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Q. Which would be the best set of mics for recording a wind band?

What do you suggest would be the best set of mics for recording a wind band? The mics available are two unidirectional capacitors, two omnidirectional capacitors, and four cardioid dynamic mics.

Geoff Rowlands

Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns replies: I appreciate your problem, but it is a little like asking whether you should buy a hatchback, saloon or estate car! The answer, I'm afraid, has to be 'it depends...' With careful listening and skilful placement, it should be possible to produce equally good results with all of the three options you suggest.

With only two to four mics, close‑miking techniques are obviously out, and I wouldn't have recommended them anyway: the sound of brass instruments needs a little space to develop. Distant miking requires a reasonably good‑sounding acoustic in which to perform, and I assume you have somewhere suitable in mind. A wooden‑floored room, ideally with wood‑panelled walls, is often very good for brass: the warmer reverb works well with a bright brass sound.

You could try a pair of spaced omnis, say 8‑10 feet apart, depending on the size of the band; the mics need to be about half the width of the group apart, but experiment with positioning. The problem is going to be balancing the perspective — getting the correct amount of room acoustic with the band, without favouring any specific instrument too much. Using cardioids allows you to move further back while getting the same stereo perspective, which also helps to give a more uniform balance to the band.

Spaced mics tend to give a rather vague stereo image, and I personally prefer crossed‑mic techniques; this ties you to the cardioids. Experiment with the mutual angle of the mics to get the correct stereo width and balance. If the band sounds very bright and raspy the dynamic mics might give a fuller, more controlled sound, but in general I'd go for the capacitor mics every time.