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15 guitars??

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Thomas_Vingtrinier, May 26, 2005.

  1. I have a great recording session sometimes mid-June for which I have been requested to record a piece from Steve Reich with 15 guitars.

    Although I have some experience with acoustic music works, I am very interested in hearing what you guys would recommend in terms of setup to get a "modern" sound, as requested by the client. I guess the best translation of his expectations is that he wants a large and detailed image with a rather ‘thick’ sound. I am not sure my English is enough to properly explain that, but I am sure you get the idea.
    The room is 180 sq meters large with a high ceiling. Curtains can be used at will along the side walls to reduce the reverberation.

    That would be great if we could start by discussing the setup itself i.e. where to place the musicians and the mics (setup? pattern?) before going into further details like mic brands.

    I look very much forward to reading your posts.

  2. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I guess the first question is what kind of imaging is needed? Being Reich, there are lots of possibilities as to how the looping/phasing is supposed to sound.

    As a general thing, I'd probably have the performers in a semi-circle or in 2 curved rows. I'd have a Royer SF-24 stereo mic in the center and I'd probably make the image a bit wider with my B&K 4006s as flanking mics. To maintain detail, I'd probably also use a series of mics inside the ensemble as spots- keeping the level low so you don't hear a mic, but high enough that you keep the detail of the instruments.

  3. Thanks Ben, I think I get the point... :wink: :D
  4. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Sorry- Forum problems... :-? I took care of the extra posts...

  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Wow - 15 guitars!!!

    Sounds dreadfully fun!!!!

    This reminds me of Cala Records great discs "The London _______ Sound" (Insert Cello, Horn, Trombone, Bass, Trumpet, etc. into the blank.) This is where, for example on The London Horn Sound, they get 16 horns and some percussion to play Bohemian Rhapsody and Tristan and Isolde (yeah, a pretty eclectic mix.)

    They did the albums at Abbey Road and in almost every case used a Decca Tree.

    Truthfully, there are many times where I feel that the recordings lack a little in color and depth and wish they had used a more enriching pattern. (Blum or AB)

    Truthfully, my thoughts are to simply do as much with as little as possible. You're probably aiming for as much group tonality as possible and don't really want a bunch of different sounding mics from a hodge-podge set-up. A simple stereo array, maybe with some flanks should do wonderfully. If there is extensive solo work along with it, you would of course want to consider a mono or stereo spot, depending on the overall sound of the piece.

    Have fun - this just sounds friggin cool!

  6. Sure it is! I look very much forward to it!

    This is exactly how I would do it in a "classical approach" (if there is such a thing). But I am afraid such setup will not fulfil the "modern sound" requirement. What do you think?

  7. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    The last time I did Steve Reich was in concert. We used a Neumann QM-69 microphone suspended over the front of the stage and got one heck of a good recording on a 4 channel Ampex AG-440B/4. The concert was over two hours long and their was a lot of Antiphonal pieces which picked up well on the back lobes of the QM-69. We later mixed it down to two tracks and it came out very well. With his music I would go for the minimalist approach and not overdo the miking.

    Hope this helps.
  8. ptr

    ptr Active Member

    Please define ""modern" sound"??

    If its something like the "ECM" sound, much if not all of it lies in J-E Kongshaugs post production.

    Are these nylon, steel or electric guitars or a mix? You never knoiw with Mr Reich. Depending on the guitar my setup would be quite diffrent..

    Myself, I'd get some Choir platforms to separate the players in height, perhaps three rows of five, at the short wall, put my trusty TLM 50 (or a Jecklin disc) as a main stereo pair about the middle of the room a starting point. For separation perhaps a few spots on each row like Ben suggests (KM130/40 in my case).

    Its quite hard to make a viable suggestion without knowing the room..

  9. Thanks for the replies so far.

    The room is 180 sq meters (18x10) large with a high ceiling (8m), painted walls. Curtains can be used at will along the side walls to reduce the reverberation.

    Nylon and two (acoustic) basses. Besides, I like your idea of using choir platforms. I only hope these will not introduce too much noise. Maybe I should just cover them with carpet...

    That's what I would have done without the "modern" sound requirement. Don't you think one can get the best of both worlds by placing the main stereo pair as if it were the only mics in the room, and adding a few spot mics that could be used or not at will during the mix?

    Having said that, what would you use as the main pair? These are the mics I have at the studio (rental could also be envisaged):

    - 2x M149 (all patterns)
    - 2x DPA 4003 (omni)
    - 2x DPA 4015 (infra cardio)
    - 2x Earthworks QTC1 (omni)
    - 2x Schoeps CMC6-MK2S (omni)
    - 2x Schoeps CMC6-MK4 (cardio)
    - 2x Schoeps CMC6-MK21 (infra cardio)
    - 2x Shure SM57 8)

  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey Thomas -

    By "modern," I would take that to mean, quite full, almost uber-compressed with plenty of lows and that slightly rolled off "audiophile" high-freq.

    In that case, you can still get this sound with the minimalist mic'ing technique with the spots. The choir risers would do nicely, but you shouldn't have to do much in the way of acoustic treatment for them. (Other than that they'll squeak when people move on them.)

    Personally, I would use the Schoeps MKIIs's and the 4003s as your main array and flanks respectively. The M149s would make great internal highlight mics (if properly time-aligned) and for the deep down stuff, the Earthworks stuff should work great.

    Just some more thoughts...


    Ps. - post-processing may be acceptably high on this project. Consider a good compresser (hardware or software) and maybe a good analog emulator.
  11. In better English than mine, I guess that's a good desciption of my client's expectations...

    Sounds like a good setup to my ears. By the way, thanks for this reference to an earlier discussion ((Dead Link Removed)). Can I ask if you had the chance to experiment these techniques quite recently? Any comments or refinements that you would like to share with us?

  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Suggestions for time alignment? Sure. I do this all the time. If I use any additional mics above and beyond a front array / outriggers, I always time align using the mathematical solution that I posed in the other post - .88 ms per foot. Of course, I always temper that with a little logic too. If it's extremely warm, I'll raise it a bit - cold, I'll lower it a bit. (Never too much - the speed doesn't change THAT much over 20 degrees.)

    Of course, when I have time and a hall all to myself, I'll use a cap gun to creat an impulse by which I can measure the speed/distance.


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