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Recording Jazz on location

Discussion in 'Recording' started by GentleG, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    Hi all

    I've recorded a jazz band a few times
    (in one of their homes, living room)
    I'm starting to get a good sound on disk

    In a few weeks they'll be playing live in a foyer (sort of)
    Think 8x8meters and 4 meters high
    There'll be about 40 visitors

    Maybe some of you have some recording tips for me

    They play:
    Piano upright (not possible to open the top-lid, only board near feet)
    Semi accoustic bass + amp
    Semi accoustic guitar + amp
    Sax (tenor+alt+soprano)

    I have: (and plan to use for:)
    Presonus Firepod (=8 tracks)
    2x Oktava mk012 (piano board near feet removed, either side of the player)
    2x Rode NT1A (room xy as far away as possible)
    2x Sennheiser 441 (1 above sax) (1 at guitar)
    2x Shure SM57 (not)
    AKG D112 (not)
    (bassguitar di)
    (guitar di)

    The 'audience' will be very close to the band. No stage whatsoever
    The trombone is always way too loud (and out of tune...)

    Any comments appreciated

  2. ghellquist

    ghellquist Guest

    Hmm. Trombonists are one of the few kind of people who can play everything perfectly in tune. Only that we never do. (I play trombone as well).

    Anyway, I was going to suggest that you simply setup the two Octavas in one of the tested stereo setups and let it be with that. That is what I would do anyway. Using the pattern ORTF on a high stand using Cardoid capsules would be my first choice. Start a few meters in front of the orchestra and move the stand around and find the best sound you can get. And that would be it. In my experience it is generally not worth the hassle to put up the rest of the mics. Simple does it. And a jazz band is supposed to be able to balance the volume without external help.

    For ORTF you will need a short stereo bar. Preferrably a small standoff made from a large-to-small adapter and a small-to-large adapter. Put them together and you get about an inch of small-to-small adapter which is exactly what is needed to the get the mics out of each others way. Point the mics outward. The exact recipe for ORTF is 17cm between the capsules and 110degree angle between them. In real life it does not have to be very exact.

    Anyway, I think regardless of if you add more mics, start with a really good sounding stereo pair and the rest is easy.

    Gunnar Hellquist
  3. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    Thanks for the reply

    Yeah I will try ortf instead of xy (what will be the difference in sound?)
    But I 've tried recording them with one stereopair before
    And the balance is just not good (I would have to ask the trombone player to play on the next floor...)
    That's why I've started adding mics for everything but the trombone
    I would then mix the stereopair with very little compression in
    with the individual instruments (a bit more compression)

  4. ghellquist

    ghellquist Guest

    Hi GentleG.

    I see your problem. Well, if I really cared for the band, I would record them with a stereo pair and let them sort out the questions about the trombone player and balance among themselves. I mean, it will be very evident to the audience.

    If you need to close mic and minimizing leakage of sound, it is a difficult thing to do unless you have very many channels to work with. You have to go back to the old 3:1 rule, at least 3 times as far between mics as between mic and instrument. So I would use the setting you have suggested, except I would switch the Oktavas and the Rode. I find small diameter mics better for stereo work. Place them to get as good sound as you can.

    Perhaps you could have some shields or other things to minimize the leakage from the trombone, which might help a bit.

    Generally I find XY stereo very flat when used on a large sound producing thing, say a full orchestra. I use it to close mic stuff such as a guitar. ORTF gives a wider and better stereo image as long as no instruments are too far "behind" the mics. Odd thing though is that it can sound much better in headphones that in speakers.

    Which stereo technique to use is very much influenced by the room though. You have to listen and move the mics around.

    Good luck in a difficult situation.

  5. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    The only problem will be the sax then
    As he switches between alt/tenor/soprano I have to find one and the best spot for all (2 feet above and infront of him pointing towards his chest I guess) in the hope I capture more of him then the Trombone guy standing less then 2 meters away from him...

    And yes, especially for them I will first provide them with a mix with only the stereo pair, I'll try the small ones instead as you suggested.

    Thanks again

  6. ghellquist

    ghellquist Guest

    For the sax just perhaps you could rent one of the mics that you mount on the instrument. I´ve seen them but never used them. It is a small clamp you fasten on the sax with a short flexible arm allowing you to place the mic in the best position. From it goes a thin cable. This is sometimes combined with a wireless transmitter, but I don´t think that to be any necessary part of the setup.

  7. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    Recording done, now it's mixing time

    Hi all

    I've managed to record this live session reasonably well
    (only 30 minutes setup time for the band and me...)

    What I've done:
    room : oktava mk012 ORTF pair
    upright piano (cheap plastic): Rode NT1A top lid high strings
    bassguitar: di
    guitar / banjo : NT1A
    sax: sennheiser md441u pointed downwards towards chest player
    trombone : nothing

    Now it's time for mixing
    Any comments on this first mix are more than welcome
    (Nevermind the trombone)


  8. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2003

    Don't worry about the different saxophones! Much of the sound of a sax comes from the wholes that run the entire length of the thing. Find a decent boom and let him move it somewhere near his chest and you'll be fine.

    ( You didn't think sound just skipped those holes because there's a bell did you?)

    Re: the trombone - just hide his horn or the player in your car trunk :D , you'll make everyone happier

    I agree, get a good stereo sound and close mic only for fixing will get you more of what you want, especially live.

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