Good mics for live/small ensembles,recital,choir recordings?

Discussion in 'Ensembles' started by echo, Jan 12, 2006.

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  1. echo

    echo Guest

    Starting to do some recording of live performances of small ensembles (strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion) and choir recordings.
    Mainly student recitals done at on campus recital halls.

    I am in need of a good set of matched stereo mics

    I have been looking at the following and would like your opinion on any of these you may have used for this scenario of recording or if you would suggest any not listed and tell me why...

    What I have been researching/considering:
    Shure KSM137's
    Rode NT5's
    Earthworks TC20's

    Any help would be GREATLY appreciated!
    Thanks and take care
  2. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005
    Re: Good mics for live/small ensembles,recital,choir recordi

    Leading the horse to the front of the cart, where it belongs...

    The first thing to consider is not the choice of microphones but the choice of stereo technique. In that respect, I think ORTF is a good technique to get started with because it's very forgiving of position (relative to most other techniques), it's quick and easy to set-up, it provides a good balance of imaging and spaciousness, and it usually delivers an acceptable result. When push comes to shove, a consistently acceptable result, job after job, is far more impressive than a mixed bag of brilliant recordings and patchy recordings. Consistently acceptable results mean consistently returning clients...

    Given your selection, I'd recommend the NT5s because they're small, clean, and you can do ORTF or XY with them, whichever suits the particular job. I've had no experience with the KSM137s, so I can't comment on them. No offence to the omni guys here, by the way...

    After determining the appropriate stereo technique, please remember this: when recording direct-to-stereo, the choice of microphones is far more critical than any other item in the recording chain (thanks, Mr Spearritt, for continually reminding me of that fact over the years). If you can stretch or otherwise re-assess your budget, consider a matched pair of DPA or Schoeps cardioids. Both brands have excellent off-axis response, which is a greatly under-rated aspect of microphone performance, and quite critical for direct-to-stereo recording. Most lower cost microphones do not perform so well in this respect, and the recording suffers. In fact, if you've ever wondered why a DPA, Schoeps or similar microphone sounds so much better than something cheaper when both appear to have a flat response and similar distortion figures and so on, you can bet it's the off-axis response that makes the audible difference. That's often what you're paying the bigger money for.

    DPA's 3521 stereo kit is a great solution, if you can afford it. It combines a matched pair of 4021 compact cardioids along with a cool stereo mounting bracket that makes it a cinch to do ORTF or XY. It also includes mountings for piano and so on. I take one of those rigs with me on gigs where I'm not sure what problems I may encounter, although the kit I use has 4023s instead of 4021s because I hate microphones with fixed cables - always a potential weak point.

    I hope that's helpful...
  3. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    for about the same price as nt5s I recommend

    oktava mk012-msp6
    personally I prefer them over the nt5s
    and you'll have a choice of card vs omni vs hypercard
    which means you can try different stereo micing techniques

  4. MasonMedia

    MasonMedia Guest

    Re: Good mics for live/small ensembles,recital,choir recordi

  5. echo

    echo Guest

    guess I ought to mention that I am needing to stick within about a $1000 budget.

    though I still like to hear about higher priced mics for when the money is rolling in steadily which shouldnt take long.
    thanks for all replies
  6. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2005
    My NT5s are great, but I haven't used them for that type of thing yet: just drum overheads or acoustic guitar.

    If M/S recording is an option consider the Beyer M160/M130 ribbon mics.
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    I've been playing a bit with the NT5s lately, and while I'm impressed on the whole, I wouldn't throw them up over an orchestra any time soon. For under $1000 a pair, I would consider either of the AT 40 series SDCs or the AKG Blue Line. There really isn't much more out there that will do a great job.

    I can't agree with Greg more - off-axis response is the key to a good directional microphone. And, BTW, I don't take it personally that you're not recommending spaced omnis. I usually don't recommend them to newbies first of all (spaced omni can be a nightmare without the right practice) and second, though I do dig AB and find it can be used on most anything if done right, it's far easier to get good results with a near-coincident pair. Though, my own preference would be XY, the trade off is, IMO, XY can sound a bit dull and uninvolving, though technically quite accurate.

    I also agree that the M130/M160 setup would be great, be ready to EQ as they are VERY "warm" microphones which will need a little livening for orchestral/instrumental recital stuff.

    Good luck - this is how many of us were bitten by the "bug." Pretty soon, you'll be taking Schoeps brochures into the bathroom instead of Victoria Secret catalogs and you'll dream at night about transformerless preamps with beefy power supplies and gobs of headroom!

    :cool: J
  8. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005
    One of the cool things about a pair of cardioids is that you can choose to do either XY or ORTF (or any other variation of the near-coincident technique). They certainly have their pros and cons. Here are some:

    XY cardioids crossed at 90 degrees requires almost a 180 degree sound stage in order to create a stereo image that extends from hard left to hard right. I am sure that's one of the reasons many people often find it uninteresting (myself included). If you use it with an ensemble placed in a 90 degree window in front of the microphone you don't get a very useful stereo image. Likewise when studio guys use XY for drum kit overheads - boring! BUT... that requirement for a wide window makes it a good choice when you have to be very close to a large ensemble, or when you've got an ensemble that sets up in a large arc spanning 180 degrees, and you want to represent it across the stereo image. FWIW...

    ORTF, on the other hand, will produce a stereo image that extends from hard left to hard right with a 90 degree recording window. BUT... because the microphones have a subtended (is this the correct word?) angle of 110 degrees, sounds from the centre arrive at 55 degrees off axis to each microphone - which is really starting to get away from on-axis. Therefore, to get good results from ORTF you really need microphones with good off-axis response.

    I think XY can be a bit more forgiving in this respect (i.e. if your mics don't have such good off-axis response). I have met one or two newcomers to this kind of recording who are very happy using a Rode NT4. It's XY cardioids at 90 degrees only, but a nice implementation nonetheless.

    - Greg Simmons
  9. BigRay

    BigRay Guest

    under 1000???dpa 4061s on a jdisc. :cool: OR a pair of km184s..

    other great acoustic mics..

    AKG c426, c33e, c34
    Schoeps CMC6, MK2S, MK21, MK41, MK4 NT222,
    Sennheiser 800s
    DPA 4011,4006,4003,dpa 4061, 4060,4090, 4091
    Sonodore RCM 402, CCM 65
    Neumann km84,m49,m50,u89,tlm193
    Microtech Gefell m930s, m300s, SMS 2000(m21,m20,m27), um900,MK221 caps (on josephson c617 bodies..yum), UM 70.1

  10. hughesmr

    hughesmr Guest

    Been there, done that! :D

  11. BigRay

    BigRay Guest

    Aint that the truth. I just dodged putting tires on my car to get a millennia HV-3C
    Hopefully I dont get in an accident.
    :lol: :cool: :-?
  12. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005
    You too, huh? The problem is turning that dream into a reality. The mics were easy (discipline, patience and save, save, save), but the Victoria's Secret dream has proven considerably more difficult to manifest...
  13. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005
    Yes... I had a pair of those for years. Unlike many other mics in the similar price range, they had the 'cultured' sound common to the more expensive European mics.

    I sold them as part of the aforementioned discipline required to buy the Schoeps MS rig. It's amazing how few microphones you can get by with when you force yourself to.

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