Advice on mic'ing a small folk ensemble

Discussion in 'Ensembles' started by dpd, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. dpd

    dpd Active Member

    Sep 29, 2004
    I'll be engineering a live broadcast in mid-April and I've been debating about what mic setup to use this time. Not sure on the line-up yet, but I'm guessing a couple of guitars, maybe a banjo, including vocals.

    The room is 18' x 28' with a hung ceiling around 10' up. A small audience will be in the back (short wall) of the room. The room is reasonably-well controlled from about 200 Hz and up.

    One setup I've never used is classic Blumlein. I have a pair of AKG C-414s and a pair of AT 4050s that I could use.

    Previous shows I have used variations of ORTF w/cardioids, coincident X/Y cardioids, etc. One show I did with spaced Earthworks omnis that featured two hammered dulcimers ended up with too much room and poor vocals.

    Lots of times the vocalists are weak and I keep thinking I should spot-mic them. But then I worry about too many mics and bleed from the instruments.

    I'm all ears and would appreciate any advice you may have for me. Thanks in advance!
  2. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:
    If you can get the group to balance itself well, a single Blumlein pair can yeild amazing results. See: for a description on how this can work... Probably won't be your best bet since you'll have an audience, but as you'll hear, you can yield some pretty amazing results.

    That being said, if your group can't balance itself naturally, you'll need to go with a multi-mic setup. With a folk ensemble, the classic recordings weren't made from using a lot of mics so you'd probably do well to have a good stereo pair out in front and then a few spots mixed lightly to help bring out any of the parts that need a bit of help. When mixing, ask yourself if the spot mics are more present than the main pair, if they are, you may want to back off a bit on them.

    If that just isn't going to work (still requires a certain amount of self-balance), then go to an extensive mic setup where each instrument and voice is mic'd seperately.


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