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Micing a Classical Singer

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David Jones
Micing a Classical Singer
on Jan 27, 2009 at 8:23:19 pm

Hi Everyone-

It's me, again, looking for some guidence on micing a singer.

Here's the setup: small recitle hall (more like a big classroom 20'X50' w/tall ceiling); singer at the front with grand piano probably about ten to fifteen feet away, and no stage with an audience. Here's the problem: they don't want me to have any mics in the front, blocking sight lines. Nor do they want me micing the piano. The mics I have to work with are: AT-4050, Sennheiser MKH 418S, and a couple of Sanken 11X's. However, I don't think I can mic the singer (with a wireless lav), ether, though if I can, I will. I know this is pretty limiting but any suggestions would be great.

I'm not being hired to do this so, I don't feel I can ignore the wishes of those in charge of the show.

Thanks in advance :o)

Dave J


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John Fishback
Re: Micing a Classical Singer
on Jan 27, 2009 at 11:31:18 pm

I'd suggest the MKH 418S and see if you can hang it from the ceiling. The trick will be finding the right spot. Will there be a rehearsal where you can try out various mic positions? If so, record a bit from each spot you think will work and then listen back after the rehearsal with your client. Record from a stand during the rehearsal so you can get the mic up in the air. Take careful notes of each position so you can hang the mic properly for the recital. I hope this helps.

John

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JC Boulay
Re: Micing a Classical Singer
on Jan 28, 2009 at 3:41:51 pm

If you can't have a mic in front of a singer, you're only ever going to be limiting the damage. Lav'ing a classical singer will probably give you a chesty, mumbly track that will probably be unusable on its own. The sound of a classical singer's voice develops fully about 3 feet from his mouth.

Once you have made your client fully aware of the limitations he is imposing on the quality of the finished work and he's told you to work with it, the only really viable solution will be to hang trees from the ceiling. You'll need some time during repetition to find the best mic placements. The shotgun mics will give you range, but they colour the sound a whole lot and are usually avoided for music. The 4050 is a nice-sounding mic that should be used to give you the body of your sound if at all possible. Of course, the hung trees should be stereo arrays. Besides, if you can't mic the piano, this is the only way you're ever going to record it too.

Good luck on what sounds like quite a puzzling gig



JC Boulay
Audio Z
Montreal, Canada
http://www.audioz.com


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Rodney Morris
Re: Micing a Classical Singer
on Jan 30, 2009 at 1:22:59 am

David, it sounds to me like the client doesn't want to capture good audio. If they did they would allow you to a) mic the piano and b) place a microphone as needed for the vocalist. I'd say this is what you need to do it right and if they didn't agree, I'd walk away, especially if they're not paying you. Two years from now, nobody will remember why it sounded crappy, but they'll remember who recorded it.

Rodney

Freelance Sound Technician/Mixer


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JC Boulay
Re: Micing a Classical Singer
on Jan 30, 2009 at 2:20:36 pm

Words of wisdom, Rodney.

JC Boulay
Audio Z
Montreal, Canada
http://www.audioz.com


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Jordan Wolf
Re: Micing a Classical Singer
on Jan 30, 2009 at 8:35:08 pm

Okay, first off, let me just say that it sounds like these people are setting you up to fail. Whether or not they eve know it, they are.

I would place the A/T 4050 (in cardioid mode) as close to the performer as is comfortable for them (probably about a foot away or so). Hopefully they can work the mic as needed.

I, personally, would use the Senneheiser on the piano since the stereo pattern will keep the sound of the piano open and natural and will leave space for the performer. BUT, seeing as how you only have a few mic choices, I would use the Sennheiser as the room mic.

Plop the two Sankens on the piano with a small triangle of gaff tape and maybe some foam for shock absorption. Try and get one over the high strings and one over the low strings. Depending on how the piano lid is placed will determine your method of attaching them.

Pan the low piano mic to the left a bit, pan the high piano mic to the right a bit, and that will make space for the performer. Add the performer in, dial in some room mic to open the sound a bit and viola!

Experiment with positioning if you can - always listening while moving ONE MIC AT A TIME, and I'm sure you'll get a nice recording.

Wolf
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Elijah Lynn
Re: Micing a Classical Singer
on Feb 15, 2009 at 10:12:07 am

What about a super thin over the ear Country Man E6. People wear them all the time and they come in 4 colors so you can match the flesh one.



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