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Upgrades from 2 channel ORTF to 6 channel TBD -- symphony orchestra
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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Upgrades from 2 channel ORTF to 6 channel TBD -- symphony orchestra

Hello.

Last year my (symphony)orchestra invested in some baseline recording equipment ( Zoom F6 & 2x Oktava MK 012-01 Cardioid ) and now we're looking to upgrade. The goal is to have a decent(ish) audio recording of live concerts, either on its own or for video production.
I'm fairly happy with the F6, so for the time being I just want to populate all 6 of its channels.

I would like your input on
a) new possibilities for mic placement/recording techniques on a 6 channel setup
b) recommendations for microphones at 200-500€/pair


Concerning a)
What we've been doing so far is a simple ORTF setup 2m beind the conductor at a height of 3.3m. From previous advice, the next step would be a new pair of Omnis for the middle (maybe spaced on a bar) and to use the Oktavas as a widely spaced A/B pair slightly behind the middle pair. The 3rd pair is a bit more tricky. Ideally I would have them lowered from the ceiling fairly high above the winds, but that hardly seems possible in most situations. Maybe another A/B pair much deeper into the audience or another 2 Omnis on 2 separate mic-stands and again fairly high up between the strings and the winds.

Concerning b)
Apart from the Oktavas, which are performing decently, I've been hearing a lot of good things about www.lineaudio.se. They have both a Cardioid and an Omni in their lineup so I would probably buy at least 1 pair here unless advised against it.
What else is out there that I could/should consider?
I've had the pleasure to work with a bunch of Neumanns on 1 project which I obviously really liked, but these are out of our pricerange unfortunately.


Looking forward to your advice.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
Could do a lot worse than adding a pair of omni flanks, and have 2 channels that can float for soloists, talk mics, whatever a given program calls for.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #3
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Interesting, thanks.

So you would leave the Cardioids in the middle (still in ORTF I presume) and add the Omnis as the A/B.

How would you best utilize the 3rd pair for a regular symphony without soloist? And which microphone-type would offer the greatest versatility here, cardioid or omni?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
I have never used the Line Audio products so I can't say anything about them.

But if I had six channels, I'd add two more microphones for rear surround as a second ORTF pair, and then I might consider having two microphones for solo spots just in case.

I'm not a fan of outriggers at all. Lots of people like them, especially if their placement locations are limited. Workable omnis are cheap so it's worth trying them to decide if you like them or not. My experience is that I always like it better without the outriggers than with them, even if it feels too close. Yours may differ.

If it were me, I'd consider going up to higher grade microphones instead of more microphones. I'd much rather have two Schoeps than a box of Oktavas. But that's also a personal decision, and the Oktava is a hell of a good microphone for the price.
--scott
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #5
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
Yes, I’d keep the cardioids, ORTF and omnis is just a super flexible and user-friendly arrangement.

With those other 2 mics, you might mic the woodwind section with another ORTF pair, or mic the harp and contrabass, or timpani, depends what your situation calls for.

I agree with Kludge about moving up quality-wise with the mics. In your situation on minimal budget, I’d probably get a pair of Line Audio cm3 and a pair of Rode NT5’s with omni capsules. But you would see a noticeable improvement with pairs of mics like KM183/184 instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wagnard ➑️
Interesting, thanks.

So you would leave the Cardioids in the middle (still in ORTF I presume) and add the Omnis as the A/B.

How would you best utilize the 3rd pair for a regular symphony without soloist? And which microphone-type would offer the greatest versatility here, cardioid or omni?
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #6
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Noted, thank you.

A second pair of ORFT further back seems like a good use for the 3rd pair either way if it's free.

When I had the Neumanns I used an outrigger pair and quite liked it but I admittedly have no comparison.
So I certainly wanna try it without at least once.

I share your desire for higher quality mics but the budget's tight, especially after last year, and its entirety wont buy me even 1 pair of Neumann or Shoeps.

Any reason to get the CM3 over its successor, the CM4?
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #7
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wagnard ➑️
Noted, thank you.

A second pair of ORFT further back seems like a good use for the 3rd pair either way if it's free.

When I had the Neumanns I used an outrigger pair and quite liked it but I admittedly have no comparison.
So I certainly wanna try it without at least once.

I share your desire for higher quality mics but the budget's tight, especially after last year, and its entirety wont buy me even 1 pair of Neumann or Shoeps.

Any reason to get the CM3 over its successor, the CM4?
I meant CM4 sorry, force of habit.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #8
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No worries.

Thank you both for your advice.

I already had my eye on the NT5s when picking out the initial pair but I ultimately went with the Oktavas.
Maybe I can snag a pair somewhere directly with the N45-O capsules without paying extra for the cardioid caps.

Any experience with the Line Audio OM1?
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Update:

The CM4s are pretty much locked in.

For the Omnis its either the Rode NT5s with the NT45-Os or

SE Electronics SE8 Omni.
I could get those as a matched pair directly with the omni capsules, they also come highly recommended and should be in the same ballpark as the NT5s.

Anyone have experience with those?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #10
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I have a NT55 stereo pair and the NT45-O capsules are very good. The Rode has a self-noise of 15 dB(A) - very quiet.

I have not tried the sE8 omni. It has the same self-noise spec but there have been suggestions here on GS that it is not as quiet as the spec would suggest. Caveat emptor.

Also, the Rode mics have a 10 year warranty, versus 3 years for the sE.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #11
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wagnard ➑️
Update:

The CM4s are pretty much locked in.

For the Omnis its either the Rode NT5s with the NT45-Os or

SE Electronics SE8 Omni.
I could get those as a matched pair directly with the omni capsules, they also come highly recommended and should be in the same ballpark as the NT5s.

Anyone have experience with those?
I was not impressed with them. I think you would do better to get omni capsules for the Octavas or of course the Audio-Technica AT4049.
--scott
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #12
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
ortf imo does very fine in many situation but multi-capsule arrays/techniques offer some options not availabe from conventional setups - however, those i know (and which come with plugins to decode to whatever format) are far above your budget...

that said, i find an l/c/r array using m/s for the center (and the pattern for the sides/outriggers depending on situations) to be very versatile too!

maybe you wanna check out b9 audio (and of course the used market)...

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 1 week ago at 08:22 AM.. Reason: wording
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #13
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Thanks for the additional input.
I found this channel on youtube that has a lot of sound samples of all the mics in question
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-baPoBCvSng

I think the NT5 sounds a bit crisper, but the se8 has a more full sound which I quite like. It is quite a bit darker though and all of the mics here sound considerably more "muffled" than a Neumann 183. I guess the difference in price had to come into play somewhere.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➑️
I was not impressed with them. I think you would do better to get omni capsules for the Octavas or of course the Audio-Technica AT4049.
--scott
Are you talking about the se8 or both the se8 and the NT5?
What in particular didnt you like about them?
Were the AT4049 discontinued or something? I cant find them in stock anywhere.
Any experience with the AT 4022? They also seem more in line with my price range.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #14
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wagnard ➑️
Are you talking about the se8 or both the se8 and the NT5?
What in particular didnt you like about them?
Were the AT4049 discontinued or something? I cant find them in stock anywhere.
Any experience with the AT 4022? They also seem more in line with my price range.
I was talking about the SE8, I have not used the NT5.

The AT4049 is an AT4052 with an omni capsule, I guess the AT4049b is the latest version. I have not used the AT4022 but the honest truth is that it's a lot easier to make a good omni than a good cardioid.

I doubt anyone stocks the 4049 because there is a limited demand for omnis and nobody knows how to sell them. When they discontinued the Shure SM-80 I talked to the rep at the AES show and he said that in the previous year they had sold so many thousand SM-81s and six of the omni SM-80. His claim was that it cost more to keep the thing in the catalogue than they made from it.
--scott
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #15
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wagnard ➑️
I think the NT5 sounds a bit crisper, but the se8 has a more full sound which I quite like. It is quite a bit darker though and all of the mics here sound considerably more "muffled" than a Neumann 183. I guess the difference in price had to come into play somewhere..
What's coming into play here is which mic (or mic flavour) you're going to nominate as your reference for 'accuracy' and 'neutrality' ? A Neumann KM183 is always going to be on the brighter or crisper end of the neutrality spectrum (have a look at the frequency plot for a clue why this is)...it's "purpose designed" to be used in the more distant diffuse field.

The differences are less about price, rather than a designed-in response shaping, depending on whether close-up or a more distant use is envisaged ?

That 8-10k 'peak' is designed in to the KM183, sE8 omni and NT5-O ....and you won't find it in either the much cheaper Line Audio OM-1, or in the much more expensive flat response omnis such as Gefell, Josepson, B+K etc.

It's probably best to work backwards from your most likely usage context (either near to stage or more distant)... and then seek out a mic response pattern which complements that usage....either flat or 8-10k boosted. Don't simply make the most costly mic your reference, when design principles play a much bigger part in the sonic differences.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #16
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I'm using the KM183 as reference because it's the only one of these that I actually heard in person.

But good catch on the frequency response, all the mics I picked out have this bump at 10k. So in a very general sense, that's the sound I want from my omnis.

As for the placement I usually have free range, i.e. I can go as far back as I want. When recording a live concert there will be some constraints in regards to the audience though.
What are the drawbacks when I have to move them closer? Will a flat response mic be more flexible or will it have the same problem in the opposite direction?

Offsite I've read up a bit on the sE8 and the NT5 in the meantime and I would actually slightly favor the sE8 now. I like the sound (admittedly only from the comparison vids), I could get them directly with matched omni capsules and the frequency response pretty much perfectly matches that of the KM183.
I'm a bit worried about the lukewarm response it has gotten from this forum though.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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🎧 10 years
Theoretically you would expect a faster or deeper loss of HF in a flat response mic used at the same distance as an omni with 'the bump'

A 'bump' mic used closer could be expected to sound too bright, over-detailed when used closer to the source (before HF losses kick in ar distance)

The cure for both of these might be spectral analysis of the recordings...and then use corrective EQ to either reduce or boost any HF anomalies and weaknesses.

Since you already have a bump mic, a flatter one (Line Audio OM-1 is an obvious low cost example) would be a good addition to the toolkit...like buying a set of wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers, drill bits to expand the sort of work you can do !
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #18
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Thanks for your response.

I don't actually own a pair of KM183, I just had the pleasure to work with them one time when a concert hall we played had an entire set of Neumanns for in-house recordings.

Whatever I'm buying now will be my first pair of omnis and if I can I'd like to get something similar to the KM183.

Since you brought up the OM-1, do you have any experience with it?
I'll be ordering a pair of CM-4 regardless.
Those as ORFT in the middle + the OM-1 as A/B outriggers might give me a nice and neutral baseline for the orchestra and then I could use the warmer sound of the Oktavas I already own to highlight a soloist or certain sections.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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🎧 10 years
Yes, I use the OM1 (flat) often...whenever I'm not using NT-5 omnis (HF bump) or Sennheiser MKH8020 (flat) or KM183 (HF bump)

The OM1 works well at closer distances, or slightly further away in a rich, ambient, supportive acoustic.

But you don't want to find yourself in a siuation where you need to boost the HF of a flat mic (eg OM1) used at too great a distance....and then find that the self-noise and hiss of such a mic gets exposed more than it needs to be (if you'd used a 'bump' mic instead...to extend its working range distance)

It's for these reasons I advocate adding more spanners, wrenches, screwdrivers etc (ie mic types) to your mic toolkit...so you can select the correct one when seating arrangements, audience numbers, filming requirements etc force you to work outside of your typical distance parameters.

For example, a flat omni, a wide cardioid and a regular cardioid would be a good span of mic choices to have on hand, for any set of occasions.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'd suggest the orchestra management think a little harder about their budget priorities. These days, streaming of concerts is the only way a lot of orchestras are getting heard, which means that audio quality is pretty important to the organization's musical mission and reputation. Yet your proposed budget is $250 per microphone. I'd ask you to consider if there is anything on your stage that makes a noise and costs $250 or less? Seriously, the last-chair second violinist paid more than that for her bow. When you consider the average price of the instruments your players are using, a few Schoeps or DPA microphones start to look like quite a bargain.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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@ studer58
Thanks again.
I've emailed my contact at Thomann to see if I can get a pair of NT5 directly with the omni caps. If that falls through I'll take a pair of sE8.
Additionally I'll be ordering a pair of OM-1 at the earliest convenience.
That should cover all bases and I even could use both pairs when I dont have a good target for the Oktavas.

@ David Rick
Unfortunately we are not a professional orchestra.
While most of what you said applies to both amateurs and professionals alike the budget situation is quite a bit different.
I was surprised I even got this far thb.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #22
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wagnard ➑️
@ studer58
Thanks again.
I've emailed my contact at Thomann to see if I can get a pair of NT5 directly with the omni caps. If that falls through I'll take a pair of sE8.
Additionally I'll be ordering a pair of OM-1 at the earliest convenience.
That should cover all bases and I even could use both pairs when I dont have a good target for the Oktavas.

@ David Rick
Unfortunately we are not a professional orchestra.
While most of what you said applies to both amateurs and professionals alike the budget situation is quite a bit different.
I was surprised I even got this far thb.
Here's a concert we livestream-captured tonight with KM183's overhead as AB main pair...is this the calibre of performance you'll be recording ?

Please ignore the reversed stereo image Concert begins at 9:50

https://vimeo.com/533851804
file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Eve...ic%20Today.pdf
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #23
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Very nice.

Are there more mics out of frame or is it really just the 2 KM183 overhead + whatever is in front of the Cello/Bass?

As for the calibre, this is the piece I recorded last fall. So maybe not quite at the level that you linked.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3aHmmcWyy0

Just keep in mind that 2 weeks prior to this I knew precisely nothing about microphones, placement, recording technique, mixing or mastering.
I'm already cringing at all the stuff that went wrong.
But that also would be about the level I want to replicate with our own equipment.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #24
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wagnard ➑️
Very nice.

Are there more mics out of frame or is it really just the 2 KM183 overhead + whatever is in front of the Cello/Bass?

As for the calibre, this is the piece I recorded last fall. So maybe not quite at the level that you linked.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3aHmmcWyy0

Just keep in mind that 2 weeks prior to this I knew precisely nothing about microphones, placement, recording technique, mixing or mastering.
I'm already cringing at all the stuff that went wrong.
But that also would be about the level I want to replicate with our own equipment.
The video I linked was indeed a KM183 OH pair and a large diaphragm cardioid in front of the cello/violone...nothing else. Depending on the spaces you'll be working in, sometimes you might (sometimes or often) want the 'room minimizing' tendency of a good ORTF pair (eg CM4, KM184, sE8 cardioid, etc)...as well as a competent Omni pair...plan for future eventualities.

Branch out from there with spot mics, outrigger/flanker mics as seems necessary....but a correctly located good main pair alone (with the right qualities for the room/space you're in) will take you a long way !
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #25
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➑️
The video I linked was indeed a KM183 OH pair and a large diaphragm cardioid in front of the cello/violone...nothing else. Depending on the spaces you'll be working in, sometimes you might (sometimes or often) want the 'room minimizing' tendency of a good ORTF pair (eg CM4, KM184, sE8 cardioid, etc)...as well as a competent Omni pair...plan for future eventualities.

Branch out from there with spot mics, outrigger/flanker mics as seems necessary....but a correctly located good main pair alone (with the right qualities for the room/space you're in) will take you a long way !
Amen, brother!

The advantage of the outrigger is that it allows you to adjust the stereo width after recording. If you don't have good monitoring in the field and you don't know the room very well, the outriggers can be a win because they allow you to be more sloppy about placement.

I don't like the way they sound.... every time I bring them up I think tonally things are made worse... but they are a useful and important technique when you're in an unfamiliar and uncontrolled situation. When you get an orchestra in an unknown room and can't listen to the rehearsal, they can be a lifesaver.

And the thing about having more mikes is that you don't have to use them. I will often record four or five tracks and only use two of them... but spots and flanks are there just in case.

I'd much rather have two good microphones than four not as good microphones, but that's just me, and I worked for years with a single pair of B&K omnis when I was starting out.
--scott
Old 1 week ago
  #26
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@ studer58
That sounds very impressive for a 3 microphone setup, expertly done.
Placement is king after all

@ ALL

Thank you all very much for your advice, inputs and/or contributions to this topic. Even if I can't possibly follow all of it to the letter it is still very welcome nonetheless.

I've already placed an order for a pair of CM-4, will be getting either the NT5 or the sE8 as my "bump" omni and will be ordering an extra pair of OM-1 as my flat omnis.

After that I'll just keep saving/working/pestering people until I can get my hands on a pair of Neumann KM183/184.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #27
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Oh yeah... also... try recording with an ORTF pair and a spaced pair and listen to the difference. Then try recording with an ORTF pair and a baffled omni pair and listen to the difference. Then try coincident cardioids. Having four tracks means you can set up two different configurations and get a sense for yourself of how to place them and how they sound.
--scott
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