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Quick/simple Soprano + Piano in an auditorium
Old 10th April 2021
  #1
Quick/simple Soprano + Piano in an auditorium

Sometime in the coming months, I'll have the chance to sit in while a number of opera singers & coaches practice and do solo singer+piano recitals. Recording is not their priority at all, but at least one singer wants me to do an impromptu tape, and my guess is that if I bring gear then others may want to try too. Several of the people there are world class and some are students. I am definitely not world class at recording. It they come out well, the tapes will mostly be used as singers' audition tapes (voice quality matters; piano quality is just `bonus'). There will be a small audience.


This means I need a very simple, foolproof setup that can setup in ~5min and do a decent job with ~zero sound testing, and I won't get to position the singers/piano.


Room:
The planned auditorium is a nice modern performance auditorium with a 40' or 50' wide stage (standard height) and hardwood floors. There could also be some stuff in smaller/worse practice rooms.

Mics/gear
I'll be traveling, possibly by plane. I could bring:
-Mixpre-6
-Two Rode NTR Ribbons (thanks njrsound and NorseHorse for the recommendation---these are currently my favorites for vox, and also the favorites of singer friends).
-Two CM4
-One AT4050
-I could also buy/borrow other mics. I have some months to figure this out.

Placement guess
-I am thinking that I should put the two NTR ribbons in A/B with 24" spacing, located 8' in front of the stage and 8' in the air (so at chest height for the on-stage singers). The placement is a total guess---I & singer friends love these mics, but we've only really used them as vocal spots in untreated practice rooms.

I could also add a CM4 pair in NOS or ORTF on the same stand to have a choice at mixdown. That would mean I could set up with just a single mic stand in the audience.

Is this a reasonable guess for what you would do if you had to guess at a setup/single take? (Or I should say, what would be a better guess?)

I've read a few threads that mention knee-height mics for opera (which would be great to be less visually distracting & not need to bring a big stand). Are these referring to knee-height for on-stage performers or knee-height for the audience?
Old 10th April 2021
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Presence or absence of either hand-held scores or use of a music stand will have some bearing on mic placement. You don't want these to either block the path of voice to mic(s) ...or bounce off them in a comb-filtering way.

Can you confirm the scores/stand situation ? Some auditions require singers to perform from memory rather than scores, to simulate real opera performance. Since it's a mixed rehearsal and tuition setting, and not audition only, I'd expect some will use these aids and others not. This illustration from Richard King’s excellent book highlights the issue perfectly...(apart from pic rotation...lol)
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Quick/simple Soprano + Piano in an auditorium-6f9d8898-9fe4-488e-9f26-15162bcd698e.jpg  
Old 10th April 2021
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
Can you confirm the scores/stand situation ?
Good question. My strong suspicion is that they won't use scores/stands, though I guess it's not impossible.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #4
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
i'd use a pzm at the lip of the stage for the vocalist and a pair of sdc's (say in ortf) somewhere close to the piano.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
i'd use a pzm at the lip of the stage for the vocalist and a pair of sdc's (say in ortf) somewhere close to the piano.
Ha--thanks for replying to my old thread, and very timely response---I'm recording classical vox + piano all summer.

Question: why do you prefer directional mics on the piano instead of the Decca Tail omnis? Wouldn't those mix better? I have the equipment here to try both ways, but unfortunately, everything is expected to be 'rapid setup no testing 1 shot', so there has been pretty much zero chance to experiment with mic placements etc.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #6
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tessitura ➡️
Ha--thanks for replying to my old thread, and very timely response---I'm recording classical vox + piano all summer.

Question: why do you prefer directional mics on the piano instead of the Decca Tail omnis? Wouldn't those mix better? I have the equipment here to try both ways, but unfortunately, everything is expected to be 'rapid setup no testing 1 shot', so there has been pretty much zero chance to experiment with mic placements etc.
i generally prefer to record what's in front of the mics (and not what's behind or around them) and don't want the ambient sound 'baked in' but rather add it later...

...but of course my reasoning is based on the premise that there will be some sort of mixing at a later stage.

besides, tail end position doesn't give me enough definition or articulation and a cloudy stereo image.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
i'd use a pzm at the lip of the stage for the vocalist and a pair of sdc's (say in ortf) somewhere close to the piano.
How will the PZM's pickup sound if the singer is holding a score book at chest height, masking or blocking voice propagation down to floor level ?
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #8
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
How will the PZM's pickup sound if the singer is holding a score book at chest height, masking or blocking voice propagation down to floor level ?
i don't consider the situation to be problematic (or else i would not have recommended using a pzm).

i've been forced to pick up entire orchestras with blm's/pzm's (i got better results with a trio rather than with a pair); it was only the choir behind the orchestra (and the usual suspects such as the harp) which needed some help.

or take a look at absorbers: they need to much more massive to become efficient so what you'll get from a score between a singer and a pzm most likely is some damping in the hf range which ime can get compensated by using a filter or two.


EDIT: if you have to add some hf to the pzm, make sure the piano mics are not too dark or else the hf lift in the pzm could cause the spill from the piano to sound brighter than the more direct sound...

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 3 weeks ago at 09:58 PM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Nut
 
Just reading the new Decca book - their standard setup for this is a pair of SDC omnis (guess you'll have to borrow these - do NOT use cards!) 12" apart and 4-5' from the tail of the piano, along the center harp rib, and 5-6' high. A pair of directionals (the Royers might do well; at 8" apart) 8-12" apart and 3-4' away (w/fig 8s, probably more like 5-6'), for the singer. With an audience, probably want to do what they call the 'Pavarotti' setup which is between chest and abdomen height. These two pairs alone can be a bit dry, depending on the hall, so they recommend an ORTF pair 4-5' behind the middle of the piano, and about 10' high, aimed up and away from the piano. If you do the ribbons on the singer, that may 'wet' things sufficiently w/o the ORTF. My only concern with fig8s on the soloist would be maybe too much audience noise. In that case use the ribbons on the piano, and the CM4s on the singer (would have to borrow another pair of cards for the ORTF room mics, if they're needed).

I recorded opera soloists with piano for 15 years, and never did a singer use music on a stand.
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