I'm desperate:( Mics placement in the church (Gefell 270M)

Discussion in 'Chamber' started by Stradivariusz, Oct 6, 2005.

  1. Stradivariusz

    Stradivariusz Active Member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Dear forum fellows
    I'm now a happy owner of a pair of the Microtech Gefells M270, but I'm desperately dissappoited in my recording skills while using them.

    Well, it was my first production when I was recording with omnis, but still I have my ears, but they let me down.... :cry:

    I did a session with a small chamber music group in a small church, where they had before already very succesful recordings. Well, I can not say the same about mine.

    I hate the sound , color and the balance between the instruments and even more I hate the relation of the direct to reverberant sound.

    Tomorrow I will let you hear some examples to make you have an idea about what I'm here talking about....(now is a bit late here in Belgium)

    I have just completely no IDEA where I should place the mics to have a sound wich is clear, rich, beautiful and sweet...and not the sound which is aggressive and ugly balanced... especially I don't have any idea how close or far should I mike people in the church. I did some succesful recordings with the bigger groups, but chamber music sucks....I hate it and I don't know what I'm doing wrong!!!!!!

    If you can give me some ideas...

  2. Stradivariusz

    Stradivariusz Active Member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Well, I manage to put two examples here. Forget the extention, they are regular mp3 - I'm just not allowed to put this kind of files on the web, so I'm pushed to do this trick. Just download and play as normal mp3.


  3. ghellquist

    ghellquist Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2004
    Hi strad,
    been there. Share your frustration.

    I have no idea really where to go. Will only share a few of my experiences in churches.

    One of the churches I have recorded has been very difficult. Two discoverys has helped me make better recording. The first is to never place the instruments or the mics in the "middle" of the open space in front of the altar. There is a dome above that very obvious place. Sound bounces back right there and makes recording more or less impossible. A few meters to either side and the sound changes dramatically. When doing larger groups it is also difficult for the musicians because either side of this mid-point is sort of different acoustic spaces, the musicians does not hear each other.

    Second thing is that in that church the mics should not go too high. Above about 2,5 meters something happens with an ugly reverbation. Main mics has to be below this limit in order to make anything decent.

    I guess there might be similar things going on in your recording.

  4. Stradivariusz

    Stradivariusz Active Member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Thanks Gunnar
    Placement of the musicians can be a problem - they were sitting in 1/3rd of the lenght on the church and exact in the middle...I thought that will have less bounces if I had placed them near the wall for example...maby will look for another place next time. What are you experiances guys about placing the ensemble in the chuch?

    My mics though were quite low...about 1.70m - and placed more less as far from the cembalo, so the cello and recorder were a bit closer, so I during the balance check I was quite happy...well - to quick.

    Do you have maby some ideas if it is possible to make it still more pleasant to listen in the post production?

  5. liuto

    liuto Guest

    I think the harpsichord ist too near and dry sounding. My theory out of this experience is that harpsichords don't "produce" as much hearable reverb in an ensemble because their most obvious frequency content is in the highs and these tend to be swallowed during the buildup of the reverberant field so that you hear mostly the direct sound, the rest ist masked by the other instruments. Instruments like recorder have a response that contains mostly the fundamentals and these are fully thrown back, building up a very obvious reverb tail.
    I suggest to remove the lid of the harpsichord (close it except for a small opening) and/or position it at a greater distance. The cello has mainly bass function so I would position the recorder a bit nearer.
    I have the feeling that there is also some resonant frequency in the bass. The smaller a venue the more likely this will happen. What are the dimensions of the church?
    I personally also like omnis (Neumann KM83 and Schoeps MK2s) more than the cardioid versions (KM84 and MK4) but in most cases it is rather problematic to use them if there are some flaws in the acoustics. I always get usable results with a quick setup of cardioids (important for concert recordings where I have to play lute/theorbo myself).
    Best regards
  6. Cucco

    Cucco Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    First, let me start of by saying:

    Don't beat yourself up so much. I think the recording is quite good. Sure, there are MINOR issues. (And I do mean MINOR) However, there are some very good things about this recording. The sounds of the instruments are VERY natural and clean - organic, if you will.

    I think the balance of reverb to direct is not that bad.

    I also record a chamber orchestra in a church on a regular basis and run into a far worse reverb scenario (as the church is hexagonal and by the nature of the altar, the musicians must spread out very badly. The horns wind up sitting almost all the way back in the bend of the hexagon and overpower everyone and reverb until the end of time. - I'm one of the horn players too, so it's very frustrating.)

    My personal solution to my problem involved using omnis in a Decca tree configuration. I was able to get the mics pretty close to the musicians which helped to avoid the excess reverb, yet at the same time, I still got the clean, nice seperation of the Decca Tree configuration. For winds in the rear of the strings, I placed a couple spot microphones (omni) at eye-level and brought them in just to give me enough direct sound on them to balance out the reverb.

    I don't know how much this helps - hopefully a little, but the best thing I could do is to tell you not to worry, your recording sounds fine.

    All of the above statements MUST be caveated by stating that I'm listening to this over a pair of consumer-grade sony headphones through a laptop connection. However, based on this "average joe" setup, I'm pleased with the sound.

    J. (y)
  7. Stradivariusz

    Stradivariusz Active Member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Thanks for some creative critique guys... Hermann, you are right about the cembalo, I was stupidly taken by the idea of the musicians, who felt not enough bass in the cembalo...that was the reason of coming so close...and removing the lid of cembalo will cost me my young life - the cembalo player will take care of it :lol: Ones again I didn't trust my ears and went for the ideas of musicians - big mistake not to listen to myself enough...

    Some good ideas about the instrument placement will be also taken to my next production. It's so obvious, but I forget about it all the time in stress of having little time for the balance...I should make a list of things to think about while setting mics. :?

    Jeremy, thanks for these warm giving words, but I do want to do it much better since I wish to become ever a professional :-? and I have to admit that the recording sounds a bit better through headphones than the monitors.

    I wonder if it makes sense to Decca Tree the recording with one cardioid at front, I don't have three omnis - maby for fun I will try it ones.

    Greetings to all

  8. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    This next weekend I am getting ready to record 100 high school students in a octagon shaped chapel. It is a beautiful chapel and has very little reverb. The one BIG problem is that if you are in the center of the chapel and you clap your hands you get a quick double repeated snap back. Needless to say we are NOT going to be anywhere near the center of the chapel. I plan to use a Decca tree with extra microphones for the soloist and piano. There are two additional instruments an accordion and a flute that also will have to be miked. This will be done multitrack and mixed down later. The biggest problem will be the overall pickup of 100 voices without getting too far back and the logistics of having 100 high school students with their hormones raging concentrating on the task at hand. Luckily I have two great directors to work with and they have good control of their students. The other two problems we will face is that this chapel is about 100 feet from the street and there is a fire house next to the chapel and a hospital down the street about one block so their maybe some problems with sirens. We have allotted enough time to deal with this possible problem but it still can mess up a recording especially when the take was perfect down to the last 3 seconds when the siren started. Been there done that.

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