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Recording jazz big band live in 8 tracks - HELP!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by bwalch, Dec 12, 2001.

  1. bwalch

    bwalch Guest

    :w: Tomorrrow night I'll be recording my son's nationally recognized HS jazz big band live in concert. I have 4 large diaphram condensers, 2 electrets, and 2 instrument dynamics. All will be mixed into a digital 8 track. The brass section has 6 sax's (1st row), 5 trombones (2nd), and 5 trumpets (back row). There is an electric bass and guitar, acoustic piano, and drums.

    My initial plan is to use 2 condensers low for the sax's, and 2 high for the trompones and trumpets. Then one dynamic each on the bass and guitar. Finally one electret on the piano and one for the drums (about 2' above and 2' in front - probably pick up the cymbals and snare/toms OK, but I don't know about the bass drum).

    The only other problem is that I need one channel to cover solo's, which may mean that I reduce the high brass condensers to one, and use the extra one for the solo's.

    Any sugestions, including a total reorganization of the mic placements are welcome.

  2. Scott Gould

    Scott Gould Active Member

    Oct 22, 2001
    Pt. Charlotte FL
    Well, it may not be conventional, but I recorded a 19 piece big band live a couple years ago using 3 mics. It was supposed to just be an "archival" recording to critique the show, but it came out so well they released 2 CDs of that recording.
    The Set-Up:
    2 AT 4050's (in cadrioid) about 35' apart, 15' in front of the front line of musicians, just above their head level & angled very slightly inward
    1 Neumann TLM103 in the center, halfway between and slightly forward of the 4050s.

    For mixdown I just panned them L,C,R and used some judicious EQ to bring out the bass & kick a little, and tame a bit of harshness from the trumpets. Some mild compression on the 2 mix and it was done.

  3. MadMoose

    MadMoose Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    I'd go to a rehearsal and see how things sound in the room. Then I'd put up a few pairs of mics in various spots that sound good rather then close micing everything. You don't have enough channels, mics or tracks to do a great job of it.
  4. Recording jazz bands:

    One pair of microphones in coincident or near coincident configuration. Placement of these is critical.

    One Solo microphone

    Mic the bass amp or bass viol.

    Mic the piano.

    Others only as needed. Splitter on announcer microphone.

    If they use a PA you will have some problems but try to keep the PA out of the sound.
  5. Oh and I forgot to add, Align thesignals from the spot mic's to the main pair in post .

    Use a figure 8 on the piano with the lid off and you will not get all that bleed from the drums. :)
  6. sign

    sign Guest

    Hi Bill

    Your plan is not bad at all, I did a lot of FOH with big bands and most of the time the mics above the saxophones were my most important mics.
    You will have plenty of trumpets and 'bones on your sax mics if you don't put them too close to the saxes. A nice 'off axis response' will help

    On the other hand I also second Richard, an ORTF pair on the right spot will do a wonderful job.

    I recorded a 46 piece fanfare on 24 tracks with a lot of spot mikes, but in the mix I ended up with using the main stereo ORTF pair and very little of the spot mikes and it sounds great.

  7. wyee

    wyee Guest

    Robert Auld has an excellent treatise on recording the big band at


    The short summary is, record the whole band in stereo, add spot mics to piano, bass, and soloist.
  8. MikeG

    MikeG Guest

    Just a small but important point. Make sure band members do know the recording mics from the sound reinforcment mics. Neither the sound guy or myself mentioned it to the band at one concert.. mainly due to a delayed and late (hence rushed) setting up. I had one trombone player play with the recording mic right into his bell during the first half of a concert.... As I had 600 folks between me & stage it couldnt be altered until the 2nd set.
    The 2nd set was just wonderful by the way. Now the band has settled a fee, the mastering done, MCPS paid it's now at the pressing plant awaiting production. There must be a moral there somewhere?
    Hope the recording goes well and have a very Happy New Year.
  9. This last reminds me of the notorious bootleg "Woke up this morning and found myself dead" with Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter jamming in a New York club. Jim Morrison's totally f@#*ed up and quite obscene vocal is very prominent, with Jimi's voice in the background, to no avail: "Sing in that one- that's the recording mic!"
  10. MikeG

    MikeG Guest

    Hi Scott,
    Your approach of using 3 mics sounds good (I'm a fan of Decca and Mercury recordings) I know this is probably a tech question but is there, on the market, a unit that will mix the centre mic equally between L & R channels (at mic level) so the mixed 2 channels could be fed to a standard two channel mic-pre. Even better, if this could be achieved with the phantom power from the mic-pre still feeding the L&R mics and the centre mic with it's own phantom supply. DC blocks and transformers come to mind but I don't like adding too much into the signal path. Is this an impossible question?
  11. Scott Gould

    Scott Gould Active Member

    Oct 22, 2001
    Pt. Charlotte FL
    Mike -
    Your question isn't impossible, but (for me, at least) the answer is, because I don't know of any device to do what you want. The best advice I can give you is to use your 2 channel mic pre on the L & R mics and beg, borrow, rent or buy another pre for the middle. If you really feel that all 3 channels must match exactly, you could use 3 channels of a high quality 4 channels mic pre like those from Massenburg or Earthworks.
    I suppose you could build a passive resistance mixer for LCR to LR mic signals (Craig Anderton's books would be a good place to look) but you'll need some extra gain from the pre-amps you use on the output, so they'd better be really good. I really feel it's better to mix the 3 mics after the fact (back in the studio) as the middle/side balance is hard to get right using headphones or other "field" monitoring set-ups.

  12. MikeG

    MikeG Guest

    Scott -
    Thank you, I'll enquire into Massenburg & Earthworks mic-pre's. I'm using a Millennia Media HV-3B at present but I'll experiment anyway with passive resistive networks (using high quality coupling caps to block the phantom power) - just for the experience. Thanks also for the tip regarding Craig Anderton's books.
    It's a pity 3 channel recorders were discontinued at the advent of Stereo though I guess I'm showing my age here, ... I still hold childhood memories of a HMV wind-up 78 rpm record player with great affection.
    Thanks again. :D :w:

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