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Topic: The best microphone to use with MD for orchestral rec.?

  1. #1

    The best microphone to use with MD for orchestral rec.?

    Hi all..

    Does anybody know of a stereo microphone that would be up to the task of delievering a decent recording of a small symphony orchestra (~40 musicians).
    It must be selfpovered and ready to plug in to a Mini Disc or portable DAT.

    The thing is I am going to have an orchestal piece of mine performed by a Russian Orchestra in two weeks. But it\'s a remote place (Murmansk) and they have no recording gear in the concert hall. So I have to think of something myself, and keep it small and simple.
    Any suggestions would be much welcome! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    To keep on topic, here\'s a mockup of the piece:

    Solitude Variations (11 Mb)

    ..and for those who like to read along, the score:


    I will post the recording for comparison once I\'m back from Russki-land. (given the MD situation works out..)

    regards, Nicklas

  2. #2

    Re: The best microphone to use with MD for orchestral rec.?

    Great piece, Nicklas!

    I\'m looking forward to hear your recording from Murmansk.


  3. #3

    Re: The best microphone to use with MD for orchestral rec.?

    Possibly a Rode NT-4? The pattern is fixed, so the only way to change your stereo image, is to move the whole mic. I like the sound, but have never tried it in an orchestral setting. Bruce Richardson reviewed this mic I *think*. He may be able to help with this one.

  4. #4

    Re: The best microphone to use with MD for orchestral rec.?

    NT-4 sure looks sweet. But I suppose it needs a mixer with phantom power to run it?

    I like Røde mics a lot. I have a NT-1000 in the studio. A dear fellow! [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    (EDIT) Just found out the NT-4 has a 9V Battery option, which perfectly solves the case.
    It even comes with a case!

    thank you unconscious one! [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: The best microphone to use with MD for orchestral rec.?

    I have an NT-4. It\'s a nice mic, especially at its price point. I would, however, rent or buy some kind of little preamp unit with phantom. You are going to get a LOT of noise using the NT-4 in a direct-to-MD/DAT configuration.

    I\'d opt for portable DAT, by the way. MD is a compressed format.

    If you could arrange a rental, a Neumann SM-69 is a nice single-point mic for a hit and run orchestra recording. It will have a lot more bite than the NT-4, and works really well in the \"above conductor\" position in its mid/side configuration. Nice and crisp. But that\'s considerably more to pack, and certainly a damage/loss risk.

    Good luck.

  6. #6

    Re: The best microphone to use with MD for orchestral rec.?

    I use a Rode NT4 to record concert bands to minidisc. I use it with a Denecke AD20 digital preamp though. It is battery powered (as is the NT4) and it works very nicely. I\'m not that crazy about the stereo image with the NT4, but the sound is good. I bought the Denecke preamp at Core Sound (http://www.core-sound.com). They have some very nice microphones for minidisc as well, as does www.soundprofessionals.com. The NT4 would work fine plugged directly into the mic input on a minidisc recorder, but the preamps in the recorders kinda suck. That\'s why I bought the Denecke.

    The nice thing about the NT4 is that it is self powered with a 9v battery. I called and spoke to one of their technical support people and he assured me that powering it that way was just as effective as external 48v phantom power. With the NT4, the Denecke preamp and a minidisc recorder, my setup is completely portable and totally battery powered. I can have it set up in 5 minutes (or less in a pinch) and it sounds great.

    Be sure to get a very tall microphone stand. I got a Bogen light stand that is 13\' tall, with an adapter from http://www.micsupply.com. It makes a very big difference in the quality of the recording. If possible place the stand about 10\'-15\' behind the conductor and about 6\' over his head.

    My next microphone purchase for portable (and studio) recording is going to be a matched pair of Studio Projects C4 microphones. I have heard some orchestral recordings made with them, and they sound totally awesome. As it happens, I already have a Samson 4 channel battery powered mixer that will provide phantom power and preamps for them.

    I can assure you that with any modern minidisc recorder made within the last few years, the compression issue is a non-issue. They are both (DAT and minidisc) 16 bit 44.1 Khz, and the compression scheme is so good now that out of 1000 people, I doubt that one could tell the difference. There have been several blind tests with \"golden ear\" audiophiles between DAT, CD and mindisc, and as often as not they picked the minidisc as having the best sound. I did a live recording of a harp, piano and small Celtic ensemble (harp, violin and flute) in a small hall here for an internationally known harpist, and she felt the quality of the recording was the best that she had ever gotten in a live setting. She used it to release a live CD.

    However, if you don\'t already have a minidisc recorder, you might want to consider one of the recorders that records to a solid state memory card, or a hard drive. Many of them come with preamps, and some are portable. Of course, you will end up spending a lot more money that way (unless you rent one). Many of them record at 24 bits which will be better than either DAT or minidisc. Core Sound has a new solid state recorder that works with an HP PIM and it looks awesome.

    BTW, I\'ve used the NT4 in my studio to record congas and other percussion and it works very nicely for that as well. I also used it to record an acoustic guitar at a remote site with minidisc, and it worked very well for that as well.

    -- Martin

  7. #7

    Re: The best microphone to use with MD for orchestral rec.?

    Electronic Musician magazine in the US just did a roundup of small condensor mics. They liked the Audio Technica AT4051a as a low-cost ($500) mic for strings.


    A great mic setup would be a pair of these on an X/Y mic stand clamp. Just put the clamp on the mic stand and arrange the mics one above the other, capsules almost touching, at a 90 degree angle. You can find out a lot more about mic techniques and recording strings in a recording textbook.

    You can get a little box to supply phantom power without a mixing console. I have a box that supplies phantom power from a 9-volt battery with XLR in and out, about the size of a direct box. You could them plug this into the mic inputs of your portable DAT.

    I would look into buying or renting something good-quality like this setup. It\'s not every day that you get your music played by a real orchestra.

    Nice piece BTW. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  8. #8

    Re: The best microphone to use with MD for orchestral rec.?

    Thanks for the input!

    I agree renting would be ideal, but I don´t want to take the risk and take expensive rented equipment abroad.

    I decided to go for the NT-4. It´s available in the local shop and I\'m leaving friday, so it seems like the best solution.
    Thanks for pointing out the noise problem with direct mic inputting. I hope to be able to find a \"normal\" mixer to rent up there. It´s Russia, not Africa after all.. [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]
    But I will keep the Neumann in mind for later projects.


    Good to hear about your experience with the NT-4.
    Judging from the pictures I take it that a 120 degree angling is the norm for band/orchestral recording? Or how does it work? (trial and error, right? [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] )
    I have a MD allready with 2 fixed mic pre-levels and vol. setting. But that Denecke AD-20 sure looks like something worth getting. And 300$ is a good price. Just wonder if I can find one here in Copenhagen before I leave, oh well..

    And thanks a lot for the instructions on the stand placement!

    Thanks for the suggestions. But I fear 2x500 smackers is pushing it for me right now. [img]images/icons/frown.gif[/img]

    I\'m glad you like the piece, though! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Sure!.. If money wasn\'t an issue, I\'d be more than happy to go with any of these. But so far the budget is pointing towards Røde.. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  9. #9

    Re: The best microphone to use with MD for orchestral rec.?


    The capsules on the NT4 are fixed in place at 90 degrees. You cannot adjust them, just the distance from the source. The farther away you go, the narrower it seems. I close miced a kalimba with it, and it gave me a really cool stereo image.

    If I were you, I would get the NT4 and try it on the direct microphone input of your minidisc recorder (what model is it?). You might find that the sound is ok. The NT4 comes with a cable that will plug right into the mic input on your minidisc unit. If you are going to use a mixer, be sure you have an adapter cable that gives you a stereo 1/8\" plug to two 1/4\" (or RCA with adapters) plugs. You\'ll need that to take a stereo output from the mixer to your minidisc recorder.

    You don\'t have to get a digital preamp like the Denecke to use with a minidisc recorder. Most have both a mic in and line in. The line in is usually very quiet, so if you get a small portable battery powered mixer with preamps, you can plug the output into the line in of your minidisc recorder. That should give you very good results. I would be surprised if you can find the Denecke in a store anywhere (even in the US).

    Here are two Denecke dealers in The Netherlands and one in Sweden. Don\'t know how far you are from there, but maybe you\'ll get lucky!

    Audio Electronics Mattijsen Rijksstraatweg 125
    1115 AN Duivendrecht
    (312) 069-90480
    Audio Electronics Mattijsen

    Noyz Boyz Advanced Audio Services Duivendrechtsekade 67
    Noyz Boyz

    Hofmann Teknik AB Gamlestadsvagen 2, B21
    415 02 Goteborg
    (46) 0 31 19 20 20
    Hofman Teknik

    Check http://www.denecke.com for more dealers in Europe.

    Remember that the AD-20 does not have phantom power, so you will still need to use the battery in the NT4.

    -- Martin

  10. #10

    Re: The best microphone to use with MD for orchestral rec.?


    Have you done test recordings using the 9v battery in the NT4, vs the phantom power in the mic2496? According to the support technician at Rode that I spoke to, there is no difference between powering the mic with the 9v battery, or 48v phantom power. I would be curious to know how a test would verify or dispute that. The tech said that the mic was designed to be powered by 9v, so that is all it needs to get its top performance. I\'ve used it in the studio with phantom power, and not really noticed any difference in the noise floor from using it with 9v battery power.

    That Mic2496 looks like a really nice unit. How do you like it? Have you considered getting (or do you have) the PD Audio CF from Core-Sound?

    -- Martin

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