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Which mics to use for classical Saxophone recording?

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Hi guys, im quite new to this website, im just wondering which mic should i choose for saxophone recording.
Unlike most people i play a lot of contemporary and classical saxophone (like creston, glazunov, ibert, that kinda stuff)
I ran through a couple of mics and so far are satisfied at none of them, here are the ones i tried:
Rode NT1A
Shure SM7B
Apex 460

Here are some of the mics i want to try:
Rode K2
Electro-Voice RE20
Sennheiser MD 421 II
some even say just the Shure SM57, SM57 beta, or SM58 beta will do the job.

Right now i have a Tascam US-122MKii Interface.

anyone have any good suggestions/recommendations? thanks a lot!
 

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How about a ribbon mic? I've done some recordings even with the cheaper Chinese ribbon mics, they sound much more transparent, and natural, than dynamics or even condenser mics..
other things to remember, get a good quality preamp (with lots of gain for ribbon mics), and mic positioning, give the mic a few feet of distance, up and in front.. (unless you're playing with a loud outfit or ensemble..)
 

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How about a ribbon mic? I've done some recordings even with the cheaper Chinese ribbon mics, they sound much more transparent, and natural, than dynamics or even condenser mics..
other things to remember, get a good quality preamp (with lots of gain for ribbon mics), and mic positioning, give the mic a few feet of distance, up and in front.. (unless you're playing with a loud outfit or ensemble..)

cool! i've seen most jazz/pop/rock/watever saxophonists do it with mic up close, but then i've never seen a classical saxophone recording in action =\

which ribbon mic did you try? I heard ribbon mics are really delicate and the ribbon can be blown if the sound pressure level is too high...
 

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Sb - can you tell us what you don't like about the sound you are getting from the microphones you tried? Also if you can point us to an example of a recording that sounds good to you we can offer better advice.

The room you are recording also plays a significant role in what kind of sound you are going to end up with - if you have the option of recording in a recital hall or church type setting you can set the mic out a bit more and can capture a beautiful natural sound that will be more representative of what you really sound like. If you are in a smaller room you really have to close in on the distance to cut down on the room reflections and you can end up losing the natural balance of the horn.

Will you also be recording with a piano accompanist at the same time? If so a pair of mics in a stereo pair configuration can capture a realistic sound with a well-defined sense of space.

That said most microphones can sound great with the right placement in the room. If you are in a smaller square or rectangular room put one of the corners of the room to your back and put the mic about 2.5 feet in front of you eye-level pointing about 45 degrees down. You want to get the angle so you minimize the standing sound waves from being on-axis with the mic. Also if you have any heavy blankets or comforters try to cover up as much wall real estate as you can. The typical house wall will reflect the higher frequencies but since they are not dense the lows pass right though which can return a reflection that will make any mic sound harsh.

As far as ribbon microphones go they are going to have a more natural balance versus the exaggerated presence that most modern condensers and dynamics have but they are not as fragile as you might think. A sax player is not going to damage one in any normal setting - just be sure to store it vertically. Also if you buy a reputable brand like Royer they provide a lifetime warranty on the ribbon.

-jake
 

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I'm guessing you're unsatisfied by the unnatural reproduction of your sound through the mics you've tried. I can't speak of the K2, but the RE20 and MD421 won't give you what you're after if that's the case (great live mics though).

Ribbon mics would indeed be a good choice as long as you select models with a long ribbon such as the AEAR84, Nady RSM-1, Apex 205, Cascade Vin-Jet... The shorter ribbon mics such as Royers, Coles and various Chinese copies will have a boost in the midrange (which is why so many people use Royers and Coles). The big difference between the expensive AEAR84 and the various Chinese copies are the quality control, use of cheaper transformer, denser ribbon (less sensitive) and different headbasket construction (usually too many layers; easy to modify). Also, a lot of Chinese ribbon mics come with sagging ribbons. If you're going to buy online you should check the store's return policy. An easy way to check for sagging ribbon:

while listening in headphones, rock the mic toward and away from you in an 180 degree arc so it comes to rest with the ribbon parallel to the floor. If the ribbon is stretched and sagging severely it will either drag against the magnets and create a clanging metallic sound or a sudden "clunk" as it flops back and forth.
Mor info on Chinese ribbon mics here: http://recordinghacks.com/2008/11/01/chinese-ribbon-microphone-designs/ and a shootout of a gazillion different models on an alto sax here: http://recordinghacks.com/2011/07/28/ribbon-shootout-alto-sax/.

A great setup for classical, solo and ensemble work, would be two ribbon mics setup as a Blumlein pair. There are some audio clips there: http://diyribbonmic.com/audio-samples/. This is the website of a guy who sells kits to individuals to make their own ribbon mics, which would be an option if you're diy inclined... :bluewink: (it's really not that hard and is a fun project).

There are also a lot of companies in the business of modifying cheap chinese ribbons and making them sound better. There are too many to mention but the main players are oktavamod, cascade, shinybox, samar audio, etc...

Edit: +1 for everything JakeLamp said.
 

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Sennheiser 441. It has a rolloff switch and and a barrel multi switch for bass response. It also looks cool. I have two that I bought in '82. They still work fine. I've sent them back to the factory once to be calibrated and tightened up. I use them live for flute, backup vox, percussion and sax.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks Jake, well the rode nt1a gives a sound thats too bright thus lacking the warmth of a saxophone tone, and the tube mic apex 460 alters the sound too much in general. The Shure mic i tried gives the warmth i wanted but lacks the brightness and clearity in the tone.

Thanks!
 

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Thanks for the great tips! I'll definitely look into some ribbon mics the next time i go to long and mcquade, I think i wont cheap out on a microphone this time xD

thanks again!
 
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