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Need help on mics for classical recordings

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Hemophagus, Jun 13, 2004.

  1. Hemophagus

    Hemophagus Guest


    I've got some projects of classical recordings. One of them is a recording of an small orchestra with 2 or 3 vocal soloists. Another project is of recording a pipe organ in a cathedral.

    I've recorded previously some pipe organs and few string quartets, but now I'm looking for a good pair of mics.

    A friend of mine recomended me to buy a pair of Schoeps mics (he told me that they would be like my "ears" into the theatre or the cathedral). At first I was thinking of buying a stereo matched pair of the new AKG C414 XL, but now I'm considering other like DPA, Schoeps, Soundfield, Sennheiser... etc.

    My purpouse is to have a good pair of mics which I could use in ORTF, XY, AB, DECCA TREE, and other stereo mic techniques used frequently for recording classical music.

    Could someone give me recomendations of what mics I should choose?

    Thanks in advance
  2. Ellegaard

    Ellegaard Active Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Central Copenhagen
    We've got a couple of very experienced guys in here who've done tons of classical records.

    The ones we're using here are the Brüel & Kjær microphones, they're really awesome, they have a remarkably flat frequency response. I think a pair of those omni B&K would be perfect for recording orchestra - and as for church organ, much of the stuff I've heard on records has been way too muddy due to the often enormous ambience of the churches. Would it make sense to recommend cardioid microphones for church organs and try to get relatively close to the organ...?
  3. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    Jul 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Hard to go wrong with Schoeps products. If you research the proucts, you'll note the modular design of the Collette system and a large inventory of capsules (over a dozen) that are interchangeable with the body amplifiers.

    DPA (formerly B&K) is another great choice.
  4. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2003
    If you have the budget, a pair of AKG C12's, or a single C24. Lawson also makes a modular line with reproductions of many classic capsules, like 87's, 414's, C12's. I agree about the Schoeps, though. Great mics.
  5. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Mar 31, 2002
    Add Earthworks QTC1 or QTC30's to the list
  6. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member

    Jan 27, 2002
    For a "purer", classical recording Schoepps, B&K or DPA (omni or cardioid depending on the stereo technique you want to use) are a surefire solution, hard to go wrong with them, Schoepps CMC5 are kind of a standard among classical engineers; another suggestion that comes to mind is a stereo Sanken CSM2 mic which is a fixed XY pattern: I used it when seconding an experienced engineer in some large orchestral sessions as the main stereo pair, very warm, detailed and natural sounding .

    If you want a more "modern" kind of sound you may want to go with some spots added to the main stereo pair, that you will be mixing in the right amount to give focus (or for more contemporary sound really pump them up).

    A side note: Decca Tree needs three mics, a spaced pair with a forwarded center mic, the three mics are usually of the same type and model, (Decca engineers use Neumann M50 tube omnis) but experimentation with mic type and pattern brings out interesting results.

    Hope this helps

  7. phil2dot6

    phil2dot6 Guest

    For pipe organs, I've heard the best microphone is the Neumann KU-100 Fritz to capture the bass response. But then again, if you have the money, you might as well buy the full blown Decca Tree set with M50's :twisted:
  8. Hemophagus

    Hemophagus Guest



    Thanks I'll study all the possibilities and contact local dealers of those mics.

    Thank you all guys and forgive my poor english, I'm from Mallorca.
  9. Hemophagus

    Hemophagus Guest


    I think that for the orchestral recording it would be more convenient to use three omni mics in a Decca tree and some spot mics, but in the case of the pipe organ recording, should be preferible to use an ORTF setup with cardioid mics? or a Decca Tree with cardioid mics? I think that omni mics in a cathedral (with a big big amount of reverberation) would take a lot of reverb so it's a "diffuse space".

    What do you think?
  10. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:
    How much do you want to spend for this set of mics? For a decca tree, 3 M50's is the true setup... Obviously, most people don't have the cash for that setup so 3 omnis have been substituted. The problem with true omnis is you won't get the imaging that you get from M50's. One of the things (ok many things) that makes M50's special is the polar pattern is not really omnidirectional. Rather, at higher frequencies, it is quite directional and at lower frequencies it is more "omni." I have found that the Schoeps MK21 capsule is a pretty good approximation for that setup. You can also use other omni capsules and fashion a ball to put around the outside of it to get a similar response. I believe Neumann and a few other companies make such attachments.

    For recording organ, omnis will get you a lot as the low end of them will help accurately reproduce the low frequencies from 16 and 32 foot pipes.

    Some options- 3 schoeps with multiple capsules. 3 MK5's (switchable omni/cardiod), 3 MK 21's (great for decca tree, ORTF, and spaced arrays for choirs), 3 MK 2's for spaced omni arrays (a la Mercury living presence). Then you can use 2 omnis on tall stands spaced a few feet apart for organ as well...

    Otherwise, my usual setup is a stereo microphone (usually an AKG 426, but I also use Neumann SM69 tubes and I just did something with the Royer active ribbon which I liked a lot) with a pair of omnis for the flanks/wides. This covers probably 80% of the classical gigs I do quite well... My omnis that I use are B&K 4006s.

    BTW, if you use B&K omnis, try them with the different grills (silver and black) as well as with the grills off... Interesting what it does to the sound.

  11. Hemophagus

    Hemophagus Guest


    Thanks Benjamin! You've done a very useful post. I wish I could get a couple of M50's... but my budget makes it impossible at the moment... Well, I ordered a pair of SP C4's (very very affordable price) and a shoeps KM184 pair (cardioids). I'll try different setups and I'll search if someone sells good used mics such as M50 or AKG 426.

    Thanks again!

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