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Here's a thread for my fellow producer/engineer-saxophonists here on the forum! Gonna get pretty geeky here, so feel free to ignore this if you're not into... ya know. Microphones and studios and recording and stuff.

A few days ago I got a new microphone with which I am very, very pleased. There's a very good Chinese-Australian engineer who has a little company called 3U Audio, based in Australia but with manufacturing facilities in China, and they are making really, really good studio mics for a very working-musician-friendly price. I've been on a rather obsessive quest researching recording techniques and gear for the past couple years, and this has been a very welcome and enjoyable find! After emailing with the owner of 3U Audio (he's a very nice and knowledgeable dude), I ordered one of his "Warbler" mics from him. It's a large-diaphragm multi-pattern condenser with three "voicing" options and it's very much in the vein of an older Neumann u87. I'm a big fan of 87s and intend to have my own within a year or so, but I was absolutely blown away with how close the Warbler comes to the vibe I want from a Neumann, for a fraction of the budget.

Earlier today I took this mic through some serious paces, trying out each of the three pickup patterns (cardioid, omnidirectional, figure-8) and each of the three "voicing" options to hear how they vary. (The "voicings" are basically subtle EQ options within the mic amp circuit.) I played one chorus of "Have You Met Miss Jones" for each setting combination (in F# concert for the sake of practice!), so nine choruses total. For anyone patient and curious enough to listen, here's a link to the recording, and here are the times for the various settings:

Cardioid, Voicing 1: 00:00
Cardioid, Voicing 2: 0:45
Cardioid, Voicing 3: 1:30
Omni, Voicing 1: 2:15
Omni, Voicing 2: 3:00
Omni, Voicing 3: 3:45
Figure 8, Voicing 1: 4:31
Figure 8, Voicing 2: 5:16
Figure 8, Voicing 3: 6:01

Overall, I preferred "voicing 1" in all the patterns, and I think I liked omnidirectional voicing 1 as the best setting overall, although card and fig 8 were nice too. The other voicings were nice, a bit more vintage sounding with less top-end and some variation in midrange emphasis. All of the settings were totally useable.

Needless to say, this isn't a proper mic shootout, but it gave me a good idea of how I'll probably be using this little guy in the future. I hope some of you find it helpful or amusing!
 

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wow, sounds great. For the prices of these things mics I might have to save up and buy one. Do you mind me asking which "Warbler" you are warbling into on that recording? I see he has like 11 models.
 

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Very nice playing. :)

After a quick listen I think I preferred Figure 8, Voicing 2 (voicing 2 for all the patterns). But that could be different if I would give it another try (for which I don't have time).
 

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I listened on studio monitors, and I also preferred the Omni voicings, with #1 being my preference. Seems like the most open sound.
 

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nathan61 -- totally agree, I think I'll be leaving it in omni/V1 for a while. My room is treated but not the greatest space in the world, so I was assuming cardioid would be preferable. Omni on this mic really is the biggest and most open pattern, though, and still with a little transformer saturation in the midrange which is what makes this mic nice. The other settings seemed to be a bit more saturated, maybe, and a bit more attenuated on the top end. Nice sounds, but less modern-sounding.

And the model I have is indeed the Warbler MKID ("mark one," and the "D" indicates multipattern, you can get cardioid-only versions of all the Warblers for even less). I settled on this one after exchanging some emails with Guosheng, the engineer/designer in charge of 3U, who is lovely to work with. The MKI was his original design and is modeled after a vintage u87 (pre-AI, though I have no problem with the modern AI incarnations of the 87). I think the MKII is modeled after a u47. Not sure about the III. The Mark IV is supposed to be more AKG-style (c414 or c12) with an edge-terminated capsule instead of center-terminated like the Neumann styles. I'm sure they're all very good.

He has a slightly higher-end line that he calls "GZ" (his initials) that seem to have a few nice custom upgrades, but the Warblers' components are already really good, so I opted to save a few hundred bucks since this was all a big experiment.

Guosheng's factory makes capsules for some of the other better-known companies that charge much more for their mics. His own seem to be better mics for less bread. I still have genuine Neumann-lust, rest assured, but the Warbler has put a big damper on that for the time being, and I'll be keeping this mic for a long time.
 

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$389 ? the price seems very good
how would you compare it to the Rode NT2000 ?
 

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KennyZ, I agree, these mics are extremely reasonably priced for how good they sound. I won't say it's the equivalent of a real Neumann u87, but it's absolutely a high-quality professional microphone, well made from great components. I'm a huge Audio-Technica fan since they make excellent microphones for a reasonable price, but 3U Audio is giving them serious competition in that regard.

I can't comment on how it compares to the NT2000 because I've never used one! Rode also has a good reputation for making quality mics for the money, and I know a lot of people really like the K2 and NT1 (not the NT1A, so much, from what I understand). 3U and Rode are both Australian companies so they probably know each other, and I wouldn't be surprised if 3U provided some components to Rode, but that's just speculation. (I am, however, fairly certain that 3U makes the capsules for Warm Audio.) The NT2000 looks like a very cool mic and it gets good reviews, I'm sure there's nothing wrong with it!
 

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Thank you!

I find that with flute, the positioning is everything. Bad positioning can ruin a flute recording much more easily than a saxophone recording, in my experience. But I think the Warbler would sound very good recording flute, it has a nice warm sound with lots of detail considering its price range.

These days, a lot of people use small-diaphragm condensers to record flutes and other woodwinds (including saxophones), and you can get a good American-made SDC like a Josephson C42 for around $500. If I were recording a lot of flute, I'd definitely try that out!

You sound great!

Would you recommend this mic for flute, too?
 

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Thank you, very helpful, I’ve got a lot to learn!

Thank you!

I find that with flute, the positioning is everything. Bad positioning can ruin a flute recording much more easily than a saxophone recording, in my experience. But I think the Warbler would sound very good recording flute, it has a nice warm sound with lots of detail considering its price range.

These days, a lot of people use small-diaphragm condensers to record flutes and other woodwinds (including saxophones), and you can get a good American-made SDC like a Josephson C42 for around $500. If I were recording a lot of flute, I'd definitely try that out!
 

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Thank you!

I find that with flute, the positioning is everything. Bad positioning can ruin a flute recording much more easily than a saxophone recording, in my experience. But I think the Warbler would sound very good recording flute, it has a nice warm sound with lots of detail considering its price range.

These days, a lot of people use small-diaphragm condensers to record flutes and other woodwinds (including saxophones), and you can get a good American-made SDC like a Josephson C42 for around $500. If I were recording a lot of flute, I'd definitely try that out!
So how do you position the mic relative to the flute to get the best recording? Do you recommend a certain distance?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I would recommend searching for some YouTube videos on positioning microphones for flute. There should be some good stuff out there by more reputable audio engineers than myself. But I'll be glad to share what I've done when I've recorded flute in my home studio, which I've done with some relative success.

Essentially, first think about how the flute makes sound: air blown directly over a resonating hollow tube. A condenser microphone with wind coming directly at it is not a good situation! If you put a condenser mic directly in front of the flute, with the air from the player hitting the capsule, it'll create nothing but low-frequency distortion, like holding your cell phone speaker up into the wind in a windstorm. (You can get away with this more with dynamic mics, which are less sensitive, but it's still not a great idea.)

What I normally do, and what I've normally seen from audio engineers miking a flute, is to position the microphone (or microphones) well above the player (a couple feet), with the capsule aiming down. That way you get a nice amount of sound from the instrument but you avoid direct wind from the person playing it. It'll be important to experiment to see what you like best, too: try different positions and different pickup patterns (omni or figure eight instead of cardioid). Eventually you'll land on something that works!
 

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I would recommend searching for some YouTube videos on positioning microphones for flute. There should be some good stuff out there by more reputable audio engineers than myself. But I'll be glad to share what I've done when I've recorded flute in my home studio, which I've done with some relative success.

Essentially, first think about how the flute makes sound: air blown directly over a resonating hollow tube. A condenser microphone with wind coming directly at it is not a good situation! If you put a condenser mic directly in front of the flute, with the air from the player hitting the capsule, it'll create nothing but low-frequency distortion, like holding your cell phone speaker up into the wind in a windstorm. (You can get away with this more with dynamic mics, which are less sensitive, but it's still not a great idea.)

What I normally do, and what I've normally seen from audio engineers miking a flute, is to position the microphone (or microphones) well above the player (a couple feet), with the capsule aiming down. That way you get a nice amount of sound from the instrument but you avoid direct wind from the person playing it. It'll be important to experiment to see what you like best, too: try different positions and different pickup patterns (omni or figure eight instead of cardioid). Eventually you'll land on something that works!
Thanks for the reply. I will try that out, makes sense to me. I'll look for some videos as you suggested.
 

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The more I've used this mic the more I've grown to love it. I really can't imagine a better studio microphone for this budget, it does damn near everything I'd ever need a good mic to do. Here's a clip I did for "Jam of the Week," 32 bars of Herbie Hancock's "The Sorcerer" (a very challenging tune that I really like).

 

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Great playing and great microphone. Thank you for suggesting this mic, it has a fantastic value/money ratio.
I prefer omni voicing 1, but having more patterns and more voicing is a very useful options in the studio.
It amazes me that today we have both mics and audio interfaces at very reasonable prices that can perform professionally!
When I was in the studio for recording my last album the sound engineer wanted me to try a Charter Oak mic.
I decided to record with that mic and I preferred it over Neumanns Sennheisers and Shoeps that were available in that studio...
We must keep our ears open, there are some darn new good microphones out there!
If you want to listen to that Charter Oak mic on baritone here is the link

https://open.spotify.com/track/65iYgwJ7P6HwQ5XemQSzBA?si=WrYGKFx-T-uliGxOw2txiQ
 

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Great playing, and great sounding recording! I feel like I am listening to a Blue note record. I thought that sound required a mark vi and Rudy Van Gelder, but technology has changed things.
 

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You are far too kind! I think there are some key ingredients missing, but I agree that technology is enabling us to do an incredible amount independently these days if we take the time to learn. I have the advantage of being friends with lots of great audio engineers so I've been able to learn a lot from them about optimizing home recording. It's quite a world.
 

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The more I've used this mic the more I've grown to love it. I really can't imagine a better studio microphone for this budget, it does damn near everything I'd ever need a good mic to do. Here's a clip I did for "Jam of the Week," 32 bars of Herbie Hancock's "The Sorcerer" (a very challenging tune that I really like).

Sounds great Brian.
 
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