11/01/15

HOW TO MIC AN OBOE

Guidelines for miking the oboe with DPA Microphones.
Keywords: Oboe, microphone set-up.
Achieved knowledge: You will achieve knowledge on how to mike this instrument.

Close- or spot-miking an oboe is very similar to that of the soprano saxophone, bassoon and clarinet: Aim the mic at the fingering holes, 1/3 of the length up from the bell, at a distance of 15-20 cm. When possible, use an omnidirectional mic such as the d:dicate™ 4006A or the compact omni d:dicate™ 4006C. If you need more separation, or want less blending with the room, consider using a cardioid d:dicate™ 4011A or wide cardioid d:dicate™ 4015A instead. If you want to take up less space, consider the compact d:dicate™ 4011C and d:dicate™ 4015C as convenient, elegant options.

In an effort to seek separation, engineers might use very directional cardioids instead of omnis or wide cardioids, which provide a better overall sound. They should aim to capture a distinct and natural oboe sound, not necessarily without anything else. High directionality microphones are often too focused and less natural to blend in for these purposes.

If you are in a multitrack orchestral situation with two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, and two bassoons, an off-axis omni or wide cardioid microphone technique works well. Place the microphone between the two instruments, at about head height, and pointing straight down at the floor, which should not be carpeted. This technique will eliminate "keyboarding" and the bizarre polar patterns of these instruments will find their way into the microphone. When panned correctly in the stereo image, time delayed into the main microphone array and mixed in to the rest of the orchestra, which will not demonstrate that "too close" sound that you should try to avoid with this type of recording.

Alternatively, place the microphone in front of your oboe players, in between two players, over the oboes and angled a bit downward. This creates a richer sound with more oboe sound at the core. As orchestras never arrange woodwinds in the front, this spot mic technique requires you to place the woodwind section into the mix with pan pots, faders and possibly reverb to the position and depth that they physically occupy.

If the oboe is being played in situations with lots of background noise or bleeding PA speakers, use a very close microphone such as the d:vote™ 4099U Instrument Microphone. Employing its simple, brilliant hook-and-loop fastener strap, the 4099U can easily be fixed around the oboe at the top, close to the bell, but not necessarily pointed into the bell! Point it towards the keys instead. This way the mic—being close to the bell but pointing at the tone holes—will pick up a blend of the two.

The above techniques also apply to the English horn (cor anglais), oboe d’amore and other variants of the oboe family.

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