It's been a unusually diverse month. In the past few weeks I've provided PA for a good up-and-coming Christian pop/rock band from down NC way, a rapper, a motivational speaker, and a classic rock band. In addition to remote recordings for a blues/rock band, we had another first of recording Broadway style vocal numbers (solos and duets) with piano accompaniment. Each of those obviously has their own challenges and expectations, and given a little time to prepare/plan I feel pretty comfortable diving into just about anything - even the things outside my rock/blues comfort zone. This past weekend I had the opportunity to record an 18-pc Jazz band (with just a few days notice). I've recorded small and large choirs before with very nice results, so I wasn't worried about faithfully capturing the experience. It was in a university auditorium I'm very familiar with, and the room acoustics are very nice. I feel like the tracking went very nicely, now I could use some advice on the best mixing methods. The band consisted of (from left to right from the FOH perspective) Piano / Drums / Bass Guitar / 14-pc horn section on risers [5 trumpets / 4 trombones / 5 saxes+ ]. The conductor played saxamaphone on the finale - for those of you counting to 18. *photo available if that's unclear* Mics Used: For the primary pair, I used two AKG C414s in a Blumlein array - but centered it to the horn section, not the stage. The conductor was also centered with the horn section rather than the stage, so the C414s are more or less from his point of view. I also used two AKG C451s to spot the soloists left and right and a Rode NT5 in the middle of the horns to get the trombone soloist. Plus an NT4 for a stereo X/Y room mic to catch crowd response. For individual reinforcement I had an NT1 in the piano, a Sennheiser e906 on the bass amp, an EV N/D868 outside the kick drum, and a C451 for an overhead above the drum kit. The individual mics are being used very sparingly, since the Blumlein hears all, tells all. They set-up so that the ensemble was centered on the stage, which meant having the the piano far left and horns mostly right of center. The Main Questions: My question is, to those of you who do ensemble recordings, what are the expectations regarding the stereo image at mixdown? I guess the follow up would be - is the expectation a finished recording that sounds like you were sitting in the best seat in the house? I'm inclined to place the instruments in the mix left to right, just as I would have heard them sitting 10 rows back in the center of the auditorium - with the piano panned distinctively left of center, but not panned all the way left / and baritone sax bracketing things on the right. I have the C414s panned wide, for a big stereo image, and I'm trying to pan the piano and drums' individual channels where it sounds correct relative to the primary pair. But I do find myself cheating the left/right 451 solo mics a little more toward the center, so it doesn't sound like they're detached from the group (especially the soloists on the right). Even though the drums and bass are responsible for a slight imbalance favoring the left, I'm really liking the mixes and it sounds very natural. I think it's very true to hearing the ensemble play live in the best seat of a pleasantly reverberant 1200 seat auditorium. To me it sounds maybe even a little better than the live show did half-way back the room, just because mic placement removes a little of the room's natural reverb from the equation. The recording is more like a 10th-row seat. Last Question: There is a considerable amount of conversation taking place on-stage between some songs. Do you consider that part of the experience, or clean it up? So far I've judiciously removed a few things that were distracting while the Emcee was introducing songs, and left the things that seem like organic noises and chatter alone. I'm afraid if I clean it up too much it will stick out like a sore-thumb. I was intentionally trying to avoid a dry close-mic'ed sound with mic selection and placement, in favor of getting the energy of the ensemble's performance in the room - so I don't know how much clean-up work I should do between songs. Last, Last Question: In a situation like this where for each song you have a) a brief introduction by the emcee b) the song itself c) recognition of soloists and sections by the emcee - is that how you would index the CD tracks? [song intro, song, recognitions] all as Track #x. I've got some live recordings that the track changes basically on the downbeat of the music and any talk (including the introduction of the next song) is left at the end of the track. [song, recognitions, intro to next song] all as Track #x. To the best of my knowledge, this will not be for sale or broadcast - although I believe it sounds good enough for either. Finale: Then, just to make the recordists job a little more challenging, for the finale - half way through the song during a piano/bass/drums breakdown, the trumpets and trombones stand up and come off the front of the stage and finish the song from the aisles to give the concert-goer a real surround-sound experience. Then the sax players all stand and come out to the apron and begin to wail and it builds to a (deliberately) cacophonous full surround racket before the conductor reins everybody back in for a few monster power chords to tag and drag ending. The crowd is on their feet by this point and making a good bit of noise themselves. The backside of the Blumlein got some of this, and I had to rely on the NT4 room mic for the rest. All in all, not too bad - but I have no idea how a guy would ever do that justice without a 360˚ mic array hanging in the middle somewhere. Fortunately, with the exception of a split on the Emcee's mic, I was completely autonomous from the FOH sound - so I could lean on the room mics without worry of feedback in the room. I'm somewhat out of my element here, so I look forward to input from those of you more experienced in this genre, so I can do this and similar projects (should they come my way) in a way that is standard practice. Always learning, always wanting to do things better.... Thanks!