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Author Topic: Stereo Mic Setup for Live Recording  (Read 1025 times)

Dave Gunnell

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Stereo Mic Setup for Live Recording
« on: March 26, 2014, 12:06:11 am »

Hi All:

I record orchestra festivals periodically, and a couple of years ago I picked up a Shure VP88 after it was recommended to me on the LAB.  It has done a very nice job for most of my other recording gigs (live jazz, Mariachi), however I have noticed that it seems to be very sensitive to percussive instruments.  Orchestras that are strings only sound great, but once a tympani shows up in the back it is all you hear in the mix.  Mic is positioned directly behind the conductor, 4-5 above his head, varying from front row to about 5 rows into the hall with the same results.  Tympani does not sound out of balance (to my ears) out in the house.

Is this a characteristic of this type of mic?  Or a characteristic of the VP88?  Would I be better off with a stereo pair of DPA 4006 or Schoeps MK2?  Decca tree?  Is it an omni vs. cardioid issue?  I don't have another orchestra gig with these groups for a while, so I can't do any A/B testing in the near term.

I'm more than willing to spend the money on a top notch stereo mic setup (DPA, Schoeps, Earthworks, etc) if that is the best fix, just need some advice from people that have been there before so I know what to audition.

Thanks.

Dave
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Tim Perry

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Re: Stereo Mic Setup for Live Recording
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2014, 12:16:58 am »

I doubt any (reasonable) mic will effect the change you are looking for.

Mic Placement is all important.
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Gordon Brinton

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Re: Stereo Mic Setup for Live Recording
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2014, 09:08:03 am »

I have not used this mic, but after looking at the manual, I feel it could possibly be a positioning/directional issue.

The VP88 capsules are arranged in a mid/side configuration (one facing forward and one sideways) which means that, based on switch setting and mic positioning, the front capsule may have been pointing straight toward the tympani section or at a reflection point on a wall or ceiling. On your recorded tracks, you could try adjusting the level of whichever channel has the "mid" capsule information to see if it tames the tympani any.

Just guessing here. Good luck.
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dick rees

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Re: Stereo Mic Setup for Live Recording
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2014, 10:59:06 am »

I have not used this mic, but after looking at the manual, I feel it could possibly be a positioning/directional issue.

The VP88 capsules are arranged in a mid/side configuration (one facing forward and one sideways) which means that, based on switch setting and mic positioning, the front capsule may have been pointing straight toward the tympani section or at a reflection point on a wall or ceiling. On your recorded tracks, you could try adjusting the level of whichever channel has the "mid" capsule information to see if it tames the tympani any.

Just guessing here. Good luck.


The pattern difference in the three settings available on the VP88 is achieved by the level of the mid element.   I forget right now the exact numbers, but I believe the "wide" pattern specs are mid @ -6dB relative to the sides.

That said, the mic will simply give you a representation of the sound present at its position.  If the sound is out of balance, then there's a better position somewhere else.  This type of miking is something else entirely and requires a ton of study and experience.  The alternative is to have enough time to experiment with positioning until your guesses pan out.  And there's hardly ever enough time for that.
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gordonmcgregor

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Re: Stereo Mic Setup for Live Recording
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2014, 06:33:12 pm »

Have a look at this thing, either record onto a laptop with a 4 channel interface or one of the many digital recorders that can take 4 channels then use the plugin on a DAW. They work brilliantly for orchestras and choirs a lot of the signal for the radio broadcast for the London Proms comes from a Soundfield mic this one is the affordable version but is still capable of quite suprising (in a good way) results. G

http://www.tslproducts.com/soundfield/soundfieldsps200-software-controlled-microphone/
« Last Edit: March 26, 2014, 07:09:00 pm by gordonmcgregor »
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kristianjohnsen

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Re: Stereo Mic Setup for Live Recording
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2014, 10:39:27 am »

Hi All:

I record orchestra festivals periodically, and a couple of years ago I picked up a Shure VP88 after it was recommended to me on the LAB.  It has done a very nice job for most of my other recording gigs (live jazz, Mariachi), however I have noticed that it seems to be very sensitive to percussive instruments.  Orchestras that are strings only sound great, but once a tympani shows up in the back it is all you hear in the mix.  Mic is positioned directly behind the conductor, 4-5 above his head, varying from front row to about 5 rows into the hall with the same results.  Tympani does not sound out of balance (to my ears) out in the house.

Is this a characteristic of this type of mic?  Or a characteristic of the VP88?  Would I be better off with a stereo pair of DPA 4006 or Schoeps MK2?  Decca tree?  Is it an omni vs. cardioid issue?  I don't have another orchestra gig with these groups for a while, so I can't do any A/B testing in the near term.

I'm more than willing to spend the money on a top notch stereo mic setup (DPA, Schoeps, Earthworks, etc) if that is the best fix, just need some advice from people that have been there before so I know what to audition.

Thanks.

Dave

Dave.

I haven't tried the mic in question, but I can say this, perhaps it's of interest:

I recently had the chance to set up four different stereo recording techniques on the same source.  X/Y, ORTF, spaced pair and mid/side(MS). 

All mics except the figure-8 were the same type and model.
I multitrack recorded all the mics so that they all caught the same sound in one simultaneous take.

I then normalized the tracks to make them all the same volume and imported them into a DAW alongside a mono version of each of the stereo pairs. 
The MS channels were "MS-decoded" into two tracks (mid-mic-heavy and side-mice heavy) as well as the mono sum, and a track with just the mid mic.

I could then play around with solos and mutes, and while listening to the same source material, I could quickly flip between each recording style, as well as check the mono compatibility of each technique.

It was quite a cool little experiment, and something I had wanted to do for a long time.

By far, I liked the MS best.  I liked how I could make the stereo image wider and narrower.  I liked how it worked really well in mono, and I liked how I could mute the figure-eight and just use the mono-mid mic if I wanted.

In second place was ORTF, but it didn't sum to mono quite as well as the X/Y.
The spaced pair was fantastic in stereo headphones, but very "phasey" when summed to mono.

Edit:  changed a few words for clarity.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2014, 10:41:45 am by kristianjohnsen »
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John Penkala

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Re: Stereo Mic Setup for Live Recording
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2014, 11:23:40 am »

Dave,
          My initial impression is that you should experiment with placement. It takes alot of woodwinds and strings to balance with a timpani. I suspect lowering the mic might help. Incidentally, I have a VP88 that I use primarily for a drum kit overhead or area percussion mic. It works well for me if the drummer has a more balanced style. I don't use it for bashers. I like the coherance and mono compatibility of this mic. Unfortunately, it is a bit noisy in a recording/audiophile context and there is no way to fix it. The last time I checked, there were no feasible mods to improve the spec. It is what it is.   FWIW, There are perhaps dozens of better microphones or microphone combinations that would yeild you better results for your application albeit at a greater cost.  You mention some in your post. If experimenting with placement doesn't satisfy you, I would do some research on a recording forum for mic recommendations. There are folks there that only do the kind of recording that you do and will have specific knowledge of the application.

JP
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Jerome Malsack

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Re: Stereo Mic Setup for Live Recording
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2014, 01:45:41 pm »

For the middle side the processing on the mixer before going L/R to the recording.  needs to see some setup and verify on the Side. 

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gordonmcgregor

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Re: Stereo Mic Setup for Live Recording
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2014, 02:36:32 pm »

The Soundfield mics in  stereo mode are basically an M/S array but by combining the signals from each of the 4 capsules in the software or the hardware units they sell you can effectivly pan and tilt as well as widen or narrow the mics pickup pattern, it's very useful and quite good fun as well to be able to do this in post production as well as live to air though I think if you're doing live processing along with visuals then the hardware units are the way to go due to plug in latency.
 I've used various versions of these things for years and have had very good results especially when you consider the lack of messing about required, not the cheapest device granted but IMO well worth it especially the sps version as it is much less expensive as it doesn't need the processors.
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Steve Kennedy-Williams

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Re: Stereo Mic Setup for Live Recording
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2014, 04:10:32 pm »

That said, the mic will simply give you a representation of the sound present at its position.  If the sound is out of balance, then there's a better position somewhere else.  This type of miking is something else entirely and requires a ton of study and experience.  The alternative is to have enough time to experiment with positioning until your guesses pan out.  And there's hardly ever enough time for that.

This. As with any ambient miking technique, walk the room during sound check/rehearsal. Bring a ladder and find the sweet spot. My guess is that it will be lower than you expect.

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