Orchestra recording-which hanging mics here
Some of the orchestras I've seen have engineers using various types of mics hanging from the ceiling and I've been wondering which ones the tiny ones are in this video from Symphony Hall,Boston. From what I've seen they generally use maybe a half dozen hanging across at the front of the stage, what appear to be "full size" small-diaphragm, omnis maybe. But over different sections of the orchestra they use small-diaphragm mics that look like they're no more than 2" or so.
In this video you can see a good array of them at :20 and closer detail of the tiny ones at :35
What types of mics are these and are there any places online I can read more about models, specs, pricing, experiences with them, further sound samples,etc?
Schoeps is a major orchestra brand mic. Neumann Km's i believe also. Some orchestras use a 'decca tree' which is a stand that holds a 5 mic array, usually in a sweet spot near the conductor.
My buddy actually recorded them one time for wgbh, I believe he used Neumann mics.
I think the general idea is the room first, i.e. Orchestra as a whole, then a few spot mics over each section.
Schoeps run in the 1700-3500 range price wise, I am not sure which models are regarded as preferable for this application. Sweetwater reps might have some more insight.
Lol that's all I got... Orchestra recording is fascinating to me, just haven't looked into it much.
Sorry off topic...but I can't help but watch an orchestra and think of this....
- Leopold !!!
and DPA 4011, 4006 and so on. DPA are top on my list.
Those might all be Sennheiser MKH series.
Schoeps, DPA, Royer, Earthworks, Neumann would be candidates for an orchestral job.
Royer, Schoeps, Earthworks, DPA's and Neumann's are the orchestral go-to's. Possibly Bruel and Kjar's ( B&K) as well.
But as Hawk mentioned, there are others too; like Sennheiser, and upper level AT's could likely be found as well.
But none of them are cheap, or budget series mics from these manufacturers - LOL, I don't even think that Schoeps has a "budget" line. Schoeps is one of those mics where if you have to ask how much... well... ;)
Sean G, post: 436048, member: 49362 wrote: Sorry off topic...but I can't help but watch an orchestra and think of this....
It's never off topic seeing Bugs Bunny conducting orchestras ;) classic.
From what you all were saying, I did a search and noticed Schoeps and the Sennheiser's make the minis like that; other brands too probably. And yes of course I would love to be able to afford all of the mics you mention. I was reading an older forum piece where a grammy-winning Decca engineer was described as using several of the Neumann M149 tubes http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M149 . Must be nice being able to purchase many $5,000+ mics
And the Royer ribbons recording pianos, gorgeous
Thanks for the info,
Where there is an orchestral imbalance, especially for TV, flown spot mics are the only practical way to get that one oboe line audible. With no cameras, they'd be using different mics for each instrument that needed assistance. Flown ones will be the big budget ones if the production merits it, in lower budget ones, flown omnis, like MKE-2's have been used, and even a few flown cardioids can help, if you can aim them properly.
From my own experience, the biggest problem is the balance and blend. It's so easy to mess up the stereo field with multimics and a stereo pair or cluster, like a Decca Tree. I'm far too inexperienced to make the damn things work properly.
When I assisted at Telar c, for a short time, years ago ( early 90's)... the one thing that made those Cleveland Orchestra recordings sound so fantastic was the environment that they performed in - Severance Hall. That place is an acoustic dream.
The engineers spent as much time - if not maybe more - getting the room miked up, as they did the orchestra itself.
Decca Trees were common, so were Neumann Dummy Heads. There were also "flown" and "spot" Neumanns, Schoeps and Bruel & Kjars. To the best of my recollection, all the preamps were solid state. I don't recall seeing any tube mics or tube preamps anywhere, although they did have some tube based limiters and EQ's in their production facility's post room.
In fact, for the short time I was there ( I got the assistant gig because I had rented them a DAT machine; I was one of the first engineers/studios - if not the first studio in the Cleveland area - to actually have a DAT; they heard that I had one and called me in for a few weeks to operate the deck and show their guys how to use it; ) I spent most of the time simply watching, learning, and volunteering to help lug gear and wrap cables. I saw several SSL racks, along with some API gear as well. They also had a Euphonics console at the time for post-pro. I don't recall seeing any Neve gear, but that doesn't mean they didn't have any... I just didn't notice any at the time.
Severance Hall, the winter/fall home of The Cleveland Orchestra. It's as wonderful sounding as it looks. Notice the lack of right angle corners, and how everything is "curved" where walls and ceilings meet each other. The drapes hanging from the ceiling are "clouds" that along with the room's construction, are also crucial to the sound. ;)
That looks like an amazing space...such style and grandeur fit for an orchestra.
I watched a Warren Huart vid on YT a few weeks ago and they were interviewing Rocco Guarino at Lavish Studios...they had red velvet drapes on the ceiling just like the image above of Severence Hall...this was the first time I had seen a cloud like this. Very Interesting.
I wonder if changing the length or the size of the "wave" of the cloud would change the frequency it responds to ?
I'm sure that changing the mass would... making it thicker would result in it absorbing lower frequencies; the amount of the RT60 attenuation would also be dependent upon the type of the material, too, of course; density/mass being a factor.
I don't know if they have a way to easily change the amount of that at Severance or not, or if they'd even want to. I've been there many times and I've never noticed it ever looking any different than it always does... but I can't say for sure.
But for more detailed technical info on that, we'd have to turn to Brien or Kyle as they are far more knowledgeable in that area than I. ;)
(@Brien Holcombe @kmetal )
There is another concert hall near me that is located on the University of Akron Campus - E J Thomas hall; which is - or at least was, the last time I heard - the home of the Akron Symphony Orchestra; as well as having some more current and popular music acts, and some off Broadway touring plays; but, they've recently fallen on hard times, so I'm not sure if they are even doing anything there now, or if it's even open anymore.
I know I've been on that stage several times as a musician, doing shows in several different acts over the years. The first time I walked across its stage I was a Senior in high school, graduating and getting my diploma, although it had only been around for just a couple years then. ;) I think it was built in '74 or so.
It does have remote-controlled movable acoustic baffles; entire sections of the ceiling can be altered in position using a system of motors, pulleys, cantilevers and suspended cylinder weights - although I've never been able to get close enough to the panels to see what they are actually constructed of, as they are recessed into the ceiling. Actually, the baffles are the ceiling; which is broken up into many different movable sections.
Here's a pic of the hall, showing the ceiling sections with the baffles built in:
And one of a section of the lobby, showing one group of the suspended weights that act as counter balances to the ceiling sections; I remember playing there years ago, talking to a stage hand, and he told me that the cylinders weigh around a ton... per cylinder.
Wow..thats one amazing ceiling.
My question was more on the "loops" that fall in series on the drape cloud at Severance Hall, and being of curious mind, whether the loops respond differently according to their size, or radius of the loops...
- Would a loop with a bigger radius absorb a lower frequency than say, a loop with a smaller radius in theory ?
Does the radius of the hanging loop corellate with the size of the soundwave ?...or am I on the wrong track here:confused:
Maybe one of our resident experts may be able to answer this ?
Edit - my apologies to the OP for steering the thread in another direction, but I'm intrigued by this...and thinking if replicating this on a smaller scale would have any benefit in any way.
I think RT60 attenuation has to do more with the mass/density of the treatment than it does with the shape or configuration, Sean.
I guess you might get some diffusion by using different configurations, but I'm not sure how much, or, if at all. To my knowledge, diffusion is more of a harder surface thing, like using wooden slats, or brick surfaces that are irregular. But I suppose you could have a treatment device capable of delivering both absorption and diffusion at the same time. I've seen convex shaped parabolic diffusers that were filled with dense absorbent material.
Again, Brien or Kyle needs to weigh in. I'm just guessing.
Concert halls are above my pay grade. :) in general the larger the airspace behind an absorber the more low end it attenuates. I'm not sure if the loop correlates with the sound wave but my guess would be where it reflects sound so. The wider the loop the wider the dispersion and vice versa. I can't really tell what it's made of so its difficult to say how much is reflecting or at what frequencies. If your talking bass traps the depth of the trap has to be 1/4 of the wavelength of the frequency it's trying to absorb. So if 30hz is 40ft long, the trap would have to be 10ft thick. This is I'm guessing why you see tuned traps, to hit frequencies without cavernous depth. Again some of this is speculation. My guess is the cloud is draped to be broadband in nature. That way your keeping a well rounded range of frequencies being handled. As opposed to focusing on a more narrow set.
I think with stages like that it's important to have them fairly live with reflections aiming back at the orchestra. They don't have stage monitors so they ate playing to the stage sound.
I'm curious about what's going on w those side walls.
Theater design is another level. The art of natural application and even dispersion dates way back to the Roman era or before. They understood they're geometry. I'm not sure at what era helmholtz discovered/invented the resonator, but it has become a huge part of acoustic design since. Wiki says 1863.
With rooms this size dispersion, diffusion, decay times, and reflections become the focus. In small rooms the parameters are different, mainly focused on keeping a free undisturbed path from speaker to ear, and the mighty all important bass trap.
I'm sure I'll have to say in this area as I start learning classical theory and orchestral type things.
I belive there's a couple convolution reverbs out there with some models of famous orchestra halls, I think the one in Amsterdam is modeled.
Lol my reply could not have been more vague and non-descript. Always room to learn in the music world.
"Some acoustic problems were soon observed in Severance Hall shortly after its opening in 1931. These were attributed in part to the use of velvet curtains for the boxes, thick carpeting throughout much of the hall, and the fact that the stage, designed for theatrical productions, had a large, sound-absorbing fly space above it. In addition, the removable stage shells created for the orchestra to play within were constructed of non-sound-reflective materials, which also allowed sound from the hall's original organ to be heard from its position above the stage's fly space. The 6,025-pipe Ernest M. Skinner organ was a massive instrument for its day, but its positioning outside the auditorium itself was something of an experiment and limited choices for addressing the auditorium's dry acoustics.
In 1958, at the instigation of Music Director George Szell, a complete acoustical redesign of the hall was undertaken. To make the auditorium more resonant, the original proscenium and blue velvet drapes were removed and the placement of carpet was reduced to a minimum. On the stage a permanent acoustical shell was built (affectionately known as 'The Szell Shell'). The new shell consisted of thick wooden walls surrounding the orchestra in a series of convex curves. The heavy wood walls were further filled with sand to heights of up to nine feet to make them less absorbent and more reflective of sound. The result was a new, vibrant-sounding space which complemented the refined, brilliant sound of the orchestra under Szell's direction.
Visually, however, the severe new Modernist stage clashed with the elegant Art Deco design of the auditorium. In addition, the organ's pipe chambers were effectively sealed off from the auditorium by the new shell. This made the organ all but non-functional, its sound being transferred into the auditorium via microphones and speakers."
Sean G, post: 436098, member: 49362 wrote: Edit - my apologies to the OP for steering the thread in another direction, but I'm intrigued by this...and thinking if replicating this on a smaller scale would have any benefit in any way.
No problem at all! I've been away from the computer for a day and am reading this great information. It's all sound candy to me and appreciate reading the knowledge for future reference. Let it go where it may. Agreed too, that ceiling is spectacular in design and I'm sure function.
I have this article bookmarked from when I saw it last year sometime. It's an interview with the founder of Sound Mirror http://www.soundmirror.com/ , the company that records, archives, and helps broadcast the Boston Symphony concerts. They have quite a discography too.
Apparently, Severance Hall started out as too dead when it was originally built in 1931.
It was in 1958 that their director at that time ( George Szell) called for modifications to be made to the room to "liven" it up. You can see the wiki excerpt above for more info if you like.
I've seen it ( Severance Hall) occasionally as a convolution reverb response choice; I don't remember where though, it's been a few years. It may have been part of one of the Bricasti convolution libraries, or maybe TC Electronics. Those two manufacturers do offer convolution impulse responses for many famous rooms and environments, although I would doubt they would sound as good as a real TC or Bricasti, and I'd certainly be dubious as to them being as good as the real spaces.
Severance Hall is one of those places that you really have to actually be there to truly experience.
Or, you could probably find Telarc recordings of the Cleveland Orchestra on youtube that could at least give you an idea, and perhaps get you close to the audial experience of being there.
recorded live at Severance:
I'm an architecture photographer and will share that video with my 'network'. I'm sure the architects will get a kick out of that. I'm also listening to the audio of that Severance Hall recording and although I can't comment about every moment of this hour-plus masterpiece, it sounds glorious and rather 'present'.
Here's an article from yesterday about the newly re-designed engineers' control room at Symphony Hall Boston.
DonnyThompson, post: 436112, member: 46114 wrote: the new shell consisted of thick wooden walls surrounding the orchestra in a series of convex curves. The heavy wood walls were further filled with sand to heights of up to nine feet to make them less absorbent and more reflective of sound.
9ft of sand, way up there. My goodness, my back is glad I missed that one. WOW
I though 12' sheets of drywall and 30, 80lbs bags of sand was quit difficult.
It's really truly amazing what they accomplished before power tools, both from an architectural and Contruction pint of veiw. I like this thread!
The recording done there is noticeably less reverberant than a lot of classical I've heard ( which isn't a whole lot). I wonder if that was an engineering choice, or if that's a characteristic of the hall.
kmetal, post: 436143, member: 37533 wrote: The recording done there is noticeably less reverberant than a lot of classical I've heard ( which isn't a whole lot). I wonder if that was an engineering choice, or if that's a characteristic of the hall.
There isn't a bunch of orchestral recording work around here, which is a shame, I'd enjoy doing more of that sort of thing. I have recorded some large 250 person youth choral groups, medium-size madrigal groups, adult vocal soloists, 125-pc youth bands, adult 20-pc jazz bands, adult 6-pc jazz combos. They would have all been done in high school or college auditoriums from 500 to 1500 seats, some with better acoustics than others. With most of them we have a conversation at the initial meet-and-greet about whether they want the pure concert-goer experience, or something more intimate. So far, it never fails, they claim they want the purist sweet-spot somewhere in the 5th-row-center kind of sound. "Like it sounds in the best seat in the house", or so they say. And other than a classical vocal soloist who don't want any mic / mic stands anywhere on stage, I've always hedged my bets. I'll put up spot mics, section mics, one or two in the piano, two or three on the drum kit, mic the bass, DI the keys, vocal soloist area(s), choral sections, etc., and was always glad I did. Because the main stereo pair sound just like it did in the best seat in the house, with lots of reverb from the room - and now when the client is listening to just the main pair and of course they expect that sax solo (or whatever) to magically jump to the front of the mix. It didn't jump out at the show, and therefore it doesn't on the main pair. Luckily I've got the spot mics to fall back on, because it turns out they're not the purists they thought they were. Again these are all very garden-variety auditoriums with generally good, not great acoustics. They're still pleasant enough sounding you can use the audience mics for all the natural reverb you'd ever want.
I've heard other recordings in the same auditorium, done a year earlier by a guy who sticks 2 omnidirectional Earthworks mics 15ft. in the air fairly wide left and right and calls it done. And I've got exactly zero of the fancy high-end mics from earlier in this thread. My go-to main stereo pair would be a Blumlein pair using AKG C-414XLS. I've got a nice variety of other LDCs, SDCs, dynamics and one good ribbon mic to fill in the gaps, but the main pair hears ALL. Which is kinda the point, but with that comes every squeaky seat, every squawking child, (said squawking child being taken out the back doors of the auditorium 200ft. away and screaming all the way down the hallway), every cough, air-handlers and fans, piano pedals, page turns, foot tapping, and every square inch of the room . When it comes to recording my motta is, it's better to have the tracks and not need them….
I really like the jazz band stuff where with the right balance I can make it sound like it was done on a big soundstage instead of an auditorium - truer to what I think the older big-band recordings sound like (in my mind anyway). So far even when I've been out of my element, I've still gone in having some idea in my mind what kind of sound I was going for, and some vision for how to get what I wanted. So far I've been happy with the results and the same people keep hiring me, so I suppose that's a good sign.
As far as the engineer's choice of how to balance the close mics with the room's natural reverb, I'd love to hear what the guys with much more classical experience / expertise do with regards to that balance, preferred number of mics, and their approach to how intimately they mic things.
You've certainly got a lot more variety in your resume than me! Micing such a large room like an auditorium sounds exiting!
Even if the client is wrong, the client is always right. We just help them get there lol.
dvdhawk, post: 436146, member: 36047 wrote: As far as the engineer's choice of how to balance the close mics with the room's natural reverb, I'd love to hear what the guys with much more classical experience / expertise do with regards to that balance, preferred number of mics, and their approach to how intimately they mic things.
I haven't recorded a full orchestra yet, just helped another engineer set up so I could see how that process goes. He only had 4 mics set up in front, all on a stereo bar about a meter wide. At each far left and right were omnis point straight ahead for the wide spaced pair effect and near the center of the bar were a pair of cardioids set X-Y. He gave me an extra recording from the live session and told me to pan each channel to wherever each mic was for the full effect of the setup, which I did. It thought it sounded pretty good, but to me captured too much of the room and wasn't as punchy as I like. 1 mic stand set behind the conductor, about 10-12 feet up, but he had the mics pointed level at that height. Which to me, I would think to angle them 45-degrees or so to get more of direct sound capture.
I told him from some of the larger professional orchestra's I've seen, I mostly saw atleast a dozen and more flying mics set accordingly throughout the stage, and asked why he wasn't doing something similar. He said he's tried that before but when giving the files back to the conductor, conductor didn't like the way it sounded because there were hotspots of different sections throughout the mix and wasn't how he hears it in front of the ensemble. I'm not exactly sure why that would be, and I didn't ask the engineer, but I was thinking that was a mixing problem either live or during post. It seems to me that the levels of those dozen mics could be easily balanced to eliminate the hotspots and have a nicely balanced sound.
So I'd be interested to hear anyone's ideas of why it would sound unbalanced, and would properly mixing the levels of the various mics during monitoring solve that problem?
dvdhawk, post: 436146, member: 36047 wrote: I really like the jazz band stuff where with the right balance I can make it sound like it was done on a big soundstage instead of an auditorium - truer to what I think the older big-band recordings sound like (in my mind anyway).
I've always listened to jazz but want to pick up more recordings to delve more into it from a recordists perspective. A lot of live recordings I've heard from say the 50's or so sound just so raw and simple techniques used, capturing the entire room of the 'jazz club'.
I get a kick out of this video, and even though it is live, does seem to be miked closer, almost studio-like, versus some of those other 'raw' recordings which might have been recorded with omnis closer up or even cardioids from a distance.
A conductor in charge, or worse, financing the recording always causes friction. They spend their time balancing the orchestra -lifting the sections against each other, and making space for soloists. Any microphone technique that has the microphones anywhere further away from the conductors head than a few feet is doomed, because to them, it's wrong - which to be honest, it is. Worse than conductors are brass players, because they have never ever heard what they really sound like, so usually hate the sound of their own playing.
I'm of the same mind-set, that putting your main pair up behind the conductor should be the equivalent of standing by the FOH at a live show. The conductor should be pulling more energy out of the sections/instruments that need it, and subduing the sections/instruments that are overpowering the group. In a perfect world an immaculate stereo image from his/her perspective would be all you need.
The things I've done often have soloists, which really negates my ability to rely on just one pair. The soloists are positioned way downstage and much closer to the mics than the rest of the ensemble, which sounds nice for their solos, but then for the rest of the piece - there they are, literally standing out in the front of the group and consequently in front of the mix. I tend to favor the center pair throughout because the stereo image is so pure, but without some aux mics in strategic locations you'd be stuck when something like that happens. If you're lucky you'll get to see a rehearsal and be able to anticipate that sort of situation, but that's not always possible. A couple of times I've had large youth choral events include a song or two with all sorts of african percussion instruments jammed in between the conductor and piano, which would have rendered the stereo pair almost useless without a few other more directional mics to balance it out. I'm glad I was prepared for whatever they were going to throw at me.
Very true Paul. And a violinist is so attuned to hearing their own instrument from a perspective nobody else gets to hear it, that's another no-win situation.
Oh yeah, and one time Mr. Conductor says, "Here's what we're going to do for the finale, during the piano solo half way through the song, we'll have all the trumpet and trombone players leave the stage and disperse back the center and side aisles to surround the audience for the big finish. That won't be a problem will it?"
I heard, over my years as an examiner, thousands of recordings made by 16-20 year olds, many in very well equipped or pleasant sounding locations, and two areas always caused them grief. Drum recording and natural acoustic spaces with non-electric instruments. Forgetting the drums, as something different, a tiny proportion could have been mistaken for professional CD releases. Despite reading the explanations details Decca Trees, ORTF and other exotic technique, most sounded simply horrible. Usually a failure to use their ears, and a reliance on following 'rules' rigidly. The mics were at exactly 90 degrees, and X metres off the floor, as if this guaranteed the result.
The one other aspect to recoding orchestras is the quality of the musicians and their instruments. Decent players really know how to play off each other - especially the strings, producing a wonderful chorussy wash of sound. You can hear a soloist, when realistically, this should be impossible, but somehow the musicians and the conductor create space for it, so you hear it. This, I believe, needs two ears. It's good to compare a stereo radio broadcast of the event with the stereo video sound, where the camera sees the oboe solo, and the sound department craftily bring it forward in the mix. The radio people don;t get the push, but can still hear it. The video version's audio sounds a bit weird.
This is all very hard stuff to do - multi-track, close miking is simple in comparison - well, maybe apart from drums!
I know what you mean Paul. In addition to the patience to walk around and find the sweet spots with your ears, I think so much of it is pure intuition and a certain amount of visualizing the sound. Since I'm well shy of 12ft tall, I can only guess what it sounds like several ft above the conductor's head.
Aaron, post: 436195, member: 48792 wrote: So I'd be interested to hear anyone's ideas of why it would sound unbalanced, and would properly mixing the levels of the various mics during monitoring solve that problem?
I think that the main reason is mics don't hear the same way we do. What we do is a bit of illusion. So what the conductor is hearing and what the mics are are different. Our ears are more sensitive to mid range. Kinda like a records smiley face curve. And I find in general mids hear more ambience than we do from the same distance.
As far as hot spots I'm thinking either phase, pickup pattern, or perhaps not enough mics? Just speculating here.
I think I would approach the issue with mix automation, or perhaps some artificial reverbs and delays to lend a more gelled mix for the guy. My personal taste leans toward dryer sounds. I always experiment w long verbs but never get them to work. One of the things that intrigues me about classical.
Also, great link on the Boston symphony hall control room rebuild! I enjoyed it. I saw the BSO on Fourth of July from the hat shell in Boston as a kid.
paulears, post: 436212, member: 47782 wrote: Usually a failure to use their ears, and a reliance on following 'rules' rigidly. The mics were at exactly 90 degrees, and X metres off the floor, as if this guaranteed the result.
Similar to a forum post from years ago I recently read, I think it was here in RO. An engineer who had worked at Decca records recalled working with the lead engineer, who had been working there for years and as you can imagine had won many grammys and other awards for his recordings. He had basically 'laughed' at all the silly mathematics of textbook placement and how people relied on that thinking it would automatically sound great. Each time he would make a recording he would walk throughout the orchestra playing certain pieces and would place mics according to how his ears heard in that particular place, which of course makes a lot more sense than sticking to what the book says. No knock on the books though since that's where a lot of us might get our first bit of information with ideas to start.
kmetal, post: 436221, member: 37533 wrote: great link on the Boston symphony hall control room rebuild! I enjoyed it. I saw the BSO on Fourth of July from the hat shell in Boston as a kid.
Sure thing, and agreed. Also, ever since becoming hooked on seeing live orchestral music, I definitely don't take the fact that I live only an hour away from the BSO for granted. Even more so since this season they sell tickets for any seat in the house to us 'youngsters' under 40, for $20. "You paid $100 for that seat?", I ask the person next to me. ;)
I contacted a particular Orchestra last week about the possibility of recording their concert in a fancy theatre. The conductor/music director put me in contact with their recording engineer, which I wasn't aware of them having. He's gonna let me record as well and going to help me fly the mics from the ceiling. Turns out he's got some of the Schoeps mics previously mentioned in this post. 3 coincident pairs as well as some Royer ribbons. I'm looking forward to this and will follow up with any interesting techniques noticed for the interested folk here.
Aaron, post: 436757, member: 48792 wrote: I contacted a particular Orchestra last week about the possibility of recording their concert in a fancy theatre. The conductor/music director put me in contact with their recording engineer, which I wasn't aware of them having. He's gonna let me record as well and going to help me fly the mics from the ceiling. Turns out he's got some of the Schoeps mics previously mentioned in this post. 3 coincident pairs as well as some Royer ribbons. I'm looking forward to this and will follow up with any interesting techniques noticed for the interested folk here.
good for you Aaron! that's the best way to learn. enjoy it. it will be an experience that stays with you for the rest of your life.
kmetal, post: 436143, member: 37533 wrote: The recording done there is noticeably less reverberant than a lot of classical I've heard ( which isn't a whole lot). I wonder if that was an engineering choice, or if that's a characteristic of the hall.
It's actually far more reverberant now than it was previous to 1958, after changes were made -at the strong urging of George Szell - the conductor at that time.
Previous to that, it was really dead. Apparently, it drove him crazy enough to push for a massive overhaul of the acoustics:
" Some acoustic problems were soon observed in Severance Hall shortly after its opening. These were attributed in part to the use of velvet curtains for the boxes, thick carpeting throughout much of the hall, and the fact that the stage, designed for theatrical productions, had a large, sound-absorbing fly space above it. In addition, the removable stage shells created for the orchestra to play within were constructed of non-sound-reflective materials, which also allowed sound from the hall's original organ to be heard from its position above the stage's fly space. The 6,025-pipe Ernest M. Skinner organ was a massive instrument for its day, but its positioning outside the auditorium itself was something of an experiment and limited choices for addressing the auditorium's dry acoustics. In 1958, at the instigation of Music Director George Szell, a complete acoustical redesign of the hall was undertaken. To make the auditorium more resonant, the original proscenium and blue velvet drapes were removed, and the placement of carpet was reduced to a minimum. On the stage, a permanent acoustical shell was built (affectionately known as 'The Szell Shell'). The new shell consisted of thick wooden walls surrounding the orchestra in a series of convex curves. The heavy wood walls were further filled with sand to heights of up to nine feet to make them less absorbent and more reflective of sound. The result was a new, vibrant-sounding space which complemented the refined, brilliant sound of the orchestra under Szell's direction."
Well I think the recording session was a success and yes Kurt certainly something I'll remember. The engineer who helped me was using only two mics with a homemade Jecklin Disc technique. From what I understand each mic was stereo with changeable patterns, of which I think he used slightly different patterns on each to achieve some affect. We were talking about mid-side technique, but I'm not so sure that was what he was doing.
The mics were Schoeps 501 Stutter cmts, vintage from the 60's, of which he's been recording since then. Said they didn't exist anymore. When I was helping him unload the car, he said, "I'll carry that box.", referring to the box with those mics which he said cost more than his vehicle 2014 honda crv. haha. He also had a Royer sf12 tied into a homemade preamp that his electrical engineer buddy made for him. That was in front on a stand in front of the stage to capture the two violinists during a particular piece. Wild rig all together though. You all would have had some things to talk about seeing everything, for sure.
After we set his rig up, says, well I've got these extra Schoeps here if you want to tie those into your rig. "Uhh, yeah." They were Schopes Colette series with MK51 capsules, and I was blown away by the sound and overall frequency response, overall smoothness of everything. Like nothing I've recorded, obviously. Plus it was a full string orchestra, so those babies were just singing. For my rig I used an ORTF setup hanging from the catwalk, maybe a bit further than I would have liked but that was what I got. Still it sounded superb and I was thrilled to be using those Schopes. Told him, hey, if anytime you decide you want to get rid of those, you know who to go to. Had a chuckle out of that, and made a quick mention to the effect of,"Well I don't use them all that often" To which my ears perked up with hopeful bliss.
Then there was the photographer who was clicking his camera throughout the show, so I'm monitoring with my headphones of course and constantly hear the clicks during the quiet passages. My being a photographer was thinking something to the effect of "Darn photographers", to put it nicely. ;)
Although it could have sounded technically better with mic placement and all I was thrilled with this experience.
thanks for the update!
What a great opportunity. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Sure thing. Thanks y'all.
DonnyThompson, post: 436092, member: 46114 wrote: When I assisted at Telar c, for a short time, years ago ( early 90's)...
Decca Trees were common, so were Neumann Dummy Heads. There were also "flown" and "spot" Neumanns, Schoeps and Bruel & Kjars.
Interesting. I had heard (years ago) that a lot of the sonic characteristics of Telarc's recordings were defined by -- in addition to the wonderful venue and Jack Renner's skill as an engineer -- their reliance on minimal micing....like, almost entirely captured via a single coincident pair, with maybe one or two spot mics. This was ostensibly as much a marketing choice as it was an engineering choice, because at that same time recordings on the Deutsche Grammophon label were all made with numerous spot mics (arguably too many), and recordings on the Decca label were all made with the Decca tree 3-mic array. But this was in the late 70s/early 80s; even if what I'd heard was true it's possible Telarc changed their modus operandi by the 90s.
Cool stuff about the venue, thanks for posting that.