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Thread: Best microphone for recording my saxophone

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    For my less-than-ideal recording room (a wood-floored room in a very old wooden house with high ceiling), a good dynamic microphone can really minimize the reverberation. I like the Heil PR40 and the Electrovoice RE20 as they are both end-address and can be aimed directly at my mouth. I really don't know how this would work out with a sax...it's probably more difficult to keep those in one place. Both require a good preamp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by luispa View Post
    First of all, thank you very much for your reply.

    Well..., it's a bit hard to explain but I'll try it. I think the clips are not too bad but I guess there's room for improvement. From the 3 microphones the Perception 200 is the one I like the most because is the warmest sounding microphone but the low notes sound a bit softer than they should. On the other hand the LD-74 sounds more accurate in the low register but mid and high notes sound too shrill.
    Do you use eq? Sounds like you're looking for a pretty subtle improvement.
    Choosing the right instrument, space and mic is paramount but if you're talking about a db bump here or there I'd try it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by luispa View Post
    I'm using my trusty ATM-50 headphones. I'll check the recordings with my KRK monitors, I still didn't do that.
    At least that rules out room ambience when monitoring.

    Quote Originally Posted by luispa View Post
    I know I should improve the recording room. Maybe a different placing in the room could help to reduce the reverberation.
    It could if a: the room is a problem to begin with and b: the second room is better somehow.
    (that sounds like a smartass response. It's not meant to.)

    Quote Originally Posted by luispa View Post
    What about a closer pattern condenser microphone? A Rode NT-5 or a similar alternative?
    I suppose the mic pattern could help, but the idea with a dynamic is that the mic is less sensitive, meaning you can put it much closer to the instrument.
    It may be subject to debate or just plain wrong, but I think inverse square law trumps polar patterns when it comes to reducing capture of room ambience.


    In summary, though, I'm not completely sure if you're trying to reduce ambience in your recordings or if you're looking for a 'nicer' core tone.
    Maybe it's both but can you clarify?

    PS: Your recordings and playing sound very nice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by luispa View Post
    Thank you for your reply. I did a lot of experimentation and I found the best place usually is around 10 inches away the bell horizontally and 10 inches upper the bell. I guess I'm ready to know what's your favorite microphones for recording saxophones.
    Ooops...sorry if I was too basic there!

    Anyhow, my favourite sax mics are small diaphragm condensers. I quite like the old AKG C451 EB (the original one) but I tend to thing the modern equivalent is a bit over priced so I've moved to a Rode NT5 for the most part. It's got a nice smooth sound, no over-exaggerated highs and does a good job on both smooth, quiet styles and the louder more raucous stuff. In a pinch and for less money, the sE1A also does a very nice job though not quite in the same league.
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    How about a Sennheiser MD421?

    My favourite is my no name brand fathead ribbon mic?

    Alan.

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    I know lots of people like the MD421 on sax but I find the frequency response curve that greatly emphasises about 2K makes the instrument sound harsh to me...but I suppose it depends on how you want it to sound.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobbsy View Post
    I know lots of people like the MD421 on sax but I find the frequency response curve that greatly emphasises about 2K makes the instrument sound harsh to me...but I suppose it depends on how you want it to sound.
    There are, of course, different flavour of 421 out there.
    If memory serves 421 II has the freq bump?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobbsy View Post
    I know lots of people like the MD421 on sax but I find the frequency response curve that greatly emphasises about 2K makes the instrument sound harsh to me...but I suppose it depends on how you want it to sound.
    Of course the position of the mic has a lot to do with the sound, for example don't point it into the bell of the sax. I have had very good results with the humble SM57.

    If you want as smooth sax sound, use a ribbon mic. If you want an open sounding sax, use a LDC out front of the player (good room required). There are many ways to get a good sax sound depending on what sax sound you are after.

    And after saying all that, heres a photo of a brass session I did where we wanted a Soul type brass section sound with a hard hit, Baritone has a AKG C4000B pointing just above the bell, and the Alto has a AT3525 pointing at the body of the sax.



    Alan.

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    Last edited by witzendoz; 04-28-2015 at 23:24. Reason: link to recording added

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    Quote Originally Posted by luispa
    I need a flat microphone which doesn't emphasize too much a given frequency band. I'll use it mostly for recording samples which can't be equalized because I need to left the sound exactly as it was recorded.
    Out of curiosity, why no EQ?


    Quote Originally Posted by luispa
    Should I get a new microphone?
    I absolutely love getting new microphones so I'm giong to go out on a limb here and say yes.


    Quote Originally Posted by luispa
    What do you think about the sound of the mics I already have?
    The playing sounds pretty good. This will buy you more bacon than what microphone was used every single time without fail.


    A soloed instrument recorded on an entry level condenser might not sound bad immediately in and of itself, which I think is the case here. Trying to mix the sound with other instruments could be a lot more telling. Problems can occur in 3 areas: bass, midrange and high frequencies. The trademark of entry level condensers, especially side address models seems to be an agressive peak in the 8 to 10 kHz range that can sound fatiguing over time. The phase response of most of these mics is terrible as well, which erases a lot of the midrange detail and "3-D" depth to the sound. Pencil mics can be an improvement because the headbasket design offers more natural off axis response.


    Quote Originally Posted by luispa
    How much money should I spend to get a noticeable sound quality improvement?
    Only you can answer that. Many of the budget friendly options might be more of a move sideways than up, but there's plenty of options. If you can save up for something you might be interested in that is likely to be a keeper, it could save you money in the long run over buying more cheap condensers. If you're looking at something expensive, it's a good idea to have a return policy figured out or try to rent the mic you're interested in to compare it to your other mics before you pull the trigger.

    Quote Originally Posted by luispa
    - Should I get a new condenser or should I look for a dynamic microphone? I heard wonderful things about Electrovoice RE32 and Sennheiser MD441 but these are out of my budget.
    - Which brand/model would give me a reasonable quality improvement?

    A top quality moving coil dynamic will sound much better on just about anything than many condenser mics at the same price point. They're versatile. Most of them are under 500 bucks new. And they're very good on wind instruments. Also very solid and durable. Used resale value is good too, so it could make for a better investment over time. They all have a different character, but the thing they have in common is good sound. Electrovoice RE20, Beyerdynamic M88 and M201, Sennheiser 441 and Shure SM7 are all considered at the top of the moving coil spectrum. Not uncommon at all to see a few of these in the same locker as a bunch of expensive, classic condenser mics.

    Used mics are another option, especially if you want to try some dynamic mics without spending too much. I got an old EV N/D 757 for 50 bucks in a pawn shop. Sounds way different than an SM57. More bottom, more top and pretty decent overall for 50 bucks. I'm curious about some of the other N/D mics but haven't used them. They cost significantly less than an RE20, which still isn't ridiculous really. SM57 for that matter will certainly do something different than what you have and might be closer to your liking. Less size and depth than the other ones but still very useable. More midrange. If you haven't tried a dynamic yet, there's a few good ones that aren't as expensive you might like. Could be really handy for live use too.



    Good luck in your search.

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    Quote Originally Posted by snow lizard View Post
    Out of curiosity, why no EQ?
    I need to keep the signal untouched because these clips should show how the reed sounds without any kind of artifacts. If I were to record a brass section or a solo over a funk/rock band I'd don't care about all this, there's nothing a good EQ can't solve.

    The remaining paragraphs are highly valuable for me, thank you very much.

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    Thank you again for all your replies! From your replies and the replies I got from other two similar forums (homerecording.com and saxontheweb.net). I made the following conclusions:
    - Before to buy a new microphone I should do something to improve the recording room acoustical properties if I want to make my recordings with a condenser microphone, or to buy something like this: sE Electronics Reflexion Filter PRO Portable Vocal Booth | Sweetwater.com
    - I should make exhaustive tests changing the distance to the microphone and the orientation. I'm afraid I don't tested this enough.
    - It has no sense to buy a bunch of microphones and see which one is better for what I need. It's easier (and cheaper) to get a lent dynamic microphone and a lent pen style condenser (like a NT-5 or Perception 170). Keeping this in mind I also get an Audio Technica Pro 25 (a large diaphragm dynamic microphone aimed to kick drums) and after a bit experimentation I found it sounds fuller than the other three condensers. Considering the AT Pro 25 was a budget microphone the result was more than OK. Probably a better dynamic microphone would do it better, models which come to mind are EV-468, AKG D5 or D7, Audix I-5, any experience with these microphones or others than the usual SM57/58?
    - As somebody suggested me here or in a different forum, I'll mod the MXL 990 and/or the LD-74. I heard a lot of successful histories about moded microphones. Mod kits use to sell for less than $10 on eBay, too cheap to not try it, and even a K-47 capsule is a bit over $100. I think it's not a good idea to spend more than $200 in a C-214 without being sure this is what I need, probably this kind of condenser mics is a but choice for what I want to do.

    For those who are interested in this subject I want to share these useful links:
    The Quest for the Ultimate Live Sax Microphone | recording hacks
    Quest for the Ultimate Live Sax Mic: Condenser Shootout | recording hacks
    Quest for the Ultimate Live Sax Mic: Ribbon Shootout | recording hacks
    Saxophone Microphone Review and Audio Shootout
    http://www.neffmusic.com/blog/2014/0...ootout-part-2/
    http://thediligentmusician.blogspot....up-review.html
    http://recordinghacks.com/2014/07/16...bbon-mic-test/

    I'll try to post a recording with the Pro 25. I'll keep this thread alive with updates about my progress, Thank you all again for your patience and for sharing your wisdom.

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