Jazz Quartet Recording, some advises?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by lgabiot, Nov 6, 2005.

  1. lgabiot

    lgabiot Guest


    I'm new to this board, althought I guess some members know me from the Samplitude board.

    In three weeks i'll be shooting a live concert of a Jazz Quartet for a friend of mine (it's an amator work, since there's no money for it).
    As I'm a Film/Documentary sound mixer, I'm not heavily trained to music recording, but I really like it each time I have to do it...
    Nevertheless I'd appreciate your advise, comments for this project.

    the music:

    the quartet is composed of the following instruments:

    Upright Piano (leader)
    Soprano Saxophone
    Bass (doublebass in english? I mean big acoustical bass...) that will have amplification.
    Drum Kit.

    Roughly (I'm not very precise), the style of music is near the beginning of Coltrane "late" works (not as late as 'free" stuff, near "a love supreme" area). With some east european influences (but far away, it's not a world thing).

    the concert should take place in a decent room, with a rather dead acoustic.

    While being an almost no money project, we still will have decent gear (I'll bring mine, and we will rent the missing gear).

    So here is my first sketch for the setup:

    recording on a Pyramix workstation. I'll have preamps and AD for 16 tracks. I plan on renting a 12 channel multipair 150 feet cable, to be able to have as much as 12 tracks for recording (I don't plan to use the 16 analog ins). Monitoring will be done in a separate room, with loudspeakers (K&H O300D).

    So for the 12 tracks:
    2 tracks for: an overall stereo couple.
    2 tracks for: the upright piano.
    2 tracks for: the doublebass (one out of the amp), and a close up mike
    1 or 2 tracks for the Soprano Saxophone.
    4 tracks for the drum kit (2 overhead mikes, one mike for bass drum, and one for snare drum).

    I guess more tracks would means too many things to rent, and maybe not enough money for it.

    For the upright piano:
    I never did this before (I did miked grand piano).
    I was about to use a pair of Neumann KM 140 (thoses I own, so I need to use them somwhere, to cut on renting costs).
    I was maybe thinking of placing them behind the piano, since I'm afraid of a too brifgt sound if above or open. there will be repetitions, so will have time to try a few things, but would appreciate any recommendation on this.

    For the Soprano Sax:
    I have two concern: One is I don't know yet how much movements the player usually does, and second, since it is filmed with three cameras, he needs to stay visible.
    I was planning to use one or two large diaphragm mikes, such as Neumann U87 or TLM103.
    I don't think it would be easy to install small mikes on the body of the instrument (could be DPA capsules), but it was something I thought about also. Any pro/con on this?

    Mike for the doublebass:
    I guess a TLM103 would be ok, what about a M88? (I have two of them). I guess the low end would not be as nice, but what do you think?

    For the Drum kit:
    Overhead: while I love the sound of B&K 4006 omnis, I think I will hear too much the other instruments to use them, and was thinking to use cardio mikes instead? does that sound right to you?

    and as mikes, it could be a pair of Schoeps MK4, or TLM 103, or B&K 4011 cardio. which one would you favor?

    for Bass drum and snare drum, I could also put to use my M88, or KM 150, or rent a MD 441...

    Well, here it is, sorry if it's a little long, so if you have any suggestion, I'd be happy to know...

    Best regards,

  2. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:
    Hey Laurent- nice to see you here....

    For the most part, you have what should be a great sounding setup. I have a couple of thoughts....

    First of all, will there be amplification in the room and will there be monitors on stage? That will affect the setup quite a bit.

    Second- is the sound or the visual more important? Chances are, you'll find that while you can get good sound and good visuals, you won't get great sound if microphones are invisible...

    Third- you may or may not find area micing to be useful- For a live performance in front of an audience, I'd rather put up a pair of mics to record audience reaction than have a stereo pair up in front of the group. Most recorded sounds for jazz these days (well, and for the past 30-40 years) has been from a multi mic'd approach with minimal room micing.

    For the piano, I'd probably do one of a couple things depending on how the particular instrument sounds- I'd open the top and place the mics up over that.. You'll probably get your most open sound that way. Also, if it is a large upright and the player isn't using sheet music, taking off the music holder and exposing the strings may help open up your sound. If the piano is very bright, you may need to tame it by putting the mics on the back side of the instrument....

    Bass- do you have access to a good direct box (perhaps one with tubes- I usually use the Demeter or ADL200 DI on bass)? I usually like to use a DI between the bass and the amp. That way, any changes in the amp's settings won't affect your recorded sound. For a mic, you can do one of a couple things- my favorite is probably the U47FET placed roughly at the f-hole on the high-string side (usually on the right side of the instrument as you look at it) Other mics can work well like Schoeps, Neuman KM184's/KM140's, MKH40's, etc.... Different sounds, but all will be great. For a bass, assuming the bleed from the drums isn't too bad, you'll probably also want to use the majority of the sound from the microphone rather than the DI (it will be a "truer" sound"). Since you mentioned it, an M88 (as well as a 421) can be a really nice bass sound (as well as helping avoid drum bleed). Lastly, if you use a small-dia mic, try wrapping it in foam and placing it facing up under the bridge of the instrument. If the player doesn't like that, a DPA 4061 placed in a similar manner can sound quite nice, too... You may also want to consider placing some plexiglass to use as a gobo between the bass player and the drums.... It may save your bass sound and being clear, it won't be too obtrusive for video.

    Sax- I would use only a single microphone and whatever you do- keep the player from sticking it up his bell. You'll probably get your best sound around the middle of the instrument. If you can't have a mic visible, I'd use a DPA4061 mounted on the performer, probably at about the breast bone (where the 2 sides of the chest meet) or perhaps a touch lower... I've had to do this a few times and while not as great of a sound as a good large-dia condenser or ribbon, it will sound quite nice. For the sax, I'd also seriously look at a ribbon mic- you may find for budget reasons a Beyer 160 will work well. Sounds good on sax and also is directional (which helps with bleed and any amplification that may be needed). I also like Coles and royers on sax as well...

    Drums- you'll be fine with 2 overheads, kick and snare... I would try to avoid omnis for this, though... They may work, but you do run the risk of bleed issues. Another thing to try if you need to save channels is to place a stereo pair (X-Y or M-S) in front of the kit below the cymbals "looking" at the snare just over the toms. Place about 18" or so out... You can pick up a great sound on a kit with just that pair...

    Last bit of advice- especially since you are recording with video. Pan your instruments as you see them on stage (ie don't stretch the piano and drums from hard left to right). You may find that the sound just doesn't quite match what you see. I'll usually place the piano from left to about 1:00 and drums from 11:00 to right with the sax and bass in the center.... If you use a stereo pair out front, you'll have that as a rough image anyways...

    Well, I've gone on long enough... good luck!

  3. lgabiot

    lgabiot Guest

    Hello Ben,

    Thanks a lot for your answer!

    Lots of great tips!

    Appart for the bass, there will be no amplification in the room. And microphones need not to be invisible, I was just worried about the sax one that maybe could be a little intrusive, but the image guys are quite comprehensive, and we really work as a team which is great.

    Your advises are very clear and informative, I really appreciate that you shared your experience.

    I especially liked the tip about the chest mic for the sax, while I'll try to avoid it, it's great to know that possibilty, and I couldn't think of it. I have some olds M160, and will give them a chance, but i'm afraid they are all broken (I never could find one that seemed correct for voices, they were all too old,, but that may be different with sax?...we will see).

    Also for the DI between the bass and the amp, it's a good idea that I'll follow. (but again, I'll rather try to have a good mic doing the job... but the drum kit might be near, the stage isn't big...).

    For the area miking, I first thought they were important (I was thinking like I did for a classical recording I did for a TV movie), but I guess you'r right, and will check that also.

    For the Piano, I'll have to check how it sounds, and how the pianist like it, but thanks to you I know what are the big options for it.
    I'll check also your two mics setup for the Drum kit, it looks interresting.

    I'm lucky there will be two rehearsals before the concert, so I'll be able to try some stuff (with a smaller rig, just a dat and some mics...), so your advises will be a good guide on what to try there.

    Thanks a lot for your help, :D :D :D

  4. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:
    Let us know how it goes... If you can, post some MP3's for us to listen to.

  5. lgabiot

    lgabiot Guest

    I will, but the concert is the 1st of december, so a little waiting is necessary...

    But to wait, there's a web site announcing the concert: http://ravalard4t.site.voila.fr/, on which there's some MP3's. Nothing there was recorded by me, but you'll have a taste of the music.
    And the text will give definitely a better description of the music than mine!!! Exept that it's in french...

    I'll let you informed of the progress of things...

    Best regards,

  6. Hi Laurent,

    Good to see you here!

    Great tips and advices have already been given indeed. Just a few things though:

    - for the sax, as it is a soprano, I would slightly differ from what has been said: personally I would go for a 2 mics setup, except if you are miking from +80cm at least, which I doubt. Depending on the note played, the sound can jump from the top to the bottom of the instrument [corps du haut/corps du bas].
    - You could try an infra cardioïd for the bass like the MK21 (Schoeps). I had splendid results with these. The problem is that if you go for a true directional mic, you will loose that natural extended low end; but you already know all this of course.
    - The DI between the bass and the amp is the right way to do it. The bass player can change his sound during the concert without bothering the FOH engineer.
    - As far as the upright piano is concerned, I guess it is a question of taste. If you are looking for a soft and mild sound, mic from behind; micing from the top with the lid opened will give you a brighter sound with more impact.

    Please let us know how things go.


    PS: I’ll give you a call later this week, thanks again for your details.
  7. lgabiot

    lgabiot Guest

    Hello Thomas,

    thanks for the comments and advises. I'll definitely look into 2 mikes for the Soprano Sax. I agree with you about the bass miking, but I think in that case it might be impossible, due to the proximity of the drum kit... probably too much leakage.
    Btw, do you know a place where I can rent mikes and stuff (like a DI box).
    the only places I know in Paris for musical stuff are:
    1001 sons (are they still in business?)
    Tapages (music isn't their 1st occupation, but they do have some stuff)
    Madloc (only know their website).
    just wondering if there was other serious possibility, as I don't .

    best regards,


    Looking forward to meet you.
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