Microphones & Brass Bands

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Despot, Dec 9, 2003.

  1. Despot

    Despot Member


    I'm sure many out there have experience of recording CD's out there. Can anyone suggest the usual set up for miking a brass band for recording, ie how many did you use, what type, did you mike sections etc?

    Or perhaps you don't understand the techno stuff and can remember how many and where they were placed during your last recording.

    Any input appreciated! :D
  2. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    There are loads of different ways of setting up mics for recording a band...
    When I recorded a CD with Saltash, they used 2 mics at the front of the band, one or two at the back to pick up the percussion and general back of the band; and one as used as a solo mic...

    When I recorded a CD with Leyland, and later helping Pemberton, they had loads of mics around the band picking up all sections...

    Both gave a good quality CD at the end of the day, but obvisouly Leylands was the better overall... (havent heard Pem's yet)

    I've done my own recording of bands using my 4 track mini-disk recorder and an ATR25 stereo microphone (Audio Technica)... that was and is sufficient enough for personal demo stuff...

    At the end of the day, the more mics, the better if you want a top-quality professional finish, as with various sections of the band on different mics, you can play with EQ etc, whereas the fewer mics you have, the less you can do to help get the right balance and stuff... that would be down to the band and loads of takes!

    The type of microphone you use also very important...
    IE: dont use dynamic microphones with brass instruments, use condenser microphones which will pick up the right frequencies... then you can get different types of condensor mics... but I wont get into all that just now... ;-)
  3. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Whilst I agree that using more microphones makes for much more flexiblity at the mixing/editing stage, the end result can sometimes be nothing like any performance you would actually hear in concert. Obviously, some works are more suited to the more analytical approach than others, but I for one would prefer to hear a more realistic concert perspective on a band (or orchestra for that matter) than one where a solo oboe, for example, suddenly drowns out the rest of the orchestra.
  4. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    Back when I did the carols CD with my old band, we had a professional sound engineer come up from Brisbane. With him he brought his recording computers and mixers, and one $20 000 microphone. This thing looked like a slightly deflated balloon, but the end quality was gorgeous. Multi-multidirectional I presume??? We did that CD with one Mike in an un-symetrical room (his direct orders, I believe)
  5. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    oh yea, i agree! But sadly, this is how most recording studios (companies etc) record bands (I did a sound engineering course a few years back- amazing how these people mic up orchestras!)... I dont like the way they do it really... once the piece as been recorded down, editting all done, then the mixers have free control on what they can do to the over-all performance... it is clever though ;-)

    I found that my own little set up with the 4 track and the stereo mic has the best prospectus as far as how you would hear a band "live" :)
  6. Sparky

    Sparky Member

    We have done a couple of recordings recently with an engineer who used a single 'Soundfield' mic. This gave really good results. However we are currently experimenting with our own recording setup which comprises of several AKG 1000s condenser mics and a Fostex digital multitrack recorder. We have tried several mike positions and have had good results from either a simple setup of a stereo pair (the mics positioned above and behind the conductor with an angle of about 100 deg between them) or using a four mic setup with one mic each on Cornets, euphs/troms, horns/basses and percussion (this allows some mixing). Hope this helps.
  7. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    From my experence of recording Bands, Brass Bands, Artists, etc and from my experence at college doing a HND in Music and Audio Technology, i'll try to help you a little, however, I don't know your circumstances and the equipt you have, so i'll just give you a few pointers on what I would do:

    Try using a spaced pair, set about 8 feet away from the front of the band, use cardiod mics, preferably good quality condensers.

    Spot mike the Cornets, Bari's, Bones and Basses with 1 mic to each section, position for best balance, use cardiods, and again they should be condensers.

    You may also use a Decca Tree to obtain a balance from the whole ensemble, the Decca Tree will capture the true location of the instruments. Put the Decca Tree just behind the Conductor.

    Spot mike perc and timps. For drums, if you have enough mics, try to mik all the drum instruments (bass drum AKG D112 Prefered, you can use a Shure SM57 for the snare. Try to use dynamic mics on drums since these will be able to cope with the transients high SPL's of the kit.

    One mic on a whole kit is not usually that satisfactory - but if you have only one mic for the kit, experement, you'll probably find that a mic above the kit players head is the most reasonable spot!

    If you have only one mic for the recording, place the mic around 6 - 8 feet from the band, place it high up and pint the 'business end' down into the band.

    If you have only 2 mics, use the stereo spaced pair as decribed as the beginning.

    Be careful about phase! using more than one mic will intoduce phase against another mic (especially if they are in co-incident pairs or spaced pairs) Just listen to the sound, if a mic is phasing a little, move the mics a little further apart (or closer)

    Try to calculate the resonant frequency of the the room and the standing waves that are present, all room will have a resonant frequency (and it's overtones) and standing waves - very problematic in recording on location!
    I've forgotten the equations, but you can find them on the web somewhere, i'm sure :wink:

    Only use EQ for corrective purposes during recording, and try not to attenuate or boost more than 3dB (That is DOUBLE the volume!) similarily try not to use compression while recording and if you do, only use it to get the hottest signal to tape without overdoing it.

    Whatever you do, NEVER, do 'tracking' when recording a Brass Band. Tracking is when you record individual musicians/sections seperately using multi-tracking techniques! You will get a way with this for solos with band accompaniment - maybe!

    If you need any other info about recording, mixing, or mastering (a very crusical stage of the CD makeing process) just pm me, and i'll give you all the advice.
  8. asteria

    asteria Member

    Hmm, glad that's all cleared up then.....
  9. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    Hahahaha not like Mike and his one mic records all then!! Or that night Eric was there wi the headphones.....SHABBA!!!!!!
  10. Bob Thompson

    Bob Thompson Member

    We have recently purchased a Superscope recording deck, it records direct onto cd, and also has a CDRW, only 2 mics and the recordings excellent, whats more, its really simple to use, almost ELC!

    We have sold a couple of undred puns worth of DIY recordings already, so we are well on the way to getting our money back.
    Its also an excellent tool for rehearsal, especially for competitions.
  11. Aidan

    Aidan Active Member

    My dad is a sound engineer for the BBC and does all the "Listen to the Band" Sessions etc..
    He said "If they are willing to pay for my advice then they know where to come" .... *beeping* well helpful as always!!!
  12. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    Hi Aidan,
    Just spoken to your Dad and persuaded him to send me a picture of the Recording Equipment used for Listen to the Band.


  13. Aidan

    Aidan Active Member

  14. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    jolly good, Mr Thorne!!!! :lol:
  15. neiltwist

    neiltwist Active Member

    the problem is though, that recordings ren't concerts and do sound different, nd a piece of music that sounds good in a concert, doesn't when played in the same style on a recording.

    just my opinion.
  16. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    The more mic's arn't nessesarily the better - the fewest mic's possible is best, but of course you need enough mic's for better mixing, but it's not about the amount of mics, but rather the positioning of them!

    Also, don't rely on EQ to fix things, there's an old adage in recording, that is - crap in = crap out, no amount of EQ will sort it, neither will compression, the more processing you apply, the less 'real' it becomes, not to say about all the ADC DAC processes - ouch! even you are using 24bit and 32bit effects with really high sample rates, it still has to be converted back and fourth.
  17. Aidan

    Aidan Active Member

    Very true... you hear this sort of tosh on the radio all the time.. when some overedited and oversampled piece is played.. and has to be converted to.. say, radio 2 bandwith. It sounds tinny and awful with no dynamics whatsoever!A few of these sessions are put out on listen to the band, much to the annoyance of the bands AND the engineers on hearing the result!!!!bout time the bbc offered real-time bandwidth.. i suppose that this is what all this digital radio is about now, but I have never heard any of it!
  18. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    using an array of mics isn't for the mixing stage - using mics (be it 1 or 15) is for the most accurate and balanced sound possible. All too often less experienced engineers think that the mix is the most important stage - wrong, the recording is the most important stage of all! A mix is made real easy if the performance is caputured and recorded well. That goes for good playing as well, of course :wink:

    Sound Engineering is kind of thing a lot of people do at home, but few know what they are really doing, principles of Acoustics, Psycho Acoustics and techniques seem to get lost in the bewildering need to twist some knobs and push a load of buttons to make flashy lights :wink:

    You do have to be kinda geekish on sound engineering to do it right, you need to know how sound works and more importantly how the ear perceves sound and indeed how the ear works. Knowning all about frequencies (and there indirect relationship to true musical pitch) is extremely important. The ability to hear things that ordinary people wouldn't is imperative.

    It's also important that during any process, realtime or otherwise, that you make an A-B comparison. And of course the most important thing - less is more! :wink: :wink: :wink:

    Some who record on their portastudios can get lost on a true hard-disk recording medium, ending up with GB's of unused audio takes, etc.

    I think another important thing to remember is that everything in the audio chain has to be up to scratch, it's no good having that Nueman U87 if you've got some crappy pre-amp and recording on ur mate's 4-track! £2000 worth of microphone brought down to complete mulch.

    Mastering is very important to get right, you really have to have the right tools and an ear for it, the important thing is not to go OTT, using subtle multiband compression, EQ - some 15kHz 'air eq', some mid around 2-5Khz to increase power, a slight attenusatio between 600Hz and 1Khz to get rid of the muddiness (usualy 0.5dB is enough, certainly no more than 1.5dB) some bottom end boosting around 80Hz and a low-shelving around 35Hz to prevent 'cone flapping' and subsequently damage. Some soft limiting is desirable, becareful not to overdo!

    Oh and, on the subject of EQ, more desirable and realistic results can be derived by attenuating frequencies rather than boosting.
  19. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    OK, I know this thread is rather old (2003!) but I've recently had a PM concerning it's contents from someone who's looking to do their own archive recordings...

    Over the last few weeks there have been a few things posted that have contained misinformation with respect to recording and recordings, and a great deal of the contents of this post belong in that category (except the reference to Aidan's Dad and the pics he sent to Roger ;) )...

    There are some gems of truth in here - it really isn't about how many microphones there are, it really is about where you put them - but there is also rather a lot of smoke and lights and attempting to follow it could be costly both in terms of buying things and time.

    The bottom line that I gave to the PM sender is to please do your research elsewhere other than in this thread.....Google is a good place to search if you're just looking for information on stereo mic techniques, or you could navigate your way around the DPA Site in the microphone university section for instance.

    As a final aside, I've said it before and I'll say it again - the 'secret' of a good recording is in the performers and performance, with the venue coming next and only then does the gear, and in particular where you point it, become important.

    (and in answer to something in this thread and to another, you certainly can use dynamic mics on brass - just not usually at a distance)
  20. i dont think you could go far wrong with a stereo pair of neumann u81"s and a couple of nice preamps, i would rather use two of these rather that 50 budget mics. very little or no eq"ing required and no nasty hiss to contend with. QUALITY RATHER THAN QUANTITY EVERY TIME