Mics for Pipe Organ (+ others Instruments)

Discussion in 'Acoustic Keyboards' started by Perocat, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. Perocat

    Perocat Active Member

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    Hello everybody,

    I'm relatively new to the recording world... Since years I'm an enthusiast audiophile but I never delve into the recording world.
    I'm also a professional musician, play both organ (pipe organ and hammond organ) and piano.

    I'd like to buy a couple of mics to record primarly pipe organs (I think omnis would be the best choice with the complete frequency range of pipe organs [lower C at 16Hz with 32 feet pipes] and also capable of the huge dynamic range of the instrument) but also capable of recording grand pianos and hammond organs.
    I have considered the universal AKG C414 but I think I could find something more specific for my goals.

    Budget is about 3000-4000$ for the mics.

    As sound card I have now a basic MOTU AudioExpress, but will upgrade to something better in the near future.

    Any help would be much appreciated.
     
  2. Keith Johnson

    Keith Johnson Active Member

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    Yep, I'd look at true pressure operated omnis...I'd consider looking at Schoeps CMC62/2H/2s (depending on where you're looking at putting them in the room relative to the organ), possibly asking Schoeps about the 3Hz linear extension on the bodies.

    Other flavours of omnis are, of course, available.
     
  3. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    A pair of 414s would give you the chance to experiment in the various spaces, and two omnis will, in my humble opinion be ok for some, but absolutely the wrong choice for others. A/B omnis are sometimes apprpriate for organs but so much depends on the physical layout of the ranks. Finding the right place for two spaced omnis is very difficult. Far easier would be any of the X/Y techniques, or Blumlein, where only one good position needs to be found.
    You also get that very strange effect with spaced omnis on some stop settings where the the split between their actual location upsets the balance - it's odd to have the swell pipes offset to one side. Back in the 70s I did a recording with spaced omnis and despite the organ being rather nice, the organist very able and the building nice sounding - it just sounded 'odd'. I've never tried multi tracked omnis and trying to blend afterwards - always wanted to, never tried it though. As Keith likes omnis, maybe I just didn't persevere long enough to master them? Quite possible.

    For the Hammond - assuming it's with a Leslie, again I would use cardioids on the top horn - but spaced ones, and another on the bass slot, central. That always works for me - the spacing at the top giving a nice shimmer with movement. Tried X/Y on the top and it didn't have the width.
     
  4. Keith Johnson

    Keith Johnson Active Member

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    The MK5 (or rather CMC65) option you were given on Gearslutz is also a good call - it gives you access to (most of) the stereo techniques with the obvious exception of Blumlein and M-S. The advantage of the MK5 over a pair of switchable LDCs is that you still get access to a true pressure omni with all its associated bass extension. You could always add more capsules later. Or you could go down the Neumann modular route. Or others.

    Paul is, of course, completely correct about omnis being less suited to some places than others and also with respect to placement.

    Normally when someone is asking about a 'first pair' of mics I recommend switchables (and tnused to be 414s but I tend to prefer the older incarnations rather than the new)...or occasionally I'll 'downscale' to things like the Line Audio OM1 omnis and CM3 (wide) cardioids which punch well above what their price point would suggest they're capable of.
     
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  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    @paulears ...I know there are omnis and test mics that can get down to 16hz... I don't think the 414 - in any incarnation- can do that, tho. The low end response on them bottoms-out at 20hz, and even down there, the response is sloped-off pretty fast.
    What kind of speaker would one need to reproduce freq's that low? I would think it would have to be a serious sub woofer, and probably in a specially designed cabinet?
    How would you mix something like that?
    Good nearfields with a powered sub?

    Just curious.
     
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    @Perocat
    You mentioned that C1 has a CPS of 16, What is the frequency on the highest (shortest?) pipe(s)?

    This is a cool thread.
    Welcome to RO by the way. ;)
     
  7. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I've never placed any emphasis at all in recording subsonics - this brilliant organ youtube clip pretty well sums it up. The organist is completely convinced that it despite being useless on it's own, it does add something (apart from shaking the walls)

    You really wouldn't want to live near there would you?
     
  8. John Willett

    John Willett Active Member

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    Small diaphragm omnis are what you need - only these really go down low enough to capsure the lowest notes of an organ (about 16Hz) - directional mics roll off much higher and a good omni will go down to 10Hz or lower.

    My choice for this is the Gefell M 221 or the Sennheiser MKH 20.

    Other good omnis are the Sennheiser MKH 8020, Gefell M 296, Gefell M 320, Neumann KM 133-A (-D), Neumann KM 183-A (-D), Schoeps CMC 62 (as mentioned above) and the DPA 4006.
     
  9. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

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    The M221 (Telefunken/Scheops) is a good choice. Schoeps may still build its successor the M222. I made nice pipe organ recordings using a pair of M221's near coincident. The Neumann SM69 works well both coincident and in M-S. If you are using spaced mics, the left, center, right works well, there is no "hole in the center" sound compared to two spaced mics.

    I like the tube mics on pipe organ that have no "rolloff" built in the mic. I've used Neumann U67's on a pipe organ but they have LF rolloff. There is inherent LF and HF rolloff anyway through the equipment. Digital recorders roll off at the low and high end to avoid sampling problems. Mic preamps may have LF roll off - no sense attempting to record 0 Hz DC offset. Transformer coupled preamps' response is generally tied to the quality of the iron used.

    I like the 1964 LP version of the Command label's recording of the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia PA. That recording was mastered on 35 mm mag film. If I recall correctly, that recording was made by the late Robert Fine, using three spaced Schoeps omni mics, tubed preamps working into a Westrex 35 mm mag film recorder. You can get a CD of that LP from the Wanamaker Organ Society in King of Prussia PA. I have heard that organ played in person on numerous occasions. Check out www.wanamakerorgan.com or write them at Friends of the Wanamaker Organ, 630 Hidden Valley Road, King of Prussia PA 19406-1712, USA.

    Where is the pipe organ pictured? Looks like five-manual.
     
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  10. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    I haven't seen anyone mention Earthworks yet. I don't own any, but I do see them used for a number of things like this. Impressive flat frequency response, max SPL, and specs in general.


    He seems to be confusing Feet with Hertz in his description as well, Paul.
     
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  11. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    Ah - no. Oddly organs label their pipe ranks with the length of the pipes - so you have 8 foot, 16 foot and 32 foot pipes. Double the length, half the frequency. So if you are playing on an 8ft stop, pulling a 16ft stop adds an extra octave underneath. If you look at Hammond organs you also get harmonic stops too, so an 8ft stop, has a 5 1/3rd drawbar, which if you actually play a C, brings in a G - the perfect 5th. There's a 2 and 2/3rd one too, an octave higher. Organ theory is very strange.

    One of the problems recording them is that only some of the ranks of pipes have a volume adjustment - some of the pipes are in a big box with louvre doors - and pressing the pedal, gradually opens the louvres, letting the sound out. So not just volume, but a subtle tone change too. If you get your mic placement wrong it can sound good until the organist pulls a new stop and another rank too close suddenly overpowers the rest. Probably sounds good to the organist many metres away. Lots of organs also have very loud blower motors too!
     
  12. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

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    Paulears...You are correct on organ pipe labeling. Brings back an old physics experiment where air blows across a graduated cylinder in cm and a mic is connected to a frequency counter. Change the water level in the cylinder to 1/2 length and frequency changes proportionally. (The graduated cylinder mimics a small organ pipe so the frequency is the kHz range.)

    I like your comment about mic placement... Another interesting scenario is where the speaking pipes of an organ span a corner, and the organ is not centrally placed in the room. Generally, I mic corner placed organs in line with the corner with a near coincident pair..... Room reflections are sort of like VSWR to us RF types... a room could be considered a short, stubbed wave guide, with the velocity of sound (at 25 deg C and 760 torr pressure) of 340 meters/sec, with associated reflections that are geometry dependent on source and sampling location(s)...
     
  13. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    Organs also create a quandry. We read many topics by people concerned that their monitoring environment is not symetrical, due to practical problems in the room, and then they're attempting to treat the room acoustics to get things identical left and right. Then we record an organ in a reflective space, where the organ is physically built to use the available space, with often no possibility whatsoever that there is any symmetry at all. If you record a choir in their traditional setting in a church, then there is a clear centre line, but this shifts the organ radically to the side. In an organ only recording, should you retain that building centre line, or shift to some kind of implied centre line with the ranks of pipes either side of it, and then live with unbalanced reverberation? So many variables before you even press record!
     
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  14. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

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    Paulears: Precisely.
     
  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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  16. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

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    I have read nice reviews of some of the DIY mic kits. I read one of the reviews on the "cathedralpipes" mic. Notice the tube used in the U47 clone is a PC86... If that mic was built using a 6072 instead, that could be a clone of the old "Stanley Church" mic which used a U47 head, a 6072 tube, and American parts. Can't say any more about the "cathedral pipes" mic without seeing the schematic.

    I like the Schoeps M221 and tubed mics like it. Look at the schematic...the capsule goes right into the tube grid with minimal components in the path. This theoretically could allow the capsule to respond to very low pedal, with the mechanical characteristics of the capsule, along with the iron of the output transformer being the primary response limitations. The AC701 tube has very low leakage and extremely high input impedance. I have had good luck with the 7586 nuvistor and 5840 subminiature. Have some 5703's here to try as well as well as some others.

    Bottom line... I am extremely tempted to build one of those M49 clones myself; buy the metal work and output trafo, have a Neumann capsule here, and DIY the rest. BTW for any of the "DIY crowd", cloning the old NKM power supply can be versatile with most tube mics with the exception of the U67 that requires 210 vdc instead of 120 vdc for the tube anode. If you work on your mics, please be careful, dangerous voltages are used in the tube mics, and any carelessness can cause injury or damage. Cleanliness is important when working around high impedance circuits; do not touch high impedance components with your fingers.
     
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  17. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    Do Neumann and Michrotech Geffell use "OCC long single crystal copper wire for the clearest possible signal quality"?
     
  18. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

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    Paulears.. I cannot answer that one, but whatever wire Neumann used may have a minute contribution for the famous sound of those vintage microphones..... My guess it's the components, especially the capsule capturing audio, and those passing audio, like capacitors, tube, and the output transformer.
     
  19. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I was being ironic - sorry. I just lose faith in any audio firm who resort to claiming that cable is the key. The components have essential parts to play, but I've yet to see any recording person I respect examining the mic cable, looking for those silly labels, checking for gold plated XLR pins and all the hi-fi hype!
     
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  20. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

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    No problem. Your comment is appropriate since there is a "point of no return" on using expensive wire, etc. in any audio product to eke out a fraction of a dB "improvement". Any of this "hype" contributes to the cost of a product. Think about it, the post war U47 used available material including the VF14 "Stahlrohre"...
     

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