Engineers use a wide variety of techniques when recording orchestras or small ensembles, from simply placing one stereo microphone just above and behind the conductor's head to using several spot mics for each instrument section in conjunction with one to several ambient microphones.
In this section we'll look at sessions where Royers were used to capture full orchestras as well as smaller ensembles.
This outstanding audio clip was provided by Russell Dawkins, who used one SF-12 to record the Ukrainian Radio Television Orchestra (sorry, we have no pictures of the recording). The recording chain was: one SF-12, 35 feet Monster cable, Studio Technologies mic pre, 6 feet Monster cable, Apogee A/D converter, coaxial cable, digital in on a portable DAT machine. Recorded at the studios of the Ukrainian Radio/Television Orchestra, Kiev.
For this small orchestra, all sections were spot miked and a Royer SF-24 stereo ribbon mic was placed over the conductor's head, an excellent location for getting a realistic audio picture of the orchestra and bringing cohesiveness to the final mix.
Decca Trees are often used when recording orchestras. Developed in the early 1950s by a team of engineers at Decca Records, this method involves using a spaced stereo pair of mics with an added center fill, usually placed over the conductor. Scoring engineer Alan Meyerson often uses three R-122V's on the Decca tree, with a backline of condenser mics behind the conductor. This picture was taken during the scoring session for Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest.
Two R-122V's as overhead mics on the woodwind section. In this position, the R-122V's figure-8 pattern picks up the woodwind instruments and also rejects the brass section which is positioned behind the woodwinds.