Best practice for remote gig recording classical music - Gearspace.com
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Best practice for remote gig recording classical music
Old 1 week ago
Here for the gear
Best practice for remote gig recording classical music

I recently went way over my head and took on a remote gig that led me to some pro level gear. Full disclaimer, I am an organist and only started doing audio recording recently so my knowledge is limited, but I'm a keen learner and have enjoyed reading the posts here. The piece is Luciano Berio's Cries of London.

1) I settled on the idea to use an AEA r88 mkii passive ribbon to record an 8 person a cappella group standing in a circle, plus maybe some room mic. For pre-amp I will use Focusrite ISA 428 mk 1. Does that sound okay? Anyone had recorded this piece before?

2) The only audio recorder I have access to is the MixPre series. Do I just route the amplified signal from ISA straight into MixPre XLR as line level? Is there any resolution issue doing it this way? Also what recorders do you all use normally for remote gig?

3) There is an A/D converter card installed on my ISA. I might not do it this time since I have the MixPre, but how do I connect this unit to a computer? What’s the signal chain like for pro devices like this?

4) I’m pretty scared that I might destroy the client’s AEA mic. It’s my first time with a ribbon. Is there any quick tips from the pros here for using ribbon mic? Pre-amp comes with limiter and as long as I don’t blow it up by turning on phantom power I’m good right??

5) Mic specific question: from research it looks like blumlein array can cover all 4 cardinal directions. Why is it this mic still considered to have off-axis areas? Any one had experience using this mic in a church?

Your input is very much appreciated!
Old 1 week ago
Gear Nut
You say the group will be standing in a circle - a full circle surrounding the mic? Blumlein is specified for only a 90 degree angle of pickup, and that no direct sound should come from beyond that angle, much less from behind. The rear lobes should only pick up de-correlated room ambience. Eight singers can easily fit within a 90 degree semi-circle, if that's what you meant.

Also, generally Blumlein is usually only recommended in very good acoustics; in so-so acoustics, something more directional is usually better.

As to the care and feeding of the AEA, I would get hold of the manual and follow it's precautions to the letter.
Old 1 week ago
Lives for gear
JCBigler's Avatar
🎧 5 years
Which Mix Pre are you using? Unless you have one of the smaller ones, I don't see much need for the ISA 428, unless you just like the sound of the ISA mic pre amps, or need a couple extra inputs to expand the Mix Pre recorder. The Mix Pre has relatively good preamps and you can connect the mics directly to the Mix Pre.

With the AEA ribbon mic you just want to make sure that you don't have phantom power enabled on either of the inputs, as recommended by the user manual.
Old 1 week ago
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tourtelot's Avatar
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Sorry, and I am being sincere here (Just don't know) but could you use a Blumlein stereo ribbon as a four-circled player pick up if you split the outputs and inverted the phase on the two singing into the "rear" of the mic?

Old 6 days ago
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celticrogues's Avatar
🎧 15 years
There’s nothing wrong with using a Blumlein pattern mic to pick up singers in a circle around the mic. Just be aware that the singers positioned at the rear of the mic will appear reversed in the stereo image compared to the singers in front of the mic. Depending on the group’s blending and the parts they are singing this could sound a little awkward.

Its easy to try it both ways though and see what you like best - either the group of 8 in a circle around the mic or the group of 8 in a semicircle around the front of the mic. Its likely that the circle method will sound a little closer mic’ed, slightly more of a “pop” sound and the semicircle method will give more of a blended classical sound. Forums and other people’s advice are great, but there is no substitute for actually experimenting and trying things out and making decisions based on what you hear.

I agree that room acoustics are critical - this works best in great sounding spaces.

I also agree with @ JCBigler that I don’t see much of a need for the ISA preamp. Especially since you are new to remote recording, my advice would be to keep things as simple as possible. Problems have a way of multiplying on location and things that worked perfectly at home end up taking a long time to figure out weird problems in the heat of the moment. I’d just keep is as simple as possible and run the AEA directly into the MixPre. Those preamps are great and you won’t lose any resolution that way.

I’d also recommend (if its a newer MixPre) running in 32 bit float mode. You should still attempt to set the gain appropriately but that will save you if you don’t get it perfect.

Old 6 days ago
Gear Nut
If singers placed around the mic, 4 would need to be within the 90 degree arc of the front, and the other 4 within the 90 degree arc of the rear; none on the sides.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
Gear Guru
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
if the singers stand around the mic(s) in a full circle, i'd rather use an ambisonic mic (soundfield or say schoeps double m/s) than blumlein...

...or then maybe split the group and use a more standard mic technique (stereo pair on each small group).

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 6 days ago at 07:08 PM..
Old 6 days ago
Gear Nut
He's recording a classical choral piece - why split a group of only eight singers?
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
Gear Guru
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
...because the choir's setup and the mic technique being used will affect the results: one may very well prefer a typical soundfield of a specific mic technique.
Old 6 days ago
Gear Nut
I wish the OP would clarify if he indeed meant they intend to sing in a full circle, or if he typo'd and meant semicircle.

Point 5 of his post would seem to suggest a full circle, if so I can't see the need for anything more complex than simple, moderately spaced omnis, pointing straight down, with bright-ish capsules to compensate for all the singers being equally off-axis.
Old 6 days ago
Lives for gear
🎧 15 years
In setting up your recording it is important that you avoid any highly correlated sound picked up in the anti-phase quadrants. I have recorded Sacred Harp sings (singers in a square facing the center with each side of the square a separate part-basses facing trebles(sopranos) and altos facing tenors) using a Blumlein array.
From experience, you can get a good sound if each side of the square faces a lobe of the Blumlein but not if the corners of the square are aligned with the lobes.
In the first case every part is picked up primarily by one lobe and thus in phase and the basses facing trebles(sopranos) will appear in one channel (left or right) and the altos facing tenors in the opposite channel. However with the second (“diagonals”) case, two of the 4 sides/parts will be in an anti-phase quadrant and will be picked up by the positive lobe of one mic and the negative lobe of the other mic and will
suffer from some cross-talk cancellation with speaker
playback and unpleasant/undesirable complete polarity inversion of left vs right for each part with headphone playback.
Assuming you have 2 each of soprano, bass, tenor and alto, your options are:
1. Setup with one part (SATB) pointed at a lobe of the
Blumlein pickup (as with my Sacred Harp recording)
but with downside that each part will be heard only
in one channel, probably not ideal, unless you are recording a piece where “antiphonal” eg one part answering another part makes sense.
2. The other, more flexible option, is to utilize only
the front and rear quadrants and not the 2 anti-phase quadrants. With this setup, you would have 2 parts facing the front quadrant and 2 parts facing the rear quadrant. Then you can arrange each part left to right
as you wish.

If however, you used an ambisonic (eg Soundfield) mic
decoded to 4 cardiods (or 4 identical cardiod mics),
you could utilize all 360 deg /4 quadrants.
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