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RE/P Files: Inside The First-Ever Commercial Quad Recording Sessions
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The music could be divided into two basic types.

The first involved musicians walking around while they were playing, usually with the pipe organ accompanying.

The second involved ensemble playing with the musicians staying in fixed positions near the pipe organ in the front of the church.

The first situation was taken care of with the mikes distributed throughout the hall, plus two presence mikes for the organ: one U-87 for each side of the pipe ranks.

The second, surprisingly, caused more problems than the first. The ensemble consisted of guitar (acoustic or electric), flute or alto sax, baritone sax, and two harps, played by one harpist. At first, we tried a classic left/center/right stereo pickup for the ensemble.

However, this failed due to gross imbalances in the various instruments’ acoustic levels. It was finally decided that it was necessary to close-miking each instrument, although this ran counter to our stated goal of using the acoustics of the Cathedral to the greatest possible extent. After extensive experimentation, we finally got sufficient separation to permit a musically balanced mix. Even so, the harp was very marginal, and required extensive equalization in the mix in order to bring it out sufficiently.

click to enlarge

Unfortunately, it was impossible to baffle the harp be cause of the time limitations and communications problems between the musicians. Final harp pickup was a Neumann U-67, bidirectional with one harp on each side. The mike was placed maximally close to the sounding board.

In the mix, we used the Orban/Parasound Stereo Matrix on the close miked tracks only in order to regain some of the space which we had lost by essentially mono-miking each of the instruments. In one of the cuts (“Short Film for David”), it was necessary to overdub the harp later in the studio, since it simply couldn’t compete with two saxes, electric guitar, and Moog.

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