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Large volume/broad range economy mic

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Romancizm, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. Romancizm

    Romancizm Active Member

    I'm relatively new to recording, and have been looking to purchase a microphone for less than $500 new which would enable me to make quality recordings of Pipe Organs in the cathedrals of Europe. Technically, the microphone would be placed somewhere in the middle to rear of the cathedral, which requires microphone sensitivity for low volumes, the potential to cope with large volumes, and the ability to take in a wide range of reverberation from every direction throughout the entire cathedral. I was wondering which microphone would enable me to do this best given my budget restrictions.

    Thanks in advance for any help! I appreciate it!!
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    You know, that's exactly how SSL got started. They were a manufacturer of logic-controlled relay sytems to upgrade European church pipe organs. SSL wanted to offer a recording of the various churches' organs to potential clients, but the mixing consoles of the day did not provide the wide dynamic range that a church organ demanded. So they built their own, and from there it was history. So you are in esteemed company, to be sure.
    Now, back to the question at hand...
    $500 USD???? What format are you going to be recording to? Does the rest of your signal chain have the "guts" to handle this? Why do you want to pick up the " wide range of reverberation from every direction throughout the cathedral"? This is a very demanding, technically-challenging assignment, to be sure. What are you attempting to do, as the end result?
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    This is something which may require a bigger budget than you might imagine.

    I have a good friend and former studio partner who particularly enamored with pipe organs. AND he can really play one. Its amazing when you think of the reverb lengths and echoes found in those huge cathedrals and then listen to the music written specifically for rooms like that. God obviously knew what he was doing to inspire that kinda stuff.

    Its going to be more than just a mic. The whole chain will have to have some semblance of specialty for any sort of quality to this endeavor.
  4. Romancizm

    Romancizm Active Member

    Hey Davedog and moonbaby, thanks for your replies! I'm totally conscious of what budget restrictions I've set. I'm not looking to record on a super-professional level, just a better sound than an HD Video camera to supplement my videos. I realize it's not going to sound unbelievably great, but I just wanted to make the best bang with my buck. I've been looking at Shure microphones, but wasn't sure if the Beta 57/58A or 27A would serve my purpose well (I don't think so). I was wondering if there were any economy alternatives to these that could fulfill the job better? Basic suggestions?? :)
  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    As usual, the Dog is very tactful, insightful, and RIGHT...LOL!!!!!
    And, since you've been so courteous as to explain your expectations, here goes nothin'...
    So you want to use a camcorder as your recording medium. A medium that's designed for kids' birthdays, graduations, and the family vacation. So be it. Go to the Rode Microphones' website (google it) and look at their "videomic" products. These are all designed to perform pretty darned well in that application. Rode mics have a very well-earned reputation as, overall, a good-sounding, reliable instrument. Nobody else comes close to what they've done. And since they are designed to work with the cheesey inputs on a camcorder, their
    interfacing with one is a no-brainer. Most "pro" mics don't, and their connectivity and operation with a camcorder is "iffy" at best. Than you have to look at getting a small mixer
    (that may not like being plugged into a camcorder, etc.) and all that related stuff.
    BTW, the mics you listed are "rock'n'roll" mics. The Beta Series have a reputation of being
    "peaky" and "harsh" in the upper mids. This serves them well in certain applications like in front of a Marshall stack or a screaming rock vocalist, not on a classical organ. My 27 works well on pianos and many vocalists, but, once again, an upper midrange boost...
    And you might want to go to a website called Innocent Ear. These guys give great , useful
    information on mic applications and recording techniques for the novice (or pro) classical recordist. Certainly worth a peek.
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    The Rode NT4 is an exceptional mic in the $500 range. It's an X/Y stereo mic and terminates with a 5-pin XLR. I believe it's still packaged with both the XLR break-out cable and also a 3.5mm stereo cable to use with camcorders and mini-disc recorders. If you're not using an interface or console for phantom power the NT4 runs just fine on a 9V battery. However, due to the 5-pin XLR, putting the mic any great distance from the camera will take more than a garden-variety mic cable.

    My relatively old and outdated Sony digital cameras are 16-bit 48kHz and if you turn off the Automatic Gain and set the levels manually the audio is actually pretty decent.
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    If you are contemplating large pipe organs, we used to have a member of these forums who went by the user name of 0VU, and he was a real expert in organ recordings. Here is an example thread from 2006 with one of his responses about recording the huge instrument in Liverpool Cathedral.
  8. Romancizm

    Romancizm Active Member

    Thanks guys a lot for your help! I think I'm on a roll from here... your help is greatly appreciated!!
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I think from just an economic standpoint the Zoom H 4 n is a fine way to go. Small capsule condenser microphones are less sensitive and slightly less to overloading them there large diaphragm cousins. They're off axis response is also quite superior to LDC's. And recording in .wav format at 24-bit should yield more than satisfactory results. One of the other things I would recommend is that you mount that H4 on a tall microphone stand more than 2 m/6 feet off of the floor. It's relatively easy to modify a microphone stand clip to accommodate a camera tripod thread screw. You'll also have the choice of 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz. If you want to combine this with video, go with 48 kHz. It was only for a sound recording go with 44.1 kHz. Want higher resolution? Try 88.2 kHz or 96 kHz. Either way, it will get dummied down to 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz for everyone else to enjoy. And with that particular unit, you even have the option of recording 2 additional tracks from two additional outboard microphones. So you could go crazy trying different configurations to your hearts content. I.e. 2 stereo pairs or the XY with 2 flanking microphones. Pipe organ in a church of this description almost doesn't matter where you place those microphones. It's completely all-encompassing in sound but there are those locations where the sound will appear to be more in focus than it sounded 6 inches away or even less. You can try to determine that through headphones but in the same room it will be nearly impossible to judge that accurately. That is until after playback. Also keep in mind that most average consumer playback systems could never reproduce the entire dynamic range that a pipe organ can deliver. And even if the playback system could deliver the full dynamic range, it may not be that comfortable to listen to through an electronic playback medium. Microphones don't hear like ears do. Speakers do not reproduce things like pipe organs do. So it's all part of a translation procedure. I would say, heck, stick up a couple of omnidirectional SDC microphones at least 10 feet apart. And pointing up toward the ceiling. Having them at least 10 feet in the air would be good.

    It's a pipe organ for Gods sake. And the people in the congregation.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Oh, that bit about SSL. Not exactly true about not getting proper sound nor dynamic range from anybody else's equipment. I think if you saw the early microphone preamps in SSL 4000 series consoles you would be aghast at how cheap they were. I mean we are talking about a Jensen style microphone transformer into a lousy 5534 IC chip and a couple of output buffer transistors. And all of those FET switches along with VCA's in SSL consoles simply included too many transistor junctions to sound anywhere near as good as an API or Neve of the same era. They were known for features not sound quality. I've always enjoyed the sound of Tears for Fears, Simple Minds, Sting but I could tell it was coming off of a SSL 4000. In many ways less stellar sounding than a Auditronics 501, which was nearly identical microphone preamp. Just not dozens of FET switches & VCA's. So it was easier for them in England to make a similar microphone preamp than to import one from Memphis Tennessee. Or those Neve guys who made really expensive stuff that actually sounded good. So they copped out by putting every bell and whistle into their consoles they could think of. Screw the sound... just make it extremely versatile. And also because they looked so much more complicated, they must be better? Not.

    Not a fan of SSL
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  11. jonblanchette

    jonblanchette Active Member

    Hello Zachary,

    A church organ is so big that you'll have to do a "stereo recording" What I recommend you for around 500$ is Award-winning microphone engineering from Michael Joly those are a pair of MXL 603 modded to sound close to the KM184, two legendary mics by Neumann. That way, you could try several stereo captations such as the XY, the NOS, DIN, AB, etc. Michael Joly is a well known mic modder in the industry, he's really trustable and he offers tons of alternatives to the expensive mics.

    Hope this help you and/or some other people!


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