Second classical concert recording

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by David French, Jun 5, 2005.

  1. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Here's another one, this time solo piano. The file can be found here.

    I used a pair of Neumann KM-183, 8" apart, 7' high, and the stand was 2' from the point where the body starts to curve. The piano was on full stick.

    How does the tone and clarity compare to the average modern piano recording? My thoughts are that it is a little dark and could have more detail; however, I'm too scared to put any EQ on it. What would you have done differently?

    I'll say this... i'm about sick of this quasi-ORTF omni technique. Sounds so boring and mono, and all the verb seems to be clumped in the center. Who uses this technique? When and why? Or, am I even accurate in my diagnosis?

    If this is too soon and I'm being a pest, let me know.

  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hmmm... Now this is a more interesting one to me. Classical piano can be one of the biggest challenges in the world.

    The tone is a bit dark - not awful, just on the dark side. I agree, I would hesitate to try to boost it using eq. Instead, I would try this - the tone seems to build up a lot between 120 and 160 hz. Try using a good parametric eq with a q setting of about 1.4 or so centered over 140 Hz and try varying degrees of cut. I bet you'll find that somewhere between 1.2 dB and 2.0 dB is the sweet spot. This will take away some of the deadness due to mid-range build up and give the impression of a brighter recording.

    In the future, my advice would be to pull the mics out a notch. 2 feet from the bend at that heigth is just too close (unless you're using no lid at all.) The off-axis response of the 183s gets real dark real fast - this didn't help with the close distance.

    For using the 183s in a case like this, keep your heigth where you had it but bring the mics out another 3 or 4 feet. I think you'll like the sound.

    Agreed, too much distance will get you a lot of reverb, just find the sweet spot on the edge of the reverb field or just in a bit. I bet you'll see that this distance and the distance to get a good line of sight to the high strings is very similar and work well together.

    As for the close omnis - I use this technique from time to time, however, let me stress this for the sake of keeping people from pouncing all over my admission.

    I NEVER use this close of spacing on omni mics when they are used by themselves - only when used as the center array for a larger setup such as two good outrigger omnis with a closely (20 cm or so) spaced pair of omnis. For whatever reason though, I am finding quite often that I am shifting further and further away from this. I think the main reason is that, with so many systems geared for surround sound, a wider spacing simply works better.

  3. ptr

    ptr Active Member

    Not at all...!

    Beeing an Omni guy, I often use the KM 183's big brother the KM 130 or even more often the TLM 50. To my simpletonian ears You're to close; 2 feet - I'm never closer to the piano then 6 feet, often 10 or more depending on the scene when recording solo piano. The further away You have to compensate for hight, adding a nother 3-4 feet.

    And to me, the most I'm portant when using spaced Omni's You have to spread them a bit to get full bloom. Anywhere up to about 2 feet on a grand..

    Sergei Rachmaninov - Prelude in C major op 32:1

    This is from the latest album I have recorded with my standard piano set up : Pair of Neumann TLM 50 (1' 7'' apart / 8' away / 9' up) - the rest of the chain was : cordial cabels troughout / DAV BG1 / Digital Audio Denmark ADDA2402 AD / Lynx L22 card in a PC / Seqouia 7.22 (Recorded at 24/44.1)

    I don't advertise this to "hijack" the thread, but to ilustrate how my sound world sounds like.. :wink:

  4. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Cucco, thanks again for the great info.

    Ptr, thanks a bunch for the Rachmaninoff! That's very much like the tone I want to achieve in the future. How was the hall? Any processing? What piano?
  5. HansAm

    HansAm Active Member

    yeah. Same as ptr on the distance part. And i get the feeling you have something in the 200-300Hz specter, probably cause of the close mic-up.

    And seriously. i need to get me a english dictionary so i can express my self :D
  6. ptr

    ptr Active Member

    The hall is the small recital hall, "almost teater" of the local concert hall, it seats about 400, the acoustics are not very welcomming, the 1930's upholstry swallows much of the sound making the natural reverbation time very short -- its almost like a studio, but the volume beeing quite large gives it some forgiving qualities.

    There's a small amount of Sequoia Room Simulation, its from the piano menu, but I dont have the exact parameters in my head.. Its mostly there to hide some of the exessive pedal work (Not my decision, but the producer's..)

    Its a Hamburg Steinway D ca. 1995

  7. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    As I said on the last thread, I'm really busy and my studio is in shambles right now so I haven't listened to this recording.

    I use spaced omnis on solo piano all the time (usually my 4006's). I love the sound they give me. My usual starting point is this:

    I have them a touch higher than the lid at its highest point. I use 2 stands and space them roughly 3-4 feet. The left mic is used to balance the highs and the right the lows. I find that I usually need an extra dB or so on the left to make it sound like it is ballanced across the spectrum. I also usually start at about 4-6 feet out from the instrument.

    I adjust angle of the mic (I start at parallel to the ground) to work with the articulation of the instrument and sometimes I raise or lower the pair a few inches or more...

    I'd upload some samples if I had a moment and we could upload samples here... We'll see in the next few days what I can do...

  8. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

  9. Costy

    Costy Guest

    Can't agree with you more, David. Apparently the things change:
    a few months ago on my questions about solo piano recording
    here I got ORTF flying at me. Actually, in recent Recording mag
    they even give as an example of close (!) ORTF micing.

    In a couple of piano recordings I made (not much) I didn't use
    the omnis for the room really sucked. But the instrument was
    good. For one recording I used two cardiods (KSM27) in geometry
    Ben described above, only a bit below the lead (full stick). For
    another I used additional a pensil condencer (AT) pointed (and
    parallel) to the hammers to add more "details", blended it in the

  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Well now, bear in mind, ORTF for piano using traditional cardioids CAN be quite effective. That being said, it's not my placement of choice. However, ORTF using only 2 omnis with no outriggers is a recipe for a dull and lifeless mix...
  11. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    And that's exactly what I was talking about.

    Jeremy, where do you think good sarting places for outriggers would be in the hall I showed you? I don';t know if I can get away with putting them in the audience, at least not for concerts.
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hmmm - not being able to work with them on the floor presents a problem - not an insurmountable one though.

    There's a few choices -

    1. You could fly them in. Provided you have access to the catwalks and enough cable, this is probably the best option.

    2. You could bring them out off of your box seats above the stage. This takes a little effort and ingenuity. Bogen makes a product called the superclamp which would allow you to mount a boom onto the railing of your box seats. Don't put too much weight on it though - with no counterbalance, you shouldn't get too far out or more than 4 or 5 pounds or you'll injur audience members (and worse, your microphones...)


    Argghhh - I just typed quite a bit more than what you see here, but I put an emoticon in and it deleted almost everything!!!! :evil:

    I guess the short version is -

    3. Make the stage smaller (it's too big for a soloist or chamber ensemble).
    4. Try to record with no audience present.
    5. Maybe try using the outriggers on stage - with the stage as large as it is, this might be a viable (though less attractive) alternative.

  13. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Jeremy, can you talk a bit about the theory behind using outrigger mics? What exaclty is the goal? Is it to capture two drastically different pictures of the hall ambience? Does this help with the imaging and depth? Can these be used to the extreme left and right of the performers? Thanks.
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    You know, that's a grand question.

    First, it should be stated that recording with 2 omnis in AB can be one of the more challenging methods to record. Too close and you get an image collapse. Too far and you can get a hole in the middle or a wash of reverb.

    So, outriggers give you the ability to capture the full width of an orchestra with the appropriate sound stage and then pull the middle of the image in or out as much as necessary.

    As for using a stereo center array (spaced AB), if you get a good balance of direct/indirect, stereo image, etc then outriggers are there simply to add a little bit of the soundstage depth and width that comes from multi mics.

    Many musicians here are not fans of recording large orchestras simply because they don't believe a realistic picture can be presented. I tend to disagree. I think with an appropriately placed array of mics and the properly installed and calibrated sound system, you can certainly present a VERY accurate picture. However, I feel it's too much of a burden on one pair of centrally placed mics to pick up the entire breadth of a 120 piece Mahler orchestra.

    Does this kind of answer the question? I might have just rambled on about my personal feelings rather than anything factual.

  15. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Kinda. My question are more from a solo/small ensemble point of view, as that is what I will primarily be recording. The whole process of classical recording is very new to me. I am used to creating sounds, not documenting them and i'm just trying to get a better understanding of the theory and techniques behind classical recording.

    From what you say, it seems as though there are no real rules about placiong outriggers and that you can simply throw them up in any old distant place. This can't be right. My goal is to better understand the theory behind their use so that I can have some kind of working knowledge within which to experiment.
  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Well, you certainly can't just chuck them up somewhere and hope it will work. As with everything in recording classical, precision is key.

    For large orchestral recording, I place my outriggers on the same distance plane as my main pair and equidistant from the center of the main array. This reduces potential phasing issues. (Which aren't as severe as close mic'ing, but problematic nonetheless.)

    In small ensemble recording or solo/chamber type stuff, outriggers are often unnecessary as width is not as significant as it is in full on orchestral stuff. Rather, you might want some hall spot mics which fill out the sound and add a pleasing reverb. They can also lend some cohesiveness to the sound - much like placing a small reverb on a final rock mix helps put all instruments in the same "room."

    As for placement of these highlight mics, I like to find a good place in the hall where you get a blend of direct vs. reflected sound. Bear in mind, you may have to tweak your final placement based on what you hear while monitoring. This is mainly due to the fact that, unless you are 12 feet tall or so, the sound is actually different at that altitude than on the ground level. It does give you a place from which to start though.

  17. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I generally don't use outriggers for small ensembles. I don't like what it does to the image. For orchestras, I'll start with them at about the second row of strings (usually 6-8 feet either side of the mains) and in the same plane as the main mics.

    On occasion, the outriggers will be up for chamber groups and depending on the room, the start place will be similar, but I keep them at a pretty low level. I get 80%-90% of my sound from the main pair and just use the flanking mics to open the sound a touch. My main is usually a blumlein pair or some variant of it so I don't need much.


Share This Page