I feel like i should contribute more to this page, so here we go: the start of a stream of blog posts from me…

Recently I have been doing a lot of recording both in the Reid and on location, and processing in the Reid. I’ve been mainly working on University “Classical” Ensembles.

Firstly, back in December, I recorded Edinburgh University Chamber choir. I recorded this in Cannongate Kirk using a mini decca tree, approx. 60cm across and 20cm forward, with 3 Schopps CCM3 Omni mics borrowed from a friend, from whom i also managed to nab a old battered pair of MK8s from, to form a Blumlein pair.. Shame they were battered, eh. This was around 7m back from the conductor and 3.5m in the air. To me, they seemed a highly competent and tight ensemble, who were capable of producing some beautiful timbres and outstanding dynamics. I decided to try these out because i fell in love with the sound of the MK2s we have in the Reid – transparency and brilliance. So this was a live recording of a concert; which you can hear by the audience member who continually decides to jump up and down in the pew in front, repeatedly sending low frequency thumps up my mic stand, the sound of a boy racer’s car racing past at 8mph, and the slamming of a door at the front of the church. Really all i did in the studio was add a little bass and cut some brightness out around 2-3k, mix the two mic techniques together. I found that the overwhelmingly present sound of the Blumlein  complemented the rich tone of the Decca array. Selected tracks from this C.D can be found here.

A month or two previous to this, I recorded the lunchtime concert; Monica McGhee (soprano), Ronald Woodley (piano), James Geer (tenor) of a selection of Duparc’s most wonderful songs. For this i used only a stereo pair of MK2s on the big Schoeps stereo bar, at maximum width, with an ORTF pair of U89s in the middle. The whole thing was around 3-4m away from the ensemble, around 1.5m from the front row of the seating. You can hear one track from this concert here.

This brings me then, to my most recent recording in the Reid. Re-scheduled after the University closed due to severe winds in December, I recorded the EU Composers’ Orchestra. Having experience in working with this group, i tried to distance myself from the intonation and balance issues within the orchestra as a whole: nothing i can do there. This orchestra is simply a joy to record however. They place no restrictions on where i put my mics whatsoever. They are a very accommodating ensemble, and have some great respect for recording work which is refreshing, really. So, I built my very own full scale Decca Tree:

Proudly above the conductor: Decca Tree

Proudly above the conductor: Decca Tree

Some dexion and picture wire, some clamps and some hard anodized aluminium and i had a sound, adjustable, highly flexible structure from which i could hang mics from, for less than £100, a fraction of the $1500 price tag AEA are charging these days. (Anybody is more than welcome to use this in the Reid, so long as it gets looked after and i’m not using it). I also hung a Blumlein pair of MK6s from the centre bar of the Decca, as from my experience with the choir, they work very nicely together.

In combination with this, I also put up a mid-side pair of a Neumann 120 and 140 from Kev’s office as a sectional mic on the woodwind, and Kev has informed me they also do a very nice student discount if anyone’s up for buying one, and at only around £500 for a DUAL ribbon, its more than worth the money.  I threw up a couple of C414s over the percussion section; one on the timps and one for the rest of the percussion. I stuck a KM140 just outside the piano lid to get some initial transient information from it, as the piano was quite a way back from the tree. Last but not least, i stuck a KM184 in front of a stand for vocal soloists. One of whom decided not to bother, and to stand in the middle of the orchestra, which i find both odd and frustrating, as she is not picked up clearly by any of the other microphones.

In decoding the mid-side pair, I had something wich i find a little phasy and weak. I have no idea why this happened (help) but i think it goes some way in explaining the slightly extreme stereo image (which i decided was kinda cool so i kept it in).
Other than my slight Blumlein issue, the obvious crowd noise, and the constant rumble of the Reid’s radiators which i was asked not to turn off, selected pieces can be heard here and here. Its all a little bright for my taste, but i haven’t bothered mastering it, yet…
I’m doing a big recording session with them at the end of March and i think i might throw up a couple of ambient room mics 10m back into the audience just to blend the sound together a little more and hopefully, if we’re working in session, intonation can be improved a bit too…
EDIT: The Composers’ Orchestra have put up the whole concert here.
Thats all, folks