Violin recording equipment

October 30, 2008 at 05:33 AM · I’m ready for a nice slap in the face. I’d like to record myself playing violin so I can hear how good (or bad) I really am. Is there a relatively cost effective way to do it and get a decent quality recording?

Replies (22)

October 30, 2008 at 08:20 AM · This subject has been much discussed on this site already. If you do a search, apart from the obvious search terms -- recording, microphone, mic, etcetera -- you might get lucky searching for "Donald Duck dying".

October 30, 2008 at 12:29 PM · H2 Zoom which records on to SD memory card (like the one you put into a camera). It has replaced the Sony MiniDisc as the recording device of choice for musicians.

October 30, 2008 at 03:21 PM · Damn.

I wish I knew that because I bought a mini disc recorder and sonopak in july...

October 30, 2008 at 03:27 PM · Zoom H2 is the best deal around

October 30, 2008 at 05:11 PM · Martin (... or anyone else who has an H2 Zoom ...) When you want to edit your recordings do you have to download onto a computer to do this? I love my Sony mini-disc and I edit my stuff on the md, download onto a computer and then make a cd if I want. Do you really think the H2 Zoom is better? The reviews I read over a year ago didn't convince me, but maybe they have since improved the original model???? Thanks


October 30, 2008 at 07:45 PM · >This subject has been much discussed on this site already...<

Bart, before making my post, I did a search and the discussions were quite old. So I was looking for the most up to date information.

For those that responded, thanks for the info. I just ordered a Zoom H2 from Amazon for $175 including shipping.

November 20, 2008 at 03:58 AM ·

I just wanted to let people know that I ordered the Zoom H2 and it works great.  The built in microphone gets the job done.  And as I expected, I'm a lot worse than I thought.  Ugh!

The recorder creates .wav files but it will also convert them to .mp3 compressed format for much smaller files.  It includes a USB cable and when connected to the computer, it looks like an external drive so you can copy the files directly to your computer. 

I posted a recording in my profile if anyone is interested in hearing the quality of the recorder (not the performer).  I just set it on a table in my family room and stood about 4 feet away and that's what I got.  I probably should have warmed up first.

By the way, I think this is an invaluable tool that I am sure will help me become a better musician.  What I found is that small mistakes, such as hitting other strings, cracks, or intonation problems are magnified immensely in the recording, so it has made me hypersensitive to my playing flaws and is training me to listen more carefully while I'm playing.  I think it will also be useful to be able to hear my progress (e.g., to compare my sound now to later in the future).

Bottom line, if you dont have a recording device, get one. 

November 20, 2008 at 05:55 AM ·

What is the most cost effective way to get a decent recording of yourself?

Play well, and let others do the recording for you. They may even pay!

November 20, 2008 at 06:17 AM ·

You could get a violin microphone from like Shar or something. Then get a 1/4 to 1/8 inch converter...then it'll plug right into your computer's microphone plug. But this only works if you're computer has an halfway descent sound card.

You can also use a free audio editor like Audacity to record with.

November 21, 2008 at 12:19 AM ·

My son's wedding quartet used a digital camera and got it up on YouTube.  (I don't know how)  Paul, you might consider doing that and get some video of you up there for us to see. :-)  Here's one link to a rehearsal.  It's best to watch it in high quality (my son has the dark hair):
Smiley, the recording (and the player) is good.  That seems like a really good investment.  Was it easy to set up and use?


November 21, 2008 at 02:06 AM ·

I don't have a camcorder... I DID but my 18 month old nephew got a hold of it and well... The screen is messed up and it's just unusable.

My laptop however has a built in camera but it's a Dell and not a Mac so the camera is crappy quality. I'll try to take a little recording later while practicing and see if the quality comes out ok. So unless it does, I guess it will just be audio for now!

November 21, 2008 at 02:34 AM ·

Hi Rebecca,

It was VERY easy to set up.  Just insert two AA batteries (or use the supplied AC adapter), turn it on and it is ready to go.  I forgot to mention, you can play back the recordings immediately with the supplied ear buds without having to download it to your computer.  So it is great for a quick recording and playback just to see how you sound.

I appreciate the compliement, but one of these days, I'll warm up first and get a better recording of myself. 

November 21, 2008 at 03:34 AM ·

Nevermind! Eww the sound is so horrible and once notes are played higher than the E string it messes with the sound A LOT. And the visual is delayed by about a second from the sound...

November 21, 2008 at 12:09 PM ·

Rebecca, that digital camera is very good.   Mine is not nearly as good (even taking into account that the players recorded by yours are better than the player recorded by mine).  I blogged a while ago about how digital cameras seem to repress dynamics, some of the responses I got indicated that that's not surprising--those mic's are actually designed that way, to pick up and amplify softer sounds.

I'm impressed with the recording Smiley posted.  The tone quality is quite nice.  You said that was just a built-in mic?  How did you think it handled the dynamics in particular?  It's hard for me to tell because I don't know the piece and I don't know how much dynamic range you were trying for.

November 21, 2008 at 02:17 PM ·

I dont know how much you plan to spend on equipment, but I'll give you a quick run down of what I use.

1. Computer with windows XP

2. For recording soft ware, I use Audacity, google it, download it for free. Its simple to run, and allows you to lay multiple tracks.

3. for an iterface I use the M-Audio moblie pre, it has a built in preamp. it runs around $125, though Ive seen cheaper online.

4. last, but not least, I use a superflux condenser mic, runs around $50.


This set up will give you CD quailty


I'd advise staying away from cheap cassette recorders, they tend not to sound exact due to fluxuating tape speeds,etc.

November 21, 2008 at 04:58 PM ·

Hi Karen,

The recorder has an excellent dynamic range, you just cant hear it in the piece I uploaded because I played it at a fairly consistent volume (I know, how boring).  If I get a chance, I'll try to record something else, so you can get a sense of the dynamic range.  I'm really sold on this little recorder; it works great.  I think there are others that basically do the same thing, but I bought this one on the recommendation of people from this thread and am quite pleased with it.

By the way, I re-recorded the Bach and uploaded a new one.  It still needs a lot of work, but it's not quite the train wreck that the previous one was.  From the recording, I really need to work on cleaner string crossings and a more steady tempo.  These flaws are hard to hear when playing, but when listening to the recording it is so blatantly obvious.  It's almost a little depressing, but I guess if you want to improve, you have to be in touch with reality.


November 21, 2008 at 07:08 PM ·

Smiley,  it might be nice to keep both recordings up to compare them. I think the second does sound better and you can really hear everything. 

It does seem there are various methods of recording practices and performances and for various reasons; thus, having both video and audio seems to be a good thing.

For instance, in my son's case, they needed a quick recording for a possible wedding gig so they borrowed my mom's digital (which does happen to be a good one, I think) and set it on something flat (don't think we've got a tripod for it) and recorded 3 songs in rehearsal for the potential client.  I did notice that depending on where the camera was positioned, the sound quality of the instruments changed.  Smiley, does the quality of sound change depending on where the audio is in location to the player? 

Also, my son's teacher video-tapes every lesson.  That's helpful for my son because he has so much work to do on his bowing arm and hand so it's important for him to see the ugly truth!  Also, his symphony makes recordings to sell all the time and I think the equipment they use isn't all that great (or maybe it's the way they set it up?) as some of the recordings seem muted but some sound fine.

Barry, your equipment set up sounds great, too.  Have you made CDs of your performance?  Do you know if the set up works on Windows Vista?


November 21, 2008 at 07:53 PM ·

I would recommend checking out the Samson Zoom h2 digital recorder. It has multiple built in mics and can be configured as to the listening zone (90, 120 degrees, surrond). It records onto mini sd memory sticks and also has a USB interface to transfer the recording to a pc.

I was really impressed when I bought this for my son, though I am not a recording engineer the sound quality was impressive, and for the price (I think it runs around 200 bucks or so list, have seen it as low as 129 bucks these days). I think for realistic record and playback you can't beat this.

November 21, 2008 at 10:57 PM ·


The Zoom H2 is what I have (see previous posts in this thread)


Yes, the sound definitely changes depending on the acoustics of the room and the proximity of the recorder.  You can also adjust the sensitivity of the mic (e.g., the input volume).  There is a low/med/hi switch on the side of the recorder, and you can also do a fine adjustment within each setting.

Just fyi, the last recording I put up was done in a small bedroom in my basement with the recorder sitting in front of me on a music stand.  Not exactly high tech, but it gets the job done.

And I agree, video would be nice, as long as you can get high quality audio -- perhaps the subject of another discussion thread?  My practice room in my basement used to be a work out room and is surrounded by mirrors, so video was less important to me than audio.

As for recording directly to a computer, it might be a good option, but it is kind of nice to have the portability of a small device, rather than lugging around a laptop.  The Zoom H2 fits in my violin case, so I'll probably use it to record our string quartet, piano trio, etc.

If Laurie Niles is reading, I'd be curious to know what she used make the recordings on her profile.  The quality (and playing) are very nice.


November 22, 2008 at 02:32 AM ·

I remember that my son did an audio recording of a Mozart concerto with an accompanist about 1 1/2 years ago and the accompanist's husband had this elaborate recording equipment set up in their music room.  What was really cool about it was that he was able to add reverberation into the recording after it was done.  Without the reverb, the recording was somewhat flat, but with it, it was much more full bodied.  It sounds like the zoom H2 may have that capability of bringing the richness of the music out without "additives".  Barry's set up sounds like it might do this as well, but I do like the idea of the portability of the zoom H2.

November 23, 2008 at 02:24 AM ·

The Zoom H2 does not have reverb, at least not that I am aware of.  I would imagine a little reverb would improve the sound of most recordings, but my objective in recording myself was for self evaluation, so I want to hear every squeak, scratch, and crackle.  But if your objective is to sound good on the recording, then I would imagine there is software available that can add reverb on the computer.  I posted something completely different, just for variety.  Excepts of some jazz violin I did earlier today.  It was also recorded using the Zoom H2, but I used a freeware program called mp3 Direct Cut to do some fades -- no reverb though.



November 24, 2008 at 02:55 AM ·

Very cool piece, Smiley!  My son enjoyed it, too.  Looks like you're getting your money's worth already. :-)

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