Recording Big Band on Sunday - Help!

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by audioangel, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. audioangel

    audioangel Active Member

    May 27, 2009
    Recording a local Big Band tomorrow and wanted some advice.

    The band is made up of
    Guitar, Bass, Drums, Piano, Percussion, 2 Flutes, Trumpets, Trombones and Saxes (about 8 in each of the brass sections.
    There will be 2 soloists

    We're recording in a fairly dead theatre with an audience (although it's all about the recording)

    I have access to the following mics...

    Neumann Stereo Mic RS191
    Pair of AKG 414's, Rode HT5's and AKG C1000's
    3 AKG 451's
    1 x d112
    8 x SM58's
    6 x SM57's
    1 x Rode K7

    My idea is to use the Neumann RS191 as the main pick up - the advantage of this mic is that I can change the pick up area and also switch XY to MS. I would switch it XY and change the width until I go the sound I desired.
    For drums, I'm thinking the NT5's for the overheads, d112 on the kick, DI, the bass and keyboard if they use it. C1000's on the piano, and sm57 on the guitar amp.

    Then I'd use SM58's for the soloists and cover the main brass group with the 451's & 414's, I think to reduce bleed I'd need to mic up the flutes individually so a couple of dynamics on them?

    I'm recording multi-channel into logic 8 via motu preamps onto a G5 tower.

    Thoughts? I read an article saying that basically with bigband less is more - I have quite a big space to record in, which is fairly dead. There's a possibility of using risers at different heights too.
  2. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    When people are saying "less is more" they mean that you are going to end up mixing two or four mics. You can capture a good picture of the sound with the stereo pair in the center and the two 414s in omni as outriggers. Spend most of your time working on positioning the band and the main microphones.

    While that is probably the basis of the sound you might as well mic the sections and the soloists to give you more control over the mix. I like your plan for the rhythm section, but if you went with one 451 overhead on the drums you would have two sdc pairs for the sections. I'd put the K2 (right? not K7) on one of the soloists.

    Of course, I'd probably change all of this after hearing the band, but that's where I'd start if I was working with that mic collection.
  3. audioangel

    audioangel Active Member

    May 27, 2009
    I've got a pair on samson C1's - I have never used them on drums, just as cheap vocal mics, but to keep the most decent mics for the sections, I guess I could use them as overheads. They're alright, a bit noisy at low levels but I think would be fine on a drum kit. I'm reluctant to go to 1 overhead and kick only on the kit.

    Alt. I could mic the piano with one 451 and use the c1000's hmm, I kinda like that idea more as it's less channels.

    I meant K2, can't read my own handwriting! :S

    I'm quite concerned about positioning the band. I really want to angle the brass away from the rhythm section - might it work to build a raised area behind the brass? I can do that fairly easily? It will probably sound a bit mad for the audience but they're incidental really, this is about the recording! Then all the sound goes forward and away from the rhythm section and the bleed would be less than were it the other way around. I would then stagger the brass Trumpets, standing, Trombones seated raised (but lower than the rhythm section) and the saxes on the floor.

    How does that sound? Please say if terrible. I am open to all ideas!
  4. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    You've got plenty of good mics without putting the Samsons in the mix.

    I agree with Bob, I would concentrate most of your efforts on the main pair and wide mics. The rest can be used very sparingly to be the icing on the cake. Record everything, but

    The pair of Rode NT5s, or the AKG C451s would all be very decent for drum overheads.

    I'd be a little concerned about pulling one of the mics out of the piano. Due to some channel restrictions, I had to go to a single mic on the grand piano at my Sunday morning gig. It just doesn't have the full bodied sound it had with two mics. It doesn't take much EQ to can get a very decent tone that sounds generally good in the mix with one mic, but I know we've sacrificed some of it's natural more balanced tone along the way.

    As far as positioning the band - If the band is comfortable being rearranged and repositioned, by all means make the most of your mic patterns. As long as it doesn't interfere with their comfort level. I'd rather have a little bleed on a good performance, than a perfectly recorded stiff or disjointed performance.

    Sounds like fun, enjoy.
  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    And I agree with Hawk regarding the Samsons. In fact, I would be very relunctant to use the C1000's.
    My experiences with that mic have been very poor due to their overly bright, strident response and easy overloading of their electronics. Stick to those nicer NT5's and MUCH nicer 451's.
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    Don't try to position for isolation. First, I assume you are not putting headphones on everyone - so you have to position them so they can hear each other. Once that is accomplished, you want to position them to get the best ensemble sound at the sweet spot - where you have positioned your stereo pair. The outrigger, the section mics are just there to give little boosts.
  7. audioangel

    audioangel Active Member

    May 27, 2009
    thanks for all that, i'm going in a little calmer now! Just hoping nothing goes overtly wrong now!
  8. audioangel

    audioangel Active Member

    May 27, 2009
    Okay so I thought I'd let you all know how it went.

    It would have gone a lot smoother if when I set up the recording gear in the venue, the motu 8pre was actually working with the 896mk3, after much rebooting, and time running short, I took the decision to live mix the rhythm section and solos. I think I'm going to take my motu problems up in a different thread :)

    Channels 1 + 2 was the Neumann mic - I love this mic, actually I'm fairly in love with most Neumann mics. But the RS190 I do really like.
    Channels 3+4 were my AKG414 Outriggers
    Channels 5+6 I used 2 x 451's for the brass section - in hindsight, I should have bunched up the saxes more or at least moved them over, the drums were quite close to the rhythm section and some of the saxes ended up in front of the drums, which meant I had more bleed than i'd have liked from the drums.
    7+8 were my feed from the mixing desk.

    The drums I ended up micing with 2 x NT5 overheads, and D112 fro the kick. I miced the guitarists amp as he was using effects on the amp, I used an SM57, I DI'd the bass, used a C1000 on the piano (I was running out of mics and channels!) I had to DI a keyboard, and also mic percussion - I used an SM57 - I used my other 451 on the flutes - which I'm not sure I would again, wasn't a fan - not sure whether it was the positioning (tricky to mic two flutes with one), the spill from the brass or what, but I didn't like it (I am a flautist myself!) but it did the trick of supporting them with the brass.

    I also mic'd two soloists in the brass section throughout.

    So I've got 4 stereo (2 x mono) tracks to work with, and we shall see what happens. As soon as I do a rough mix down, I guess I could post and you lot can get your critque teeth into it.
  9. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    I realize its too late for your gig now, but I've had success using the Gil Evans/ Miles Davis set up ( Gordon Goodwin records and rehearses this way as well). Its certainly not perfect for an audience perspective, but you can get some great isolation using the null of the mics. Usually I use kind of a U shaped set up w/ the drums/rhythm behind the saxes in the center and the brass on either side

    YouTube - Miles Davis & Gil Evans 1959
  10. audioangel

    audioangel Active Member

    May 27, 2009
    Okay have finally got doing some rough mixes, see what you think?

    They are really rough, cos the director wants to listen and veto tracks to save me work, I've added a bit of compression and a touch of reverb on the rhythm section - albeit on headphones.

    Download WBB Man In A Suitcase.aif from - send big files the easy way

    Download WBB I Loves You Porgy.aif from - send big files the easy way

    I await your critique!

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