Main mast setup...how often

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Cucco, May 3, 2008.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Just curious from all the guys and gals out in Acoustic Music world -

    How often, when setting up your main mast - regardless of stereo pattern - do you place the mics at the exact right height and distance just by eyeballing it or brief measurements?

    When you don't nail it right off, how much do you find yourself tweaking?

    I think I've gone through a bell-learning curve over the past 13 years or so - at first I placed it and rarely moved it. The more I recorded the more I'd tweak - sometimes excessively hunting for 30 to 45 minutes or more to find the spot - sometimes never arriving with something I was thrilled with.

    Lately (past couple years), I've found myself hitting closer and closer to the mark with only having to tweak once or twice and only by a few inches in most cases.

    The trickiest patterns for me to place right off are AB and MS.

    Just curious and bored waiting for a 7:30 downbeat....
    Cheers-
    J
     
  2. multoc

    multoc Active Member

    apparently i misunderstood this question lol so i deleted my response
     
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    When I've recorded live I'm pretty much on the left side of your bell curve. (Probably a lot of psycometricians nodding to that statement.) I haven't really had a situation where I got a chance to tweak with a band in place without disrupting something important. Also, I don't have a great on-site monitoring setup, so it's pretty much guesswork anyway. In the studio I'm more inclined to tweak, but there it's usually just one or two instruments, so I can get a pretty good position on the first try.
     
  4. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    After doing on location work for 39 years I can usually eyeball the setup pretty well and I am usually happy with the results, although I may have to do some tweaking after listening. It is easier if this is a closed recording session when I have good speakers to listen to than it is when it is a public concert and I am monitoring over headphones.

    The biggest problem I face is that in some venues I am severely limited in my placement options due to pews or seating arrangements and audience sight lines. This can drastically limit my options. If there is going to be a problem because of the microphone placement I let the performers know about it and leave it up to them to decide whether they want to fight with the hall's management for a better placement option. On most jobs I go to the venue before the concert to scope things out and talk with the hall's managment so I am not surprised the day of the concert.

    I did a concert recently with a nationally known baroque orchestra. They were playing in a church. There was a center aisle and two side aisles. They decided they wanted to process down the center aisle where my microphone stand was. I was doing the session by myself with no assistant to redo the microphone placement after they processed. I gave the conductor two options. I could either use a not so prime placement of the microphones off to the side in one of the pews or they could process down the side aisles. She chose the off center microphone placement and was not happy with the results. She chose the off center placement not because of any hall restrictions but this is what she envisioned happening and did not want to ruin her "vision" for the concert. If she had told me earlier in the planning stages I could have brought along my "secret weapon" (a back drop stand that can go across the aisle and give me a good microphone placement and still let them process) but she did not tell me until I got to the venue and was told that they would be coming down the center aisle.

    It was her call and she had to make the best of it.
     
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Yes, visuals/safety concerns/perceived fire hazards have taken hold in the last year or so. There used to be no problem in placing tall stands centre aisle, but now I have to fly most mics if they need to be anywhere in the audience area.

    I adjust flown height, angle, position etc during sound check or rehearsal, but the presence of the audience makes a huge difference, so there has to be a fair amount of anticipation and guesswork in the placement. Sometimes it sounds just right, sometimes I wish I could get up the ladder and fiddle a bit more.
     
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    At a concert we recently did I was asked what kind of liability insurance we had. This is the first time that this has come up. Is this something that others on the list get asked or was this minister being overly cautious?
     
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I've been asked about liability at live sound gigs and that was a big part of my decision not to provide sound support equipment.
     
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Happens all the time. They ask me to record a gig and then load me with the liability to cover some stoned drummer tripping over a mic cable. A couple of million of liability insurance for unspecified venues isn't that cheap.
     

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