Live Jazz Band Rec - Thoughts?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by fwrend, Dec 4, 2002.

  1. fwrend

    fwrend Guest

    I am recording my son's HS Jazz Band concert. Instrumentation is pretty typical: 5 saxes, 4 bones, 4 trpts, piano, bass, drums, & 3 vocals. I would like to provide a recording (CD) to raise funds for the band. What set-up and mix-down considerations will help yield a decent product?

    I am recording into Sonar XL (PC) through a MOTU 24i using a variety of mics (trash to treasure) including 58's, 57's, Rode NTK, AKG & Peavey handhelds. I'm not worried about the DAW, I've done live recordings successfully at church quite a few times.

    My questions are more technique:
    Mic everything individually? That's my plan yielding 24 tracks using 2 for piano and 5 for the drum kit (kick, snare, tom, tom, overhead).

    Should I trade out a couple of mics and use a stereo overhead to get a room recording? (as a back-up and/or ambience)

    Is there enough room here to answer these:^? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks!
  2. tmix

    tmix Guest

    Good to see some one from my neck of the woods!

    If the auditorium has good acoustics I would definitely use some room mics for a really big sound. If the horns are playing as sections (note-wise) I would try micing each section a close stereo spread (freeing up a couple inputs) and then add some ambient mics, say 15-20 feet away (I prefer x-y style) and add just enough room sound at mixdown to add some depth (combination of delayed signal from room mics and natural reverb)

    If the room is too boomy or has really long decay times I would stick to your first idea.

    Just my opinion of course.
    I have recorded rather large Funk / Soul bands but never in a good room.
  3. jajjguy

    jajjguy Guest

    I would concentrate on the stereo pair, probably at the front of the stage, then use the spot mics just to fill in whatever's missing. If the balance is perfect, you might not even use the spot mics.

    Also, no need to mic each instrument individually, mic the sections instead. Chances are, the saxes can balance each other oretty weel, so can the bones, etc, so you'll just need to adjust the balance between the sections.

    That's how i'd approach it.
  4. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member

    Jan 27, 2002

    For this kind of recording I'd go with a close miked approach of the sections (not much each single instrument), but this involves that the players in each section can find a good balance themselves, and that the band conductor balances all of the sections right. I did this kind of setup in live contexts with quite a big band, using just 2 spot mics for each section, 2 on piano, mono guitar and bass, and my standard drum kit appoach for jazz (Kick, snare, OHs, with a good pair of condensers I usually don't mic toms for this style, unless the drummer requests), and that gave me really good results as well as mix control. A stereo pair for the room could be a good idea but only if the room sounds good: I favor ORTF technique, but MS is really good too to get a wide stero image. I'd record vocalists each with an individual mic, unless they're singing choir where I'd use a stereo pair.

    Hope this helps

  5. fwrend

    fwrend Guest

    Thanks for all the input and suggestions. Unfortunately I asked a little late; the concert was last night. I did get a good recording. I mic'd individually and since I didn't have enough mics, used the main vocal mic (rode ntk) as a room mic when it wasn't in use.

    They played in the HS cafeteria which was surprisingly fairly decent acoustically (10-12' ceilings). I was able to get a great live mix.

    Problem: I was not able to get levels set from the go because they did not do a sound check. So the first tune was spent basically getting the trim levels set.

    Question: with a big/jazz band recording, how do you get good levels? Once set do you change on the fly as needed? The dynamic range is so large the input level varies from clipping during the punchy fast tunes to levels too low during the softer tunes. My biggest concern during this concert was keeping the levels from clipping. But I know that when I take the .wav files into the studio the engineer will coment about the low levels.

    Anyway, thanks for your suggestions.
  6. OTRjkl

    OTRjkl Guest

    Wow!!...3 D/FW residents all on one thread. Cool.

    I have recently begun performing weekly live recordings of an 18-pc (and growing) jazz orchestra here in the Metroplex. Typical set-up: drums, bass, elec. gtr, keys, piano, perc., 4 trmpt, 5 trmbn, 5 saxes, 1 lead sax, 2 LdV and various # of BGV and soloists. There are plans to add a string section and french horns... :eek:

    My biggest problem is stage volume and ambience, particularly where the drums, perc and piano are concerned.

    They use an upright piano which sits right next to the perc (piano soundboard faces the side of the perc) and the drums are pretty much in front of the perc - just a little toward center stage. I had big problems of picking up more snare in the piano mic than the piano, so I rigged up a baffle and placed it behind the soundboard covering up the mic. It works great!

    Now, I have to figure out how to p/u the perc without a ton of drums in it. Also, the drum overhead picks up alot of stage ambience.

    I mic the horns in sections - 2 mics/section. I really need 1 more on both the saxes & the trmbns (they are spread out a bit). No problem on the trmpts. Bass, gtr & keys are easy (close mic on the gtr, bass & keys direct). I actually had to mic a kick WITH a front head on & NO port hole last week.....sounds HORRIBLE soloed, but somehow works in the mix.

    The room isn't particularly nice, so I don't mic it. The room is small enough that I get plenty of ambience in all those open mics.

    I am working with a 32-input board so space is getting cramped.

    As far as levels, I set them up and LEAVE THEM ALONE!! I have to tweak them from week to week but generally don't change them if I can get away with it.

    I am mixing/recording straight to DAT so I only get one chance to get it right.

    Maybe some of this info will help somebody.

    PS - fwrend & T. Menikos: drop me a private msg. I am interested in meeting other engineers in this area.
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    On Track,
    If I were dealing with your situation I would do what the guys in the old days did. Use the spill, make it your friend...since your going directly to 2 track separation should not be a issue. Perhaps you should try using fewer mics..placed more judiciously ...Coincedent pair, Decca Tree or MS main mics and a few spots. Sometimes less is more. ....... Fats

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