In the Field - Multiple Stereo Arrays

by Dave MichelFebruary 19, 2013

Using multiple microphones for live performance recordings is quite common, especially if you want some flexibility working with the acoustics after the performance is done. I generally like to record with just one main stereo array, which completely depends on mic placement for balancing the performers and the room acoustic, but sometimes you just need to change things up a bit...

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For this recording, the main mic was an AKG C422 in M/S, with a figure 8 pattern for the side and a hypercardiod (just one click off of a figure 8) for the mid - that seemed to be best balance of some room acoustic, good definition of the instruments, and as little of the coughing and wheezing from the audience as I could manage. The AKG was about seven feet away from the performers.

The sound was a bit drier than I normally like, so I also put up a Jecklin disk with two Neumann KM183 mics for capturing more of the room. I was mainly interested in capturing the room acoustic, not the performers per se, so I kept the array high (as far from the coughs as possibleSmile) and relatively close to the performers (about 14 feet up and 18 feet back).

Here's the AKG. It could stand on its own, though, as I said, it feels just a bit dry and thin to my ears - a tad too close a sound, but nicely isolated from the audience noise:

This is the more distant Neumann Jecklin array. This room array is just there to give more space and body to the overall mix. This clip is at the the level I mixed with. Note the completely different character of the instruments and applause:

The final mix. No processing at all. There's no need to time-align, since the delay from the extra distance of the Neumann array is about ideal for reverb. The Neumanns have a lovely low end which complements the AKG's detail and brightness. Mixing the two arrays together gives a nice smoothness and bloom to the sound, while keeping lots of detail:

By the way, applause, which is essentially pink noise, is often a good indicator of tonal character when mixing multiple mics in an acoustic space.

Outside the Box - Portable Digital Recorders

by Dave MichelFebruary 4, 2013

I was recording a choir and small orchestra in the rear balcony of a large church. I also needed to record the spoken word from the leaders in the front of the church. Their sound system was in the sacristy, just off from the chancel. This is a very large church - probably a 400 ft. cable run from front to back (no tie lines). I have lots of long cables, but I sure didn't have enough cabling left to handle a run like that, and I didn't want to have a cable going down the aisle of the sanctuary. Then I remembered how expensive my favorite Audio-Technica bulk cabling was. Ouch!

Once I started thinking about money, a solution became clear. For the cost of a long cable, I could buy a stereo digital recorder and just patch it into the church's sound system. I got a Yamaha PockeTrak recorder for a bit over $100 at Guitar Center. No cables through the sanctuary, and I don't have to mess with wrapping and carrying an ultra long cable. No ground problems, 'cuz it's battery operated. It worked beautifully, and, now that I have it, it's great for non-critical jobs where the remote rig is overkill. 

Some things to consider if you use two recording systems running wild:

  • Make sure your unattended recording will be successful (full battery, plenty of recording space, proper conservative levels)
  • When mixing, it is easier to do initial time alignment with the main rig recording panned to one side and the portable recorder panned to the opposite side.
  • Record at an appropriate resolution - you don't need CD quality for voice. However, make sure the compressed format you choose will keep time alignment for the duration of your event. Heavily compressed formats sometimes will play "fast and loose" (pun intended) with time alignment, and you don't want phasing artifacts.

About the author


Dave is a recording engineer, musician and software developer in Minneapolis.

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