Some orchestral recordings I made before the pandemic

Hi All,

I’m new to this forum but thought I’d share what I’ve been up to :slight_smile:
Before the pandemic I had recorded a number of different amateur orchestra concerts I was involved in and, at the time, knocked out a quick rendition of them for the players and didn’t think much more about a lot of them. The last few I had recorded directly to Ardour but before that I’d been working in Cubase.

Recently I’ve started revisiting these recordings and actually got the hang of Ardour in a bit more detail and imported some of the older Cubase made recordings in to it as well for further work. The main thing preventing that before was Cubase has a really nice convolution reverb with some great concert halls available but I’ve since worked out how to do the same thing in Ardour :smiley:

So, anyway, I thought I’d share some of these recordings. I’m not entirely sure about how the rights work for these recordings, they are of amateur orchestras (with some professional players) playing repertoire which is public domain but anyway, here is the first one:

I originally uploaded the 3rd movement as well but Soundcloud immediately sent me an email saying they’ve removed it and claiming that it was, in fact, the Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan’s recording of the same piece. Which is very silly as he’s been dead for 30 years already and you can clearly here it is NOT the Berlin Philharmonic just by listening to the intonation :slight_smile:

Happy to go in to the details if anyone’s interested…




Beautiful recording! Brass players are brutal as ever, but with a noble sound :grin: I am really interested in your setup, microphones and type of audio interface. I’d be grateful if you could share some details about that.

That sounds really good !

Likewise…definitely interested in your setup.

Yes the brass players were really going for it as they do, but if I’d had more time to faff with things during the rehearsal, I’d have moved the main pair closer to the strings to try and balance it out. Also, the string section was just not as big as it should have been for a piece like this.

Soundcloud have now reinstated the 3rd movement! :tada:

For this concert, I had an AB pair of Behringer B5 omnis, about 1m apart directly above (more or less) the conductor and about 3m high pointed down at the strings. Then there was a pair of B5 cardiods at 90 degrees but not as far apart as NOS, a bit closer together, in front of the wind section, about 2.5m up pointing down at the second row of winds - which also picked up a bit of horns, brass and percussion. An AKG P170 behind the horns and another one on the timpani as spot mics to bring out the detail a little bit but not too high in the mix. So six mics in total.

It was recorded in a church and so it’s quite reverberant, if I was doing it again I would have got the main mics in a bit closer to balance that a bit better, but at least it’s a really nice sounding space.

Those mics then went to a Zoom L-20 and from there to my laptop running Ubuntu (19.10 then I suppose) and Ardour (5). I really like the Zoom but I only got to use it 3 or 4 times before everything stopped last year. Before that I was using a Lexicon U82 which was also really nice, sounded great, but totally not supported by Linux and so I’m going to sell it on now I think.

Then mixing it, the main AB pair on its own sounds great for the strings and brass but the middle of the image is a bit sparse but it then gets filled out nicely by the wind pair so I bring that up just enough that the winds match the strings, then bring up the horns and timps so the fronts of their notes are a bit more defined. And that’s it, certainly no added reverb on this one!

I used the a-Delay on the wind and spot mics to compensate for their distance from the main pair, 15ms for the winds and horns, 25ms for the timps. I’ve recently discovered the Calf Studio Gear plugins and they have a nifty compensation delay where you can just dial in the distance and it figures out the delay so I’m using that now instead. Also, put a shelf below 150Hz on the horn and timp mics to keep things a bit cleaner, only really need the attacks of the notes from these.

Hope that’s not too much information in one post but I could go on and on about this stuff :smiley: I’ve got some more things to put up on Soundcloud so I’ll post those too at some point.




Thank you for a detailed explanation. I admit that I didn’t expect such a quality from the Behringers, although I have heard that B5s are actually nice sounding mics.
It is also good to know that Zoom L-20 (and L-12, I presume) works well with Ubuntu. I know some people reported some kind of problems with Zooms and Linux, and, based on that rumor, I very recently bought Soundcraft mixer instead of Zoom L-12 which was on top of my list.
It would be nice if you could write a very short review of Zoom L-20 on Ubuntu. A lot of people who plan to use Linux for producing music search through the Ardour forums to find out which interfaces work with Linux and which don’t, and confirmation that some new gear actually works is always welcome.

Surprisingly, the B5s are even mentioned in the new AES classical recording book:

With the addition of an easily-available hollowed-out sphere, they claim the modified B5 can get you 95% of the way toward a Neumann M50. FWIW, I have my eyes on a pair of Sontronics STC-1 ( with extra caps. They do a very nice job on classical ensembles. The most important question, of course, is which color to get: silver or black?

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This is a good idea, I will write up my thoughts and experiences with the Zoom. It’s been a very positive experience, it “just worked” :tm: in Linux, all the ins and outs showed up in Jack without my having to do anything except plug it in :slight_smile:

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Yes I was chuffed to read that, if Decca engineers rate them in such a way I feel a bit more secure in using them. I think the results are good but have always wondered how much better some much pricier microphones would be. I’m definitely going to try the spheres at some point and have a go at a Decca Tree.

I’ve uploaded some more recordings now.

This is a similar setup (although different orchestra and different hall) - B5 AB omni pair and B5 cardiod NOS on the wind. A pair of P170s on the piano, about 20cm apart and angled about 90degrees. Plus a P170 on the timps and percussion as they were miles back but I didn’t use them very much. Was very pleased with how the piano blended in with the orchestra on this one and the pianist is wonderful! The brass is a bit quiet here but they were like that in the hall too.

Another orchestra and hall (church) and similar setup. B5 AB omni pair, this time I tried two P170s on the wind, B5 cardiod on the harp, another B5 on the percussion and a P170 on each timpanist - I’m playing second timpani on this one so I get my own microphone :smiley:

I have not heard of these before, interesting. I’d go for black ones personally :slight_smile:


Great news! I would guess you need to switch “class compliant mode” on on the back panel.

Yes indeed and it’s fine in Windows that way too.

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Here are a couple more pieces.

This is an earlier recording where there is an NOS cardiod pair in between the AB omni pair (all B5s) on the same bar above the conductor, Behringer C3s as ORTF(ish) on the winds and a spot mic on the harp (can’t remember what type). Here the main sound is the NOS pair and the ABs are about 3dB down supporting and widening and making it more spacious, rather than being the primary pair as in the others. My first goes at mixing this at the time I didn’t like and I ended up dropping the NOS and just using the AB pair, subsequently I stopped even hanging and recording the NOS as it made things easier to setup and pull down after the concert.

But having revisited it and worked out that the NOS should be primary and AB lower, I’m quite happy with it so I might start using it again. When we’re even able to have concerts again of course…

Another one with the same AB/NOS setup except this time I tried XY coincidents on the wind and there are spots on the horns and timpani.

This thread is more about mixing and microphones than Ardour itself now, hope that’s ok :slight_smile:


Here are a couple more recordings :slight_smile:

AB B5 omni main pair, NOS B5 pair on the winds and spot mics on harp, piano, timpani and horns.

This is from the same concert as the Enescu above with an additional spot on the timpani as I had a spare channel for the second half :slight_smile:

I forgot to mention, all of these, except the Tchaikovskys, I used a little bit of additional reverb using the LV2 Stereo Convolution plugin and an IR of the 1st National Baptist Church from here:

Just a little bit, probably about 15dB down but it just helps to blend things together I think. There’s lots of interesting IRs out there and it’s quite fun to be able to place an orchestra in an empty nuclear reactor core. York Minster was fun too but the reverb went on and on and on and really chewed up a lot of DSP CPU!

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I prefer these two performances, the compositions in the previous post are to “sweet” for my taste. Thanks for sharing!

The recording is well balanced, overall perhaps a bit on the bright side. I do miss some low-end. e.g. the bassoon could be more prominent on occasion.

That was intended for guitar cabinets, zero-latency short IRs (it’s also deprecated now).
Try “x42 - IR Convolver Stereo” next time, or even x42 - Preset Convolver Stereo. There are presets for openAir lib IRs as well.

I prefer these two performances, the compositions in the previous post are to “sweet” for my taste. Thanks for sharing!

No problem and thanks for your feedback! Here’s something else you might like then:

This was from the same concert as the Prokofiev but without the horn spot as I needed the channel for the soloist (not in this movement)

The recording is well balanced, overall perhaps a bit on the bright side. I do miss some low-end. e.g. the bassoon could be more prominent on occasion.

On the Lutoslawski, there is about 2dB of shelf from 5kHz on the AB Omni pair which are about 3dB lower than the main NOS pair. This was an experiment because I’d been reading about how the Neumann M50s had this distinct rise up to about 6db above 4.5kHz although this was also more on-axis than off so can’t be replicated exactly with just EQ. These Behringer B5s have a similar rise and I was trying to bump this a little bit I think for some “presence”. The Prokofiev and Berg are all AB (No NOS) and there’s no 5k shelf added at all.

When you say you miss the low-end, do you mean the bass instruments are lower or less present or that there’s a lack of actual low-end frequencies more generally? I have noticed in my recordings that the bassoons are usually a bit quiet so I need to look out for that and compensate better when I point the wind pair, I think it is still favouring the front row more than it should.

One thing I want to try next time is a dedicated spot omni for the double bass section to try and bring that out more. Usually the basses are fewer than they should be in the orchestras I work with. Is there a general lack of low-end though? I hesitate to try any EQ at the very bottom. Better microphones might help, one day maybe…

Try “x42 - IR Convolver Stereo” next time, or even “x42 - Preset Convolver Stereo”. There are presets for openAir lib IRs as well.

Ah thank you for this! I have given that a try with the Concertgebouw IR for this Berg recording and it sounds great :slight_smile: