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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I’d like to try some mic’ing techniques for tenor that use 2 or more mics, but I’m not looking to record in stereo, unless I’m doing a stereo room recording and adding it to another mic which is close to the sax. What can I do to mic a tenor sax with 2 or more mics?

Is there a way to mic the bell and body of the tenor without encountering phasing problems?

The next thing I might try is a mic on the sax but then also a pair of room mics in stereo (x/y) that are further away, like I described above.

But also interested in trying to mic the bell and body together if that’s possible. Any ideas? Thanks.
 

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Just try things. I'm presuming you have mic stands. Just place a mic pointing at the parts of the sax you want and try it. If you have mic's placed further away in the room, same. If you've got a clip on mic, use that as well. Turn off your computer speakers if you are running the cables into a computer to record and use headphones while playing/recording. This is what I do all the time.

And then play your favourite note.

If you are asking about the recording process...
 

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You might like mid-side, which will allow you to dial in the amount of room (the sides) in the mix.
Easy to learn to do and execute. Blumlein will bring out even more sense of space.
Or, just place 2 mics close together in a regular close mic manner and blend then. A nice LDC and ribbon are a classic combo for this. You can use the same 2 mics for MS if the ribbon is fig 8 (ie:not an m160).
Otherwise, always check for phase issues, as you said.
@HeavyWeather77 will offer excellent insight I’m sure.
 

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I have experimented a lot with various mic placements for recording and they all bring their own set of pros and cons.

I have a particularly live room with hardwood floors and high ceilings -- the natural reverb is fairly nice. I've found that just setting up a simple X-Y mic works really well to give the sax some sense of spaciousness and a stereo image. Most of the stereo image comes from the room reflections but it also picks up the movements of your horn if you sway a bit when playing. There is no phase problems at all with this method even if you move around.
Font Triangle Parallel Symmetry Circle


Then I've experimented with having one mic in the standard position out in front of and above the bell and a second mic off to the side. This gets a nice balance of body and bell but you can get phase problems and it really requires you to hold still and not sway around while playing.

And mid-side is interesting too. But it's more complicated to setup and requires a figure 8 pattern mic. The main advantage is that you have a lot of flexibility after the fact - I mean even after you've recorded you can still change a lot about how it sounds and how wide/narrow the stereo image by the ratio of mid to side that you blend.

Usually I prefer the simplicity of a single mic and some room treatment or tight pattern mic so you don't get so much of the room reflections. Then you have lots of flexibility adding and shaping the reverb you add to the dry recording. The room sound can be nice but once recorded you're stuck with it.
 

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Buy a little Behringer 4 channel mixer and mix the outputs from up to 4 microphones down to a single signal and send that to the input of your computer sound card. Or to the input of a Zoom H4.
 

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I have experimented a lot with various mic placements for recording and they all bring their own set of pros and cons.

I have a particularly live room with hardwood floors and high ceilings -- the natural reverb is fairly nice. I've found that just setting up a simple X-Y mic works really well to give the sax some sense of spaciousness and a stereo image. Most of the stereo image comes from the room reflections but it also picks up the movements of your horn if you sway a bit when playing. There is no phase problems at all with this method even if you move around.
View attachment 136639

Then I've experimented with having one mic in the standard position out in front of and above the bell and a second mic off to the side. This gets a nice balance of body and bell but you can get phase problems and it really requires you to hold still and not sway around while playing.

And mid-side is interesting too. But it's more complicated to setup and requires a figure 8 pattern mic. The main advantage is that you have a lot of flexibility after the fact - I mean even after you've recorded you can still change a lot about how it sounds and how wide/narrow the stereo image by the ratio of mid to side that you blend.

Usually I prefer the simplicity of a single mic and some room treatment or tight pattern mic so you don't get so much of the room reflections. Then you have lots of flexibility adding and shaping the reverb you add to the dry recording. The room sound can be nice but once recorded you're stuck with it.
your first and last paragraphs ring the most true for me.
XY is excellent, depending on the application. For stacking up overdubs it's not close enough and there's too much room but for recording a solo line to sit on top of a track it can be nice using cardioid or even a wide cardioid. But MS is just so flexible, and not tricky to do if you have the mics.
I have a nice sounding, treated but not dead room, wooden panelled, cathedral ceiling, no parallel walls, with a nice minimal natural reverb but it gets to be too much if I've had to record 5 woodwind parts. so my hyper-cardioid mics are my best friends.
 

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Yanagisawa T880, Yamaha YSS-475II
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Then I've experimented with having one mic in the standard position out in front of and above the bell and a second mic off to the side. This gets a nice balance of body and bell but you can get phase problems and it really requires you to hold still and not sway around while playing.
Thanks. I might try something like this.

Musical instrument Reed instrument Musician Black Reed
 

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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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I’d like to try some mic’ing techniques for tenor that use 2 or more mics, but I’m not looking to record in stereo, unless I’m doing a stereo room recording and adding it to another mic which is close to the sax. What can I do to mic a tenor sax with 2 or more mics?

Is there a way to mic the bell and body of the tenor without encountering phasing problems?

The next thing I might try is a mic on the sax but then also a pair of room mics in stereo (x/y) that are further away, like I described above.

But also interested in trying to mic the bell and body together if that’s possible. Any ideas? Thanks.
If you're recording in a "studio" environment, to separate tracks, and you're mixing down the signals yourself in a DAW, then phasing shouldn't be too much of a concern (so long as the mics aren't super close to the horn), because you can always reverse the polarity of one of the mics and/or time-shift one of the two signals as necessary within the DAW.
 

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The phasing I meant isn't corrected by reversing the polarity - I mean when two microphones are not exactly the same distance from the sound source. This is one of the reasons X-Y and Mid Side are so useful. The two mics will always be equidistant from the source even if the source moves around. Mics in two different locations can be equidistant if measured carefully and if the sound source doesn't move around
 

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The phasing I meant isn't corrected by reversing the polarity - I mean when two microphones are not exactly the same distance from the sound source. This is one of the reasons X-Y and Mid Side are so useful. The two mics will always be equidistant from the source even if the source moves around. Mics in two different locations can be equidistant if measured carefully and if the sound source doesn't move around
Right, but unless one part of the sound source is substantially closer than the other (e.g., extremely close miking on a very large instrument, in which the distance relative to each mic changes significantly as a function of the tonehole producing the sound), you can correct distance-related phase issues by slightly shifting the time of one signal (e.g., by slightly delaying the signal coming from the mic that is closer to the source).
 

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I appreciate the shout, Benny! As much as I'm a recording nerd, particularly regarding saxophone and woodwinds, I don't record with two mics all that often... one thing I love about the saxophone is how relatively easy it is to get a good sound with a mono recording, at least for the styles I usually focus on. (For classical solo or chamber work, a stereo pair of excellent-quality SDCs is minimum, though!)

When I do double-mic myself in a jazz context, it's usually for the purposes of coloration, and the old "large diaphragm condenser + ribbon" approach is great for that. I know I've posted this elsewhere, but for this large-ensemble jazz album that was recorded during the pandemic, I did all the alto, tenor, and woodwind parts with a combination of my Neumann U87 and my NoHype LRM-V ribbon. Here's what that ended up like in the mix (I have a tenor solo partway through):


The u87 was closer to me (about a foot and a half away, capsule aimed at about my left hand) while the ribbon was a couple more feet back. I didn't notice any phase issues, honestly, and that's probably due to two factors: 1) the distance wasn't that large; and 2) the mics sound VERY different from each other. Aside from coloration, the distance from the ribbon helped to give the tracks a feeling of some space and room.

I started playing with the U87+Ribbon approach after watching some recording sessions with Michael Brecker, who frequently used a U67 paired with a Coles 4038 ribbon in the studio, and that's a great (expensive) combo.

However, I really enjoy Mark Turner's "Lathe of Heaven" album, and there's a great video floating around that goes into some of the recording process! It looks like Mark is on TWO U67s just for him (looks like maybe they're ORTF?), and there are room mics as well. The trumpeter Avishai Cohen seems to be on two RCA ribbons, a 77 and a 44, right on top of each other, and that's an ideal pairing for him, I think. We did a similar thing in a recording session with my trombone buddy Paul Deemer recently, an RCA 77 and a 44, and that came out great. (For that session, I got to use both a Neumann M49 and KM54... tube heaven, maybe the best mics I've ever heard! But I can't afford 'em...)

I apologize if this is all ZERO help to OP, which I fear might be the case, but I just can't help but geek out about this stuff. 😁 I guess the TL;DR would be: I usually just mono-mic sax for most applications, and if I dual-mic, it's for the purposes of timbre instead of stereo image. But there's no reason not to stereo-mic your horn if you like the sound!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Sometimes the phasing is desirable, depending on the situation. I’ve tried auto align and in some cases it doesn’t make it sound better.

When I record my soprano, I can get good results with a mic on the bell and one on top facing the keys. But when I tried this with tenor it didn’t come out sounding as clean. I think it’s because I used a RE20 on the keys. I’m going to try this again but use a pair of the same mics this time (414’s) and see how it goes. I don’t like the sound of just using a single mic on the bell because you can’t hear the keys which for me adds realism.

I like the idea of recording in stereo but if I move around it makes it harder to mix so I don’t like stereo for recording my sax. Although a further away XY room pair could be cool which wouldn’t pick up the movements as much. Sometimes I wonder if I could use the XY pair AND the other 2 mics (4 mics total) and blend them together.
 
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