orchestra/many mics/handling spill

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orchestra/many mics/handling spill

Post by hooty2 »

Hi, i'm looking to formulate a concise question, lets see how it goes:).

I watched this on iplayer:
Music/Discovering : Graal Theatre - Kaija Saariaho (which reminded me of an article i read ages ago about Boston Pops & the use of many spot microphones, and of course, my own modest involvement in recording choirs & orchestra.

I pondered the use of mic patterns to minimise spill
I considered mic's that maintained 'good/usable spill'

I tried to imagine what 'the entire spectrum & influential radius' of spill would sound like if it could be isolated. A presentation of spill if you will.

I wondered if there is some moveable threshold (considering all other influencial parameters) whereby spill enhances or degrades...

thoughts more thoughts and more questions!

Is there a starting point an engineer would/should consider for each gig..
or
Is there a template/policy/school of..... of practice and then working with...???

I've been wanting to ask this for ages, but i'm not sure it's a clean question.
Any help out there?
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Re: orchestra/many mics/handling spill

Post by hooty2 »

p.s. i forgot to add.. the scoring of less typical sounds from the instruments in the Saariaho composition
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Re: orchestra/many mics/handling spill

Post by Arpangel »

hooty2 wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 8:22 am I tried to imagine what 'the entire spectrum & influential radius' of spill would sound like if it could be isolated. A presentation of spill if you will.

I suppose it would depend on the mic’s used, some engineers love certain mic’s because of their good off-axis sound. You’ve got to consider phase issues too, you just have to go with it, and use your ears, as you won’t be able to eliminate it, largely.
A few producers don’t bother about spill, as it’s sometimes considered to "ad vibe" to proceedings, like a sort of glue, for me personally, it’s always a pain, as I like to have as much separation as possible to aid mixing later on, I’m a 70’s guy, dry, isolated, with almost no room sound.
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Re: orchestra/many mics/handling spill

Post by Bob Bickerton »

This book is an excellent guide for recording orchestra and other classical music genres: https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/cl ... -tradition - highly recommended.

My approach is to use as few microphones as necessary. Stereo pair, maybe outriggers and then only a spot mic or two if really necessary. The spot mics are used just to balance the solo instrument or section within the main array mix, so they contribute a minimum of spill. Well at least that’s what I aim for.

Bob
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Re: orchestra/many mics/handling spill

Post by Mike Stranks »

Bob Bickerton wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 2:26 pm This book is an excellent guide for recording orchestra and other classical music genres: https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/cl ... -tradition - highly recommended.

My approach is to use as few microphones as necessary. Stereo pair, maybe outriggers and then only a spot mic or two if really necessary. The spot mics are used just to balance the solo instrument or section within the main array mix, so they contribute a minimum of spill. Well at least that’s what I aim for.

Bob


That was always my philosophy too... why make work for yourself? :)

I've seen an extended interview with Tony Faulkner about recording orchestras. It was from these experiences that he developed his 4-mic array. In the same interview TF said that Andre Previn, for instance, couldn't abide mic-clutter if a concert recording was being made. He wanted a pair - or 4-mic array more or less over his head and that was it.
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Re: orchestra/many mics/handling spill

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

hooty2 wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 8:22 amI pondered the use of mic patterns to minimise spill

There are exceptions, of course, but as a general rule while a tighter polar pattern might reduce spill, the spill it does pick up will be more coloured, and thus draw attention to itself, which rather contradicts the original aim...

Is there a starting point an engineer would/should consider for each gig..
or Is there a template/policy/school of..... of practice and then working with...???

Most classical balance engineers start from the premise of a main stereo/surround array, and then supplement that with 'accent mics' as necessary to achieve the desired balance and detail... but different circumstances, room acoustics, ensembles, and 'deliverables' requirements can impose different approaches, of course.

And the Decca book linked above is superbly informative.
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Re: orchestra/many mics/handling spill

Post by Arpangel »

I was at an AES meeting one night when Mike Skeet was making a presentation about his recording techniques, and the microphones he used.
There was a Q&A at the end, one guy asked Mike "if I called you up tonight and said you’re in St Albans Cathedral, it’s choir, orchestra, and organ, what mic’s would you pack for a gig like that"
Mike paused for a moment, and gave a wry grin, he said "well, my usual stuff, a selection of mic’s that cover a few bases, Schoeps, Sennheiser, a few others, maybe"
The guy in the audience became a little agitated, I think he thought Mike was going to give him a definitive answer, like a formula, and there isn’t one really, you don’t really know until you get there, you may know the venue, but the performers may change, requiring different mic techniques.
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Re: orchestra/many mics/handling spill

Post by MOF »

I think there may be some confusion here, the replies seem to be about conventional mic’ing up of an orchestra, whereas you asked about Boston Pops’ use of spot microphones which are used to get a good orchestral sound over a loud PA system.
My suggestion (though I’ve never had to do it) would be to use omni lavaliers on each instrument as omnis have fewer artefacts.
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Re: orchestra/many mics/handling spill

Post by Bob Bickerton »

Ah well if you’re talking AMPLIFYING an orchestra that’s an entirely different kettle of fish and fortunately I’ve never had to do that myself!

What I’ve seen is directional mics over desks or individual instruments or more latterly use of DPA 4099s on instruments. Others with more experience will add more.

Crucially the engineer really needs to know what they’re doing and in my experience they often struggle. Kiri Te Kanawa travels with her own engineer for such gigs - so that’s an extra return airfare from UK in our case. When she played in Nelson at an opera in the park gig, he nailed it - amazing.

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Re: orchestra/many mics/handling spill

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

The 'Graal Theatre - Kaija Saariaho' programme referred to by the OP ( BBC iPlayer link here for those in the UK ) is one of those modernist orchestra plus electronics types of performances, where some instrumental section and soloist sounds are captured, processed, and replayed as part of the composition. So that accounts for some of the many accent mics dotted around the orchestra.

Also, it is possible that the work's scoring was never intended for natural acoustic performances and relies on some electronic enhancement -- as a great deal of film music does, for example.
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Re: orchestra/many mics/handling spill

Post by MOF »

In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual...

:lol:
Unless they’re poor translations or they’re written by the engineer who developed the product and assumes certain actions will be taken by the user.
The latter I have experience of; a mate had bought a computer controlled vinyl cutter for designs to be heat pressed onto T shirts in his shop.
The manual mentioned ‘press Enter’ after stage one but then neglected to state that again after the other stages. I realised this and managed to save the day.
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