What Else with ORTF

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Midlandmorgan, Feb 18, 2005.

  1. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Found a great bar to set up ORTF, but was wondering what else you would think about for an orchestra recording....M/S between the two? Highly directional SDC aimed at the conductor? Maybe a couple of dancing girls? (just kidding....kinda)

    Testing in my smallish tracking area also clearly showed how recorded motions seem to move within the stereo field....but since ears seem to detect sounds from the other side of the head, what recommended pan settings would you start with?

  2. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member


    Sort of difficult question to answer. It very much depends on how much you already know, what mics you are using, what you are recording, where you are recording and what kind of result you are aiming for. And as I´m only a beginner myself, I´m not sure I could really answer the questions anyway.

    I guess, just maybe you should take a look at some online tutorials. One place to read is at the DPA microphone university. I do not agree with everything written there, but then I would probably not agree with all I write myself either.

    ORTF is my current favourite setup. It has the added benefit (some would say differently) that it can sound better in headphones than over speakers. Pan the channels hard left and hard right.

  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    ORTF is my favorite pattern using directional microphones, and I'll even use spaced omnis in ortf. However, I would urge against panning hard left and hard right. You can do this, but I've found many times that doing this creates an unnaturally wide soundstage and often can leave you feeling as though there is something missing in the middle.

    Remember, by panning hard in either direction, you are telling the DAW/Mixer that the left microphone only hears the stuff left of the conductor and vice-versa for right. Since it is a blend, you should consider a softer pan.

    In Sequoia, I find myself using a -40 ~ -45 dB panning for left and 40 ~ 45 for right. This way, a little information from each channel is present in both signals. In Cubase SX2 or Nuendo, I found on their scale of 0-100, that I would pan between 70-85 in either direction.

    Just some thoughts,

  4. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I'm going to be different here... HA! :?

    I'm not very fond of ORTF. I use it when I have to (like Monday, I'll be doing some stuff where I need directional mics and they will be ORTF), but generally, I like use a coincident pair as my main pair. Usually means a blumlein pair, but sometimes X-Y, or M-S... When i do orchestras, I will always place that pair in the center in front of the orchestra and have a pair of omni outriggers/flanks usually positioned about 2nd-3rd row of strings (say 8 feet on either side of the main pair). All of my mics are panned hard left, center or right about 95% of the time. On occasion, I'll spread woodwind spots a touch (say 11:00 and 1:00- no further).

    The width and image is contained only with microphone positioning... Wide mics make a wide image, close mics give me the center I need to the sound.


    PS- The dancing girls are always a good idea, but in case they get in the way of the orchestra, they can stay back in the control room with me. :wink:
  5. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    A few of these comments are a bit confusing, beginning with "spaced omnis in ortf"-- what does that look like? ORTF implies a specific angle (110 degrees) and distance between capsules (17cm).

    As for not panning hard L & R-- if you do not like the spread try NOS, By folding in the ORTF you will not get the entire phase picture, especially in a fairly reverberant acoustic. Unless you are in an anechoic chamber the left mic will be "hearing" quite a bit of what the right mic does, which argues for something with as little off-axis coloration as possible.

    As for something missing in the middle-- that will happen with hypercardioids, but should not happen with a good cardioid, and even less so with subcardioid.

    I find the only time I want to fold in a main pair is with Blumlein, but will usually put a bit of Altiverb that was bounced with hard L & R along with it to keep the sensation of spaciousness.

  6. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    ORTF is only defined as using cardioids.

    I am with Ben on ORTF, I am not happy with its nonlinear inaccurate distribution of source location. Its OK for a trio or something that has sources only at LCR, but I use it if I have to, like if I have to use cardioids for a stereo pair.

    I much prefer MS, as even though the source location is roughly the same it has the advantages of post processing to get the image better or correct, and has no phasey problems.

    If I want phasey problems, I'd much rather get them with a pair of omnis. ;)
  7. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I'll explain my use of ORTF for my session on monday as it is one of the few things that I think will work...

    I have a large choral session. The choir will be sitting in the part of the church that the congregation sits (in the pews) because of its size (roughly 150 people). The "altar" area in front has a reasonable amount of space, but still not enough for instruments and a chorus. The Choir will be mic'd with a Royer SF-24 with B&K 4006's on the flanks. I will also have a large brass, percussion, harp, piano and organ involved- they will have to be on the altar to fit them in... To make it all work, they will be facing each other. I'd usually have a blumlein pair with wides for that, but the rear lobes of each blumlein pair will conflict with each other. If I have one on the choir, I absolutely cannot have one on the brass as well.

    Hence the ORTF pair- I'll have an ORTF pair of MKH40's and TLM170s in omni on the flanks for the brass in the sesion... That way, I can reverse the relative position of the brass group and I'll have a recording where the image actually works....

    This is the rare instance where I'm not using all single point stereo mics as my main pickup... I think in this case, it is what will work the best...

  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    By spaced pair omni in ORTF - I simply mean that I use omnis in ORTF as my center section of mics. Again, I don't pan them hard left and right. Even using the MK4 and the MK21s with ORTF, I have found a lack of center definition by panning hard left and right.

    Allowing only a few dB of bleed between channels seems to fix this right up. That being said, I rarely use this practice, simply b/c I usually use outriggers as well. In the rare instance that I record an ensemble with only 2 mics, I will use the MK21s in ORTF and get a pretty decent stereo sound.

    I've tried NOS, but I don't find it to be any more inticing than ORTF. Of course, I'll use XY just as quickly for a center array if the situation calls for it. However, since I usually use omnis for the center array as well as the outriggers, the phase issues with omnis in ORTF are quite manageable and a stereo image is easy to maintain.

    In the truest sense, you are right. The definition of ORTF is with cardioids, but try it with a pair of omnis once and you'll see that it works acceptably well too. Better than just a spaced pair of omnis at say 20cm.

  9. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    Quoting from your link:

    "This system got empirical an axle angle of ? = ± 55° = 110° and a microphone distance (microphone basis) of a = 17 cm.
    Here are frequency-independent level differences effective and time of arrival differences working together in the same direction as interchannel signals (loudspeaker signals). The engineers did not want to think of a human ear distance, because an useful microphone system for a set of stereo loudspeakers should be developed."

    If you Google ORTF pair the relevant hits all assume that angle and spacing, not to mention the Schoeps system, et al.

    It is also interesting that many hits mentioned human ear spacing since the ORTF site specifically debunks that.

  10. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Yes, the human ear distance etc is complete silliness and displays a misunderstanding of the point of stereo miking. It has nothing to do with hearing. At least the Wiki article identified correctly that the two channels are loudspeaker source signals.

    It would also help if all the definitions said, "capsule distance" is 17cm not the ambiguous "microphone distance".

    Jeremy, yes I use ORTF with KM184's more than I indicate, but I like omnis as spaced pairs best of all. For example I would never use ORTF over spaced omnis for a choir or orchestra. I only use them if I only have cardioids and I have a small sound source like chamber group, solo instrument, etc.
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    If you noticed, I said I pretty much always use them as the center array. Very rarely, if ever do I use them alone. The only time in recent history that I can recall that I used them alone was for a string quartet.

    Since I pan the center array lightly, the ORTF omni set-up works well. If I were to try to fold the mix (middle array mix that is) into a mono signal, panned dead-center, I would use cardioids in XY. But since I don't, the ORTF set-up better compliments the use of the omnis in flanking position.

  12. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Yesterday I got a call to record a quartet of singers, and without time to prepare, and awaiting the arrival of more equipment, I used a pair of Rode NT5s in an ORTF-like setup. I didn't really have time to make the angles or spacing exact, but I was very surprised by how well they worked. NT5s can, in my opinion at least, sound a little 'hard', but they happened to work really well with these singers. One interesting thing was that the right mic started moving further away from the other as the conert progressed! Surprisingly it didn't cause any problems until the applause at the end, which sounds like the audience was on one side! Anyway, the results were a pleasant surprise, considering I only arrived at the venue with enough time to throw the mics up and turn on the computer.

  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I may just be a freak (okay, no questioning that), but I've had a series of nightmares lately about things like that. I only have 10 minutes to set up, or 2 minutes before the downbeat, the director makes me change where the mics are and where I set up.

    Hell, last night's nightmare was the wierdest yet.

    I kid you not, I dreamt that my recording medium was Coca-cola and I was running out.

    I have seriously got to stop smoking what ever the hell is causing this!!!!
  14. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Hehehe.....too much caffeine Jeremy? (Perhaps literally?) I've heard that SOMEDAY we'll be recording data onto crystal of some sort, but I think Coca-cola is pushing it. :p

    I have a list of cold-sweat nightmare dreams that crop up from time to time, usually when i'm stressed. One of them is that I'm still back in college, way overdue to take a final or something, and I can't even find the room, let alone be ready for the test.

    But I've had dreams about being late for gigs, or missing vital gear, or having impossible odds to overcome to make it all work. (Ever dream about having to set up lots of mic stands on a grassy HILLSIDE? Not sure what THAT one means! Hahahah)

    A recent dream involved being VERY VERY late and unprepared to do a big outdoor choral event, and had a long, winding path between the board and the stage. As the seconds were ticking away, it became clear we weren't going to get the gear up and running, and even worse, there was a second stage, about 2000 feet away, and of course I had no snake.....talk about weird. Oh, and back at the console was something we'd never seen before - it was a cube-shaped device with XLR connectors going in and out of it, but no markings, and no clear way to make it work. (How's THAT for symbolic? Hahaha)

    I think my worst dreams are just precautionary, perhaps advance-warning messages I send to myself to remember things beforehand.

    Either that or I'm just NUTS. :roll:

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