Recording an aoustic band

Gregorski

New member
I have been playing music for almost 20 years, but I am relatively new to recording. This is what I'm trying to do: I am trying to record a 4 person band: an acoustic guitar, upright bass (also a singer), violin (also a singer), and a piano. I have a decent 10-channel mixer with a usb connection, two dynamic and two small diaphragm microphones. The guitar and bass have pickups, violin doesn't. Now, the members of the band are kids (9-15 years old), so you know they tend to move around and they have less patience than adults. So, I am struggling to get a good balanced sound. It's either the violin is too quiet because, for example, the violin player saw a gecko crawling on a window and moved away from the microphone to take a closer look or singing is too loud because the singer thought she sounded too quiet during the rehearsal. Anyway, you get the picture. I was wondering if I would get a better results with with one or two large diaphragm condenser microphones placed in the middle of the band rather than trying to mic players individually. I was trying to rent one from guitar center, but they suspended their rentals due to Covid. And I don't want to buy anything without knowing if it's going to work. Any thoughts are welcome.
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
If you already had them I'd say give it a go.

What mixer? Does it only have stereo to USB? More these days can capture separate tracks.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Single or double mic acoustic techniques need precise performer control and a good musical self balance, which for gecko aware kids will be different, now I’ve looked up to find what a gecko actually is! Singing violin could be done with a mono lav mounted on the tailpiece with a taped on wire extension so the mic can be adjusted to get the violin voice balance right, then it stays put. Florist wire is good for this. The bass and singer shouldn’t be a snag, singing db players are quite common, as in Nicki parrot. If the bass pickup sounds nice (mine doesn’t) use this else a dynamic. Your mixer should be fine, but will require good headphones, so you can do proper eq. In ears if good ones, can shut out the room sound better. It will be better than distant mic capture which is so reliant on a good balance in a nice sounding room.
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
The only way you are really going to get a good mix with such a band is to have each instrument and voice going to a separate track in your DAW, for this you need a either a USB mixer with that ability (not just stereo USB) or to use an audio interface with that many separate channels. Of course using mics, you will also have some mic bleed issues.
 

Gregorski

New member
Thank you everyone for the input. I have a Yamaha mg10xu and a Scarlet 2i2, so, I think (maybe I'm wrong), recording 4 separate tracks during the performance is out of question. Instead, I want to try something like this: Folk Alley Sessions: Elephant Revival - "Ring Around the Moon" as found on youtube. Now, my question is would it work with a low budget large diaphragm microphone(s)? I am thinking up to $200. What microphone should I get to try it? Should I get a single pattern microphone or maybe a multi-pattern mic with an "omni" pattern to be able to record from all directions?
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I just watched the video, and I think I see what has confused you and others - in that video we have the guitar sounding nice and clean, but it does have a pickup fitted and the banjo has a volume knob, suggesting it too has a pickup - maybe, but there are FOUR microphones. It looks like a stereo pair, but it is not. I actually have one of those mics, and it is a omni-fig8-cardiod large diaphragm type bit with two capsules, one above the other. The top one can rotate 90 degrees in respect to the other, so you will see that if we assume they are set to cardioie, we have one on banjo, one on voice/saw, one on the double bass (which might have a pickup?) and one on the guitarist. We also have waht looks like event company staple pipe and bar type drapes - usually heavy wool serge, with some purple decor drapes for the look. All in all, a pretty deadened acoustic and plenty of height and width to make the mic to subject distance sound like it does. Multitrack recording - scope for EQ and the possibility of blending the banjo/bass/guitar for clarity and tone.

There is no way that sound was a one or two mic recording where placement and natural balance and blend is up to the musicians - it was engineered rather nicely. A damn fine job I think. The mics were the giveaway, but they're rare and almost impossible to get. They use 5 pin XLRs to feed the two signals to the PSU. The design is based on the old Neumann SM69 idea of stacking the capsules to get as near co-incident positioning as is possible with larger diaphragms. The idea of using them like this to basically point at the different sources from the middle hadn't occurred to me. Easily misidentified as a stereo configuration if you have never seen one. I had 5 built, the minimum run the factory were willing to do. I kept one, and sold the others - about ten years ago. The factory won't make any more, and I have never seen them again,
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
Thank you everyone for the input. I have a Yamaha mg10xu and a Scarlet 2i2, so, I think (maybe I'm wrong), recording 4 separate tracks during the performance is out of question. Instead, I want to try something like this: Folk Alley Sessions: Elephant Revival - "Ring Around the Moon" as found on youtube. Now, my question is would it work with a low budget large diaphragm microphone(s)? I am thinking up to $200. What microphone should I get to try it? Should I get a single pattern microphone or maybe a multi-pattern mic with an "omni" pattern to be able to record from all directions?
From your original post, I don't know how you think a 1 or 2 mic solution is going to solve the mix problem.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
@rob aylestone - Thank you Rob for identifying those mics. I have never seen them before, but I did conjur up a good guess as to their construction and usage in this video.. verified thanks to your description. Here's a pic to look at :

mic.jpg
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Watching that video and other ER videos, I don't think that any of the instruments are being taken direct, except possibly the bass. The banjo clearly has an empty plug on the front, and the guitar doesn't have a jack coming out of the endpin, as he usually does.

I think it's all acoustic using those stacked head mics. They look suspiciously like Telefunken AR70s but the mounts look Neumann.
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
Avantone Pro CK-40 is similar and a lot cheaper. It seems to me I saw another clone in that vein but can't for the life of me remember where.

Always wondered if you could get a couple figure-8s in a Blumlein pair, but in the middle of a 4x group. That would work with a 2-input preamp, with some work in the DAW. But, how would it sound?

p.s. (edit) Vanguard Audio Labs V44S
 
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Gregorski

New member
From your original post, I don't know how you think a 1 or 2 mic solution is going to solve the mix problem.
I thought (perhaps wrongly) that, since large diaphragm condensers are more sensitive, I can put the mics in the middle and the performers 3-4 away from the mics in a circle or half-circle. And this way it won't matter if one of the singers is a little closer than the other one. I don't know, learning curve is still very steep for me.
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
I thought (perhaps wrongly) that, since large diaphragm condensers are more sensitive, I can put the mics in the middle and the performers 3-4 away from the mics in a circle or half-circle. And this way it won't matter if one of the singers is a little closer than the other one. I don't know, learning curve is still very steep for me.

That's actually sort of true. It won't be as sensitive to small motions of a performer, but if someone's just louder to begin with, the mic will pick that up. You'll have to arrange their distances to compensate for relative volume. That's actually where the terms front and back of the mix came from, the days of recording with one mic (or even just a giant horn coupled acoustically to a cutting stylus).

Beardsley.Victor.jpg
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Depending on how your kids are arranged, if they get far enough off axis, a single cardioid mic can show a change in tonal response.

I would probably start out with two cardioids in an X-Y or ORTF setup. X-Y has a bit stronger center image to me. ORTF can have a bit of a hole in the center but sounds more "stereo". The SDC mics should work for either.
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
Here's a video using a stereo ribbon mic, essentially a Blumlein pair, but collecting information from more than just the front/stereo facing part.

The AEA R88 used in the video might be out of budget - it sure is for me! But, the idea of a pair of coincident figure-8s has me wondering how cheaply you could get away with this. Just looking at LDCs (pair prices), I see: Behringer C-3, $120(!); Behringer B-2, $260; Audio-Technica AT2050, $460. Of course, the sky is the limit, and there are always ribbons, though maybe not with a bunch of kids running around...

There's an AT video of different configurations, M/S (AT4050ST), XY (AT4051b x2) and Blumlein (AT4080 x2) that is also illuminating. All someone spendy configurations, though.
 

Gregorski

New member
Here's a video using a stereo ribbon mic, essentially a Blumlein pair, but collecting information from more than just the front/stereo facing part.

The AEA R88 used in the video might be out of budget - it sure is for me! But, the idea of a pair of coincident figure-8s has me wondering how cheaply you could get away with this. Just looking at LDCs (pair prices), I see: Behringer C-3, $120(!); Behringer B-2, $260; Audio-Technica AT2050, $460. Of course, the sky is the limit, and there are always ribbons, though maybe not with a bunch of kids running around...

There's an AT video of different configurations, M/S (AT4050ST), XY (AT4051b x2) and Blumlein (AT4080 x2) that is also illuminating. All someone spendy configurations, though.
Keith,
Thanks for the mic recommendations - will look into those. So you're recommending getting a pair, not a single one with omni pattern? I have trouble with understanding your configuration acronyms: What are M/S (AT4050ST), XY (AT4051b x2), and Blumlein (AT4080 x2). In the meantime I got a hold of another pair of small diaphragm condensers. Will experiment with those - maybe will post the results here, if nobody minds.
 

Gregorski

New member
Depending on how your kids are arranged, if they get far enough off axis, a single cardioid mic can show a change in tonal response.

I would probably start out with two cardioids in an X-Y or ORTF setup. X-Y has a bit stronger center image to me. ORTF can have a bit of a hole in the center but sounds more "stereo". The SDC mics should work for either.
TalismanRich,
I think I get the x-y setup, but what's ORTF setup?
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
Keith,
Thanks for the mic recommendations - will look into those. So you're recommending getting a pair, not a single one with omni pattern? I have trouble with understanding your configuration acronyms: What are M/S (AT4050ST), XY (AT4051b x2), and Blumlein (AT4080 x2). In the meantime I got a hold of another pair of small diaphragm condensers. Will experiment with those - maybe will post the results here, if nobody minds.
M/S = mid-side, XY is the coincident pair at 90-degrees (typically), Blumlein is also XY, but with a pair of microphones that have a figure[-of]-8 pattern.

Here's the Audio-Technica video:


p.s. (edit) that first video is also Blumlein but they are not only recording the front side stereo, but also the back-side as well for actual input, and not just ambience. So, it's kind of omni, but with 4-channel capability in 2 mics. However, I've never tried it - I don't have but a single multi-pattern mic, let alone 2 the same, which you'd definitely want. You have to split the single figure 8 mic into 2 tracks in the DAW and flip polarity on one track to get the front and back. A lot of tinkering. Anything that has a polar pattern that includes space other than what you really want recorded will be impacted in some degree (a little, or a lot) by all the other sounds in the room. Sometimes you want ambience, but sometimes you don't, and it's hard to get rid of when it's in every track.
 
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TalismanRich

Well-known member
ORTF is just another way of doing stereo recording, It was created by the French radio/TV broadcast system. The mics are spaced 17 cm (about 6 3/4″) apart, at an angle of 110 degrees. The 17cm is meant to approximate the distance between a person's ears.

It gives good mono compatibility and good stereo imaging.

Here's a quick demo of X/Y vs ORTF.

 
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