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Author Topic: Choir and Piano Recording, awkward piano location  (Read 1359 times)

Mark Van Nostrand

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Choir and Piano Recording, awkward piano location
« on: October 18, 2018, 03:00:24 pm »

Am looking for some experienced thoughts on a concert recording project for a regional chorale (with piano support) being performed at a church.  This is the setup.  Church is a sort of hexagon shape-- "diameter" is roughly 100 feet.  15-40 foot ceilings (sloping).  Choir is up front, on several rows of risers-- about 20 feet wide.  Piano is about 5 feet in front of the choir-- but off to the side.  It is the piano location that presents the problem, obviously. 

Spaced pair for the choir will pick up a lot of piano on the left channel.  X/Y will lessen that slightly, but also will reduce the time-difference stereo.  ORTF same.  Blumelein will tend to have phase issues because the piano will be on the side of the pair (one mic favors piano on front, other mix favors it on back).  Am hesitant to use omni's anywhere because of the proximity of the piano-- and the audience, to the choir.

Those are the "issues" I am struggling with, trying to get a clean choir.  At the moment, my thought is to use a spaced pair of earthworks cardioids ("very accurate to off-axis" cardioids) about 3 feet out from the choir, spaced 9 feet apart, 9 feet up.  This concedes a good bit of piano leak into the left channel, but also gives solid direct sound into the pair.  About 30 feet out, would be a blumlein setup with a pair of Royers (active SF series).  To be time aligned later.  Spot mic on piano for mix support, if needed, later.  None of this is for sound reinforcement.

Not sure what else to do-- would love to move the piano to some centered location in the stereo image (i.e. behind the choir...), but just isn't possible.  Thoughts/experiences?  Thanks.
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Jean-Pierre Coetzee

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Re: Choir and Piano Recording, awkward piano location
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2018, 04:50:53 am »

What kind of recording is this? If it's a commercial recording then you will likely be able to move the piano anyway, or use some baffles.

What type of piano is it, try short stick vs long stick etc to lower bleed.

I would definitely recommend a spaced pair/ORTF/XY on the piano as well and not just a spot mic, understand though that should you have the piano off to one side on the choir mics then you will need to keep it there when mixing down so might as well setup to record the choir as you stated and a stereo pair on the piano but also a blumlein in a normal choir director/conductor would be so that you can get a reference of how that would sound.

I would also concider a decca tree setup, can be interesting to be able to deal with that.

I find with more classical styles pick a perspective and record from there, if you want conductors perspective then do that, if you want audience perspective do that, if you want both as a choice later then record both, a contemporary recording technique is difficult specially since the room will be quite live as well.
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Mark Van Nostrand

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Re: Choir and Piano Recording, awkward piano location
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2018, 04:02:19 pm »

Thanks for the perspective, Jeane-Pierre.  Unfortunately, we are dealing with an upright piano-- the grand is inaccessible after the choir risers are setup.  May consider stereo on the upright though, because some degree of symmetry in live settings is nice.  In the end (recording), what I really want is the ribbon stereo pair to be the primary sound-- with time-aligned, gentle support mixed in from the choir spaced pair and piano pair.

My uncertainty about the blumlein pair is where the piano would be-- which is directly to the left of that coincident pair (about 15 feet to the left).  Would this contribute to some piano phase cancellation on the blumlein?  Fairly direct piano sound is picked up on the front of one of the ribbons, and on the back of the other.  May be a non-issue, but may have little choice.  I could be overthinking this, also.

We shall see soon enough!

Thanks again, Jeane-Pierre.
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Jean-Pierre Coetzee

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Re: Choir and Piano Recording, awkward piano location
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2018, 09:56:30 am »

Definitely think your overthinking things, it's good to pre-plan a setup but at best something will change and your setup will need to be adjusted. Have the choir director rehearse for 30-minutes to an hour while you try a few different mic setups.

Would still look at a stereo pair on the upright, just a little harder to do than with a grand but marginally, maybe look at keeping the lid closed though, will make micing interesting and the sound coming from it will definitely need some EQ but you can make it work.
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"If you want "loud", then run a piece of sheet metal through a table saw------

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