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Recording the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in 5.1
Pappas also configured three Neumann KM 133D digital microphones across the front of the stage. The KM 133Ds have an NMIC DMI-8 eight channel control box that provides phantom power and allows the engineer to set the sample rate, and then used his favorite rear-channel device, Fritz, to capture the audience and room. Fritz is a stereo dummy head Neumann KU100 box that was hung about 10 meters off the floor. The head was powered from a Grace M802R preamp.
Pappas employed a wide variety of microphones to get the best sound on the symphony. Most of the microphones were digital; for the analog ones, he used Grace M802R preamps with built-in A/D converters. Pappas ran optical out from the Grace units, as well as the digital microphone control boxes, to an RME ADI 648 that takes them all and then creates MADI from it.
"We are using a pile of digital microphones throughout the orchestra,” he said. "The first violins, second violins, violas and cellos, have Neumann KM 184 D digital microphones. The basses are captured with Sennheiser MKH 8040 digital microphones, and we're using a KM 133 D as a highlight microphone on percussion, which we thought was pretty fun, and then we are using a Neumann KMR 82 long shotgun microphone on the acoustic bass."
Though Pappas has extensive experience mixing and recording, because of the potential for fires to break out, Pappas decided to bring in an old friend, Thucydides "Duke" Markos, to mix the show on a Soundtracs DS-00 broadcast console in the control room. Markos had five Avalon Acoustics speakers driven by Jeff Rowland Class D 1,000W amplifiers to monitor the mix, and tube traps to control room reverberation.
"I've worked with Mike on surround mixes since 2004," Markos said. "For something like this, the strategy is a bit different, because we are dealing with a hall that is designed for orchestral work, and it's not the best-sounding hall for classical music, and then when you add PA, it complicates things a lot. We have to find some kind of balance between getting that surround and making it sound coherent."
Markos used some compression on Reeves to help control the mix, as she is a very dynamic performer who continuously adjusts her microphone range to raise or lower her volume.
"It's really difficult, because you don't want to squash her down; you want to keep that dynamic range, so you really have to do some gain riding on her, and we do a tiny bit of leveling on her, but we try to do minimal processing on these recordings," Markos said. "We have an LA3A for a little bit of leveling. There's no compression on anything else.
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