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Hello!
I have a Super Balanced Action Tenor sax and I’m looking for recommendations for a nice home recording mic. I recently bought myself a Focusrite Scarlett Studio bundle (2nd gen) and I’m happy with it but the mic that came with it doesn’t seem ideal for sax recording. However I’m only using audacity as When I’ve previously used logic and also Pro Tools they they seem a little complicated although obviously I’d be willing to learn. Really as an absolute amateur at home recording (I’ve only ever played live) I’d really love some advise. I’d be looking to spend £200 max on a mic really and I have access to a friend’s copies of both Logic and Pro Tools. Eventually I’d like to get into uploading YouTube videos so I’d love general advise form any Sax Youtubers as well.
Thanks so much.
 

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Mic - Good quality large diaphragm condenser. AKG makes a nice one called the C214, but that's probably out of your price range - a little. Used you might find one for under $300, new they are about $500. R0de NT1 is also good, and probably right in your price range. MXL mics are OK, but generally a little harsh.

You probably think the mic that came in the bundle sounds bad because it's too bright and tinny sounding. You might get better results by making sure you are about 3 feet away from the mic when you record. Point it at the LH pinky table on your horn. For most large diaphragm condensers, make sure that you are pointing the SIDE of the mic, rather than the top end.

Room noise and noise from surrounding areas can be a problem if you are recording at home. For that, I like to put sound absorbing material behind the mic - a pillow or foam on a music stand behind it, or maybe put the mic in the opening of a closet with clothes behind it. This kills reflections, and while you will still hear room sound when you are not playing, the saxophone is loud enough to mask this.

Pro Tools makes a free edition which would suit your needs. I'd recommend that over Audacity, depending on your needs. If you have a source of good quality backing tracks, then Audacity is fine, but if you want to edit or extend or create from scratch, you need a DAW with virtual instruments. Yes they are complicated :)
 

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I would recommend using the software bundle that comes with your Scarlett. Yes, they may be a little complicated, but spend some time learning how to use them. There are plenty of tutorials.

Try using your microphone in an "over the shoulder" position - you'll need a stand with a long boom. Put the mic stand behind you, with the mic over your right shoulder about a foot over your head. Mount the mic so it is parallel to the floor, not the typical vertical positioning. Just be careful not to knock it over.
 

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I think that the software that you use is not important as far as the sound that you record. Better software allows more options and flexibility in post....I've used Audacity and now I use Reaper and I don't notice any initial difference in recorded sax sound between the two. Reaper is just a better, more flexible DAW.
I like my SM57 and I use it more than any of my other mics but I know that it isn't for everyone. A mic that gets rave reviews is the SE Electronics se2000a IIc. It's a large condenser and it sells for around $299 US.
 

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I use a Samson condenser USB mic for many years now, prices are at about 1/3 of your budget (depending on the model). Use it with Audacity, no complaints about it. Mic placement is important, experiment with what you like the best.
 

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Audacity is free software, and does the job.

It's a matter of opinion, but I disagree with the mic recommendations above. I worked professionally as a recording engineer for 10 years, and the type of mic I prefer for sax is a ribbon mic, even a cheap one. One of these: NoHype Audio LRM-2 (link) for $200 usd or Cascade Fathead (link) for $159 usd, will give you a more natural, warmer sound than any of the mics mentioned so far.
 

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Audacity is free software, and does the job.

It's a matter of opinion, but I disagree with the mic recommendations above. I worked professionally as a recording engineer for 10 years, and the type of mic I prefer for sax is a ribbon mic, even a cheap one. One of these: NoHype Audio LRM-2 (link) for $200 usd or Cascade Fathead (link) for $159 usd, will give you a more natural, warmer sound than any of the mics mentioned so far.
A lot of folks like ribbons on sax. I'm one of those odd ones who doesn't. I like a bit more aggressive sound. Ribbons are hollow sounding to me on tenor ...ok on alto, though. If I want a warm sound with a lot of "air" (space) my favorite mic is the AKG C12 VR but it's very expensive.
 

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Audacity is free software, and does the job.

It's a matter of opinion, but I disagree with the mic recommendations above. I worked professionally as a recording engineer for 10 years, and the type of mic I prefer for sax is a ribbon mic, even a cheap one. One of these: NoHype Audio LRM-2 (link) for $200 usd or Cascade Fathead (link) for $159 usd, will give you a more natural, warmer sound than any of the mics mentioned so far.
The trouble with ribbon mics is they require a lot of gain in the preamp. I'm not familiar with the low-end Focusrite preamps, I've read they are pretty good, but do they have enough extra headroom to be able to get a good sound with a ribbon mic? I don't know the answer..

The reason I suggested a condenser and standing 3 feet away, is that gives a very natural sound in a bedroom. Especially if you have an absorbing surface behind the mic (those mic-stand shield things are good, but I was trying to be budget conscious).
 

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The trouble with ribbon mics is they require a lot of gain in the preamp. I'm not familiar with the low-end Focusrite preamps, I've read they are pretty good, but do they have enough extra headroom to be able to get a good sound with a ribbon mic? I don't know the answer..
This is where a Cloudlifter comes in handy!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks everyone for all the replies. I’ve taken note of all of these mic recommendations and will look at each one in more detail. I’m keen to capture the rich tone of my tenor Sax and as some have mentioned a lot of sax mic recommendations tend to be for alto so it’s great to have this specific advise thanks. As for the software it’s reassuring that I can start with what I know (audacity) and then move into other software. I’m also wondering what are the plug ins and tricks you all use when recording sax?
 

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Hello!
I’ve previously used logic
if you're on a Mac, GarageBand is a great DAW to start out on. plus, a lot of Apple Stores have a free intro session to get you up and running. (Reaper is a great inexpensive DAW if you're using a PC.) Shure 57, 58 are standard low cost dynamic pro mics, though something like an Audio Technica 2035 or other modest condensers may be a bit richer. you should experiment with the kind of room you're recording in. you might have access to a space with nice natural reverb. but you might want to record in a smaller spot with a lot of sound dampening material (a rug, cushions, fabric, etc.) to get a very clean sound, and then add reverb or delay from your DAW. you can also use the built-in EQ to remove low end rumble and bring out whatever frequencies that are pleasing and/or allows your horn to stand out in the mix.
 

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The trouble with ribbon mics is they require a lot of gain in the preamp. I'm not familiar with the low-end Focusrite preamps, I've read they are pretty good, but do they have enough extra headroom to be able to get a good sound with a ribbon mic? I don't know the answer..

The reason I suggested a condenser and standing 3 feet away, is that gives a very natural sound in a bedroom. Especially if you have an absorbing surface behind the mic (those mic-stand shield things are good, but I was trying to be budget conscious).
I have an AKG C214 with the pad switch. Do you recommend using that (-20db) and standing right up on it like a dynamic mic or not using it and standing a few ft back or ?
 

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Always better to stand 2-3 feet away from the mic. Put something behind the mic so that sound doesn't bounce back around the front (one of those "vocal booth on a stand" things is perfect, but a pillow on a music stand or putting the mic in front of a clothes closet also works).
 

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Always better to stand 2-3 feet away from the mic. Put something behind the mic so that sound doesn't bounce back around the front (one of those "vocal booth on a stand" things is perfect, but a pillow on a music stand or putting the mic in front of a clothes closet also works).
I have one of those “vocal booth” curved things around the mic. I’ll need to experiment this week with it.
 

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Been recording guitar and vocals for awhile. Just started recording tenor saxophone at home. Using a pretty good mic preamp and a decent large condenser had more problems with the room than anything else. Bedrooms are not studios. Will have to give one of those U shaped mic isolaters a try.

Anyway.. main reason for chiming in was on the topic of DAW's. While a free DAW will work in terms of sound quality, why would you invest hours of your time learning how to use complex software that you'll ultimately discard for something better? I recommend starting with Reaper. It's cheap ($60), is broadly used and supported, has a great user interface, and it's unlikely you will ever outgrow it. https://www.reaper.fm/
 

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Been recording guitar and vocals for awhile. Just started recording tenor saxophone at home. Using a pretty good mic preamp and a decent large condenser had more problems with the room than anything else. Bedrooms are not studios. Will have to give one of those U shaped mic isolaters a try.

Anyway.. main reason for chiming in was on the topic of DAW's. While a free DAW will work in terms of sound quality, why would you invest hours of your time learning how to use complex software that you'll ultimately discard for something better? I recommend starting with Reaper. It's cheap ($60), is broadly used and supported, has a great user interface, and it's unlikely you will ever outgrow it. https://www.reaper.fm/
In my case the U-shaped thing did nothing to help. I've been fighting against treating the room because of cost but...
 
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