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Greetings, SOTW music producers! This is a question to our lovely community's studio engineers, home studio producers, and all-around gear nuts. It's far from the first time this question has been asked, and it will certainly not be the last. But I'm curious what your very favorite microphone is, at the moment, for recording yourself (or your trusted buddy) playing the saxophone. This is assuming you have your interface/preamp/DAW/room situation pretty well sorted out, we're talking strictly mic versus mic here: all other things being equal, what's your mic of choice for saxophone tracking?

My workhorse for the last few years has been a trusty Japanese-crafted Audio Technica AT-4033 LDC. A very affordable mic for the quality and it's given me nothing but good results. I am, however, upgrading to some fancier gear soon since I'm doing a lot more remote tracking and composing/producing work. The next likely two microphone candidates are an AKG c414 B-ULS and an AEA R-84, but I am always, always curious what other saxophonist-producers out there are using and loving: there are various Neumanns out there now that are actually relatively affordable, and I've been curious about various Micotech Gefell condensers ever since I recorded on one at a great studio in Philly. If money were no object I would of course snatch up all the u87/67/47 magic I could. But money is, it turns out, an object.

Whaddaya think?
 

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I'm no engineer but I like the tone I get from my Cascade Fathead mic. I do juice up the signal with a booster before the mixer but it records better than anything I have and I think cost 150 or so. Been years K
 

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AKG C414-EB.

Other mics I like, more for live, are the Sennheiser 421, and Shure 98 clip on.



Greetings, SOTW music producers! This is a question to our lovely community's studio engineers, home studio producers, and all-around gear nuts. It's far from the first time this question has been asked, and it will certainly not be the last. But I'm curious what your very favorite microphone is, at the moment, for recording yourself (or your trusted buddy) playing the saxophone. This is assuming you have your interface/preamp/DAW/room situation pretty well sorted out, we're talking strictly mic versus mic here: all other things being equal, what's your mic of choice for saxophone tracking?

My workhorse for the last few years has been a trusty Japanese-crafted Audio Technica AT-4033 LDC. A very affordable mic for the quality and it's given me nothing but good results. I am, however, upgrading to some fancier gear soon since I'm doing a lot more remote tracking and composing/producing work. The next likely two microphone candidates are an AKG c414 B-ULS and an AEA R-84, but I am always, always curious what other saxophonist-producers out there are using and loving: there are various Neumanns out there now that are actually relatively affordable, and I've been curious about various Micotech Gefell condensers ever since I recorded on one at a great studio in Philly. If money were no object I would of course snatch up all the u87/67/47 magic I could. But money is, it turns out, an object.

Whaddaya think?
 

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I used to love the old ribbon mikes known as 'BBC' mikes, because the Beeb used them a lot years ago, but I don't know the actual manufacturer. A very honest and open sound with a full spectrum (to my ears) and no harshness.
 

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Coles 4038 and Neumann U-87. The former to get that smooth, silky sound for intimate/acoustic/straightaway jazz type recordings and the latter for brighter, more contemporary type recordings. Still trying to learn when I might use my MD-441 instead of either of those two.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I used to love the old ribbon mikes known as 'BBC' mikes, because the Beeb used them a lot years ago, but I don't know the actual manufacturer. .
Coles 4038 probably

However any ribbon mic can cause problems for home recording as the figure of 8 pattern can pick up quite a lot of room ambience. This is fine if you want that and if the room ambience itself sounds good, but that isn't often the case with home studios.

But I'm curious what your very favorite microphone is, at the moment, for recording yourself (or your trusted buddy) playing the saxophone.


I mostly use a an AKG C12VR (on myself and various other saxophone session players) - I like it not just for it's great sound but the ability to choose from 9 polar patterns.

For stereo recording I use either a matched pair of Oktava MK-012 or matched pair of Oktava ribbons ML53

I chose the MK-012 as they were better and more reliable than the vintage Neumann KM84s I had previously

Also have a collection of other odd mics, STC 4021 (ubiquitous apple and biscuit - great for snare drums) HMV vintage ribbons etc.

You may find my studio saxophone mic shootout interesting:

https://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-recording
 

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I did a session with a vintage RCA ribbon microphone that was very memorable for me. They're quite expensive but there are companies that make copies of them. I experimented with ribbon microphones vs condensers and I like the detail and spatial quality of ribbons. I like tube condensers too, microphones are really important. Good ones require very little eq and set up time and they give you great results.
 

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For home recording I use an Audio Technica AT2020, which although is a real budget mic, always captures my sound in a way that I like... I'm rarely disappointed with the sound and use very little - or often no - EQ at all. For album stuff I go to studios who have a bigger budget!
 

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I've got a blue yeti USB one, partially on Pete's recommendation, and I've been very happy with that for home recording (nothing fancy - just using audacity on a mac with some decent headphones in my spare room). Recently when I did some recording for an album in a proper studio, the engineer got me to test 5 different mics - can't remember what they all were, but the ribbon mic ended up sounding nicest.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks, all! It's always cool to hear everyone's perspectives from different stages and walks of life.

vbluesman - The AEA R84 is basically a copy (and update) of an RCA ribbon mic, and it's specifically geared toward wind instruments. They're getting rave reviews from everyone in the NYC community, and it's very high on the list! I had the privilege of recording on one of Willie Nelson's RCA ribbon mics on several projects in Austin and it was amazing. Definitely gonna get the R84 before long.

Pete - I'll cruise over to your microphone shootout today, and I'm actually not familiar with the C12VR! I'll be giving that a look and listen, sounds very interesting. Have you ever used any Gefell condensers, like the M900 or T71? I'm extremely curious about those, but Gefell doesn't have the same fame or distribution in the States as it does in Europe.
 

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The MD-441 is an excellent live on stage mic for sax.
 

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My only mic, a used ATM-350 which I picked up used a couple years ago. I really like how it sounds on recordings, though now you've got me thinking it might be good to try a different mic for comparison's sake. Uh-oh, here comes the GAS again....
 

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Greetings, SOTW music producers! This is a question to our lovely community's studio engineers, home studio producers, and all-around gear nuts. It's far from the first time this question has been asked, and it will certainly not be the last. But I'm curious what your very favorite microphone is, at the moment, for recording yourself (or your trusted buddy) playing the saxophone. This is assuming you have your interface/preamp/DAW/room situation pretty well sorted out, we're talking strictly mic versus mic here: all other things being equal, what's your mic of choice for saxophone tracking?

My workhorse for the last few years has been a trusty Japanese-crafted Audio Technica AT-4033 LDC. A very affordable mic for the quality and it's given me nothing but good results. I am, however, upgrading to some fancier gear soon since I'm doing a lot more remote tracking and composing/producing work. The next likely two microphone candidates are an AKG c414 B-ULS and an AEA R-84, but I am always, always curious what other saxophonist-producers out there are using and loving: there are various Neumanns out there now that are actually relatively affordable, and I've been curious about various Micotech Gefell condensers ever since I recorded on one at a great studio in Philly. If money were no object I would of course snatch up all the u87/67/47 magic I could. But money is, it turns out, an object.

Whaddaya think?
When I record at home, it's mostly doing solo or horn section parts on tracks people send me, for their CDs or whatever. If I were in a good studio, I'd request a Neumann 87 or 67, my favorite mics. But I've never felt like popping for one of these for home use. After some research and talking with friends, I eventually bought a Neumann TLM 103, which is relatively affordable, and which I love. It's delivers a full-bodied sound top to bottom, and sounds good on tenor/alto/baritone/soprano. It sounds more like a saxophone than anything else I've tried, other than a vintage U47 or U67 that had been preserved in good shape over the decades. Really no comparison, in the price range, as far as I'm concerned.
 

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For anyone looking for a nice sounding low cost option, the Audio Technica lipstick condenser instrument mics (Pro 37R) have a nice sound. Light enough to clip on the bell too. People use them a lot for acoustic guitars.

For the money, I think AT has some great microphones. I've thought about getting their large body condenser (the 2020, i think) a few times.
 

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I did some recording this evening and decided to try out several different inexpensive mics on the same passage and instrument to compare them. One was a large diaphragm condenser. I also tried two different ribbon mics and a large diaphragm dynamic. I used a Cloudlifter with the ribbons and dynamic. Everything came out sounding good, though in slightly different ways. The condenser was the most honest mic - the highs on it could be quite revealing. The dynamic and ribbons had a lovely warm sound, but excessive self-noise in my environment (I live in a house with very noisy power.)
 
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