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fast organ mic setup
Old 22nd January 2009
  #1
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🎧 10 years
Talking fast organ mic setup

Next sunday I drive 4 hours to record an organ concert in a church I have never visited before and will have no time to do a major search for the optimal mic positions. Supposed to be a nice place with great, fairly large organ up on the loft.

My plan is to place MKH 8020 pair in 35cm dia/35cm AB Jecklin disk up to about loft railing level maybe 1/3 of aisle length away from organ and hear if it works. From my past limited experience I can not go badly wrong with this approach.

Any better ideas (like to test the new Jecklin, so there) about the rough placement?
Old 22nd January 2009
  #2
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Organ recording is a tricky business.

You need to get some time to test out microphone placement.

Could you go up the day before and stay over?

Organs are like people they are all different and a cookie cutter approach to recording them is impossible. What you have outlined sounds reasonable but not knowing the acoustics of the hall and the organ itself it is hard to make a judgment.

Best of Luck!
Old 22nd January 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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NorseHorse's Avatar
Find pictures of the church. Post them here if able.
Old 22nd January 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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Here is a flash panorama: Keski-Porin kirkko

Looks nice...

This is not a paying gig, makes things less stressfull.
Old 22nd January 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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Roland's Avatar
 
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Personally speaking I would go with three set-up's if you can, one close, one about a third back and one halfway down. If you get a chance to "tune" each of these set-up's for about 10-20 mins you can. Net result that you should get something at the very least acceptable or a good deal better than that. Remember this set-up will give you the many many options to blend a couple of these together to get the best result, possibly more than spending a couple of days experimenting.

Regards


Roland
P.S. If three set-ups are not possible for you, try one closer (not too close though) and one 1/3 - 1/2 way back this will still give you plenty of choices.
Old 22nd January 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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springer's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Jecklin is my favorite for any omni cfg as it takes the guesswork out of the distance inbetween caps. Just place them about 1/3 ways down the aisle. If it's in a place that has been tuned for the organ it should sound great nearly everywhere.
Good Luck!
Old 22nd January 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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🎧 15 years
Thomas is right ... ya gotta test drive some setups. Taste is a big part of the final product and will hence dictate technique.

I personally have done Jecklin on organ in a sizable space and can't say that I really liked the results. The LF info tends to end up bunched up in the middle. Also, your 8020s don't have HF loss compensation that is really beneficial to JD and diffuse field setups.

I usually much prefer spaced omnis for this application. And 1/3 of the way back (I predict) will be too far away. The room looks like it would be fairly live, so with spaced omnis I'd start even with the halfway point between those last two pillars in the back section of seating .... about where the chandelier is closest to the organ case ... and tweak from there. The balance of direct and reverberant sound is a fine balance when using only a pair, and I find it easier to start closer and move away bit by bit to taste.
Old 22nd January 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hughesmr ➑️
Thomas is right ... ya gotta test drive some setups. Taste is a big part of the final product and will hence dictate technique.

I personally have done Jecklin on organ in a sizable space and can't say that I really liked the results. The LF info tends to end up bunched up in the middle. Also, your 8020s don't have HF loss compensation that is really beneficial to JD and diffuse field setups.

I usually much prefer spaced omnis for this application. And 1/3 of the way back (I predict) will be too far away. The room looks like it would be fairly live, so with spaced omnis I'd start even with the halfway point between those last two pillars in the back section of seating .... about where the chandelier is closest to the organ case ... and tweak from there. The balance of direct and reverberant sound is a fine balance when using only a pair, and I find it easier to start closer and move away bit by bit to taste.
Good advice here. Forget Jecklin, its useful for making reliable mediocre recordings (you can tell anyone in 5 minutes how to set it up) but not much else.
Use spaced omnis for a good decorrelated diffuse field in the lower frequencies.
What kind of organ is it, who built it and when?
If it is modern, what is the school(s) it follows?
What literature is to be played?
That will influence big time the desirable ratio between direct and diffuse sound. For Bach you might want to get a little closer, for Widor or Vierne be more distant...

EDIT:
Looked up the disposition in the internet, with the recit expressif it has also the registers for the french masters.
Two 32' in the pedal. The Bourdon 32' is probably giving some serious vibrations in the guts :-) Now those sound good in stereo (spaced omnis), Jecklin would give you mono for them only...
Old 22nd January 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 10 years
It will be French romantic style music. I think I'll go with 60 cm AB at about 1/4 out, mics fairly high. I have done smaller Jecklin & 90cm AB in another church and both had their merits, Jecklin had tighter image, AB was more spacious.

This is a new organ, supposed to be fantastic, but the only recording of it so far is downright bad, washy harsh sound with feeble low end (and fadeout to silence between tracks & reverb cut short...).

Thanks all so far.
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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sonare's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audio ergo sum ➑️
Good advice here. Forget Jecklin, its useful for making reliable mediocre recordings (you can tell anyone in 5 minutes how to set it up) but not much else.
I would agree with this for organ, but Simon Eadon (among others) would be surprised to learn that his Grammy-winning Takacs discs were mediocre. In fact, a JD is the only way to get really precise imaging with omnis IMO. But for organ who wants precise imaging? As useless as a Decca tree in this application.

Of course, someone will now respond that he does organ with a tree with AWESOME results <G>


Rich
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonare ➑️
I would agree with this for organ, but Simon Eadon (among others) would be surprised to learn that his Grammy-winning Takacs discs were mediocre. In fact, a JD is the only way to get really precise imaging with omnis IMO. But for organ who wants precise imaging? As useless as a Decca tree in this application.

...
There are fundamental differences between signals for loudspeaker reproduction and signals for headphone reproduction. The imaging of the Jecklin disc is WORSE than a correctly set up AB with omnis regarding loudspeaker reproduction. In the lower frequencies Jecklin disc recordings are mono (almost). The fundamentals of a C string of a cello might be centered and the A-string higher harmonics far right. I wouldn't call that 'precise', maybe 'interesting' :-)
The Takacs recordings were string quartet IIRC, organ is even a different ball game if it comes to bass and sub-bass frequencies.
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audio ergo sum ➑️
Two 32' in the pedal. The Bourdon 32' is probably giving some serious vibrations in the guts :-) Now those sound good in stereo (spaced omnis), Jecklin would give you mono for them only...
Yes, like in the reality

Personaly, i don't like these organ recordings with big phase differencies in the bass. I find this very unnatural. In the contrary the Jecklin Disc give more the feeling to be there.

My 2 c

JMM
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mathieujm ➑️
Yes, like in the reality

Personaly, i don't like these organ recordings with big phase differencies in the bass. I find this very unnatural.
No, not like in reality. You might want to review your thoughts for a stereo speaker setup and how a diffuse field in a church(or any other reverberant room) would present lateral reflections to the listener. I'm sure you can find out yourself...
Quote:
In the contrary the Jecklin Disc give more the feeling to be there.
Under headphones maybe, never through loudspeakers.
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #14
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
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After looking at the church I too would go with spaced Omnis high up but I would certainly do some moving around during a rehearsal. Trying to record an organ in an unfamiliar church acoustical space with no time spent listening to different setups is IMHO a recipe for disaster.
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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RichS's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If set-up time really is a problem, here's a very quick "rule of thumb" to follow.

While the organist is warming up, walk the center isle and find the point where direct and reverberant sound are about equal. Covering one ear while listening helps to remove directional clues that can confuse you if you not used to big buildings. Once you've located that spot, walk about 1/3 the way back towards the organ and place you mic's at that point. It will at least guarantee that the room reverb won't overwhelm direct sound, and you'll have a usable recording. If you're got more time for tests, it will be a reasonable place from which to start making adjustments.

While the jecklin disc would be fine, I agree with spaced omni's, up high.

Good luck, and have fun. Take pictures!
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #16
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichS ➑️
If set-up time really is a problem, here's a very quick "rule of thumb" to follow.

While the organist is warming up, walk the center isle and find the point where direct and reverberant sound are about equal. Covering one ear while listening helps to remove directional clues that can confuse you if you not used to big buildings. Once you've located that spot, walk about 1/3 the way back towards the organ and place you mic's at that point. It will at least guarantee that the room reverb won't overwhelm direct sound, and you'll have a usable recording. If you're got more time for tests, it will be a reasonable place from which to start making adjustments.

While the jecklin disc would be fine, I agree with spaced omni's, up high.

Good luck, and have fun. Take pictures!
I don't think that makes sense. The point where direct and reverberant sound are about equal - the critical distance - is in reverberant churches between 5-8 meters (15-24 feet for the US). Minus 1/3 we are talking about 4-6 meters. A little close, isn't it? Anyone who has witnessed the intonation of an organ also knows, that many registers, most of them are inside the organ anyway and their sound is mostly reflected sound from the ceiling and the walls, need distance to develop the full sound how the organ builder intended it to sound. A cornet for instance recorded that close as you recommend just sounds funny in most churches.
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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Roland's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audio ergo sum ➑️
I don't think that makes sense. The point where direct and reverberant sound are about equal - the critical distance - is in reverberant churches between 5-8 meters (15-24 feet for the US). Minus 1/3 we are talking about 4-6 meters. A little close, isn't it? Anyone who has witnessed the intonation of an organ also knows, that many registers, most of them are inside the organ anyway and their sound is mostly reflected sound from the ceiling and the walls, need distance to develop the full sound how the organ builder intended it to sound. A cornet for instance recorded that close as you recommend just sounds funny in most churches.
No chance, the "critical distance" will be much further back than that. At that sort of distance you will almost certainly be getting the Haas effect which will cause the brain to ignore much of the reflected sound. It has to be remembered that an organ and the building it is in should be a collective whole. A church organ in a dry room will sound quite uninspiring, it is the way that it react's with the acoustic that makes the sound. Mic's really any closer than about 20ft are going to pick up a very localized sound and not at all representative of the instrument.


Roland
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #18
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RichS's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by audio ergo sum ➑️
The point where direct and reverberant sound are about equal - the critical distance - is in reverberant churches between 5-8 meters (15-24 feet for the US).
Not to argue physics, but in practical situations (and as a church musician of 37 years), I find that to be way too rigid a rule considering the varied spaces I've performed in. In terms of a listener's perspective, and if I follow that rule, the direct/reflection point you suggest would be just short of under the balcony as the pipes overhead are already 15-24 feet above the floor... and that doesn't include stops buried deeper in the casing. There would be almost no place I could sit in that building where reflected sound wouldn't be louder than direct sound. In my experience, that simply isn't the case, and the direct/reflection point does vary with building size, shape, and the acoustic quality of surfaces.
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #19
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hughesmr's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichS ➑️
Not to argue physics, but in practical situations (and as a church musician of 37 years), I find that to be way too rigid a rule considering the varied spaces I've performed in. In terms of a listener's perspective, and if I follow that rule, the direct/reflection point you suggest would be just short of under the balcony as the pipes overhead are already 15-24 feet above the floor... and that doesn't include stops buried deeper in the casing. There would be almost no place I could sit in that building where reflected sound wouldn't be louder than direct sound. In my experience, that simply isn't the case, and the direct/reflection point does vary with building size, shape, and the acoustic quality of surfaces.
Yep, absolutely ... that's why you have to test drive setups and tweak, because if there was a rigid rule that always worked regardless of the environment, there wouldn't be much for us Gearslutz to do, now, would there?

My earlier suggested starting place was just that, a suggestion, based on my experience and what I might expect the acoustics of the place to be based on the picture. But I never cease to be surprised at what rooms sound like .... big stone spaces that are dead, smaller rooms with padded seats that are live, etc. And of course, the organ could be voiced mellow or it could be a screamer with upperwork out the waz .... you never know until you HEAR it.
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #20
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RichS's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hughesmr ➑️
.... you never know until you HEAR it.
Amen!
Old 24th January 2009 | Show parent
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland ➑️
No chance, the "critical distance" will be much further back than that. At that sort of distance you will almost certainly be getting the Haas effect which will cause the brain to ignore much of the reflected sound. It has to be remembered that an organ and the building it is in should be a collective whole. A church organ in a dry room will sound quite uninspiring, it is the way that it react's with the acoustic that makes the sound. Mic's really any closer than about 20ft are going to pick up a very localized sound and not at all representative of the instrument.


Roland
I agree. But the Haas effect is irrelevant for the critical distance, which is defined for the stationary soundfield (and therefore is just theory).
Thus the critical distance is usually too close.
And finding the point where direct and diffuse sound are in balance is very vague for most people, since much of what we would call "direct" from an organ is in fact reflected sound.
Also the pipes will have a certain directionality, pushing the effective critical distance further back. My rule of thumb for starting in an unknown church is for omnis between 1/3 of the depth and the point from where the organ was intonated (usually further back).

Also for the french late romantic repertoire more diffuse sound is desirable than for a Bach work.
And many if not most organ recordings exist, that are quite impressive sounding, but actually don't represent the timbre of the organ it was intended and done by the builder at all.
Old 24th January 2009 | Show parent
  #22
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
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I talked to a really good friend of mine who is an Organ builder. He is very knowledgeable about the sound of organs in a hall. I consult with him all the time when I do organ recordings. He told me that the organ is meant to be listened to from a distance and that up close micing of an organ does not do the instrument justice. It needs time to develop its signature sound for that hall. If the organ builder was at all good at his or her craft they designed the organ to make the most of the hall's acoustics and have the acoustics support the sound of the organ. If you would divide a hall into thirds the microphones should usually not be in the first third of the hall IF you want to capture what the organ is suppose to sound like in the hall. I have always followed his advice and have gotten some very good very realistic sounding recordings using his ideas. I see people putting microphones within 6 feet of the instrument and wonder if they are having fun recording individual pipes but have forgotten what the instrument is suppose to do and that is sound good IN the hall not at the pipes. In ALL cases moving the microphone around while listening to the results is ALWAYS the way to get the best sound.

Good topic!
Old 24th January 2009 | Show parent
  #23
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I agree with everything except NEVER placing mics in the first 1/3 of the hall. A case in point was a recording I did for an organbuilder. Thanks to the excessive HF falloff (the room's acoustic was very "dark") the mics were in the first 1/4 or perhaps a little closer. To the organbuilders ears that was the spot where presence balanced blend.

For those of us who are experienced with this it is nothing new. For others they may read that as though it is engraved on stone tablets!

Rich
Old 24th January 2009 | Show parent
  #24
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonare ➑️
I agree with everything except NEVER placing mics in the first 1/3 of the hall. A case in point was a recording I did for an organbuilder. Thanks to the excessive HF falloff (the room's acoustic was very "dark") the mics were in the first 1/4 or perhaps a little closer. To the organbuilders ears that was the spot where presence balanced blend.

For those of us who are experienced with this it is nothing new. For others they may read that as though it is engraved on stone tablets!

Rich
That is why you really need to get to the hall and do some checking of mic placements BEFORE the concert. Every hall is different every organ is different. I did not mean to say these were "etched in stone rules" but guidelines I will rephrase my original post.

Thanks!
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #25
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🎧 10 years
Preliminary report:

Level test was done at about 1/3 away from the organ, then I moved the mics little bit further as the church was quite live but the recorded sound was not too reverberant from the first position, wanted a bit more room. Mics were about 6.4m 21 ft up in 60cm/24" AB arrangement pointing 15 degrees out. The final place was almost the the center point of the aisle; about 2/5 distance from the organ. The altar part is quite deep.

I will post some samples in a few days time.

The blowers are really quiet, even with audience the difference between peaks and minimum RMS is 66 dB which I find amazing!
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 10 years
Here is a 4 minute MP3 and WAV file from the end of Alexander Guilmant's Final from 1Γ¨re Sonate en RΓ© mineur. 16/44 format from 24/96 original.

aanivarkki Profile, aanivarkki Details - FileFront.com

Start is somewhat quiet, around -30 dBFS, but the end with double pedaling hits -0,7 dBFS, so do not turn your system too high. Things are happening also at below 20 Hz.

All constructive comments welcome!

edit: 2 different mp3 versions now, 320bps CBR and smaller VBR
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #27
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RichS's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Very nice recording, good dynamic range, but a tad too much room for my taste.

I generally like a 60/40 ratio of pipes-to-room. I'm using that here as more of a quantitative description rather than a "drop-dead" mathematical target. For me, there's a little "blurring" in some of the faster keyed passages and a slightly closer mic position would have cleaned that up.

Again, it's just my opinion, but still a very enjoyable recording.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #28
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Beautiful! I LIKE the room ratio - after all, church organs are designed to be heard in the space, and that is part of the sound (to me).

Thanks for posting such a nice audio file! (and the flash inage is pretty amazing too.)

Lou
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #29
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RichS's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Forgot to ask... how much set-up/test time did you actually get?
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #30
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We were there at 16:40, walked around clapping our hands and whistling, nice echo. I desided to set up the system at about 1/3 point with mics as high as my stand would allow. The organist showed up at 17:20, played loud for about a minute for me and left. After listening with cans (Audio-Technica ATH-M50) I desided to move the mics about 2 meters out. The performance started at 18:00.

Now when I listen with loudspeakers there is more room than what it sounded like with headphones. Still, after recording 4 concerts with drier rooms I kind of like the "semi-cathedral" acoustics. Maybe, just maybe, I would move closer next time.

I also like the stereo spread, there is much going on both sides, but it is not swimming around. AB was 60 cm like I said previously, would not go wide than that, might try 40.
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