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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am trying to get the right sound for this particular piece I'm playing on the soprano. I have access to a good selection of microphones. I need to get a dark, warm sound but still get good articulation and top end "cut" (I am doubling a line with a guitar). I was using an AKG 414 and I usually get a great sound with it, but not for this song. Then I switched to an AEA 84 ribbon and it was very dark, but the articulation was not coming out very well. Then I used an Electrovoice RE-20 dynamic mic. It gave me the sound I was looking for. Now I have to nail the part.:doubt:

Then I started thinking about the discussions about people looking for different tones. The huge tonal changes that I heard on the different mics made me feel like it was more important for me to have a saxophone setup that I was comfortable with, one that I have played for a while and know well, and to find the right microphone to capture the exact tone I needed.

This has nothing to do with working on the tone that you want in an acoustic situation. It's obviously important to work on you tone at personal level.

But it makes me think about the comments from people saying that they like to tone of a particular player on a particular recording. With as varied the tones I was getting on the different mics, I bet the greatest factor in the recordings is not how the player was sounding that day (the greats are/were probably pretty consistant day to day) but the microphones that was being used to record the sessions.

Just food for thought. If you are recording yourself and not happy with the tone, try changing the mic instead of looking at the sax setup.

I'll try to get a chance to post a few clips of the different mics (and their postitions, because that make a big difference as well). I'll record one clip but use the 3 mics I mentioned. I was tempted to just record the clip and post it, asking which mouthpiece people liked best.:twisted: It would have been interesting to see the response.
 

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As someone who studied sound engineering before going to music school, I agree wholeheartedly. Microphones make a big difference.....and RE20's are great.
 

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Oh, littlemanbighorn, never a truer word said. Can you say it louder, please? I don't know much about the ins and outs of sound production, and I wouldn't know which mic to choose for any particular job, but I've spent enough time around pro-musicians and sound tecchies to know they make one heck of a difference.

Interestingly enough, I saw a similar topic being discussed on another forum a few weeks ago. I had to laugh at some of the answers, especially the one that said a mic's a mic and it's the player that makes the difference. I mean, even though I don't know very much about it, I do know that even the best player will sound even better with the right sound setup.
 

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Your intonation on the soprano sax is good enough so that you can double a line with a guitar, without creating an ugly-sounding mismatch in pitch?

I am jealous. For me, unison lines with another instrument are something that requires me to play my alto (my main horn).
 

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Microphones can make a huge difference in sound recording, especially in instruments with difficult to record transients, like percussion instruments and pianos.

For woodwinds/brasswinds, however, the Placement of a microphone and the acoustic of the room is more critical than what kind of microphone you have.
 

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harmonizerNJ said:
Your intonation on the soprano sax is good enough so that you can double a line with a guitar, without creating an ugly-sounding mismatch in pitch?

I am jealous. For me, unison lines with another instrument are something that requires me to play my alto (my main horn).
Maybe you could try for a pleasant-sounding mismatch of pitch.;)
 

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ribbon mics for sax?

Some people have recommended ribbon mics for recording sax and voice... are these responsible for the "classic Blue Note sound" (regarding to the record label?) I heard that somewhere. Also I really want to try an all-tube mic preamp like the PreSonus BlueTube, with my first condenser mic, a Studio Projects B1. My friend could hear an airplane flying over my house while broadcasting this mic lo-fi over the net... and I didn't even notice it until he pointed it out! That's because it really picks up the bass, and at great distances.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
olpinkeyes said:
Interestingly enough, I saw a similar topic being discussed on another forum a few weeks ago. I had to laugh at some of the answers, especially the one that said a mic's a mic and it's the player that makes the difference. I mean, even though I don't know very much about it, I do know that even the best player will sound even better with the right sound setup.
That's what I'm saying!!! I see too many people make judgments on the tone of their idols saying he/she sounded fuller on such-and-such album and tinnier on another. They wonder what changed in the horns setup. Probably nothing. 9 times out of 10 it's most likely the mic. Definitely something to think about when trying to work on your sound by mimicking someone else's tone.

harmonizerNJ said:
Your intonation on the soprano sax is good enough so that you can double a line with a guitar, without creating an ugly-sounding mismatch in pitch?

I am jealous. For me, unison lines with another instrument are something that requires me to play my alto (my main horn).
I always record with a tuner right in front of me for one. And also learn the melody with the tuner before I even start recording so know which notes I need to adjust. Also (hate to admit this, but it's the truth) I'm going to take a bunch of passes on it and compile the best version together to make it perfect. I usually take the best phrases though, not single notes. Hey, all the kids these days are doing it.
 

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coolsax2k7 said:
Some people have recommended ribbon mics for recording sax and voice... are these responsible for the "classic Blue Note sound" (regarding to the record label.) I heard that somewhere. Also I really want to try an all-tube mic preamp like the PreSonus BlueTube, with my Studio Projects B1 condenser mic that I got for $99. It's better than any dynamic mic, that's for sure.
I thought the 'classic' blue note sound was vocals recorded with a tube Neumann U47.
 

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Upawholestep said:
That's what I'm saying!!! I see too many people make judgments on the tone of their idols saying he/she sounded fuller on such-and-such album and tinnier on another. They wonder what changed in the horns setup. Probably nothing. 9 times out of 10 it's most likely the mic. Definitely something to think about when trying to work on your sound by mimicking someone else's tone.



I always record with a tuner right in front of me for one. And also learn the melody with the tuner before I even start recording so know which notes I need to adjust. Also (hate to admit this, but it's the truth) I'm going to take a bunch of passes on it and compile the best version together to make it perfect. I usually take the best phrases though, not single notes. Hey, all the kids these days are doing it.
Why not just use an autotune?;)

I listened to a recording of bing crosby using amazing slow downer. The pitch was all over the place.

He sounded great.

'Perfectly tuned ' equal temperment just doesn't sound good to my ear. Experience, not electronics, makes for good intonation IMHO.
 

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hakukani said:
I thought the 'classic' blue note sound was vocals recorded with a tube Neumann U47.
I think I can hear the tube warmth in the sound. But someone once commented how the Blue Note records even though they sound nice have a pretty strong signature sound (smooth,) so it can get a little dull/boring. I think I can agree with that statement.

I am curious about ribbon mics though. I just found this paragraph which sounds interesting:

"The vintage vibe of the ribbon mic
enters the personal studio.

Ribbon microphones have become personal favorites of mine for recording electric guitar, brass and reeds, and bowed strings, among other instruments. During more than ten years of professional recording, I have come to rely on a collection of ribbon transducers for their lush timbre, palpable low-end air movement, natural room sound, and punchy transient attack. And with a historical legacy reaching back to the early days of big-band jazz, ribbon mics can bring a vintage vibe to vocals, drums and percussion, and acoustic music ensembles."

sounds pretty cool. My condenser mic is good but it does seem a little bright sometimes, maybe I should try a ribbon mic (also I know a vocalist who seems to prefer them.)
 

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Upawholestep said:
Ribbon mics sound their best with a very short mic cable. I usually put the pre-amp on the floor below the mic. Then I take line out of the pre into whatever I'm recording with. Too long of a cable before the pre and you will lose a lot of top end.
Have you considered trying a silver mic cable? I think a solid silver cable, I think 18awg runs, will make a nice cable. Silver is a little better conductor than copper and I think it gives a little leaner sound with better highs and deeper bass. Not that it's good to use a longer cable, but it might have a subtle effect if you want a bit more details in the highs.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I use silver cables quite a bit. I own/operate a studio in Atlanta. My mastering gear is also setup with silver cables between the units. It gets just a little more open sound. My website is:

redtuxedo(dot)com

I generally like the AKG 414 on soprano and tenor 90% of the time. The ribbon was nice, but this particular piece has very specific articulations, and I was losing too much of them. The dynamic worked great.
 

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The RCA sounded a bit thin--all midrange and less lower end and no 'bite'. Almost too smooth.

I liked the 414, it seemed the most 'natural' sounding of the three. There also seemed more 'room' in it, like the mic to horn distance was greater. Did you use figure eight or omni setting possibly?

The 421 was OK, but I thought it sounded thinner than the 414 but had more 'bite' than the RCA.

Of course, I have no idea how this would sound with the entire mix. It may be that a thinner sound is more appropriate to the overall balance with the other instruments.

FWIW, I listened to all three examples from my Tibook with Sony 7506 headphones.

Also, my comment about using autotune should NOT be taken seriously. Autotune, other than used as an effect, is an abomination.
 

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Interesting thread. I have a reasonable mic (a Rode NT2A) and I find that placement has a huge effect on the tone. You are right, sometimes we concentrate too much on mouthpieces and horns, and not enough on recording technique. I find the biggest factor for a change of recorded tone is the proximity of the mic, and the suitability of the reed.

Hakukani is right, sometimes a thinner, brighter sound suits a mix better. My tone is sometimes too thick and boomy, so I have to take out some middle, but I dont like altering too much or it gets into the realms of enhancement. (I like a natural tone)

I do a lot of close micing, because I have a noisy and very "live" room, and even If I stand 6" further away from the mic, it affects the tone. It makes punching in very difficult, so it is first takes only for me!

BTW, I know condensor mics can be harsh and unforgiving, but is it worth getting a ribbon mic, if the alternative just means rolling off a bit of treble? Surely cheaper :)
 

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I use a Neumann KM 184 ....

...But (Pardon me if I'm wrong) ...shouldn't a Mic not "Add" any sound at all but just transfer the sound to electrical energy as faithful as possible??
 
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