Ambient Micing Techniques

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by JimboJ, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. JimboJ

    JimboJ Active Member

    May 1, 2005
    This Sunday I’m recording a chamber ensemble in a 450-seat auditorium. I’ve got my main pair figured out, but thought I would try hanging a pair of microphones off the balcony to record the audience and get some ambient sounds that I can blend into the main mix. These mics would be about 30 feet or so from the lip of the stage. Having never done this, I’d appreciate some advice on ambient micing techniques. I was thinking about hanging a pair of cardioids in ORTF off the center of the balcony. Alternatively, I could hang a pair of spaced omnis (how far apart?). Or maybe there’s another way?

    Also, do you have a rule of thumb about time delay and how many db’s down you go in the mix?


    -- James
  2. mdemeyer

    mdemeyer Active Member

    Dec 22, 2004
    Dublin, CA USA
    Sounds like your goal is room sound (for ambience in the performance) and good sounding applause (which is often missing in the main pair if you are using cards for the mains).

    I'd hang omnis. Since they are capturing uncorrelated room sound, spacing is not that critical. Convenience of running wires and hanging options will often make the spacing decision for you.

    If you are 30 foot back, you probably will not need to add much (if any delay) to them. Mix to taste in the performance, and run them up for a lovely applause sound. :D
  3. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:
    Definitely omnis if you are going to hang from a balcony. For applause, you'll get a great sound, but your ambience with whatever you do will result with a lot of audience sound (ie coughs, programs rustling, etc...)

    I use KM130's at one of the halls where I work regularly for this exact thing. They are hung probably 35-40 feet back from the stage. For sessions, they work great. For concerts, I think they pick up too much audience noise.

    Another thing you can do is put cardiod or hypercardiod mics at the edge of the stage facing back. Careful placement will let you get as much ambience and as little direct sound from the stage as possible.

  4. drick

    drick Active Member

    Dec 30, 2001
    Home Page:
    Another vote for the omnis. The farther apart you space them, the lower the decorrelation frequency. That's usually a good thing in ambience and applause recording.

    They will pick up some direct sound, however, and you might want to take some precautions. I'd be inclined to use a spacing that covers a similar stage width to what you're getting from your main pair. That will keep the ambience mics from pulling the image too far out of whack. Also, 30 feet back is far enough for the delay time to begin disturbing the listener. Be prepared to do delay adjustment in post. You might find you like a much shorter delay. I usually adjust this by ear, while listening for spectral balance and spatial impression.

    David L. Rick
    Seventh String Recording
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Hey Guys!

    Let's all join in welcoming David!

    I know he's been lurking around for a long time, but we're glad to see the posts. Please keep them up!

    For all of you that don't know who David is - he IS the real deal in acoustic music. Unfortunately, I only know him by reputation but his reputation and his work are equally good.

    We are blessed on this forum to have MANY of the hardworking, knowledgable pros submitting here above and beyond the blow-hard ramblings of advanced amatuers such as myself.

    Thanks for your contributions David and keep 'em coming!


    PS -

    There's now officially too many Davids submitting information to this forum - you'll all have to think of handles or psuedonyms -

  6. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    Hmmm that's my DJ name... my last mix tape was Indiana Dave and the Temple of BOOM :lol:

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