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Recording classical cello in large space - best mic configuration /setup?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Recording classical cello in large space - best mic configuration /setup?

Hi everyone! Looking for some more advice on cello recording:

I have a Mix Pre-6 and two pairs of Line Audio CM4s (my own and a borrowed pair) - the kit I acquired after my first post on here. ​After months of pretty much recording in my living room (thanks to Covid), I'm finally going to be recording in a church.

I'm wondering what would be the best placement of the mics for this setup? Like most churches, the space is pretty resonant. So far I've only used one pair of CM4 in ORTF, and haven't really tried them in a nice space yet, so I'm pretty much starting from scratch.

I'll be recording myself - just solo cello - so unfortunately I don't have an extra pair of ears and will be listening back through headphones.

Any suggestions about distance/height/configuration for the two pairs? I'm assuming it will work best to have one pair fairly close to the cello and the other more distant to pick up some of the space... I'm slightly hampered by only having two stands and Rhode stereo bars, so I can't really have either pair more than 30cm apart.

Also, this particular recording is tomorrow, so any advice before then would be especially appreciated! It would be great to hear recommendations at any time too, as I'm expecting to do more recordings in a similar setup. Thanks!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I'm guessing you're aware that one Omni pair (for the ambient mics) would have been a desirable swap for the CM4 pair...but given that's not possible, you could try (for the close pair) them parallel at the furthest width of the Rode bar, about 1m away and 1.5m high. When solo'ed, you're looking for a "widish-fattish mono" image from this close pair.

For the more distant ambient pair, the CM4's at 90 degrees (and pushed forward ...so that the mic clamp clip is gripping half the end of the mics and half the XLR plug (use duct tape if necessary to hold firmly in the mic clips). This should get you very close to a desirable NOS spacing ....30cms between mic heads @ 90 degrees angle. Place this pair about 3 metres back and 2.5-3 m high.

Pan the distant pair hard left/right and the closer pair 30% left and 30% right. Can you get a fellow cellist to play the instrument, while you set the height and distance of the further pair for a pleasing amount of ambience and detail (with close pair muted) in headphones ?

You can place the closer pair pretty much 'by theory and measuring tape'....just slide this pair into the mix (with hall/chamber/plate reverb) to restore some of the bite and body that eludes the distant pair....you shouldn't need much of the close mics....it's possible you may decide that you don't need them at all, which is perfectly fine !

Aim for the distant (main) pair to be giving you 90-95% of the sound...so this is the pair you'll devote most of your time to placing...these distances and heights are starting points only, your church space and ambience will dictate where the mics sound best to your ears.

Finally, place the closer pair about 30 degrees off-centre from the player's left side, and copy this for the main pair (just rotate the player and chair/stool to achieve this)

Last edited by studer58; 4 weeks ago at 11:30 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
I'm guessing you're aware that one Omni pair (for the ambient mics) would have been a desirable swap for the CM4 pair...but given that's not possible, you could try (for the close pair) them parallel at the furthest width of the Rode bar, about 1m away and 1.5m high. When solo'ed, you're looking for a "widish-fattish mono" image from this close pair.

For the more distant ambient pair, the CM4's at 90 degrees (and pushed forward ...so that the mic clamp clip is gripping half the end of the mics and half the XLR plug (use duct tape if necessary to hold firmly in the mic clips). This should get you very close to a desirable NOS spacing ....30cms between mic heads @ 90 degrees angle. Place this pair about 3 metres back and 2.5-3 m high.

Pan the distant pair hard left/right and the closer pair 30% left and 30% right. Can you get a fellow cellist to play the instrument, while you set the height and distance of the further pair for a pleasing amount of ambience and detail (with close pair muted) in headphones ?

You can place the closer pair pretty much 'by theory and measuring tape'....just slide this pair into the mix (with hall/chamber/plate reverb) to restore some of the bite and body that eludes the distant pair....you shouldn't need much of the close mics....it's possible you may decide that you don't need them at all, which is perfectly fine !

Aim for the distant (main) pair to be giving you 90-95% of the sound...so this is the pair you'll devote most of your time to placing...these distances and heights are starting points only, your church space and ambience will dictate where the mics sound best to your ears.

Finally, place the closer pair about 30 degrees off-centre from the player's left side, and copy this for the main pair (just rotate the player and chair/stool to achieve this)
@ studer58 thank you so much for your detailed advice. I really appreciate the help! I'll try the setup as you suggest.

Unfortunately it would be a bit tricky to get another cellist in so I'll be testing with headphones and will try moving the mics around a bit and then listening back to see what's best - I know it's not ideal but hopefully will produce something reasonable.

Yes I wish I had omnis! My colleague and I have identical kit so the two pairs CM4s are all I have... I'm thinking of investing in another mic/pair at some point so I'd be interested to know any current suggestions. Probably won't be getting anything immediately though so my current setup will have to do for a while.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cello94 ➡️
@ studer58 thank you so much for your detailed advice. I really appreciate the help! I'll try the setup as you suggest.

Unfortunately it would be a bit tricky to get another cellist in so I'll be testing with headphones and will try moving the mics around a bit and then listening back to see what's best - I know it's not ideal but hopefully will produce something reasonable.

Yes I wish I had omnis! My colleague and I have identical kit so the two pairs CM4s are all I have... I'm thinking of investing in another mic/pair at some point so I'd be interested to know any current suggestions. Probably won't be getting anything immediately though so my current setup will have to do for a while.
Just use the available time in the church to your best advantage, experimentation wise.

BTW...I have something of a (potential) gift for you...you DO have an Omni pair (maybe) !!

A partial kludge or shortcut to making an Omni mic out of a cardioid is to simply wrap polyester duct tape around the side vent holes near the upper side of the mic ....the thin slit holes, not the circular perforations in the end cap. You'll have enough time to try this today.

Mount the (untaped) mic on a stand in regular fashion and record as you move around the mic ....front, sides, rear. Talk...click your fingers...play cello (this will work best in a large area away from reflective walls, maybe back garden or patio) You should notice the typical cardioid dulling of sound and lowering of output as your sound source gets to the rear of the mic.

Now wrap a couple of layers of tape around the slit holes and repeat....if the experiment works you should be getting much closer to an Omni pickup all around the mic (you'll still expect some dulling of high frequencies off axis, but much less than with a cardioid). You can do this very simply at home now, as an experiment.

If it works at all successfully, you'll thus have an Omni pair (or something close)...and then you you can use these 'kludged omnis' as your main, distant pair ....ideally 50-60cms apart. I know...you only have 2 mic stands...can you borrow another ? **

If not, get a wooden stick and duct tape it to the spare Rode spacer bar....then duct tape your 'new omnis' this distance apart to the stick, both facing parallel. In the church you'll want to be a bit closer to your cello than with the NOS cardioid so, as you'll be capturing a higher % of building ambience.

Give it a try, what have you got to lose ? If it works, don't neglect to rush and buy a real pair of omnis ASAP....but this no-cost DIY kludge might just give you another main pair option ! I predict that, if this quick-fix doesn't give you omni....at the very least you'll get a wide-cardioid ish pickup, which will give you some more valuable room character and low end extension than an original CM4 pair

** maybe the church has a spare stand lying around that you could borrow for the purpose ?

BTW...such a 'mechanical screening switch' for converting between Omni and cardioid has commercial precedents, if I recall correctly both Schoeps and Shure have used a sliding shield/screen principle to block off the side vents and thus switch between the 2 patterns.

Do report back here ...whatever the outcome...of this DIY trial !
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
My rule of thumb on stand height is to draw an imaginary line between the cello and the microphone. Set the the stand height so that this line is perpendicular to the front face of the cello. The tilt is set to aim at the bow contact point for maximum articulation, but can be as high as the middle of the upper bout if needed for a less edgy sound. The 30 degree arc position mentioned above tends to give a "singing" sound on the A string, which is usually desirable; rotate clockwise if you want less of that. A mic to emphasize the C string would be on the other side, lower, and aimed at the F hole, maybe as close as a couple of feet out. It's not a well-balanced pick up in that case, but can be used to augment the main sound from other mics.

David
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
You might also want to check out another GS post Advice for miking a solo cello in a reverberant room Similar question...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Reporting back... Thank you so much @ studer58 and @ David Rick for the very detailed recommendations - much appreciated!

In the end I spent 2 of the 3 hours on setup/sound checking - how I wished I had another person with me. I went for essentially the exact setup you suggest @ studer58 , except that the distant fake 'omni' pair (thanks for that tip - it worked quite nicely!) ended up too far away - maybe 2m? It sounds too distant and boomy to me and seems to miss catching the actual tone. (Not sure how to technically describe this...) They may have been too high as well?

The space itself was almost too reverberant, which I should probably have taken into account more. Another hour of testing would have been a good idea, although I had to record *something* in the end.

I'm attaching the 'raw' file in case anyone has suggestions about what I could improve next time. (It's a poly file and I don't know how to change that - I am using reaper to mix, so the individual tracks here are not panned/balanced at all.) As someone with next to no experience in this field, I realise I've probably made very bad choices on all fronts... So for anyone who might listen, I would appreciate your patience.

I'm still hoping there is something I can salvage in mixing, so that I can use some of the recordings. Next stop is trawling the forums for EQ/reverb advice... Although I'm well aware there's no fix for a bad recording and this project will probably end up in the 'learning curve' bin!
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe ➡️
You might also want to check out another GS post Advice for miking a solo cello in a reverberant room Similar question...
Thanks! I've read this thread - and probably most of the cello ones on here... Because of the extremely limited gear at my disposal, I don't have the same kind of options to try unfortunately, so not sure how much of this advice I can utilise right now. Maybe in future...
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cello94 ➡️

I'm attaching the 'raw' file in case anyone has suggestions about what I could improve next time. (It's a poly file and I don't know how to change that - I am using reaper to mix, so the individual tracks here are not panned/balanced at all.) As someone with next to no experience in this field, I realise I've probably made very bad choices on all fronts... So for anyone who might listen, I would appreciate your patience.

Think the attachment is too big for here. The file is

https://drive.google.com/file/d/10Bs...ew?usp=sharing
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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didier.brest's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Why 5 tracks for 4 mics? Here attached the mix of the two first tracks panned left and right. Tracks 3 and 4 are near 30 dB lower and tracks 5 more than 20 dB lower than tracks 1 and 2.
Attached Files

MixPre-142TRIMFinalTrack.mp3 (9.35 MB, 193 views)


Last edited by didier.brest; 3 weeks ago at 06:14 PM..
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