Recording the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in 5.1

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A jazz quintet walks into a concert hall and meets a symphony orchestra. That's not the setup for a bad joke, but a concert put on at Boettcher Concert Hall in Denver on Dec. 14, 2010. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and Marvin Hamlisch paired with Dianne Reeves and her quartet to put on a jazz Christmas show.

On hand to capture the performance for radio broadcast was Mike Pappas, chief engineer at KUVO in Denver. Pappas had previously done a live radio broadcast of Yo-Yo Ma and the Colorado Symphony at Boettcher in 2009 (see article in March 2010 issue), and in 2004 had recorded a previous show with Reeves and the Colorado Symphony.


Thucydides "Duke" Markos works the surround mix on a Soundtracs DS-00 broadcast console.

Unlike the 2009 show, the Reeves/CSO show was not broadcast live. Instead, Pappas recorded it using Logic for future broadcast in DTS 5.1. The primary challenge Pappas faced was integrating the mixes for the house, run by Reeves' sound engineer/tour manager Paul Boothe, and the radio. Pappas and Boothe coordinated on the microphone selection to create the best sound.

Pappas also helped select the FOH mixing console, a Digico SD7, and used the MADI interface to reduce cabling issues. The SD7 was used in place of the Boettcher's standard desk, a Yamaha PM3500, an old analog console that the house engineer, Aric Christensen, normally uses. Christensen also worked with Pappas and Boothe on microphone selection and tech setup for the FOH mix.

The Colorado Symphony Orchestra prepares to perform in Denver's Boettcher Concert Hall.

The Colorado Symphony Orchestra prepares to perform in Denver's Boettcher Concert Hall.

Because the event wasn't typical, Christensen was comfortable with Pappas and Boothe selecting equipment. "For example, we used MKH 8040 digital microphones for overheads," Pappas said. "We did do one or two double mikings, but it wasn't much. He was perfectly happy with our choice of Sennheiser MKH 800s on the piano. We had a couple of phone calls and swapped some Excel spreadsheets back and forth and got it all to work. We've got about 40 microphones that we are looking at, plus the front of house guys have about 50 that they are looking at, so we were able to get everybody on the same page.

"Because they were running a console that has MADI, the Digico SD7, we were able to split our MADI feeds from our rack, which has all the trio feeds, Dianne Reeves' vocal mics, the wireless mics and everything else. We gave them a feed of that digitally via MADI right to the console. Then they have their own rack with a bunch of orchestra stuff we don't need. It worked out really well, and instead of having to run a million miles of microphone snakes, we were able to do it on eight coax cables."

-- continued on page 2

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