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Author Topic: Suggest a setup for a NEWB for recording acoustic/jazz/chamber shows in my loft.  (Read 2642 times)

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Offline ICTWoody

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Hi guys!

I'm new to The Tapers Section, but not new to forums. I'm a thoroughly addicted audio nerd on the playback end, but now I'm considering doing a little taping. Read on.

I am fortunate to live in a loft type space that is about 3700sq/ft. My large living room is a great space and I have been considering doing some small, mostly acoustic shows and hosting 30-40 people for them. The room is pretty live with wood floors, brick walls and Sheetrock ceilings. Some furniture and rugs are in there but I don't intend to do any treatments.

I love the sound of live music and the energy in the room. I think it would be cool to record the events to playback later on my reference system and see how much I can relieve the experiences.

What I would like to know is what type of setup should I look into? I'm thinking of a budget of $1000-1500 to start would be fair. I doubt I'll do much outdoor recording, but there are a couple small venues around town where I go hear jazz shows etc... that would maybe be friendly to me taping so future portability would be nice. But my space is my primary concern. Simpler is better, but I'm pretty techie...

I am an Art Director for a living and I do some photography for fun and so I already have some nice solid ligthstands I could use as a perch for mics. But I can also mount mics to the pillars in my room as well. I'm open to stereo recording from the back, or multi-channel and later editing in Adobe Audition (I use Creative Cloud daily and I'm sure I could lear audition quickly. Plus, I already pay for it.) I guess I'm leaning to multi-track for this setup.

I saw the NPR Field Recordings of Daniel Bachman (video link below) and I loved the look of the two mic setup with one away and one close. I might have some small trios or quartets, but it would be jazz or chamber or all acoustic singer/songwriter stuff. I have no desire to mic instruments individually or have to mix a lot. I want to record the live sound and I'm open to HOW I should do it. I suppose if it's a dude and a guitar I could do a vocal mic, guitar mic, and then room/ambient etc...

I'm kinda looking at the Sound Devices MixPre-3 or MixPre-6 as a basis for the recorder. Seems like a lot of features for the money. A Roland R-44 or Zoom F4 are also options... but the Sound Devices seems to be the hot stuff. I need mic suggestions etc... I'm open to new or used as long as suggestions are readily available. Thinking the first show will be in November.

Okay. Enough rambling. Let me know if you have specific questions I need to answer and I'll do my best. Oh... and here's a couple of pics of my space. This is the area they would setup to play, but this main room is about 38'x40' with 9' ceilings. One side goes back past my kitchen about another 35'. There's another 15' or so left of the columns in the pic below. It's a large volume. I'll post more photos of the room later when I can shoot a couple wide shots for you.

Thanks for your advice!

- Woody

« Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 10:59:54 AM by ICTWoody »

Offline heathen

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You should probably try to devote the bulk of your budget to mics, and since you said you're mostly interested in a two-mic setup, the MixPre6 might be overkill for the moment.  The MixPre3 would still leave you a very decent chunk of money for mics, while at the same time giving you a quality recorder with excellent preamps.

Considering it's your own space where you can dictate how things are set up, you have some really interesting possibilities for mics.  Do you have any taper friends who could swing by and set up their own mics so you can get a feel for how they'll sound in your room?
Mics: Core Sound TetraMic | AT4031s | Countryman B3s | CA-14 omnis | AT853 cards | AKG 460/ck61 | Studio Projects CS5
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Offline voltronic

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Welcome to TS!   :cheers:

This is a cool idea, and it sounds like your home is a really great setup for this type of thing.  Some thoughts:

Heathen is 100% correct that you should devote most of your budget to your mics.  They will make much more of a difference than a fancy recorder.  So, sorry that means no Sound Devices in your budget. 

For the type of music you are recording, you should never need anything more than one stereo pair of mics.  So for a recorder, I would recommend a Tascam DR-100 mkIII.  You've got 2 phantom-powered mic inputs, and a dual record feature so you have a second set of safety tracks recording at a lower level in case you set your gain is too high.  (This is always the way to go for acoustic music.  A limiter should only be used as a last resort.)  You could even spend a bit less on a DR-70D if you think you need 4 mic inputs, but the preamps and DAC in the DR-100 are better.  That's probably the best bet for a one-box / small / cheap / high quality portable recorder on the market right now.

For mics: While omnis are my favorite to use in a concert hall, they will not be a good choice here.  While you have a large area, your ceiling is too low which will cause too many early reflections in your recording with omnis.  My main floor has 11' ceilings, and in my piano studio it peaks to 14' and even there I won't use my omnis.

You want a pair of small diaphragm cardioids.  The Superlux S502 punches way above its $200 price, but then you're locked into the ORTF array.  Better off to get a separate pair of mics for flexibility, unless you're often recording in great-sounding churches and concerts halls that have acoustics ORTF works well with.

There are plenty of super-cheap mics out there, but most of them are going to be limiting for acoustic recording.  So within your budget:

Jon at Naiant does excellent work, and you can get a pair of his X-Rs for around $200.

Next up would be the Line Audio CM3.  Click the Team Line Audio link in my signature to learn more about them.  About $600 / pr at current exchange from NoHypeAudio.  I use these heavily and they work great in a variety of situations, including a lot of lousy-sounding school auditoriums.

The last great mics in your budget I'd recommend are the AKG Blue Line series at $1000 / pair.  These have the benefit of separate bodies and capsules if you want to change patterns later, it will only cost $200 per capsule.

To get better mics than that, you're moving into the true top-tier - Sennheiser MKH, Schoeps, Neumann, Gefell, DPA, Josephson, etc.  Just one of those mics is going to take up your entire budget (or more).

Finally, get a custom set of mic cables made one of our cable makers here - GAKables or Darktrain.  Both do excellent work.  Jon at Naiant also makes great custom cables.
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I am hitting my head against the walls, but the walls are giving way.    ///    If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.
- Gustav Mahler

Offline ICTWoody

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Thanks for the advice so far guys! I've been reading a lot and trying to learn. It is a lot of stuff to absorb.

I am still thinking this through. I've been through an INSANE amount of stereo equipment over the years, and when it comes to recording I'd like to skip some of the baby steps at the beginning and trying to quell some of the upgrade bug that plagues our hobbies. I really want a multi-track recorder just for the flexibility of trying multiple setups at once. Maybe a close mic'd stereo pair near the "stage lip" as well as a pair on a stand further back behind the audience. I really doubt I'll regret overbuying on the recorder a bit... even if I just wait a couple more paychecks to do it. I'm not in a hurry to start grabbing stuff. Really want to think it through and do my research.

The Line Audio mics look interesting. Nice price point for what I was thinking... I'll read up on them. I love a good used deal... maybe I'll start with a pair of the CM3's new and then watch the marketplace here for a deal on some other options to play with.

Talk to me about cabling. I am a wire believer in the Audio world... I don't really want to admit what I have spent on the cables in my playback rig. It's more than I've set as a budget here for this stuff.  :banging head: What's the good stuff to make cables out of. To be honest I was just thinking something like mogami wire and good XLRS.

I'm here to learn. Thanks!!

- Woody

P.S. I know forum users like pics. Here's my main playback rig. My "reference system." This room is smaller, about 12.5'x16.5' and treated. This isn't a totally current pic, I have a new DAC and the main rack is on the back wall now with only the amps and speakers up front now.

« Last Edit: August 27, 2017, 12:28:11 PM by ICTWoody »

Offline voltronic

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The Line Audio mics look interesting. Nice price point for what I was thinking... I'll read up on them. I love a good used deal... maybe I'll start with a pair of the CM3's new and then watch the marketplace here for a deal on some other options to play with.

They won't disappoint you.  I'd put them at least equal in quality to the AKGs I recommended, and like I said earlier, you have to spend much more to get significantly higher performance.  Good luck finding them used though.  Just buy from NoHypeAudio and be done with it - 250 EUR shipped is very cheap for their quality, and JP at NoHype delivers outstanding customer service.

Talk to me about cabling. I am a wife believer in the Audio world... I don't really want to admit what I have spent on the cables in my playback rig. It's more than I've set as a budget here for this stuff.  :banging head: What's the good stuff to make cables out of. To be honest I was just thinking something like mogami wire and good XLRS.

Mogami is good stuff.  Maybe you missed it, but I gave you 3 sources for custom cable recommendations at the end of my last post.  As to materials, I think "audiophile" cables are snake oil (sorry), but I do believe in quality materials that are used in professional audio and broadcast applications.  All of my home audio stuff is from Blue Jeans Cable.  As to mic cable, for the builders here on the board, Darktrain builds mic cables from Audio Technica mini star-quad; GAKables uses milspec silver-clad copper.  Naiant uses Mogami or Belden depending on the application.  All of them use Neutrik connectors.  I strongly recommend you have one of these people build you a set of mic cables.  You could also buy individual mic cables form someplace like Markertek, in which case I'd recommend Belden or Canare.
DPA 4061 | Line Audio CM3 | Naiant X-Q
Naiant PFAs | Shure FP24
Tascam DR-70D JWMod | Sony PCM-M10

Tascam DR-70D FAQ
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I am hitting my head against the walls, but the walls are giving way.    ///    If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.
- Gustav Mahler

Offline opsopcopolis

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I tend to agree with Voltronic overall. Wouldn't recommend omnis in a setting like that, I would push for something small diaphragm with the ability to change pattern (on SDC that will mean capsule changes, LDC would be switchable.) I don't know the Line Audios, but at that price you probably wouldn't have a problem just grabbing the cardioids.

If you're relatively handy with a soldering iron I would probably just recommend making your own cable, which is what it sounds like you're looking into. You can get Mogami for about $2/foot.
Mics: Berliner CM-33, CA-14 card, CA-11 card & omni, AT-853, Sony ECM-907
Recorders: Tascam DR-60D, Tascam DR-05, Sony Hi-MD

Offline Moke

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Can't go wrong with a pair of omnis and a pair of directional mics. 
I prefer the sub-cardioid flavor for my directional pair: a little fatter bass response, and better diffuse field response.
For omnis, a DPA 4060 pair. Nearly invisible, yet giant sound.  I've long been an omni fan. With proper baffling, they could make that room sound nice.
I have to admit a bit of a desire to check out the Line Audio OM1 omnis. I've liked the results that I've had with the L.A CM3 pair.

Cables:  Spend on the mics.
Canare or Belden cable stock are my choices, mostly dictated on local availability. Canare is what I typically use, L4E6S, as my local mic pro shop keeps it in bulk rolls.
Learn to solder, saves bucks.
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Offline Moke

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Here are some samples of the CM3 pair in an acoustic orchestra performance, from the stage-lip edge, center, about 8' +,- behind the conductor.

Line Audio CM3 tracks as a Music Only Edit (m.o.edit):
https://archive.org/details/pso2017-03-19.pso2017-03-19_cm3pair_m.o.edit_2448flac
https://archive.org/details/pso2017-03-19.pso017-03-19_cm3pair_m.o.edit_1644flac
These are authorized downloads, no worries; safe, legal, authorized.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 09:06:26 AM by Moke »
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Offline lsd2525

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As far as a "deck" is concerned, perhaps your best option is to look at a high quality preamp/interface and recording directly to a PC/DAW. That would eliminate the need for a recorder and the files would already be on your computer for processing.

Beautiful space.
Mics: ADK A51s; AT4041; Superlux S502; CK91 active w/homebrew BB; AT853; Naiant X-X; Nak 300's
Recorders: M10; DR-60D; DR-70D

Offline 2manyrocks

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Beautiful space, but all hard surfaces that reflect sound make for a difficult space in which to record.

If portability is not an issue, then a multi track USB interface is enough.  Cm3 mics or dpa 4061 mics.


But I think the main problem will be the hard reflective surfaces which can only be overcome with acoustic treatment or recording elsewhere.  As soon as you record in that space, you're going to hear what I mean.

But it is beautiful.






Offline opsopcopolis

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I also second the interface over recording deck if you're not planning on taking it out at all. You can get a focusrite with 4 good sounding pres for $200-250
Mics: Berliner CM-33, CA-14 card, CA-11 card & omni, AT-853, Sony ECM-907
Recorders: Tascam DR-60D, Tascam DR-05, Sony Hi-MD

Offline ICTWoody

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They won't disappoint you.  I'd put them at least equal in quality to the AKGs I recommended, and like I said earlier, you have to spend much more to get significantly higher performance.  Good luck finding them used though.  Just buy from NoHypeAudio and be done with it - 250 EUR shipped is very cheap for their quality, and JP at NoHype delivers outstanding customer service.

Mogami is good stuff.  Maybe you missed it, but I gave you 3 sources for custom cable recommendations at the end of my last post.  As to materials, I think "audiophile" cables are snake oil (sorry), but I do believe in quality materials that are used in professional audio and broadcast applications.  All of my home audio stuff is from Blue Jeans Cable.  As to mic cable, for the builders here on the board, Darktrain builds mic cables from Audio Technica mini star-quad; GAKables uses milspec silver-clad copper.  Naiant uses Mogami or Belden depending on the application.  All of them use Neutrik connectors.  I strongly recommend you have one of these people build you a set of mic cables.  You could also buy individual mic cables form someplace like Markertek, in which case I'd recommend Belden or Canare.

I'm getting close to just putting the CM3 pair on my list of gear. I listened to some close mic'd samples on youtube last night of solo guitar stuff and they sounded great even with YouTube's questionable quality. I was listening through my headphone rig which is a Chord Mojo DAC into a pair of Oppo PM-3 Planar Magnetics. They are the best headphones I've owned... and I've had a lot. Really liked what I was hearing from the PM3's though.

Should I get the optional shock mounts with them?

I've used BJC at home before. I have a couple pair of the IC's in my stash at the moment I'm sure. Nice stuff for the money. I really like Mogami wire. Even with all my expensive silver wires in my main rig, I use a pair of Mogami Gold XLRs (20') from my Modwright preamp to my mono blocks. I just can't justify spending any more on long XLRs for that rig then that. I'll probably go with one of the TS builders you suggested.

Are long cable runs an issue when taping?

- Woody

Offline Moke

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Line Audio Shockmounts? Yes!
They are fine. For $15 each, you'll not find anything better. You also get the hard mount clips included with the base mics.

I run 50' unbalanced runs frequently, *without any issues.  Balanced runs, not slightly an issue.

*And, I do so through a pair of adaptors that I've built that allow me to use one 50' xlr cable as a stereo cable.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 10:35:56 AM by Moke »
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Offline ICTWoody

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I tend to agree with Voltronic overall. Wouldn't recommend omnis in a setting like that, I would push for something small diaphragm with the ability to change pattern (on SDC that will mean capsule changes, LDC would be switchable.) I don't know the Line Audios, but at that price you probably wouldn't have a problem just grabbing the cardioids.

If you're relatively handy with a soldering iron I would probably just recommend making your own cable, which is what it sounds like you're looking into. You can get Mogami for about $2/foot.

Yeah, from what I've been reading about the Line Audios they are a "punch above their weight" type value, and for a beginner like me they would probably be a great place to start. Maybe I'll just order a pair each of the Omni's and the Cardioids. Just to play with. :-)

If the recording turns into a more serious addiction then I can always add mics to the quiver.

I've made lots of cables over the years, but these days I'd rather just let pros do it for me and use my time for other things. I'm sure I'll start there. I do like Mogami wire. I've used it for interconnects, headphone cables and speaker cable over the years and always found it's price-to-performace ratio to be quite high.

- Woody

Offline Moke

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One thing you'll want to consider, if you go with the LA line, is that they're small mics.  You should have one of our cable builders set you up with a pair of right angle *"Whips", or, smaller diameter cables that are a little easier to get aligned without weirdly loading the mic shock mounts.

* searching my mind for a term for these.
I went with Whips, as that is a term used in painting and airless spray rigs.  The "Whips" are a reduced diameter, more flexible hose, that makes a day with a spray gun a little easier than pulling around a heavy stiff hose. They are a more flexible 15' end to a 100' hose.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 10:41:05 AM by Moke »
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