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.