2006/05/05 – Millfield Evening Recital Recording

What was recorded – Descant Recorder, Harpsichord, Viola, Steinway Grand Piano, Yamaha Grand Piano, Vocals, Oboe, Violin, French Horn

Who was recorded – Various Performers

Time – Night

Place – Millfield Old Music Lodge

Equipment – Dell Inspiron 600m laptop with E-MU1616M audio interface, AKG C451B small-diaphragm condenser microphones – set up as an ORTF-pair. ORTF Pair was mounted right at the back of the room, centered.

Format – Stereo WAV 24bit/48kHz

Project Size– 4.06GB


With hardly any time to prepare for the recording, the mics were forced to be placed right at the back of the room. This resulted in huge room sound, audience noise (especially coughing), and traffic noise (windows at the back of the hall, with a main road just behind it and no acoustic damping). Overall, even with this unsatisfactory recording location, the transient response of the mics with their high end response managed to result in an ‘okay’ sounding recording. I found the stereo field to be a bit “unfocused” and perhaps a bit wide – this may have been due to the mics not being angled too widely or capsules too far apart, or it may just have been because I was right at the back of the room.

Preamp gain was set low to avoid clipping as they were not being monitored at all times, and because of the dynamic differences between the different instruments (Soft Harpsichord, Loud French Horn, etc)

Demo1 – Excerpt from Grieg’s Piano Concerto [mp3 192kbps 0:10 236kb]

An excerpt of me playing in the cadenza of the Grieg Piano Concerto (accompanied on a second piano by Mr. Barker). The richness of the bass strings was captured, although the high end suffered a bit (probably because the mics were just too far away). The set up had the solo piano lid open facing the audience, while the Yamaha was facing away. But because of the tone quality (The steinway lacking some brightness, while the Yamaha being brighter), the resulting sound made it hard to distinguish between both pianos, which sound similar in the final mix.

Demo2 – Excerpt from Sammartini’s Recorder Concerto in F [mp3 192kbps 0:10 236kb]

With Katy Hebditch on the descant recorder and me on the harpsichord. Even with distance, the transient percussive plucking noise of the harpsichord was still audible, while the piercing, pure quality of the recorder was also preserved. Only thing was because of the softness of these instruments, a lot of background noise (audience, traffic) was picked up.

Demo 3 – Excerpt from Vaughan-William’s Oboe Concerto [mp3 192kbps 0:10 236kb]

With Amelia Dowsett playing the oboe. In this particular recording – the mics tend to pick up more of the ‘up front close’ sound of the oboe, which may partly have to do with the acoustics of the hall.

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