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Old March 31st, 2010, 09:31 AM   #1
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Capturing a pipe organ?

I'm doing a short documentary for my "Lighting for Camera" class on a family friend who's restoring a pipe organ for a church. What would be the best way to capture an audio source of him playing the pipe organ for the video?
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Old March 31st, 2010, 09:40 AM   #2
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perhaps a couple of shotguns placed near to the organ and run cable back to the camera or mixer. With a pipe organ you might need to use some attenuation and set them high up and pointed down toward the pipes a bit. I'd trying to picture it in my mind as to how exactly I'd do it but I'd need to see it first but I would use a couple, at least, shotguns.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 09:49 AM   #3
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If the church has a sound mixer, or some way of capturing the audio from sermons etc., should i ask if they can record it on a CD?
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Old March 31st, 2010, 10:32 AM   #4
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I think shotguns might be the worst possible choice for a pipe organ. You would be narrowing in on small areas of the sound, and a pipe organ has a massive range of sound across all the pipes. You also need at least a little distance from the pipes to let the sound develop and mesh together. I would suggest a decent stereo pair set up at least 30 feet, maybe more, back from the pipes. Find a spot where you hear the sound you want with your own ears, then set up a stereo pair there. If you don't have any mics, or don't understand different methods of using a stereo pair like X-Y, Blumlein, etc., you might hire a sound person to assist you on this one. If the church does record, they may already have mics set up and getting a CD from them would be a good idea.

Good luck and have fun!

Rob
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Old March 31st, 2010, 10:45 AM   #5
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A pipe organ is a powerful thing with an extreme dynamic range. I can't advise with any quality except to make a slightly offtopic comment.

A while back I was recovering music from old 78 rpm records. Usually acoustic records, those made before about 1929 by purely mechanical means before electric microphones, have dreadfully low level audio almost buried in the noise floor, except for an "Edison" branded disk of a pipe organ playing two pieces by Albert Ketelby.

In this instance, the subtle playing was low level but when crescendos were hit, they were cleanly audible without the usual recourse to extensive noise reduction etc., being needed.

The crossed mikes methods described by the very helpful people who commented on my symphonic orchestral recording attempts, might be the most viable for you. I would be inclined to sit off well back from the organ, let it fill the arena with sound and record that.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 11:17 AM   #6
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I've done a few recordings for a theater organ society and used crossed Figure-8s (Blumlein) and spaced omnis. The Omni technique picked up better bass but phase can be an issue, especially serious if it's destine to be played back on mono TVs, whereas using the Blumlein method, it's usually not. In any case a lot depends on the room, organ and other variables. Give yourself lots of sound-check time.
If it's just intro/outro or BG music, it would be easier and probably cheaper to get a pro recorded CD... with clearance of course. Many of the organ societys would most likely let you use a piece for a thank-you in the credits.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 11:29 AM   #7
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Funny you should post this since I did the same thing about a month or so ago. I was asked to record an organ recital by the daughter of a friend of mine. The venue was a large church with a pretty substantial organ. I poked around the web and found this site: How to record organs which was a great help. I ended up recording using two different methods. A large diaphragm MS pair and a small diaphragm matched stereo pair in the ORTF configuration. Both setups were in the same place, about 1/3 the length of the church away from the organ.

The results were better than I expected and you can listen to the two different methods by going to Outer Hebrides ORTF and Outer Hebrides MS

Note: these are wav files and are ~80 MB each.

Regards,
Jerry
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Old March 31st, 2010, 12:54 PM   #8
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I did a recording for a friend applying to graduate school, and simply put a Zoom H4n on stereo mode about 25-30 feet back. It was a fairly small studio, but I was quite happy with how it sounded - better than a pair of spaced hanging mics in the same room.

Quick and dirty, but it worked for me. Sample below.

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Old March 31st, 2010, 01:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Jesion View Post
Funny you should post this since I did the same thing about a month or so ago. I was asked to record an organ recital by the daughter of a friend of mine. The venue was a large church with a pretty substantial organ. I poked around the web and found this site: How to record organs which was a great help. I ended up recording using two different methods. A large diaphragm MS pair and a small diaphragm matched stereo pair in the ORTF configuration. Both setups were in the same place, about 1/3 the length of the church away from the organ.

The results were better than I expected and you can listen to the two different methods by going to Outer Hebrides ORTF and Outer Hebrides MS

Note: these are wav files and are ~80 MB each.

Regards,
Jerry
Thanks for posting that. I've been researching the differences between stereo recording techniques and have been wondering what the aural differences are. Of course I realize that there are too many variables to be able to fully isolate down to mic placement/technique. Still, it's interesting to be able to listen to the differences.

And these two are pretty different. I could listen to the ORTA version all day. It seemed more real to me somehow -- the soundstage was more solid and somehow "right". The MS version seemed to capture more of the hall reverb, but the soundstage sounded somewhat exaggerated or "stretched" side to side. I don't really have the words to describe it.

I'm assuming (oh no!) that the somewhat "scratchier" sound of some of the pipes (the solo part around the 6:30 mark for example) from the MS version is due to the differences in the mics themselves and not the placement/technique. True?

Also, it seemed that the MS version had a deeper and flatter bottom end. Again, I'm assuming that this is a difference in the mics and not inherent in the placement/technique. True?

Thanks again. Very interesting.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 07:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post

And these two are pretty different. I could listen to the ORTA version all day. It seemed more real to me somehow -- the soundstage was more solid and somehow "right". The MS version seemed to capture more of the hall reverb, but the soundstage sounded somewhat exaggerated or "stretched" side to side. I don't really have the words to describe it.
The MS technique allows for adjusting the stereo image in post, where the ORTF does not. Listening on my stereo system the imaging of the MS sounded just about right to me. I have spent time listening to commercial CDs of Fox, Biggs, Curley, etc. and have seen the imaging go from extremely tight to very wide on different recordings. (This seems true of many classical recordings IMHO.) My audio memory is not good enough to remember exactly how the organ sounded live. (As stated in the web article one should be able to listen to the mix at the venue to get the most accurate recording, something that I could not do.)

As far as more reverb in the MS, it is not surprising since the figure-of-eight mic points toward the side walls, while the cardioid points directly at the organ. In fact my ORTF setup was flawed. I had the mics elements ~30 cm apart. They should have been 17 cm apart or so. I'm not sure exactly what effect this would have tho....
As said in the article, "it has often been said that the most important stop on the organ is the building in which it is installed". This church had a very high ceiling and had quite a "live" feel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
I'm assuming (oh no!) that the somewhat "scratchier" sound of some of the pipes (the solo part around the 6:30 mark for example) from the MS version is due to the differences in the mics themselves and not the placement/technique. True?
Not really sure here. Large diaphragm mics are said to have greater sensitivity which may play in here. Certainly the cardioid is pointed directly at the organ, while in the case of the ORTF setup each mic is pointing ~ 55 degrees either side of the center.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Also, it seemed that the MS version had a deeper and flatter bottom end. Again, I'm assuming that this is a difference in the mics and not inherent in the placement/technique. True?
Again it may have been due to the greater sensitivity of the large diaphragm mics, but you are getting way beyond my skill level here!

The bottom line that my friend was very happy with the result. (Me too!)

Regards,
Jerry

P.S. be aware that even though the organ was tuned the day before, some pipes had slipped out of tune. She was not playing the cracks!!!
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Old April 1st, 2010, 01:36 AM   #11
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There are several plug-ins available that let you modify the stereo image of any stereo recording. As I understand them, they basically translate into M/S and then back with the new stereo image.

A couple of examples

Waves SI - pricey as are all of the Waves plug-ins. Also needs an iLok dongle

Quite a few Brainworx plug-ins support image adjustment - BX Solo is a freebie.
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