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Cardioid ribbons in ORTF?

I'm wondering if anyone has had success with using cardioid pattern ribbon microphones as a main pair for choir and what mics they were.

The thing is I've found my R88 impractical for a certain tight space (choir loft) in which I've been recording recently. I was duly warned about getting a blumlein ribbon mic as a 'desert island' mic and, sadly, I ignored the nay-sayers who had my best interests at heart. I do indeed love the R88, but it is no good for this space. I'm thinking an ORTF arrangement would be perfect, and have had partial success with the RODE NT5 in the past, but the sound of that pair is too toppy and lacking in bottom end for my taste.

I've got an AEA The Ribbon Pre, so I have been wondering how a ribbon pair in ortf might sound on choir. Has anyone here gone in that direction?


Duckman Wed, 12/27/2006 - 01:10

Hi Dave... no, I didn't know that was possible. However, the arc of the singers around the mic is not much less than 180 degrees in this loft. There's not a lot of room up there! Would that be too much for MS blumlein?

We did try blumlein with singers on either side of the mic, which worked, but was just too distracting and unusual for these singers in a liturgical and devotional context. So I'm looking for another way for this particular space.


mdemeyer Thu, 12/28/2006 - 15:35

If the arc of your singers is 'not much less than 180 degrees', than ORTF is not going to be a good choice either, as the recording angle of that setup is only around +/- 48 degrees (from memory, but I think that's right).

It's worth trying your R88 as David suggests, since you have it.

If you are trying with your NT5's, try 17 cm spacing (like ORTF) but with a 60 degree angle between the mics (not 110 as in ORTF). This will give you around +/- 75 degrees (again from memory) recording angle, and the majority of your singers will be more on-axis of your NT5's, which might sound smoother. I would also try them XY at 90 degrees (if you have not already), which does very well with a wide arc setup and is still time aligned.


RemyRAD Mon, 01/01/2007 - 18:00

I absolutely love and use my M160/130 for Middle Side recordings. The little Beyer's HyperCardioid and very tight figure of 8 130 sister. Beautiful bandwidth limitations that make everybody feel warm and fuzzy inside when they hear it. They actually also help to eliminate HVAC systems in comparison to a condenser microphone. They are small, dark and inconspicuous and I've never had any complaints from any symphony or opera company, theater troupe etc..

So stop trying to figure out why everything sounds goofy. The gyrations you are going through with microphone selection and placement is easily remedied by a single 160/130 MS stereo pair. The recording will have all the greatness of Sound that will be similar to vintage recordings going back many years. I have often spoken to enough music people that do not necessarily care for the lack of "body, and roundness" with the "middle sucked out sounding, with a hole", with a small amount of dynamics limiting.

If you try to make your music sound as sharp as you like it to be, the sound of sawing People's vocal cords out while they are trying to sing in a high note may only reveal a fringe following? Now that might not make much sense to you? As it does to me? I'm just trying to say? Whatever it was I was trying to say.



RemyRAD Tue, 01/02/2007 - 10:23

I'm referring to the use of the Beyer M. 160/130 HyperCardioid/figure of 8 combination for MS recording. There is just no reason to poo poo those microphones unless your understanding of them and the preamplifier choice you make is in congruent with good sound??

Those are simply marvelous low-profile, high quality, classic sounding, ribbon microphones, having been expertly and currently manufactured in West Germany since the 1950s. You seem to be going through numerous gyrations to make a good recording with a couple of ribbon microphones? What kind of problem are you having, that can't be recorded beautifully with the 160/130 combination?? If you can't make a good recording with those, you can't make a good recording.

Sensible engineering at its best
Ms. Remy Ann David

Cucco Wed, 01/03/2007 - 20:37

I'm with Remy - I love the M130/M160 combo. I've picked up quite a few of them lately and find myself using them in various combinations (M/S and Blumlein). They really do sound quite nice. Low frequency isn't as tight as with my Schoeps or Gefells nor is the high end as extended, but the sound is smooth, warm and lovely. If I need a little more "bright" I can easily add it with a little gentle EQ and it takes it beautifully.

What I like about them in comparison to other ribbons is that they are nowhere NEAR as picky about the pres. They usually go into Millennias here, but I don't have issues interfacing with my old Mackie 1202 either.


Duckman Thu, 01/04/2007 - 02:37

Thanks everyone...

So MS is perhaps the most workable technique (with ribbons) where the arc of singers is almost 180 degrees. Should MS blumlein not work with what I've got, Beyer seems a great option.

I've only heard good things about the M160... I'm guessing I could save money by pairing an M160 with one of the R88's capsules for the Side mic, running he lot through the TRP....

Do any Aussies know of an Australian distributor for Beyerdynamic... I haven't found much on the net.

On the other hand, is there anything terribly unorthodox about pairing a condenser M with a ribbon S?

Cheers and happy new year!

BTW, I vote Remy for quote of the year so far...
***I have often spoken to enough music people that do not necessarily care for the lack of "body, and roundness" with the "middle sucked out sounding, with a hole", with a small amount of dynamics limiting. ***

Simmosonic Thu, 01/04/2007 - 04:34

Duckman wrote: I was duly warned about getting a blumlein ribbon mic as a 'desert island' mic and, sadly, I ignored the nay-sayers who had my best interests at heart.

Yo Ducky! Simmosonic here, naysaying again...

If your singers are in a 180 degree arc, then the most appropriate 'off the shelf' stereo technique is a pair of coincident cardioids at 90 degrees. That stereo technique is often criticised for its boring stereo imaging and so on, and I'm one of those who criticise it. But the reason it is boring is because it requires a 180 degree sound stage to create an 'exciting' image that extends from hard left to hard right. In most stereo recording situations the sound stage is considerably smaller than 180 degrees, and so the stereo image is all clustered around the centre - no wonder it's boring! But when you've got a 180 degree sound stage, no problem.

Alternatively, you could try a near-coincident technique, but you'd have to make one based on the microphones you want to use and the sound stage. You'd need to refer to Stereophonic Zoom to work it out...

In retrospect, I think you got off on the wrong foot from the very beginning by putting the choice of microphone design ahead of the *actual* stereo situation you were going to be recording in.

If you insist on using ribbons, you can get a pair of Beyer cardioid ribbons. Otherwise, why not see if you borrow a Rode NT4 and try the XY cardiod technique out? If it works for you but you want something better, a matched pair of DPA 4023s and the corrresponding ORTF/XY bracket would serve you well for all of your choral recordings, and it's very fast and easy to set up.

Can you say "nay"?

mdemeyer Thu, 01/04/2007 - 21:56

Agree completely with Greg (please re-read my much earlier post in this thread). Since I seem to remember you have a pair of NT5's, no need to get an NT4, just set them up 90-degree XY or the 17 cm 60-degree setup I recommended. Both will work well with the wide spacing of your artists.

Nothing wrong with trying MS with the R88 since you already have the mic - it's all about experimenting and learning. And despite the fact that I also share other's enthusiasm for the M160/M130 combo (which I use regularly and think is a killer deal), I don't think that particular MS pairing is a good choice for your setup. If you want to run MS for a wide setup, use a wide-cardioid or omni in the M position. (The Beyer is a hypercardioid, exactly the wrong directionality for this.) On the M, go w-i-d-e young man...


Simmosonic Thu, 01/04/2007 - 22:18

mdemeyer wrote: Since I seem to remember you have a pair of NT5's, no need to get an NT4, just set them up 90-degree XY or the 17 cm 60-degree setup I recommended.

Right! Duckman, if you have a pair of NT5s then by all means try them as Michael has suggested. (Sorry Michael, I didn't realise that you had already recommended a near-coincident positioning for this situation - cool).

Simmosonic Wed, 01/10/2007 - 01:54

Getting back to your original question regarding cardioid ribbons in ORTF, for the sake of the exercise...

Take a look at the polar response for the M160 on Beyer's data sheet, which can be downloaded as a pdf here:[showUid][showUID]=10&tx_sbproductdatabase_pi1[showUid][backPID]=42&cHash=3a176923df

If a pair of these were used in ORTF with a 110 degree angle between them, sounds in the centre of the sound stage will arrive at 55 degrees off axis to each microphone. At this angle we can see that the response remains reasonably tight up to 4k (give or take a dB or so), but will be about 5dB brighter at 8kHz than sounds arriving on-axis - which may or may not suit your purposes. Sounds arriving from the left of the sound stage into the rear of the right microphone, and vice versa, will be considerably more coloured, however.

I don't think this would be a good choice for ORTF. Having said that, because it is a hypercardioid it probably should have a different angle than cardioids given the same sound stage and environment. Check out Stereophonic Zoom and re-calculate...

Cucco Wed, 01/10/2007 - 05:49

I know it's not quite the same thing, but on a recent choral engagement, I was forced to keep all of my mics hidden (flown above stage or only at stage lip level.)

There was a LOT of stuff going on at the front of the stage (hand percussion, oboe, acoustic guitar, handbells, etc.) and I didn't want to trust it all to the flown mics.

So, I put up a pair of Beyer M130s in an ortf pattern and used a sheet of 1'x1' auralex behind them (to block the rear lobes since there was other stuff going on in the pit) and I got quite a usable sound. I'd hesitate in all other instances to use this as a main pair of mics, but it certainly worked in this instance. The soundstage width and depth was more than acceptable. However, I would again advise - this would not work in all situations. For overheads with ribbons, blumlein or MS is still the reigning king.


PS -I think I have some pics of the arrangement. If I can find them, I'll post them.



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