Stereo Live Jazz recording - MS or XY?

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by jazzmujician, Jun 2, 2006.

  1. jazzmujician

    jazzmujician Guest

    Hi folks, sorry for the long post - I'm seeking some specific advice from more experienced engineers which I haven't been able to find so far in these forums.

    I am a musician who currently does a lot of home recording and mixing but am looking to get into location recording of small group jazz gigs (mainly in clubs).

    I will be using a MOTU 896HD into a powerbook, and for budget and practical reasons want to focus on stereo micing (possibly with 1 or 2 spot mics if absolutely necessary).

    I have on trial a DAV BG1 preamp (which i think rocks IMHO and will almost def buy - way nicer than the MOTU's) and a Josephson C42 match pair. I also own a Coles 4038 (I am a trumpeter!) and a Sure KSM27 (an early purchase).

    Essentially I am trying to decide on whether to record in XY with the Josephsons or in M-S with 1 Josephson (or the KSM possibly) and the Coles.
    Given that I have 2 gigs to record in the short time I have the Josephsons on loan I guess I could try both, but am seeking advice..I have already done some trials with just my horn and like the flexibility of the M-S technique but..

    1. Will it be strange to use 2 such different sounding mics as the Coles and a Josephson C42 in M-S on a whole group?

    2. Does using a matched pair like the Josephsons in XY sound like a better idea for the situation- or does the warmth and bottom end of the Coles contrast well?

    I know I need to decide myself, but wondered if y'all had any suggestions? thanks in advance!
     
  2. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Personally, I like matched tonalities for stereo mic techniques... The 2 C42's should get a pretty decent sound. The Coles is indeed a great brass mic (especially for trumpet when the sound can get really raspy and bright) and the KSM27 is actually a pretty darned good piano mic.

    Ultimately, I'd branch into multimic setups for jazz recording- even if small (ie 1 mic per performer including drums- yes 1 mic on the drums).

    I also like mid side, but I rarely (if ever) use it as a sole pickup. I find that the out of phase side information can just cause too many problems if you aren't careful or have a less-than-perfect acoustic. I use M-S for a single point drum sound, or supported by flanks in a 3 point array for classical work.

    --Ben
     
  3. jazzmujician

    jazzmujician Guest

    Ben - thanks for your reply.

    I have heard conflicting things re minimal multimic versus stereo pair jazz recordings.

    I've mixed some multimic recordings that don't seem to have any "overall live sound" and in fact sound slightly unreal in a pop music way, and some simple DAT stereo recordings that sound great.

    What do you think about moving the focus of the stereo pair to better accommodate the quiet instruments (piano/bass) if need be?

    I'm still curious about this idea of using the Coles and the KSM in MS (especially if it saves me spending money on Josephsons though they seem great!). I love the "ribbon sound" and wonder if it might stop the cymbals/brass etc sound less harsh in less than ideal acoustics. I also found decoding it very simple with Digital Performer's plugin(s).

    Also - don't you find MS gives you more options in less ideal acoustics as you can vary the width easily?

    Alex
     
  4. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Hi Alex.

    I am just an amateur chiming in hear. I sometimes use MS as well, and it can give good results. When the acoustics allows it though I very much preferr an AB pair of omni mics.

    If you are going to use the two Josephons though I would recommend a different setup from XY. In my ears XY is good for micing small things closeup. For micing a jazz group I would instead turn to a setup called ORTF as a starting point. It is my "hit-and-miss" setup as it generally gives a good result even when I am in a hurry and when in less than ideal rooms. The setup specifies two cardioid mics with an angle of 110 degrees and a distance of 17 cm between the capsules. (ORTF is the french radio if I remember right, hence the cm).

    In order to get this setup with typical microphones you need a stereo bar and a distance for one of the mics as the cable ends otherwise ends up in each others way.

    Gunnar
     
  5. jazzmujician

    jazzmujician Guest

    Gunnar

    Thanks for your reply. I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that you use ORTF with your omnis. I have heard great results with that kind of setup, but I'm worried about losing the centre with my cardiod Josephsons.

    I think I'll give the gig on Monday a go with XY Josephsons and see what happens!

    Alex
     
  6. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Alex, I think you would do well to get some books on various stereo microphone techniques... One such good one is The New Stereo Soundbook. It is available from AEA: http://www.stereosoundbook.com/

    ORTF certainly does not loose the center and it does not use omni microphones. As Gunnar said, ORTF by definition is two cardiods at 110 degrees spaced 17 cm. Two omnis spaced that close would end up being more of a mono sound with mid and low frequency phase issues.

    For years, I did stereo pair jazz recording (as that is all I had). I would move the players for the image needed and based on the sound levels the instrument would create. For example, the bass would be center and closer to the mics, the main solo instrument would be center and pretty close, but the drums would be off to the side and placed further back.

    I have done recordings with minimal setups that have also turned out well- one such example is a recording of a clarinetist that has posted here on occasion (UncleRuss). His was done with 4 mics on 4 players (go to link removed to hear some samples).

    Anyways, to answer a few of your other questions- I probably wouldn't move the main pair as that will affect the image of everything else. If you have spots, I'd use those to help the couple of quieter instruments.

    M-S and the ability to vary the width is a double edged sword. I find that if acoustics are bad that making a recording more mono won't necessarily help. I'd rather get a stereo recording where I'm not having to worry about phase issues than a mono-ish stereo recording where there may be phase issues. It really is more of a band-aid on a problem than a true fix.

    --Ben
     
  7. jazzmujician

    jazzmujician Guest

    Hey Ben

    Thanks again for replying.

    The Russ Reinberg stuff you did sounds great man! Beautiful clarity with only 4 mics?! Thats jazz....What mics did you use?

    I've been trying to research stereo techniques on the web, and yes I am new to this. I had a read of this page: http://www.transom.org/tools/recording_interviewing/200106.stereomicrophones.jtowne.html
    that suggests one could use omnis as well as cardiods for ORTF. A mate of mine has done some convincing sounding recordings with those cheap Behringer omnis like that, spaced a bit further than 17cm, but I havent listened close enough to detect any phasing.

    I will endeavour to check out that book.

    So you've swayed me, I'll try ORTF on the gig with the C42s and stereo bar. (Actually Monday is an African drum and marimba group - Friday is a jazz quartet and I'll prob use my KSM27 and maybe Coles-though its so fragile!- as spots). Maybe I'll post some results if I feel brave!

    Thanks again

    Alex
     
  8. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Coles aren't that fragile... Well, they are, but aren't. Don't blow into them. Don't use them as a kick drum mic, don't drop them or hit them with phantom, but a trumpet at 12 inches at full blast will be fine.

    That page has a bit of mis-information and stuff that isn't explained completely. What they don't say about M-S is that the positive side of the figure 8 has to be on the left for the matrix to work properly. Also, two spaced omnis are an A-B pair. ORTF is a specification by French Radio and they are very precise. That same pair spaced a bit closer and at 90 degrees (forgive me, I don't remember the exact number right off the top of my head), is NOS which is the Netherlands Radio standard. In the end, all of these are variations on the same theme- near coincident mic techniques.

    If you want some good reading on the basics online, go to the DPA microphone website (http://www.dpamicrophones.com) and go to the "Microphone University" section.

    Oh, and as for Russ's recording, it was 2 KM184's and 2 KSM44's. The 44's were on the guitar and clarinet, the 184's on the bass and drums. The Bass and clarinet went through a Grace Lunatec digitally into a Digi001 and the other 2 mics went into the 001's preamps. That recording was about using what we and and maximizing the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses. I then edited and mixed in Sequoia using a bit of Oxford EQ and a couple other things, but in the end, very little verb, EQ or compression.

    --Ben
     
  9. jazzmujician

    jazzmujician Guest

    Hi again Ben/everyone -

    After reading the stuff on the DPA site I went for ORTF last week. I don't think I got it quite right on the African gig (sounds crappy in mono - I didn't get the angles right). The jazz gig I put the pair a bit too close to the piano and the sax sounds too distant. You live and learn - I had about 5 mins to soundcheck!

    Anyway, there are some samples to listen to if you feel inclined, I'd appreciate any ideas and comments.

    I've put up contrasting samples of both gigs and also some of mates recordings with 2 Behringer ECM 8000s.

    ;)
    ;)

    I've realized how much you are at the mercy of acoustics in stereo pair recording! The jazz venue has terrible hard surfaces everywhere which you can really here on the louder clip. Like wise the african venue - but it sounds a bit nicer to my ears - and was fuller!

    Overall, I think the Josephsons and DAV are a nice sounding combination.
    Quite bright but not too harsh - maybe a bit too much for jazz ride cymbal. The drummer is quite minimal on this compared to some I know. I added a little eq bass boost on the masters of these, but no eq or comp on the samples here. I'd really like to hear that stereo Royer with the Dav now.

    I'm sure as I learn more about positioning and maybe use some spots I could get some great results. It's interesting to hear the Behringer omins though too, even if the positioning was not great. Big price difference thats for sure...Let me know what you think!

    Alex
     
  10. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    hey ben!

    i just found this forum.

    that Russ Reinberg recording of yours motivated me to join this place immediately and this is my first post...

    SUPERB!

    i'm of getting into this minimalist (sort of) scene after being rather frustrated with the music i'm recording these days... i'm currently more interested in capturing performances than some extravagant production....

    i've been wondering if i need EAR preamps and brauner mics and EMM labs converters to get good recordings... you have done it with a damn digi 00x and some relatively low rent mics... kudos!

    that recording is tremendously inspiring, as a consequence of which i have a lot of (re)thinking to do.

    and hey... point us in the direction of some of your other recordings please...

    gratitude and respect,

    rfreez.
     
  11. jazzmujician

    jazzmujician Guest

    rfreez -

    I agree wholeheartedly!

    Alex
     
  12. uncruss

    uncruss Guest

    I have been a member of this group for quite some time and, while I generally prefer to read than contribute, I really must set the record straight about that Russ Reinberg album. Ben Maas takes all the credit but I actually did all the work ... with the exception of playing guitar, bass, drum, positioning the mics, editing, mixing, and mastering.

    What is more, I inadvertently became a friend to that talented rascal, Ben, who subsequently inspired me to upgrade the Digi 001 with a Lynx Two A/D board, augment the Lunatec with an RME Quadmic (although, in retrospect, I should have popped for better mic preamps), and substitute Samplitude Professional for ProTools LE. I also now have a pair of Schoeps CMC64 cardioids to use in place of the Neumann 184s whenever possible. The results are noticeably better.

    I still suffer from a minimalist recording philosophy. But that seems to fit with the minimal number of Southern California jazz musicians willing to invest time in my recording studio. I should have believed my teacher when he told me clarinet was an obsolete instrument. But I'm an obsolete musician so what the heck? -- "Uncle Russ" Reinberg
     
  13. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Geez... sorry for hogging the limelight. (y) Wouldn't have been possible to get a good album without good playing. In the end, I just tried to stay out of the way.

    While it is important to have good gear, you don't always have to have the absolute best to get a good result. Good ears and a good concept on what it is that you are trying for will get you a heck of a lot more mileage than the best rig out there. I use some great gear with the work that I do, but some of it is also decidedly "prosumer." Going into every gig, though, I know exactly what I'm trying to get out of it. In the end, that is why my clients come back.

    --Ben
     

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