Broadcasting the Colorado Symphony Orchestra
On Location, March 2010
Miking Yo-Yo Ma
One big point of contention for Pappas and his team had to do with how to mic Yo-Yo Ma's cello. Pappas was leaning toward a KM140 figure-8 and cardioid in a mid-side configuration during the rehearsals, so that he could control the stereo width. Ultimately, Pappas's assistants persuaded him to use a Neumann U67 and all its tube glory, running into a Grace 802 unit in the stage rack above the Digico controller.
Not many engineers are concerned with things like audiophile-grade cable, but Pappas has 3,000' of Cardas microphone cable for his setup.
"We studied cable capacitance and a microphone's ability to drive live cables," says Pappas. "Where this came into play was with applause on live recordings. Typically you'd have 150-200 people and it sounded great; you get to 1,500-2,000 and it sounds like crushed pink noise. I heard a lot of this on classical recordings too, and we started looking into what was causing it.
"We came to the conclusion that it's not a frequency response problem or a filtering issue, it's the microphones running out of current to drive the load, so you get this insidious slew rate limiting distortion. The amplifiers in the microphones can't deliver enough current to charge the capacitance at a high level with high-amplitude signals. Once we figured that out, it was an epiphany. We have an Excel spread sheet that allows us to enter the parameters of a microphone, dial in the cable specs and how much capacitance it has per foot, and it calculates the cable length and frequency at which things start rolling off as well as the slew rate distortion. Once we got that done, our applause in the rear channels sounded much better. Low-capacitance cables on analog microphones are the key."
In addition to high-end cable, Pappas has high-end equipment for monitoring the mix. He uses five Avalon Acoustics speakers driven by Jeff Rowland Class D 1,000W amplifiers. The control room in the Boettcher was filled with tube traps to control echoes.
When mixing the show, Pappas had a hard right/left pan of the outside microphones, and the middle three were mixed left center/center/right center, with the U67 mixed just left of center. Fritz was used for SR and SL.
Pappas also paired with David Day of Day Sequerra for the surround encoding equipment. From the DS-00, the signal was routed into a Day Sequerra NLC5.1ST for encoding in Neural Surround. The NLC5.1ST helps control intermodulation distortion without artifacts, so that it increases time spent listening (TSL).
-- continued on page 4
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