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Old February 28th, 2010, 11:13 PM   #1
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Mic for Pep Band

I would like to record the songs playing by HS pep band at basketball games.
I'm using condenser shotgun mic and something is missing.
It doesn't sound right...like not all sounds are recorded.
Maybe I positioned the mic to close so it picked just a few instruments.
Should I be using cardioid mic to record pep band performance?
TIA.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 12:28 AM   #2
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How far were you from the band? Do you have a short sample you could post so we cound get an idea exactly what is the problem? What mic were you using?

I think if you can provide a few details it will be easier to figure out what the problem is and what to do about it. I record brass bands all the time and have never had a problem caused by being too close.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 05:18 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
...
I record brass bands all the time and have never had a problem caused by being too close.
With a shotgun???
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Old March 1st, 2010, 11:07 AM   #4
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What mic are you using? I'm using AT-897 shotgun condenser mic with deadcat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
How far were you from the band? Do you have a short sample you could post so we cound get an idea exactly what is the problem? What mic were you using?

I think if you can provide a few details it will be easier to figure out what the problem is and what to do about it. I record brass bands all the time and have never had a problem caused by being too close.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 11:43 AM   #5
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Hi Steve

Haven't used a shotgun but have used omni to hypercardioid and just about everything in between. But what I wanted to find out whas how close the OP was talking about. Come to think of it, my on camera mic is a shotgun I'll try it Friday night and see how close is too close. Also, come to think of it, what do you think "...not all sounds were recorded" meant? If it meant that some instruments were louder than others, that could compute.

I guess the other question would be how spread out the band was - if it was 5 or 10 guys all grouped together it would be one thing, if they were all spread out in a line and the OP was in the next row of seats about 3 feet away I could imagine it was too close. But it would have been too close to get much of a picture as well without panning almost 180 degrees.

Anyhow, the real point of my question was to find out what the physical layout was. I'll admit that I was assuming that the OP was at least far enough away to have the whole band in the picture. In fact, maybe there is no picture and he's just trying to record the band, so my assumptions are all wrong - as usual:-)

EDIT

I went to the AT website and got the polar pattern for the 897. It looks like up to about an included angle of 120 degrees it's pretty close to the pattern for my hyper.

I know that I've recorded a band of about 30 people spread over an area about 20 feet wide and when I recorded with the hyper I was no more than 20 - 25 feet away and the results were quite good - no missing instruments.

Just by looking at the plots for the polar patterns I would think that as long as you were more than half as far away as the width of the group you should get usable results - maybe some fall-off on the instruments at the ends, but not to the point of feeling like they were missing.

Hundreds of years ago (feels like it anyhow) I played in bands at high school basketball games and about 5 years back a bunch of college alumni got together and played at a basketball game. What I recall is that none of these bands were particularly large in comparison to the bands we fielded for a football game. We did tend to be scattered about a bit but I still think that if you could get the whole group in the picture (or clearly see the whole group without moving your head) you shouldn't be missing instruments from the recording - might not be optimal balance but I don't think anyone should be missing.

There is something else to consider though - namely that different instruments carry further than others. You can hear the trumpets a lot further away than you can hear the tubas, for example, particularly if you're out in the open with no backing for the band. Could the problem be one of being too far away rather than too close?

Only the OP can tell us!

Last edited by Jim Andrada; March 1st, 2010 at 01:53 PM.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 02:35 PM   #6
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Being English I have no idea what a pep band actually is, but shotguns are rarely suitable for anything amplified. If a pep band is something else, oops.

The shotgun provides a selection of a favoured direction and reduction of those off the axis of the mic. This usually means with sound sources that come from different places that when you pan left or right or physically move, the balance of the sound changes too.

Shotguns work on sources from one location - bands that are more spread out require different techniques. To be honest, if the music is important, then even a cardiod on the camera won't be good. A static mic on a stand will usually give better results, and the perspective stays the same no matter what the camera does.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 03:35 PM   #7
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I'm a seasoned Brass Bander but I had to Google for "pep band" too!

Quote:
The typical instrumentation of a pep band is the same as most marching bands, using mainly woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments.
One thing that's worth watching about recording marching bands is how directional some of the brass are. Trumpets, trombones and sousaphones point out in front, and if they or the whole band turn, particularly when playing outside, there's a huge drop off in volume. The marching-band-type horns (they look like various sizes of flugelhorns) also point out in front like the trumpets.

On the other hand, European style saxhorns (Eb horns/Baritones/Euphoniums and Basses) have bells which point up-the-way and tend to distribute the same level of sound all round. The problem with these comes when using overhead microphones. Woodwinds are less directional as the sound comes out of various orifices except when they are playing their lowest notes when it mostly comes out the bell. Percussion instruments are not particularly directional but bell lyras can have their sound masked by the players' bodies at some angles.

So if you are recording a marching band where the instruments turn around a lot, you will definitely lose the sound of some of the instruments some of the time unless you have mics surrounding the band.

Best of luck on this one!
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Old March 1st, 2010, 10:59 PM   #8
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As I recall from long ago when I played in High School/college was that a Pep band is a smallish version of the regular school band - quite a bit less organized, no marching and doing halftime shows etc, also sort of rowdy, We would all sit in the stands sort of together, often with girlfiriends/significant others all mixed in with us and generally raise hell and make great commotion whenever something went well for our side.

A few years back we got a bunch of alumni together for a Harvard/Stanford basketball game and it was the same story except that by now we were all sort of old f-rts and we didn't jump around as energetically as in days of yore.

Anyhow I think this is the sort of thing he's trying to record. If so, unless you have the auditory misfortune of sitting directly in front of the band you might be a fair distance away. Nobody in their right mind would really want to sit in front of one of these gangs. We had often had a few alcoholic libations before the game and were feeling no pain as the saying goes. It was great fun - we used to do it for hockey games as well back in Boston.

YouTube - Duke Pep Band,Can't Turn You Lose

By the way - I play tuba in a local Arizona version of a British style brass band and do all our recording as well.
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Old March 2nd, 2010, 05:43 PM   #9
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Sounds much more fun than some of the staid old British brass bands!

Quote:
Anyhow I think this is the sort of thing he's trying to record. If so, unless you have the auditory misfortune of sitting directly in front of the band you might be a fair distance away. Nobody in their right mind would really want to sit in front of one of these gangs.
I once played a gig sat down in front of the Kneller Hall fanfare trumpeters - wow, these guys could bring down a helicopter at 1500 feet. I bet they've fried a few mics in their time.

Seems like Pep bands in action could be a real challenge to record. Good to hear from another brass denizen of the deep.
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Old March 2nd, 2010, 06:04 PM   #10
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Hi Colin

A bit OT but are you also a "low blower" as we're sometimes called?

In the unlikely event that you get to Tucson (great weather this time of year but a bit warm in summer - 110F to 115F isn't too unusual) look us up. Old Pueblo Brass Band

Old Pueblo Brass Band

Last edited by Jim Andrada; March 2nd, 2010 at 07:14 PM.
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 11:26 AM   #11
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Nearly as low as you - bass trombone! Thanks for the link and invitation. If you are over here pack your tuba too :-) I'm helping out a local band at the moment Croy Silver Band though I don't feature on the website (yet).
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 12:39 PM   #12
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Remember, a shotgun mic is very directional and unless you get back a distance (then you take a chance of picking up other sounds) you need a less directional mic. You will also need to point your mic away from the brass section and more to the quietest band member like the flute.

Are you monitoring with a good set of over the ear head phones?
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Old March 3rd, 2010, 11:00 PM   #13
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Hey Colin, again OT I'm afraid but couldn't resist - I think you're the luckiest guy in the band - as I recall the bass trombone is written in bass clef at concert pitch. In the US all tuba players grow up reading concert pitch so it was quite a shock joining a brass band in my late 60's and having to learn to read transposed treble clef. Particularly as I have an F tuba and was playing the Eb part, although now I'm playing BBb as well - and switching back and forth depending on who does or doesn't show up for rehearsals - and going nuts but loving it!

OK - back on topic - I think unless the OP chimes in again with some info about the actual setup and how far he was from the band this thread will sort of peter out.

Last edited by Jim Andrada; March 4th, 2010 at 01:59 AM.
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Old March 6th, 2010, 11:33 AM   #14
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I would really try to do stereo for this, even if it was just a couple of matching shotguns that are crossed.
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