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Author Topic: Oddball microphone techniques  (Read 57538 times)

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Offline rastasean

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Re: Oddball mic techniques that worked - evolution to 'Bug Eye' rig
« Reply #75 on: November 20, 2008, 10:17:05 AM »
Stage lip again (different stage) for Robert Walter Trio, here I have foam windscreens on the balls which are just cut down cheapo Shure ball mic style foams to form a half sphere, pinned onto the foam balls.

Soundcheck-



You REALLY do what your signature says: record > listen > revise technique

Great technique here!
You do record into two separate recorders, right?
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Oddball mic techniques - evolution to 'Bug Eye' now 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #76 on: November 20, 2008, 12:42:29 PM »
Splainin? I lost count, 5 or 6 times over the weekend, but not as much as I would have thought for such an odd looking contraption.  Most people that asked about it were more than content to learn it was 'microphones for recording' and leave it at that.  It was fun playing with a few, telling them it was a detector for ______ (fill in the blank with various detectables) indicating direction, quantity and quality.  'Whoa, look at that meter jump!' They'd always smile.

Sean, Yes two recorders.  I keep thinking about the R-44 to do all four tracks and will probably break down and get one since I've been doing more of this.  I do dig the modularity of the system and the fact that I can easily break it down into two separate rigs in less than a minute, though. Too bad I can't link two R-09's for 4 tracks like you can link two R-44's for 8. 
« Last Edit: November 20, 2008, 12:44:28 PM by Gutbucket »
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Offline illconditioned

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Re: Oddball mic techniques - evolution to 'Bug Eye' now 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #77 on: November 20, 2008, 12:46:47 PM »
Splainin? I lost count, 5 or 6 times over the weekend, but not as much as I would have thought for such an odd looking contraption.  Most people that asked about it were more than content to learn it was 'microphones for recording' and leave it at that.  It was fun playing with a few, telling them it was a detector for ______ (fill in the blank with various detectables) indicating direction, quantity and quality.  'Whoa, look at that meter jump!' They'd always smile.

Sean, Yes two recorders.  I keep thinking about the R-44 to do all four tracks and will probably break down and get one since I've been doing more of this.  I do dig the modularity of the system and the fact that I can easily break it down into two separate rigs in less than a minute, though. Too bad I can't link two R-09's for 4 tracks like you can link two R-44's for 8. 
That is just crazy!  I love the pic of that onstage.  And people think I'm nuts...

 Richard
Please DO NOT mail me with tech questions.  I will try to answer in the forums when I get a chance.  Thanks.

Sample recordings at: http://www.soundmann.com.

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Oddball mic techiques - evolution to 'Bug Eye' now 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #78 on: November 20, 2008, 02:05:07 PM »
It's fun playing the mad scientist.

A few technical details if anyone is interested-

I melted the holes through the Nerf balls with a nail heated in a propane torch.  One hole passed all the way through to accommodate the mic capsule and cable, held in place by a piece of bamboo chopstick where the cable exits (the black rectangular thing sticking out the back of the ball in the photos).  The other hole is for the interference fit over the antenna tip. It's the same diameter as the first, offset from the cable exit hole by 45 degrees and only penetrates the ball about 1/2". I considered going making additional holes at 90 degrees for the option of pointing the L/R mics fully forward with no angle between them but found I had more than enough adjustment without doing that.  The straight pins stuck in the balls in some of the photos are for securing the foam windscreens and are just being stowed there.

The 45 degree mic mounting axis works well because I can angle the front antenna up 45 degrees and rotate the ball to face the front mic directly forward and do the same with the rear antenna to point the back mic.  If I was recording purely ambient sound scape material I would do the same for the left and right mics so that each mic faced its cardinal direction and make the lengths of all four telescopic arms the same.  With forward oriented music recording I adjust the left and right antenna angles lower and rotate the mic balls so that they both face forward and out, angled somewhere near +/- 45 degrees from the front.  That makes the front R/C/L mics face mostly forward in a \ | / sort of shape.

I stuck with the approximate 1 meter spacing between the L/R pair that has worked well for me in the past for both distant and stage lip omni spacing. This time I figured out a way to make setup easy without whipping out the piece of measurement string in my pocket to check the spacing each time I unfolded the arms, by setting the antennas to that 1 meter (39") distance with the mics pointing out, level with the horizon and gaff taping the mic cable t either end of it's antenna.  I could then retract the telescopic segments to pack the stand away or to shrink the size of the array if it were to get in the way at the stage lip, and then just extend them again until the cable was straight and return to the 1 meter spacing without measuring.  I set up the front/back mics the same way with the same 1 meter measurement.  In use, those were the ones that I tended to retract at times so they didn't poke out into the crowd or too far onto the stage.  I could also rotate the left and right antennas so they pointed forward a bit, reaching over the stage edge.  All together the system lends itself to great flexibility and adjustment of both mic spacing, angle and height.

The telescopic arms help for extra height as well as mic spacing, at full extension I can get the mics up above 8' on the small Bogen 001B stand and the whole thing still folds down to 19" and fits in my day pack.  I gaff tape the tiny CA-Ugly preamps directly to the stand since the mic leads are not quite long enough with the stand at full extension to reach the shaving bag holding the recorders which I hang from the bottom section stand knob for ballast. 

[edit- here are a few photos of the mic cables gaff taped to the telescopic antennae for quick, measured mic spacing at setup]
« Last Edit: December 02, 2008, 10:23:27 AM by Gutbucket »
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Oddball mic techniques - evolution to 'Bug Eye' now 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #79 on: December 02, 2008, 10:49:06 AM »
Two bits of quadrasonic Thanksgiving documentation.

Recorded the annual family Monopoly game in surround with the rig at the center of the board, mics pointed in the 4 cardinal directions and the telescopic arms angled down as shown below.  Interesting to hear voices all around the room as they were placed around the table.  Also interesting that conversations held across the room in the kitchen area can be clearly heard and understood while the game participants are talking loudly - the 'cocktail party' effect - and are not obscured by the louder, closer voices.  On playback I could easily focus on one conversation to the exclusion of other just like at the actual event.

Photographed on the deck, but as placed on the Monopoly board-
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Oddball mic techiques - evolution to 'Bug Eye' now 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #80 on: December 02, 2008, 10:55:35 AM »
Bracket with the telescopic arms removed from the stand and arranged along with the two recorders and preamps in the chandelier, set to record everyone around the table telling family stories at Thanksgiving dinner-
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Oddball mic techiques - evolution to 'Bug Eye' now 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #81 on: December 02, 2008, 11:01:53 AM »
The four mics, wired and ready in the baffles, attached to the collapsed telescopic rig and stand. It all fits in the small bag (beer bottle shown for scale).  The two recorders and preamps fit in the small shaving kit bag shown previously along with extra batteries and SDHC cards.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Oddball mic techiques - evolution to 'Bug Eye' now 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #82 on: December 02, 2008, 07:49:41 PM »
It certainly helped that the light fixture was and was all black, constructed from loopy flatbar and tubes.

A funny insight into human nature - of course all the family members were aware of both recordings, yet the Monopoly game with giant TV tower-like mic array dominating the center of the board was less intimidating to free and uninhibited interaction than the inconspicuous chandelier rigging for dinner. That's obviously due more to social conventions than the visual aspect.

A week ago I also setup this array onstage for a local acoustic jazz trio -friends who've allowed me to hone my undercover skills over the years at their weekly gig.  Even though they know, they act and play totally differently when I record them unannounced.
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Offline digifish_music

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Re: Oddball mic techiques - evolution to 'Bug Eye' now 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #83 on: December 03, 2008, 09:24:39 PM »
A week ago I also setup this array onstage for a local acoustic jazz trio -friends who've allowed me to hone my undercover skills over the years at their weekly gig.  Even though they know, they act and play totally differently when I record them unannounced.

That's one of the reasons I tell vocalists that I am 'just setting the levels', can they run through the song once and then we will start the recording session proper...I often get the best take :)

virtual +T's for all the pics of your quad rig BTW  ;D

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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Oddball mic techniques - evolution through 'Bug Eye' to 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #84 on: January 05, 2009, 08:12:28 PM »
Last week I expanded on the mics on welding rod stalks at the stage-lip technique that I posted about on the 1st page of the thread.  I used the same construction as before, I increased the mic count from two to four 4060s on separate stalks, evenly spaced across the front of the stage. The center pair was about 4' apart and a second stereo pair was flanking that, 4' to either side of the central pair, with a 12' total distance across the front of the stage. They are so thin and black that they were nearly invisible even in the direct line of sight from the crowd and just wiggle a bit if bumped on stage. I setup like this for Bonerama / New Mastersounds on NYE, then again for MMW at a different venue last Saturday.  The venue MMW played in here this year was a bit of a pain.  There was no stage-lip so I had to tape all wires down well and hang the shaving bag containing preamps and recorders from a strategically located hook under the center stage lip so I had  enough cable to space the center pair properly.  In addition, I had to quickly re-tape the outside stalks when the heavy, motorized stage-front curtain pulled them over.

I've panned the center L-R pair inwards, halfway towards the center and left the outsides panned hard left-right which spreads the sources across the playback stage and solidifies the center nicely.  The NYE recordings are sounding really good.  The MMW needs more work as the massive venue subs were directly under center stage and the band was a bit farther back on the stage making the direct drum sound a bit less forward. Regardless, I'm quite pleased with the technique.

There is no isolation between mics at all so perhaps contrary to appearance (four mics arranged in a line across the front of the stage), this is not at all like FOH mixing. I felt a little kindred with Owsley's OAITW technique mixing to stereo, but also thought about Harvey Fletcher's Bell Labs 'curtain of mics' experiment from the 30's.  It would be interesting to play the 4 channel recordings back with four speakers in a line, like a very limited version of the Bell Labs 'curtain of speakers.  From the Wikipedia article-

In the 1930s, Harvey Fletcher of Bell Laboratories investigated techniques for stereophonic recording and reproduction. One of the techniques investigated was the 'Wall of Sound,' which used an enormous array of microphones hung in a line across the front of an orchestra. Up to eighty microphones were used, and each fed a corresponding loudspeaker, placed in an identical position, in a separate listening room.

Unfortunately I didn't have a camera at either concert. If I get some photos from others I'll post some here later, but here are some I took today to help explain the setup-

Aluminum TIG welding rod (a straightened coat hanger would work the same), closeup of one mic taped on the rod, & the full bent rod which points the mics at the band and gets them farther onstage, up and away from the crowd.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Oddball mic techniques - evolution through 'Bug Eye' to 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #85 on: January 05, 2009, 08:16:01 PM »
The four stalk array layed out on the floor in the shop.  Primary stereo pair on the inside to one preamp/recorder, outside secondary flanking pair with the DPA extension cables to a second pre/recorder in the same bag.  In use the mics were spread farther apart (~4' between each) and taped to the front of the stage so that they projected up about 2-1/2' and towards the band.


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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Oddball mic techniques - evolution through 'Bug Eye' to 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #86 on: January 05, 2009, 08:18:24 PM »
The entire rig stowed and ready to go. The biggest issue is cable management and potential 'rats-nestage'.  I carry each stereo set of 2 rods with mics and cables attached in a piece of techflex material which kept the cables from tangling.  The outside pair still has the extensions attached which I just coiled and placed in the ziplock back when I broke-down.

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Offline illconditioned

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Re: Oddball mic techniques - evolution through 'Bug Eye' to 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #87 on: January 05, 2009, 08:53:13 PM »
The entire rig stowed and ready to go. The biggest issue is cable management and potential 'rats-nestage'.  I carry each stereo set of 2 rods with mics and cables attached in a piece of techflex material which kept the cables from tangling.  The outside pair still has the extensions attached which I just coiled and placed in the ziplock back when I broke-down.


Hey, that's looking really cool.  Hopefully noone gets impaled with those aluminum wires!  Perhaps you could bend a loop at the end or something.

I just recently installed a setup with two hanging Countryman B3 mics, about 16' split, 8' up, and 10' back from the stage.  So one is hanging in front of each speaker.  50' XLR cables snake along the ceiling to connect the mics to the back of the venue by the soundboard.  I just bring in my (Fostex) recorder and hook up.

I used to have AKG 463's hanging (on the XLR wire itself with a 12ga house wire to hold and point them forward.  Think the AT853 hanging mics that hang on their own cables).  Now these have been replaced by, almost invisible, hanging lav mics!

I'll try them out in about a month.  I'm trying to take a break from taping.  Take bets on how long I last before I cruise in to try my new installed setup!

  Richard
« Last Edit: January 05, 2009, 08:56:25 PM by illconditioned »
Please DO NOT mail me with tech questions.  I will try to answer in the forums when I get a chance.  Thanks.

Sample recordings at: http://www.soundmann.com.

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Oddball mic techniques - evolution through 'Bug Eye' to 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #88 on: January 05, 2009, 09:23:07 PM »
The rods, though stiff enough to keep their shape, are pretty flexible to begin with.  With the curve bent into them, even a freak direct hit along the axis of the rod should cause them to collapse before causing damage.


So does hanging the B3s in front of each FOH speaker prevent the 'hole in the middle' that would develop due to such a wide spacing if it was purely acoustic without reinforcement from the speakers?

Good luck with your withdrawal symptoms, let me know how those Countryman mics work out once you cave.  They seem like quite nice lavs.
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Offline illconditioned

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Re: Oddball mic techniques - evolution through 'Bug Eye' to 'Quad Eye' rig
« Reply #89 on: January 05, 2009, 09:30:47 PM »
The rods, though stiff enough to keep their shape, are pretty flexible to begin with.  With the curve bent into them, even a freak direct hit along the axis of the rod should cause them to collapse before causing damage.
I'm thinking of just bending the *end* back on itself.  Like one inch from the end.  Also, have you considered shrink wrap to cover the wires.  I've done that before :).

Quote
So does hanging the B3s in front of each FOH speaker prevent the 'hole in the middle' that would develop due to such a wide spacing if it was purely acoustic without reinforcement from the speakers?
Most of the sound comes from the speakers.  I would opt for a jecklin disk or something, but the speakers are far apart, and there are no "fills" in the middle, so this is pretty much the only setup that sounds good.  The other alternative is to go way back, but then it sounds too "distant" for me.  Oh yeah, I've also tried an ORTF pair pointing at one stack.  I like that too, but this spaced setup is the most foolproof for an "installed" setup.  Listen to some of my AKG463 "Starlight" recordings on http://Soundmann.com and tell me what you think.

Quote
Good luck with your withdrawal symptoms, let me know how those Countryman mics work out once you cave.  They seem like quite nice lavs.
I love the B3s.  IMO the sound is much smoother than the DPA.  I don't know why, but it just sounds warmer.  Maybe I lose *a bit* of detail, I'm not sure, but they just sound warm and natural.  I find DPA sound great for ambient, but music just doesn't sound enjoyable to me.  I'd be curious to hear what you think.  I've got a ton of B3 "hat" recordings on my website.  LMK what you think...

I give myself about a week before I cave and just "check" my installed mics...

 Richard
Please DO NOT mail me with tech questions.  I will try to answer in the forums when I get a chance.  Thanks.

Sample recordings at: http://www.soundmann.com.

 

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