Recording Sax orchestra live

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Moderator: Moderators

Recording Sax orchestra live

Post by tacitus »

… is what I’ll be doing on Sunday. My first recording for about 15 years and agreed with the group it’s for my education.

So this group contains everything from Sopranino to Contrabass saxes. The latter goes down to the third Db below middle C, which is around 36Hz, if I’m reading it right.

I’ve been toying with the idea of popping my mid/sides cherry on this job but having checked that bottom frequency I’m thinking I’ll do better with my NT55s as omnis, possibly with an x/y or ORTF pair for definition and mix down options.

The group will be in some sort of semicircle; there won’t be enough of them for 2 full rows or more, so I want to use my middle size stand, boom less, to give 2-2.2 metres height depending on exactly how I put the mikes up. I think the height will be enough to get the players balanced, but I’m not sure about capturing the church acoustic as well as I could with my biggest stand at 10-12’ high. That stand has a huge tripod base which will spoil the view, and I’ve pretty much committed myself to a single stand with the legs at floor level.

Or should I go for mid/sides (with or without omni pair as well) and use an omni NT55 as the mid? I’ll have 4 channels available, on an Audient ID14ii plus dbx386 into the optical input via co-ax to toslink converter.

I can get 3 Oktava 012 omnis together for a Decca “twig”, but that feels a bit messy for a live concert. Is there an obvious point I’ve missed that will help make this decision for me? I’ve generally stuck to an omni pair for good bass in church, but at greater height …
tacitus
Frequent Poster
Posts: 904 Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Recording Sax orchestra live

Post by Sam Spoons »

Bear on mind that while the fundamental of that low Db might be 36Hz most of the sound will be harmonics.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 17902 Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 12:00 am Location: Manchester UK
Your karma has run over my dogma

Re: Recording Sax orchestra live

Post by tacitus »

True, but other than organ pedals and string basses that go to low C, there’s not much right down there anyway in acoustic instruments I ever come across. I guess I just want to reach the parts iPhones can’t reach …
tacitus
Frequent Poster
Posts: 904 Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Recording Sax orchestra live

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

I need to pop out, but I'll return with more thoughts later... In the meantime, I've several recordings of The Fairer Sax saxophone quartet made with an XY pair of hypercardioid C414s, and they sound excellent... so I wouldn't worry about a lack of LF content on your directional mics in an MS array!
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 35497 Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound...
(But generally posting my own personal views and not necessarily those of SOS, the company or the magazine!)
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: Recording Sax orchestra live

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

tacitus wrote: Tue Oct 04, 2022 11:43 amSo this group contains everything from Sopranino to Contrabass saxes. The latter goes down to the third Db below middle C, which is around 36Hz, if I’m reading it right.

Most directional mics are pretty flat to around 45-40Hz, so I wouldn't worry about needing the LF extension of an omni -- not like you would if the fundamentals were down around 20Hz.

I’ve been toying with the idea of popping my mid/sides cherry on this job...

Good idea! But you could always supplement the MS array mounted at the centre of a stereo bar with a pair of omni outriggers to cover all options. I often use this technique to give the imaging and central source tonal accuracy of the MS array with post-prod versatility, combined with the spaciousness, room acoustic and LF extension of the omnis (30-50cm spacing depending on distance from the source).

I want to use my middle size stand, boom less, to give 2-2.2 metres height depending on exactly how I put the mikes up. I think the height will be enough to get the players balanced

Sounds plausible. The majority of sound will be from 3-5 feet above the ground, so the height should be sufficient.

I’m not sure about capturing the church acoustic as well as I could with my biggest stand at 10-12’ high.

You may well be able to achieve the required acoustic balance by pulling the mic stand back and using a smaller stereo recording angle from the MS array.

Or should I ... use an omni NT55 as the mid?

Nooooooooooooo! :D

The only time that configuration is useful is for recording ambient sound effects on location in a field! When decoded the MS array with an Omni mid equates to a pair of back-to-back cardioids.... and sounds correspondingly hopeless in terms of its imaging for an on-stage ensemble!

I'd go with a hypercardioid or cardioid Mid mic, depending on distance from the ensemble. The trick is to listen just to the Mid mic when rigging to make sure everyone is within the mic's coverage area and the acoustic balance is acceptable. If you need wetter, pull the stand back and consider a hypercardioid. If you need drier, move the stand closer and use a cardioid to keep everyone near the edges of the semicircle sounding sweet.

And as mentioned earlier, a pair of spaced omni outriggers should cover all bases nicely when it comes to the mix.
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 35497 Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound...
(But generally posting my own personal views and not necessarily those of SOS, the company or the magazine!)
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: Recording Sax orchestra live

Post by tacitus »

I’ll understand how all this fits together eventually! Or at least, better than I do now. OK, mid/sides with, er, a side order of omnis sounds specially designed to keep me happy. I’ll rig that and see how it works on me and my bari sax. I can pop down to my own village church and have a trial setup, which will be good for everyone, except possibly casual visitors to the church! Never mind, as I heard Ella and the Inkspots declare yesterday, “into each life some rain must fall” …

Better make a setup list.
tacitus
Frequent Poster
Posts: 904 Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Recording Sax orchestra live

Post by tacitus »

Oh! Missed the important bit: thank you, Hugh, for sharing your expertise so freely and so much to the point. Very much appreciated.
tacitus
Frequent Poster
Posts: 904 Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Recording Sax orchestra live

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

:thumbup:

I'm not sure what mics you have available for the MS array... I've used all sorts of different things, but one configuration that I come back to often for small ensembles is a pair of parallel-mounted (one above the other) Sennheiser MKH30/30 (fig-8 Mid), 30/40 (cardioid mid) or 30/50s (hypercarioid mid) as the MS array, mounted forwards of a wide spaced (40-60cm) pair of MKH20 omnis to create a pseudo Decca Tree with an MS centre.

It gives plenty of options in mixing and I've found it very versatile as well as sounding great in almost any mix blend!

For example, You can just use the omnis on their own, or the omnis plus a bit of the mid mic to solidify the centre Decca style. Or just the MS array on its own with any desired stereo acceptance angle. Or the MS array with some bottom end support from the omnis. Or the MS array with added spaciousness and room sound from the omnis.

And it can all be supported from a single stand quite discreetly. I use a T-arrangement either of long K&M bars, or Manfrotto poles, with the stand attaching just forward of the T junction to keep the CofG above the stand.

Oh... and as you're using a tall stand to mount the mics above the instruments, whatever mics you're using for the MS array make sure to mount the Side mic above the Mid Mic so that direct sound from the players reaches the Mid mic fractionally before the Side mic. You'll get a much more stable stereo image that way!
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 35497 Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound...
(But generally posting my own personal views and not necessarily those of SOS, the company or the magazine!)
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: Recording Sax orchestra live

Post by tacitus »

Cunning! I’ll get all my bits out and see what I can do.
tacitus
Frequent Poster
Posts: 904 Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Recording Sax orchestra live

Post by shufflebeat »

???

Mods?

Following with interest (but a bit wary now).
shufflebeat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 8290 Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 12:00 am Location: Manchester, UK
Hot tip:
I find keeping the good coffee in an old marmalade jar in the fridge makes it last much longer - the kids don't like marmalade.

Re: Recording Sax orchestra live

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

I think you're allowed to get bits out in the privacy of your own home.. That's what the nice young Policeman told me, anyway.... :blush:
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 35497 Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound...
(But generally posting my own personal views and not necessarily those of SOS, the company or the magazine!)
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: Recording Sax orchestra live

Post by MOF »

one configuration that I come back to often for small ensembles is a pair of parallel-mounted (one above the other) Sennheiser MKH30/30 (fig-8 Mid)

??? Is this pair at 90%, not parallel?
MOF
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2100 Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2003 12:00 am Location: United Kingdom
Post Reply