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Classical voice on low budget

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Ian Sidden, May 20, 2010.

  1. Ian Sidden

    Ian Sidden Active Member

    In the next few weeks, I'll be doing a combo video/audio recording of myself singing opera arias with grand piano accompaniment. The room is an open choir room with nice but not excessive reverb.

    The only mics that I have available to me (without shelling out) are SM57's and one beta 57. I was thinking of just recording a stereo image with two mics, but I'm not sure if I can make the 57's sound good because I will need to be at a distance from them to capture my voice mixing with the room. Digital reverb is not an acceptable option because the audience for which I'm recording may consider that "cheating".

    I will be using a Tascam US-122 to send the mics into my computer. It only has two inputs, and the preamps are acceptable but do get a little noisy when they are all the way up, which I may have to do if I use the 57s.

    I'm willing to spend a couple hundred if I have to, but I'm not sure where I should focus. Mic placement? Better mics for the context? If so, which should I consider?
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    For what you describe-and specifically because of the video aspect-you need to rent or borrow some decent condenser microphones for a stereo main pair. The mic's will need to be placed in a stereo array (probably XY or ORTF) too far back for the SM57 to be effective. You could place the SM57's close micing the piano but in a decent recital hall this should be unnecessary and would detract from the video. I think a minimum rental of a pair of AKG C414's of some flavor.
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    And if this is for an audition DVD then you should probably consider hiring someone to do this even if the stipulation is that you get to watch and learn the process.
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I'll second John's last post - Hiring someone for a job like this is pretty cheap in most places. Certainly less than buying equipment better than what you have - and probably in the same ballpark as renting the equipment. It's a pretty easy job for someone who knows what they are doing and allows you to concentrate on singing.

    Not sure of your situation, but we have gotten similar questions from students looking to do audition disks. My feeling is that you want to give a clear and accurate picture of your instrument, so the normal aesthetic considerations for classical recording are not as important. I'd be inclined to close - mic you rather than use a configuration that would be appropriate for recording a concert. In a concert I want a picture of the whole performance. In an audition disk I want to display one instrument.

    Also, if this is an audition disk and money is at all tight I'd try out the equipment you have first - maybe at a practice session. Put a pair of 57s on the piano in XY. Position the pair close to the piano - try the bow, the tail, over the hammers to see what sounds best. Put the Beta 57 eight inches from your mouth. Pan the XY left and right, put your voice in the center, mix your voice up front. Yes, it won't sound like a typical classical recording, but it will give them a good idea of what your voice sounds like. Note that this advice only applies to HS students and the like who are seeking professional education - not someone representing themselves as a professional. My take is that if someone can be swayed by a slick sounding recording, I am not going to pay them for an education. It's different when you are trying to get someone to pay you.
  5. Ian Sidden

    Ian Sidden Active Member

    Thank you for such prompt and thorough replies.

    This is for professional auditions and competitions rather than educational, so I will follow your advice regarding hiring someone. That does seem like the best route, especially since I want to be focused on singing. If I can't find someone, then I'll rent out some condensers, but hopefully I won't need to.

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