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Hello all! I will be recording an original composition of mine and I'm lost on how to mic it with what I have...

The performing ensemble will be:

(solo voices)
- Soprano
- Alto
- Tenor
- Bass/ Baritone

- Viola
- Piano (9 foot grand)
- Percussion (mallet- vibraphone, chimes, marimba, bass drum and various unpitched metals)

My gear list is below and I'm not sure what I'm going to use to record as far as software goes (I'm a composer and only know a tad bit about recording), but my main question is about **where** to place the mics to get the best option to mix the performance at my home studio. The performance that I'm recording will be in a performing arts auditorium. I'm not even sure if I have enough mics or the right mics here?

My personal mics that I'll be using are:

- Neumann TLM 103
- AKG C 2000 B
- AKG C 1000 S

Most of my gear is listed below to assist in helping me decide on what to do:

MacPro 2 x 2.66 GHz Dual-Core, 16 Gig RAM, 4 TB HD, OS X 10.6.8, Logic Pro, Avalon 737 Pre/ compressor, MOTU 828 MK II firewire sound card, Mics: Neumann TLM 103, AKG C 2000 B and AKG C 1000. Event 20/20 BAS Monitors.

Any information is much appreciated!



RemyRAD Sun, 12/04/2011 - 16:11

I would say you have a fair nightmare on your hands right now.

The microphones you have are perfectly lovely and will work well on individual sections. What you do not have is a primary stereo pair to include with those. Your primary stereo pair should be a couple of identical condenser microphones such as Rode NT 5/55, AT's, SHURE, SM 81, Neumann KMS184, etc., on a stereo mic mount bar on a single stand or hung. That is your basic stereo recording right there. Your other microphones you will place on/near 1 for the vocalists. 1 for the piano or, Viola. And 1 for the ancillary percussion. Preferably, one would roll all of these independent microphones to independent tracks such as available on a 8 input FireWire style computer audio interface. However, if you intend to go directly to stereo, you would need to include a mixer given only 2 tracks you could write to. And the 828 has that capability built-in.

The MOTU 828 you are using, has only 2 XLR microphone inputs. Those would be used for your primary pair of stereo microphones. Your Avalon certainly sounds lovely on your TLM 103. Unfortunately, you would still be 2 preamps short. But your interface has the ability to both be a mixer & offers 10 simultaneous inputs to go to 10 separate record tracks. And I think someone elses modest 2 channel microphone preamp would be 100% adequate, from Mackie's all the way up to what you currently have with the Avalon, Neve, API, etc.. And you will print all microphones to their individual tracks in your computer. You will be as good as gold that way. And that is what I recommend. I am sure you will hear from others.

Multitrack recording with multi-microphones is awesome. But to make good sounding live stereo recordings, that requires the use of a primary stereo pair. If you do not have that primary stereo pair, you will be making a rock 'n roll recording of classical music. George Massenburg did that to a friend of ours playing baroque harpsichord and the sound sucked. Because she was not a rock 'n roll baroque harpsichord player and he even miked it that way with a stereo pair! So even though George was 25 and I was only 15, my parents were both world-class operatic & orchestral musicians so I knew how things were supposed to sound for that. George knew rock 'n roll, jazz & rock 'n roll. Do not make the same mistake as George did as the harpsichordist was extremely unhappy with what she got from him. She had asked another top ranking studio official (whom I also worked for) who the best engineer was in town and it was George. Perhaps she did not specify what she wanted to record? Her later subsequent recordings were made by me, yup, while I was still a teenager.

You have already got plenty of the good stuff. You just need a couple more items.
Mx. Remy Ann David

Boswell Mon, 12/05/2011 - 06:37

Remy's completely correct when she says the major problem is that you have no stereo pair in your mic collection. What you need it for is to capture the main sound and its location in the stereo field as heard by an audience member. Individual microphones can then be used as required as spot mics to add definition to the instruments and voices. So I think you need to buy/hire/borrow a pair of good small diaphragm condenser (SDC) mics to put on a high stand out front to get your main stereo sound image.

As for what to get (or ask around for), one of the best value mics for this sort of thing is a pair of Rode NT55s, but you could go on to mics like the Neumann KMS184 or the MBHO MBNM 440 and up to pairs of DPAs or Schoeps.

When it comes to choosing which mics to place where as spots, I'm sorry to say I'm not a great fan of the AKG Cx000 series, so I would tend to choose something else for the vocal spot, in this case, your TLM103, probably put through the Avalon pre-amp. That would leave the two AKG mics to cover the piano and the percussion.

You will need a couple more pre-amp channels to cater for the spread of mics. There's quite a lot of dual pre-amps to choose from at the higher-medium end of what's available, and what you go for will, of course, depend on your budget. I suggest you come back to us when you have an idea of what you might have available to spend, and we can make further suggestions.

21st Mon, 12/05/2011 - 17:46

Remy and Boswell,

Thank you so very much for the information and taking the time to give me such a detailed set of instructions! As I said, I know a tiny bit about recording, but this is a venture into new areas of sonic possibilities (and potential EXPENSIVE disasters). It will be recorded this summer, so I have a bit of time to prepare and I will have a little extra cash to spend on another mic as well... maybe about in the $400-$600 range.

I also failed to mention that I have a [=""]Behringer Eurorack MX 2004A[/]="http://www.zzounds…"]Behringer Eurorack MX 2004A[/] outboard mixer that will help out a bit... what do you think (click on the name of mixer for the specs). I can use that for its peramps and run each mic into a channel, individual out into my MOTU into my DAW... not sure if that is a good chain. On the vocals I'll have the Neumann run into the Avalon--> MOTU (to skip the [[url=http://="http://www.zzounds…"]Behringer[/]="http://www.zzounds…"]Behringer[/] to avoid extra, extraneous noise and double amplification (?)).

See, I probably know enough to ruin a recording/mix pretty bad :) That's why I'm here, asking you exceptional individuals!!! I'll buy or borrow the stereo mics and any comments on this post are VERY welcome! All this and I haven't even started the three-movement composition yet. Thank you all again for your time!


TheJackAttack Mon, 12/05/2011 - 20:53

The Eurorack is not your friend here. If you have to use it then fine but if you can avoid it altogether that would be best. To ram home the point my friends Boswell and Remy are making, you need a stereo pair of decent microphones to do this job. All the spot microphones in the world won't help you if you do not have the main pair. You cannot just add a random mic to what you have to get that pair either. The C1000 and C2000 are NOT suitable for your task. Your best bet is a pair of NT5's in ORTF pattern. As long as the voices are front and center you should be good. If you can't afford to purchase a stereo pair of microphones then borrow or rent a decent pair of microphones. We can advise further on that if that is the end route.

Your sonic issues will have to do with the backup ensemble. The percussion and Steinway D (I presume since it is a 9') will have very intense sounds while the viola is potentially the weak link. If you have a player that can dish out the sound like s/he is Yuri Bashmet or the principal viola of the Chicago Symphony then you are good and I'd put the TLM 103 over the piano harp around where the treble strut crosses the bridge and hitch pins. This is only for very gentle detail reinforcement of the main stereo pair as the piano hammer articulation is often lost by the time you get 14' away to the main mic stand. Skip the C*000 microphones altogether as they won't help you at all.

TheJackAttack Mon, 12/05/2011 - 20:59

Side note: classical concert recording is my bread and butter as well as being a performing classical musician. (Remy and Boswell are also very well versed in this genre) Many are the concerts I have recorded with 4-12 microphones and then ONLY used the tracks from the main stereo pair untouched by the auxiliary microphones. For small ensembles I often only throw up a single Royer SF12 stereo microphone or a single pair of microphones in ORTF or as spaced omnis. Less is more as long as you put the mic stand in the proper place.

RemyRAD Tue, 12/06/2011 - 08:24

Yeah, Jack has just mentioned utilizing up to 12 microphones but relying mostly on the primary stereo pair. This reminds me a recording session I got to attend at Carnegie Hall. My father was a concertmaster for the Syracuse New York Symphony Orchestra (his least significant orchestra employment). The CBS Masterworks location engineers were brought in, along with a completely, totally custom console built by CBS engineers, 20 years old, modified many times over, looking like crap. They also brought in dual Ampex MM 1000-16's. They put out and placed 30 microphones (most of them Neumann's). During a break I asked the 65-year-old fat engineer why they needed so many microphones at Carnegie Hall, when they had 3 a few feet in front of the stage left-center-right. He smiled at me, rewound the tape on one of the 16 track machines and playback just those 3 microphones. As I expected it to be, it was glorious sounding. He indicated the other 27 microphones were highlight microphones and would be barely used in the mix and the release of the recording. But they were there, they were used, conditions permitting. This was strictly a recording session so there was no audience. That was a lesson in itself.

I've been lucky
Mx. Remy Ann David

BobRogers Wed, 12/07/2011 - 19:20

RemyRAD, post: 380152 wrote: ... They put out and placed 30 microphones (most of them Neumann's). During a break I asked the 65-year-old fat engineer why they needed so many microphones at Carnegie Hall, when they had 3 a few feet in front of the stage left-center-right. He smiled at me, rewound the tape on one of the 16 track machines and playback just those 3 microphones. As I expected it to be, it was glorious sounding. He indicated the other 27 microphones were highlight microphones and would be barely used in the mix and the release of the recording....

Those were the days of featherbedding at CBS. Used to pay Dan Rather $20M too.

TheJackAttack Wed, 12/07/2011 - 19:38

Steve@Russo, post: 380216 wrote: my buddy is the st louis and ny philharmonic conductor, he uses a mico pre I sold him with a pair of tlm 103s

The NY Phil doesn't share any conductors with the St Louis Sym to my knowledge. Perhaps he guest conducted both ensembles.

I have many times used a pair of TLM 103's as my main pair especially for wind ensemble. The OP however only has a single TLM103. He may very well have to rent a stereo pair if his budget disallows purchasing.

Steve@Russo Wed, 12/07/2011 - 21:13

Yeah he is really nice, I dealt with him on a month to month basis for about 3 years, I was lucky enough to be invited back stage to meet his bother in law who was a guest violinist after I had moved back to NJ. My wife took the time to read what the scores were about (and almost cried at the end), I was dumbfounded by the acoustical layout of where we saw the concert, and the $35 parking. David also did a cool thing where he did a guitar symphony overseas. Cool guy, down to earth, totally just about the music.

TheJackAttack Wed, 12/07/2011 - 21:21

Avery Fischer is an abomination even after several renovations (acoustically speaking). One of the most famous horn players (among brass professionals) likely had his career cut a decade short from trying to fill up the hall after the Phil moved away from Carnegie. One could argue had he been able to change his personal conception of equipment and technique things might have been different but those were different times and customs. Definitely the hall shapes the "sound" of the home orchestra team. St Louis fares much better in that regard. Chicago's Orchestra Hall was a treasure that other orchestras even from Europe would rent for recording sessions up until the 1966 renovation. Three remodels later, the 1996 version finally attained a worthy acoustic space as well as some behind the orchestra seating. While I don't miss the politics of professional big city playing, I definitely miss the overwhelming feeling of performing with top musicians on that stage.

Steve@Russo Wed, 12/07/2011 - 21:34

I never had been in a space like that, I am a hardcore guy, playing CB's and such around the country growing up, who ever heard of diffusion in those circles!!! Anyways, I was supposed to go to Carnegie to catch a show but David and I never got together on it, I would still love to get up there. I will say this, there was many seniors there, and I also can say after working at sweetwater for 4 years, their room is much better.