Upcoming session using 4 mics

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mikey_grapes
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Upcoming session using 4 mics

Post by mikey_grapes » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:43 am

Hi!
This weekend I'm doing a bare-bones session, recording myself (vox & acoustic gtr), a grand piano, and a small drum kit. I only have four mic inputs. Thinking about using a matched pair of Rode NT5 small condensers on the kit (glyn johns method), an SM81 small condenser overhead on the piano, and a large diaphragm condenser (AT 4033) for my vocals (and will also pick up guitar and room). What do you think? Better off doing a single mic on the kit and two condensers on the piano for better bass/treble balance? I also have an RE-20 and a couple Shures (sm57 + 58) at my disposal. I could use the RE-20 for vocals (less room sound), I suppose. Not too essential to get a lot of acoustic guitar detail, so I wasn't going to give it its own mic.

Or: one mic each on piano, drumkit, vox, and gtr.

Anyhow, just throwing this out there, I'm sure there's already a thread for this somewhere . . Thanks for your thoughts!

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Post by vvv » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:51 am

Me, I'd get a submixer.

I mean, you can obviously do it any of the ways you mention, but if I wan't submixing (say, the stereo drums and piano), I'd probably do the "one mic each" thing.

But then, I'm a guitar player. :twisted:
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Post by mikey_grapes » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:55 am

vvv wrote:Me, I'd get a submixer.

I mean, you can obviously do it any of the ways you mention, but if I wan't submixing (say, the stereo drums and piano), I'd probably do the "one mic each" thing.

But then, I'm a guitar player. :twisted:

Oh yeah, I have one of those. So stereo drums and piano through the submixer to two tracks and then a mic each for guitar and vox?

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Post by vvv » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:42 am

That would be my first approach - I always like stereo drums, and you will also get better control of the vocal than if it is combined with the guitar.

And with the sub-mixer, yeah, you can multi-mic the kit and pianer.
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Post by kslight » Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:32 am

Truthfully if I was gonna submix depending on how many inputs into that...I would mono overhead drums and bring in a spot kick and snare mic, all into one input...and mono mic everything else onto their own channel.

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Post by mikey_grapes » Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:35 am

kslight wrote:Truthfully if I was gonna submix depending on how many inputs into that...I would mono overhead drums and bring in a spot kick and snare mic, all into one input...and mono mic everything else onto their own channel.
thank you! that is helpful.

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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Tue Oct 21, 2014 1:36 pm

If it was me I'd use one mic per instrument and one on the voice. If everybody is in the room together the bleed will be your room mic.
Go listen to Take 5 by Brubeck. There's obviously a big stylistic difference between that and what you're talking about but it's worth noting that that record is 4 mics (with great players in a ridiculously great room).

Depending on the voice I might go with the RE-20. The voice is also the one element I really like some isolation on so condensers are less useful. Beyond that I'd use a Rode or SM81 on piano and/or guitar and the 4033 as a front of kit mic. If there's a submixer I might add another drum mic or 2 but would stick with a mono drum mix to 1 track.

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Post by JWL » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:51 pm

If that was me I'd probably use 2 fig8 mics for the guitar and vocals (to maximize separation), and then 1 mic each for piano and drums.

For drums, if the song is rhythm oriented then I'd probably set the mic up fairly low to the ground, in front of the kit but off to the hihat side, so the mic "sees" the kick, snare, and hihat clearly. If it's something like a brush jazz player, I'd probably use a mono overhead.

Placing the null points well can really help bring the recording alive and increase isolation between tracks, but not artificially so.

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Post by DrummerMan » Tue Oct 21, 2014 4:43 pm

My first instinct based on what you have would be to setup your 2 rodes in xy then position all the instruments around that until you've got the levels and presence basically where you want it, especially with the piano an guitar. Then, I'd put the RE20 on your vocals, and try to find a nice spot for the 4033 to be used as a heart mic on the kit.

To me, it seems like the things I always want the most control of and presence on are vocals and kick/snare so this should accomplish this. The only drawback to this would be if you're wanting the piano's bass to be present and carrying the bottom. If that were the case I'd say use an omni instead of the x/y and throw something on the low side of the piano, but it doesn't look like you've got an omni in the mix.
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Post by JWL » Wed Oct 22, 2014 2:15 pm

Yeah I agree that a stereo pair is a great approach, though I think it provides less flexibility during the mix. If you have great players (with masterful control of dynamics) in a great room then yes a stereo pair is a no brainer, supplemented with 2 more spot mics depending on what you are hearing in the stereo pair.

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Post by mikey_grapes » Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:31 am

JWL wrote:Yeah I agree that a stereo pair is a great approach, though I think it provides less flexibility during the mix. If you have great players (with masterful control of dynamics) in a great room then yes a stereo pair is a no brainer, supplemented with 2 more spot mics depending on what you are hearing in the stereo pair.
These guys are superb players and it is a nice room . . If we are set up in a triangle would the XY go right in the center?

Thanks all for your tips! Looking forward to this.

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Post by mikey_grapes » Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:16 am

DrummerMan wrote:My first instinct based on what you have would be to setup your 2 rodes in xy then position all the instruments around that until you've got the levels and presence basically where you want it, especially with the piano an guitar. Then, I'd put the RE20 on your vocals, and try to find a nice spot for the 4033 to be used as a heart mic on the kit.

To me, it seems like the things I always want the most control of and presence on are vocals and kick/snare so this should accomplish this. The only drawback to this would be if you're wanting the piano's bass to be present and carrying the bottom. If that were the case I'd say use an omni instead of the x/y and throw something on the low side of the piano, but it doesn't look like you've got an omni in the mix.
Thanks . . by "heart mic" do you mean right in front of the kit (3 feet out or so)?

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Post by DrummerMan » Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:26 am

No, that would be front-of-kit, lovingly referred to as FOK.

You can do a search here and probably come up with many threads dealing with this but basically the heart mic goes down low on the inside of the drummers side of the kit. I usually have it wedged between the kick batter side and the snare bottom (usually figure 8 or omni, but I've done it w cardioid before), but I've seen it under the throne or closer to the floor Tom, depending on what you're trying to capture.
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Post by DrummerMan » Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:04 am

mikey_grapes wrote:
JWL wrote:Yeah I agree that a stereo pair is a great approach, though I think it provides less flexibility during the mix. If you have great players (with masterful control of dynamics) in a great room then yes a stereo pair is a no brainer, supplemented with 2 more spot mics depending on what you are hearing in the stereo pair.
These guys are superb players and it is a nice room . . If we are set up in a triangle would the XY go right in the center?

Thanks all for your tips! Looking forward to this.
If you were going about it how I layed out, I would think of it like the xy are medium-distance individual mics for each instrument. The difference being, that all the instruments will be sharing them, so instead of moving the mic around to find the sweet spot, you'll move the instruments around the mic, starting with the most inconvenient to move, the piano.

Find the best mic placement for the piano sound you want (taking where you'll want it panned in the mix into consideration), then that's the location for the xy. Then, I'd put some somewhat isolating headphones on and play the guitar while moving closer and farther from the mics, moving around until you've got the guitar sound you want (again, panning consideration). That's your guitar position (it may be very close to the xy setup), you can setup your vocal mic there. Then have the drummer maybe just walk around playing some snare while you and the pianist are playing until you've got a good balance (remember, you'll get more presence and attack from the heart mic, you're just looking for overall sound now, which may be washier and more distant than you think it should/would be). Once he's fully setup there and you've got a heart mic in place, try it out and see how it all sounds. Then move things around until they're right.


I don't know your music at all, obviously, and don't know what you were planning, but I would consider piano and guitar on the sides and drums in the middle.


Again, YMMV and take this with a grain of whatever because it's just how I like to approach things, but maybe it'll give you some ideas. Good luck! and let us know how it works out.
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mikey_grapes
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Post by mikey_grapes » Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:33 am

Thanks DrummerMan,

Here's a thread about a similar session I did in 2012:

http://messageboard.tapeop.com/viewtopic.php?t=81734

Just a trio this time (w/some overdubs), my main dilemma was whether to close mic the piano, but I am drawn to your x-y room suggestion using the RE-20 for the vocals. Much appreciated

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