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Hi all.

I will be recording a symphony orchestra on saturday: its not the first time I have mic'ed this particular orchestra, but on previous occasions my goal was to amplify them for an outdoor concert... this will be my first time recording a full orchestra in a hall.

The venue is a large church, and I checked it out today: it sounded great just talking and clapping my hands, but there is quite a long reverb and I want to avoid recording too much of it!

So, what would you suggest as a main pair?

I've borrowed a pair of Royer R-121s and a pair of KM184s, as well as my usual selection which includes a Beyer M160/130 combo, a pair of NT5s, an SE Z5600A, and a pair of Beyer M201s (along with a bunch of other dynamics which will probably stay in the studio).

I'm thinking of using my Beyer ribbons as a main pair, mostly because I know them well... hopefully there will be time during the afternoon rehearsal to try my other options, but would anyone here be tempted to use the Neumanns or the Royers instead? If so why, and in what configuration?

Thanks in advance...


IIRs Fri, 11/13/2009 - 04:09

Good question, I don't know yet! It is a public concert, but no-one has so far said anything about having to keep my mics invisible. Last time (for the amplified outdoor event) I had a large orchestral stand positioned behind the conductor, plus various conventional boom stands dotted around the stage, and no-one objected.

There are no convenent flying points to hang mics from, so the two large orchestral stands I have borrowed are the only real options.

Why not give me both answers just in case..? ;-)

Cucco Fri, 11/13/2009 - 06:52

Regarding the M/S in a church...
I've had very mixed luck using M/S in a church. The Side lobe tends to get so washed with heavy reverb that it makes the blend seem odd. It never seems to strike a good balance.

While I generally don't like the KM184s on orchestra, you can use their top-end hype to your advantage.

Set up an ORTF pair with a pretty decent distance (minimum 2.5 meters) from the back of the conductor - make sure that the left mic is pointing to the last person in the last row of musicians and similarly on the right mic.

If you need flanks (with this distance and the natural reverb of a church, you may not), try using the royer 121s spaced on either side of the main array. Put them high enough that they can "see" all of the musicians but angle them so that as much of the ensemble is striking the element within about a 30 degree vertical angle (15 degrees above and below exact perpendicular). They should be placed so that they're directly in front of the next to last row of musicians on either side and at about the same distance from them as the main array to the conductor.

If you have to go "stealthy" - expect to get a less than stellar sound. I've had mild luck using M130s (in your case, you could use 2 121s and 1 130) in a psuedo Decca tree on 3 separate stands.

One other thought -
If it's really highly reverberant and you're having issues losing the brass in the back (horns in particular), feel free to throw up some spots. I've used Beyer 130/160 MS pairs for this purpose many times. If you angle them right, you can put the strings in the bottom null and get a good angle on the musicians you do want to spot.

Good luck and enjoy!

JoeH Sat, 11/14/2009 - 09:09

Ah, I've seen this kind of space and ensemble hundreds of times.... ;-)

Put a single tall stand directly behind the conductor with your main pair; ideally an ORTF Cardiod pair, roughly 5-6 feet above the conductors head, and same distance back. Spike the floor with white tape so people can see the stand and not crash into it. Use floor kneelers or whatever else you can find to create a "warning track" around it as well.

Then get a pair of tall stands with booms "looking in from the left and right sides, with omni's on them as your outrigger/flank mics. I use the QuikLoc A05 boom/stand combos for exactly this sort of thing;

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there's plenty of "Reach" to let you get right inside and over the musicains, same as if you'd have straight stands out in front, but no sightline problems, and no placement issues. With the boom stands themselves out of the way, it's better for everyone involved. (Actually, I'd use three of the A-50s for this sort of thing; one in the middle as described above for the ORTF pair, and one on each side for the omni outriggers/flanks.)

Then spot according to taste. Probably a mic on the basses, a mic on harp or solo winds, whatever might be going on.

For the most part, you'll get your main sound from the four front mics, and you can mix and sweeten according to taste in post. it'll be a dry recordingh with all those people and that much carpet, but you can always add reverb and ambience later.

BobRogers Sat, 11/14/2009 - 11:22

Never done an orchestra, but I've done several symphonic bands. I use Joe's recipe. ORTF cardioid pair in the center with omni outriggers. I even use the same stands (very nice). Probably on his recommendation. Seems to be a pretty safe configuration. Between the two pairs I've always been able to get a good (if not great) picture of the band. Setup is easy if you can find places for your stands, and the mix is basically a matter of judging the two pair to see what their strengths and weakness are and balancing to taste. You have some nice mics for spots, so that should add a lot.

IIRs Sat, 11/14/2009 - 15:59

Thanks guys. Just got back from the gig: its sounding good on my little laptop speakers... lets hope it still does when I get it into the studio!

The last couple of posts were too late to inform my desicions, but actually I ended up in the same kind of ballpark.

I used the Neumanns as a main pair, about 6 feet behind the conductor, and about 6 feet above her head. I ended up using NOS as my stereo bar wouldn't let me do ORTF properly and there was no room for a 2nd stand: I need some angled XLR plugs, or a spacer to raise the height of one of the mics slightly.

I used the Royers as flanks, but placed closer to the main mast than Cucco recomended as there were seats in the way. I placed them significantly lower than the main pair in the hope that they would pick up more of the front couple of desks of 1st violins and celloes and provide some options in post.

I then covered my back with 4 mics spotting horns, woodwind, brass and timps (NT5s, M130 & M201). My M160 spotted the solo cello for the Dvorak in the first half.

I'll post some clips when I get the chance... thanks again for all the help. :)