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Chamber Ensemble Recording Setup
Old 17th March 2021
  #1
Here for the gear
 
Chamber Ensemble Recording Setup

Hello,
I’m brand new to the forum, and this is my first post so please have mercy

I’m a full-time professional oboist and member of a chamber ensemble who performs concerts in a wide variety of venues and in many configurations. We have 11 members: winds, strings, and piano, and from that program all manner of classical chamber music from solo to nonet, dectet and sometimes borderline chamber orchestra (13-16 players).

I’m trying to upgrade my recording equipment from a zoom H4n and boom mic stand. It’s rudimentary I know! Primarily I’m capturing rehearsals and live concerts, usually while also playing inside the group. So my setup needs to be something I can set in place, hit record, and then forget about it. Often within a program we switch setups. For example, our last concert started with string quartet then went to trio of flute, clarinet and piano, then to violin/bass duo, then to a Nonet of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello, double bass. I can do some moving of mics between sets, but it can’t be anything too complicated given that I’m also playing. In rehearsals I have more time to move things around.

The rehearsal recording primarily need to give us honest feedback about balance and ensemble (we are conductorless), so making as natural a reproduction of what’s actually happening is most important. For concert recordings however, we want to capture something that can then be mastered and archived, possibly submitted to local classical radio for broadcast.

I know I will be asked about the budget. I’m thinking of slowly upgrading over time as I become more knowledgeable about what works and doesn’t. I don’t care to spend a ton of money up front only to find it isn’t practical or well suited to what we need. That said, I’m open to an initial upgrade investment of $2-3K.

After several weeks lurking on these forums, I’ve got a list going of some possibilities and I’d love feedback.

Recorder: Zoom F6 or F8n
Microphones: Line Audio CM-4 pair, ORTF, on a bar with two OM1’s in an AB configuration on the ends of the bar, separated by about 60cm (though I’d experiment)
Mic Stand: Manfrotto Air-Cushoned Stand 12’—possibly 2 extra to experiment with Omni flankers
Mic Bar: t.bone StereoBar 1 Pro
Simple camera tripod to mount the recorder
XLR cables in the $20-30 range
Computer: MacBook Pro
Mastering Software: LogicPro X? (I’ve been using GarageBand, so am guessing this would be intuitive)

Thanks in advance for your insights!
SW
Old 17th March 2021
  #2
Gear Nut
Hello OboeShawn


welcome to the forum,

It's a very nice list you have there and that should work for your needs..

My 2 cents:

I would look into a mixpre vs another zoom.....( for my needs I would use the mac with better pres but as you're playing also then yes your options with Zoom type pres seems best)

I would say get more inputs than what you think you need now.... and, get the best mics you can afford up front .. while some experienced GS members have had some luck with lower priced mics, in the end everyone reverts to the proven names : Neumann, DPA, Schoeps, Sennheisers, Josephson, Akg 414,s...



Ray
Old 17th March 2021
  #3
Lives for gear
 
jnorman's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Substitute a Sound Devices Mixpre6 for the zoom, and maybe use Reaper instead of logic. The line audio mics are super affordable and sound great, so good choice there (until you go insane like the rest of us and buy a bunch of Schoeps...). You probably will not find the need for omni flanks with your group - the Boojum/jnorman/Faulkner configuration with ORTF and AB omnis on a single bar should be fine. Otherwise, looks good.
Old 17th March 2021
  #4
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oboeshawn ➡️

Mastering Software: LogicPro X? (I’ve been using GarageBand, so am guessing this would be intuitive)

Thanks in advance for your insights!
SW

As suggested by Jnorman, yes! Reaper all the wayyy.... but, iT's a different animal from garageband/Logic X .....

I'll say this, if you already have Logic X , the mac ..then stick with that ...

Ray
Old 17th March 2021 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➡️
the Boojum/jnorman/Faulkner configuration with ORTF and AB omnis on a single bar .
I thought we now had to label this configuration as I used two pairs of mics on the same bar...??

Ray
Old 17th March 2021
  #6
Lives for gear
 
JCBigler's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
The Sound Devices Mix Pre 6-II will work for your initial needs. However, if you think you will want to add flankers or room mics, or a soloist mic, then you'll want to upgrade to the MixPre 10-II which has 8 mic inputs. Otherwise, I think you have a great initial gear list.
Old 17th March 2021 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
JCBigler's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayS ➡️
I thought we now had to label this configuration as I used two pairs of mics on the same bar...??

Ray
Ima gonna get a 16' wide bar and put my flankers on it too, that way I can have three stereo pairs on the the same bar next time.
Old 17th March 2021 | Show parent
  #8
Here for the gear
 
Thank you Ray! What would you say makes the mixpre 10 worth the extra $500 over the Zoom 8n? I’m looking at the specs comparison, but much of it doesn’t make sense to me yet. I do like that the mixpre is remote controllable from my phone.

Also, if I started with the CM4’s and OM1’s, which would you upgrade first and to what? I actually already have the OM1’s, but haven’t really done anything with them yet.

Mics are such a can of worms from what I’m gathering! As an oboist, I tend to get nervous when I see cardioids pointed straight at me—I usually sit dead center in the orchestra or larger ensemble. While I do like the crisp definition of the traditional XY cardioid pair, a lot of microphones tend to capture the oboe in a harsh, laser-like way. There are so many high frequencies in the overtone spectrum of the oboe, and they emanate directionally out the front from the tone holes, which is usually straight at the mic array. It can be difficult to capture enough tonal core to fatten out the sound with fullness and depth. Perhaps that has more to do with mic placement and technique, but I’ve noticed even on professional recordings I’ve done that the oboe can sound electric. We are also hugely reliant on the acoustics of the space. I usually have to do a fair amount of EQ/Compression to get more middle or just use a reed that is dark and very held together. I definitely use a different type of reed for projection quality in a large hall vs. a recording. Sorry for digressing a bit. Thanks for the feedback and suggestions!
Old 18th March 2021
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I'm not sure that XY is any more 'traditional' than AB omni, ORTF, M-S, Blumlein etc Give AB and ORTF a try (as your '4 mics on a bar' plan will automatically give you) before you make judgements about oboe tone, and be confident that your proposed Line Audio mics will give you a truthful rendition of individual instrument and ensemble sound.

You're correct in assuming that mic placement and spacing/orientation will significantly change the recorded sound...so plan on devoting some experimental time (rehearsals are great for this !) to learn the intricacies of the various arrays....before rushing to corrective measures like eq and compression.

Further down the track you'll undoubtedly discover that those significantly more expensive 'name' mics will give a more detailed and refined sound...but not so much that they'll invalidate the fine rendition you get with the Line Audio mics.

There are certainly no inherent characteristics of the CM4/OM1 mics that have any tendency to exacerbate or highlight oboe harsh overtones. Might you be currently be miking too closely, or with insufficient mic stand height, which could be exposing these harmonics...or perhaps it is "just a reed thing" ? Listen to the whole orchestra when making assessments of tone and balance...not just your own instrument
Old 18th March 2021 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler ➡️
Ima gonna get a 16' wide bar and put my flankers on it too, that way I can have three stereo pairs on the the same bar next time.
16 ft?

show me.

Ray
Old 18th March 2021 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler ➡️
Ima gonna get a 16' wide bar and put my flankers on it too, that way I can have three stereo pairs on the the same bar next time.
Ah, that'll be the infrequently used (and publicly hazardous) "Bigler Fully Phased Array !
Old 18th March 2021 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oboeshawn ➡️
Thank you Ray! As an oboist, I tend to get nervous when I see cardioids pointed straight at me—I usually sit dead center in the orchestra or larger ensemble. While I do like the crisp definition of the traditional XY cardioid pair, a lot of microphones tend to capture the oboe in a harsh, laser-like way. There are so many high frequencies in the overtone spectrum of the oboe, and they emanate directionally out the front from the tone holes, which is usually straight at the mic array. It can be difficult to capture enough tonal core to fatten out the sound with fullness and depth. Perhaps that has more to do with mic placement and technique, but I’ve noticed even on professional recordings I’ve done that the oboe can sound electric. We are also hugely reliant on the acoustics of the space. I usually have to do a fair amount of EQ/Compression to get more middle or just use a reed that is dark and very held together. I definitely use a different type of reed for projection quality in a large hall vs. a recording. Sorry for digressing a bit. Thanks for the feedback and suggestions!
You,re right .. oboe is a tough instrument sound to get right ,, half the time it's too soft/distant, (like it should IMO) mostly because the player is all too aware of what you just mentioned and ,if you put a spot and over use it it's wayy to much /not natural....I don't see this as a problem in your case though as you will have a 4 mic bar where the conductor is usually..no close miking !

Ray
Old 18th March 2021 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
JCBigler's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayS ➡️
16 ft?

show me.

Ray
I'll have to rent a box just just to haul my stereo bar to gigs.
Old 18th March 2021 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
JCBigler's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
Ah, that'll be the infrequently used (and publicly hazardous) "Bigler Fully Phased Array !
Everyone has to sign a liability waiver before using it.
Old 18th March 2021 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler ➡️
I'll have to rent a box just just to haul my stereo bar to gigs.








Ray
Old 18th March 2021 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler ➡️
Everyone has to sign a liability waiver before using it.
although at 6 mics it might not be fully "phased"


but we could call it a "multimic array from OK" .

to be politically correct



Ray
Old 18th March 2021 | Show parent
  #17
Here for the gear
 
Thanks for the insights studer58. I think I tend to abuse the compression/limiter precisely because I’m so used to hearing ensembles and orchestras from the inside. I so rarely experience concerts from the audience perspective, but when I do, it’s usually underwhelming by comparison. The sound is so powerful, vivid, and dynamic onstage, and getting to sit in the middle it can feel like the best seat in the house. I don’t like it when the winds sound distant in recordings, but I understand it given that they sound much less present in real life from the hall seats.

We do this “Music Paradigm” show sometimes working with a small group of organizational leaders. They sit inside the orchestra with us and the moderators use it as a model for organizational relationships. It’s always fun to see their eyes get huge when we first start up and they experience a powerful piece of music from inside it like that. When I listen in the hall (especially bad halls), I can totally get why many people think of classical music as a snooze fest. Chamber music can offer a nice compromise because the venues can be much more intimate.
Old 18th March 2021
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Yes it's very much about perspective/point of view...as your 'leadership test-bed/Music Paradigm' example illustrates very well. Don't tell me though that your typical orchestral experience when playing, equates to that of the conductor (whose overview is, by necessity, balanced and democratic)...you'll undoubtedly be in your own little immersion sub-pool of immediately neighbouring instruments...and hopefully not bombarded by percussion or brass !

It would be a fascinating drone experiment to have a hovering mic 'drop in on' what's heard by players.... in various parts of an orchestra ! Putting out a bunch of spot mics in several key section locations and soloing them (with a little main pair bleed) might accomplish something similar ?

Hint; why do you think that the favoured place for main mic pairs is invariably above and slightly behind the conductor's position...at least as a starting point ?

If you're making review recordings from now on, with the new proposed kit, you'd better be making them for the whole orchestra, conductor's perspective, rather than skewing them via processing 'to make the oboe sound better'...I'm sure you're not that narcissistic !

I realize that your 'orchestra' is a small and variable crew size, so getting mic placement correct is even more critical for balance. I recommend highly the Richard King book as a valuable guide text: https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews...orchestra-book

Have fun...particularly in the long 'happy experimenter' phase ahead One of the skills you'll develop is how to make a bad hall sound passable, perhaps even good...by mic pattern selection in your final mix, as well as stand placement, mics height etc.
Old 18th March 2021 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayS ➡️
although at 6 mics it might not be fully "phased"


but we could call it a "multimic array from OK" .

to be politically correct



Ray
Thought you might be advocating "phasers set to stun" !

https://youtu.be/gbFmzZPyKlk
Old 18th March 2021
  #20
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oboeshawn ➡️
Hello,
I’m brand new to the forum, and this is my first post so please have mercy

I’m a full-time professional oboist and member of a chamber ensemble who performs concerts in a wide variety of venues and in many configurations. We have 11 members: winds, strings, and piano, and from that program all manner of classical chamber music from solo to nonet, dectet and sometimes borderline chamber orchestra (13-16 players).

I’m trying to upgrade my recording equipment from a zoom H4n and boom mic stand. It’s rudimentary I know! Primarily I’m capturing rehearsals and live concerts, usually while also playing inside the group. So my setup needs to be something I can set in place, hit record, and then forget about it. Often within a program we switch setups. For example, our last concert started with string quartet then went to trio of flute, clarinet and piano, then to violin/bass duo, then to a Nonet of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello, double bass. I can do some moving of mics between sets, but it can’t be anything too complicated given that I’m also playing. In rehearsals I have more time to move things around.

The rehearsal recording primarily need to give us honest feedback about balance and ensemble (we are conductorless), so making as natural a reproduction of what’s actually happening is most important. For concert recordings however, we want to capture something that can then be mastered and archived, possibly submitted to local classical radio for broadcast.

I know I will be asked about the budget. I’m thinking of slowly upgrading over time as I become more knowledgeable about what works and doesn’t. I don’t care to spend a ton of money up front only to find it isn’t practical or well suited to what we need. That said, I’m open to an initial upgrade investment of $2-3K.

After several weeks lurking on these forums, I’ve got a list going of some possibilities and I’d love feedback.

Recorder: Zoom F6 or F8n
Microphones: Line Audio CM-4 pair, ORTF, on a bar with two OM1’s in an AB configuration on the ends of the bar, separated by about 60cm (though I’d experiment)
Mic Stand: Manfrotto Air-Cushoned Stand 12’—possibly 2 extra to experiment with Omni flankers
Mic Bar: t.bone StereoBar 1 Pro
Simple camera tripod to mount the recorder
XLR cables in the $20-30 range
Computer: MacBook Pro
Mastering Software: LogicPro X? (I’ve been using GarageBand, so am guessing this would be intuitive)

Thanks in advance for your insights!
SW
you may wanna consider getting an ambisonic mic/capsule array rather than the typical omni and/or cardioid pair: very easy to position and allows to adjust things during mixing in multiple ways.

check out a pair of oc-818's, use a double m/s setup (schoeps comes to mind) or then a soundfield, sennheiser or rode ambisonic mic.
Old 18th March 2021 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oboeshawn ➡️
Thank you Ray! What would you say makes the mixpre 10 worth the extra $500 over the Zoom 8n? I’m looking at the specs comparison, but much of it doesn’t make sense to me yet. I do like that the mixpre is remote controllable from my phone.

Also, if I started with the CM4’s and OM1’s, which would you upgrade first and to what? I actually already have the OM1’s, but haven’t really done anything with them yet.

Mics are such a can of worms from what I’m gathering! As an oboist, I tend to get nervous when I see cardioids pointed straight at me—I usually sit dead center in the orchestra or larger ensemble. While I do like the crisp definition of the traditional XY cardioid pair, a lot of microphones tend to capture the oboe in a harsh, laser-like way. There are so many high frequencies in the overtone spectrum of the oboe, and they emanate directionally out the front from the tone holes, which is usually straight at the mic array. It can be difficult to capture enough tonal core to fatten out the sound with fullness and depth. Perhaps that has more to do with mic placement and technique, but I’ve noticed even on professional recordings I’ve done that the oboe can sound electric. We are also hugely reliant on the acoustics of the space. I usually have to do a fair amount of EQ/Compression to get more middle or just use a reed that is dark and very held together. I definitely use a different type of reed for projection quality in a large hall vs. a recording. Sorry for digressing a bit. Thanks for the feedback and suggestions!
Mic preamps are much better in the Mixpre's
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
Lives for gear
 
king2070lplaya's Avatar
With hinsdisght, I would definitely just invest all of my budget into the best pair of mics I could afford.

I would recommend auditioning pairs of omni and cardioid mics, maybe wide cardioid, and testing ORTF, NOS, and AB setups alone, to figure out where your preferences lies. Something like a pair of cmc621 would be great, but is a little out of your stated budget, though could probably be found used. Neumann 183 or 184 could work very well, as could the Sennheiser 80x0 mics. The 4 mic setups can be useful for “safety” but I would almost always prefer a single pair of better quality mics over multiple cheap pairs. It’s also less work to setup a single pair, which a performer before a concert should find useful.

The Zoom is a good recorder and the pres do a solid job, I wouldn’t spend money upgrading your recorder unless 4 channels begins to prove limiting to your needs.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Hi Shawn,

I noticed the t.bone stereo bar in your list, just wanted to stay, stay away! I bought one when I wanted the grace bar, but didn't want to afford it... Used it once, it broke, and I bought the Grace bar. Total waste of money. It's also huge and heavy.

For mics; in your situation I'd use a pair of wide cardioids. Schoeps mk21s or sennheiser 8090s.

For your oboe-specific sound; AEA n8, r88. One of my best friends is an oboist and won't let me use anything else, even other ribbons.

Good luck!

(Also, pm me if you want to try the t.bone to see for yourself)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Oboeshawn ➡️
, I’ve got a list going of some possibilities and I’d love feedback.

Recorder: Zoom F6 or F8n
Microphones: Line Audio CM-4 pair, ORTF, on a bar with two OM1’s in an AB configuration on the ends of the bar, separated by about 60cm (though I’d experiment)
Mic Stand: Manfrotto Air-Cushoned Stand 12’—possibly 2 extra to experiment with Omni flankers
Mic Bar: t.bone StereoBar 1 Pro
Simple camera tripod to mount the recorder
XLR cables in the $20-30 range
Computer: MacBook Pro
Mastering Software: LogicPro X? (I’ve been using GarageBand, so am guessing this would be intuitive)

Thanks in advance for your insights!
SW
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