Mic placement/reverb for different movements of orchestral recording

Dear Villain

Active Member
Hi all,

I'm working on a multi-movement piece, in which I'd like a distinctly different ambiance/reverb for one movement vs. the rest. Essentially, I'd like the second movement to have mics further back and pick up more of the room. As this movement is also significantly slower/more lyrical, it would also benefit from longer reverb tails. My question is, is this something that you've heard done on recordings? In my own experience, I've heard many recordings where more rapid virtuosic material was muddied by a heavy reverb, where the slower movements were fine with it. With the ability to do things virtually, it seems much easier to make these adjustments than in a live recording. However, would it be completely weird to do so?

Additional info: I'm using Mir Pro, and basically would keep the same venue, adjust mic positions (conductor to 7th row, for example) along with the colour (switching instruments from presets like "warm" to "distant", etc.)

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Active Member
As a matter of personal taste, I would find it weird if the effect was obvious. But I also think there's a good chance you could do it in a way that is essentially not noticeable or not bothersome, and even though it's hard to notice then, it still might buy you the changes the clarity/thickness/etc that you want.

I don't know for certain, but I have always suspected that mixing engineers for traditional orchestral recordings still used volume automation, subtle algorithmic reverb, and even light compression more often than we might expect, and things sound organic and transparent still, even to keen listeners. I'd be interested if someone with orchestral recording/mixing experience can say if this is true or not =)

Mihkel Zilmer

Senior Member
I don't know for certain, but I have always suspected that mixing engineers for traditional orchestral recordings still used volume automation, subtle algorithmic reverb, and even light compression more often than we might expect
This. Volume automation, EQ, extra reverb and compression (often parallel compression) are used all the time in orchestral recordings of concert music.

Mixing is a creative process. Even with something as seemingly "unprocessed" or "natural" as concert music recordings. The job of the mixer is to make the recording sound as good as possible. With any tool that they have at their disposal.

Gerhard Westphalen

Scoring Mixer
Sometimes making something sound natural involves doing something unnatural. Reverb levels definitely get ridden which slow sections getting more reverb. If you want to make it unnatural then that's more of a compositional choice.
Dear Villain

Dear Villain

Active Member
Thank you all for the info. Is automating reverb (as in adjusting the amount up and down over the length of a track) possible using Mir? It doesn't seem like this can be done, but would be super helpful, because I can stop and adjust variables (wet/dry, tail length, etc.) for each section of the piece, but I'd literally have to export the piece in sections with these settings (and of course, these adjustments would not be as gradual as riding a slider up and down slightly to adjust the reverb). Hope this makes sense.

Beat Kaufmann

Active Member
When I make concert recordings of orchestras, probably very few orchestras would be happy if I mixed different movements differently.

Of course, nothing is forbidden, especially if you mix your own music.
In your case I would use MIR to define the individual stage positions for the instruments (L<>R / front/rear). With a second reverb (either with the built-in Air-Reverb or with an external one) I wouldn't change the distance but just add a little less or more "tail". So I would leave the positions but change the "Tail" part.
Tip: Try to mix the "closer" pieces especially close so that the "far piece" does not have to be extremely reverberated.

If you really want the orchestra to sound from far away in a certain movement, then put the microphones in the back of the used venue (last row). Whether this sounds natural has to be checked. MIR can sometimes sound very discoloured in such situations.
Summarized: Try everything and choose the best solution. Actually, you can't do anything wrong.

All the best

Living Fossil

Senior Member
Actually, you can't do anything wrong.
Actually, you can do everything wrong.
But there are no serious consequences. ;)

Sometimes, when listening to some kinds of music (specially in the area of "Neue Musik") after having read the composer's concepts involved in his piece, i'm glad those concepts were realized in the realm of music and not for example in architecture.
Because if the concept for a building doesn't function, the building will collapse.
With music it's quite harmless.
Unless, of course, you're exposed to brutal loudness that damages the ear.