J.S. Bach - Hohe Messe (on baroque instr.)

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Stradivariusz, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. Stradivariusz

    Stradivariusz Active Member

    Some time ago I did a recording of this piece using just a simple stereo setup (Rode NT5 in ORTF, Mackie 1202 VLZ PRO and DBX 386 as a A/D converter. I would appreciate any comments on it.
    Here is de link to two audio examples:
    (Dead Link Removed)
  2. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Hi Marcin
    First of all I'm going to compliment you. I like Rode NT5s, but would have been afraid to use them in a recording like this, as I would have expected them to sound too harsh (although they like very reverberant spaces), but I would also have been afraid that they'd fold when the sound became complex. You've managed to avoid both of these problems. I think the sound in very nice.

    I'm very curious about the layout. The voices seem to go from the extreme right to a little left-of-centre (decreasing in level the further left they go), and there seems to be a bit of a hole in the middle of the orchestra. I wonder if the mics were very close -of course in such a reverberant enviroment as this, distance can be a luxury that is not feasible). I put the track into my DAW and moved both channels further to the centre, and while this made the imaging more 'conventional', it took away the sense of space. The recordings as you have posted them have a nice balance between direct and reverberant sound.

    I have made recordings using NT5s in ORTF on small vocal ensembles, and have found it very difficult to stop some voices dominating on a recording, even when the balance was fairly even to the ear during the performance. This is especially true when the mics are near the source, as the relative differences in distance between individual voices and the mics is greater than when the mics are pulled further back. Another consideration is specific polar pattern of the mics (as opposed to simplified generic patterns) given that sources closer to the centre are further off-axis. Combining this with having to balance direct and reverberant sounds makes it very difficult to optimise the mic positions.

    Of course an unusual layout of musicians is going to seem strange on a recording without the visual cues you have as a member of the audience. For this reason I'm curious about the layout at the concert you recorded.

    I have to say I like the sound of this recording, and any remarks about imaging are not meant as criticism. As far as I'm concerned the 'musicality' of the recording is what counts, and you have captured some really beautiful singing. It sounds like the acoustic environment was wonderful.

  3. Stradivariusz

    Stradivariusz Active Member

    Hallo John
    Thank you for these few nice words (y)
    I will describe our layout a bit, since it was an unusual approach to such a monumental work.
    As everybody knows (who knows this work of Bach) it is a choir - orchestra - soloists piece. Some time ago the american musicologist Joshua Rifkin after doing some deep research on the circumstances of Bach's daily work started to record Bach's choir works replacing choir with single singers.

    I don't know if he did the same with the violins also, but here we did it. Every part was played or singed single.

    The positioning of the performers can be the reason of the hole in the middle you speak about. Great deal of the music was made at the sides more than in the middle.
    Violins, viola and woodwinds were placed left of the center. Cello, theorbe, organ and Doublebass around the middle but behind the singers who were at front from middle-left to the very right, and behind them to the right were trumpets and timpani.

    that's more less how we did it.

    It was a very dufficult task for the musicians to be in a good contact with each other (there was no conductor - they made of it a big scale chamber music - chapeau!!!) but also for me. This kind of setup made a creation of a good balans very difficult, especially, that basses were very far to the back. That was also a reason I didn't record it from further off, but from just 3 or 4 meters. Another positive aspect of it was a very high level of text understanding, that's the clue of baroque music, so I'm quite glad.


  4. Stradivariusz

    Stradivariusz Active Member

    I would be happy with some other opinions.
    Nobody else want to be helpful?
  5. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I thought I had replied to your second post.

    That's interesting about the layout. It just goes to show how important visual cues and such are in the live listening experience.

    As a matter of curiosity, did you try XY? If so how did you find it? I don't know what it is about the NT5s, but I've never been pleased with them unless they were spaced apart, with some sort of variation on ORTF.

    Thanks for answering my questions about the layout, which is very interesting.

    I don't suppose there are many people here who would attempt to record a performance of this sort with just two cardioids. With an unusual layout, omnis can give a nicer impression of the acoustic environment and the positions of the players, if only because you are listening to the hall as well. Same thing with Blumlein although in this technique it could be argued that the often beautiful soundstage is in many respects less accurate -but it just sounds great! You were dealing with an unusual layout, and that layout was audible -nothing wrong with that :cool:

  6. Stradivariusz

    Stradivariusz Active Member

    Hi John

    Thanks again for stepping by.
    Omnis will be now possible:D . I have just got brand new Gefell's M270 and I'm very curious how they will manage in stereo setup. Soon I will have another concert, so will find out. The bass response of it strangely goes down only to 40Hz, but I hope to have not so much pain from that.

    I've tried XY some time on another recording and I didn't like it very much. Stereo image was narrow and the color of the ensemble didn't please me, something about clarity was wrong. It worked very well on piano solo, but on bigger groups I didn't find a good place maby.

    My usual setups are ORTF, NOS and in between - 20cm/90 degrees, this one has a bit wider stereo spread and has a nice ambiance too. This time I found the ORTF sound best.

  7. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    When you get your omnis try spacing them .5m to 1m on piano a few meters out-- I think you will like what you hear!

  8. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Congratulations on the M270s!!! I'd be very interested to hear how you get on with them. There's been a lot contributions about the MG296 here lately, as everyone falls in love with them :lol: It would be great to hear a recording of the M270s.

    Good luck with them!
  9. Stradivariusz

    Stradivariusz Active Member

    Thanks guys, I'm also very courious to hear what they can do:)
    Soon I will record a small chamber group. Quite a challenge for me since I've never recorded anything with omnis. The space will be very reverberant too, so it will be some fun:-?

    Now I did just some comparisons with myslef playing violin with these two mics (NT5 and M270) at the same distance and just at my home. Not a good space for recording of course, but I could discover already, that omni propably has to be much closer to the source than cardio - even in close miking.

    As I've mentioned already above, the M270 goes just to 40Hz, so M296 has here a good octave more - till 20Hz, but I guess it still should be enough.



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