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Title: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Mark McFarlane on January 22, 2011, 10:12:57 AM
I've been asked to do sound for Darius Brubeck (Dave's son) next week.  Piano, Sax, Upright Bass, Drums.

The've asked for 4 monitors,a bass amp (I'll bring my Eden rig) and 5 mics, Im guessing one per instrument.  I don't know if they want 4 mon mixes or one, but I can deal with that at the last minute.

Although I played jazz many decades ago this is my first jazz gig at FOH.

Venue is a movie theater/live stage, 400 seats, velvet curtains, decent but not great acoustics.  I'm bringing my own rig, the house system has a lot of problems, but I may tap the side surrounds with a single delay and some EQ for fill.

I don't have a set list but based on the instruments I'm guessing traditional jazz, not fusion or some of the guitar stuff Darius has recorded.  I may not be able to talk to the band before sound check, 1.5 hours before the show...

What are your ideas for micing this quartet.   I have in my locker:

Condensor Mics: (1) Pearlman TM-1,  (1) AT 4050, (2) Shure SM81, (1) ADK Hamburg, (1) Rodes NT1a, 9-piece Audix drum mic set
Ribbon Mics:  (2) Cascade Fat Head's with Lyndahl transformers
Dymanic Mics: (1) Sure SM7b, (1) Audix OM-7, (2) OM-6, (3) OM-3s, (3) SM57s

I may have time to try 2 mics per instrument during sound check.

FWIW, I'll probably record the event to an HD24 for my own amusement and education.

Console will be an 01V96, I may bring an ISA828 for a bank of preamps, not sure if its worth pulling it from the studio rack but it may help the recording a tad.
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Rob Spence on January 22, 2011, 11:24:55 AM
Have you asked them what they want?
Contact them ASAP.

Oh, be sure to check with them in advance about any recording. Some might like it, some may be under contract and not permit it. If you know before hand you might save your self bringing gear you can't use.
Title: Posting rules
Post by: Mac Kerr on January 22, 2011, 11:41:18 AM
I've been asked to do sound

Please go to your profile and change the name field to your real full name as required by the posting rules clearly displayed at the top of the page.

Mac
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Mark McFarlane on January 22, 2011, 09:52:40 PM
Have you asked them what they want?
Contact them ASAP.

Oh, be sure to check with them in advance about any recording. Some might like it, some may be under contract and not permit it. If you know before hand you might save your self bringing gear you can't use.

Hi Rob, I have contacted them, as stated in the original post.  All they responded with was: minimal reinforcement, 5 mics and stands, a bass amp, and 4 monitors.  I have a querry out for more info. 

The HD24 is racked with other gear, 3*adat to the 01V96. I can plug it in or not at the venue.
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Dave Rickard on January 23, 2011, 01:00:28 AM
Hi Rob, I have contacted them, as stated in the original post.  All they responded with was: minimal reinforcement, 5 mics and stands, a bass amp, and 4 monitors.  I have a querry out for more info. 

A few years back I worked with the Brubeck brothers.  They wanted minimal gear then.  They were a pleasure to work with.

Save yourself a little bit of hassle and find out if they are carrying any mics and/or DI's.
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Mark McFarlane on January 23, 2011, 09:53:38 AM
A few years back I worked with the Brubeck brothers.  They wanted minimal gear then.  They were a pleasure to work with.

Save yourself a little bit of hassle and find out if they are carrying any mics and/or DI's.

I did get in contact with the band today.  All they are traveling with is their chops and a sax. Everything else is being sourced locally.  I'm soliciting a piano tuner, they have arranged the bass and drums already but I'll bring a backup bass,... 

I live in a country where live music is basically forbidden so pulling off shows like this is problematic, but well worth the effort.

What they've asked for is 4 separate monitor mixes if possible (I can provide), 2 mics for piano (I am thinking the SM81s), 1 for sax, and 2 for drums.  I'm tempted to try some of my studio mics for the drums and sax (Cascade fatheads and AT 4050?),...  I am hopeful stage volumes will be low enough to prevent feedback, but they will be on the apron close to the mains.  There is a theatre set behind them (active production)  that I can't move. 

I also sourced a portable band shell that I am hoping will help reduce the acoustic size of the stage.

I certainly appreciate everyone's comments.
Title: Re: Posting rules
Post by: Mark McFarlane on January 24, 2011, 09:33:36 AM
Please go to your profile and change the name field to your real full name as required by the posting rules clearly displayed at the top of the page.

Mac

Sorry Mac, I've had an account for years, I just didn't update it properly in the new system.
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Karl Winkler on January 26, 2011, 03:29:40 PM
Mark,

My guess would be that they want one mic per instrument plus one for talking, or possibly a kick and OH mic for the drums, plus one each for everyone else.

I'd probably start out with:

Piano: Cascade ribbon mic, although it may be challenging to place;
Drums: Audix kick mic, AT 4050 for OH (if needed)
Bass: NT1a
Sax: SM7b
Announcements: OM3

-Karl



Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Weogo Reed on January 26, 2011, 04:42:34 PM
Hi Mark,

Since they are using wedges, I would skip the band shell.

Can the venue provide a basic curtain behind the band?
Could be good for visuals and acoustics.

Good health,  Weogo
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Mark McFarlane on January 27, 2011, 12:24:58 AM
Mark,

My guess would be that they want one mic per instrument plus one for talking, or possibly a kick and OH mic for the drums, plus one each for everyone else.

I'd probably start out with:

Piano: Cascade ribbon mic, although it may be challenging to place;
Drums: Audix kick mic, AT 4050 for OH (if needed)
Bass: NT1a
Sax: SM7b
Announcements: OM3

-Karl

Thanks Karl.. They asked for 2 on piano, 2 on drums, one for everything else.
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Mark McFarlane on January 27, 2011, 12:41:29 AM
Hi Mark,

Since they are using wedges, I would skip the band shell.

Can the venue provide a basic curtain behind the band?
Could be good for visuals and acoustics.

Good health,  Weogo

Hi Weogo,

The band shell (here: http://www.wengercorp.com/Acoustic/Shell_Travelmaster.html) is about the only visual thing I have available to hide some sets for a current production that can't be moved.  The only curtain available is the main stage curtain and its ~5 feet back from the apron edge.  I asked about curtain  before I went sourcing the shell (borrowing from a local junior high.)

Is you primary concern feedback and/or early reflections?

I'm only going to have access to the front 12' of the stage, so basically the band is on the apron.  (I need to drive to the venue today with my tape measure)  The 'shell' is a series of ~4 foot wide by 10' tall diffusers and the top 3 feet can be tilted down or made straight.  I can set up the drum and piano wedges facing the audience, and the sax and bass wedges could be side facing rather than facing into the 'shell'.  I'm hopeful the stage volumes are going to be extremely low so I can get away with some LDCs and ribbons.

The stage area, with wings and shop is almost as large as the theatre, maybe 30'*90' with a 25' ceiling. Concrete cinder block. I am hoping that any sound i can keep out of backstage is a good thing.

Thanks for pitching in.
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Tim Weaver on January 27, 2011, 12:44:43 AM
I'd do the 4050 on kick and the 2 SM81's for overheads on the drums, the fatheads on the piano, The sm7 for sax, and a 57 on the bass amp just in case. I don't think they will object, and if they do it's nothing to pull a couple mics off the stage.
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Mark McFarlane on January 27, 2011, 03:14:35 AM
I'd do the 4050 on kick and the 2 SM81's for overheads on the drums, the fatheads on the piano, The sm7 for sax, and a 57 on the bass amp just in case. I don't think they will object, and if they do it's nothing to pull a couple mics off the stage.

Tim, have you used the Fatheads before?  They sound a live 'veiled' to me for piano.... but I actually haven't tried them on piano.
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Weogo Reed on January 27, 2011, 09:46:38 AM
Hi Mark,

"Is you primary concern feedback and/or early reflections?"

Yes.

I would consider setting up the shell backwards, with the concave side facing upstage  - it might work well.

Let us know how it works!

Thanks and good health,  Weogo
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Tim Weaver on January 27, 2011, 11:15:46 AM
Tim, have you used the Fatheads before?  They sound a live 'veiled' to me for piano.... but I actually haven't tried them on piano.

Not the fatheads, but ribbons yes. Like all ribbons they have a rolled off top end, but lucky for you we are talking about live sound here. Go ahead and EQ them puppies until they sound good. They will give tons of detail from the piano.

On the other hand you could use the NT1 and something else on the piano. I just hate using 81's on piano which is why I'm leaning towards the ribbons. If it were me, I'd want a matching (not matched pair necessarily) set of mics for the piano.
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Mark McFarlane on January 28, 2011, 03:14:10 AM
Hi Mark,

"Is you primary concern feedback and/or early reflections?"

Yes.

I would consider setting up the shell backwards, with the concave side facing upstage  - it might work well.

Let us know how it works!

Thanks and good health,  Weogo

Thanks Weogo.  Concave upstage is an interesting idea, and could actually help project into the house which is much wider than the bands space.  Unfortunately, it looks like I'm only going to have 12' of stage depth (there is a set on stage that can't be moved), so a straight shell might be the best I can do.  The gig is on Wednesday (our Friday in these here parts).
Title: Re: Micing up a Jazz Quartet
Post by: Mark McFarlane on February 04, 2011, 10:55:36 AM
Thanks everyone for your help.  The show was Wednesday night (virtual Friday where I live) and all-in-all the show was a huge success.  The band played well and the audience enjoyed the show.  Everyone in the band, and the manager and Darius' wife were all very gracious.  A great experience.

I ended up using:

Piano: pair of Fatheads just inside the lid
Drums: pair of SM81's in X-Y
Bass: JDI on the send of an Eden head, Rode NT1a in front of the speaker
Sax: SM7b
About 25' of portable band shell behind the band.
4 separate monitor mixes
I brought my own setup, and just hooked into the theater's side surrounds with a 50ms delay and some EQ to help in the back of the room.
All they traveled with was a sax, drum sticks, and a few cynbals so I had to source the equipment and then spent most of the 1.5 hour sound check time readjusting the action on the bass, working on drum sounds, borrowing other snare drums from friends,...

I got great recordings and live sound from everything except the piano.  The piano sounded OK live, probably because 1/2 the sound was acoustic (Yamaha C5 Conservatory). Using the Fatheads on piano was a mistake for a couple of reasons:

- I have never worked with them live
- The figure 8 pattern caused me grief: too much sax. The sax player set up in the front of the open lid and wanted his monitors at rock concert levels (a stand-in sax player for this brief 2-city tour), so the sax monitor went into the piano lid into the backs of the mics and was almost louder than the piano.  The sax guy insisted the monitors be on his left (I guess he had a bad ear), so they essentially had to point up into the piano lid
I got some distortion from the Fatheads when Darius hit the keys hard.  The preamp (ISA828) wasn't clipping (but was fairly hot) and I was well below digital level,  I'm not sure yet what the problem was, I need to run some tests on the mics.
- I got some feedback during songs 3 & 4 in the first set after responding to a request from the sax player to turn up his monitors.  At intermission I dropped the piano out of the sax  monitor and moved the monitor a little to get more volume for the sax player, but in the second set the sax started over shadowing the piano in the Fatheads.

Please don't take this as me dishing the Fatheads, I accept the blame as an amateur.

I'm not sure if its possible, but the recording on the Fatheads sounds worse (more occasional distortion) later in the evening, after the feedback.  I'm not sure if I damaged one of them.

In retrospect, I should have used the second pair of SM81s on the piano.

Well, it was my first jazz gig, and the band was either very polite or they really were happy with the sound. I'm pretty picky.  The bass, drums and sax sound awesome on the recording.

Lessons learned:

Don't try new mics in an important show
Don't use figure 8's inside the lid when there is a monitor pointing in there
Uh, don't point a monitor in there, duh
Don't listen to the sax player when he sends me the 'backstage monitor runner' after the second song to say 'turn up the sax monitor'.  Only respond to requests to turn something down :)
Make sure the star sounds great and screw the other players.  I suspect Darius was a little whacked because he too was in front of the sax monitor.  He never said anything, gracious man that he is.
Solo instruments during the show into headphones.  Had I done this I may have picked up the intermittent distortion on the piano.  I usually use my phones briefly.  They were laying next to the desk...

All in all it was a great experience with a gracious band, and a good education for me.  I'll try to post some pictures later of the setup.

Thanks again to those who helped me,