Jump to content

live mic applications for gongs /bells/singing bowls


Recommended Posts

  • Members

upon occasion, the need for being mic'd is becoming an unfortunate necessity. rather than be at the mercy of a production crew that may or may not fully grasp the nature of the beast, what are my options in mics that are capable of capturing the nuance and air of these instruments in a live setting? one challenge is that recently ive been in improv situations with numerous musicians on everything from harmonica, didgeridoos, guitar, djembes and various percussionists... completely outside my comfort zone, yet proving to be insanely provocative and productive in breaking imaginary boundaries.

i stumbled upon a recording mic that works wonderfully well, in solo situations... a zoom q8 with a stereo shotgun mic, it captures the highs of the surface work, timbre etc, and the stereo mic seems to pic up the resonance and surrounding air... im happy with what that system captures ( to my tired ears ) so i know its possible... so, akg c214's? ribbon mics? kinda sorta looking at this thing like mic'ing up the air around a string quartet. much appreciated...

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 52
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Members

Gongs and bells should be fairly easy, I'd guess any decent small-diaphragm condensers would do fine. I'd probably use large-diaphragm condensers on the bowls though. In my inventory I have 2 choices for LDC's, KSM32's or C414's, and I'd probably tend toward the 414's in this situation.

 

I think the C214 would do well also since they're very similar to a C414 sonically, assuming the 414 is set to a cardioid pattern. The 214's are very underrated mics. They sound really nice, and they're not super expensive, just not quite as flexible as the 414's.

 

I'm surprised that you like the sound of a shotgun mic on these things. A shotgun would be far from my first choice here. Unless you're talking about the mics built into the Q8, in which case, that's not a shotgun, it's a pair of plain ol' small-diaphragm condensers, and it totally makes sense that you'd like the sound of them.

 

A ribbon is not the right tool for this job, in my opinion.

 

If you can afford a pair of C414's, give them a shot. I'm sure you'd love them. If the 414's are too much money I think you'd enjoy a pair of C214's, which would be a lot cheaper.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

may i ask what experience you have micing gongs?

not trying to be argumentative, but your first two sentences tell me you are just guessing... i appreciate your wanting to help, but id rather not guess if im going to invest in decent gear... thank you.

Edited by Voltan
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

actually the sound of the small diaphragm condensers on the q8 suck for gong recording... theyre pretty good for voice or acoustic guitar but they have no definition from any distance and are quickly over saturated at close range. i use the stereo shotgun mic that zoom has available... it is a stereo shotgun mic... why would you not choose a stereo shotgun? why not a ribbon? the active ribbons have super low self noise and have plenty of air... im not sure you have a good understanding of what im trying to capture here... i need full definition and complete dynamic range... the c214’s look good on the frequency specs... how do they compare on self noise to something like the se voodoo II? active ribbon... im micing 5 gongs, 13 singing bowls, 3 spinning kyeezees, various elephant claw bells, several flutes and a hang...

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

Well, the reason *I* wouldn't choose a shotgun mic is because it's a shotgun mic. (Is that answer simple enough? LOL)

 

As for gongs, I think you're going to have a hard time finding anybody who regularly mics gongs.

 

One of my acts uses a gong, but I don't bother mic'ing it. The drum overheads pick it up just fine. PVM 480s, a small-diaphragm condenser.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

right, i understand that... i get that nobody needs to mic the bashing clanger of a gong smasher... that is not playing a gong. most peoples idea of a gong is two hundred seventy five measures of rest, a whole note at the end, pack it up and go home... i get it... but thats not me... i carry a 52 inch gong around not because it can be louder than a jet engine, but because a gong that large allows me to play with the nuances of sound that are so gentle and quiet, yet still move enough air to be heard... softly... the magic is in the ethereal decay of resonance... the timbre of the higher frequencies, the subtle differences in sound produced by different weights in mallets... the dynamics run from whisper to literally jet engine spls... frequencies go from below to above human hearing... i looked at the c414s and didnt like self noise levels compared to the lewitt 640 ts... actually i liked all the specs on the lewitt best so far, but specs dont tell all the story... i have a couple miktek sdc pencil type mics for spot micing the bowls, maybe a couple more or try the rode sdc? i need the punch of the lows, but what ive found live is that there isnt enough high freq to give the definition im seeking... what im doing with gongs is different... what i need reflects that...

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members
Well, the reason *I* wouldn't choose a shotgun mic is because it's a shotgun mic. (Is that answer simple enough? LOL)

 

As for gongs, I think you're going to have a hard time finding anybody who regularly mics gongs.

 

One of my acts uses a gong, but I don't bother mic'ing it. The drum overheads pick it up just fine. PVM 480s, a small-diaphragm condenser.

 

the shotgun im using has an a/b stereo mic in the body as well... the front element does a great job picking up the highs that get lost two feet away from the face of the instrument and the stereo capsule picks up the resonance of the field... it has sensitivity adjustments on the mics separately so i can dial in a good mix... works great for recording.... this isnt easy, which is why im pretty quick to dismiss thoughts to the contrary... forget everything you think you know about gongs and playing them... it seriously isnt like that...

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

and no, simply because of the name? shotgun mic? or the ability to pick up high frequencies at a distance? i had a couple sound techs try to mic up a 48 inch chau with a pencil condenser about half an inch off the face about 3 inches from the outer edge...

Edited by Voltan
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

Why don't you just point an MD421 at it from a couple of feet back and see what it sounds like?

 

I wouldn't use a shotgun mic because I don't want a tight, focussed, pickup for the frequencies above ~2kHz, which is basically the definition of a shotgun mic. I want to hear the entire gong shimmer.

 

By the way, both the guys using the gong I work with like to get very subtle effects out of it, although this one is only about three feet across. Think trippy psychedelia. But it's loud enough that we can hear it anywhere on stage, which is why the drum overheads work. The gong sits centered behind the drum kits. Or maybe it's the snare mics.....I never really gave it much thought beyond making sure it sounded good. Maybe I should.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members
upon occasion, the need for being mic'd is becoming an unfortunate necessity. rather than be at the mercy of a production crew that may or may not fully grasp the nature of the beast, what are my options in mics that are capable of capturing the nuance and air of these instruments in a live setting? one challenge is that recently ive been in improv situations with numerous musicians on everything from harmonica, didgeridoos, guitar, djembes and various percussionists... completely outside my comfort zone, yet proving to be insanely provocative and productive in breaking imaginary boundaries.

i stumbled upon a recording mic that works wonderfully well, in solo situations... a zoom q8 with a stereo shotgun mic, it captures the highs of the surface work, timbre etc, and the stereo mic seems to pic up the resonance and surrounding air... im happy with what that system captures ( to my tired ears ) so i know its possible... so, akg c214's? ribbon mics? kinda sorta looking at this thing like mic'ing up the air around a string quartet. much appreciated...

 

You question is interesting. First off, my experience mic'ing multi percussion instruments has been in theater (pit band) scenarios. The percussion instruments are in a fixed position and stay consistent for the run of the show. Usually three/four mics (sm57's) are used and are placed around the percussion area with one of the mics placed at "head height" adjacent to the percussionist that all of the "air percussion" ie; slide whistle, bird whistle, etc.

Your situation in an "improv setting" does bring up a different challenge however with all "improv" scenarios in the true sense there is some "artistic license" for latitude.

I have found it very easy to over-think mic choices as an improperly placed 'high-end" (expensive) mic will not get the job done...

 

I have another show/musical coming up in early February where the band/orchestra may be on-stage. If the accompanying group is indeed "on stage" I plan on mic'ing the percussionist(s) as I normally do but will also try suspending one or two Shure MX202B/C choral/condenser mics above the percussion area and toggle back and forth between both mic schemes to see what works best.

 

My mic'ing technique for a string quartet is different.

Edited by Mike M
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members
Why don't you just point an MD421 at it from a couple of feet back and see what it sounds like?

 

I wouldn't use a shotgun mic because I don't want a tight, focussed, pickup for the frequencies above ~2kHz, which is basically the definition of a shotgun mic. I want to hear the entire gong shimmer.

 

understood... which is why i stipulated that the one im using has an a/b stereo capsule blended into the signal as well as the tight focused sound on the higher frequencies that i have to have to make what im doing audible above two or three feet away...

 

By the way, both the guys using the gong I work with like to get very subtle effects out of it, although this one is only about three feet across. Think trippy psychedelia. But it's loud enough that we can hear it anywhere on stage, which is why the drum overheads work. The gong sits centered behind the drum kits. Or maybe it's the snare mics.....I never really gave it much thought beyond making sure it sounded good. Maybe I should.

thank you!

this is the general direction... im wondering with the demand for such a wide dynamic range and frequencies, if it might be best to approach them like a string quartet? large d condensers set in a field with spot/area focused small d condensers for the elusive highs. part of my issue here is i have a rudimentary hands on experience with live sound gear from a working musicians perspective. my home recording mics, an old mxl ldc and samson cl3 sdc’s probably are a bit short... i cant go to a locker and pick up a md421 to try... (although i doubt id be happy with a 30 to 17k freq response to begin with even though im a senn fan...). everything ive read seems to lead in circles... part of which may stem from people not understanding because they “already know” what they think im doing and it just isnt so... my footprint is about 13 to 14 feet wide by about 7 to 8 feet deep, 82 inches from top of tallest gong stand to the bowls resting on the floor. mics set to the center of the outer gongs would place them at about 7 feet apart. a two day immersion in recent micing ideas leads me to a basic understanding that a low self noise mic is best for picking out the gentle nuances and subtleties, im unsure as to how important multiple pattern mics are but versatility is usually a plus. se electronics 4400a, rode nt2, or nt2000, akg c414xls st, lewitt lct 640 ts... im leaning towards the lewitt for lowest self noise and pattern control ability. possibly mxl v67n for sdc’s? (having omni and cardioid elements). looking at the offerings of mics at the venues and festivals made me understand that if im going to do this properly, ive got to supply my own mics... half a dozen sm57’s probably arent going to do it...

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

 

You question is interesting. First off, my experience mic'ing multi percussion instruments has been in theater (pit band) scenarios. The percussion instruments are in a fixed position and stay consistent for the run of the show. Usually three/four mics (sm57's) are used and are placed around the percussion area with one of the mics placed at "head height" adjacent to the percussionist that all of the "air percussion" ie; slide whistle, bird whistle, etc.

Your situation in an "improv setting" does bring up a different challenge however with all "improv" scenarios in the true sense there is some "artistic license" for latitude.

I have found it very easy to over-think mic choices as an improperly placed 'high-end" (expensive) mic will not get the job done...

 

I have another show/musical coming up in early February where the band/orchestra may be on-stage. If the accompanying group is indeed "on stage" I plan on mic'ing the percussionist(s) as I normally do but will also try suspending one or two Shure MX202B/C choral/condenser mics above the percussion area and toggle back and forth between both mic schemes to see what works best.

 

My mic'ing technique for a string quartet is different.

 

please pardon my sm57 remark, it was not directed at you, timing is everything... they work great on percussion, theyre a staole in my drum mic kits, but the gongs produce frequencies that the 57’s just cant reproduce, or maybe they would?... on both ends of the auditory spectrum ... id love to hear the feb contrasts in mic sounds!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

this isnt my territory... i can tell you the difference between the sound of an accute or oblique arc with the same mallet on my gongs but choosing the mic to capture the subtle differences is out of my comfort zone. what im doing is a little different than what you may have been exposed to in the past... that said, my needs are a bit more exacting and defined... some are happy with a kick drum mic or hand held vocal mic for a gong and if it gets them where they are headed, im all for it! my dilemma is working with quiet instruments in an environment with a naturally high sound “floor”. extracting the target sound and placing that specific vibrating air bubble in the chest of the people in the back of the auditorium...

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

how/what do you set for a string quartet?

yes, understand that money isnt the cure, but improperly mic’ed is where i am without spending some... if i can mic this up properly for less money, im good with that.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members
try experimenting with mics you own now?..

 

ive tried everything i have, which isnt much... ive a couple samson cl3's which might work to spot mic bowls, a couple crown pzm-6d's and an old mxl ldc thats way too bright and harsh... everything else is vocal live performance or drum kit mics which dont have the frequency response or sensitivity i need for this..

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

1 comment

  • [img2=JSON]{"alt":"Voltan","data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"http:\/\/www.harmonycentral.com\/forum\/core\/image.php?userid=92103&thumb=1&dateline=1393485305"}[/img2]
    #11.1
     
    Voltan commented
    12-17-2017, 01:45 PM
     
     
    how/what do you set for a string quartet?
     
    Cello: assuming that the string quartet is of standard instrumentation: Vi/Vi/Va/C I place mics as follows:
    Violins: One sm57 or Sennheiser 835 mic on a tripod/boom stand. Extend the boom over the payers left shoulder and aim the mic towards the G/D string side F hole two feet above the instrument
    Viola: Same position which will put the mic above the C/G string side F hole
    Cello: Tripod/boom mic stand with the above mics, mic the cello from under the music stand aiming the mic towards the bass side (C/G) F hole.
     
    Roll-off the the highs to about 10:30 on each channel's EQ.
     
    The above is a good place to start.

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

 

ive tried everything i have, which isnt much... ive a couple samson cl3's which might work to spot mic bowls, a couple crown pzm-6d's and an old mxl ldc thats way too bright and harsh... everything else is vocal live performance or drum kit mics which dont have the frequency response or sensitivity i need for this..

 

$$ experiment with the mics you have, do not concern yers elf with what mics are supposed to be for etc. off axis cardioid , Omni, figger 8 etc.

run a mixer and combine, beware possible phase issues however. mic edge of gong etc...crazy sometimes moving a mic 1" changes sound

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

Maybe you should get Mickey Hart to design a pickup for you. I'm fairly certain you will find flaws with the frequency response graph for every microphone. His "Beam" is flat from 20Hz to 20kHz. The only other alternative is to point mics at your drums and listen to the result.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members
Maybe you should get Mickey Hart to design a pickup for you. I'm fairly certain you will find flaws with the frequency response graph for every microphone. His "Beam" is flat from 20Hz to 20kHz. The only other alternative is to point mics at your drums and listen to the result.

 

technically, i guess they are drums... by classical definition... and if i had a box full of mics i would do just that... the graph on the crown pzm's is about as flat as one could expect... but the performance doesnt always match the graph... which is why im here asking silly questions,,, and by the way, 20 to 20K doesnt come close to capturing what frequencies these babies put out, plus putting anything on the gongs would change the way they resonate...... ( this is a major reason why i prefer small intimate groups as opposed to the large groups im being asked to play )

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

 

technically, i guess they are drums... by classical definition... and if i had a box full of mics i would do just that... the graph on the crown pzm's is about as flat as one could expect... but the performance doesnt always match the graph... which is why im here asking silly questions,,, and by the way, 20 to 20K doesnt come close to capturing what frequencies these babies put out, plus putting anything on the gongs would change the way they resonate...... ( this is a major reason why i prefer small intimate groups as opposed to the large groups im being asked to play )

 

20-20kHz is the limit of what most people with "good" ears can hear, but more than most people with normal or worse ears can hear. If I had to guess, I'd say that very few people can actually hear 20 or 20k, although you can certainly feel frequencies below 20Hz. Those frequencies are also pushing the limits of what speaker systems can produce, even top-quality systems.

 

A PZM or PCC mic would not be my first choice. They tend to have very uneven frequency response, and I've never used one that would satisfy your low self-noise requirement, especially if the self-noise of a C414 is too much for you.

 

Honestly, I think you just need to try a few different mics and see what works best for you. It's possible that a C414 won't be up to your standards, but on the other hand it might be perfect. You also might be fine with a normal small-diaphragm condenser like a KSM137, or perhaps something even cheaper.

 

In any case, in a live setting, I don't think the frequency response and self-noise of the microphones will be the limiting factor. You can easily find a mic that will be flatter and quieter than the rest of the system you're running it into. Some mics will certainly be better than others, but I wouldn't get too hung up on noise levels if I were you. I think anything reasonably quiet will do fine, as long as the frequency response is suitable. You may even find that a mic with an uneven frequency response works better for you, or helps make up for inadequacies in the PA system.

 

I can't say for sure what mic will work best on your gongs, but I think good large diaphragm condensers are your best bet. In my inventory, I'd reach for my C414's first, because I think they'd sound the best based on what I have. There's no way to know for sure unless you try a few though. If I didn't like the way my C414's sounded, I could try some KSM32's, SM81's, KSM109's, AT4041's, ADX-51's, or even DPA4099's, to see if I liked them better, and a few other options before I was reaching for the bottom of the barrel. I have more options than some people, since I have about 200 wired mics in my inventory, and about 80 of them are condensers. See if you can find someone in your area that would let you try a few things out. The best way to narrow down your choices will be to try the available options and see what works best.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

B. yes, im contacting two studios in tallahassee, which is only an hour away... one owes me a favor or two for some tracks... i also understand that its their mics in a room thats familiar to them... part of my dilemma is that im looking for versatility, as in the multi patterned 414 and others, and the rabbit hole gets increasingly deep... sometimes the simplest, most obvious, is the hardest to see... i know i should just let it be, but i cant shake the thought of hearing “ hey man, i couldnt really pull up those highs so i just bumped up the bass and panned back and forth with a bunch of echo and some chorus... it sounded sick, bro...”.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Members

Cymbals & bells are the hardest instrument to mic because they are so harmonically complex, especially live. The question about gongs brings up a fond memory. We were doing a show in a 600 set theater and the drummer had a >6' gong. The sound crew put 2 sm81s about 2' in front near the edges. Firstly, why would even need to mic something that loud in a relatively small room? Secondly, you really can't capture the true nature of a brass percussion instrument unless you're at least as far from it as it's lowest produced wavelength (can you say 100s of feet?). Cymbals and bells have such a complex harmonic mix that to here the interactions of all of those harmonics, you gotta stand off a long way (even a 20' cymbal has some 60-80 hz after ring way back in the harmonic mix - just put your ear up 30 seconds after it's been struck). This makes accurate live reproduction nearly impossible due to bleed issues. The idea of the shotgun mic, stood back away is intriguing. I'm certainly not an expert on micing gongs but that's my take on cymbals and bells in general.

Just some thoughts.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




×
×
  • Create New...