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Author Topic: Microphone Placement Youth Symphony  (Read 714 times)

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Offline gormenghast

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Microphone Placement Youth Symphony
« on: April 25, 2017, 10:32:28 AM »
So, yesterday I decided to video record my son's youth symphony concert over audio recording.  Mainly because I wasn't sure how I should setup the mics, how far back from the stage, recorder settings and so on.  I figured I could pull the audio from the video later if he wanted only audio to listen to rather than video.  Mics in my bag are Schoeps MK41v's and JB modded Nak 300's with cards and omni caps.  Those who have done this, how would you set this up?  Recorders are M10, Roland R05, and Tascam 70D.  PS are baby Nbox ( so no gain applied ), Naiant IPA for the KCY, and Naiant IPA for the Naks ( not here but should be for the next concert ).  My Sony is acting up so lets focus only on the Roland and Tascam decks.  And on top of that, I only had about 15 minutes to setup.

I don't have too many opportunities to practice this.  Two concerts per year, and he's a sophomore this year.  Last night was the second concert this year.  For his HS jazz concert this year I used the Roland only and pulled a nice recording, but had to to some minor post work ( I know very little about this stuff ).  I'm tempted to run only the deck again, but was curious what other's who do this sort of stuff might think.

I video taped all my son's concerts since 6th grade.  Video taped almost all of my kid's Christmas/Spring concerts since about 1999.  Photograph them in sports and other school activities, as well as our vacations.  You kinda get the idea I like to document what they do while they are kids.

   
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Offline goodcooker

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Re: Microphone Placement Youth Symphony
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2017, 10:56:18 AM »

If you can place the mics wherever you like I would run the Naks split Omni and the 41Vs in a DINa type arrangement in the middle - behind the conductor as high as you are allowed. If up over the conductors head angle down a little.

Otherwise I would try to get the mics on stage. Run the 41Vs in the center and each Nak in Omni half the distance from the center to the edge of the orchestra. Would require some small stands and a lot of cable but you could get closer and not obstruct views and other folks trying to video their kid's performance.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Microphone Placement Youth Symphony
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2017, 11:53:23 AM »
Get close if you can.  Behind or above the conductor is good.  Front row center behind the conductor is good.  If in the front row, low is fine (torso or head height) and recordings made from there will often be well balanced in timbre, as long as nearby audience members are quiet.  One potential problem from low in the front row is the percussion and instrumentation in the back of the orchestra can sound dim and distant (no direct line of sight to them), but that depends a lot on the room acoustics.  In a good sounding room that comes across as an excellent sense of depth and space, and a softer presentation than the more glaring stare of mics up high looking down.

If closer to the conductor you'll want the mics high to avoid being overly close and highlighting the first row of violin and cello compared to the rest of the orchestra.  If the mics are high and "looking down" you can have brightness issues with the strings, which radiate their brightness upwards primarily, and with trumpets projecting forwards over the top of the orchestra.  The timbre of the strings and trumpets from low in the front row can be much more natural, warm and blended.

I'd run omnis spaced 3 to 5 feet wide combined with your MK41V pair in the center.  Used in combination with the spaced omnis, I'd prefer the center pair to be a coincident arrangement (more love and less fighting with the omnis), probably using a 90 degree angle.  If you prefer to run a near-spaced config, I'd use ORTF over or just behind the conductor, which would be my first choice of near-spaced configuration from that position if not using the omnis.

No problem running the omnis and the center pair all in a line with each other.  I do that using a single stand.  If you prefer, you can push the center pair closer than the spaced omnis, basically forming a triangular 3-point Decca tree arrangement yet with the X/Y pair replacing the center omni.  Decca-tree using 3-omnis is a classic technique for orchestra which is both quite forgiving and good sounding.
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Online voltronic

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Re: Microphone Placement Youth Symphony
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2017, 06:51:26 PM »
What are the acoustics like in the hall?  If they are decent, I'd go with just the omnis alone, spaced 50-60cm, directly behind and a few feet above the conductor.  I do this all the time with orchestra and choir.  You need to definitely be close and high though, otherwise the audience noise will drive you batty.

Goodcooker's suggestion is also tried and true orchestra micing practice, but I'm not so sure about using hypers that close.  You may find that they focus to much on one section or instrument in the ensemble depending on where they are aimed.  Regular cards or subcards would be better suited, though that's clearly not an option for you.  That's why I'm suggesting the omnis alone, which should get you a solid balance if well positioned.

Gutbucket's idea of putting the 41s in X/Y along with the omni flanks sounds like it would work well with the hypers.  I'd still keep everything inline, as I find the Decca-Tree-ish sound unnatural.  Others really like it though.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Microphone Placement Youth Symphony
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2017, 10:25:49 AM »
The omnis may very well work fine on their own assuming the acoustics are decent, and are my starting point here.  I consider the hypers in X/Y in the center as providing some potentially very useful leverage and flexibility in combination with the omnis.

Here's my thinking on it-  When making the mix decisions afterwards, start by bringing up and balancing just the omni pair.  If that works well on it's own, done.  But try mixing in some of the X/Y pair in a few different way to see if that addition is appropriate or not.  The X/Y pair is intended to help with a few things if necessary: make the setup of the omnis less exacting, help reduce the influence of the acoustics if necessary, and sharpen up the stereo imaging. 

The last (improved imaging) is the least important aspect here, but perhaps the most fun once everything else falls into place.  I find the sharp X/Y hyper imaging + wide omni open lushness tend to complement each other really well without undue conflict. More important is hedging the bet on mic setup without the benefit of listening while doing so.  To me that represents the primary difference between an amateur and a professional recording.  Professionals can listen while setting up and make appropriate adjustments as necessary, amateurs don't have the same luxury.

A center coincident pair allows one to safely err on the side of using more spacing between the omnis than might be best if strictly using the omnis alone.  And the slightly wider omni spacing + coincident center pair represents a good "division of labor without conflict" in what each pair provides.  Using a near-spaced pair in the center can work, but is more prone to problems when combined with the omnis because it increases the "sampled points in space" to four from three, and still relies on a phantom center, mic-wise.

If the acoustics are problematic, adjust the mix to use more of the center pair and less of the omnis, and the result should be drier and less reverberant.  If really bad, maybe start with the X/Y pair and bring up just enough omnis in the mix to help keep things from sounding too close, dry and narrow.

I like the Decca tree sound myself, although I more typically setup mics in more of a line.  When restricted to rather small omni spacings, moving the center omni (or in this case X/Y hyper pair) forward to more of a Decca tree-like triangle arrangement can be useful because it increases the distance between the three microphone positions a bit, better decorellating ambient pickup and reducing the potential for comb filtering somewhat when mixing to 2-channel.  Using wider spacings the center can be pulled back in line again without it getting too close to the left/right omnis.

I also suggest using an coincident pair in the center because it's easy to do a Mid/Side stereo width adjustment on it.  That further increases mix flexibility because I can dial the center down to all Mid, so that it acts like a single forward facing cardioid, or increase it's stereo width if that's more appropriate, or dial in the best imaging blend with the omnis somewhere in between those extremes.  In that way I get double the flexibility in balancing things- via the level of the omnis verses center pair, and via the stereo width of the center pair (which is linked with the resulting center virtual pickup pattern).  I can adjust the stereo imaging blend across the stereo field and play that against the balance between more ambiance or more forward directivity.  It's also why I suggest using a 90 degree X/Y angle instead of a considerably wider angle appropriate if the X/Y pair was to be used alone, to provide maximal Mid/Side adjustability in both directions, and to keep the virtual Mid pattern (the sum of both hypers) relatively tight and cardioid-like.

All that flexibility provides space to juggle things in different ways during the mix process in the search for whatever combination happens to work best.  I get much better results that way than by trying to guess which two channel mic setup configuration will be appropriate.  If I do that and guess wrong, I need to wait until the next time to try something else which I think might be more appropriate.
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Offline 2manyrocks

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Re: Microphone Placement Youth Symphony
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2017, 07:44:46 AM »
It's been about a month so did you get to put up a stand near the conductor or did you have to go with something else?

There's a prominent photographer named Joe McNally who said that "the best photographs are right under our nose."  By that, I think he meant that some of the best photo opportunities are present even in those seemingly mundane situations where we might at first think there's nothing there.  In my experience, it's nice to have photos of our children participating in concerts, but the problem is they sort of get lost in a sea of others.  I still make those photos to have, but I encourage you to keep McNally's observation in mind and make those photographs of day to day life  that might just turn out to be among your child's favorites later in life. 

Offline gormenghast

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Re: Microphone Placement Youth Symphony
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2017, 11:30:15 PM »
I asked the question the night after the second concert of the year.  They only play two.  I was wondering for the future. 

I do take lots of photos of my kids!  I always had a camera when the oldest was very young--back in the film days.  Fast forward to today and I took plenty photos of my daughter who is a senior in HS and had her annual review in JROTC.  Basically a mini drill team meet and a changing of command.  She was the commander of a arms drill team that travelled the PNW to compete.  I followed her to LaPine Ore and Salem to name a couple of towns.  Camera always at my side. 

But back to my son in the youth symphony.  I'll have to ask the director before the winter concert next year.  He's also in the HS jazz band and they have a concert next week.  NO problem setting up for this concert.  Like taping from your seats  >:D
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