Recording A Pipe Band

Discussion in 'Live Sound' started by Doomith, Jun 14, 2007.

  1. Doomith

    Doomith Guest

    Hey all :) This is practically my first post here and hopefully not my last.
    I'm just going to go over a little background info about myself first so you guys can get the general idea :)

    Well my name is Alex Bird and I am studying sound engineering at MAINZ in Auckland, New Zealand (that little country (island) down the bottom of the world!)
    Next Saturday a small group of us are going out with one of our teachers on a field trip to record a pipe band.

    Now the question, What mic's do you guys recommend using on recording a pipe band? Most likely we will be doing this in a hall or venue of sorts so we wont have to worry about outside noise.
    Now due to several connections, we have available to us almost any mic to use for this (last time we borrowed some QTC40's and the time before that some really nice DPA mics (for different things))

    So comments / suggestions please :)
    Thanks in advance, Alex.
  2. ptr

    ptr Active Member

    Nov 3, 2004
    Göteborg, Sweden
    Home Page:
    Welcome to Acoustic Music.RO..

    Sorry for beeing totaly uninformed, but what kind of instruments is featured in a pipe band? Bagpipes, smoking pipes.. :shock: ~ I'm sure I should know... it might even be called something completely diffrent here on the oposit side of the globe.. :wink:

    Anyway, a pair of quality OMNI mikes is always a good starting point of any kind of band/orchstra recording. And if You've got a grand, grand mike cabinet to borrow from, I suggest a pair of Neumann M150.. Wonderful things to play with!

  3. srs

    srs Guest

    I recorded a pipe band several years ago, and what I remember most is they were unbelievably loud! Do yourself a favor and take some earplugs with you if you want to be able to tell what you're doing. Or better yet, set up in a control-room that's well isolated.
  4. JoeH

    JoeH Distinguished Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Ahhhhh, the Pipes! The pipes! ....the Haggis, too!

    I knew if I waited long enough, there would be a time & reason to tell of my experiences with "the pipes." :wink:

    First off, a few questions...will they be doing any marching, or walking in place? Sometimes it's a bit like a marching band, in that they come to formation while playing, etc. There will no doubt be a couple of drummers, along with pipers of various sizes& sections. It may end up being a fairly large area you'll have to cover. Bring plenty of cables and tall stands. I'd certainly start with a big omni pair, and have some good stury cardioids to put in place as spot mics as well. If it's indoors, it will probably be MUCH louder than you'd expect.

    Back in the 70's, I was running FOH for an annual summer cultural festival in Philadelphia, and one of the semi-annual events we had was "Scottish Night". One year, I remember 11 or 12 bands "Massed" for a big combined performance at the end. Throughout the show, each band (or clan) would come onstage (usually playing), some even came up from the back of the venue, playing their way in. Naturally, they wanted it recorded for archival use, and we all assumed it needed to be mic'd for the PA as well. (Having no idea, at first, as to how LOUD these ensembles can get!)

    The good news is that it was outside, so a lot of the energy & sound was quickly dissipated into the air. (If it were held inside, the din would have been considerable.)

    Interestingly, one year Rufus Harley was on the bill. (Him being local Phildelphian, etc.) If you don't know about Rufus, go google him and you'll get the point here. ;-)

    There was also a Haggis ceremony in the middle of the show. Really.

    One thing I can tell you (warn you) about is the absolutely unreal sound of a couple dozen (in my case HUNDREDS) of bagpipes all firing up at the same time. As you probably know, these are primarily "Drone" instruments, and the bag has to be filled with air (from the piper) initially. (Imagine if you will, the sound of 100 vacuum cleaners all slowly firing up at the same time, and you'll have some idea...) As a Celt myself, I mean no disrepect, but it's QUITE a challenge recording one of these events properly.

    Hopefully, you'll have some fun, expand your sonic pallette, and maybe even a taste of Haggis before the night's over, as well. :cool:
    audiokid likes this.
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    Nobody has really broached the subject, of which type of microphone technology to use?

    Because of the nature of flutes and other single and double reed instruments, whose sonic signature approaches square wave's, I wouldn't want to use ANY bright sounding, small capsule, condenser microphones. It could make your recordings sound like ethnic cleansing of all feline creatures! And you wouldn't want the SPCA to be notified about your recording now would you??

    What I would prefer using is virtually any and all vintage or modern ribbon microphones available. The classic ribbons, like the RCA's and Cole's, AEA's have a beautiful roll off that begins at 5kHz which definitely takes the edge off of those nasty sounding double reeds and bagpipes! And in no way should you consider them not flat in response. They are as listening will make it perfectly clear. The David Royer style of ribbon microphones is a new and different animal and are already quite bright, like a condenser microphone, by comparison and may not be a good choice?

    Taking it to a new Velocity
    Ms. Remy Ann David

    (Ribbon microphones are referred to as "velocity" microphones as opposed to pressure or pressure/gradient microphones. Although I have seen the latter reference with some ribbon microphones, which I believe to be incorrect unless they are of a hybrid technology?)
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    So many posts and no one has a bagpipe joke!!!????

    Here I am to do my duty.

    An Englishman, an Irishman, a Welshman and a Scotsman were captured while fighting in Iraq.

    The leader of their captors said: "We're going to line you up in front of a firing squad and shoot you all in turn. But first, you each can make a final wish."

    The Scotsman says: "I'd like to hear Flower of Scotland just one more time to remind me of the auld country, played on bagpipes in the style of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards."

    The Irishman says: "I'd like to hear Danny Boy just one more time to remind me of the Emerald Isle, sung in the style of Daniel O'Donnell, with Riverdance dancers skipping gaily to the tune."

    The Welshman says: "I'd like to hear Men Of Harlech just one more time to remind me of the Land of my Fathers, sung as if by the Aberavon Male Voice Choir."

    The Englishman said: "I'd like to be shot first..."

    HT: John Derbyshire.
  7. bap

    bap Guest

    A fellow walked up to the bagpiper who was practicing and asked if he could play 'Over the Hills and Far Away' to which the piper replied that he could and prepared to begin. The fellow stopped the piper and pointed to the distant hills - "I meant those hills"!

    Pipers that I know have told me that classic ribbons are the mics traditionally used when recording bagpipe bands. Often just a single pair.
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Fredericksburg, VA

    I don't know that I agree with that. First, the Royers that I'm only slightly familiar with are patterned after very old tried and true ribbons (either Spieden or B&O). I would not call them bright in the slightest and I certainly would not say that they sound like condensers! Their electronics (minimal) and their construction is highly precise meaning that there is a certain consistency from one to the next (try to get that from most ribbons!), but certainly do not sound or act like condensers in any way.
    audiokid likes this.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    You may be correct? I have never used nor own any of the David Royer ribbon microphones. I am familiar with the 1960s B&O ribbon and when I asked RoyerCo if it was a repackaged B&O, they indicated this was a totally new design and only resembled the B&O form factor. I don't believe this is a conventionally designed ribbon microphone? May be more like the FOSTEX "printed circuit ribbon"? Perhaps another reason why it is basically immune to the other fragilities that the older more conventional ribbon microphones are more prone to?

    At the AES conventions I have heard them demonstrated and was quite taken aback at how bright and condenser like they sounded? Nothing that reminded me of a ribbon sound or texture. Of course, hard to make any kind of determination on the floor of the noisy convention with a pair of headphones (but not my brand) talking into a microphone and listening through an unknown signal chain.

    Ribbons unwrapped
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  10. Doomith

    Doomith Guest

    Hey all, this went really well. We got two matched avatone CR-14's and hung them as well as using some Neumann Km100's and some AKG mics (forget the model)
    As soon as I get a cable to get the pics off my digital camera Ill write up how it went and what we did :)

    Not sure if anyone will know it here (probably) but the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra did, 'Last Night Of The Proms' and the Pipe band played two songs as one of the main features.
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    So, Doomith, are you a Kiwi in New Zealand??

    I'd be interested to see and hear what you accomplished.

    I made 2 recordings with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, way back in 1992. One was for a New Zealand label (I forget the name and it's not in front of me) and one for Delos international records. They were both with operatic vocal soloists. I can't remember the name of this fabulous cathedral we used in downtown Wellington? Many of the New Zealand radio folks have made recordings there. There was actually a control room in the back and upstairs. Although it was not a complete control room it did have soffit mounted monitors, which sounded relatively nice. I brought my 2 API 3124m mixers and also utilized a New Zealand radio owned Amek BC1 compact portable mixer. My main stereo pair of microphones were the Sanken CU41's which were on loan to me from the late great John Eargle. I used numerous other highlight microphones on various other instruments. Main vocal microphone was the AKG 414B-ULS. It was all mixed direct to 2 track DAT and also included some light use of my Lexicon PCM60.

    Such a wonderful place, New Zealand!
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  12. Doomith

    Doomith Guest

    I am a kiwi in New Zealand, yes!
    The place we were at was the Bruce Mason Centre (
    Was a really nice venue!
    I have heaps of pictures, I'll have to buy a cable soon!
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    Actually, I made the recording before 1992. It was released in 1992. But when I made that recording, you guys beat Australia in the big rugby championship thingy. Summer of 1990 or 91? You guys were certainly gloating over that one. From what I heard, a well-deserved gloat.

    I really think I wasn't that kind of girl but I rather liked having a couple of "bangers" with my breakfast. And what was that simply weird black stuff you shmeer..... onto bread, Vegimite?? I never found out? Does a platypus tastes like chicken?? Or is that kangaroo?

    Your accents sound nicer than those Aussies!
    Ms. Remy Ann David
    (with that midwestern US accent)

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