issues on mic'ing an orchestra...

Discussion in 'Orchestra' started by anababosa, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. anababosa

    anababosa Guest


    Stressing. Too much. Grrr.

    Ok. Basically, I need to record an full symphonic orchestra of around 100 musicians. This would be for a film score- the only problem that is really phasing me at the moment is that I'm not too content with the recording methods that I have researched so far. This may just be a hypothetical project, but a simple stereo recording or an XY setup will most likely get me marked down and I was wondering how one would professionally mic an orchestra in order to get full control of their individual levels etc.

    How many mics, what kind, suggested brands, perhaps...

    - much love -
    ...the desperate newbie Rolling Eyes
  2. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    What do you mean by this?

    I do know if you take 100 microphones and place them by each player you will end up with many problems with phase cancelations when you sum them together. I believe x-y is the way to go. You may want to consider some Neumann 150's for the job. Search the Decca Tree stereo mic'ing technique.
  3. anababosa

    anababosa Guest

    ... I assumed that approach would be considered too general, or simple even.
  4. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Well, I think if the conductor knows the piece then the conductor can direct which instruments to become louder and standout the best for your levels.

    I happen to really enjoy a good orchestral recording.

    I wish you the best,
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Ask in the Acoustic music forum what their favourite technique is - you'll find that an overwhelming number of responses will involve only 2 mics, be it XY, M/S, etc.
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    For the beginner the absolute easiest way to mic a full symphony orchestra is a center array. The array should probably be about three to six feet above the conductors head pointing down into the 2nd violins/violas and maybe six feet behind the conductor. Do not aim at the winds in the back. Trust me, we come through the mix just fine.

    The center array could be XY, MS, or a center card/omni with an XY above it. If it is a large group I would also put a mic on each side about 3/5th's to 4/5th's out. Again, do not aim at the brass or percussion. No really.

    You don't really want to mic individuals. It is up to the conductor to balance his ensemble. If you have a soloist up front then you might put a spot mic on them but don't expect to bring it up very loud in the mix.

    Whether you choose to use omnis or cards for you center/wing mics is dependant on lots of things such as the room (is it good or bad), is there an audience and how close are they to the musicians, and of course the quality of the mic's themselves.

    This is just a rough place to start. Experience and experience with the particular ensemble and experience with the particular microphones will dictate an infinite variety of setups. Most great symphonic recording are done with 2-5 mics. As to the mixing, your center pair or array is the heart of it all. Any spot mics or outriggers are just in support of the center.

    Others will chime in I'm sure. Plan on using stands as flying mic's is not really for the inexperienced.

    My .02
  7. anababosa

    anababosa Guest

    So far, so great! But I'll throw in some more specifics...

    Firstly, this is not a real situation (thank goodness)- it is a hypothetical situation in a project of mine.

    There is no budget limit.

    The recording will take place in a 30x30m studio.

    ...and that's about it for now. Thank you...!
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    If it is hypothetical then do some searches on Abbey Road, Decca, Decca tree, look for pics etc. Choice of microphones is either a personal decision (if you own them) or a defacto given (if you don't). Check out the AEA website. Basically, this is your project to do the homework on. Giving you my experience in the sound studios (player not button pusher) in SD, LA, KC, and Chi won't help you complete the intent of the assignment.

    Just remember that all engineers will have preferences and that everything that is googled is not by default good. Research research research. Click on the "Books to Read" link and then hit the library.
  9. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    If money is no object, then your best plan would be to hire an experienced engineer and watch what he/she does first. Then take notes and repeat until you understand why he/she made the decisions she/he did.


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