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Recording A Capella Vocal Group
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Recording A Capella Vocal Group

I am looking for advice before doing a small recording project. I haven't done this kind of recording before basically.

I am going to be recording a vocal group of four singers (all students) for an an a capella project. They will be singing songs with four part harmonies (SATB). I can only record them with one mic as I only have a medium sized space to record them in. The recordings need to sound as if they are being sung outside (it's for a small movie project for actors to lip sync to on set). For that reason, I do not want any reverb at all. Otherwise, I might go record this kind of project in a hall or a church with a nice room sound but that would defeat the purpose.

I have recorded solo singers in this room before without any room sound so I'm thinking it should be alright and the room is pretty well acoustically treated for reflections. I am recording with a Brent Averill 1272 Mic Pre and a Mojave MA-201 fet Mic.
I am planning on having them all stand around the single mic. I would appreciate any suggestions.
Thank you!
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
A medium sized room is going to pickup reflections. It won't sound like you are outside. Other than building bounce and street bounce, a key feature of "outside" is that it is almost anechoic (i.e. devoid of reflections). If you set up sound-absorbing gobos, that will help reduce some of the room sound hitting the mic. Film people sometimes clothes-pin moving blankets to metal racks and metals stands to create makeshift sound absorbing walls. It's better than nothing.

Izotope RX has a great de-reverb feature. If there is only light reverb, RX can remove it with only negligible penalty on the remaining audio. But it has to be light. You can't expect miracles.

I would try to gobo the ensemble and then de-verb it with RX.

There are other de-reverbs out there, some of them free. But I know first hand that RX's de-reverb is excellent.

Last edited by gearstudent; 1 week ago at 04:50 PM..
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #3
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
add a mic for m/s (which you can still skip if a single mic does it all) - maybe put up additional gobos, use an expander or four directional close mics/handhelds in case you get too much reflected/ambient sound...

...but even if the recording is supposed to match the video, i doubt a dry mix will get perceived as being very pleasing.

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 1 week ago at 05:24 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
In "White Men Can't Jump" you'll see three men singing a cappella outdoors (a guitar was added later). It sounds reasonably real. That was done in Capitol Studio A in Hollywood (vast, fairly live room) with the guys in a semicircle on individual U67s, with a "cave" of tall, dead-side-in gobos around them. They started out with one mic, which sounded drier, no bleed obviously, but the balances were unmanageable and it couldn't be panned.


Last edited by Brent Hahn; 1 week ago at 05:49 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
The next question is, will your recording be used in the movie? I'm guessing "yes".

Don't know the budget of your movie but one mic in a small room for four singers to sound like outside is a huge ask.

Also, is the final music in the film supposed to be mono?

I know. More questions than answers, right?

Maybe make everyone's life a bit easier and find a way to use a stereo pair in a better space; maybe even outdoors?

Or book Capital Studio's A.

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
HI All,

Thank you so much for your responses! I'm glad I posted this. I'm now wondering what I was thinking planning to record this with one mic! Yeah, a mono recording is going to sound disappointing! I can record using two mics but I'm short a decent mic. I have another condenser but it's a Studio Projects B1.

I liked deedeeyeah's point about using a Mid/side mic seems like my best option at this point. If I were to use the Mojave m201fet as the main mic and the Studio Projects B1 as the M/S mic - Do you think this would sound decent recording four vocalists? Or is the Studio Projects B1 likely to mess it up? I would be running them both through the Brent Averill 1272 stereo Mic Pre.

The way I see it my options are:
  1. Record as above in M/S with Mojave m201fet and Studio Projects B1 in MS.
  2. Purchase a stereo pair of mics (but I really don't want to spend more than $500 but I could if necessary)
  3. Purchase a stereo pair of mics (but I really don't want to spend more than $500 but I could if necessary)
  4. I do have 3 SM57 mics. Would that help?
  5. Purchase a better mic for the mid/side - If so, which mic!?
Lastly, is there any plugin that might help to balance the brightness/harshness of the Studio Projects B1?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #7
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wildplum's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by composerguy78 ➑️
HI All,

Thank you so much for your responses! I'm glad I posted this. I'm now wondering what I was thinking planning to record this with one mic! Yeah, a mono recording is going to sound disappointing! I can record using two mics but I'm short a decent mic. I have another condenser but it's a Studio Projects B1.

I liked deedeeyeah's point about using a Mid/side mic seems like my best option at this point. If I were to use the Mojave m201fet as the main mic and the Studio Projects B1 as the M/S mic - Do you think this would sound decent recording four vocalists? Or is the Studio Projects B1 likely to mess it up? I would be running them both through the Brent Averill 1272 stereo Mic Pre.

The way I see it my options are:
  1. Record as above in M/S with Mojave m201fet and Studio Projects B1 in MS.
  2. Purchase a stereo pair of mics (but I really don't want to spend more than $500 but I could if necessary)
  3. Purchase a stereo pair of mics (but I really don't want to spend more than $500 but I could if necessary)
  4. I do have 3 SM57 mics. Would that help?
  5. Purchase a better mic for the mid/side - If so, which mic!?
Lastly, is there any plugin that might help to balance the brightness/harshness of the Studio Projects B1?
Both of the mics you mentioned are cardioid. To do M/S the side mic needs to be bi-directional.

Perhaps you could rent something. In most markets, a decent mic can be rented for $50 a day (or even less).
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #8
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildplum ➑️
Both of the mics you mentioned are cardioid. To do M/S the mid mic needs to be bi-directional.

Perhaps you could rent something. In most markets, a decent mic can be rented for $50 a day (or even less).
Thank you for pointing that out!! I am based in Princeton, NJ. I would totally be willing to rent microphones. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to go about renting microphones or where from? Is there an online microphone rental website perhaps?
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 
tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Google sez, maybe, this guy:

https://covertrecordings.com/mics-pres-for-rent

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Any actual outdoor location, such as might be seen/used in a video is anything but anechoic. Outdoor spaces have very unique 'soundprints'.

The free plugin (now payware, I think) AriesVerb had an astoundingly realistic preset ("[something] in The Woods"), that sounded like something recorded outdoors.

I too would do whatever I could to avoid recording this in mono; even a duet in mono can sound pretty nasty.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
You'll get the most anechoic sound from 3 or more SM57, in a wide semicircle recording outside, ideally on a grassed area (a sports field, a farm growing vegetables, a clearing in a forest, etc....any non-reflective ground surface, no nearby walls etc)

Foam wind socks to keep wind noise out of the mics, your main problem will be traffic noise, aircraft etc...so get far enough away from 'human occupancy'

The mics won't need phantom power, so a battery powered multitrack recorder with sufficient mic inputs will do the job, eg Zoom H or F series
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #12
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➑️
Google sez, maybe, this guy:

https://covertrecordings.com/mics-pres-for-rent

D.
This operation is literally down the road from my place.

I highly recommend Paul. His is the real deal!
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #13
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➑️
In "White Men Can't Jump" you'll see three men singing a cappella outdoors (a guitar was added later). It sounds reasonably real. That was done in Capitol Studio A in Hollywood (vast, fairly live room) with the guys in a semicircle on individual U67s, with a "cave" of tall, dead-side-in gobos around them. They started out with one mic, which sounded drier, no bleed obviously, but the balances were unmanageable and it couldn't be panned.

Thanks for posting this! It's also a really great tune and recording!
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #14
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by M50k ➑️
Any actual outdoor location, such as might be seen/used in a video is anything but anechoic. Outdoor spaces have very unique 'soundprints'.

The free plugin (now payware, I think) AriesVerb had an astoundingly realistic preset ("[something] in The Woods"), that sounded like something recorded outdoors.

I too would do whatever I could to avoid recording this in mono; even a duet in mono can sound pretty nasty.
This is a really good point. Something I had not thought of. Good point about the duet sounding nasty in mono too!
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #15
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by composerguy78 ➑️
Thanks for posting this! It's also a really great tune and recording!
Yeah, it is. I wasn't there but I'm familiar with what went down because the engineer is a good friend. He gave me a DAT of the mixes -- they did maybe 7 or 8 songs on the session. The guy doing the "upright bass" is Jon Hendricks of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.

They mixed the song first and then shot to playback, and I've always found it odd that they didn't reverse the panning on the mix stage to match the picture.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #16
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➑️
Google sez, maybe, this guy:

https://covertrecordings.com/mics-pres-for-rent

D.
Thank you so much for posting this! I ended up renting two mics for this! They are being overnighted tonight! 2 Neumann 87s!
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 
tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness ➑️
This operation is literally down the road from my place.

I highly recommend Paul. His is the real deal!
He's got a nice collection. I saw a lot of companies with SM58 mics and Shure wireless.

D.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #18
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
HI All, Now that I have rented these mics and they have arrived. I have a pair or Neumann U-87s. What mic technique would you recommend? Should I use an X/Y position on them or space them apart either side of the singers? Also, what settings on the U-87s should I use? I would really appreciate any suggestions. The recording session is tomorrow!
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
the figure 8 pattern has a very strong null on its sides, above, and below. it's like two spheres of pickup, and in between the spheres is wonderful nothingness of sound pickup. so if your main challenge is specific reflections (such as floor, ceiling, side walls) you can aim the null of the mics into the reflections to minimize their pickup.

figure 8, however has very strong proximity, and strong pickup from both front and back. so if you are trying to avoid reflections from the back or you are micing very close and don't want a proximity effect, then figure 8 probably won't be the best.

it's so easy to switch patterns on the mics that i would try to run a few quick tests before committing. that would be ten minutes well spent.

there are an amazing variety of stereo techniques: blumlein, ortf, ab, xy, mid-side, etc. but i think the bigger picture in this case is whether or not you are winning in the room rather than concerning yourself with your preferred stereo picture. so i would try to experiment and let the room tell you want you should do, or more importantly, what not to do.

nobody fired a business manager for recommending java as a programming language, and nobody fired an engineer for bringing a pair of 87s to a recording event. you made a good choice.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Since you rented LDCs, I assume you decided not to record outdoors?

Were I doing this with LDCs, I'd place the mics 8-10" apart, in cardioid, and position the left two voices equidistant from the L mic and vice versa for the R. Aim each mic to the point midway between it's two voices. May want to pan each in a bit to taste.

Alternatively, I'd try 'wide XY', with the mics as close together (next to each other) as possible and aimed 120 degrees, not 90 degrees. Arrange the voices in an equidistant semicircle around the pair.

The fact that the capsules will end up a few inches apart, rather than purely coincident, will put a bit of 'air' in the sound, and still have acceptible mono compatibility (if that's a concern).
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Gear Guru
 
Hey the Beach Boys would throw one microphone in Omni... And gather round.
It sounded OK.

Chris
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #22
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gearstudent ➑️
figure 8, however has very strong proximity, and strong pickup from both front and back. so if you are trying to avoid reflections from the back or you are micing very close and don't want a proximity effect, then figure 8 probably won't be the best.
The nice thing about the figure-8 is that you have that rear lobe... so you can set up a blumlein pair and have a few singers in front of the mike and a few singers in back of the mike. Everybody can see everybody else, everybody can hear everybody else, there is a good vibe and sense of ensemble in the process. If the first take sounds too close on playback with decent speakers, then pull the performer back a little.

The problem with the figure-8 are those nulls, which means the angle of acceptance isn't that wide, which means you can't have a circle of people around the microphones and not have some dead spots. Think about grouping people front and grouping people back and avoiding the sides.

Near-coincident cardioids will work well too... but everyone has to be in front of the mikes and they may have to be crowded in more.

I'm not a huge U87 fan because you can't pull the U87 back as far as you could a small diaphragm cardioid... but the U87 gives you a great figure-8 pattern that you won't easily get with a small diaphragm cardioid so I suggest you try it and get a feel for what it will do for you even if you decide not to use it.
--scott
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 ➑️
Hey the Beach Boys would throw one microphone in Omni... And gather round.
It sounded OK.

Chris
I don't know how often they did this, or when, but I have the BBs' first 4 albums and on all of them the voices are spread in very wide s - t - e - r - e - o.

Maybe it's something they did around the time of Pet Sounds, to free up tracks?
Old 1 week ago
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Many of their songs were recorded in Mono.
Brian worshiped Spector... At that time.
Chris
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #25
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by composerguy78 ➑️
HI All, Now that I have rented these mics and they have arrived. I have a pair or Neumann U-87s. What mic technique would you recommend? Should I use an X/Y position on them or space them apart either side of the singers? Also, what settings on the U-87s should I use? I would really appreciate any suggestions. The recording session is tomorrow!
I'd probably stand them straight up and facing straight forward in cardioid at the average mouth height, maybe 10" apart. Put the singers about 2 feet from the mics in enough of a semicircle for eye contact. Assuming you have to be in the room with them, do short experimental recordings to make sure the vocal balance is good. With teenagers and younger men, the lower voices are often weaker; don't be afraid to move the guys forward or back to get the balance right.
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