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Thread: Best microphone for recording my saxophone

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    Best microphone for recording my saxophone

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    Hi,
    I'm planning to improve my home studio. At this time the weakest point is the microphones quality. I have three entry level condensers, AKG Perception 200, MXL 990 and Tascam LD-74

    I recorded a clip with each mic for giving you an idea about how they sound, and how I sound on them.





    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.

    Here are my questions:
    - Should I get a new microphone? What do you think about the sound of the mics I already have?
    - How much money should I spend to get a noticeable sound quality improvement?
    - 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?

    Thank you very much in advance.

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    Before you invest in a new mic, how much experimentation have you done with mic placement and aiming? This can make a huge difference with a sax and there's no one right answer--it depends on what sound you're after.

    Basically, the closer you mic the sax, the more low frequencies you'll pick up and the darker the sound will be. Backing off will give a brighter sound (but you'll be limited by the acoustics of your room). Similarly, assuming you're 6-12 inches off the bell, aiming down at 45 degrees can be a more aggressive sound while pointing straight ahead at the upper keys can be a bit smoother.

    I'll go so far as to say that, while I have favourite mics for the sax, I'm probably more worried about the position than the mic itself--and the style of music I'm after affects where I put the mic.
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    On Microphone Database | Audio Recording News | RecordingHacks, there was a comparison of ribbon microphones for recording sax. If my mind is not betraying me, they liked the sE Electronics VooDoo VR2 the most. On the negative side, virtually nobody seems to stock this microphone.

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    if you want a quality improvement, get a decent preamp first, then a new mic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Btyre2013 View Post
    if you want a quality improvement, get a decent preamp first, then a new mic.
    I guess my mics are the weakest part of my recording chain. I have a bunch of decent audio interfaces (Alesis IO26, Yamaha GO 46, Mackie Onyx Blackjack, Presonus 22VSL and a couple more). Another weak point is the recording room, I know I have to do something to reduce the natural reverberation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by luispa View Post
    I guess my mics are the weakest part of my recording chain. I have a bunch of decent audio interfaces (Alesis IO26, Yamaha GO 46, Mackie Onyx Blackjack, Presonus 22VSL and a couple more). Another weak point is the recording room, I know I have to do something to reduce the natural reverberation.
    Hey hey!
    I listened to the clips and I'm not sure I really hear a problem.
    Of course I don't know exactly how the source instrument sounds and you do, so tell us more if you can.
    Is there something specific you don't like about each of the recordings?


    General advice that may or may not be useful.

    What's you're monitoring chain like?
    The recordings may be fine but you could be hearing misleading representations of them.

    You mentioned natural reverb.
    If treating the room is an option and you're likely to do it in the long run anyway, then do it first and see if it helps.
    If you have monitoring and microphones in an untreated room, it will help!

    If it's not an option or you can't do it right now, try a dynamic and get much closer to the instrument with it.
    That will, of course, affect the tone of the recording and you may or may not like it, but it'll definitely help to offset the ratio between source and reflections.
    It won't do anything for your monitoring though, mentioned earlier.

    If you're mic shopping you don't necessarily have to spend big money.
    Try looking for a second hand md421. It's a great mic.
    While everyone's outbidding each other on 441s and sm7bs you might just snag a bargain.

    If that's still too pricey, a good old 58 might surprise you.
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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    Quote Originally Posted by JefferySmith View Post
    On Microphone Database | Audio Recording News | RecordingHacks, there was a comparison of ribbon microphones for recording sax. If my mind is not betraying me, they liked the sE Electronics VooDoo VR2 the most. On the negative side, virtually nobody seems to stock this microphone.
    Thank you for your reply.

    I found this link (alto sax):
    Alto Sax Ribbon Mic Test | recording hacks
    My choice is different than the writer choice, he says every tested microphone sounds better than the Neumann U87 Ai but for me is a close second just behind the Cathedral Pipes Seville microphone. All the remaining mics sounds more or less horrible, this is mostly noticeable in the first 5 notes (mid-highs are over emphasized for my tastes). The U87 and the Seville sound very similar than my Perception 200 on alto sax.

    And this link which I think is the one you mention (tenor sax):
    Quest for the Ultimate Live Sax Mic: Ribbon Shootout | recording hacks

    From this test I like the Voodoo VR2, The Royer Labs R-122 and the Shure KSM353.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobbsy View Post
    I'll go so far as to say that, while I have favourite mics for the sax, I'm probably more worried about the position than the mic itself--and the style of music I'm after affects where I put the mic.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by luispa View Post
    I guess my mics are the weakest part of my recording chain. I have a bunch of decent audio interfaces (Alesis IO26, Yamaha GO 46, Mackie Onyx Blackjack, Presonus 22VSL and a couple more). Another weak point is the recording room, I know I have to do something to reduce the natural reverberation.
    I had a listen and thought all 3 sounded really good, seriously you might not need a new mic, consider getting a better external preamp first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steenamaroo View Post
    Hey hey!
    I listened to the clips and I'm not sure I really hear a problem.
    Of course I don't know exactly how the source instrument sounds and you do, so tell us more if you can.
    Is there something specific you don't like about each of the recordings?
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steenamaroo View Post
    What's you're monitoring chain like?
    The recordings may be fine but you could be hearing misleading representations of them.
    I'm using my trusty ATM-50 headphones. I'll check the recordings with my KRK monitors, I still didn't do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steenamaroo View Post
    You mentioned natural reverb.
    If treating the room is an option and you're likely to do it in the long run anyway, then do it first and see if it helps.
    If you have monitoring and microphones in an untreated room, it will help!
    I know I should improve the recording room. Maybe a different placing in the room could help to reduce the reverberation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steenamaroo View Post
    If it's not an option or you can't do it right now, try a dynamic and get much closer to the instrument with it.
    That will, of course, affect the tone of the recording and you may or may not like it, but it'll definitely help to offset the ratio between source and reflections.
    It won't do anything for your monitoring though, mentioned earlier.
    What about a closer pattern condenser microphone? A Rode NT-5 or a similar alternative?

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