Calling all Orchestral/Choral Recordist out there...

Discussion in 'Orchestra' started by Cucco, Nov 22, 2004.


How much of your work is Orchestral/Choral/Symphonic in nature

  1. Less than 25%

  2. 25-50%

    0 vote(s)
  3. 50-75%

    0 vote(s)
  4. 75-99%

    0 vote(s)
  5. 100%

    0 vote(s)
  6. What's an orchestra?

    0 vote(s)
  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hi All:

    I've seen several posts from people who record orchestras and choruses throughout the world. As many of you are aware, this is a very unique niche requiring specialized equipment (or sometimes the lack thereof - compressors for example), large ensembles and minimal mic'ing. I am interested to find out how many of you there are and if there is any interest in creating a community specializing in orchestral/choral/ensemble recording.

    Please feel free to submit comments or questions with your poll replies!

    Thanks, :D

  2. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Hey Cucco,

    I'd be interested, its a small (but important) niche and the stuff I learn from pros and practicioners I would like to pass on to others in the teaching profession.
    I've found that recording is by far a better teacher than I will ever be.

  3. soundfreely

    soundfreely Guest

    I absolutely love listening to minimal mic'd recordings, but I rarely have the oppurtunity to work with those ensembles. As far as recording an entire orchestra, I'd love to do that someday.

  4. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Count me in! (I'm in the 75-99% group.)

    We could talk for days and days, hours upon hours about this genre, but it's not often the most desirable (let alone understood) niche going. (I like it that way, actually. ;-)

    My website (finally back up and running) shows a lot of what we do ( if anyone wants to know more.

    While we're on the subject about this niche/genre, in what markets/regions do you record?

    And, who does this full time, part time, or just for fun?
  5. tofumusic

    tofumusic Guest

    I haven't had much experience with orchestralm choral or ensemble recording but I've always appreciated it and listen to it frequently (105.1 is the biggest station here in So. California). You can definitely count me in as well, I've always wondered how they do it.. What it's like to record an entire orchestra. Sounds exciting!
  6. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Count me in. I do this as a sideline to my own amateur level playing in the orchestras (I play bass trombone). Getting larger and larger though. Live and act in Stockholm, Sweden.

  7. splurge

    splurge Guest

    I recorded 2 chiors that my wife was in and the end results sounded quite good. I would like to learn more about it. At this moment in time I'm very interested in M+S stereo techniques.


  8. splurge

    splurge Guest

    I forgot to say."count me in" :cool:

  9. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Count me in the 75%-99% category... I'd say it is probably closer to 75%, though, for the big groups. I'd say 99% of my recording is classical in nature and the last percent being jazz, and the occasional film or rock date..

    Love to see a forum here for that- I don't come here that often, but I'd be here more if there was a forum for my kind of work.


    BTW tofu, I am one of the engineers here in SoCal that puts stuff up on 105.1 and 91.5...
  10. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Hey there, Ben!

    Welcome aboard. Good to see you over here!

    I think we're a small bunch indeed, and that's fine w/me. It's a niche within a niche as this point, and this topic/poll has been up for a little while now with few responders. (Oh well....)

    I'd like to see some actual discussion going on here, after everyone settles in and says hello. (Any immediate topics/questions come to mind? Anyone?)

    My own short-list would included: What platform and what software are folks using for classical and long-form recording/editing/mastering? (Ben, I already KNOW yours.... ;-) I'm wondering if there's an "unofficial" preferred software beyond the usual stuff like PT's, etc. (PC, Samlitude [soon to be Sequoia] here).

    Also, after this "poll" has run its course, perhaps we could create an actual page, thread, or sub-forum dedicated to classical and jazz recording in general within RO. Just a thought.

  11. Ellegaard

    Ellegaard Active Member

    I am extremely interested in joining such a community. I don't record orchestras - yet - but chamber music, mostly violin and piano (violin is my major instrument; I'm a conservatory student). My budget right now is also quite limited, and I don't have a whole lot of gear, and none of any high standard, but in the future it is something I intend to invest in.

    With the exception of this group, I find it very hard to get decent advice on recording classical music in general, microphone positioning, what gear to use for best results, etc, so a classical music online community is in my opinion much needed. You have my full support!
  12. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    :cool: Been around here on and off for years... Just don't post much.

    Tee hee... Put me down in the Sequoia cheerleading section. :p I started with Sound Forge as that is what I could afford (back in version 3 or 4) and when I worked in a couple studios, I was using Sonic. Soon my workflow in Sound Forge was almost identical to my Sonic workflow. Then Sequoia was announced and my life changed. These days I record directly to Sequoia, but the trip to Sequoia has been paved with a number of formats. I started going to DAT, then CD and Masterlink, then to a DA-78HR... The problems with all of these in the end came to reliability and having to load into the DAW in real time.

    Sounds good... As those who know me know, I can go on at great length when it comes to classical and jazz recording. :D

  13. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Your experience is similar to mine, Ben. Nowadays, it's all about workflow and data transfer/storage.

    Before DAT, it was VHS or BETA VCRs and Sony F1 converters, and analog 1/4" half track before that. Originally, back in the 80's, we even had a 1" MCI JH-110 8track machine. (Big and heavy!)

    I still have a lot of F1 VHS/Beta tapes in the vault, and surprisingly, they still seem to play OK whenever we have to pull something up. (Fortunately, most of the important stuff has been transferred to CD, etc. by now.)

    After the F1, we went to DAT for about 10-12 years.

    I got away from DAT as soon as CDr's became a reliable & affordable alternative, and about the same time added a DA-78 to my rigs. It was nice to stop having to worry about getting it all perfect in one pass to DAT, but as you mentioned, "Real time" transfers were beginning to get prohibitive. I'd almost have to start transferring to HD the moment we'd get back from a remote. NOT fun. I had to get a second machine in the studio to get around hauling the remote machine back inside to do the transfers. Every gig would involve a CDr "raw" 2-bus, and then DA-78 transfers to HD.

    Then of course, there's a final archive to be made of finished projects: Edits, 24 bit mixes, CD backups, etc. usually onto DVDr's.

    Nowadays, I usually do everything at remotes onto an external Firewire HD with my laptop/samplitude rig, but I still run the CDr and Tascam DA-38 as a backup. (It'll be a long time till I trust the laptop and firewire rig to be completely bulletproof.) The good part is that afterwards I can just plug the HD into my studio system, and immediately begin working on a project.

    Time and data management have become one of my most precious resources, and it really adds up, esp with 2hr concerts on multitrack tapes, sometimes multiple nights or rehearsals too.

    At this point, our long term archive plan is now buying HDs almost in quantity. In today's Sunday paper, Best Buy is selling a Western Digital 120 gig HD (internal) for $50 after some rebates. (list at $99 now!!!) That's just insane when you think what a gig USED to cost. ;-)

    Instead of pulling my studio computer apart each time, I've bought a $25 self-powered external firewire "Caddy" from CompUSA and have begun saving and cataloging entire projects (usually sorted/stored by client) onto their own HD's. it's really gotten that simple, and while it's anyone's guess what format will survive, I'm hoping that CDr, DA-x8's and Hard drives will be available in one way or another for another decade or so. For $50 per 120 gigs, it's now worth incorporating it into the price of the projects. Hell, it's not much different than paying $120 for a 30 minute roll of Ampex 486 1" tape. BETTER, actually. ;-)
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey guys, thanks for the excellent results! I actually had a pretty good idea who would be responding to the poll, but I figured I'd put it out there on the chance that more of us are lurking. The great news is that it has been viewed over 200 times! That's a lot of views despite the only 12 replies.

    Anywho - Ben and JoeH, thanks for your insight into your techniques and equipment. It's absolutely amazing how far we've all come from just little while ago. I recall the days of my trusty Nakamichi Dragons and 1/2" decks and then the day I finally made the plunge to digital (DAT - I skipped the whole digital on video thing - don't know why, just didn't want to do it. On an interesting side note, I just saw one of the Sony F1s on Ebay the other day. I thought about buying it for the hell of it, but my wife talked me out of it.)

    As for your question JoeH concerning platforms/software/etc. Personally, I use a few different systems - DAT, DAT and more DAT. (Usually as back ups, but on those days where I'm stretched really thin doing 3 or 4 recordings at different places at the same time, I'll pull 'em into primary service). Also, PCs running Cubase SX2 and Pyramix (soon to upgrade to the full system w/Mykerinos etc.) and an Alesis HD24 (rock solid, but sh*tty converters). I use conversion from Apogee, Ramsa, and Lucid (until I get my DAD's here in the near future).

    I've thought real seriously about switching to Sequoia, but I can't figure out if it will record/edit multi-track DSD/DXD. If anybody here has insight into this one, I'd be in your debt.

    Ellegaard: I guess my post title should have included something about chamber stuff and recital work - by all means, you are one of the few, the proud, the orchestral recordists... The moment you attempt to capture a live orchestral instrument as faithfully as possible, I would lump you into the category. In this case, size doesn't matter :lol: .

    The fact that 200+ people are looking at this post is a good sign that there are a lot of interested people out there and it might be worth having a section devoted to symphonic/acoustic music.

    Thanks all!

  15. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I'll leave my personal bias against these formats aside for the time being... (a la DSD-wide, aka PCM audio, lack of consumer support, etc...) Sequoia will not work in DSD. Probably never will, either (unless somebody brings a DSD sound card to the market- but considering that no native DAWs work with DSD, that likely ain't gonna happen).

    As for DXD, do you mean the 24/384 format? If so, yes, it will work on that- however there is yet to be a converter out there that will do it. Realistically, you're looking at multitrack 24/192 if you have a reasonably powerful machine and a Lynx sound card. Processor and memory will dictate how much you can do at that resolution and more specifically how many tracks you can record at that resolution.

    There is support built in, however, for the Phillips DSD authoring tools to export your PCM stream to a DSD master.

    As those who know me will attest (when they pick their jaws up off the floor when they see how fast and accurately I can edit, then tweak their audio in the object editor), especially for those that work with Acoustic music, Sequoia does deserve a serious examination.


    PS, in the interest of being up front, I do work [very] part time for the only approved turnkey provider in the US, although I won't profit from potential sales. Think of me as a somewhat interested cheerleader.
  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    Thanks for the information. I have always liked Sequoia's format and have been quite interested in using it as my primary system. My confusion about their support for DSD comes primarily from their website where it states that DSD mastering is a possibility. (However, they conspicuously left out recording and editing.) Believe me, I totally understand your hesitations towards DSD, though 10 million players have been sold world-wide (True, a lot of those were "bundled" players that are thrown in with a DVD player and many don't even realize what SACD/DSD/DXD are.) Also, despite the "out of band" extraneous noise, I truly do enjoy the sound of a well recorded SACD.

    As for DXD, I'm intrigued. Mainly because, by all technical specifications, it should be better than DSD. Digital Audio Denmark (DAD) has actually released their Axion converter capable of recording at 24 (32 bit float) 384 kHz. The only problem is, how the heck do you get that into the PC? Until someone like Lynx or RME comes to the rescue, it's either Mykerinos and Pyramix or Sonoma. :cry:

    I am very seriously considering being content with 24/192 until we begin transmitting music telepathically and skip this whole "format war."

    I would be interested in talking to you or your reseller that you shamelessly promoted :lol: about a Sequoia system. I will be in the market very soon.


  17. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    There was much confusion among the users as well- myself included. At one point they were talking about supporting it, but the lack of a card that could handle it was the reason why it never took flight.

    As do I... The SACD's I have heard have impressed me in many ways. As for the sales stats, I doubt that many of the folks buying the discs or players are purchasing because it is DSD. Take the Stones re-release. Touted as a hugely selling SACD. It was a dual-layer disc with red-book CD audio. How many bought it for the SACD layer and how many bought it because it was a Stones remaster?

    Heck, most of my clients can't tell the difference in sound between a 24/96 session and an MP3. Believe me, I'm aware of the format wars and I've made a conscious decission to stay away. Heck, one of the most popular classical guys here in LA just upgraded to 24 bit 44.1KHz. He uses a Mackie 1604 VLZ for his recording. The recordings sound fine and he has a large number of very happy clients. Are we doing this for us or are we doing it for the clients? AND how much are we willing to pay for that- both in grief and dollars. In the end that is the real question.

    It was not my intent to promote the company I work for, but a number of folks from this board stopped by our booth at AES- JoeH being one of them. I just wanted to admit some of my biases. :p I would prefer any questions about this to come off the board...

  18. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    Thanks for the quick and thoughtful reply.

    Yeah, I agree whole heartedly that the marketing numbers are inflated BS! Case in point: my mom, who has never heard of SACD, DSD, DXD or for that matter doesn't even know who Telarc is (despite the fact that she was once a renowned classical pianist) recently purchased a few SACDs. She doesn't have a player and didn't even notice they were SACDs. She just thought the price had gone up for recordings of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir...

    Don't worry, I was just ribbing you about the "shameless promotion." I would never take to insulting people based on stuff they do for a living or their personal preferences. I think it's awesome that musicians are partnering up for this stuff, not just big business owners. It makes me feel a hell of a lot better about supporting the product ! :D Oh, and I will be contacting you regarding a Sequoia system, but I will do it off line.



    (P.s. I still keep 3 Mackie 1202 VLZ's in my arsenal for location gigs - there's no telling how many times they've come in handy. Ultimately, you're absolutely right, 99% of our clientele couldn't tell you if they were listening to SACD, CD, MD, or MP3. I just really like to hear smooth, liquid sound - the kind I only get in really high rez... or analog)
  19. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    I´ll just chime in to the choir. I am an amateur, toddling along and learning on the way. Current equipment is a laptop and either an MBox or a Motu 828mkII depending on how many cases of cables and other stuff I care to carry along. There is a huge difference taking the subway with a two channel setup or a ten channel one.

    My choice of application is Samplitude, and, well, the object model fits really well to me when I record and mess up mainly chamber music and symphony orchestra. Most often because I sit in the backline playing the trombone.

  20. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Wow; where should we start, eh?

    Looks like we're off to a nice start with some good attitudes and pleasant idea swapping. (Let's agree right here and now to ALWAYS keep it this way! :) Jeremy, your comment about never insulting people on thier personal preferences is VERY refreshing and well taken. (I"m sure we've all seen some nasty things on other boards...) All I want to do is share stories & ideas, comiserate if necessary, and help anyone else who wants to venture in this genre on their own.

    My vote would be for a separate sub-forum or topic area. (How can we petition RO to help with this?) I also hope we can include everyone in this new thread; both newcomers and seasoned pros. It's a great field, and those who enjoy this line of work can attest. It's not for everyone (Fortunately) and there's a ton of great things worth discussing. We've just barely scratched the surface with topics, from sample rate, converters and choice of software. (Seems like a lot of Samplitude/Sequoia user here, but we'll try NOT to gang up on the rest....hehehe...)

    For whatever it's worth, I got into Samplitude via Red Roaster in the mid-90's. Being a PC person, I needed to find a way to do classical recordings onto CDs without breaking the "live" (with audience & ambience) aspect, longer movements, etc. with 2 second pause times. (Which ALL the others were doing that, but someone suggested Red Roaster. (I think it was a jest/poke at "Toast" for MAC at the time.) In any case, I got it and upgraded all the way up into Sampltidue professional over the years since. I'll be happy to share any praise and tips about Samplitude/Sequoia as things progress, but the main selling point for me was the intelligent, well-thought-out interface that just seems so VERY WELL suited to classical and long-form music. (Theater, operas, jazz concerts, etc.) I know there are those who use it for all kinds of things (even loops, live multitrack/overdub sessions, etc.), it really is flexible. I use it for live location tracking/recordings, editing, mastering, restoration work, and even the occasional movie soundtrack for DVD's, etc.

    I'm sure, however, there are many others who have their preference with other apps on other platforms. And this place should be open to all to discuss their favorites, too. WHatever gets you there comfortably, I say!

    I'll also confess right here and now that I'm a Mackoid, too; have been for almost ten years now. (Just upgraded to the ONYX 1640 mixer with firewire....more on that as things develop.) I still have a variety of 1202's, 1402's, and 1642's for various uses, and for me, the preamps are just what I need: a straigth wire with gain. No tricks, no filler, just the goods. (I'm NOT into gadgets and gimmics, "PHAT" is something that's done afterwards to a bass track in a pop song....compressors are for filling your tires. ;-) Aside from CDr safety 2 mixes, I go right out of the preamps to the multitrack as most probably do.) I also have access to a really fine API Legacy board in a local NPR studio that's also loaded with UA, Focusrite and other great tools, (including PTs HD) so I get my kicks with those preamps and modules, too.

    I've got nothing at all against other more exotic preamps, they've just been a bit out of my reach financially (at least for now). I'm surely open to hearing about how they work for others, and what they recommend when I DO make a purchase someday.

    In no particular order, I'd love to see the following topics kicked around, to name but a few:

    1. Ensembles - large & small, instrumental & choral
    2. Instruments - mic'ing techniques, balancing, (and how to avoid bumping into a violinist carrying a $2.5 million $ Strad!!!)
    3. Live recording logistics; load ins, locations, gear choices, media, post-production, CDs, labels, etc.
    4. Client relations - getting, keeping and maintaining clients. (to include freebies & extras vs a la carte' pricing.)
    5. Mics, cables, stands, and other ephemera essential to the art of "Live Classical Recording."
    6. Favorite music/ensembles, (least favorite too!), favorite venues, stories and (names changed to protect the guilty) HORROR stories.

    I hope we can have a blend of EVERYTHING, from the nerdy/techie stuff to the 'behind the scenes/between the lines approach one uses every day to work in this genre.

    In all humiltiy, I think this is an elite area for people to choose to work in, and as I've said before, it's NOT for everyone. I hope this thread/niche can be a place to chat with those who're already up and running with it, as well as those thinking about getting into it.

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