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Author Topic: Orchestra sound folks.  (Read 2346 times)

Al Rettich

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Orchestra sound folks.
« on: March 25, 2019, 03:45:33 pm »

I know on this chat form has to be some great professioanals that run sound for orchestras or symphonies.  I have questions like where is proper mic’ing technique for instruments like Violins, Cello’s, Tuba, or percussion. I have a tour coming up, and need some refreshers. 
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2019, 04:30:46 pm »

Is this a pit orchestra? Pops orchestra with a rhythm section and soloists? Or a side orchestra for a rock band?

Is this just for recording? Or are you reinforcing the orchestra for the live performance?
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Eric Snodgrass

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2019, 04:32:00 pm »

I know on this chat form has to be some great professioanals that run sound for orchestras or symphonies.  I have questions like where is proper mic’ing technique for instruments like Violins, Cello’s, Tuba, or percussion. I have a tour coming up, and need some refreshers.

Okay.  What kind of tour?  What kind of music?  Any front band with the orchestra or is it just orchestra?  What kind of venues?  How long do you think you will have for setup in each venue?  How many inputs will you have on your FOH desk?  Any monitors?

I guess what I'm really asking is -
Can you tell us about your tour?
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Ray Soly

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2019, 06:04:31 pm »

I know on this chat form has to be some great professioanals that run sound for orchestras or symphonies.  I have questions like where is proper mic’ing technique for instruments like Violins, Cello’s, Tuba, or percussion. I have a tour coming up, and need some refreshers.

Depending on the circumstances/venues style etc.. this is a good article  https://www.mixonline.com/live-sound/sound-reinforcement-boston-pops-miking-orchestra-368908 although you might need to update the mic list a bit.. ;)

If it's a more classical oriented concert then, I like to have mics on pairs.:Violins, viola, 2nds, celli,   same on woodwinds (xy or ortf) .  an ortf on brass when possible, on harp i often use 2mics one below the stand and one higher up it really depends on the space and what's behind the harp...I do the same on celli,  between the first 2 chairs ,one mic low below the stand and one higher up to get more of large violin as opposed to a small bass  (or is it the other way around  :() remember the 3-1 rule     Tymps "usually" get covered with the one mic just to get some copper and percs also depending on how many players and the space alotted on stage or in the pit do beware of cymbalists if it,s crowded!!!....Basses depending how many there are, solo bass gets the mic otherwise the section gets one higher up to pick up the group.... .weak soloists might need their own mic, so you have to get closer in and "mix" knowing the music really helps .....

If its more pit sound or just to bring the orchestra out in the house a bit I use fewer mics but further out/up.. 

FWIW I found that what usually works for recording multitracks movie scores also works within certain limits for amplifying in general...you will need to get closer but how close will depend on your variables I have used omnis "live" also it all depends on specific situations....
There are extremes of course..and you might need to mike closer with individual mics like dpa 4099 instrument mics on every violin cello etc...



there,s also his post https://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php?topic=74393.0

Ray
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Al Rettich

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2019, 06:59:49 pm »

This tour is playing a mixtures of sheds, and large theaters. Will have a five piece band in front of it. What I'm looking for is what position mics should be in. Where to place microphones, for instruments like; Bassoon's, Violins, Cello's, Percussion.


Okay.  What kind of tour?  What kind of music?  Any front band with the orchestra or is it just orchestra?  What kind of venues?  How long do you think you will have for setup in each venue?  How many inputs will you have on your FOH desk?  Any monitors?

I guess what I'm really asking is -
Can you tell us about your tour?
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gordonmcgregor

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2019, 08:07:46 pm »

This tour is playing a mixtures of sheds, and large theaters. Will have a five piece band in front of it. What I'm looking for is what position mics should be in. Where to place microphones, for instruments like; Bassoon's, Violins, Cello's, Percussion.

Hi Al here's a link to a channel plot of a regular gig I do https://www.dropbox.com/s/4k3copg5audw0q6/Res%2018%20ch%20plot%20v1%20%282%29.xls?dl=0,. There's a pretty loud band playing along with the orchestra and in this particular event we had a large vocal group with 2 people per mic spread all over the stage in small groups rather than a trad choir setting, some of the mic choices were made due to availability rather than best choices but on the whole it worked. Anything that has a short TTB stan noted beside it is basically a mic placed beside a pair of whatever instrument, tall stands were used largely as overheads.
The strings were miced using a DPA summation sysem which cuts the amount of actual desk channels down to 7 in this case, weve've used 4099s as well as 4061s attached to the various instruments, the Usher Hall in Edinburgh has a pretty small and very live stage so close micing has become our way of dealing with spill and it helps minimise feedback issues. Is this the ideal way to mic an orchestra and choir? probably not but it's worked for us for several years now.

Here's a link to the summation rig
https://www.resolutionmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/DPA-MSS6000.pdf
« Last Edit: March 25, 2019, 08:11:39 pm by gordonmcgregor »
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2019, 08:26:24 pm »

For reinforcement of a live orchestra with a rock band, ona loud stage; your best option is to mic as close as possible to the players. If you can get the string players to use clip on mic such as the DPA 4099, that will give you the best gain before feedback. Otherwise, a small condenser for every pair of players, as close as you can get them without interfering with their bowing. The same for woodwinds, clip ons if you can afford the channel space and have them available, or small condensers for every pair of players.

For brass players you can probably get away with a pair of quality dynamics, MD421s or Heil PR30s are my go to, for the section with a third for the tuba such as an RE20, above and pointed towards the bell. Percussion will require a mic or two for every pod of percussion players depending on the set up.
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Scott Helmke

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2019, 10:57:07 pm »

Rock band, eh?  We do seem to rent a lot of DPA 4099's to such shows nowadays - good news is that most players are now used to using them.
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John Sulek

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2019, 11:23:21 pm »

This tour is playing a mixtures of sheds, and large theaters. Will have a five piece band in front of it. What I'm looking for is what position mics should be in. Where to place microphones, for instruments like; Bassoon's, Violins, Cello's, Percussion.

I have done this kind of tour a few times, including 80 piece plus band and grand piano outdoors. Here's my 2 cents...
 DPA clip mics are your friend on the strings.
Especially the basses who will be the furthest downstage and closet to the PA in a traditional layout. Wind will make overhead mics very hard to use effectively.
The rubber string mounts come in sizes for different instruments from violin up to double bass.
Laminate a few copies of the DPA one sheet for attaching/detaching and sprinkle these around the music stands. A lot of the musicians who do "pops" dates will already be very familiar.

For bassoon, a condenser pointed at the body of the instrument works well. It doesn't work like a flute or sax. The player will tell you where the sweet spot is on their instrument.
I would follow Justice's advice for the brass and winds.
 If the harpist will allow it, an omni lav rolled up in some soft foam and placed in a sound hole provides a lot of gbf and makes a sound still recognizable as a harp. Like the foam "mouse" that Schoeps and others have made for sliding mics under piano strings.

I would also suggest having an iem for the onstage patch person. Route a cue buss on one input and a dry line of the comm on the other. This person then has a comm listen and you can solo up any offending mics so they can hear the problem. A lav or headset mic lets them talk back. Or if you have rf comm, give them a pack and use the program in on the base for the cue mix.
 Very handy as you are trying to get the last few mics positioned during the orchestra warm-up/tuning.

Good luck! Nothing sounds better than a great orchestra warming up before you have to turn the pa on.
Watch out for the French horn players using your mics as coat racks!

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Roland Clarke

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2019, 06:38:34 am »

I would endorse much of the above.  Number of players, musical style, and volume are all issues.  For an out and out classical performance, microphones on stands, fine.  As mentioned above, with a rock band, everything from plexiglass screens to on instrument mounted microphones (dpa4099), will be necessary.  If you can give more detail as to orchestra numbers, instruments and the music being played, you are going to get a lot more relevant advice.
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MikeHarris

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2019, 07:27:01 am »

Jurgen Wahl...exUREI..used to visit student AES chapters on behalf of Neumann to show where the sound of various instruments come from and how to mic them.
Subject for YouTube vids ?
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Roland Clarke

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2019, 12:01:45 pm »

Mike, the problem is that is only half of the story.  Where you mic for a classical session, a pop session, a live classical concert a classical pops concert a orchestra with rock/pop band concert and a rock concert with a few classical instruments is all different.  Where the sound comes from in these scenarios is almost a side issue.  The way I’ve miked for classical sessions is a million miles away from what I’ve used live.  Practicalities usually run the day.
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Eric Snodgrass

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2019, 01:03:12 pm »

I too agree with the above posters.  At a large outdoor venue where I work occasionally there is a resident orchestra that is miced with only area mics.  The other orchestra that plays with bands typically has every instrument miced except percussion (which is miced like Justice stated - one mic per Percussion area).  DPA 4099s are the go-to mic for the orchestra/band configuration.  For the violins and violas the sound designer the instrument body mounts with gooseneck.  The celli and basses use the string clips that mount below the bridge of each instrument. 
We also use plexi shielding to separate the orchestra from the band.  That gives much better isolation in the mix and makes the string players happier. 
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Milt Hathaway

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2019, 05:20:28 pm »

All I can say that hasn't already been said is that the AKG D112 is a fantastic tuba mic, boomed over the top of the tuba 1 to 2 feet from the bell and slightly off-center. Placement is not that critical, and it a good job of picking up the low end without amplifying resonant mounting or floor issues.
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Al Rettich

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2019, 12:27:18 pm »

Orchestra's will be either 41, or 71 piece. I've heard things like putting the mics behind the violin players, but what about Bassoon, tuba, clarinet players? Not all tuba players like sound folks dropping a microphone into their instrument.
I would endorse much of the above.  Number of players, musical style, and volume are all issues.  For an out and out classical performance, microphones on stands, fine.  As mentioned above, with a rock band, everything from plexiglass screens to on instrument mounted microphones (dpa4099), will be necessary.  If you can give more detail as to orchestra numbers, instruments and the music being played, you are going to get a lot more relevant advice.
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2019, 01:18:40 pm »

Orchestra's will be either 41, or 71 piece. I've heard things like putting the mics behind the violin players, but what about Bassoon, tuba, clarinet players? Not all tuba players like sound folks dropping a microphone into their instrument.
The mic in the bell of the tuba is something that is only really done for New Orleans style brass brands. A mic on a tall stand 2 to 3 feet above the bell of the tuba pointed down towards it will be plenty, unless it's a really loud stage.


Some folks mic strings from behind, I always go in front. I think it's easier to get the mics pointed towards the players without getting into their bowing space that way. Bassoon are the same. You'll have 2 or 3 bassoon players. A mic between the two main bassoon players pointed down towards them will be fine. If you have a contra bassoon, you'll want to have a separate mic on it, since they are a very soft instrument, but they have such a rich texture you want to hear it.
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Nathan Ihlenfeldt

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2019, 05:00:10 pm »

Jurgen Wahl...exUREI..used to visit student AES chapters on behalf of Neumann to show where the sound of various instruments come from and how to mic them.
Subject for YouTube vids ?

theirs a fascinating series on Youtube on this very topic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT-AZAf997c&list=PLVvj5hGX6tm0GfBAN4GMoAgaHPRLoRaTs
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Al Rettich

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2019, 11:14:07 am »

This is one of the first video's I watched. However, he's talking about a orchestra concert.. Not a rock band in front of a orchestra. Still took some things away.
theirs a fascinating series on Youtube on this very topic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT-AZAf997c&list=PLVvj5hGX6tm0GfBAN4GMoAgaHPRLoRaTs
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Brian Adams

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2019, 01:31:03 pm »

For a rock band orchestra, I'd definitely use DPA 4099's on strings. You could maybe get away with 4061's or similar on high strings, but the 4099 will be your best bet. If it's a quiet show you can mic strings with a SDC over each pair of players, but that wouldn't be my choice for this.

I'd use SDC's for woodwinds.
For flute: a mic just above the stand on the players right side usually does fairly well, but you may need to get it a little closer to their mouth to get over the noise.
Oboe: English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, just under their music. I often use a gooseneck clamped to the stand with the capsule of the mic just peeking out under the ledge that the music rests on. A short boom stand works fine too, just takes up more floor space.
Bassoon: similar to flute but more on the left side of the player.
Horn: if you can get a condenser a few feet back it's great, but since you probably can't, something fairly close and just off axis should work fine.
Brass and sax is pretty straightforward, just stick a mic in front of the bell. Except for soprano sax, mic that like a clarinet. If the sax player is playing multiple saxes, the same mic placement should be fine for all of them. A dynamic mic is fine for brass.

I'll often use a mic for every player, especially woodwinds. The brass sections sit right behind the woodwinds in the orchestra I work with most often, and I usually get too much other stuff if I don't mic them close. I'll Y each instrument type into 1 channel if I'm short on space, and it works fine since the sections usually balance themselves pretty well. I might pair the flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons, then individual mics for piccolo, English horn, bass clarinet and contrabassoon or anything else that's different. Basically the same with brass. If I have plenty of channels, great, I'll run them all separate, but sometimes I don't have that luxury with a huge orchestra.
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Nick Pires

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2019, 03:22:34 pm »

I know on this chat form has to be some great professioanals that run sound for orchestras or symphonies.  I have questions like where is proper mic’ing technique for instruments like Violins, Cello’s, Tuba, or percussion. I have a tour coming up, and need some refreshers.
Do you have any restrictions on channel count? My approach would be different with 48 channels vs 96+ available, particularly with woodwind, brass, and percussion.
Will there be any plexi shields between:
a) the rock band and orchestra?
b) orchestra percussion/brass and the rest of the orchestra (specifically WW and high strings)
Many have mentioned the 4099 for strings which is great. A lower cost alternative with even better isolation is the Countryman i2. It mounts between the bridge and tailpiece, under the strings.
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Liam Croft

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2019, 07:12:29 am »

I recently did a few gigs with an orchestra/rock band combo and we exclusively used 4099s for strings, and a mixture of c414s and dpa 2011s for woodwind, brass and percussion. Even with fewer than 10 mics on stands, there was very little room spare on the orchestra riser, so I’d consider using all clip ons if space is a consideration.

I also found most of the string players mic’d themselves up before I even had a chance (to a good standard!) and I had to do very little adjustment.

The company I work for does quite a few classical jobs and we also regularly use 4061s for strings, although personally I find them a bit more fiddly than 4099s (still sound great though)
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Miguel Dahl

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2019, 10:48:24 am »

theirs a fascinating series on Youtube on this very topic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT-AZAf997c&list=PLVvj5hGX6tm0GfBAN4GMoAgaHPRLoRaTs

This is one of the very best videos I've ever seen. Thank you! Very interesting. It's not a short 10min video, this is a sitting.

And I must say, this guy in the video says that soundcheck for an entire orchestra shouldn't need to take more than five minutes. Different setting but still I thought about the BE's which use 50% of the dedicated 60 minute check time for a band, on just the drums!
« Last Edit: April 02, 2019, 11:03:13 am by Miguel Dahl »
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Oliver Thiel

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2019, 06:44:32 pm »

With Rockband the most important thing will be channel separation. You do not want to have fantastic sounding Violins with overhead mics, when you turn up the rock bands drums with your violinfader.
I go with 4099 or 4061(or similar omnis like mke2 with the dpa violin holder) for the strings. Sometimes AT Pro35 or 350 will be ok for doublebass or celli as well.
For french horns and woodwinds i use AT857 goosenecks.(They're very flexible, small and fast in setup and i have 20 of them) Flutes also work very good with 4066 or other omni headset.
Trumpets M201 per player. Trombones Rode NT1 per player, Tuba beta98 clip on.
For mallets i use sdc, timpani 2 figure8 akg 414 directly between the drums, gran cassa bassdrum-mic du jour - mostly B52 or RE20.
Plexi-shields all over the place.

I go with mic combiners for same instrument, same mic to reduce channel count.

I am happy to have an Astro Spatial Audio localization and room simulation system. That gives me perfect localization of the  sources on stage and due to the many speakers that emit decorrelated sound i have a lot more gain before feedback.
Here's a link to a rehearsal-video of a crossover show i did last christmas, where you can hear, that i easily could mix the orchestra with 30omnis on strings over the Band without feedback issues.
Bandmonitoring was completely on wedges...
https://www.facebook.com/thomas.spanier.3/videos/1868197516563159/UzpfSTEwMDAwMzg2NjY1NzQwMDoxMTkwNTA3MTk0NDIxNDkx/
It's absolutely worth checking out the immersive systems like Astro, L'Isa or d&b Soundscape. Once you use one of those you will never go back to stereo again ;-)
The additional need for speakers is not too big. In the video above I used the House Systems LCR speakers and added 8  8/1" speakers in frontfill position. That's just 4 more front fills than i would have used there anyway.
Hope that wasn't too much information...
« Last Edit: April 02, 2019, 06:47:39 pm by Oliver Thiel »
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Árni F. Sigurđsson

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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2019, 08:04:29 am »

I did this show (monitors). We re-did it again in 2018 with a few changes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yHsmZy-YS8

DPA4099 on all strings plus we had a Schertler pickup on all cellos and double basses.

All brass was a dynamic (421, 57). Woodwinds was condensers, mic per instrument, some flute had two mics if I remember (Sennheiser MKH-40 mostly).

Mix of condensers and dynamics for percussion.

Band was all on IEM, no amps on stage. Monitors were there for backup, footrest and guest singers.
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Re: Orchestra sound folks.
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2019, 08:04:29 am »


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