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Goodmorning everyone,
I wish I could record audio as much like in this video:
link to youtube: Quando dal terzo cielo - Palestrina - YouTube

Before buy expensive microphones, I would ask detailed advice on how it can be so well recorded this acappella group.

Thank you

Pietro

Comments

Profile picture for user Keith Johnson

Keith Johnson Fri, 10/21/2016 - 03:29

Pretty much most of the 'secret' is in the quality of the performers and the venue that you record in.

No matter how good your microphones and the rest of your audio chain are, if the singers and acoustics aren't up to the standard of those implied by the video then you're already going to struggle to match it.

Something else to think about is that - despite things like the 414s and TLM170s being in shot - there are also others. For example, unless I missed it, there's a tall stand which I suspect holds a main array that doesn't appear on camera...all of which means it's impossible to say which of the mics are in use at any one time...so you -could- just be listening to a pair of omnis high up in a great space and all the rest is turned off....

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rmburrow Fri, 10/21/2016 - 08:36

The venue is extremely important.... Next is microphone placement... A pair of good microphones (or a good stereo mic) can get you a superb recording...No processing necessary... If you can, go to the venue in advance and LISTEN to how your voice sounds in the room with the associated natural reverb, etc. Move toward and away from where the conductor would stand and compare. Stereo pair over the conductor's head... conductor can't argue with you since the mics "hear" essentially what the conductor is hearing... A pair of Schoeps mics is a good choice....Just my $0.02 worth...

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audiokid Fri, 10/21/2016 - 09:48

pietro94, post: 442443, member: 50053 wrote: Goodmorning everyone,
I wish I could record audio as much like in this video:
link to youtube: Quando dal terzo cielo - Palestrina - YouTube

Before buy expensive microphones, I would ask detailed advice on how it can be so well recorded this a cappella group.

Thank you

Pietro

I recorded this 4 years ago. I've learned a lot since then. The church where this was recorded wasn't the best but the gear I used was.
It was a one time shot, no rehearsal , one mic to choose. I set up and pressed record.

Other than it being optimized for Soundcloud and compressed into an MP3, there is no processing on this track.

If I was to record this again, I would place the microphone closer and use a Bricasti to improve the room acoustics more.

Gear used: Lavry AD11 and Royer SF-24. Overhead boom approx 4 m high, 4 m back tilting towards the singers

The SF-series transducer gives a warm, flat response and extends a few kHz further into the high frequencies. Its more purist sound lends itself to strings, woodwinds and other classical applications. The stereo imaging and realism of the SF-12 and SF-24 is uncanny - excellent for ensembles, drum overheads, choirs, acoustic groups, etc.

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.org/attachments/choir-lavryad11-royersf24-clip-mp3.144…

To expand this thread. I'm not into gospel per-say, but learning how to record choirs like this can add beautiful backgrounds in other genres of music.

I would use this setup again to record background vocals like heard in this 10CC - "I'm Not In Love"effect, with options like shifting the audio through a Bricasti and/or possibly the Blackhole from Eventide.

Attached files

Choir-LavryAD11-RoyerSF24-Clip.mp3 (3.2 MB) 

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Boswell Fri, 10/21/2016 - 10:13

Hi Pietro,

You are presumably talking about dedicated recording sessions rather than you recording concerts with an audience present, so you can dictate the positioning of the performers. As the others have indicated, it's essential to find a place in the building that will give you the best sound, for example, one that has a little natural reverberation but without flutter echoes. You may have to be prepared to put carpets or mats down to reduce reflections off the floor. If you are considering using figure-8 ribbon microphones, you have to take into account what the acoustic is behind the microphone as well as what is in front.

You haven't given any idea of how many singers there will be or how they are distributed in the space (semicircle, banked on risers etc). I've done a large number of recordings of singing groups (including the King's Singers in their early days), and I always listen to a rehearsal of the actual pieces to be performed in the performance venue before deciding on the type and positioning of microphones that would be suitable for those pieces.

In terms of equipment, getting the best recording from an a capella group requires high-quality gear. That means careful choice of microphones, pre-amplifiers and converters. Rather than our reeling off lists of gear, it would help to know what equipment you already have, what your budget is for new gear and what you expect that budget to cover.

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pcrecord Fri, 10/21/2016 - 12:59

With a small group of signers, you can start with a single good Omni mic and put the artist around it.. That way you aren't dealing with any phase problems...
Next step if you are confident, it could be 2 figure of 8 mic and do something like this :


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pietro94 Sun, 10/23/2016 - 04:48

First, thanks to all for the answers.
I have to buy some stuff so...

i have to record vocal quartet with a clear sound and acoustic of the room and in this moment I have

4 x shure SM81, small diaphragm condenser
1 AKG p420, large diaphragm condenser
Steinberg ur44, audio interface

AKG p420 is a microphone from 200 €, it would be fine if I bought others or are not appropriate?
I can buy another 3 and use a SM81 stereo pair for acoustics
however, in the next few days I will try other techniques suggested

What is the best combination of quality and price?
I have a good budget but it is always good not exaggerate

Thanks

Pietro (from italy)

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Keith Johnson Sun, 10/23/2016 - 05:48

Hi Pietro,

I'd probably be tempted not to buy any more equipment and just use a stereo pair of SM81s for both the performance and the acoustics of the room.

Assuming the performers are self balancing and the acoustic is clear enough, then this should result in a perfectly good recording.

Using a pair of cardioids gives you access to a range of stereo microphone techniques - XY / ORTF / NOS / DIN etc all of which sound slightly different and require different positioning...you can balance the direct sound with the room sound by distance / height etc.

Alternatively, you could add in some room sound by using the P420 in omni mode along with the cardioid pair.

Or you could try the P420 with one of the SM81s as an MS pair...

So you've actually got plenty of options without spending any more money at this point.

Edited to add:

Alternatively, depending on how much of this you're going to be doing you could always look at hiring microphones - The Schoeps website for example lists a major stockist in Italy....

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JayTerrance Sun, 10/23/2016 - 14:03

A very old engineer back in the late 70s (he was old back then) told me that you always need a room mic placed up high to capture the overtones created by an acapella group.

As for the main mics on acapella quartets, MS has always been my favorite with ORTF a close second.

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DonnyThompson Mon, 10/24/2016 - 03:07

pietro94, post: 442534, member: 50053 wrote: I can buy another 3 and use a SM81 stereo pair for acoustics
however, in the next few days I will try other techniques suggested

What is the best combination of quality and price?

Based on your current mic inventory, I really don't think you need to buy ( or even borrow) any more microphones.
I think you have a sufficient number of mics, and they are most certainly sufficient in quality to do the job with what you have now.
Having ( or adding) more microphones to a scenario is not always necessary, and it's for certain that it's not always going to result in a better recording....
You might find that a simple stereo pair, supported by an omni mic, will be the best choice.

So, that brings us to...

Keith Johnson, post: 442535, member: 49792 wrote: Using a pair of cardioids gives you access to a range of stereo microphone techniques - XY / ORTF / NOS / DIN etc all of which sound slightly different and require different positioning...you can balance the direct sound with the room sound by distance / height etc.

Keith has brought up an important point... How knowledgeable are you with the various mic arrays mentioned throughout this thread?
I don't know you, so I'm asking, what is your experience level with live recording in an uncontrolled environment? ( ie, "uncontrolled" meaning not in a studio. ;) )

You may want to start with researching the various multi-mic arrays for live recording, especially choral/a capella, because mic technique and placement can be just as important as the types and kinds of mic(s) you use.

http://www.recordingmag.com/resources/resourceDetail/251.html

http://cdn.shure.com/publication/upload/837/microphone_techniques_for_recording_english.pdf

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pcrecord Mon, 10/24/2016 - 07:07

SM81s are great mics.
If you are eager to invest, I would buy some nice clean preamps to drive them. Some with high clean gain ! ;)

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pietro94 Mon, 10/24/2016 - 07:53

thanks for the information.
First try the configuration M / S (with AKG p420 & shureSM81), I can also record the reverberation and the environment with a SM81 stereo pair ORTF positioned just meters from the group and high enough?

I do not have too much experience, but I have a good ear and a desire to learn, i recognize the difference between a good and a bad record according to my taste (I sing in two choirs and a vocal quartet). I would like to get closer to a result like the one in the video of the king's singers, with a natural reverberation.

I would use the preamp sound card (Steinberg ur44 with Yamaha D-pre preamp)

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pcrecord Mon, 10/24/2016 - 08:10

pietro94, post: 442550, member: 50053 wrote: I would use the preamp sound card (Steinberg ur44 with Yamaha D-pre preamp)

The UR44 while not bad, is far from highend preamps like Neve, millennia, Grace Audio and even Focusrite ISA.
If you are looking for the wow factor, all the parts of the recording are important. Room, performance, Mic, preamp, converter, etc...

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rmburrow Mon, 10/24/2016 - 10:24

pietro94, post: 442550, member: 50053 wrote: thanks for the information.
First try the configuration M / S (with AKG p420 & shureSM81), I can also record the reverberation and the environment with a SM81 stereo pair ORTF positioned just meters from the group and high enough?

I do not have too much experience, but I have a good ear and a desire to learn, i recognize the difference between a good and a bad record according to my taste (I sing in two choirs and a vocal quartet). I would like to get closer to a result like the one in the video of the king's singers, with a natural reverberation.

I would use the preamp sound card (Steinberg ur44 with Yamaha D-pre preamp)[/QUOT

The room (church sanctuary, concert hall, auditorium, etc.) in which you record a capella voices is CRITICAL. Some locations are simply unusable for choral music, especially a capella... Your ears will be the ultimate test, but some underlying discussion of basic acoustic theory is appropriate.

Those of us that also work with radio frequencies ("RF") as our main line of work can apply some of what we learned about wave guides to audio. Compare the room you are recording in to a piece of wave guide that is shorted on both ends, with the energy source located within the wave guide, and the sample location(s) also located within the wave guide at some distance. A wave guide may have dimensions m, n (width,height for rectangular waveguide), and length L. The room you are recording in has finite dimensions also. Instead of electromagnetic energy propagating at 3 x 10**8 m/sec through a wave guide, audio propagates at approximately 340 meters/sec at 25 deg C and 760 torr (standard temperature and pressure) within the room.

Wall treatments, large audience, carpeting, etc. directly affects how a specific room "loads" with respect to the sound source. In RF work, we deal with "vswr" where a transmitter is "matched" to a transmission line (wave guide) and a load (antenna) with minimum vswr (and associated minimum reflected power). In audio, the room effectively is a shorted piece of transmission line; there will be audible reflections and resonances. A "standing wave ratio" always exists and the intensity varies, depending where microphones are placed relative to the source. Without placing a single microphone, your ears will tell you the reflected intensity is higher when the mic is farther from the audio source; computations will verify that, and perhaps predict a "sweet spot" for initial mic placement. (This helps when you know details about the venue, are in a hurry, and have one bite of the apple to place the mics...)

I have found that church sanctuaries with a high ceiling, typical hard surface walls, and length at least 2 times width work well for a capella recording. Schools are getting better about acoustic treatment in auditoriums. The basic mic forms (XY, ORTF, M/S) work...you have to be careful with M/S to get a natural sound. I made a recording in a church where the width exceeded the length by more than a factor of 2 with carpeted floors, I had to put the mics in close, and natural presence was lacking. Good luck...

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pcrecord Mon, 10/24/2016 - 11:00

Am I the only one to consider Blumlein for this application? I'm curious to know if anyone as objections and what could be the disavantages. (other that it can't be done with the SM81 ;) )