What you say is partially true, although I'm not sure who was going heavy on the EMT plates. The big
problem with spot mics is you get what some people call "congestion" (muddy, clogged sound with
reduced clarity) when large numbers of musicians are playing at once. The flip side is that spot
mics can aid intelligability and increase the soundstage depth and width during single-section or
solo parts. Kazdin's best work uses so many mics (as do some Philips recordings and, as I understand
it, some DGG recordings) that the complex parts can be remixed with a completely artificial balance,
and perhaps some EMT echo, to combat the congestion.
At my AES presentation, we heard both of the RCA Living Stereo recordings of the Boston
Symphony/Munch doing "Daphnis." The earlier recording, made with fewer mics, has a more consistent
soundstage (to my ears) going from ppp to fff, but you lose clarity on the chorus because it's
situated behind the orchestra and the setup is just 2-4 overall-pickup mics. In the 1961 recording
(which won a Grammy), you hear the chorus (with its own 3-mic pickup) in much greater detail, plus
the individual voices in the back rows of the orchestra, but when everyone is going, the soundstage
collapses to the center somewhat. Kazdin's 1975 production (which also won a Grammy) doesn't have
this problem, but some in the audience really didn't like what they perceived as a fake soundstage
and unnatural instrumental balance.
It may be that you either want to use a whole bunch of mics and create the producer's idea of an
orchestral balance and dynamics, or you use very few mics (say, 3 spaced omnis) and let the
conductor control balance and dynamics but place those mics in a "sweet spot plain" (which is of
course a production since no person could have three ears floating in a plain above and behind the
conductor, nor would those three ears have a presence peak that you're using the retail clarity at
that distance) so as to get detail and focus as well as a consistent soundstage. To my ears, there's
a legitimate beef about "congestion" during complex or loud parts of the score if you land somewhere
in the middle and use something like a handful of mics to a dozen mics depending on the size of the
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Bob Olhsson" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, December 02, 2011 6:26 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Andrew Kazdin, Record Producer, Dies at 77
> -----Original Message-----
> From David Lewis: "...I guess it was inevitable that multi-miking of
> classical recordings would eventually supplant the traditional one mike
> After growing up reading about the "'horrors" of multi-miking classical
> music in record reviews, I finally met some of the producers and engineers
> around ten years ago and learned more about what was actually being done.
> In most cases there was still a main pair or trio of mikes that was
> providing most, if not all of the sound. The extra "spot" mikes were mixed
> in only during specific passages to bring melody lines into better focus.
> This was often done at the conductor's request after hearing the first
> playback. It was also cheaper to just bring up a spot mike than spend time
> rebalancing the main pair with the meter running during a union recording
> session. There was also an issue of musicians believing that lots of
> microphones meant they were part of a more "serious and professional"
> recording session.
> In other words, it turns out that most of the mikes we've seen in pictures
> were probably not in use and I was told it was virtually unheard of to use
> all of them at once like a pop record!
> So why didn't the recordings sound better? Most likely compression,
> equalization and EMT plates were the main culprits. I'd be very interested
> in reading any interviews with producers or engineers that contradict this.
> Bob Olhsson
> 615.562.4346 http://www.bobolhsson.com http://audiomastery.com