help with a mic placement puzzle

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by skygzr, Apr 21, 2007.

  1. skygzr

    skygzr Guest

    Hi All -

    My girlfriend is a violinist and I've been recording some of her chamber music performances. I'm relatively new at it. Of course I'd like to improve, but right now I'm more concerned with learning the basics than producing a perfect product.

    I've read a great many opinions about miking a small acoustic group. I've been using an xy pair placed about dead center about six feet up. I run it into a USB gadget and then into a laptop. I sit quietly off to the side and try no to look conspicuous (not that anyone is looking at me).

    Here's the puzzle. In this particular space, mic placement is constrained by the audience. The strings are considerably closer to the mics than the piano. The piano always a little behind the strings in the mix, and I'm at a loss as to how to fix it. Moving back a little would even them out somewhat, but I cant do that.

    The grand piano is almost always played with the lid almost closed closed. It's a good mix in most of the hall.

    Does going WAY UP make sense? Now we're getting a lot more warm fuzzies off the tops of the violins, but we're not looking into the innards of the piano anymore.

    How about moving to the left (from the audience's POV)? The solo violin usually stands pretty much in front of the pianist (those soloists!) and it seems like moving to the left might get me a little more evenly spaced from both.

    Am I missing some obvious possibilities?

    I'm new here, so I'll introduce myself. I've been playing in bands all my life and have a pretty good ear, although I'm new to recording. I play with computers all day long so they don't scare me. And yes, everyone is right, recording a chamber group well is really difficult.

    Notice that I didn't mention anything about hardware? I've been a photographer for thirty or so years, and believe me, I understand equipment lust in all it's seductive permutations. We call it GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). There's plenty of photogs who insist you can't take a good picture with brand x camera or of you don't own some exotic radioactive lens (that you often fondle but seldom use), then well, you might as well hang it up. Bah!

    I have no problem spending money, and yes I understand that good stuff makes a difference. But right now I need help knowing where to aim things.

    Cheers - Kevin
  2. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the world of location recording... Sometimes that just happens to be the case. You may want to go higher. 6 feet seems a bit low depending on what kind of mics they are. You may find that changing height and angle of the mics will help your sound (sometimes being higher and aiming the mics down will help).

    Just experiment and listen. If what you did made the recording sound worse, then obviously you did the wrong thing. That is what sound checks are for :D It is a rare thing that the first place I put my microphones is the final resting place. As you get more experience, you'll find that you need to move the mics less and less to get the sound you are looking for.

  3. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I have a long pole for paint rollers - I rigged up an attachment so I can mount microphones on it. With that, my mics, and some good headphones with VERY GOOD isolation I can wave my mics around in the air and find the right spot.
  4. aracu

    aracu Active Member

    Thats the smartest idea I've heard in a long time!
  5. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    I just use the Manfrotto the mics are on, and move that around. :)
  6. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I'm working on a simply dolly I can use under my big tripod stand ...
  7. skygzr

    skygzr Guest

    Thanks for the tips.

    I've been using a stand designed to hold's much beefier than a consumer-grade mic stand and goes up to about ten feet. I made an adapter to hold a condenser pair.

    I've got a very heavy base (again built for lights) on wheels that I've thought about putting into service. I just need to figure a way to put brakes on the wheels.
  8. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Better ensemble often comes from moving further away, as you have noted, and going up is one way, although with tonal differences. Moving a bit further back is often the best option, so...

    Have you tried placing a boom arm on your mic stand and using it 'backhanded' (i.e. pointing it out above the audience, with the mic looking back towards the performers from the end of the boom)?

    With the right boom arm you would be able to move the mic a metre or more further away from the performers than the stand itself would allow, which ought to be enough to solve the problem. You may need to put a sandbag on the bottom of the stand for stability, but that's not such a bad idea anyway.
  9. aracu

    aracu Active Member

    The other day I brought a long boom pole that I would normally
    use to record film dialogue, to test mic placements for recording
    musicians in a church. It really made things easier and I can
    see what Simmo is talking about in terms of reaching places
    where you can't get to with a mic stand. Does anyone know
    of a clamp that will sturdily support a boompole on a mic
    stand? I know a maffer clamp will work for this with light stand
    threads. There's a thing called a "double super clamp" which I
    think might work, it clamps onto the stand intead of threading
    it on, so the wieght of a boompole woudn't risk breaking the
    threaded part of the stand.

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