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early music & low gear

The next week I have to record some concerts , especially one is very important: a cello and an harpsichord performing early music in a nice room. The other concerts are classical guitar ones (guitar quartet and soloists).
The problem IS that at the moment I can only access to very low gear (2 Behringer B-2 pro and 3 AKG C1000S through only 2 preamps, Bher MIC200 modded by myself...).
I would like to do something in stereo, like a M/S with the two B-2, or a combination of the two. Any suggestion to help me?

PS: Last month I recorded a chamber quartet with two KM184 in ORTF through an M-Audio DMP3 and the result was very nice and pleasing but now I think that, with this gear, I have to find some tricks... Thank you to anyone can help me, I'm desperate ;)


stax Sun, 12/03/2006 - 01:52
thank you very much for your advices and sorry for the delay of my reply!
Tonight I will record a guitar quartet concert for my association, and I will use a Mid Side array with a omni instead of a cardioid. It's just an experiment but on this page I was able to hear some samples of m/s made with an omni and sounds great in my opinion. Check also local city opera house .

For the preamp and the overdrive issue, I changed the tubes of the MIC200 with two JJ-Tesla ECC82. The ECC82 has lower gain but it's way cleaner and it sounds much better, more open and it is not so dull as the original chinese ECC83. By the way I can assure you that the solid-state M-Audio DMP3 is much better than any of this "tube" things. I have ordered one at my local shop and as soon as it will arrive I will chenge the two MIC200 (that are pratically new...)

RemyRAD Tue, 11/28/2006 - 23:47
stax, I would not consider those microphones to be of low caliber, low-quality. They are of more than adequate quality. The Beringer microphone preamp is also more than adequate for very nice sounding recordings. Nothing unprofessional about the equipment that you are utilizing.

Always remember to make sure that you do not over crank the gain of the microphone preamp as overload will make it sound amateurish. Noise will not be that big a factor.

I am a big fan of MS recording as it does allow you to adjust the stereo width without repositioning the microphones and offers complete mono compatibility without any phase problems. Middle mono cardioid microphone, facing towards the stage center with the figure of 8 microphone directly below or behind the middle Mono microphone, perpendicular to it facing towards the left and right walls. Try to keep the capsules as close as possible. Monitoring will sound peculiar if you cannot decode while you monitor. You will notice that the figure of 8 side microphone will be a signal of lower-level than your forward facing center Mono microphone. You can crank that gained up a little more so as to match the recording level of the center Mono microphone. It will make the decode sound that much quieter. Your software should have a preset for that as well. One of my favorite ways to record that kind of music.

May you have more than pleasing results?
Ms. Remy Ann David

It seems that you are already well prepared for a nice recording.
Ms. Remy Ann David

stax Wed, 11/29/2006 - 16:18
Thank you very much for your kindness.
Dear mdemeyer, unfortunately I'm form Italy so it will not possible join our forces...

Remy, just some questions, if you can help me:
above you have written to "not over crank the gain of the microphone preamp as overload will make it sound amateurish". But it was told me to take and send to the soundcard (ESI U24) the hotter possible signal for the best and lower S/N level. So what should be a good setting (or how can I achieve it)?
Second, for the cello&harpsichord recording can you suggest me a good M/S placement to start (I think I will not have a lot of time to experiment, let's say 15-20 mins of rehearsal before the concert)? Then, of course, I know that I will have to move the mics in search of the best position.

Again, really thank you!!!

Member Thu, 11/30/2006 - 06:35
stax wrote: Thank you very much for your kindness.
Dear mdemeyer, unfortunately I'm form Italy so it will not possible join our forces...

Hi Remy,

I've actually recorded three early music concerts this year with very similar gear, a couple of B2 pro and always some kind of valve pre, tried a behringer T1953 (modded by myself also :wink: ), a presonus bluetube and lastly an ART TPS II.

With a "colourful" pre you can get quite a nice sound from the B2, I've tried them both on ORTF and M/S arrangementes and they work well, beware though that on cardioid mode, the B2 colors a lot out off axis! A personal advice, with a valve pre and B2's using M/S, overdrive a tiny little bit just one of the channels, that gives the recording quite a nice colour without "booming".

For early music I've seen that most musicians don't want/like close miking approach results, they do wanna get the room's sound though which means that, for a little ensemble, stereo miking with just a couple of mikes might be more than enough. M/S works well enough for stereo immaging but doesn't quite get the picture on room acoustics if the place has an interesting acoustic, like medieval chappels or big churches, try placing an extra omni as far as you can (at least 10m away) from the ensemble pointing backwards and record it on a separate track just to mix it in later in small quantities for adding some ambience.

For levels, try to level not to hot, barely touching red zone on peaks, and then drop 12dB from that just to be sure (I need to do that, ensembles I've recorded have usually singers ... and soprano dynamic range uses to destroy any prior assumption and they DO overload your mikes)
Cello & Harpishord don't have that big dynamic range on the end so for them you might go a little hotter, watch out anyway on preamp's self noise as you crank the gain up.

If you want or need more info contact me, I'd be more than happy to share experiences on the subject either in spanish, italian or english and even team up if there's the time and goodwill for it :D . I live in Pavia, Italy and on a couple of weeks should record an early music ensemble live playing/singing barroque iberoamerican music at Bergamo.