Recording Dixieland?

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by eddiesound, Feb 19, 2005.

  1. eddiesound

    eddiesound Guest

    I was wondering if anyone out there has experience recording a dixieland band. I did a search and came up empty. The recording will be done in a living room and I was needing to know about number of mics and placement of them for best results. Thanks in advance! This will be my first project.
  2. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Well, what kind of rig do you have or can you get a hold of for the recording?

  3. eddiesound

    eddiesound Guest

    I have a Digi 002 rack with pro tools software and Mackie 624 monitors. I have 2 studio project mics a C-1 and B-1. I also have the waves Rennaisance Max bundle.
  4. Costy

    Costy Guest

    Another question, Eddiesound, are you going to track instrument by
    instrument or it's gonna be live recording ?

  5. eddiesound

    eddiesound Guest

    Well Costy, I really would like to try a live approach. There are 8 players and they tried tracking at another studio and didn't like it. So I told them I would try to do it as a group. Oh and they do have a drummer.
  6. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    Your instincts are good, but unless you have a very big living room all the gear in the world will not transcend the acoustic, especially with your VERY big Dixieland group.

    Surely you can think of a larger room-- school band room, church social hall-- something-- that will give better results.

    I do not know those mics, but a pair of same model cardioids in a stereo pair (ORTF or NOS [12 inch separation and 90 degree angle]) and much experimentation will yield good results. Don't be afraid to ask the players to adjust their positions to achieve what you/they want.

  7. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I think with that amount of gear, you are going to have some issues recording yourself... You don't even have a stereo pair of mics that you can put up.

    With a limited rig, I'd place a pair up and adjust the physical location of your players to make the sound work. You set up your image physically and if some instruments are soft, you place them closer to the mics and loud instruments are pushed further away...

    If you can get a hold of more mics, let us know what they are and we can probably be of more help... Also, with 8 members, how is this band composed? Dixieland can have a pretty wide range of instruments (although some- like clarinet, trumpet, etc... are pretty constant).

  8. eddiesound

    eddiesound Guest

    Well my living room is 21'x38' with 8' 6" ceiling so I don't know that would be considered large or not. I can borrow a pair of sm 81's from a friend. I will try the physical imaging with the players. That sounds like my only hope,unfortunately this is the only space available to me. I thought that 8 piece was rather large for a dixieland thing. I'll let you know the results in a week or so. Thanks again
  9. Costy

    Costy Guest


    As Ben said, you can go with a pair of mics and try to place players.
    Try it first, it's the simplest thing to do in your case. But there's
    another hope, I think.

    Now, you have 8 inputs in DigiRack , 4 with the phantom power.
    So, try to get those SM81's, and 4 of dynamic mics (SM57, SM58 or
    similar). I'd use at least three mics on drums: one front and two
    overhead (all condencers). On the SM81 there's roll-over switch -
    use it. The rest 5 mics I'd split among the rest, like: 1 for bass,
    1 (or two) for whole brass section, 1 for banjo ecc.
    Try to distance the players as much as you can (particularly from the
    drummer) and place mics relatively close to avoid the leaking in. Hang
    blankets to separate the space - an old trick. If you manage to do
    something like that, there's going to be some freedom in mixing.
    It's a lot of work, but don't give up and good luck,

  10. eddiesound

    eddiesound Guest

    Thanks to all you guys for your greatly appreciated input and once again I've picked up a little more knowledge in the recording art. The more I learn abut this stuff the more I realize there are no hard fast rules, rather the opposite. Being a sponge is a good thing. Thanks again.
  11. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    IMHO this approach is not appropriate for this music. Let's begin with the drums. Devoting 3 out of 8 mics to one instrument that plays a very minor role in Dixieland does not make sense to me. (Most Dixie groups use banjo and tuba for a rhythm section.) Also, SM81 do not have stellar LF response, and the ROLLOFF switch is there to combat proximity effect, which should not be a factor unless you are too close.

    That's 3 mics for one instrument and 1 mic for the five (?) horns-- this also does not make sense, and will never give a pleasing stereo soundstage. Also, using blankets will block very little with 8ft ceilings, and real gobos make it hard for the mics (and the players) to hear one another which works against the musical communication that the group depends on.

    Even if the multi-mic scheme gets all the data into the computer, it will take a LONG time to get a mix that makes musical sense and doesn't sound like a collection of overdubs.

    Rent a pair of killer small diameter condenser cardioid mics, put them on a stereo bar, and let your ears be your guide.

  12. recordista

    recordista Active Member

    The length and width are a little small, but the ceiling height is going to be your biggest problem (unless the place is full of glass or mirrors.)
  13. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I'm going to echo what Rich said here... Eddie has said that he has up to 4 microphones and if I remember correctly the Digi002 has 4 microphone inputs. The other 4 are line level so he'll need external preamps to bring the level up to line level- even if dynamics are used... I also would probably pick 57's and 58's as the last mics I'd look for in any session... I'd much rather have Beyer M88's or Sennheiser 421/441's. Of course, low end condensers can sound decent and cost substantially less than a 441. 8)

    I'd use the stereo pair out in front of the group. SM-81's while not being fantastic mics will certainly do the job (they were the first mics I ever owned and I got lots of good recordings from them). Then if there are other important parts that need a bit of "help" use the remaining 2 microphones as spots. Pan them to fit inside the image that you have from your stereo pair out in front of the ensemble.

    I think you'll find that the clarinet will be one of those important parts needing a spot (of course- I'm a clarinetist... heh), but in Dixieland, it is a very important part. You'll likely also find the guitar/banjo to be an important part. Drums, brass, etc.. will project just fine into your stereo pair. If you have an acoustic bass, have them bring an amp or take a line out from the amp (which may help). If the bass line is being played by a tuba, you'll have no problems hearing them...

  14. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    No matter what, I'll bet there's a tuba there somewhere. It's the law in some states, isn't it? :twisted:

    One of my best friends plays tuba, actually, and he's recorded a lot of that sort of thing. Always good to start with a stereo mic situation, and work the room. Add spot mics as budget & mic selection allows. Dixieland bands are still one of the "pure" jazz forms still kickin' out there, and they tend to sound good on their own, without amps, etc. Hopefully you can make that work for you.

    Which reminds me......does anyone listen to Jim Cullen & his Dixieland Jazz band from "the Landing" in San Antonio on NPR? GREAT stuff, and I never seem to catch who's doing the production work when it airs. I've been to the club a while back, heard the band live as well, and it's indeed the real deal. :cool:
  15. uncruss

    uncruss Guest

    I have some experience in this area. Some time ago, around the time Piltdown Man was inventing the wheel, I earned a living as a jazz clarinetist and played a LOT of Dixieland. I did a ton of live TV, albums, and sound reinforced concerts. Now I also record stuff myself.

    Suggestion: Get your hands on the SM81s and, as Ben (a bona fide audio genius) suggests, set them up as ORTF about six feet in the air. You have a low ceiling so the clarinet SITS (not stands) closest to that pair -- about 3 feet away -- with the other instruments SITTING a few to several feet behind. You almost certainly will have to deal with somebody who tries to creep closer to the mic because he thinks his part is the most important; control him! Spot mic the drums with the B1 and the bass with the C1 so when you mix the recording, those instruments will have more detail (but not necessarily more volume).

    Hang thick blankets wherever you can in the room, especially in the corners and over at least one wall, and partly open any cupboard or cabinet doors to diffuse reflected sound from parallel walls. Be certain the floor has at least some carpeting or crumpled blankets, also to avoid strong sound reflections.

    Finally, try to impress upon the band that they are playing MUSIC. They must moderate their volume in the ensemble and save most of their enthusiasm for solos. Otherwise the band will be dissatisfied with the recording. Believe me when I tell you I know whereof I speak! -- Uncle Russ
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