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About This Multitrack
12-06-2012, 08:36 AM
Post: #1
About This Multitrack
You can find the multitrack files for this project in the 'Mixing Secrets' Free Multitrack Download Library.

Before posting a mix, please read The Three Commandments!
Please post your mix as a new thread, rather than as a reply to this sticky.

Here's some more project info you might find useful:
  • About The Raw Multitracks: This multitrack is a recording I did of a live classical chamber-music concert in the Barocksaal of Munich's Asam Schloessl in December 2011. I had to set up the whole rig in about an hour from a standing start, with the added complication that the available area for mics and musicians was extremely cramped, and the stage setup changed at the last moment. As such, the miking was mostly an exercise in educated guesswork, but the session turned out to be reasonably salvageable nonetheless. That said, this particular musical number probably presented the greatest mixing challenges.
    • The musicians: The musical director was centre-stage, seated at the keyboard with his back to the audience. He was playing the harpsichord patch of a Clavinova electric piano, the speakers of which were on the underside of the keyboard's stand base, facing the audience. Arrayed behind him (from audience perspective) were a string quartet, with violin 1 on his left, violin 2 centre-left, viola centre-right, and cello on the right. Because of stage-depth constraints, the singers were located on the right-hand side of the strings/keyboard. I had hoped that the oboe would perhaps be located there too, or else at the other side of the stage, but at the last moment the oboe soloist decided that he'd prefer to stand at the back of the stage, directly between the second violin and viola -- which caused some balance problems.
    • The mics: My main stereo rig was basically an ORTF pair placed on a stand over the centre of the strings, widened slightly to adjust the strings image. In addition, I placed an omni spot mic between the first and second violins, and another between the viola and cello to give me some balance control. A cardioid spot mic at the side of the stage was covering the two singers. In addition to all those, I'd also rigged an M&S pair (with a hypercardioid Middle mic) about two feet off the floor just in front of the first row of the audience for the benefit of a cello concerto earlier in the programme -- not a tremendously useful mic signal here, but I've included it in case you can use it!
  • Challenges You're Likely To Face:
    • The main problem is the oboe. A strong oboist is already more than a match for string quartet in terms of balance, but this balance inequality was exacerbated by the last-minute stage-layout change -- putting him much closer to the main stereo pair than the strings, and equidistant from both string spot mics. As a result, it's almost impossible to stop the oboe dominating over the strings in the balance. Fortunately, the player had a decent sense of balance himself, riding his level down when the singers were singing, which avoided complete crash-and-burn.
    • The harpsichord transients are coming through the string spot mics quite heavily. The harpsichord is also all over the Middle mic of the M&S pair, because of its audience-facing speakers, so there's little mileage in trying to press that into service as an alternative replacement main pair.
    • I deliberately miked fairly close in order to hedge my bets (having never heard the room or players before the concert), so all the mic signals are fairly dry. On the one hand that gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of adjusting the ambience with artificial reverb, but it does mean you have to work a bit harder in that respect at the mix.
  • Some Mixing Tips: I've only done a rough mix of this so far, but here are some ideas:
    • Phase is important in any live multi-mic session, but especially when the mics are in quite close proximity. Personally I delayed all the spot mics to match the main pair, but whether this is appropriate in your mix depends on whether you're planning to rely as heavily on the main pair as I did. (If it's of any use, here are the rough measurements I took from the main ORTF pair on the day: 130cm to the violin 1/2 spot; 120cm to the viola/cello spot; 220cm to the vox spot; and 240cm to the front M&S pair.)
    • I'm wondering whether some fine M&S EQ of the main pair might help a little with the balance. Irrespective, a medium-narrow cut of the main pair or omni spots at 1.5kHz does a lot to help the balance.
    • If you split the M&S pair's Sides signal off as a mono signal, that might have potential as an extra ambience/tonal-support mic.
    • Natural-sounding reverbs are almost certainly the order of the day here, so chambers, plates and springs are probably not as useful as rooms and halls here. I'd give the reverb a reasonable bit of predelay (30-40ms maybe) to avoid cluttering the mix signals too much. Bear in mind that the hall we recorded in was quite small (about 10mx15m), but with a high ceiling (maybe 8m).

If you have any other general questions about this multitrack, just reply to this post and I'll see what I can do.

Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio | Recording Secrets for the Small Studio
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19-07-2012, 06:54 AM
Post: #2
RE: About This Multitrack
Hi Mike,

had a few questions. You talk about phase issues. Will it be a problem in the stereo mix or will it just stick out when it is summed to mono. Also when i line up the tracks in protools they seem to have a similar waveform and i cannot see any phase issues there. May be I am missing a trick. Would the trim plugin inverting the phase solve the issue or is it a deeper problem. Are you talking about sample delaying the tracks a little bit(how much delay ?) .Could you please elaborate on this. Pardon my ignorance.

Also is it advisable to get creative with effects and panning when mixing a live orchestra or should you aim to represent the live setting as closely as possible. For example I am thinking of isolating the harpischord freq wise in the ms pair mic and panning it to the right to balance the loud oboe. Is that what you were intending the MS eq for .Similarly isolating the low strings and panning them in the centre. Would harmonic exciters be advisable or some sort of saturation ? Or are these just used in pop or such mixes.

If you could please answer these questions. would be a great help. Phase is still a mystery in this case and generally. Please if you could explain that .

thankyou.
nitin
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19-07-2012, 07:55 AM
Post: #3
RE: About This Multitrack
Hi Kaivalya,

(19-07-2012 06:54 AM)Kaivalya Wrote:  had a few questions. You talk about phase issues. Will it be a problem in the stereo mix or will it just stick out when it is summed to mono. Also when i line up the tracks in protools they seem to have a similar waveform and i cannot see any phase issues there. May be I am missing a trick. Would the trim plugin inverting the phase solve the issue or is it a deeper problem. Are you talking about sample delaying the tracks a little bit(how much delay ?) .Could you please elaborate on this. Pardon my ignorance.

Phase is quite an involved subject when it comes to mixdown, so it's not something I can give a good overview of in a post like this -- which is why I wrote this big article about it a while back. Hopefully that should help with most of the points you raise here, but feel free to ask any specific questions that you feel it doesn't answer and I'll see if I can clarify.

Quote:Also is it advisable to get creative with effects and panning when mixing a live orchestra or should you aim to represent the live setting as closely as possible. For example I am thinking of isolating the harpischord freq wise in the ms pair mic and panning it to the right to balance the loud oboe.

Well, there are various issues here:
  • Mixing is an art, so if you and your audience are happy with the result, then it doesn't matter what you use to achieve your ends. If you're in any doubt about a specific mix decision, then the best thing is to listen to a few similar records which you or your audience like, and use those to inform your decisions.
  • With recordings that have a lot of spill like this, you're options for isolating individual instruments are fairly limited, so although you can try to treat things independently, it'll be tough going.
  • With any decent live ensemble performance, there's something slightly magical happening between the musicians, in terms of the way they interact with each other. If you tamper with the internal push/pull of the performance too much, you may lose that bit of magic.
  • The live positioning of instrumentalists for a concert isn't necessarily what listeners expect on a recording, so whether the recording matches the live event in that respect is a bit of a red herring, in my view.

There aren't any easy answers to these questions, though. Indeed, if you compare different classical recordings, you'll hear that they frequently differ quite considerably.

Quote:Is that what you were intending the MS eq for?

No. I suggested this because the oboe is in the centre of the ORTF image, so EQ'ing the Middle channel with MS EQ could target that more directly without as much impact on the strings. It's a rebalancing suggestion, rather than anything creative.

Quote:Would harmonic exciters be advisable or some sort of saturation? Or are these just used in pop or such mixes.

Certainly not, although they do tend to crop up more in rock/electronic styles. Such effects can be very useful for adding additional frequency information in pretty much any genre, although clearly you're going to have to keep the kid gloves on when the sources are acoustic so that the listener doesn't smell a rat.

Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio | Recording Secrets for the Small Studio
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