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Selmer MarkVII Tenor
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am starting to make a home studio together with my son, and we would like to know which type of microphone is best suited to record a Tenor Sax ( or Soprano ), and why ?
Also, if you can give me information how to make the room, that can be used to do good recordings AND do not bother the neigbours... What type of isolation to use ,and so...
many thanks in advance
 

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You cannot isolate a room unless you build a "room within a room", with a floor floating on rubber and a good gap between the outer and inner walls. If you do that, you then need to work on ventilation (with baffles), double doors, etc. etc. Too expensive unless you are very rich, and if you are, hire someone to do it for you!

You can reduce the amount of sound that escapes by using a solid core door, with a good sealing insulation and a sweeping bottom seal. You also need to ensure that you have double pane windows, and that they are sealed very well (and closed!), to keep sound from going out. If all you are doing is playing saxophone, this should be enough to not bother neighbors.

Regarding the interior of the room, there are a lot of instructional videos on the web. Basically, you do not want to completely deaden the room, but you do want to keep immediate reflections to a minimum. Also, if your room is smaller than, say, 10x10 meters, you should use bass traps in the corners to keep boominess under control. Room treatment is not so critical for recording, as it is for listening - such as when mixing.

For recording saxophone (or almost any instrument), a cardioid condenser mic is the best. Use one of those room reflection blockers behind the mic. Stand about 2 - 3 feet (or about a meter or a little less) back from the mic, have the mic at about the level of your neck or head, and point it down toward the pinky table. This works for all saxophones, including soprano.

I think the best bang-for-buck mic is the AKG C214 - It's about $300, and sounds great. There are others that are also good, but I really like that one. For recording, get a decent recording interface. The UA Apollo desktop interfaces are great, as are the Focusrite interfaces. They aren't the cheapest, but these have the best sound, and the UA ones have some real advantages when recording and mixing. Of course, you need a computer, but any reasonable modern computer is good enough. If you are buying new, get an Apple laptop, and pay the extra $200 for Logic Pro, this software is rock solid and while the learning curve is a bit steep (true for all recording software), it's a fabulous musician's tool. Recording engineers will say to use Pro Tools, and there is a free version, but I think for a musician, Logic (or Cubase) is the best choice.

Of course all of this is just my opinion, and it's worth what you paid for it :)

Hope this helps. Good luck!
 

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I think it depends on which condenser or dynamic mic you use. As a general matter, dynamics are more likely to be used for live performance while condensers are more likely to be used for studio recording. There are a bunch of threads that go into more detail on this. That said, some dynamic mics would work every nicely for home recording (while other would not), and some condensers would not be so good (while others would be). I would suggest looking at a bunch of the threads re microphones.
 

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For recording saxes at home, I always reach for a cardioid condenser as my first choice of mic. I've also used large diaphragm dynamics and ribbons with success, but condensers are readily available for not too much money, and they just work. Less noise from electrical systems too, which is a problem in my house.
 

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I've recently done a ton of reading and listening, as well as experimenting with some (mostly inexpensive) various dynamic, condenser and a ribbon mics. I have decided to try an AEA R84A ribbon mic, which will arrive tomorrow. A purchase of an AKG C4i4/214, or a Warm Audio U-47 clone to get the cardioid condenser aspect into the mix might be in the offing in the not too distant future. I have several inexpensive condensers and a slew of dynamics including: MXL 990/99, Shure 58 and 57, Beyerdynamic M201 and and EV RE20. I recently bought a Sterling ribbon mic for 159.00 to get a sense and I think that direction is where I am wanting to head (hence the R84A) for my saxophone recording.

I am in a long term building of a studio/ rehearsal area in my home studio/rehearsal area, adding acoustic treatments such as bass traps and panels made of Corning 703, trying different recording techniques. The trick for me is to not getting too lost down the rabbit hole of recording and not let that get in the way of making music. Recording my whole band as we rehearse work out songs is a side challenge. PA and recording mixers and DAW and all that, whilst playing my horn and keys and all keeps me quite occupied and sometimes overwhelmed.
 

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You cannot isolate a room unless you build a "room within a room", with a floor floating on rubber and a good gap between the outer and inner walls. If you do that, you then need to work on ventilation (with baffles), double doors, etc. etc. Too expensive unless you are very rich, and if you are, hire someone to do it for you!

You can reduce the amount of sound that escapes by using a solid core door, with a good sealing insulation and a sweeping bottom seal. You also need to ensure that you have double pane windows, and that they are sealed very well (and closed!), to keep sound from going out. If all you are doing is playing saxophone, this should be enough to not bother neighbors.

Regarding the interior of the room, there are a lot of instructional videos on the web. Basically, you do not want to completely deaden the room, but you do want to keep immediate reflections to a minimum. Also, if your room is smaller than, say, 10x10 meters, you should use bass traps in the corners to keep boominess under control. Room treatment is not so critical for recording, as it is for listening - such as when mixing.

For recording saxophone (or almost any instrument), a cardioid condenser mic is the best. Use one of those room reflection blockers behind the mic. Stand about 2 - 3 feet (or about a meter or a little less) back from the mic, have the mic at about the level of your neck or head, and point it down toward the pinky table. This works for all saxophones, including soprano.

I think the best bang-for-buck mic is the AKG C214 - It's about $300, and sounds great. There are others that are also good, but I really like that one. For recording, get a decent recording interface. The UA Apollo desktop interfaces are great, as are the Focusrite interfaces. They aren't the cheapest, but these have the best sound, and the UA ones have some real advantages when recording and mixing. Of course, you need a computer, but any reasonable modern computer is good enough. If you are buying new, get an Apple laptop, and pay the extra $200 for Logic Pro, this software is rock solid and while the learning curve is a bit steep (true for all recording software), it's a fabulous musician's tool. Recording engineers will say to use Pro Tools, and there is a free version, but I think for a musician, Logic (or Cubase) is the best choice.

Of course all of this is just my opinion, and it's worth what you paid for it :)

Hope this helps. Good luck!
This was very helpful, and some great stuff from someone obviously much more experience than me! Thanks!
 

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Yes to everything above. But, you do not say what your plan is for this recording room. Are you looking to do studio quality recordings and then produce CD's or something along that line? Are you just wanting to record for personal use - getting a better sound, better technique, listening to your practice sessions? The answer to those questions will provide very different responses to what you need to build and use.

I record myself in my basement with no particular sound baffling in the room but it is about 30'x20' so lots of space. I vary the kind of mic I use as well as the placement of the mic. And, I have some relatively basic recording software and interface as well. There is a lot of variety so as was noted above, read through many of the other threads on these topics.

The one thing that I will say is that if this is for personal use [recording and listening to your practice sessions] do not get bogged down in the room and technology. That will take away from your 'playing' time and that's more important.
 

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Re low-budget room treatment - pro drummer/percussionist and teacher I know just uses mover's pads hung on the walls. (And I think the room may not be square, which helps.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
or something along that line? Are you just wanting to record for personal use - getting a better sound, better technique, listening to your practice sessions?
PERSONAL USE, as you said...
Fortunately , I have a cousin , owner of a recording studio ( but not near my home ) where I Could do premium quality recordings... but, at first , I need to play better...😜
 

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Hi, Humbardi! As far as all the big picture stuff goes, skeller047 summed up most of what you'll need to know, and that post should be bookmarked for future reference. There is indeed a lot of information floating around the internet about how to treat a room, but he's right that the most important thing is to have some sound absorption behind your microphone while recording.

I haven't used the AKG c214, although I've used plenty of c414s that are more expensive, and they are indeed good. AKG is a reliable brand.

I personally swear by my favorite high-quality but still affordable mic, the Audio Technica AT-4033, which you can get new for around $400 or used for around $300. They're a steal, they sound many times more expensive than they are.

In general, a large diaphragm condenser microphone (like the two above) is best for recording saxophones. Ribbon mics can sound amazing, too, but you absolutely need a professionally constructed room to get the most out of one, and they're much more fragile than condensers. Some dynamic mics can be very good, like the Sennheiser 441 and 421, and the Shure SM7B is pretty legendary for recording vocals (it does well with horns too). So as long as you go for something of at least that quality, a dynamic mic can be very good.

9 times out of ten, though, you'll see top engineers using a good condenser mic to record saxophone. I've tracked on the fancy Neumanns more than anything else (u47, u67, u87) over many years of recording horns.
 

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I use AKG C1000 and AKG C3000 small and large diameter diaphragm condensers, with the large one about 3' in front about head height and the small one slightly closer aimed at approximately the upper stack. Or whatever the engineer puts in front of me, they usually have their own preferences and I'm almost always a sideman, so I'm not very particular. But using two mics makes for a lot that can be done production-wise. They're pretty cheap, C1000 is under $200, C3000 around $300. I carry the C1000 with a mic preamp to gigs, I generally like it better than the usual Shures and Sennheisers, but the soundmen often don't want to fool with it.

My eldest is a recording engineer and runs a label cooperative. His studios are setup with individual soundproof rooms for different instruments and vocals and everyone wears headphones. Course with his clientele, a lot of indie rockers, B52's alumni, (Athen's GA rock scene, Seattle, like that) he wants isolation so that he can wind up with 50 takes that he has to mix together into each master to get a bit of vocal from one, a bit of guitar solo from another, leave out all the mistakes. Local commercial facilities have rooms for drums, bass/piano and vocals and put up gobos for everyone else in a larger room, kind of a typical setup for recording big bands. They prefer solos to be dubbed in, I don't like to do that because then the soloist and rhythm can't really play off each other, but if others insist I go along.

We work in a Comcast soundstage for TV and Web TV stuff, it's just a single rather large soundstage. It doesn't seem very soundproofed at all. I don't notice extraneous noise, but the audio quality is usually pretty poor. Did a TV project for Savannah College of Art and Design, it was kind of the same.
 

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The C3000B is a good budget mic choice.

But the C1000B is one of the worst sounding microphones I have ever heard. Probably my most hated mic ever. I absolutely detest it. I’d rather just use an SM58 to record than to have to use a C1000B.

Any quality large diaphragm condenser should sound good on any of the saxophones, provided the room sounds good. Other dynamic choices would be the Heil PR30/PR40, Sennheiser MD421, Electro-Voice RE20.
 

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The C3000B is a good budget mic choice. But the C1000B is one of the worst sounding microphones I have ever heard. Probably my most hated mic ever. I absolutely detest it. I’d rather just use an SM58 to record than to have to use a C1000B.
That's not surprising... my recording engineer son has told me he wouldn't even use it as a talk-back mic. But used with a preamp, I still like it. Granted, I'm not an audiophile, perhaps it's best that I mostly leave those decisions to others.
 

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That's not surprising... my recording engineer son has told me he wouldn't even use it as a talk-back mic. But used with a preamp, I still like it. Granted, I'm not an audiophile, perhaps it's best that I mostly leave those decisions to others.
That's funny actually.

I had to use one for off stage chorus for a summer stock musical theatre show for an entire summer. It was the last mic left in the inventory so we had to use it. I would literally cringe everytime I had to bring up the off stage chorus.

I think people only bought them because they were sold as a kit along with the C3000B, which is not a bad mic at all.
 

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How's the AKG 420b*?

Someone's selling one for $170 and I'm tempted...
I don't have experience with that particular AKG, but I'd be careful... current-production AKG mics might tend to be a bit on the shrill side, and you might find yourself needing to EQ a ton to make it work. If I'm wrong and it's actually a good-sounding mic on saxophones, it's certainly a bargain.

If you're looking in that general price range, I would HIGHLY recommend steering toward Audio-Technica instead. They make unbelievably good mics for the money. The AT-4033 is my top workhorse mic and it's somewhere on every record I've produced for the last four years. There are plenty on Reverb right now for a couple hundred bucks.

https://reverb.com/p/audio-technica-at4033a-black

I've A/B'd them with mics costing many times as much and they hold up like crazy. I bought mine on the strong recommendation of Sam Minaie, a top-tier bassist/engineer buddy of mine in Queens, and I have been nothing but happy, it's an essential part of my home studio.
 

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I don't have experience with that particular AKG, but I'd be careful... current-production AKG mics might tend to be a bit on the shrill side, and you might find yourself needing to EQ a ton to make it work. If I'm wrong and it's actually a good-sounding mic on saxophones, it's certainly a bargain.

If you're looking in that general price range, I would HIGHLY recommend steering toward Audio-Technica instead. They make unbelievably good mics for the money. The AT-4033 is my top workhorse mic and it's somewhere on every record I've produced for the last four years. There are plenty on Reverb right now for a couple hundred bucks.

https://reverb.com/p/audio-technica-at4033a-black

I've A/B'd them with mics costing many times as much and they hold up like crazy. I bought mine on the strong recommendation of Sam Minaie, a top-tier bassist/engineer buddy of mine in Queens, and I have been nothing but happy, it's an essential part of my home studio.
Thanks for the advice. It seems the 420 comes mounted on a headset, for singers, aerobics instructors nai the like.
 
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