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recording a small classical ensemble in a small hall
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 
recording a small classical ensemble in a small hall

Hello everyone,

I am new to this forum and and new to the world of audio recording.
This forum was recommended to me over in the gears forum.
I need to mic two different classical ensembles on the same day, and have done some research, but the info is very overwhelming. Your opinion would be much appreciated!

The first ensemble will be a piano trio (piano, violin, cello). The second ensemble will be a harpsichord, violin, cello and basson). The music will be classical.

The location will be a small hall as shown below.

https://tinyurl.com/378cecaz

My idea is to buy and use 2 identical small-diaphragm condenser mics such as the Oktava MK012 or Warm WA84 or AT4022 on a stereo mic mount bar in ORTF on a single stand as my primary stereo mics. The placement would be relatively high (about 1.8m) and about 2m away from the ensemble to the front (or would the center be better?). My budget for these mics is about $1000 USD.

In addition, I will have access to two AKG C391B mics (plus recorder) for free, so I am planning on using them to spot-mic the piano and harpsichord.

I have bought a Behringer UMC404HD for the audio interface, so I would be able to use 2 more mics. From what I have read, spot-micing the violin, cello and bassoon would not be absolutely necessary if the room and the mic placement are ideal, but I am considering adding a large diaphragm condenser such as the AT4050 in order to record the cello or bassoon separetely, just to be safe.

I would also potentially be able to rent additional equipment on the day.

Is my approach a good one? Please let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement. Thank you so much
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
What you're planning and suggesting is broadly correct...and if the session is not a public concert performance but primarily dedicated to recording you'll have more freedom to place the main ORTF pair in the optimal place, for best rendition of detail, instrumental balance and room ambience.

Your picture link didn't work.

If you have the input channels to spare, by all means add spot mics for possible additional detail....but don't rely upon them as 'rescue devices'...spend as much time as possible placing that main pair correctly (as well as getting your monitoring headphones or speakers on location to inform you about the balance)

You're also not tied to having the players in 'concert formation' (unless it is in fact a concert !).... you can have players facing inward towards the piano, and place your main and spot mics inside the circle created by the players.

A very good purchase from your allocated budget (for recording gear) would be to buy the recent book on Decca classical recording methods by John Dunkerley et al...it will give you guidance, rationale and specific practical advice on mic placement, room treatment, editing, session procedures, etc...very much worthwhile

Last edited by studer58; 4 weeks ago at 03:18 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Nut
 
the Lob's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Your ideas sound great to me.
If you have the chance to make a soundcheck and listen to the soundcheck recordings in a quiet moment on headphones you trust, you might want to play with the position of the ORTF, making sure it's not to roomy, as you can add room later but never get rid of it. Also I would make the choice then on where to but the other mics, as the piano might not be the instrument that needs support.
Have fun with your recording
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Addict
 
norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Akagi ➡️
My idea is to buy and use 2 identical small-diaphragm condenser mics such as the Oktava MK012 or Warm WA84 or AT4022 on a stereo mic mount bar in ORTF on a single stand as my primary stereo mics.

In addition, I will have access to two AKG C391B mics (plus recorder) for free, so I am planning on using them to spot-mic the piano and harpsichord.

I have bought a Behringer UMC404HD for the audio interface, so I would be able to use 2 more mics.
You mention 4 mics and up to 6, with the 4-channel UMC404HD, so evidently including the unspecified loaned recorder. Whatever this is (what is it?), you are likely to get some drift between it and the interface. Evidently, it would be simpler to have one recorder/interface for all the mics.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Nut
 
In my experience the bassoon might be your biggest balance problem as it will be louder than the rest, especially with relatively close mics. If possible you might want to place it furthest from the main mics, and use spots on the others.

Ortf is a good setup if you have few mics, I have done CDs with only that, but you might need some reverb to add later. Altiverb is my preference, but that may be out of the budget.

Personally I don’t care for Behringer‘s Pres…
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Addict
 
If you go with the Okatavas, try to get the hyper caps; not only are they the smoothest of the caps (especially off-axis, which will be important in a small space), but their extra directionality can be a big help in reducing too-strong side wall reflections in a smaller space. In such a room, I like them 14-18" apart and parallel; this picks up the minimum from the side walls, and maximizes later reflections from the back; sort of a modification of the Faulkner Fig 8s, 8" apart.

I can't imagine needing spot mics on a simple classical trio or quartet (?).
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Small ensembles self balance
Keep it simple , just use a main pair and if neccesarry reposition weak performers
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
Here for the gear
 
For small ensembles I often only throw up a single Royer SF12 stereo microphone or This reminds me a recording session I got to attend at Carnegie Hall.

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Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 
James Lehmann's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
None of us can see the photo of the hall you provided as the link doesn't work, so it's hard to gauge what you mean when you say "small hall".

Hall can mean so many different things in the English language!

Assuming it is a nice hall designed for music just on the small side, as opposed to a rustic village hall with line-dancing going on down the other end...

If I were in your shoes starting from scratch I would spend my $1,000 on a pair of Line Audio CM4s with a Shapeways NOS bar and a used MixPre. That already gives you an extremely good-sounding main stereo pair with no measurement/setup headaches, few sonic compromises, excellent preamps, stand alone recording, easy to learn with, and packs down into a small backpack. You're obviously also going to need at least one good-quality tall mic stand, decent long XLR cables, a good pair of closed-back headphones and a book on classical recording. Probably $1,500 then. Yes, one can always graduate to a multi-mic set-up later but as a stereo starter pack to learn with I think that would be hard to beat and allow you to already make some superb recordings.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
Here for the gear
 
Hey guys, thank you so much for your answers, and sorry for my belated reply - I tried to post this thread 3 times before giving up because it never appeared. I was not aware it was posted until now.

Before I write out individual answers, let me re-upload pictures of the hall.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/13Xh...ew?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wHm...ew?usp=sharing
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #11
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by the Lob ➡️
Your ideas sound great to me.
If you have the chance to make a soundcheck and listen to the soundcheck recordings in a quiet moment on headphones you trust, you might want to play with the position of the ORTF, making sure it's not to roomy, as you can add room later but never get rid of it. Also I would make the choice then on where to but the other mics, as the piano might not be the instrument that needs support.
Have fun with your recording
Thank you! I have a question regarding the ORTF.
Sometimes people seem to have the mics crossing, such as this.

https://cdn.dpamicrophones.com/media...onary/ortf.png

And sometimes they are not crossing, like this.
https://content.invisioncic.com/w286...042328ce9b.jpg

I realize that they will have the same direction regardless, but I was wondering if there is anything I should keep in mind?

Also, is the distance between the mics supposed to be 17cm regardless of the distance to the instruments and the size of the hall?

I have purchased the Rode SB20 stereo bar and would definitely like to try out ORTF as well as AB at the time of recording and compare.
https://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #12
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolksoundman9 ➡️
You mention 4 mics and up to 6, with the 4-channel UMC404HD, so evidently including the unspecified loaned recorder. Whatever this is (what is it?), you are likely to get some drift between it and the interface. Evidently, it would be simpler to have one recorder/interface for all the mics.

Cheers,

Roland
Thank you. The unspecified recorder appears to be a TASCAM CDRW901-SL that goes through an Ashl MX-406 Stereo Mixer, as shown in the picture below (this is an actual photo of the setup that the hall is providing me)
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UD1...ew?usp=sharing

With this, I can only record on CD, and the people working at the hall told me that it would be impossible to isolate the different tracks of the microphones, so I opted to buy my own interface instead.

I wanted to use the two AKG C391B mics the hall provided to spot-mic the harpsichord and piano, just in case it sounds a bit far in the recording of the main stereo mics.

Would it be smarter to record my main stereo mics (I have bought 2 Oktava MK012) to this CD recorder instead?

I am not sure what you mean by drift, but would one not be able to align the tracks later?
Sorry, newbie here.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #13
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by k brown ➡️
If you go with the Okatavas, try to get the hyper caps; not only are they the smoothest of the caps (especially off-axis, which will be important in a small space), but their extra directionality can be a big help in reducing too-strong side wall reflections in a smaller space. In such a room, I like them 14-18" apart and parallel; this picks up the minimum from the side walls, and maximizes later reflections from the back; sort of a modification of the Faulkner Fig 8s, 8" apart.

I can't imagine needing spot mics on a simple classical trio or quartet (?).
Thank you. I did buy the Oktavas, the stereo set below, to be precise.
https://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I did some digging, and I have no idea whether I got the cardioid capsule or the hypercardioid one, or the omni one, as they all look exactly the same?

Also, regarding the spot mics, some people seem to recommend spot-micing the cello with a LDC, so I am considering renting one to be on the safe side...
but the general consensus seems to be that a well placed stereo pair would be good enough for a set-up like this.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #14
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Lehmann ➡️
None of us can see the photo of the hall you provided as the link doesn't work, so it's hard to gauge what you mean when you say "small hall".

Hall can mean so many different things in the English language!

Assuming it is a nice hall designed for music just on the small side, as opposed to a rustic village hall with line-dancing going on down the other end...

If I were in your shoes starting from scratch I would spend my $1,000 on a pair of Line Audio CM4s with a Shapeways NOS bar and a used MixPre. That already gives you an extremely good-sounding main stereo pair with no measurement/setup headaches, few sonic compromises, excellent preamps, stand alone recording, easy to learn with, and packs down into a small backpack. You're obviously also going to need at least one good-quality tall mic stand, decent long XLR cables, a good pair of closed-back headphones and a book on classical recording. Probably $1,500 then. Yes, one can always graduate to a multi-mic set-up later but as a stereo starter pack to learn with I think that would be hard to beat and allow you to already make some superb recordings.
Thank you. I have re-posted pictures of the hall above.
Musician friends of mine said that they sound is great.

I already bought the Oktava MK012 for my main stereo mics (wasn't aware of this thread).
I also bought this mic stand which has 1,6m plus 80cm from the boom stand.
https://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I got some 5m XLR cables and headphones.
Thank you for your advice, please let me know if you have any concerns.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #15
Gear Addict
 
norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
If you are just using 4 mics, then, that's simple: just use the inserts on the back of the 6-channel mixer to provide iso inputs to your 4-channel interface. Any stereo mix to the TASCAM CDRW901-SL is just a bonus.

If using more mics than 4, as you suggested might be the case in your first post, you will have an issue:you would have to send 2 mics only to the TASCAM CDRW901-SL and 4 to the interface and work with the fact that the CD recorder will only produce 16 bit 44.1kHz wav files with some drift between this and the 4 channels recorded via the interface. Unless two recorders are designed to be linked (one being the master and providing the clocking) drift is inevitable: whether correction in a DAW of this works perfectly or not isn't certain.

With your present kit, I would work with 4-channels only, all via the interface (with a CD stereo mix too if you want): if you want to use all 6 channels of the mixer (via the inserts), use a 6-channel interface.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #16
Gear Addict
 
norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Akagi ➡️
I got some 5m XLR cables
5m cables sound rather short for your described use: are you sure you have enough cabling?!

Cheers,

Roland
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #17
Gear Addict
 
norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Akagi ➡️
I have bought 2 Oktava MK012
I only have one Oktava MK012 (with the hypercardioid capsule), but, like many others, have found it is wired so that the phase is reversed compared to all other mics I own: be aware of that when mixing with other mics.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #18
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolksoundman9 ➡️
If you are just using 4 mics, then, that's simple: just use the inserts on the back of the 6-channel mixer to provide iso inputs to your 4-channel interface. Any stereo mix to the TASCAM CDRW901-SL is just a bonus.

If using more mics than 4, as you suggested might be the case in your first post, you will have an issue:you would have to send 2 mics only to the TASCAM CDRW901-SL and 4 to the interface and work with the fact that the CD recorder will only produce 16 bit 44.1kHz wav files with some drift between this and the 4 channels recorded via the interface. Unless two recorders are designed to be linked (one being the master and providing the clocking) drift is inevitable: whether correction in a DAW of this works perfectly or not isn't certain.

With your present kit, I would work with 4-channels only, all via the interface (with a CD stereo mix too if you want): if you want to use all 6 channels of the mixer (via the inserts), use a 6-channel interface.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Roland
Thanks for your advice.
I am not sure what I would have to do exactly, and I don't think I would be able to have access to the back of the mixer, as all the gear is in a cabinet. I would have to ask the hall managers I guess.
Could you go into a bit more detail of how exactly I could use my interface with the mixer? I don't know what inserts are.

By the way, I was thinking could I not choose to also record the audio to my Behringer interface in 16bit 44.1 kHz? Would that avoid the drift?

Regrding the cables, I was thinking they might just be long enough. Maybe I should have gone with 7m ones?

Regarding the phase reversion of the Oktavas, thank you, I will look into that. More reading to do
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #19
Gear Addict
 
norfolksoundman9's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Akagi ➡️
Thanks for your advice.
I am not sure what I would have to do exactly, and I don't think I would be able to have access to the back of the mixer, as all the gear is in a cabinet. I would have to ask the hall managers I guess.
Could you go into a bit more detail of how exactly I could use my interface with the mixer? I don't know what inserts are.
The Ashly mx406 mixer has inserts at the back - Google the model for a pic - which are 1/4" sockets that mean you can take a line-level direct out, post-gain but pre-EQ, pan, fader level etc. If you don't know what to do or can't access them, why not just stick with 4 mics and run them straight into your interface (i.e. ignore the mixer and CD recorder)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Akagi ➡️
By the way, I was thinking could I not choose to also record the audio to my Behringer interface in 16bit 44.1 kHz? Would that avoid the drift?
No that won't help (it is to do with the non-matching internal clocks of the two devices), and you want to track at 24 bit and, possibly, higher than 44.1kHz. Again, I would suggest with your kit, just stick to using your interface with 4 mics into it, at 24 bit and, say, 88.2kHz.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Akagi ➡️
Regrding the cables, I was thinking they might just be long enough. Maybe I should have gone with 7m ones?
We don't know your set up. Personally I find 10m a handy length for much of my work, but others will have very different needs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Akagi ➡️
Regarding the phase reversion of the Oktavas, thank you, I will look into that. More reading to do
Not reading, but understanding and testing your own kit: only you can tell if your MK012s are phase reversed as they almost certainly are. Easy to see in a DAW if you zoom in.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #20
Gear Nut
 
the Lob's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Akagi ➡️
Thank you! I have a question regarding the ORTF.
Sometimes people seem to have the mics crossing, such as this.

https://cdn.dpamicrophones.com/media...onary/ortf.png

And sometimes they are not crossing, like this.
https://content.invisioncic.com/w286...042328ce9b.jpg

I realize that they will have the same direction regardless, but I was wondering if there is anything I should keep in mind?

Also, is the distance between the mics supposed to be 17cm regardless of the distance to the instruments and the size of the hall?

I have purchased the Rode SB20 stereo bar and would definitely like to try out ORTF as well as AB at the time of recording and compare.
https://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
The different crossings comes from the different length of the mic. It's important that the capsuals are 17cm and 110° apart. I have my mics crossing eachother as well, as they are to long as soon as I plug in the cables.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #21
Gear Addict
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Akagi ➡️
I did some digging, and I have no idea whether I got the cardioid capsule or the hypercardioid one, or the omni one, as they all look exactly the same?
The capsule patterns are indicated by symbols on the sides: circle for omni, heart-shape for cardioid and a sort of lop-sided figure 8 for hypercardioid.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #22
Here for the gear
 
Thank you for the advice guys!
I have the cardioid capsules for the MK012 then, since they are heart-shaped.

I have an update: I will be able to rent out two Schoeps CMC64Ug for the day for a rather cheap price- so I decided I will go with those as my main stereo pair in front of the players. My understanding is that they would be very suitable for this type of recording.
I also will be able to rent two 10m cables alongside which will come in handy.

Then, I will use the Oktavas to spot mic the piano/harpsichord (probably close to the tail) just to be on the safe side.
With these 4 mics, I can use all slots of my interface, as norfolksoundman9 suggested.
I did some more research and decided against using additional spot mics for example on the cello, and would rather focus on using the time to experiment with the stereo pair and get the positioning right.

However, I do still have the two AKG C391B mics I can use with the recorder and mixer in the hall for free, so I am thinking of putting them to use somewhere.
I assume they would not be ideal to use as a more distant spaced pair to record more of the hall reverb, as the are SDC and not omnis?

Do you guys have any other ideas or concerns regarding the above plan?
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #23
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Akagi ➡️
Thank you for the advice guys!
I have the cardioid capsules for the MK012 then, since they are heart-shaped.

I have an update: I will be able to rent out two Schoeps CMC64Ug for the day for a rather cheap price- so I decided I will go with those as my main stereo pair in front of the players. My understanding is that they would be very suitable for this type of recording.
I also will be able to rent two 10m cables alongside which will come in handy.

Then, I will use the Oktavas to spot mic the piano/harpsichord (probably close to the tail) just to be on the safe side.
With these 4 mics, I can use all slots of my interface, as norfolksoundman9 suggested.
I did some more research and decided against using additional spot mics for example on the cello, and would rather focus on using the time to experiment with the stereo pair and get the positioning right.

However, I do still have the two AKG C391B mics I can use with the recorder and mixer in the hall for free, so I am thinking of putting them to use somewhere.
I assume they would not be ideal to use as a more distant spaced pair to record more of the hall reverb, as the are SDC and not omnis?

Do you guys have any other ideas or concerns regarding the above plan?
for ambis, pattern imo is less of a concern: if been using pretty much any pattern for this (albeit on purpose/depending on situation) - personally, i prefer mostly umcorrelated ambis and the larger the distance to the source, the wider the spacing...
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