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Recording an Orchestra - Cold

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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 ...

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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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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:42 am

Arpangel wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote: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?

Highlighted...
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:17 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote: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.

Lovely. Thanks, Hugh. I've got the mics for that and I'll give it a whirl sometime.

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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:21 am

ConcertinaChap wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote: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.

Lovely. Thanks, Hugh. I've got the mics for that and I'll give it a whirl sometime.

CC

I'm only half-remembering this, but I recall TF stating that Andre Previn in particular was very averse to multi-mic/stand/cable setups when there was an audience present. Hence this array...
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:02 pm

Hypo-cardioids at 47cm spacing and 90 degree mutual angle provide a stereo recording angle of about 70 degrees (+/-35 degrees), while spaced omnis at 67cm is about 99 degrees (+/-49.5 degrees).

Cardioids with the same 47cm spacing and angle gives an SRA of about 61 degrees (+/-30.5 degrees).

So it requires the width of the orchestra to be reasonably narrow and compact, especially if the array has to be placed fairly close.

Narrower spacings of the directional mics will give wider SRAs -- for example, a 22cm spacing of hypo-cardioids (with 90 degree mutual angle) gives a 120 degree SRA, or 33cm is a 90 degree SRA.

For Cardioids the equivalent spacings are 14 (SRA=120) and 24cm (SRA=90).
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby jimh76 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:54 pm

Hi Peeps,,

Fist of all a big thank you to everyone for their insightful input.

I'm in Stockport near Manchester (UK).

I feel I should explain that I kind of ambushed the people doing the concert, as the concert was taking place already, and I rang the person who organised it and said I would come down and record for free. I love recording, but don't get much action......I also don't claim to be an expert, but feel things like this are a really good way of learning (mostly by making the mistakes)

I obviously understand that to them, it's a performance and not a recording session, and I have kind of hijacked them.

I stated to them that for the performance, the limitations as to the mic stands etc might not get the best recording for them, and my hope is that they'll let me do an actual recording session proper after they have done this one.

I'll possibly be doing a rehearsal session first in which case, anything goes with regards to mic stands. I think I will keep it simple though ( although I don't want to go the mono route really). Like Hugh says, possibly the Rode NT1s left & right (high as they can go) and the SE X1A central, with possibly the SDC spot mics on the piano in stereo.

I'm looking forward to it, and if it sounds pants, then no one has really lost anything.

Thanks,

Jim.
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Aural Reject » Fri Sep 20, 2019 2:26 pm

When is it?
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:07 pm

jimh76 wrote:Hi Peeps,,

Fist of all a big thank you to everyone for their insightful input.

I'm in Stockport near Manchester (UK).


Sorry! Too far off my patch, otherwise I'd have been pleased to help.
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Aural Reject » Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:16 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:
jimh76 wrote:Hi Peeps,,

Fist of all a big thank you to everyone for their insightful input.

I'm in Stockport near Manchester (UK).


Sorry! Too far off my patch, otherwise I'd have been pleased to help.

It’s a way away from home for me...but if it can be tied in with a visit to the kids in Woodford and I’m not working...then I might be able to do something.
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby jimh76 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:33 pm

Hi peeps

It's on Saturday 28 September. I'd be recording the rehearsal in the afternoon and depending on how that goes record the concert in the evening. I've not got final confirmation yet so I may be told that it's a no go and to do the next 1 so don't do any planning for me Aural.

As I say I think it's a casual for me and as long as I don't completely muck it up could be something I regularly do for them.

Cheers for everyone's input.

Jim
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Re: Recording an Orchestra - Cold

Postby Aural Reject » Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:51 pm

jimh76 wrote:Hi peeps

It's on Saturday 28 September. I'd be recording the rehearsal in the afternoon and depending on how that goes record the concert in the evening. I've not got final confirmation yet so I may be told that it's a no go and to do the next 1 so don't do any planning for me Aural.

As I say I think it's a casual for me and as long as I don't completely muck it up could be something I regularly do for them.

Cheers for everyone's input.

Jim

I’m in Morocco atm but back by then.

In theory I’m only scheduled for edits that weekend - though I’m waiting for some dates off a band for some in-rehearsal recording before the 12th October which I’ll get after their gig tomorrow evening.

If you come up with an alternative mic plan or approach that you think would benefit from access to better mics just prod...I can cover most eventualities barring a filmic in shot balance.
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