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Advice needed: Recording Two Violas in a Very Wet Church

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Dr. Fuse, May 17, 2015.

  1. Dr. Fuse

    Dr. Fuse Active Member

    Hi all,

    The next field recording project is recording the 44 Duos for Two Violas by Bela Bartok.

    It will take place either in a massive stone, Notre Dame-style cathedral, or it's smaller chapel. Both are VERY WET, acoustically, with a reverb that lasts many seconds.

    The mics I have are: an Audio Technica AT4022 Omni and a Rode NT-2A (in Figure 8) which I use for M/S, and a matched pair of M-Audio Pulsar IIs, which I plan on either using as spot mics, or some sort of stereo ambience set up (X/Y or ORTF).

    Any other possibilities I am missing? Any thoughts on which use of the Pulsars would be best?

    Recording equipment include: Marantz PMD 671 stereo field recorder, and Tascam 16X8 interface into a Macbook Pro Retina. Considering purchasing an ART mic preamp but would also like feedback as to whether this would improve recording quality in any discernible way.

    Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I haven't try the Marantz recorder but I'm sure the marantz preamps and ART would sound different but I very doubt it would be better.
    See the kind of recording you do is very dynamic and calls for preamps that are very low noise even if you push them to get those ppp parts of the music.

    ART preamps are very well regarded and said to be very good for the price but many others would be better suited for your needs.
    If you could try some grace design, millennia, Vintech x73, Focusrite Red or ISA, or even some True systems. I doubt you couldn't find your own heaven in one of those ;)

    Reading Very Wet church, I guess you are kind of worry about the reverb part. If you could just experiment with the proximity of the mics and the artists, I'm sure you'll find a good balance...
     
  3. Dr. Fuse

    Dr. Fuse Active Member

    Thanks, pcrecord.
    I imagine I will be spending a lot of time experimenting with mic placement. I am hoping to receive some practical, experienced advice about where to start.
    As of right now, I am imagining setting the M/S setup (the better mics) fairly close, maybe 10-20 feet from the violas f-holes (to pick up some detail and the rosin/horsehair/string noise/"grit" that Bartok's music demands), and the stereo coincident pair further back to pick up the room ambience. And then adjusting as necessary.
    A reasonable plan?
     
    pcrecord likes this.
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    It's not going to be easy in such a reverberant space. I'm a great M-S advocate, but in this type of work, I generally prefer to record a fairly close sound from the instruments and then some ambient from further back using (preferably) omnis at this rear position. Without knowing any more of your details about things like the pillar placement and floor covering, my feeling is that you may be in trouble when using the AT4022 omni as the M-channel because of what will come in the rear.

    If you are in the happy state of being able to make some test recordings that you can take away and listen to under studio (or even domestic) acoustics in advance of the main sessions, I would by all means try the M-S as you suggest, but also do a run with the Pulsars in X-Y as the main mics and the others collecting ambient sounds. This would not be for a quality check but instead to hear the comparison of reverb between cardioids in X-Y and an omni/fig-8 M-S pair. It just may make you want to go out and hire a good pair of cardioids (Schoeps, DPA etc) so you can capture the real instrument quality without it drowning in reverb.
     
    pcrecord likes this.
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Is there anyway you can get into the church before the sessions and do some tests?

    I agree with Bos, using your Omni as your Middle mic in your MS array might present a lot more ambiance than what you'll want. OTOH, it may end up sounding great. You won't know until you try it.

    If you can gain access to the room beforehand, you might want to consider taking in a decent set of speakers and playing a very high quality dry recording of viola music in the general area of where the real players will be for the actual recording - this might help, in giving you the opportunity to do some test recordings, and determining where to best place your room mics.

    Just a thought.

    d.
     

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