The BBC Symphony Orchestra library gives you 20 different microphone signals to use, giving you full control over the sound you want. This article will explain a little bit about each signal as well as some tips from engineer Jake Jackson on how to use them in context.
An old fashioned microphone for an old fashioned sound! Positioned behind the conductors head for a close to realistic mono pickup.
A condenser microphone placed close to the leader of the section. Not used in a typical mix, though very useful when wanting to make the section sound smaller.
Three omnidirectional microphones placed in the traditional Decca Tree arrangement, situated high above the conductors head. These give a strong representation of the hall, whilst maintaining instrument focus. Often considered the start point of any mix.
Two omnidirectional microphones placed midway between the orchestra at the same line as the Decca Tree. These add great natural width, and should be used in combination with the Tree to add space to your mix.
Two omnidirectional microphones placed towards the rear of the room, higher than the Outriggers resulting in a nice room ambience. Great for use in a 5.1 surround mix, or to add more space to a stereo mix.
Two omnidirectional microphones placed at the very rear of the hall, high up in the
balcony. Also great in a 5.1 surround mix, or for a huge amount of space in a stereo mix. About as much ambience as you can get!
Two Coles 4038 microphones placed in a stereo arrangement, close to the musicians at head height. Use as a very nice pickup if you want a closer sound but with a different vibe. Great for use on a Solo Instrument with some Tree or Ambient, but use with caution on multiple instruments as they will be panned the same!
A stereo pair placed above the Brass, Woodwind and Percussion sections. These are used as a mid pickup between the Close and Tree microphones. These are great in most mixes, and are a great balance between close and roomy.
Two omnidirectional microphones placed on the very edge of the Orchestra, in the same line as the Decca Tree and Outriggers. Great for use in a Dolby Atmos mix, or in 5.1 to add some extreme width.
Two omnidirectional microphones placed high above the Orchestra at the front. Use these to add height to a Dolby Atmos mix, at the front of the mix.
Two omnidirectional microphones placed high above the Orchestra at the rear. Use these to add height to a Dolby Atmos mix, at the rear of the mix.
The section close microphones. These are panned across the stereo image with as much separation as possible, to allow the most control so that the signal can be moved easily. For more information on this signal, please see here.
The standard close microphones per section, positioned naturally in situ for the best close sound. Use these with your room mics for part of your base sound.
We have 5 spill (or ‘bleed’) signals available, which can act as glue in Orchestral context. These will add extra width and natural ‘space’ from the unused microphones. The spill signals are available to dial in on a per section basis, or as a ‘full mix’. For example, a Solo Horn dialling in some of the ‘Sp. Str’ will mean that the close mics from the String section will be added to the mix. Whereas for ‘Sp. Full’, every single close mic from the entire Orchestra will be added.
Jake Jackson’s mix, which is a balance of commonly used microphone positions. A great starting point!
This is specifically a mix of the Decca Tree, Outriggers, Ambient, Balcony, Mids (not on the Strings!), and Close signals.
Jake Jackson’s second mix, which is a bit more ‘hyped’ in sound, with some added Compression, EQ, and Reverb.
This is specifically a mix of the Decca Tree, Outriggers, Ambient, Balcony, Sides, Atmos Front, Stereo, Mids and Close signals. Neither of Jake’s mixes use the Spill signals, so these can be dialled in as bonus!