So. This concert. First of all, this venue is terrific sounding. St. Ignatius up on West End Avenue in Manhattan. The only downsides are that they have no piano and the heating is... well honestly the heating is a very weird joke as they have these two monstrous and incredibly loud heating units in the back of the church that look... like monsters. You can't see them in this picture.
The pipe organ is wonderful. You can actually hear what's going on around you. But no piano (and honestly I don't see how they could afford to keep a piano tuned due to the, er, vagaries of the heating and humidity situation.)
|My sinuses are suffering today from breathing this stuff yesterday.|
|Looking toward the front of the church.|
So the music had a fairly wide range of orchestration. One piece had a lute, one had a harp, one with a percussion section and a string quartet. So we're looking at a fairly wide dynamic range. Also, the chorus moved around a bit depending on the piece. For most pieces the chorus is upstage of that railing in the part of the church called, if I understand correctly, the "choir".
|The left Rode NT-1 sat in the first row of the pews on the left. The right one is not visible in this picture.|
Other times the chorus was down on the steps and the percussionist was up in the "choir" with the string quartet down on the floor (where you can see the conductor in the rehearsal above.)
Oh, and a quartet of singers was sent off to a side chapel for one piece to be an "echo." I generally don't go chasing after things like that with microphones because the whole point is that they sound far away.
So the basic deal is that my tendency is to want to go relatively close with microphones to pick up the articulation and detail, and Nikolai is wont to put microphones further away because he doesn't want to hear individual voices. So for this concert I was thinking about the details and locations of various instruments and came up with another notion.
For this recording I wanted some options though. And those options involved having a couple bigger mics closer to the music. And it turned out that except for one piece I was wrong and Nikolai was right but not for the reason I expected. The mix and the blend are vastly better for almost all the music with the X/Y pair set three rows back. So what are those very far apart microphones good for?
When mixed in with the center X/Y pair those far apart microphones add a bit of widening to everything. Which, you know, makes intuitive sense now that I write it down but. Well yes then. And when I say "mixed in" I mean at least 10dB quieter than the center pair. When I recorded I set all the gains to record the sound on the stage at the same level on each recording track. So if somebody sang in the center of the stage, the meters on all four microphone channels would light up exactly the same.*
|The percussion setup was really very cool. Not shown well are these sweet little bells. Ooh. I think they're called "crotales".|
Actually, in the mix they're significantly lower than that even. But I think that just the bit of sound we get from them, varying from piece-to-piece obviously, adds enough to make them worthwhile.
|The lute. Pretty. But quiet. Insert your own joke here.|
Now I made one exception to the general "don't move microphones" rule. That was for the piece with the lute. I scooched the NT-1's to where you can see them here for this one piece. And when I listened to the quick temp mixes I made today, I favored those mics over the ones about 30 feet away just because... because.
But now I'm all down with how I've got an 8-channel Zoom recorder, I may as well go crazy with microphones and track counts. Right? Right. I'm thinking a very wide modified Decca Tree. Because the fact is, if we don't like a mic placement -- we can just mute it in the mix.
*Yes, this is technically only true for a single point source and would fall apart as soon as someone changed position, but I had a chance to come up with an average and that's what I stuck with. Let's just pretend that all the microphones were getting the same amount of signal onto their respective tracks and leave it at that.