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Author Topic: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space  (Read 1576 times)

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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2021, 10:57:16 AM »
Those should work.  But I highly recommend using a method where you can adjust the spacing between omnis, at least until you are able to dial in whatever spacing works best before going with a mounting system where the spacing is fixed.  You will likely find that even small changes in spacing between the microphones will rather dramatically alter the sound. Once the optimal spacing is determined you can then use a simple 3d printed non-adjustable mounting bar that provides that specific spacing, similar to the one above if you like.  Such a non-adjustable bar can make for a more compact, minimally-intrusive arrangement in comparison to a fully adjustable mounting bar, which may be an attractive option there, and will serve to keep the spacing from being inadvertently altered each time it is setup.

Here's what I would recommend as a way of determining the optimal microphone spacing, and you won't need any bar at all to get started with the process.  You can get a general idea of the impact of spacing adjustment by monitoring with closed headphones or in ear monitors with sufficient isolation during a rehearsal while altering the spacing between the two microphones.  Fix one microphone in place and manually hold the other microphone various distances from the first while the music is preformed, moving it at 30 second intervals or something like that.  While doing this, announce quietly into one microphone what the spacing is so that when listening back later you will know which portions of the test recording were made at which spacing.  You can then listen back properly after the rehearsal to make a determination of what spacing works best.. and fine tune from there as needed.   A note of warning- It will sound swishy with obvious comb filtering while your are actually moving the held microphone.  Try not to let that influence too much what you are listening for when that microphone is held steady at various distances from the first.  Make your movements in a determined way and hold the microphone steady for long enough at each spacing so that you have sufficient material to compare.

Once you home in on an appropriate spacing using that method, I'd make a longer test recording using that spacing, as well as one slightly wider and one slightly narrower, to confirm.  You can use whatever temporary means you have available to do this such as taping the mics to a bar or wooden rod, using a second stand, or whatever. 

In addition to dialing in the best sound for that specific scenario, this is a fantastic way to really wrap one's head around what's going on with a spaced omni pair in general.  Most Taperssection concert tapers don't get the opportunity to dial things in like this for singular event, but it can make the difference between a decent recording and an outstanding one.  If you are able to do this I suspect you will find it worthwhile.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2021, 10:59:41 AM by Gutbucket »
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Offline DSatz

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2021, 03:55:08 PM »
Notice that hipporu's suggestions for miking distance, 5-9 meters behind the conductor's position, encompass a considerable range. Depending on the room and the microphones (and your tastes and preferences) I would suggest the "more forward" end of this range. The room doesn't look exactly huge, and it's basically shoebox-shaped, so the character of the reverberation that you would get at the greater distances may not be all that pleasant, all told. You want the direct sound to be in balance with the room sound, not to be dominated by it. Heck, if you accidentally record too close in, you can always add a touch of reverb later, but you can't subtract room sound if your mikes were too far back.
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Offline hipporu

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2021, 04:34:38 PM »
Notice that hipporu's suggestions for miking distance, 5-9 meters behind the conductor's position, encompass a considerable range.
The room doesn't look exactly huge,
You're right, 9m. it will be more than necessary. At that time, I had not yet seen a photo of jefflester when I wrote. Therefore, the correction is 3-5m. :)
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2021, 05:43:10 PM »
Obviously everything be easiest for you if you can get satisfactory results from the recording position in the balcony which you show in your initial post, and it sounds like you may not have a choice in working to that constraint.  If you determine that you need to shift the microphones further back into the hall as suggested by hipporu, a tall stand in the pews should work without being too invasive (avoiding clamping or suspending anything) as long as there is no congregation present. 

Note that if you shift the recording position further away, the optimal spacing between microphones is likely to change as well - a general trend is increased spacing with increased distance in my experience, but its situation dependent.

If the procedure for determining the optimal spacing between microphones that I outlined in my previous post is not a viable option for whatever reason, such as no opportunity to record rehearsals, I'd start at a 12" (30cm) microphone spacing in the original balcony position and go up from there to say 15" (~38cm), then 20" (~50cm) on subsequent performance/recording dates, fine-tuning it that way.  If recording using a tall stand from somewhat further away, you won't be able to do the manual "holding one microphone various distances" thing anyway, so I'd start with a bit wider spacing and fine tune from there.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline jefflester

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2021, 07:38:43 PM »
Seems like that might be too intrusive.
White rope, white stereo bar, gray cable, and you don't have a close ceiling, close organ pipes, pedals and legs of the organist and choir.
A little experiment with the placement of microphones and you will have the sound as the parishioner hears it.


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Offline willdawg

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2021, 08:04:06 AM »
Those should work.  But I highly recommend using a method where you can adjust the spacing between omnis, at least until you are able to dial in whatever spacing works best before going with a mounting system where the spacing is fixed.  You will likely find that even small changes in spacing between the microphones will rather dramatically alter the sound. Once the optimal spacing is determined you can then use a simple 3d printed non-adjustable mounting bar that provides that specific spacing, similar to the one above if you like.  Such a non-adjustable bar can make for a more compact, minimally-intrusive arrangement in comparison to a fully adjustable mounting bar, which may be an attractive option there, and will serve to keep the spacing from being inadvertently altered each time it is setup.

Makes sense... thanks. So, thinking about going with two 8' stands as such: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1442721-REG/impact_8_air_cushioned_light_stand.html along with light->mic adapters & these shockmounts: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1643262-REG/gator_gfw_mic_sm1525_universal_shockmount_for_pencil.html

That way I can play with spacing, and positioning. The only adjustable AB bar I could find was this: https://shop.mikrofonschiene.de/mikrofonschiene/Basis_AB - kinda spendy, and only available from Germany...

Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #21 on: October 22, 2021, 09:47:34 AM »
Those are solid stands. The adjustable spreader bar is spendy, there are probably other options out there.

But be aware that is not specifically what gutbucket is saying. He is saying use two stands to change positions over 2 to 3 practices/performances noting on the recording which is which. THEN, once you have the "ideal" distance decided between mics, you could have a shapeways 3D printed one made for exact;y THAT distance.

Further hint- devolve the microphone configuration thinking a bit. There is no one answer when it comes to microphone placement. All of these ideas, XY, NORTF, MS, AB, all branched out of audio engineers from various national radio companies (BBC, Germany, France) using mics to record orchestra's and later big bands merely trying to "quantify" the configurations. Some of the "best" live recordings come about due to mics placed with zero regard to "technique". As the Pirates of Caribbean movie points out, "the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules".  >:D
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Offline aaronji

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2021, 01:01:54 PM »
The only adjustable AB bar I could find was this: https://shop.mikrofonschiene.de/mikrofonschiene/Basis_AB - kinda spendy, and only available from Germany...

It is a bit pricey, but well made and dependable. The system they have also makes it easy to add pieces for other configurations (or additional mics). You might want to contact Robert and ask about pricing; the listed price probably includes value-added tax, which you won’t need to pay outside of the EU.

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2021, 04:00:42 PM »
Two stands can certainly work, and is generally the easiest way to achieve significantly wide spacings that are impractical for a mounting bar.   They can be trickier to arrange for closer spacings but can still work.. see below.

Backing up a bit.. Will this be a reoccurring recording scenario or more of a one time recording type thing?  If more of a one time thing then two stands may be the simplest and most attractive option.  If its a more regular reoccurring recording event, a single stand with a bar will be quicker and easier to setup each time with repeatable consistency and will take up less floor space.

To achieve the closer range of microphone spacings using two stands, you are likely to need to play around with nesting the legs of the stands together in order to get them close enough.  In taper sections at concerts and music festivals we frequently do this to group the stands of multiple tapers together in a compact area, so I think you'll be able to set them up so as to achieve the narrower spacing ranges discussed above.  Doing that often requires putting a leg of one stand through the crook of the other.  If that's the case, arrange the two stands first to achieve the spacing you want between microphones, then sort of lift and rotate the pair of stands together as a unit to orient the axis of the microphone pair correctly.  For spacings of a couple feet or more (maybe a bit less) you won't need to do that.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline willdawg

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #24 on: October 22, 2021, 10:02:32 PM »
Backing up a bit.. Will this be a reoccurring recording scenario or more of a one time recording type thing?  If more of a one time thing then two stands may be the simplest and most attractive option.  If its a more regular reoccurring recording event, a single stand with a bar will be quicker and easier to setup each time with repeatable consistency and will take up less floor space.

It's going to be an every Sunday thing, at least for the livecast of the service... Have to get a large-capacity A&H-approved USB drive to record on, and then we can try to make some nice recordings - should be at least instructive to me and the musicians...

Thanks again everyone for all your help in this!! Can't wait to get started.

Offline voltronic

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #25 on: October 23, 2021, 08:43:22 AM »
Hi willdawg,

Choir director here. I would heed the advice of others here, particularly Gutbucket and DSatz. Line Audio OM1s are great mics, but I would cancel the order for that AB bar from SRS. 45 cm is close to a width I use for some things, but it requires you move your stand foreward and backward to balance it. That narrow spacing also can give a WIDE stereo image, which is great when I am recording a local 250-voice choir that fills a huge stage, but may not be the best in your small church.

DSatz's advice on using wide cardioids in your situation is very good - I have often used my CM3s in small churches to record chamber choirs with good results.

In any case, if you are using omnis I would start with a width of around 50 cm but try to go several feet back from the communion rail if possible, particularly with the group this separated. (I know this is a typical setup in Espiscopal churches and a few others.)

For mounting, you need a pair of these (NOT the standard INV-6):
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1544186-REG/rycote_41110_inv_6_soft_soft_microphone.html

One of these options will work for versatile stereo bars:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/503258-REG/Manfrotto_154B_154_Triple_Microphone_Holder.html
https://www.thomannmusic.com/the_t.bone_stereobar_1_pro.htm
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1522258-REG/gravity_stands_gmsstb01pro_stereo_array_microphone_bar.html
https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=162285.0 - the 24" model, made by one of our members. This is what I own.
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Offline aaronji

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #26 on: October 23, 2021, 04:12:26 PM »
Personally, I wouldn’t go for a Manfrotto 154B. I used one for many recordings and it is solidly constructed and works well. It is also bulky, heavy, and not exactly inconspicuous. Additionally, it lacks any sort of markings, which help for reproducible set-up. I would also avoid Thomann’s t.bone line. It’s budget gear from China. In my experience, it is usually decent, but tends to have some rough edges or quirks. I guess anything less than a SpaceBar won’t be perfect, but don’t underestimate the value of quality accessories.

With respect to a two stand (or two clamp) system, it works really well for spaced omnis, but it is also more stuff to trundle around and requires extra effort to get height/distance/angle matched up.

Offline voltronic

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #27 on: October 23, 2021, 05:26:41 PM »
Personally, I wouldn’t go for a Manfrotto 154B. I used one for many recordings and it is solidly constructed and works well. It is also bulky, heavy, and not exactly inconspicuous. Additionally, it lacks any sort of markings, which help for reproducible set-up. I would also avoid Thomann’s t.bone line. It’s budget gear from China. In my experience, it is usually decent, but tends to have some rough edges or quirks. I guess anything less than a SpaceBar won’t be perfect, but don’t underestimate the value of quality accessories.

The OP is using a pair of ultra-lightweight mics. The cheap Chinese stuff will more than suffice. Another option there is the Superlux MA-90.

Outside of the 154B, there really isn't much on the market that will do 60 cm width. I agree that the bar from mikrofonschiene looks great, and you have previously shared how much you like it. It would cost 133 EUR with shipping to USA (no VAT). Still quite a bit to spend, but if followinbob's wide bar wasn't available, that is what I would probably buy.

I just looked up the 66 cm SpaceBar. I am sure it is beautifully engineered, but for that price, it should be made out of titanium.
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Offline willdawg

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #28 on: October 23, 2021, 06:00:16 PM »
Hi willdawg,

Choir director here.

Cool, was hoping you'd chime in here, based on your previous posts I've read...

Line Audio OM1s are great mics, but I would cancel the order for that AB bar from SRS.

...never bought that. was going to go w/ 2 stands, each with shockmount (at least for now.)

In any case, if you are using omnis I would start with a width of around 50 cm but try to go several feet back from the communion rail if possible, particularly with the group this separated. (I know this is a typical setup in Espiscopal churches and a few others.)

So, the "communion rail" in our case is the edge of the balcony... You can see in the pics above in this thread. So I can put stands behind the organ (again see pics) or maybe in other places in the balcony (with choir director permission) but "in front of" the choir/organ pipes would be super hard to do/disallowed (i.e., flying the mics, or super tall stands from main floor, which is our pews.) This is mainly for broadcast support, but was also thinking about recording from our digital console (A&H Qu-SB, see this article.) Would perhaps something like "Healy Method" work for this scenario, where I'm in the middle of the sound source?

For mounting, you need a pair of these (NOT the standard INV-6):
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1544186-REG/rycote_41110_inv_6_soft_soft_microphone.html

One of these options will work for versatile stereo bars:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/503258-REG/Manfrotto_154B_154_Triple_Microphone_Holder.html
https://www.thomannmusic.com/the_t.bone_stereobar_1_pro.htm
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1522258-REG/gravity_stands_gmsstb01pro_stereo_array_microphone_bar.html
https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=162285.0 - the 24" model, made by one of our members. This is what I own.

Nice! Liking that t.bone... Plus, trying to keep the mics/stands/bar/etc within a $500 budget (a losing battle, but I can fund a bit of the overage if not too bad...) so premium-priced anything will be hard to do for this (kills me, I'm usually a "gimme top-shelf" guy...)

Thanks again for commenting here!

Offline voltronic

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #29 on: October 23, 2021, 09:43:37 PM »
Whoops; I looked at those pictures far too quickly!

OK, so from the balcony rail, I wonder if you might be permitted to clamp an extension arm so it extends a few feet back over the congregation with the mics looking back towards the choir and organ? That would get you close to the more optimal "flown" setup already suggested. If not, I would go with two stands / clamped poles as Gut mentions. Either way, I would be careful not to be too close to that low ceiling.

I would not go for the "Healy" method here, as the OM1 (like most omnis) becomes more directional as you rise through the upper frequencies. Pointing the capsules directly to the sides will get a lot of early reflections from the side walls, but may also make the choir's articulation sound fuzzy, because the high frequencies in their consonants will now be arriving (mostly) off-axis and reflected. It is also too narrow a spacing for what you are doing.

You will need to experiment on spacing (again Gut has great advice on a procedure) to get a good stereo image. Once you get that, you can play with angles. So if you are using a single stand with a wide mic bar and your mics around 50-60 cm wide, try an opening angle of around 110-120 deg. If you are going to a wider setup with two stands, you can start angling the mics narrower to a 90 deg opening angle. Don't point them straight ahead when you are this close, or the organ will really overbalance the choir in the highs.
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