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Tips on recording Jazz band/Solo recital

Hello all...

As a service to my university and friends, I record live student performances at my school... I've recently acquired a whole new rig that has been working quite well so far. It is a DAW as follows (brief spec):

Laptop w/1 G ram
PreSonus Firepod (8 inputs)
Power conditioner
Adobe Audition 2
3 [pencil] condenser mics
3 Cardiod Dynamic mics

I've been recording recitals in a Small concert hall simply using 2 condensers in a X-stereo placement (I believe that is the correct term). I place the mics in the center of the hall, in the second row from the front (close to the stage). I'm not sure if this is too close or not, but I don't want to get too many sounds from the audience, so I place the mics closer to the stage. I've had pretty good results from this, but I still would like to get some thoughts on whether or not I could improve this setup.

My other task is that I was asked to record a jazz ensemble performance in a few weeks. I said yes, but I've never recorded an ensemble this large in this small concert hall. Previously, I recorded the concert in a larger hall using a Shotgun mic hooked into a mixing board which I hooked up to my 8-track recorder (you catch all that! - FYI: I no longer use my 8-track, as a matter of fact it is posted in the Classified section of this forum). The hall is the same small recital hall as above. The band is comprised of give-or-take 15 members with horns, piano, guitar, bass, drums, vibraphone, saxes... Now, I have about 6 mics to work with (see above), however I may be able to borrow 2 more if needed. My question is should I record this ensemble just using the mehod outlined in the previous paragraph (2 condensers in X-stereo near the stage)? Or should I rig up something with multiple mics and placements? Any suggestions would be helpful, and if you require more info in order to help me let me know.

Thank you.


RemyRAD Mon, 04/16/2007 - 22:24
I would go ahead and still use the XY pair or a pair of spaced omnis, for the overall pick up. Then I would include a solo highlight microphone. A bass direct, a couple of additional highlight microphones for quieter instruments like piano, saxes or vibes, maybe one on the guitar and one placed low near the floor, in front of the bass drum and drum kit.

Wasn't that easy?
Ms. Remy Ann David

rfreez Tue, 04/17/2007 - 08:06
i think its important to know if the performance will be amplified or unamplified, for any really useful suggestions to come up. for now, i'll assume the concert is amplified. also whether your pencil condensers are unidirectional or omnidirectional will be useful information.

personally, i have little use for an overall pickup pair in an amplified performance, but that probably has to do with the sort of amplification and acoustics i have to deal with in my work. If everything sounds great in any one place in an amplified performance, your stereo pair will probably work well there (which is what the guys at [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.tapersse…"]taperssection[/]="http://www.tapersse…"]taperssection[/] do). But combining such a (distant) stereo pair with spots on the stage could turn out to be a phase nightmare, so if i go for a stereo pair based recording, i'd do it as the "tapers" do, and stop with two.

capturing a 15 piece group in a live situation with 3 dynamics and three condensers doesn't seem like a very good plan. but if i had to do it, i guess i'll go with l,c,r overhead pickups of the whole group with the condensers, and use the dynamics as spots on the acoustic bass and whatever else turns out to have less projection on the particular day.

alternately, you could, if its a possibility, consider recording eight bused outputs from the live mixing console as i suspect their list of inputs will be more comprehensive. then you can have some fun mixing.

all the best.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 04/17/2007 - 08:36
I'm not sure what is... Is that just a site devoted to budget recording? I browsed the forum and I don't understand what "taper" (the only thing I can come up with is that it's another name for a recording engineer).

The bass and guitar are amplified. I'm unsure of whether there will be solo mics or not, since this is such a small concert hall mics for the soloists may not be needed. The keyboard will probably be miced as well.

My condensers are unidirectional I believe (they are the samson c02 in case you're interested). Thanks for your suggestion man...

rfreez Tue, 04/17/2007 - 09:12
I browsed the forum and I don't understand what "taper" (the only thing I can come up with is that it's another name for a recording engineer).

in a sense you're right, a "taper" is a "recording engineer" (tho' i think the word "engineer" is used rather loosely in this context), only, most usually, he is recording an amplified live performance and he is capturing the audience perspective, or rather, the feeling of "being there", with one pair of mics.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 04/17/2007 - 10:09
Yeah, I think I'm going to just go that route (pair of mics/audience perspective)... I'll do a few sound checks with the mics placed at different distances to see what sounds best... If possible, I'll experiment with a couple overhead mics too, and maybe a pair of "wide range" (one mic on each side of the stage along with the XY pair in the middle). How does that sound for a set-up? Basically, I don't think my skills are advanced enough to mic individual instruments and not get the "phase shifting" effect... Let me know what you think! Thanks.

RemyRAD Tue, 04/17/2007 - 11:55
I think you're both beginners.

I know you are both beginners.

Your sonic image will work. Center XY with a pair of "something" for the wide flanking stereo space. Sure. That way you will get a pleasant recording whether they are acoustic or electric.

Then a couple of highlight microphones for solos and/or the quieter instruments that you can afford to Mike up.

Just remember, you can frequently take a bass guitar direct, be it acoustic or electric, sometimes with nothing more than a microphone cable, since many "bass amplifiers" already have XLR and/or 1/4" outputs for your convenience! Don't try to run that 1/4" output cable 100 feet without at least purchasing a $15 high impedance to low impedance adapter from Radio Shaft. With that plugged into the back of the amplifier. Not quite the headroom you'd get from a Whirlwind Director DI's or active SansAmp but it can now have a microphone cable, a la XLR, up to 3000 feet in length to the mixer without problems.

OK, so now you are both professionals (as I pontifically wave my hand over top of your hard disk heads).
The godlike Ms. Remy Ann David

BRH Tue, 04/17/2007 - 15:55
Only time i've heard the term "Tapersection" was referring to buying tickets for a Grateful Dead concert....... the tapersection was for the people on the floor, they allowed them to bring in their own gear to record the concert, and usually a lot of other misc. items that when up in smoke. I went to one of these "events" because someone wanted to use my AKG C-33 stereo mike for the concert.... and I wouldn't let the dude use it unsupervised, because he didn't one end of a joint from the other.
Middle of the show they carried a guy out on a stretcher all strapped down, and he was freaking out and screaming.......... that's what the "Dead" will do to you if you have to listen to them for more that an hour!
Sounded good to me with earplugs in.

Peace, Love and some tye-dye shirts.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 04/17/2007 - 21:17
Here's another 2 cents...
I record big-bands fairly often, and here are my suggestions:

1) XY pair w/ 2 cardiods (your Samsons) centered in front of the horns...NOT the center of the band, the center of the horns - ignore the rhythm section for now...
As long as the PA is a few feet forward of the band (and it should be to prevent feedback) the XY should only get minimal PA bleed.
2) Set up solo mics where needed...every band handles this to the director and put on your problem solving hat. (NOTE: In many good bands, the brass players wail so loud you may not need a mic!)
3) Overhead on drums. "What, no kick mic?" you say? RIGHT: this is not rock - in jazz the kick is just another tom, the bass player is the pulse in jazz. (See #6)
4) Cardiod over the hammers of the piano, or a PZM gaff taped to the lid (keep the lid closed).
If you have 2 cardioids, ask the piano player to play "the A above middle C" and put your mic #1 there. Put the other halfway between the #1 mic and the bass side of the piano.
5) Mic a guitar amp the way you would for rock. Jazz guitar is quiet, and close is good to prevent bleed.
6) IMPORTANT: If the bass player has an acoustic, take a DI from the amp. Why not the bass? If it's an upright, many common pickups have too low an impedance and you will get a very nasty, harsh tone from a typical DI. Unless you invest in a buffer preamp (The Barcuss Berry 4000 is great!) you need to have the signal buffered by the preamp in the acoustic amp. (If the bass player just has a standard "rock amp", well...good luck....)
I'm picky about this because a) the bass tone has a lot to cut through in the mix, and b) I'm a bass player. :)

Good luck!