Microphone for home recording

December 21, 2018, 3:12 PM · Hello,

I know there's many topics about same problem, but I didn't found any recent point of view, so I apologize about this "one more" topic.

I'm actualy searching for a microphone for home violin recording.
My point isn't to do pro recordings, but only to do track for my students when I want them to know how a piece should sound when they are working at home.

I already have an Olympus LS10 recorder, but sound is very harsh, even with EQ work.
I also have a Focusrite Scarlett interface, and some live microphones but I'm searching for something I don't have to fix on the violin.

I'm professional violinist, ancient soloist, but I don't know anything about recording... When I recorded albums, I only played, nothing more.

The room is a classic home living room, with no reverb.

The repertory is mainly classical, with some escapes into jazz, folk...

My budget is around 200 / 300 $ , if necessary I can extend up to 500$.

I already saw some things about Shure sm81 , Rode, nt5 / nt4 , AKG and AT microphones but while some love them, some others find them too harsh too, and I'm scared to get something too close to my LS10.

I'm hoping for a warm sound but clear, detailed.


I'm opened to any suggestion, thanks a lot for your help !

Musicaly,
Blaznee

Replies (70)

Edited: December 21, 2018, 4:09 PM · Not A microphone, but I have heard darn good sound come out of the little ZOOM and EDERO R-09 recorders. I've had an Ederol for years and used it to sneak into venues when my granddaughter sang with the San Francisco Girls Chorus years ago. They sang with such groups as the San Francisco Symphony, Cypress String Quartet and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra - so I can attest to the device's ability to capture sound quite faithfully (even while in my shirt pocket). Let me just add that every time I did record one of these professional groups I later purchased their new recording of the same music - if and when they issued one.

Of course you have to playback with decent equipment.

My chamber orchestra's rehearsals were recorded (for later study by the musicians) by our manager on his ZOOM far better than with his large microphone plugged into his Apple Mac.

Edited: December 21, 2018, 4:29 PM · Thanks for answering.

The zoom is equivalent to my ls10 (slightly better than zoom and tascam when I bought it) , but I'm not satisfied of the sound I got with.
It works, I recorded hours of repeats with it but it's far away from all recording I've made in studio.

Edited: December 21, 2018, 6:25 PM · The microphones of which you have written are small diaphragm condenser mics. They are good for drums, or for instruments with a lot of "attack", like flamenco or classic guitars. With a violin they can be fine as secondary microphone for use on another track in the mix, but not must be used as first option.

You need a large diaphragm condenser mic with a cardioid patron, located one meter in front and over your head, pointing to the bridge. This kind of mics needs 48V phantom power, but your scarlett has it. You must record in any recording software, I like reaper and you can use it for free. It can use too the VST effects (reverb, equalizer) that you get from focusrite when you bought the interface.

You are not a professional music producer, you don't need a neumann 1000 € mic. With any Chinese cheap large diaphragm microphone you will notice a big (really big) difference. My cheapest mic, for example, is an Alctron MC410 "tout terrain mic" that is almost perfect for near 40 € in aliexpress for "not in home" situations. I use it a lot and i think it's really fine for what you want.

(sorry for my english)

December 21, 2018, 5:39 PM · To explain some of Andrew Victor's observations: it's generally a bad idea to record directly into a laptop computer, regardless of the microphone being used. In many laptops, the sound card picks up a lot of static from the laptop's main power supply. To record on a laptop, it is best to plug the mic into an external sound card that is located some distance from the computer.
Edited: December 21, 2018, 6:26 PM · Yes, of course. In fact, it is impossible to connect the microphones of which we speak directly to a laptop. They need an external sound card with pre amplifiers and extra voltage. But the creator of the post already says that he owns a scarlett interface
December 21, 2018, 6:04 PM · These are very good http://www.lineaudio.se/CM3.html

But you need to know how to place them and you need a decent mic pre amp.

December 21, 2018, 7:20 PM ·

Too Harsh of a sound is often caused by the room and the quality of the instrument than the recording equipment. With today's digital 2-300$ quality mic/recorders kits, the sound is more'distant'(sounds like the mic is set up in a different room during recording) than harsh. Whereas, Good quality gear has that 'in your face' sound, this is what makes us think it's a warmer sound. Low tension strings can take some of the harshness out and soft rosins help a bit too. So now you can get closer to the mic; thus, making the sound seem warmer.
Better equipment doesn't improve the sound, this is a misconception. Good equipment augments the sound. If the sound is good before it hits the mic, it makes it better. If the sound is bad, it makes it worse.
Spend the money fixing the sound before it enters the mic is my advice.

December 21, 2018, 9:50 PM · Get a ribbon (don't put your phantom power on with you preamp!). These are a very good cheap microphone:
https://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/mxl-r40-ribbon-microphone

This is a good replica of a Royer at a fraction of the cost:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Ribbon-microphone-RM-BIV-1-handcrafted-made-in-Russia-SALE/153232733766?hash=item23ad61f646:g:VOwAAOSw2gxYnQu5:rk:6:pf:0

The maker's page:
https://www.ebay.com/usr/burd-sv?_trksid=p2047675.l2559

December 21, 2018, 11:42 PM · Another vote for a ribbon mic here. Another inexpensive ribbon option is the Cascade Microphones Fathead II. I have one with the Lundahl transformer, and though I have several high-end condensor mics (small and large diaphragm versions), the ribbon creates the most realistic sound on a violin. It seems to downplay nasty noises close to the violin that you don't hear twenty feet away.
Edited: December 22, 2018, 4:18 AM · I'm happy with my Shure PG81 and Scarlett 2i2. PG81 may have been superceded by the PGA81, which is nice and compact because it doesn't have a battery compartment, but the Scarlett already provides the phantom power for it.
December 22, 2018, 5:38 AM · Thanks for answers !

@Charles Cook I've heard the difference when recorded in a concert hall on a stradivarius between the pro record and my own record I did at same time for myself, it wasn't about room neither instrument.

@Christopher & Paul I don't know ribbon mic at all, I was thinking about small diaphragm mics cause it was the kind of mic used for all pro recordings I played on.
Do you have a reliable model to suggest ?
Something I can buy in a real store, not a chinese thing ordered on ebay or something like that (too much problems with).

Edited: December 22, 2018, 6:58 AM · Another vote for ribbons. The high frequency response you don't like is built into cartioid condenser mics, and if you don't like it you will have to remove it afterwards. When I started recording concerts in our shop, I started with good cartioid mics (the most common type---you have to go out of your way not to get one) and gave up on them after several different brands and types. I got the best results fro a mid-range omni that's no longer made, and a cheap ribbon. Better yet would be a better ribbon, which is what I have seen being used in more recent pro recording sessions.

The second but most important factor is the room and placement. These are what can ruin the results quickly even from the most expensive mics, and you shouldn't minimize their effects. Throwing money at mics won't help here.

Edited: December 22, 2018, 7:24 AM · "Something I can buy in a real store, not a chinese thing ordered on ebay or something like that (too much problems with)."
In this price range it is worth going to a manufacturer-recommended store and paying extra - the fakes are in the millions. Shure SM57 is probably the most faked mic on the planet. And your savings won't even buy you a pizza.
Edited: December 22, 2018, 7:45 AM · An addendum regarding ribbon mics:
a preamping with a lot of gain is somewhat necessary.
And possibly a rather quiet one (not much self-noise).
December 22, 2018, 7:58 AM · Here is a vote for a large condenser microphone. You can get good versions on sale starting at around $80US so excellent ones are well within your stated budget.

It sounds like you are not interested in the editing side of recording, so what others have posted about ribbon mics for recording violin is worth considering.

I use a Digital Audio Worksation (DAW) to process recordings I want to keep and so I am interested in capturing as large a bandwidth and dynamic range as possible without crossing into distortion. Volume adjustment, reverb and bandwidth filtering as all straightforward to do with the DAW.

December 22, 2018, 9:48 AM · If you want a brand name then the Royer R121 is the way to go. The handmade Russian Burd Igor ribbons I mentioned sound as good though and you could buy 9 or 10 for the price!
I'll point you to another site where they are talking about them https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/1079451-rm-biv-ribbon-microphones.html

The MXR ribbon is surprisingly good too if you don't want to deal with eBay.


Yes, you will find studios using condensers. If you watch a lot of how to videos they will also recommend condensers for strings despite how careful you have to be to avoid a violin sounding scratchy with one. Why? Well my theory is that some people learn from what other people say rather than trial and error. Secondly, there is no right or wrong - it depends what sound you want. Studio guys tend to see violins as high frequency things so they figure you have to have microphones that capture all the detail of the high frequencies. A lot of the mellow frequencies that we value are seen as 'mud' by studio engineers and they may scoop those frequencies out as problematic. Most of the instruments they spend time with they are working to get the most impactful sound. With this approach the violin will sound scratchy and thin. So, I'm not saying you can't get a good result with condensers or even a large diaphragm with the right placement (not close!) and preamp, but I've spent enough time and money to confidently say ribbons are more what a violinist is looking for in their concept of sound. Again, there is no right or wrong and it depends on the sound you want, the mix, the style, etc. etc. etc...

December 22, 2018, 10:03 AM · I'll second what Marco says about ribbons being low level. It may or may not be a problem depending on your pre-amp. My Golden Age pre73 gives plenty (good combination with ribbon) but other preamps I have give a weak signal. There are solutions to this if it doesn't give a strong signal with your setup. You can buy an inline preamp that plugs into your microphone and is activated by phantom power - very useful as phantom power will now not blow up your microphone!

I have this one:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1245015-REG/triton_audio_fethead_in_line_microphone_preamp.html/?ap=y&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI7fD0wOez3wIVAeDICh2pvwuwEAQYASABEgIhw_D_BwE&lsft=BI%3A514&smp=Y

There are others too. I would say buy the Burd Igor microphones with them already included and then you are all set.

Edited: December 22, 2018, 11:22 AM · Oh, I found Burd Igor's website:

http://bashaudio.ru/bashaudio.eng.html

I'm not affiliated in any way - just a happy customer!

edit: There are some fakes around so deal directly with the maker.

Edited: December 22, 2018, 11:33 AM · It seems that at 200Hz (approx. a violin's G string) a good small-diaphragm condenser's response is already about -3dB. That's a pity, otherwise I'd have suggested all you'd be recording with a large diaphragm is the room's resonances.
You'll certainly get the clarity and detail and "air" you are looking for with a small condenser, though. Ribbons used to be physically fragile. Maybe they no longer are.
December 22, 2018, 11:41 AM · Maybe not as fragile as the early days but still fragile. Phantom power can destroy them as can a drop so don't use phantom power without the gizmo mentioned above and don't drop them!! You are also advised to store them upright so that the ribbon does not sag over time. They are not an SM57!
December 22, 2018, 12:00 PM · Otoh, if you position a small diaphragm condenser on the violin's left, that might more than make up for the lost 3dB, assuming you even play the open G string.
I've always assumed ribbons are more trouble than they are worth.
Edited: December 22, 2018, 1:17 PM · Personally I haven't had any trouble with modern ribbons as long as you are sensible.

Microphone placement is a big deal when it comes to recording. Often with condensers they are hung above for violin. Certainly the left side is preferable and personally I never like it too close but there is a place for everything. You can always use more than one microphone and mix the signals to your taste - even eq or bandpass certain tracks if you want to cut or emphasize a certain frequency. A lot of violinists have been taught to project. If you do that then you have to be fairly far back from the microphone - maybe mix with room mics. Personally I prefer to play more intimately in a relatively close microphone situation, even sometimes partially muting with a wire mute.

Edited: December 23, 2018, 4:01 AM · I'd like to know what everyone thinks of this recording.

It unnerves me, but I'm not sure why.
I think it's because it's so closely miked and heavily compressed that there seems to be too little human input.
December 23, 2018, 6:41 AM · There's an odd mixture of advice in here! The Scarlett will be more than adequate for a decent home recording, and I'm sure you'll be happy with it if you put some suitable mics in the right place!

A single mic will be ok for scratchpad recordings, but If you want the recordings to be enjoyable to listen to then I'd advocate getting a stereo mic or a pair of microphones - this will give you a much more realistic sense of an instrument in a space than a single mono microphone with reverb added afterwards. This leads me to a crucial question:

Does your room sound any good?

If your space has any funny resonances or fluttery echoes then you'll probably want to maximise the direct sound from the instrument, and avoid picking up too much reflected sound from the room. This would rule out most ribbon microphones, which normally use a "figure of 8" pickup pattern that captures sound from the front and the rear. Instead I'd look for a a cardioid (heart shaped) response that would reject sound from the rear of the mic.

If your room sounds great, then perhaps you'd get on with a ribbon mic, but be aware that they inherently lose some of the high frequencies - this might sound flattering, or it might sound dull, let your ears be the judge! And as others have said, they are fragile and need to be handled with care!

At the top end of your budget you could get a pair of Audio Technica 4041s, or some Rode NT5s. I'm not sure how the exchange rates are playing at the moment (I think I paid about £550 for mine), but I highly recommend the Beyer MC930 pair - these are lovely mics that are detailed and natural sounding.

December 23, 2018, 6:43 AM · I'll just add that placement is key, whatever mic you go for!
December 23, 2018, 7:57 AM · OP, are you making video recordings or just audio ones? If just audio, I'd suggest that video would be far more helpful to your students, even if the sound isn't quite as good. Also, you have to take into account your delivery medium. If you are, say, posting privately to YouTube, the compression will already compromise a lot of your sound. That might influence your microphone choice.


December 23, 2018, 2:23 PM · I use a Zoom for reporting, but I have 2 Audio Technica 2200 cardioid condenser mics at home. The wind shield foam caps dull the high end a little. There is also a USB version.
December 24, 2018, 3:27 AM · Andrew Fryer, I'm not sure what all is going on in that video, or why. It looks like each violin has a separate wireless microphone attached (super-close mic), and sounds like they got the soloist unnaturally loud, compared to the rest of the orchestra, in their mix.
December 24, 2018, 4:08 AM · The room just doesn't sound, it's a pure sound eater room, with no reverb at all.

I can get free access to concert halls or church for record, but I don't want to produce myself a disk, only need to record for my students.

I never use video, since the sound is the key of anything, I don't want them to be influenced by anything else.

I looked at ribbon mics but I'm totally lost, many various prices for same technical specificities (on paper).
I've saw those Russian mics but impossible to order in a real store.

December 24, 2018, 10:13 AM · Andrew. That is the kind of way a typical mixing guy or studio technician will eq a violin - all mids scooped out, highs emphasized and compressed.

Matt. I did careful comparisons with the NT5 and the ribbon both with omni and cardioid capsules. I did find the ribbon better by a long way. There is an element of taste of course. Perhaps I will do some comparison recordings sometime as that would be more helpful. As for the figure of 8 picking up the room resonance I have never had a problem although my room has some acoustic panels. If your room is particularly boomy or reflective you can use a vocal shield on your microphone stand (CAD do a cheap one which works fine). I do find that ribbons pick up much less of the ambient noise than a large cardioid. Even though they are figure of 8 they do not have such a large field of proximity as a cardioid.
I think that the high end detail from a ribbon is still there but not so harsh. The ribbon still hears the high frequencies but it's a different quality. This is particularly important for close miking where the treble is in your face rather than attenuated over a distance like it is in a concert hall.

Jeremy. Yes, you won't find the Russian microphones in the stores - he is slowly building them by hand and is really a hidden gem. If you are more comfortable buying in the stores then for your purposes the MXL R40 would be a pretty good budget microphone.

December 24, 2018, 10:35 AM · I agree very much with Christopher regarding ribbon mics.
As a listening example, i recorded (very quickly, for truth) guitars and violin with a ribbon Cascade Fathead I (stock transformer), FMR RNP preamp in this song:

https://soundcloud.com/mbrancalion/branle-cassandra-for-elsa

Not violins, but guitars and lead vocal here with the same mic and preamp, for another listening test:

https://soundcloud.com/mbrancalion/rimini-8

December 24, 2018, 11:47 AM · I have just remembered that a new Royer microphone came out:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/R10--royer-r-10-ribbon-microphone

I have no idea what it is like but it's a good deal for a Royer ribbon at $500.

December 24, 2018, 11:51 AM · I've also used one of these with decent results:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M160--beyerdynamic-m-160

Edited: December 25, 2018, 2:51 PM · Audio Technica AT8022 stereo microphone. Will run on either phantom or batteries. $399.
It'll probably surpass the quality of whatever preamp you use. The preamp can be the weak link in the chain.
December 25, 2018, 4:34 PM · RODE NT1.
It’s brutally honest and the quietest studio mike in existence. It’s also quite friendly priced (if you compare it tothe big boys)
Edited: December 25, 2018, 9:34 PM · Nt1 is a good microphone. I had one of those (my first microphone) and had it modded to be the same specs as a Neuman U87 which is a higher spec microphone. Honestly, doesn't equal the ribbons for violin even with the mod, but is a very good microphone. Isn't the new one closer to the U87? Certainly good. Yes it's honest but you don't always want total honesty when you are close miking!
December 25, 2018, 11:04 PM · This is maybe a very stupid question ....as a geriatric student, who should be recording for self improvement, if you bought one of these microphones, what else would you need ?
Currently using an iPhone .
December 25, 2018, 11:04 PM · This is maybe a very stupid question ....as a geriatric student, who should be recording for self improvement, if you bought one of these microphones, what else would you need ?
Currently using an iPhone .
December 26, 2018, 1:18 AM · I use a Zoom H6. Captures every imperfection. And you can plug headphones directly to it, so you don't need a fancy setup.
December 26, 2018, 9:17 AM · Rosemary. Most of the microphones mentioned would need an audio interface for recording into a computer. The preamp on the interface is an important component and some microphones need powering (phantom power). If somebody doesn't want to get into this dark art but just needs some decent recording then a Zoom is fine!
December 26, 2018, 11:26 AM · For the average student just listening to themselves, a recent desktop is fine. Just download Audacity and use the built-in mics. I have a recent iMac, and actually the sound quality for recordings is excellent.

While I have a better setup--AT stereo mic run into a USB preamp (about $500 worth of gear), I really don't think someone like Rosemary needs to go out and spend a fortune on mics and other stuff. If I compare my setup to the computer's built-in sound, there is a difference....but one that may not be needed. It's fine for things like intonation, rhythmic accuracy, and even dynamics.

December 26, 2018, 12:44 PM · If you’re just looking for a quick-and-dirty way for students to record themselves, try the free Music Memos app on an iPhone. I find that the sound is surprisingly similar to what I hear under the ear, when I record myself practicing. I usually set the phone about 2 m away from where I’m playing. Obviously, it’s not going to compare with proper recording equipment, but it’s hard to beat the convenience.
December 26, 2018, 6:07 PM · Thank you all for your replies. Just as confused but better informed, so will research these options. No I didn’t want to spend a fortune, and yes I am currently using the inbuilt app on the iPhone. It sounds truly awful, but I had read elsewhere here that that may not be 100% my fault, and was interested in experimenting a little to see if I could find a simple way of getting a better quality recording.
Off to the practice room then ....
December 28, 2018, 9:27 AM · Do you have some recordings with ribbon mic you suggested ?

I have searched for audio, found some videos on youtube made with ribbon mics but they all sound uggly.

December 28, 2018, 10:11 AM · https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRZ736iLavA

This was something I knocked up super quick when Greg Lake died. I used two Burd Igor ribbons on this. One for the acoustic sound and one for an amp as it's my electro-acoustic. Just a note that this is not the violin I would usually use for recording and without a ribbon would sound quite harsh up close.

I'll do some microphone comparisons when other projects subside!

Edited: December 31, 2018, 3:45 PM · duplicate...
December 28, 2018, 10:52 AM · thanks for exemple, but I'm searching something for an accoustic violin, not electric.
December 28, 2018, 11:37 AM · No, it's the acoustic sound. I blended a bit of amp sound from the air - not much. The reverb was added to the acoustic sound.
December 28, 2018, 12:03 PM · Strange sound,very "synthetic", it really sounds like one of my electric violins (except the reverb). I don't know where does it come from, but I'm searching for something much more natural, close to what we hear at 15 / 20 meters of the violin.

December 28, 2018, 12:07 PM · Then record 15/20 meters away!
Edited: December 28, 2018, 2:23 PM · Ok, very quick recording for you...
This is completely raw with no processing at all with two distances:

Edit: check below for comparison tests instead

Edited: December 28, 2018, 1:22 PM · " https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRZ736iLavA

This was something I knocked up super quick when Greg Lake died. I used two Burd Igor ribbons on this. One for the acoustic sound and one for an amp as it's my electro-acoustic."
________________________

Probably not a sound I would expect to be easy to sell, to any sort of pro mainstream classical violinist, or soloist.

Where has the brilliance gone? (Yes, I did notice that you were using a mute.)
_________________

"Ok, very quick recording for you...
This is completely raw with no processing at all with two distances:

https://soundcloud.com/mrchristopherpayne/ribbon-microphone-burd-igor-with-violin "
________________________

Still sounds rather dead, to me. Some people get their impressions of fine instrument sound from sitting out in an auditorium, where "punch" and "focus" become very much attenuated, and others have actually played quite a few.

Edited: December 28, 2018, 1:56 PM · David, we all want different things. I'm a quirky violinist that likes subtlety. I'm using a mute in that clip but it's something I do on that particular violin - the mute is near the bridge, not on it, to take away some of that brilliance that maybe you would like. I'm aware of the sound the regular classical violinist wants. If you want a concert hall sound then record in a concert hall with the microphones at the back of the hall. Recording studios generally sound dead. The distance recording in that example is not something I would use. Also,there is a lot goes into it after the recording - I'm just going raw here.

I'm working on a comparison test of other microphones - sit tight!

December 28, 2018, 1:45 PM · https://soundcloud.com/mrchristopherpayne/microphone-tests-on-violin

Here is a comparison of several ribbons, large diaphragm, dynamic and condenser. You can decide which one you like - we all have different tastes and like different things!

December 29, 2018, 11:25 AM · You also have to understand that the way studios work these days is that things are mostly recorded dry and then you do a lot with the sound after the take. I could work with any of these microphones - those that sound harsh can be equalized to take away the treble etc. If you want to sound like you are in a big hall then there is convolution reverb or impulse response where a sample of a sharp sound is taken in the actual space - your big concert hall, cathedral or anywhere, perhaps the inside of a cello! This space is digitally recreated and sounds pretty good. I would like to suggest though, that close miking has its advantages. An analogy is that of a stage actor vs. a film actor. A stage actor has to make larger than life gestures so that the people at the back of the theatre get what is going on. A film actor has a camera in his face and can be very much more subtle in ever facial gesture and voice inflection. An actor that does both has to adapt accordingly. Recording up close, or indeed amplification, allows a different level of intimacy that would be lost at the back row of the concert hall. The modern musician would be wise to know the hows and whys of modern recording. Opportunities away for those who do.
December 29, 2018, 5:04 PM · Thanks Christopher for this comparison, it helped me a lot !
I definitely don't like ribbon mics, it doesn't sound natural at all, it's much too dusty to my ears.
On the mics you tested I prefer the Neuman U87 clone and the Rode nt5, which are both different kind of mics but at least now I can forget ribbons.
1000 Thanks !
December 29, 2018, 10:54 PM · Well, glad I could help you find something you like. There is not one size fits all or one sound and your concept of sound my be very different to mine - which is how it should be. Do consider that I used a good preamp. I agree that the nt5 does sound pretty good with this preamp but didn't with others. I'm sure your Focusrite will do fine though as they have good preamps. A Neuman U87 will set you back $3000 but I've heard Warm Audio do a clone which I think is about $500. The guy that modded mine (NT1 originally) is no longer in business.
December 30, 2018, 8:22 AM · For regular use I'd also advocate the Rode NT1 or similar. And I'd also say that placement and the room are extremely important. That's why I'd go for a set like this

https://m.thomann.de/at/rode_nt1_a_compl._micscreen_bundle.htm

If you're not sure if you want all that stuff in your living room, get a styrofoam box and place your current mic in there, with the open side towards you. This will already reduce the reverb from the walls sufficiently (it's there, even if you don't notice!). Or, if you happen to own a thick tapestry, place your mic there.

December 30, 2018, 8:33 AM · Rode and Neumann are starting to get expensive. Also people often buy them as stereo pairs, which of course doubles the price. Shop around. I've seen a pair of Neumann mics for £1,700 on Amazon that sell for £1,050 from an independent online retailer.
December 30, 2018, 10:11 AM · It also depends very much on your violin and setup and umpteen other factors. Pretty much like strings really.

Edited: December 30, 2018, 5:03 PM · "My budget is around 200 / 300 $ , if necessary I can extend up to 500$."

I got it wrong in my previous post, as I didn't mean the slightly more expensive Rode NT1, but the NT1-A. The suggested Rode NT1-A bundle (including stand and micscreen) goes for €233 retail which is US$266,5. Usually things are a little bit cheaper on the US market. For the given purpose I don't think it's necessary to record in stereo, at least not to start with. And since the TO already owns an interface (and therefore presumably the necessary software) the linked NT1-A seems to be very well within the range TO asked for.

Edited: December 31, 2018, 3:06 AM · Francisco Aguilar is correct. A large diaphragm condenser mic would more often than not be the first choice of a professional recording engineer (if only one mic was to be used).

Watch videos of the great violinists recording and you will see for yourself if you are skeptical.

December 31, 2018, 4:04 AM · About stereo, should I better buy 1 good mic alone, or 2 cheaper mics to do an xy recording ?
December 31, 2018, 12:38 PM · Skyko, that's not my experience. I've seen condensers used a lot but some of the best I worked with used ribbons. Classical violinists are often recorded with a Royer R-121 (ribbon) but Stuart Duncan for instance (who plays a lot of bluegrass and is a Nashville session musician) likes a U87 (large diaphragm) but says he likes his sound to have a good treble - that may work better in bluegrass. A good engineer won't be too rigid about rights and wrongs or believe that there is one definitive sound. It would be very boring if there was just one sound for every recording and every mix. Engineers differ widely in their approach.
I don't know what videos you are talking about or why a few videos would determine what is right for somebody else.
December 31, 2018, 1:56 PM · https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-31e8Nlujw

Here is an example of a high budget recording setup (Goat Rodeo). You can see Yo-Yo Ma and Stuart Duncan have Royer ribbons with a pair of condensers above. Probably extra overheads too. This is probably the ultimate setup if you want the richness of the ribbon with the sparkle of the condensers - or at least have the option to mix the best of each.

Edited: December 31, 2018, 3:27 PM · https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIVrCZ5sNwE

In this take they have ditched the condensers for the violin and just have the ribbon. This is somebody that usually likes a large diaphragm.

Note that the vocals are not using large diaphragm which would be the go to microphone for vocals, but a Neuman condenser (I believe). So even in the world of vocals it's not one microphone rules them all. Same goes for other instruments - you hear of guidelines but you virtually never hear anybody in a studio say there is only one type of microphone for vocals, drums, guitars, guitar cabinets etc...

In small studios it may be the case that they have invested most of their money in the vocal microphone (usually large diaphragm0 so may put that up as the best thing they have.

December 31, 2018, 3:31 PM · Jeremy. For stereo you would typically have a matched pair but in the studio stereo is not necessary. If you want to capture the ambience of a particular space you might do that.
Edited: January 2, 2019, 11:37 AM · Christopher Payne has some very good advice.I am one to prefer ribbon mics though I have used others.

I notice most of these kinds of posts want something a lot better than hand held recorders for not a lot of money. My motives were a bit different than that so my answers might not fit this particular situation very well.

Much of this is about the context of the instrument in the music.If you want to hear all of the flaws in a solo by all means mic an LDC up close.

Christopher's SC examples were very well done and a good example of these mics, however it's also about the context, mic placement, the instrument and the surroundings.

Most violin passages occupy a very narrow range of the frequency spectrum often in the range humans can potentially find annoying. This is why engineers notch out a lot of it depending on the characteristics of the violin.The more up front and harsh the mic is the more this problem is exacerbated. This is why ribbons are a natural choice when used to naturally tone down some of that harshness.They have the ability to attenuate these undesirable traits.

I've noticed with some of the recordings I made as an intermediate player, if I made a bad capture in terms of tone it wasn't as easy as an EQ adjustment to get rid of a frequency problem.You can't always remove the bad things using a DAW nor should it be done that way if possible.

If you order a mic I would strongly suggest you buy from someone with a generous return policy. That way if it isn't to your liking you can send it back or trade it.

You need to watch using two mics or you'll end up with comb filtering or phase issues. Maybe not so much an issue using the combination mics.

For recordings made at home you will almost always need some kind of ambiance added. Even a close intimate violin approach doesn't sound so good totally dry IMO.

January 2, 2019, 1:59 PM · What Timothy said...

I'll just add that I always add some kind of reverb, even if slight. Recording in a nice resonant space can work but leaves you with few options. The reverbs are very sophisticated these days and give you plenty of choice. I like a close intimate approach but really not too close. Some air is your best attenuation of scratchy frequencies. My examples are how the violin sounds completely dry and I would never just leave them that way.
Yes Tim, I found the same thing for correcting a bad sound with eq. - you can take away some of the harshness but you can only do so much and it tends to throw the baby out with the bath water if you are cutting a particular frequency. More importantly, I have found that if a frequency is not there in the recording then you can't boost it!

Edited: January 2, 2019, 8:03 PM · This discussion was timely for me because lately I've been considering trying to improve my ability to record my own violin playing. I've had a Tascam DR-07 mkII, discontinued a few years ago but still perfectly serviceable. I never got close to a satisfactory recording with it, typically experiencing harshness and excessive room noise. But, in all honesty, I never really tried to analyze why I was unhappy with the result, nor what I might do to correct it.

In reading all of your comments here, and considering your suggestions, I realized that I didn't want to complicate my life with professional microphones and interfaces, nor to spend the money. So I pulled out my Tascam and started to sweat the details. And I'm learning that recording can't be done haphazardly if you want a good outcome.

Microphone positioning is critical. Too close and it's shrill. Too far away and there's too much room noise. Two to three feet away is working out to be a good setting. I confess that I was just putting the recorder on a table ten feet away and hoping for the best. As I'm sure most of you could have told me, it doesn't work that way. I'm manually setting the record level while monitoring with headphones. And my DR-07 mkII has limited, but nonetheless useful eq settings. Lastly it has a nice selection of reverbs that can be variably applied, also very useful. I was disregarding those features.

Bottom line, the recorder is capable of making surprisingly good recordings after all. My lack of success with it was entirely my own fault for a lack of working through the steps. If I bought expensive professional microphones, interface, etc., and applied them with the same carelessness, my results would still have been poor. But I guess most of you could have told me that.

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