable to connect to the mics on the ORTF bracket at one end, and into the recording machine at the other. I tidy up that sleeve junction with some heatshrink sleeving, and then solder the XLRs to the tails. I've been using this cable on stereo arrays for years and it works extremely well.

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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:37 am

Although I'm currently having a love affair with my NT-SF1 (don't tell my wife) I'll go along with the consensus. However in the longer term you might want to supplement your CM4s or whatever with an Ambisonic mic (especially if prices drop some more) because of the versatility it will give you - binaural audio turns out to be quite good fun, for instance.

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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby Aural Reject » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:40 am

ORTF for me, too....and I'd second Hugh's suggestion about the K&M stand combination.

Being rather lazy and shaky I tend to get my cables made up for me by people like https://directcablesystems.com/ , I've got into the habit of specifying black XLR shells as well for critical applications (usually if there's video around or occasionally just on live stuff).
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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:49 am

Aural Reject wrote:...and I'd second Hugh's suggestion about the K&M stand combination.

Hang on -- I'm just recycling your suggestion! I bought a couple on your recommendation and they are excellent -- almost as good as the classic BBC Cathedral Stands.

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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby hobbyist » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:57 pm

bragimike wrote:In a previous post of mine:

'Is a Pre-Amp necessary?' many people advised that my orchestra should purchase our own recoding equipment as a longer term investment.

Well, I've persuaded the committee to part with some cash! Thanks to the good people who responded to the previous post I was able to compile a list of equipment. The mics that I requested are Line Audio CM3s. However, our conductor has suggested soundfield mics as an alternative.

My current view is that a matched pair in an ORFT configuration would be better value for money for what the orchestra wants to achieve and more straight forward to work with.

I would value opinions from people who have more experience.

Thanks.

ORTF NOS DIN EBS RAI and all the rest ONLY work for ONE location and room size/shape as well as sound source and location of mikes.

Your real choice is xy coincident, near coincident as noted above, mid/side, spaced AB or ABC.

IMHO depending on the size of the orchestra you may want to consider a wide spaced AB pair , perhaps with center fill ABC , AND a stereo pair. Optionally another mike for a soloist and possibly also for room ambience.

What is the end result to be used for? Do you need mono compatibility?

If you go with near coincident then optimise the spacing and angle for your room and size of the source sound and do not copy the webs numbers for ORTF or some other approach.

Unless your target listener has golden ears then the specific mike is not all that important as long as it is not the cheapest that RadioShack sells. Anything over 100usd should give you quality that is plenty good enough. After that amount improvement is more subjective than real.

Do review all these before charging forth with getting mikes or choosing a set up:

https://lossenderosstudio.com/article.php?subject=11

http://www.sengpielaudio.com/WellknownS ... Angles.pdf

http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator ... sAngle.htm

http://www.sengpielaudio.com/HejiaE.htm

http://www.sengpielaudio.com/Fragen08.h ... nglish.htm

http://www.sengpielaudio.com/Visualization-ORTF-E.htm

https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advi ... compatible
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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:04 pm

hobbyist wrote:IMHO

IMHO is usually taken as meaning "in my humble opinion". I'm not sure humility is completely appropriate here ...

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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby forumuser840717 » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:21 pm

Deleted - sorry. But it was.
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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:26 pm

Let's keep things polite please folks.
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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby hobbyist » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:51 pm

ConcertinaChap wrote:
hobbyist wrote:IMHO

IMHO is usually taken as meaning "in my humble opinion". I'm not sure humility is completely appropriate here ...

CC

Was it Yogi Berra that said : "When you can do it its not bragging."?

IMHO means , IMHO, that I have something that you really should consider carefully before making a bad decision, or depending on the context something that is roughly similar, and that I am not just blowing hot air out of all my orifices, because I have been there and done that. I have taught at 3 unis and am not a total idiot.

If you dispute something I say then please cite some facts to say concerning why you think that I was wrong.

If the OPer does not find my comment useful he can always ignore it.
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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sat Jul 13, 2019 4:11 am

hobbyist wrote:Was it Yogi Berra that said : "When you can do it its not bragging."?

IMHO means , IMHO, that I have something that you really should consider carefully before making a bad decision, or depending on the context something that is roughly similar, and that I am not just blowing hot air out of all my orifices, because I have been there and done that. I have taught at 3 unis and am not a total idiot.

If you dispute something I say then please cite some facts to say concerning why you think that I was wrong.

If the OPer does not find my comment useful he can always ignore it.

So far you’ve proven you’re adequate at searching the internet. IMHO (in my humble opinion) your rhetoric hasn’t indicated a deep understanding of the issues involved more a rewrite of what you found on the internet, which would lead me to agree with the (now deleted) short post. Nice and to the point.

But maybe I’ve mis-judged you. Given you’re keen to cite facts, perhaps you’d be so kind as to name the universities you have taught at and in what subject areas you have lectured. I do hope it’s all related.

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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:51 am

Hobbyist: I apologise for my remark, being sarcastic doesn't help discussion and I withdraw it. However, if I may offer advice (as someone who while not being the most knowledgeable here by an awful long way has at least knocked around this forum for a good few years) a bit of humility while you find your feet here will help tremendously. Some of the people you are dealing with here are among the most knowledgeable in the business and if you give it a little time you will learn who they are and why their opinions are worth listening to.

With respect.

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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:03 am

Following on from CC's post....

To 'hobbyist': Whether it's your intention or not, your statements often come across as being sure you're absolutely right and that any other opinion is either wrong or from someone who doesn't know as much as you do.

It could well be a cultural thing... I've noticed that many people from the States are quite dogmatic in their statements. There are no shades of grey/gray - only blacks and whites.

This forum, for good or ill, is quite 'English'. Understatement, self-deprecation and irony are broad features here. But it is inhabited by people who are very experienced, very knowledgeable or both.

You are welcome here; all insights and perspectives are valuable. But your tone often jars - clearly not just to me. Soften it up a bit; be a bit less dogmatic and we'll all get along swimmingly! :thumbup:
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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:51 am

hobbyist wrote:ORTF NOS DIN EBS RAI and all the rest ONLY work for ONE location and room size/shape as well as sound source and location of mikes.

Is this not the case for any and every mic array?

...depending on the size of the orchestra you may want to consider a wide spaced AB pair , perhaps with center fill ABC , AND a stereo pair. Optionally another mike for a soloist and possibly also for room ambience.

That's a comprehensive coverage... but 8 mics is quite a step up in budget and complexity from the simple scheme the OP was pursuing.

If you go with near coincident then optimise the spacing and angle for your room and size of the source sound and do not copy the webs numbers for ORTF or some other approach.

While I agree about not sticking dogmatically to a specific array configuration if it patently isn't working, there's nothing wrong in using a defined array format as a starting point -- and in fact I much prefer that approach to any other.

Starting with an ORTF array, as an example, means you know the acceptance angle is 90 degrees which then defines where the array has to be placed for a full stereo image. Once in place -- assuming it is safe and appropriate for the audience etc -- it is possible to listen and judge the balance of orchestra and acoustics. Only then can decisions be made as to whether the array needs to be closer or further away, and the mutual angle and spacing of mics adjusted accordingly to maintain the appropriate acceptance angle.

A very handy tool to help with configuring near-spaced arrays is the Neumann Recording Tools App: https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/neumann-recording-tools.

On the subject of mono compatibility, it's worth remembering that all FM radio receivers revert to summed mono whenever the received signal is weak or drops out. In the UK, the biggest selling DAB receiver has a mono speaker. And lots of people listen to music through the speaker(s) of their smart phones which are, in effect, mono... So while mono compatibility probably isn't quite as critical as it was thirty years ago, it's certainly not an irrelevance today.

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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby hobbyist » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:19 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
hobbyist wrote:ORTF NOS DIN EBS RAI and all the rest ONLY work for ONE location and room size/shape as well as sound source and location of mikes.

Is this not the case for any and every mic array?

Yes.
But you should be surprised at the number of people who look up how to mike stereo and then decide on ORTF or NOS and then exactly duplicate the spacing and angles not realising it only worked like that for one French setup and one Dutch one.

...depending on the size of the orchestra you may want to consider a wide spaced AB pair , perhaps with center fill ABC , AND a stereo pair. Optionally another mike for a soloist and possibly also for room ambience.

That's a comprehensive coverage... but 8 mics is quite a step up in budget and complexity from the simple scheme the OP was pursuing.


I said consider. Of course it depends on their budget and goals.
but renting mikes and trying things instead of buying the whole kit up front without any experience is often useful.

If you go with near coincident then optimise the spacing and angle for your room and size of the source sound and do not copy the webs numbers for ORTF or some other approach.[/quote]

While I agree about not sticking dogmatically to a specific array configuration if it patently isn't working, there's nothing wrong in using a defined array format as a starting point -- and in fact I much prefer that approach to any other.

Isnt it really whether you want near coincident or not? Then look at the configuration. Use Sengpiel or your references to guide setting up for the size and distance from the orchestra you will have.
[/quote]

Starting with an ORTF array, as an example, means you know the acceptance angle is 90 degrees which then defines where the array has to be placed for a full stereo image. Once in place -- assuming it is safe and appropriate for the audience etc -- it is possible to listen and judge the balance of orchestra and acoustics. Only then can decisions be made as to whether the array needs to be closer or further away, and the mutual angle and spacing of mics adjusted accordingly to maintain the appropriate acceptance angle.

Yes. For people who can hear those differences well. But still, looking at some reference material especially the diagrams to see what the actual resulting angles and spread yada yada are would be better than starting blind.

Tweak from something closer to what you want then to wildly hunt at random.

[/quote]

A very handy tool to help with configuring near-spaced arrays is the Neumann Recording Tools App: https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/neumann-recording-tools.



Thanks. I will check those out next and add them to my collection.
[/quote]
On the subject of mono compatibility, it's worth remembering that all FM radio receivers revert to summed mono whenever the received signal is weak or drops out. In the UK, the biggest selling DAB receiver has a mono speaker. And lots of people listen to music through the speaker(s) of their smart phones which are, in effect, mono... So while mono compatibility probably isn't quite as critical as it was thirty years ago, it's certainly not an irrelevance today.

H

I thought I mentioned that they should consider whether mono compatibility or not would be useful or needed. But good to reiterate that.
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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby hobbyist » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:29 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:Following on from CC's post....

To 'hobbyist': Whether it's your intention or not, your statements often come across as being sure you're absolutely right and that any other opinion is either wrong or from someone who doesn't know as much as you do.

It could well be a cultural thing... I've noticed that many people from the States are quite dogmatic in their statements. There are no shades of grey/gray - only blacks and whites.

This forum, for good or ill, is quite 'English'. Understatement, self-deprecation and irony are broad features here. But it is inhabited by people who are very experienced, very knowledgeable or both.

You are welcome here; all insights and perspectives are valuable. But your tone often jars - clearly not just to me. Soften it up a bit; be a bit less dogmatic and we'll all get along swimmingly! :thumbup:


It may well be a cultural difference between UK and US. And it may be increased because I do have a degree in engineering, 5 years of grad school in math, and a PhD in computer science. Plus a long career of having worked in systems engineering.

And when I understand the why of something it is easier to say in such a manner, when others say to do something when all they know is what they were told or read, and are at risk of making a mistake with a decision, if not already incorrec.t

To me Facts + Logic = Truth. So if I sound like I am absolutely right it is because I think that I am correct based on the truth.

If someone can counter my statements with something other than ad hominems I would listen carefully.
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Re: ORFT vs Soundfield for orchestra recording

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:39 pm

OK, a couple of things:

1) When you state that which is in your opinion the truth you should back those statements up with evidence, especially if they are in some way contentious.

2) When you list your intellectual achievements I'm looking for anything relating to audio and not seeing it. What background do you have there? Speaking as someone who has also spent most of my working life in software development and systems administration I have never found that much of a match.

3) To quote Oliver Cromwell, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken".

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