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  • Writer's pictureKelsey Le Roux

Achieving Clarity and Precision: The Art of Striping in Orchestral Recording

Striping is a relatively modern recording technique whereby individual sections of the orchestra are recorded separately.

There are pros and cons to this method. One of the main positives is that as an engineer, composer, or producer, there is significantly more control over individual instruments in post-production, as there is much less bleed between sections than when recording in a traditional hall with all the orchestra sections playing simultaneously.

Two trumpet players during a Cinemagic Scoring recording session
Trumpet players during a recording session

In this blog post, we will delve into striping in orchestral recording, exploring its benefits, challenges, and impact on the final audio production.

The Benefits of Striping in Orchestral Recording:


In orchestral recordings, capturing each instrument's intricate nuances and delicate articulations is paramount. Striping allows engineers to focus on individual instruments or sections, fine-tuning the microphone placement and capturing the desired level of detail.

This attention to detail enhances the overall precision and articulation of the recorded performance, bringing out the subtleties and dynamics that make orchestral music genuinely captivating.

A bassoon player during a Cinemagic Scoring recording session
Bassoon at a Cinemagic Scoring recording session

Time is always a factor in recording sessions, and when everyone is recorded together, it becomes more challenging to edit out mistakes in the final product. A single mistake can bleed into the microphones of other instruments, making it much harder to work with.

However, with striping, there is a heightened control over precision and detail. Engineers can individually address specific sections or instruments, ensuring that mistakes or imperfections can be isolated and corrected without impacting the entire ensemble. This level of control allows for greater flexibility and precision in the post-production process, resulting in a polished and flawless final recording.

Mixing flexibility and clarity

With striping, one of the main benefits is the freedom it offers during the mixing and post-production process. Since each section is recorded separately, there is ample room for creative editing and fine-tuning of the final product.

With the ability to work on different sections independently, edits can be made seamlessly, allowing for greater control over the overall sound.

This approach also enables the selection of the best takes from each section, ensuring that every instrument delivers its finest performance. It also becomes easier to blend in samples.

Balance and Budget:

A well-balanced orchestral recording is a hallmark of a high-quality production. However, in today's film industry, budget constraints often limit the availability of the whole orchestra.

As such, you might find yourself recording with a group of instruments that will not balance well if they were to be placed in the same room. Striping offers a solution by allowing you to control the level of each section individually, ensuring a balanced and cohesive result.

One of the practical advantages of striping is cost-efficiency during the recording session that goes overtime. Instead of incurring overtime for the entire orchestra, it is much cheaper to only go into overtime with one section of the orchestra.

Additionally, only some cues in a film need an entire orchestral arrangement. With striping, you can tailor the instrumentation to suit the needs of each cue, maximising the creative possibilities while staying within budget.


Challenges and Considerations in Striping:

Tuning issues

Tuning issues can arise when recording an orchestra separately, but they can be mitigated with the right approach. Musicians naturally prefer to perform together, creating a sense of togetherness in the recording. They tune to each other, ensuring harmonious and cohesive performances, which is one benefit of recording everyone in the same room.

When striping, it's essential to address potential tuning challenges. With a skilled conductor at the helm, guiding and coordinating the ensemble, these issues can be minimised, resulting in well-tuned and synchronised recordings that capture the essence of the orchestra's collective sound.

Too much freedom

String section recording music during a Cinemagic Scoring recording session
Strings sheet music during a Cinemagic Scoring recording session

With a wide range of options available, composers may feel overwhelmed when selecting the final takes for their composition. The abundance of choices can be both a blessing and a curse, as deciding which recordings best capture the intended artistic vision can be difficult.

Additionally, there is a concern about granting excessive freedom to the dubbing stage. The availability of multiple files and tracks can allow them to make significant alterations to the composition during the mixing and post-production process. Striking the right balance between creative flexibility and preserving the composer's original intent becomes crucial in ensuring a cohesive and faithful representation of the musical work.

Striping offers a versatile and practical approach to capturing the essence and balance of each instrument group. Whether you're working on a film score, classical composition, or any orchestral project, considering the benefits of striping can significantly elevate your recordings' quality and artistic impact. Embrace the flexibility and control it offers, enabling you to achieve the desired balance, clarity, and depth in your orchestral productions.

With striping, you can unlock a world of possibilities and create stunning orchestral recordings that captivate and inspire audiences. Don't settle for anything less than the best. Let us be your partner in achieving remarkable sonic results. Contact us today to discuss your project and discover how we can assist you in bringing your musical vision to life.

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