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Author Topic: Recording Marching Band (formerly: Furry windscreens - moisture resistance?)  (Read 15340 times)

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Offline Gutbucket

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I like what I've heard from those CM3s.  Band sounds good and well balanced with nice directionality in your sample.  I would like to hear a wide A-B spacing in comparison, which would convey the big openess of the event and better anchor the space I suspect (I get image shift left/right when I shift in my seat) but that would likely provide less sharp directional imaging unless more than two microphones were used.  That's a completely subjective preference however. This is more than acceptable I think and well done.  Nice work.
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Offline voltronic

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I like what I've heard from those CM3s.  Band sounds good and well balanced with nice directionality in your sample.  I would like to hear a wide A-B spacing in comparison, which would convey the big openess of the event and better anchor the space I suspect (I get image shift left/right when I shift in my seat) but that would likely provide less sharp directional imaging unless more than two microphones were used.  That's a completely subjective preference however. This is more than acceptable I think and well done.  Nice work.

Thanks for the comments.  I just made a 36" split omni bar that I might try with them when I will be on top of the press box.  At that large a distance that might actually work - the Sengpiel visualization tool says that would make a SRA of about 45 degrees. 

I think the real test for these will be inside in a nice space with good acoustics, and as I said I should have one or two choir recordings in nice churches in October.  Regarding imaging, I don't think this recording sounds that great through headphones, but through my studio monitors (up on stands and measured for proper angles) I like what I hear.
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Offline 2manyrocks

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I look at this as somewhat of a wonder that here we have a group of students spread out playing music on a football field and a recording was made of them from a 25 foot scaffold, and yet they sound pretty good.   It's not like they are playing in an environment where the temperature, humidity, and acoustics are all constants, nor is it so easy for them to hear each other as they play.   

If they get to hear the recording, I wonder what balance adjustments they will make as the season goes on.  Could be the brass players will play with more confidence and louder or maybe the percussion will cut back just a bit.  Then as the weather gets colder, all sorts of things start happening from the viewpoint of playing instruments outdoors and what happens from that. 



 

Offline voltronic

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I look at this as somewhat of a wonder that here we have a group of students spread out playing music on a football field and a recording was made of them from a 25 foot scaffold, and yet they sound pretty good.   It's not like they are playing in an environment where the temperature, humidity, and acoustics are all constants, nor is it so easy for them to hear each other as they play.   
You should see the competitions where you have heavy rain and high winds, that's when when it really gets fun.  Not to mention what November temperatures do to the tuning of woodwinds, brass, and percussion.

If they get to hear the recording, I wonder what balance adjustments they will make as the season goes on.  Could be the brass players will play with more confidence and louder or maybe the percussion will cut back just a bit.  Then as the weather gets colder, all sorts of things start happening from the viewpoint of playing instruments outdoors and what happens from that. 
That's actually the whole purpose of this - every show gets recorded (not necessarily by me) and posted on a private video share where they can self assess or where the instructors can identify areas that need work.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  My goal is to give them higher quality audio to improve that process.  I do audio self-assessment with my choir students all the time, and it's interesting to hear what they pick out in their performances.   
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Offline Gutbucket

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What usually sounds somewhat odd to me in most 'marching band on a field' recordings (not that I hear that many of them) is the timbre and sonic space around the percussion elements.  The percussion's restricted frequency range, dynamics and ambience with a very quickly tapering reverberant tail usually translates to me as an unusual 'dry and bottled' sense of excess distance.   Melodic tone instruments seem less effected by distance in those ways to me, although they have the same thing going on acoustically.  It's mostly that percussion aspect that I suspect may benefit from the diffuse field decorellation of widely spaced omnis.  I think it would sort of better place all the sounds and especially the percussion in a more appropriate sounding 'space', even if that space is somewhat of an artificial 'cheat' produced by the spaced omnis.  It may sound more natural and pleasing for the average listener even though it may well be less faithful to what one would actually hear live, standing there.

But as you just mention, the intended purpose of the recordings may be different and the more important factor in this situation.  The audience for these recordings isn’t average listeners listening for enjoyment, but expert listeners listening critically to their own performance and overall sound.  If these recordings are primarily intended as tools used by the students to asses and modify their performance, based on what it sounds like to listeners in the stands watching them perform on the field, then a technique that conveys that experience as authentically as possible is more appropriate than a technique that may produce a generally more pleasing recording for speaker playback.

With that in mind, a jecklin disk, HRTF head recording or even a binaural setup might be appropriate if the students are mostly listening on headphones.
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Offline voltronic

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What usually sounds somewhat odd to me in most 'marching band on a field' recordings (not that I hear that many of them) is the timbre and sonic space around the percussion elements.  The percussion's restricted frequency range, dynamics and ambience with a very quickly tapering reverberant tail usually translates to me as an unusual 'dry and bottled' sense of excess distance.   Melodic tone instruments seem less effected by distance in those ways to me, although they have the same thing going on acoustically.  It's mostly that percussion aspect that I suspect may benefit from the diffuse field decorellation of widely spaced omnis.  I think it would sort of better place all the sounds and especially the percussion in a more appropriate sounding 'space', even if that space is somewhat of an artificial 'cheat' produced by the spaced omnis.  It may sound more natural and pleasing for the average listener even though it may well be less faithful to what one would actually hear live, standing there.

But as you just mention, the intended purpose of the recordings may be different and the more important factor in this situation.  The audience for these recordings isn’t average listeners listening for enjoyment, but expert listeners listening critically to their own performance and overall sound.  If these recordings are primarily intended as tools used by the students to asses and modify their performance, based on what it sounds like to listeners in the stands watching them perform on the field, then a technique that conveys that experience as authentically as possible is more appropriate than a technique that may produce a generally more pleasing recording for speaker playback.

With that in mind, a jecklin disk, HRTF head recording or even a binaural setup might be appropriate if the students are mostly listening on headphones.

In this particular instance, they weren't in a stadium, but were on a wide-open grass practice lawn way in front of the school, so there was absolutely nothing reflective for the percussion to couple with.  That's not normal for this type of group, and may be part of the reason my recording sounds much drier on those instruments than you would expect.  In a stadium, that will be a different story.  Even the turf field makes a difference.  While it's not really reflective, it is much less absorptive than grass.  And you're right that the other instruments have the advantage in this situation.  This band also doesn't have a very big drumline compared to the other sections. 

Binaural or a dummy head sounds interesting, but I think it's more than I can haul around.  Again, it's often a time pressure situation.  I happened to have plenty of time to set up for this performance, but I had to scramble at the end as a thunderstorm was coming in and I was standing on top of a tall scaffolding!  When used at the school, they are listening on a traditional stereo in the band room so I don't want these to only be headphone-balanced.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Thanks for this interesting discussion on an unusual recording topic.
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Offline Karl

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Re: Recording Marching Band (formerly: Furry windscreens - moisture resistance?)
« Reply #52 on: September 18, 2014, 04:17:30 PM »
Hey Voltronic, I have been recording marching bands for what seems like forever and thought I would share what I've learned (and btw have learned some great stuff from reading this thread!). I have gone through a lot of mic/recorder combinations, and have been using the AT853 mics for awhile and they are great for the price, and pick up a pretty good spectrum. Sometimes I have to go in through post-processing and cut a bit of bass, but not a big deal.

Think about this...marching bands are designed to be enjoyed primarily from the 50 yard line. That doesn't mean anything else is a bad seat, but someone sitting on the 50 yard line will get the full picture, both audio and visual wise. What does that mean? A pair of stereo mics on the 50 yard line is plenty. There is no real need to add any mics on wider yard lines. DCI (a professional marching band competition circuit for lack of better explanation, which is drum and bugle corps) has screwed up their audio recordings too many times to count. They get screwed up drumline wise (I'm a drumline guy, I pay a lot of attention to this!). When you have a stereo pair on the 50, then add another stereo pair 15 yards out, then you are dealing with sound phase between the microphones. The sound phase REALLY screws up snare and quad sounds, makes them sound like they are playing out of time (or playing dirty!).

So when you watch a marching band, if you want the best listening experience, where do you sit? If you ask 99% of the band people out there, they will say sitting on the 50 yard line in the first couple rows. And I agree. So, your mics should be placed there, or as close to there as possible. Ideally, right in front of the first row is perfect. How high should the mics be? Again, think about what the shows are designed for. The shows are usually designed for the judges in the pressbox, so the horn angles point their sound to the press box. The balance of the brass, woodwinds, drumline and pit are all keyed into making it sound good in the pressbox. So, the mics should be high enough to be almost in the line of sight of the judges as they are looking down from the press box to the field.

I believe cardioid patterns are best, as they are wide enough to get the full ensemble sound, but they reject crowd noise from behind the mics. Hypers can be bad, because they will get whatever instrument they are pointing at the loudest. I have heard XY patterns, I don't think they sound good for this application. 90 degree mic angle with about 19cm spacing sounds good.

Voltronic, I know that sometimes you don't have control over where you set up. If you have to stand on the track, you can still get a decent recording. If you get to go in the stands, front row on the 50 yard line is best.  I have a couple samples that I will post when I get a chance. My recording gear all fits in a backpack, I hit record well before it's performance time, and so when the show is ready to go, I pull the mics out of the bag, and just hold them for 10 minutes.

Hope all of this helps!
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Offline voltronic

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Re: Recording Marching Band (formerly: Furry windscreens - moisture resistance?)
« Reply #53 on: September 18, 2014, 06:25:38 PM »
^ Hey Karl, thanks for sharing your experience.  Yes, I'd be very interested to hear your samples.  I try to go to DCI shows whenever they come around here, and you're right that their recordings don't sound as good as the real thing.  Maybe they're going for overall field coverage rather than a "one person at the event" sound which is more the MO of people on this forum I suppose. 

Regarding percussion and phase problems, I see what you mean.  It's often a bad enough problem live where you get bad slap-back echo from empty visitor's stands behind the drumline.

I would also be very interested in your backpack rig. That's what I haul everything in also, but it takes me a good 5 minutes to take everything out and set it up.  What would be really great is to have my mics mounted on a bar, and then drop the extension of the monopod down and go.  This past week at competition I was on pit schlepping crew and didn't bring my recording gear because I knew I'd have no time to set up.  Recorded with my cell phone right behind the drum major - totally unusable.  If I could have something I could start recording when we're at the gate, and then pop open after moving equipment, that be fantastic.  I wouldn't be able to get to the 50 because judges and trophy tables are often there for our competitions, so it would be more like the 40.
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Offline bombdiggity

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Re: Recording Marching Band (formerly: Furry windscreens - moisture resistance?)
« Reply #54 on: September 18, 2014, 11:54:53 PM »
^ I will note that I developed a "schlep" rig for running around the city on public transit.  I can bring my Schoeps and my tiny mics plus a wide range of clamps, cables and accessories and a stand all in a small backpack with lots of room to spare.  It also allows me to bring and set up a stand in places that don't allow mic stands of the traditional sort in. 

The key piece in terms of portability is a collapsible photographic tripod.  It does not go up to full mic stand height but is certainly tall enough in any environment other than standing room.  It is just right for going stage lip in front of tables without blocking sight lines, which may let you get yours on the 50 (you can make it any height between about 20 inches and 60). 

This is the most compact version:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/917558-REG/sirui_bsrt005xk_t_005x_aluminum_tripod_black.html

◾54.5" Maximum Height
◾Folds Down to 11.8"
◾8.8 lb Load Capacity
◾Weighs Just 2.2 lb
◾Legs Fold 180° for Extra Compactness
◾Arca-Style Quick-Release Plate

You need a thread adapter to go from the photo thread on the plate to a mic bar diameter thread. 

Very portable and very quick set up.  If you have your mics and bar pre-mounted to the plate you can just drop it in.  I don't premount anything and can still get it all rolling in 2 minutes or so. 
Gear:
Audio:
Schoeps MK4V
Nak CM-100/CM-300 w/ CP-1's or CP-4's
SP-CMC-25
>
Oade C mod R-44  OR
Tinybox > Sony PCM-M10 (formerly Roland R-05) 
Video: Varied, with various outboard mics depending on the situation

Offline 2manyrocks

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Re: Recording Marching Band (formerly: Furry windscreens - moisture resistance?)
« Reply #55 on: September 18, 2014, 11:57:29 PM »
For me, this is one of the most well thought out quick deploy rigs I've ever seen:  http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=96009.msg1713305#msg1713305

I'd like to figure out a quick deploy rig for cm3s. 


Offline voltronic

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Re: Recording Marching Band (formerly: Furry windscreens - moisture resistance?)
« Reply #56 on: September 19, 2014, 07:20:19 PM »
^ I will note that I developed a "schlep" rig for running around the city on public transit.  I can bring my Schoeps and my tiny mics plus a wide range of clamps, cables and accessories and a stand all in a small backpack with lots of room to spare.  It also allows me to bring and set up a stand in places that don't allow mic stands of the traditional sort in. 

The key piece in terms of portability is a collapsible photographic tripod.  It does not go up to full mic stand height but is certainly tall enough in any environment other than standing room.  It is just right for going stage lip in front of tables without blocking sight lines, which may let you get yours on the 50 (you can make it any height between about 20 inches and 60). 

This is the most compact version:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/917558-REG/sirui_bsrt005xk_t_005x_aluminum_tripod_black.html

◾54.5" Maximum Height
◾Folds Down to 11.8"
◾8.8 lb Load Capacity
◾Weighs Just 2.2 lb
◾Legs Fold 180° for Extra Compactness
◾Arca-Style Quick-Release Plate

You need a thread adapter to go from the photo thread on the plate to a mic bar diameter thread. 

Very portable and very quick set up.  If you have your mics and bar pre-mounted to the plate you can just drop it in.  I don't premount anything and can still get it all rolling in 2 minutes or so.

That's a great idea.  I have a cheap but very good monopod that goes about 65" that I'm thinking of using.  If I can attach some type of small case or bag to the top of the monopod / tripod / etc. to hold the tinybox and my M10, the entire recording setup will be contained in a very small space.  I have a couple small camera cases and a little neoprene one with a belt loop that can be attached to the monopod handle.  Then it's just a matter of cable management.
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Offline voltronic

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Re: Recording Marching Band (formerly: Furry windscreens - moisture resistance?)
« Reply #57 on: September 19, 2014, 07:24:12 PM »
For me, this is one of the most well thought out quick deploy rigs I've ever seen:  http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=96009.msg1713305#msg1713305

I'd like to figure out a quick deploy rig for cm3s.

Wow, he really put a lot of effort into that.  Very, very slick!  On the next page is a later revision of it also.  I really like that little stand, too.
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- Gustav Mahler

Offline Karl

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Re: Recording Marching Band (formerly: Furry windscreens - moisture resistance?)
« Reply #58 on: September 20, 2014, 10:03:51 AM »
Voltronic, here is a link to a couple samples:

Drum corps: https://www.dropbox.com/s/b6tfbzibq6yoi3i/drum%20corps%20sample.flac?dl=0

Marching band: https://www.dropbox.com/s/sz54xomt76wjvy7/marching%20band%20sample.flac?dl=0

A little later I will post a couple pictures of my backpack rig!
My portable rig:

AT853>Tascam DR100 mkii

Offline voltronic

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Re: Recording Marching Band (formerly: Furry windscreens - moisture resistance?)
« Reply #59 on: September 20, 2014, 01:27:31 PM »
Voltronic, here is a link to a couple samples:

Drum corps: https://www.dropbox.com/s/b6tfbzibq6yoi3i/drum%20corps%20sample.flac?dl=0

Marching band: https://www.dropbox.com/s/sz54xomt76wjvy7/marching%20band%20sample.flac?dl=0

A little later I will post a couple pictures of my backpack rig!

Wow, really great recordings, and yes the percussion does sound much more realistic than what I've heard on the official DCI recordings.  Am I correct that different mics were used for these two recordings?  The marching band one sounds like cards, but the drum corps sample sounds like omnis to me.  In any case, the balance of the drum corps one is fantastic - most of the ones I hear are much too brass-heavy.  Can't wait to see what you're using.
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- Gustav Mahler

 

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