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Chamber orchestra and piano mic'ing
Old 10th September 2021
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Chamber orchestra and piano mic'ing

Hello,

I will be recording a chamber orchestra in 5.1.
I would like to use a decca tree.
It’s not classical music, it’s more of a film music.
We will use a fantastic sounding Yamaha piano.

I won’t have much time to adjust the microphones, so I should find a good solution right away. Can you suggest suitable starting points for placing musicians and microphones?


The band will have 10 members:

Piano

I. Violin
II. Violin
Viola
Cello
Double Bass

Bassoon
Clarinet
Oboa - English horn
Flute



The recording will be in a concert hall with pretty good acoustics.
Stage size: 15m (50ft) x 9m (30ft)

Microphones available:
3x Schoeps MK 2s
2x Schoeps MK 2
2x Royer R121
1x Noname, but good ribbon mic.
2x Neumann km 184
30x Line Audio CM3 (cardioid)
4x Line Audio OM3 (omni)
Dynamic microphones

Thank you for your suggestions!
Old 10th September 2021
  #2
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
depends entirely on the composition and on who's going to mix...

if i'd be given the choice, i'd probably use the schoeps for l/c/r and ls/rs, so not in decca style, add a pair of om3's each for medium distance and rear ambis, use the km184's on piano and everyone else would get a cm3.

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 10th September 2021 at 10:13 AM..
Old 10th September 2021 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
depends entirely on the composition and on who's going to mix...

if i'd be given the choice, i'd probably use the schoeps for l/c/r and ls/rs, so not in decca style, add a pair of om3's each for medium distance and rear ambis, use the km184's on piano and everyone else would get a cm3.
How do you mean this mic arrangement?
I don't know, if the piano is under the main mics, or hide it back.
Old 10th September 2021 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
piano behind string and wind instruments (as seen from the conductor's perspective).
Old 10th September 2021
  #5
Gear Addict
 
apotheosis's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Keep it simple, keep it safe.
Omni pair for the strings (or small tree, as you wish) with the 2s. Winds behind strings as in orchestral setup. Spot all with cardioids, probably you will not need the string spots if you placed the mains well.
Piano in front, use the other omni pair in AB40 or so for the piano, not too close but not too fair either. Mix to taste in post.
In any case: use the best mics for piano and main string sound.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by apotheosis ➡️
Keep it simple, keep it safe.
Omni pair for the strings (or small tree, as you wish) with the 2s. Winds behind strings as in orchestral setup. Spot all with cardioids, probably you will not need the string spots if you placed the mains well.
Piano in front, use the other omni pair in AB40 or so for the piano, not too close but not too fair either. Mix to taste in post.
In any case: use the best mics for piano and main string sound.
"Piano in front" How do you mean it? Exactly where on the stage?

Ok, I use the three 2s for a small tree (how small for this chamber orchestra?).
The two MK2 for RS-LS for 5.1.
The two Royers for piano.
CM3 for spots.
Right?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If it's not a piano concerto, I don't want the piano in front. Too much leakage of everything into everything. With such a small ensemble, I'd also expect to be doing multiple passes on the strings and I'd want my setup to facilitate that.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Yannick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I agree with David and Deedeeyeah, piano in front will create a situation where the strings will be crushed by the piano.
Unless you have a bigger string section and use an overhead ribbon-type-ersatz-deccatree.

BUT, are you sure you only have five string ? Or do you mean five sections ?
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #9
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick ➡️

BUT, are you sure you only have five string ? Or do you mean five sections ?
He says 10 players in the orchestra. Seems very doable to me but I agree. Piano to the rear!

D.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #10
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Yannick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➡️
He says 10 players in the orchestra. Seems very doable to me but I agree. Piano to the rear!

D.
I know, but 10 players plus piano is a chamber music ensemble, not an orchestra. If you have string sections, that is an orchestra. Hence my confusion. And it would have big consequences on the original question.

So what is it, an orchestra or not ?
If not, does it need to sound like one ?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
First question? Clearly not.
Second question? Still to be answered.

D.,
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick ➡️
I know, but 10 players plus piano is a chamber music ensemble, not an orchestra. If you have string sections, that is an orchestra. Hence my confusion. And it would have big consequences on the original question.

So what is it, an orchestra or not ?
If not, does it need to sound like one ?
Sorry for my bad english, it is not an orchestra.
It is a string quintet with a wood quartet + a piano.

It don't need to sound like an orchestra, but I plan to double the strings. (but the bass)
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by apotheosis ➡️
Keep it simple, keep it safe.
Omni pair for the strings (or small tree, as you wish) with the 2s. Winds behind strings as in orchestral setup. Spot all with cardioids, probably you will not need the string spots if you placed the mains well.
Piano in front, use the other omni pair in AB40 or so for the piano, not too close but not too fair either. Mix to taste in post.
In any case: use the best mics for piano and main string sound.
I have little experience in such recordings and I won’t have much time to adjust the microphones. What size tree on what height do you suggest as a starting point?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Too small an ensemble for a tree, IMO. I've never quite understood why film people always default to a tree when it's going to get split to L&R so the center channel can be reserved for dialog.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
The customer wants a decca-tree in 5.1. (btw what would you use if not a tree?)
I made a plan.
The grid has a half-meter (1,6 ft) scale.
I marked the microphone layout with black dots in the drawing.
I also placed + two amb microphones even further back in the auditorium.
Spot microphones were not marked.

Is it good to place the musicians this way, or should I place them even more broadly?
Could be this microphone layout good?
Is it worth using plexiglass in front of the piano?
Maybe I should separate the woodwinds from the strings as well?
Attached Thumbnails
Chamber orchestra and piano mic'ing-decca.jpg  
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
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voltronic's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
That layout looks good to me, but I would definitely not use any sort of a shield in front of the piano. You could get all sorts of odd reflections in your piano mics.

Otherwise, I agree with what others have said, especially David's comment that this ensemble is far too small for a Tree to sound good.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #17
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
maybe you just wanna call it a 'tree' (or whatever else)... - i'd use a setup with the mics not too far apart/more close together such as double m/s.

plexi imo is only helpful if you're using directional mics on the piano and want additional separation but it often does more harm in the hf range than any good (as i know from regular use with mixed ensembles: i use it more to protect musicians from nearby loud sources...)
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Thank you for the advices!
And if I don’t use decca tree, what would you think would be idealmic placement?
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #19
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt ➡️
Thank you for the advices!
And if I don’t use decca tree, what would you think would be idealmic placement?
About what you have shown, but move the array downstage such that the center mic is even, or slightly downstage of the most downstage players, and move the A and B about a meter apart. Of course use the MK2S as the main L,R,C array mics. Also, move the piano immediately behind the rear most players, or even nestled within them if possible, depending on its role in the piece.

I'd also suggest flattening out the downstage players a bit to balance them with the remaining players.

Unless you're using spot mics for balancing, the art of using a five mic ITU surround array is its placement, as well as the musicians, to balance the ensemble within the acoustic enviorment. It sounds like you have some flexibility to work within, so as long as you have time to adjust placements, you should be very pleased with the results.

Tom
Attached Thumbnails
Chamber orchestra and piano mic'ing-afc2005-2.jpg  
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #20
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
a small ensemble in a concentric setup is the exact reason why i'd prefer using double m/s (or soundfield) over other surround setups (which imo yield too much time difference on a small ensemble) - if not using double m/s, a simple m/s (above the conductors head) would be my first choice and a pair of spaced ambis not far behind (say 30cm) facing into the audience would also do for a 'fake' (but convincing) surround setup: think m/s for l/c/r and ortf for ls/rs.*

...or you then re-arrange the ensemble (less curved) plus move the mic system downstage as suggested and use a (bonsai) version of the polyhymnia pentagon.




* i acknowledge that with the mics available, i'd go with the pentagon.

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 3 weeks ago at 08:51 PM..
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tailspn ➡️
About what you have shown, but move the array downstage such that the center mic is even, or slightly downstage of the most downstage players, and move the A and B about a meter apart. Of course use the MK2S as the main L,R,C array mics. Also, move the piano immediately behind the rear most players, or even nestled within them if possible, depending on its role in the piece.

I'd also suggest flattening out the downstage players a bit to balance them with the remaining players.

Unless you're using spot mics for balancing, the art of using a five mic ITU surround array is its placement, as well as the musicians, to balance the ensemble within the acoustic enviorment. It sounds like you have some flexibility to work within, so as long as you have time to adjust placements, you should be very pleased with the results.

Tom
Like this?
The grid has a half-meter (1,6 ft) scale.
Should I use cardioid (directed backwards), or the Royers (zero point faces the stage) for the LS, RS mics?
Attached Thumbnails
Chamber orchestra and piano mic'ing-shot2.jpg  
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #22
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt ➡️
Like this?
The grid has a half-meter (1,6 ft) scale.
Should I use cardioid (directed backwards), or the Royers (zero point faces the stage) for the LS, RS mics?
Yes on the players. Not knowing the role of the piano, I'd suggest on moving it downstage closer to the main array. Stereo mic it for safety, but you may find you don't need it, or have to delay it in post to retain its spatial position.

The A and B mics should be about half a meter further downstage, and the Ls and Rs mics also be omni, pointed out sideways.

Is this in Budapest? Which hall?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
A question that I believe should be answered by the producer of this recording is why the requirement(?) to be recorded in 5.1? Is it to preserve and present a realistic spatial image, or just to have a resulting recording playable on home theater systems, with no requirement for spatial realism? If it's the latter, I think other mic array recommendations than my ITU alignment would be more appropriate. Multi mic it with all those Line Audio mics in support of a pseudo Decca tree main array, and produce a 5.1 out of all of it in post.

Tom
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tailspn ➡️
Yes on the players. Not knowing the role of the piano, I'd suggest on moving it downstage closer to the main array.
The piano will be mostly in the lead role. I dont't have too much space to move it closer to the main array. Unless I put it between the woods. Do you think it's a good idea?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tailspn ➡️
The A and B mics should be about half a meter further downstage,
It is actually a small decca tree. Isn't it?
I attached a new plan.
Like this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tailspn ➡️
and the Ls and Rs mics also be omni, pointed out sideways.
If the Ls and Rs mics are omni, why should it pointed out sideways? Does it matter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tailspn ➡️
Is this in Budapest? Which hall?
In Hungary, but not in Budapest. It is the stage of a concert hall.
Attached Thumbnails
Chamber orchestra and piano mic'ing-shot3.jpg  
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
If you have to guess at it due to time constraints, you might guess wrong. This can be particularly bad if the balance is substantially off between instruments. That's a post production nightmare in this context. The client may be requesting a particular mic approach. But if the resulting audio is unusable and unmixable, you're getting blamed.

If it were me, I would organize the strings into one physical area, the woodwinds in another, and the piano in a third. Each sub-ensemble wold be far enough from each other to get decent mic separation, but close enough so they can hear each other and stay coherent. I would mic each of these three sub-ensembles using a stereo technique. Then I would mix the sub-ensembles together during post production.

I would put the schoeps mk2 mics on the piano as a spaced pair, the km184's on the winds as xy or ortf, and the royers on the strings. use the directional aspects of the km184's and the 121's to minimize mic bleed between the sub ensembles.

pianos are loud. get that thing away from the other two ensembles. if you are going to have the lid on (as opposed to removing it completely), raise it full stick and have the backface of the lid face the other two ensembles. put the spaced omnis on the other side of the lid where the strings are, a few feet back from the piano. this will help acoustic separation between the piano and the other two ensembles, while allowing the omnis to capture a natural sound of the piano. keep all instruments away from walls.

the mk2s is a great capsule, and it seems like a waste to not use it. so i would wire them up as a spaced pair of room mics. maybe they could be used for some subtle blending during mixdown. the worst that could happen is you don't use them during mixing. if you don't wire them up, you can't use them during mixing.

this solution is simple, sensible, stereo when mixed, and it gives you balance and blend capabilities during mixdown.

Last edited by gearstudent; 3 weeks ago at 09:38 PM..
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gearstudent ➡️
If you have to guess at it due to time constraints, you might guess wrong. This can be particularly bad if the balance is substantially off between instruments. That's a post production nightmare in this context. The client may be requesting a particular mic approach. But if the resulting audio is unusable and unmixable, you're getting blamed.

If it were me, I would organize the strings into one physical area, the woodwinds in another, and the piano in a third. Each sub-ensemble wold be far enough from each other to get decent mic separation, but close enough so they can hear each other and stay coherent. I would mic each of these three sub-ensembles using a stereo technique. Then I would mix the sub-ensembles together during post production.

I would put the schoeps mk2 mics on the piano as a spaced pair, the km184's on the winds as xy or ortf, and the royers on the strings. use the directional aspects of the km184's and the 121's to minimize mic bleed between the sub ensembles.

pianos are loud. get that thing away from the other two ensembles. if you are going to have the lid on (as opposed to removing it completely), raise it full stick and have the backface of the lid face the other two ensembles. put the spaced omnis on the other side of the lid where the strings are, a few feet back from the piano. this will help acoustic separation between the piano and the other two ensembles, while allowing the omnis to capture a natural sound of the piano. keep all instruments away from walls.

the mk2s is a great capsule, and it seems like a waste to not use it. so i would wire them up as a spaced pair of room mics. maybe they could be used for some subtle blending during mixdown. the worst that could happen is you don't use them during mixing. if you don't wire them up, you can't use them during mixing.

this solution is simple, sensible, stereo when mixed, and it gives you balance and blend capabilities during mixdown.
Interesting approach.
Maybe the natural spatial effect will be lost this way.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #27
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt ➡️
Interesting approach.
Maybe the natural spatial effect will be lost this way.
Yes it will, which is why I asked you if the producer/owner of this thing was asking for 5.1 recording for the realistic spatial property of real surround sound, or just tracks that could be post produced into 5.1 playout format.

I'd be happy to answer your questions about a ITU/Polyhymnia surround pickup when you know that answer. But as others have pointed out, it's not the safe way to do this session if spatial reality is not a primary objective.

Tom

Last edited by tailspn; 3 weeks ago at 12:03 AM..
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt ➡️
Interesting approach.
Maybe the natural spatial effect will be lost this way.
who is to say five spaced microphones placed over the ensemble is "natural"? who actually listens that way? nobody has a head that is that wide, nobody has five ears, and nobody hangs from the catwalk and listens to the ensemble below them. so it's subjective to say a tree of mics over an ensemble is "natural". the distances you place the mics are subjective. the polar patterns are subjective. how you point and combine mics is subjective. it's all subjective.

you stated that you don't have a lot of time to get it right, and you are unfamiliar with recording this ensemble. a huge risk you face is having the instruments out of balance. if your audio is substantially unseparated and also unbalanced, you will face an impossible task during mixdown. my approach gives you the opportunity to balance the sections properly during mixdown.

if you want to "glue" the ensemble together, blend in the mk2s room mics and/or a touch of altiverb. that way the instruments will share a common ambience.

personally, i think your biggest risk in the case you presented is guessing wrong at the instrument balance and then not having the ability to adjust the balance during mixdown. are you sure you are going to guess perfectly regarding the strings, winds and piano? how sure are you? what if you are wrong?
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #29
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
i disagree on the notion that a 5.0 main pickup sounds unnatural: my only complaint is that its size/width may be too large compared to the size of the ensemble.

splitting the ensemble into strings, reeds and piano however will definitely yield a highly unnartural sound (in the main mic system) and will force the op to rely/build his mix on spot and ambi mics (which of course can get achieved but takes some experience from both the sound tech and the producer...)

5.0 ain't no sorcery: just make sure that the l/c/r pickup is solid (or actually the l/r pickup: except for some dsd aficionados, no one uses the center channel much for music production anyway) and then add some ambient sound for ls/rs!

also (and imo in contrast to downmixing,) upmixing can yield very convincing results: i regularly use my quantec for this...

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 3 weeks ago at 10:15 AM..
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #30
Gear Nut
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HangArt ➡️
The piano will be mostly in the lead role. I dont't have too much space to move it closer to the main array. Unless I put it between the woods. Do you think it's a good idea?



It is actually a small decca tree. Isn't it?
I attached a new plan.
Like this?



If the Ls and Rs mics are omni, why should it pointed out sideways? Does it matter?


In Hungary, but not in Budapest. It is the stage of a concert hall.
I find the seating plan a little odd, why have the higher wind on the right? Are you trying to balance? I suspect that this will confuse the musicians, who are not normally used to such a seating.

I am also not convinced spreading the winds out around the strings makes sense, I would put them in a line, closer together. From left to right: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon. (Winds generally need less space than strings.)

You could change the strings around a little, by putting cello in the middle, and double bass just a little to the right and behind, so it doesn't disturb the winds. That way the lower spectrum gets more centered in the recording, usually a good thing. Depending on the music you can have either vln2 or vla on the right side.
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