How To Record String, Wood, and Brass Sections With the R88

Audio Samples and Techniques Using the AEA R88
String Ensembles

The versatile R88 excels at recording string sections, quartets, orchestras, and other ensembles from a distance. Due to its far-field design, from as far as 20 feet away, the R88 captures detailed, balanced sound of an instrument section and supplements it with massive room tone. When arranged 6 to 10 feet from the source, the R88 creates a massive, detailed room image without the need for any support microphones.

When miking quartets or ensembles, start by positioning the R88 from at least 5 feet away from the musicians with the white line aimed directly at the center of the ensemble. This will give you a balanced stereo spread in the two channels of the microphone. Because the two ribbon elements are perfectly in phase with one another you can pan the two channels however you wish. Most engineers start with channel 1 panned hard to the left and channel 2 panned hard to the right. This creates the largest and most realistic stereo width.

The image below shows where both elements of the R88 capture sound. The green area is the location that sound is captured in. When recording ensembles, make sure that the musicians are located within this green area. When both channels are hard-panned left and right, any source that is within this green area will sound like it is coming from that specific area.

Ribbon Mics

In the following video, the talented Cattus Quartet perform their arrangement of Etta James’ song, At Last with only an R88 positioned 8 feet in front of the group and 6 feet above the ground. Listen to the depth and articulation of the individual instruments, and how the natural sound of the group comes through.

Sections and Orchestras

In the following clip, composer Jeremy Zuckerman chose an R88 to capture the lush sound of an entire orchestra at the outdoor music festival, Playfest, in Malaga, Spain. An AEA N22 was blended in as a focus mic to capture solely the Ehru. In the following audio clip, everything is captured–including the sound of the ocean, a crying baby, the loud audience, and the beautiful sound of the orchestra.

Listen to the R88 capturing an orchestra outdoors

Ribbon Recap
John Cuniberti’s OneMic series: Recording bands with a single mic

Engineer John Cuniberti aims to capture a band in one take, without edits or overdubs, but sound as balanced as a conventional multi-track recording.

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