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I have been asked to make a stereo recording of a grand piano, flute and base flute in a small 'music room'. I have Neumann KM184s (matched pair), TML103, AKG 414s (matched pair), STC/Coles 4038. Will be using Nagra VI (4 mic channels). There will be no audience. Please can someone advise on mic placement. Many thanks, David


TheJackAttack Sun, 04/03/2011 - 12:15

Does the room sound good or are there lots of slap reflections? If you don't know it might behoove you to go visit the room ahead of time and clap a few times and give a shout or two to check it out. If it is a good room or even a halfway decent room I would probably set the C414's up in an A-B omni pattern about 12-14cm apart and back about ten feet from the ensemble. This position is very flexible and I usually start by having the ensemble perform a little as I walk around using my ears to find the spot that sounds best for the stereo pair. My prior mark of 10 feet is merely my starting point. If I didn't like the omni C414's I would try them in ORTF in the same spot. If I didn't like that I would place the KM184's in ORTF at six feet high pointed down at just below the flute position. Then I would spot the flute with the ribbon mic even with the level of the flute and at a very slight downward angle-perhaps 10-20 degrees. Make sure the ribbon is no higher than the eyes of the flute. If you can place the mic so the piano is in the null of the figure8 that would be best. Since there is no audience it should not be a problem for the flute to face the keyboard player making the mic placement easier. I would also move the flute player more toward the tail of the piano rather than in the bow towards the lid stick to enhance the "stereo" image. You will not have to mic the piano in a small room or likely even in a larger room. If the sound is too washed out you could place a C414 in omni along the bridge by the treble strut. You will only mix a very little of this in to provide definition of the hammers striking the strings. Of course if the piano is not well regulated and does not have a good sound skip this bit.

Without knowing the room or the performers or the literature this is the best I can offer. Realize that in classical recording mic position and pattern is as variable and aurally variable as any other recording. There is no one "perfect" position that works for everything and the performers positions on the stage can make as much difference to the sound as the mic position.