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I will be recording a guitar orchestra concert. Consider your advice solicited. - Gearspace.com
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I will be recording a guitar orchestra concert. Consider your advice solicited.
Old 24th January 2013
  #1
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
I will be recording a guitar orchestra concert. Consider your advice solicited.

A few days ago I started a thread asking about equipment (mic, pres, etc) for recording solo guitar, strings, and small ensembles. I asked the question so that I could plan for the future. Well the future arrived sooner than expected! Today I recorded the first rehearsal of a guitar orchestra and plan to record the next 3 or 4 until the final concert which I will also be recording! It's a great opportunity, I'm excited about it, but I didn't think something like this would come along so soon and I'm feeling a little lost.

My set up is quite basic: sE Electronics Se1a Stereo Matched Pair ->Apogee Duet 2 -> MacBook Pro running Pro Tools 10. The rehearsal room had plenty of acoustic treatment and was big so I was happy with the sound coming through the monitor headphones. I tried two stereo techniques, ORTF and XY, and both seemed to work. The mics were placed as overheads above the conductor. I was happy with the how things went considering it was my first time out. Now for the help....

My problem is three fold: I will not be able to place the mics in the same spot for the final concert because it will be performed in the universities concert hall and a mic stand proper on a table behind the conductor would diminish the visual aesthetics of the performance. Also, this guitar orchestra has about 20 members so its not exactly small. I'm sure there are better ways to mic such an ensemble.

What would be an ideal mic/gear set up for this ensemble (20 classical guitarists)?
Should I consider an omni pair instead of a cardiod pair? or both?
Do you have any suggestions on mic placement that will effectively capture the ensemble but remain visually subtle on stage?

One way or another this will all be figured out but I figured you guys might know a thing or two about situations like this. I may be able to acquire any additional gear I might need so there is no need to limit your response to what I'm currently working with.(I feel Schoeps will come up so I'll say that purchasing any of their microphones in the near future is highly unlikely.)

Thank you for your advice, help, and suggestions!
Old 24th January 2013
  #2
BRH
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly ➑️
It's a great opportunity, I'm excited about it, but I didn't think something like this would come along so soon and I'm feeling a little lost.
So you doing this for free.
Old 24th January 2013
  #3
Gear Guru
 
joelpatterson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly ➑️
... I will not be able to place the mics in the same spot for the final concert because it will be performed in the universities concert hall and a mic stand proper on a table behind the conductor would diminish the visual aesthetics of the performance....
Wait a minute... the conductor standing there, doesn't that also negatively impact the visual aesthetics? And what about the fact that the audience has to sit literally dozens of yards away from the performers... also quite an imposition!

My sarcasm app is obviously on, but there's a serious issue at play-- if one single damn mic stand with practically invisible mics atop it are such a big deal, you're dealing with a mightily self-destructive management-- considering the "visual" component will vanish as soon as the concert is concluded, whereas your audio record will last for the next thousand years.

But then, no use fighting a cyclops, I always say: if you can create a subtle, maybe ground-level arrangement of mics that encircle the group, off to the sides rather than right infront, you could probably get a decent, usable, if not hopefully spectacular result-- all the while muttering under your breath...
......
Old 24th January 2013
  #4
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly ➑️
will not be able to place the mics in the same spot for the final concert because it will be performed in the universities concert hall and a mic stand proper on a table behind the conductor would diminish the visual aesthetics of the performance.
Is this a self imposed problem or is it one you've specifically been requested to adhere to? If it is the first then don't worry about it and do what you think is giving you the best sound, if it is the latter just try and explain that you can't just simply move the mics and be able to get the exact same results you have been happy with.

If it is still a problem then at least you have 3 or 4 rehearsals to play around with it.
Old 24th January 2013
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Even in professional concerts, one often sees a dozen of mic stands. What's the problem?
Old 24th January 2013
  #6
Gear Head
 
Notsosane's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly ➑️
My problem is three fold: I will not be able to place the mics in the same spot for the final concert because it will be performed in the universities concert hall and a mic stand proper on a table behind the conductor would diminish the visual aesthetics of the performance.
I feel your pain. Just recently I had a "discussion" with a venue manager that did not want a single stand. (won that one). That one was a "freebie" so I was about to walk away. (still p'd).
Could you place a tall stand in front of the conductor with an ORTF pair facing almost straight down at the ensemble?
Well that could make the conductor look like an alien.
I don't have gear to fly mics so I know where you're coming from.

Dave
Old 24th January 2013
  #7
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly ➑️
My problem is three fold: I will not be able to place the mics in the same spot for the final concert because it will be performed in the universities concert hall and a mic stand proper on a table behind the conductor would diminish the visual aesthetics of the performance.
I am confused by "on a table." Are you putting a short stand on a table behind the conductor? I think some of my clients would have a problem with that, too. But, a single high stand on the floor behind the conductor should not be a problem.

Without knowing or hearing the room, I can't say whether an omni array or card array is best. But, in my experience XY alone almost never sounds better for than ORTF for group of this size. The stereo field is too narrow. Certainly it is hard to go wrong with ORTF. You know you will get very good (but perhaps not the best) results.
Old 24th January 2013
  #8
Lives for gear
 
pkautzsch's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What you need is a properly placed main pair.
ORTF is the way to go in unknown acoustics. It's the most forgiving setup. Usually it sounds about right when the mics point to the most outward players.
Omnis can sound great, but you need a great room and enough time to find the sweet spot.
Use a proper stand - you want to be more than 8 ft above stage level. Not a "table" solution. Something like K&M 20800, maybe with a boom arm straight up. You might need to place it in front of the stage or in one of the first audience rows instead of on stage. Not all conductors tolerate a stand between them and the musicians.
Old 25th January 2013 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by polytope ➑️
Even in professional concerts, one often sees a dozen of mic stands. What's the problem?
Typically, mics are hanging overhead. There might be one mic for the conductor to speak or occasionally for a soloist. There could be 2 main mics in front if they are high enough. That's it.
Old 25th January 2013 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by neirbod ➑️
I am confused by "on a table." Are you putting a short stand on a table behind the conductor? I think some of my clients would have a problem with that, too. But, a single high stand on the floor behind the conductor should not be a problem.

Without knowing or hearing the room, I can't say whether an omni array or card array is best. But, in my experience XY alone almost never sounds better for than ORTF for group of this size. The stereo field is too narrow. Certainly it is hard to go wrong with ORTF. You know you will get very good (but perhaps not the best) results.
I had to place the mic stand on a table as a quick fix in order to completely clear the conductors position. It was overkill but it was the only raised flat surface available.
Old 25th January 2013
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Hire some Schoeps ccms, they are invisible.
I was working in the Shetlands in winter
One day I recorded 100 fiddlers in a pub
Next day 100 guitarists in a pub
Nobody cared about my mic array, the talent carried the entire event.
Old 25th January 2013
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
The issue of mic stands being onstage may not be an issue, but knowing the people involved, I'm anticipating that it will be. However, I may be pleasantly surprised.

The final concert will be held in a small concert hall (seats around 200 people) which has the potential to create a great recording. That is why I was wondering if omni's would be a good way to go because its the kind of hall you would definitely want to capture. I may not be given the time to properly place them beforehand though, which makes an ORTF setup feel like the safest route.

As for compensation, I volunteered to record them for the experience. I do not plan on being paid and they would not have hired anyone to record the concert in the first place. However, again, I may be pleasantly surprised.
Old 25th January 2013 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by pkautzsch ➑️
What you need is a properly placed main pair.
ORTF is the way to go in unknown acoustics. It's the most forgiving setup. Usually it sounds about right when the mics point to the most outward players.
Omnis can sound great, but you need a great room and enough time to find the sweet spot.
Use a proper stand - you want to be more than 8 ft above stage level. Not a "table" solution. Something like K&M 20800, maybe with a boom arm straight up. You might need to place it in front of the stage or in one of the first audience rows instead of on stage. Not all conductors tolerate a stand between them and the musicians.
Thank you for the stand model and mic height. The table was a quick fix to a broken mic stand. I know not to go the cheap route with stands now.
Old 25th January 2013 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly ➑️
As for compensation, I volunteered to record them for the experience. I do not plan on being paid and they would not have hired anyone to record the concert in the first place. However, again, I may be pleasantly surprised.
Just remember, if they like it and want to do more, point out it will cost them.
Old 25th January 2013 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Walker ➑️
Just remember, if they like it and want to do more, point out it will cost them.
Old 15th February 2013
  #16
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
I just wanted give an update on the concert recording preparation:
Mic stand placement has been worked out. Due to the number of people in the ensemble and the size of the stage the mics will be between the conductor and the ensemble. This is nice because they won't have be above the conductor and they will be a little closer to the ensemble. I decided to keep it simple and stick with an ORTF stereo pattern because its been working well in rehearsals.

A Soprano has been added on three of the pieces. She has a beautiful, strong voice that basically turns those 3 songs into solo soprano with guitar accompaniment. I wasn't prepared for this at all. She is dominating the left mic but I found if I pan the left side towards the middle the stereo image is still intact and she sounds more center stage than way off in the netherworld.

The concert is next Friday and I think after a few mic angle adjustments I should be ready to go. The conductor was happy with the sound of the rehearsal recordings so I figure I'm on the right track.

I'll let you know how it all turns out.
Old 15th February 2013
  #17
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
while it's all great during the rehearsal, However opening nite is going to be a different story when that red recording light starts flashing, a crowd milling around, nervous performers and massive egos trying to outjack the others, wanting to be the next Esteban. Therefore, With that many guitars, other instruments, and such crap micing options, It's going to be a dynamic cluster****.

Heavy Compression, or fader babysitting on the way in is about all you can do....


Ps- apparently you haven't done too many Live gigs, cause you wouldn't be acting too sure about yourself, thinking you're "ready to go", and all you need is a few more "mic adjustments",all based on a "rehearsal". Anything can happen during showtime, and it usually does...

Expect the worst, like **** getting moved around at last minute , mics turned ,equipment issues, people getting all diva and start oversinging /oveplaying,thus screwing up the mix balance you thought you had. Conductor's possible "mozart ego" kicks in and suddenly turns into asshole on ya. etc.. ANYthing! never say never.

Assume these things from the get and run through the possibllities of what can go worng, so you won't be dissappointed, and as a result you'll be prepared, and it should turn out ok.

just keep my advice in the forefront so you don't make a fool out of yourself on opening night....

good luck
Old 15th February 2013 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly ➑️
The concert is next Friday and I think after a few mic angle adjustments I should be ready to go. The conductor was happy with the sound of the rehearsal recordings so I figure I'm on the right track.
Why don't you post a clip of the rehearsal? You have the attention of some experience location recordists who may be able to provide additional advice after hearing a clip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Mixdown ➑️
It's going to be a dynamic cluster****.
...
Ps- apparently you haven't done too many Live gigs, cause you wouldn't be acting too sure about yourself, thinking you're "ready to go", and all you need is a few more "mic adjustments",all based on a "rehearsal". Anything can happen during showtime, and it usually does...

Expect the worst...
Well, I would certainly echo that you need to be prepared for contingencies to the extent possible, but no need to be so gloom and doom about it! To the OP, you did your homework, went to some rehearsals, and seem to have a good handle on things. Show up early, bring spares (cables, mic clips etc.), expect some snags, bring gaffers tape to tape down wayward cables, and have fun!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Mixdown ➑️
Heavy Compression, or fader babysitting on the way in is about all you can do....
Heavy compression? IME most music directors want to hear a very natural sound for a live recording, with very limited or no compression.
Old 15th February 2013 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by neirbod ➑️


Heavy compression? IME most music directors want to hear a very natural sound for a live recording, with very limited or no compression.
relax,don't get yer panties in a wad, ;-)..... I was being joking sarcastic, and telling him to be on his toes,with this low budget, college student production he's about to record.


FYI, I am well aware of how Dynamic Range is the utmost priority in regards to classical and the like.
Old 16th February 2013
  #20
Gear Head
 
Old Foof's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I am late to this party but recorded a mandolin orchestra a while back. I used Line Audio CM-3s in ORTF about 3 meters back from the conductor. While the mics were about 2 meters high, I would have done better going 3 meters higher or more. What I wound up with was a recording featuring most of the closest players (which by happenstance included a delightful lady playing a Gibson Lloyd Loar F5).

The Foof
Old 16th February 2013
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Old Foof, its cool you recorded a mandolin orchestra. I imagine guitar orchestras and mandolin orchestras present similar challenges. How big was the ensemble and how deep (or how many rows) were the players? I have been using an ORTF pattern and had the mics at about 3 meters high for the last rehearsal. However, since the ensemble has a greater width than depth I feel could bring the mics down a little to prevent overshooting the orchestra. (Thats what I meant by "adjusting the mics").

neirbod, thank you for your post, I'll use it as a check list (and add extension cords to it).

Mr_Mixdown, sarcasm does not translate well over the internet and guitar orchestras don't have budgets.
Old 16th February 2013
  #22
Gear Head
 
Old Foof's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
There were about 35 in the orchestra. I was located slightly to the left of center, and the larger instruments (mandocello and mandobass) were on the right. As they are not very loud, I would have done better to be slightly to the right (or at least centered). Here's a clip- not my finest effort, but it will give you the idea.

The Foof
Attached Files

15 Time to say goodbye.mp3 (3.78 MB, 331 views)

Old 3rd March 2013
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Well I thought I would give an update/account of how the concert went:

It went fantastic! No problems what so ever, although I did learn why companies make 50 foot XLR cables. All my equipment worked perfectly and the guitar orchestra (these are all older amateurs) played as well as they could which was great sometimes and less great at others. Overall the conductor really like the CD I put together which for me is a stamp of approval. I'm not sure if I'll post clips because I do not know what the guitar society has in mind for the material.
As for the tech talk, I used a NOS stereo configuration which did a great job at capturing the entire ensemble. I also learned in what areas I can improve. The Duet 2 Soft Limiter was a "God Send" when the soprano came on. lol
Overall, it was a good experience, I'm happy I did it, and I learned a lot. Seeing as this was my first live recording, I volunteered to do it but next time, I'm charging!
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