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Niche London Quartet

By February 19, 2012January 3rd, 2015Blog, Engineering, Mixing, Music
Niche London Quartet

I’ve had the pleasure of recording a string quartet recently called Niche London Quartet. Two violins, one viola and a cello. A lovely repertoire of both classical and contemporary pieces, all part of this group’s preparation for the summer season of weddings, birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs, corporate events and fancy dinners.

Apart from the lovely music, Niche were a treat to work with! They were also very accommodating to the little microphone experiment I carried out (see below) which was very kind of them.

It was interesting to see how the live room at Snap Studios would respond to a quartet and what microphones in the studios’ mighty arsenal would be suitable for this task. As an experiment I attacked with everything I could! The recording comprised of:

  • Decca Tree – two Coles 4038 on the sides with an RCA DX44 in the centre.
  • Spaced Pair – AKG C12
  • Coincident/Blumlein – Royer SF-12
  • Other – Schoeps Stereo Sphere Microphone KFM 6
  • Cello spot – Neumann U47
  • Viola spot – Neumann KM64

A bit extravagant, I know… But why the hell not?! 🙂 I’m trying to get the best result here! But I’ll let you be the judge. All the microphones went through the Studio 1’s Neve 53-Series console with Neve 33114/5 mic pres.

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Obviously, everything sounded different. The Decca Tree ribbons sounded lush but slightly too roomy/distant for my taste; the AKG C12 spaced pair sounded ‘bigger than life’ and very detailed; the Royer SF-12 had a very natural representation of the room and so did the Schoeps Sphere mic – for more critical and classical recordings, I would have definitely chosen these as the main microphones. The Neumann U47 had an extraordinarily beautiful bottom end as one would expect, and provided a brilliant bass ‘anchor’ for the stereo image of the group. And the Neumann KM64 on the viola was used gently to bring out the softer-sounding pizzicatos.

In the end I just couldn’t resist and ended up using a mix of all of the above with the help of Little Labs IBP phase alignment tool to keep all the signals in phase as much as possible. The mixes were brilliantly mastered by John Webber at Blue Pro.

Update: The guys have editing a video of I Need a Hero by Bonnie Tyler preformed live.

Have a listen to a little showcase of the several songs we recorded that day. See if you can recognise the contemporary ones:

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Please check out Niche London Quartet and bare them in mind if you or one of your friends is having an event this summer!

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