Attached microphone for solo performance

July 31, 2019, 8:00 AM · Hi guys - I'm looking for an outstanding clip-on microphone for solo classical performance. Fidelity, tone and dynamics are a must. Bluetooth would be convenient but the above is more important. Phantom power is no problem.

I noticed David Garett using one that clips onto his strad in this video (perhaps someone recognizes it):


Replies (43)

Edited: July 31, 2019, 8:09 AM · I'm glad you asked this. I can't help, but I have been wondering if a clip-on has value. Yes, I guess it gives you a lot of mobility. I'd also like to know how much you should spend on one - no point having a bad one. I assume a clip-on picks up all the scratching and noise that you hear but the audience can't. Do you then have to filter this all out in a recording?
Here's a recording I hate. I guess it has been filtered, but still every instrument is close-mic'd, and I'm allergic to the sound for some reason.
July 31, 2019, 8:09 AM · That's a worry Gordon - but I'm trying to find an alternative to playing with a microphone - its so easy to hit it or to forget and wander off! Garett seems to pull it off...
Edited: July 31, 2019, 8:12 AM · Yes, and then there's the lead trailing all over the floor. What you really want is a radio mic tied to your waist (or is that what bluetooth means?)!
Edited: July 31, 2019, 10:01 AM · When I've heard Garrett amplified, it's been in his crossover performances, where he's truly playing electric violin. Similarly, some years ago, Karen Bentley played a concerto with my community orchestra that was intended to be played on an electric violin, for which she used a clip-on on an acoustic. The pickup does affect the sound that the audience hears. It's not like a violin that just has more projection.

I see in that video Garrett is using a microphone rather than a pickup. I wonder if that's the outdoor theatre for that venue -- it is presumably not a normal hall environment. And if the microphone is only for broadcast.

What's your amplification scenario, Elise?

July 31, 2019, 8:15 PM · I’ve heard good things about the DPA 4099.
Edited: July 31, 2019, 9:29 PM · Lydia - I played at our local market last Saturday, classical pieces but mostly kinda wedding fare (with a few for me and also folk songs and old cinema or hits for the elder set). I bought a battery-powered three channel amp and used a (non-condenser) microphone. The sound was pretty good but positioning the mike so you don't knock it is tricky and then you have to stand in one place in order to keep the sound reasonably constant. I don't want an electric violin sound and I don't need a lot of volume really, just an enhancement of what the instrument normally sounds like.

BTW I had a great time, made a bit of cash and got a very favorable response. I'd like to do this again but maybe indoors at events such as old folks homes etc.

July 31, 2019, 9:32 PM · Sean - thanks, I'll check the DPA 4099 out.
July 31, 2019, 9:32 PM · Sean - thanks, I'll check the DPA 4099 out.
July 31, 2019, 10:35 PM · Hmm. For that scenario, a clip-on microphone makes a lot of sense. There's publicity material out there that says that Garrett uses a DPA, but the microphone in that video does not look like a DPA. Audio-Technica makes a clip-on mike for violin (but it also does not look like that), which requires phantom power.
July 31, 2019, 11:07 PM · Check with Jan Purat-this guy:

He was the violinist in a professional band with my grandson for about 5 or 6 years and played with a mic and sounded great (degree in violin performance).

Edited: August 1, 2019, 4:12 AM · I have used several mics and piezo elements. I use the DPA 4099 now and its by far the best mic for the most natural sound (and also the most expensive...) It does need phantom power. However, the mic is just one element for the sound. At least as important for the sound is what you use as amplifier. And of course if there is a sound engineer what effects he uses. A lot of the unnatural sounds in recordings is made by the amplifier or the sound effects, not the mic.
By the way: the DPA and almost every other mic or element can be used with cables or wireless. It is the equipment you connect it to that decides if it is wireless or not. However, the purists say that wireless will always influence the sound quality because the sound is compressed more or less.
August 1, 2019, 5:52 AM · My amp has phantom power so I'm good to go with the condenser mike. The DPA looks like a great investment.
Edited: August 2, 2019, 11:28 AM · I have a dpa 4099, and can recommend it. Certainly the mounting system is the best, and it gets the microphone up and out of the path of my breathing, which I find to be essential. (I noticed that David Garrett's mic is right in the line of fire of his breath, and I have to wonder how he gets away with that.)

One issue, though, is that it's not ideal to mic a violin from that close, and however great your mic is, the result will be an unnatural (to me anyway) sound that requires more eq options than the typical combo amp provides. I use a three band parametric eq (Empress ParaEq, recommended by me) in my effects loop, in addition to the three band fixed frequency eq that my amp (Fishman Loudbox Artist) provides. And I've found that it requires patient experimentation to find the ideal balance. It's time well spent.

There's a basic premise in audio eq engineering: "cut before you boost." In other words, you should seek to cut offending frequencies first, before you consider boosting anything else.

August 1, 2019, 1:38 PM · Don't entire orchestras use microphones for certain types of work? If you have a company locally that specializes in PA systems and outfitting performance venues, they might have something you can try out.
August 1, 2019, 2:06 PM · Elise, can you tell us about the amp you are using?
August 2, 2019, 9:54 AM · Dimitri - I just bought this 'Yorkville Excursion Mini Battery Powered PA'. Its a twin 6.5" speakers with a dome tweeter. It claims 5+ hrs at full power (60 wt, not the 100 I said above). I've only used it once in the field thus - but the response was terrific and what I love is that there is virtually no speaker hum.

Funny, the ad says nothing about phantom power, but I'm pretty sure I read it in the manual. I'll have to check...

August 2, 2019, 10:21 AM · Hi Elise -- This is definitely not my area of expertise, but it looks like the Yorkville supplies 12v of phantom power; the DPA requires 48v to work most effectively -- so you might need additional.
Edited: August 2, 2019, 3:20 PM · Thanks for that insight Sean - I would not have thought of checking.

Edit: checked their site and they state that it will operate on 5-50V of power. I've messaged their office to see if performance is compromised at my lower voltage.

August 2, 2019, 3:51 PM · A lot of players use DPA. I have used Accusound: which are good but any microphone has its limits for feedback. Some players are using a combination of pickup and microphone so that you get the best of both (and blend them) Ithaca Strings does a good one:
It's certainly a good system if you don't want the hardware to show too much and the jack in the chinrest is an excellent idea.
August 2, 2019, 9:16 PM · Maybe a pre-amp can deliver your phantom power. There is the Sound Devices MP-1 or MM-1
August 3, 2019, 11:45 PM · This is one of the cheapest ways to get phantom power:


Most mixers also have phantom power...

August 4, 2019, 5:12 AM · Christopher - definitely cheap - but the reviews are mixed, several say do not use for vocals which might be a warning for violin. Do you use it?
Edited: August 4, 2019, 8:53 AM · Elise, vocals are typically the most closely guarded part of any production or recording. As it stands your signal is going into a battery-powered mini-PA system, right? Then I don't think you have cause to be persnickety about your preamp. What I've learned about all this, having electrified my violin a few years ago with a Fishman V-200 pickup, is that you just have to start somewhere so that you can learn what you have to tweak to get the sound you want, and then you upgrade. There's really no once-and-done in this business, especially if you don't have a store nearby where you can choose things from among a large display inventory just to try. Reviews on a $70 item are always going to mixed even if it's a $70 chocolate bar. Also just think for a minute how well a device powered by a 9-volt battery is going to perform in its task of providing 48-V phantom power to a microphone. Of course that's possible and not all that difficult, but still probably not ideal. So, I would just go for it and see how it works for you. PS the idea that such a device needs vacuum tubes inside it to function properly is a total joke.
August 4, 2019, 9:15 AM · Elise, yes I've used it once or twice for live performance with an Accusound microphone and it seemed fine. I was using it more for phantom power than as a preamp. I picked one up second hand for about $25. I'm not saying it's the best thing, just a place to start. You can upgrade the tube inside but then you may as well buy something more expensive. There are better options. For a little more you could buy a small mixer with phantom power:

A mixer will always be handy!

August 4, 2019, 12:36 PM · I don't think the Mackie mixer is battery-powered. I'm guessing Elise went with a battery-powered mini-PA system for a reason...

By the way I went to a jam session last night with my violin and my pre-amp was dead ... my daughter has been using it a lot with her cello ever since I bought her a looper pedal! Fortunately I had a spare battery in my bag, and in a week's time she'll have her own pre-amp.

Edited: August 4, 2019, 12:45 PM · I don't know if it's too late, or if it's already been written:
the Audio-Technica ATM-350 mic that i've been using since 2010 is properly powered by my Headway EDB-1 preamp, that puts out 18V phantom power.

So, the advices here are two:
- the ATM-350 needs less powered than the DPA mic
- if you need phantom power and a further control (notch filter included) the Headway preamp could be your ticket.

August 4, 2019, 5:21 PM · Notch filter (anti feedback) and eq are nice features but you can get those on a powered speaker too. The headway preamp weighs 500 g, that's a bit to carry on your belt. Lots of choices out there.
August 4, 2019, 6:49 PM · Who said that the preamp has to be attached to a belt?........
Edited: August 4, 2019, 7:41 PM · Probably has been answered already, but David Garrett is using a DPA.

For myself, I use an ATM350 digital wireless system. I actually take the clip off, and place the mic under the tailpiece (in part) directly on the violin. I opted for this because it enabled me to do some of the effects needed in tango nuevo that are behind the bridge. The wire goes to the pack attached on my belt, but there is no ground wire. The wireless box is plugged directly in a board and is super easy to mix in. The advantages is that the sound is totally natural since it, and there is not mic interference/pick-up from any other instruments around. Not the cheapest kit, but by far the best sounding option possible that I have tried (and safest).

Hope this helps…


August 4, 2019, 9:58 PM · Belt-mounting is very convenient -- if you wear belts! My pre-amp clips to my belt or my music stand. There is no point having a volume knob on your pre-amp if you can't reach it while you are playing. Well you can have a volume pedal too I guess.

Look at the Fishman Platinum Stage. $150 at Amazon. Battery powered (or AC adapter). 48 V phantom power. Three-band EQ on the device plus a low-frequency filter. Weighs 300 g. Belt clip included.

August 5, 2019, 3:48 AM · Mr Deck, so you judge a belt-attached device as more confortable ?
How do you reach the right knob? Do you have to look at it from above? Is it easy with the bow in your hand?
Who said that, especially a woman, is wearing a sufficient wide belt? :)

On the contrary, the Headway preamps can be screwed to a microphone stand, for example, if one does not want to keep them on the floor.

And don't forget the usefulness, live, of a serious notch filter.
Fishman had a preamp with a fixed frequency the last time i looked at them, which is laughable :D

August 5, 2019, 7:55 AM · I've NEVER used a mic (attached to the violin). I've been miced many times.
If I can't carry to the back of whatever hall I'm playing in, I'm in the wrong job!
August 5, 2019, 9:00 AM · Mr. Turner, maybe sometimes (very often in my case) someone has to provide sound reinforcement for his own ensemble, especially in small venues.
And not all violin gigs are acoustic or classical music oriented.

I love when i have to carry nothing or very small things. These are a few lucky occasions ....... :)

August 5, 2019, 12:02 PM · Malcom - perhaps you should try playing when most of the audience is talking or moving carts or groceries :D

I have no problem with an auditorium - everyone was polite and shut up - but you could still be bothered by one cough. Also, the auditorium is designed to carry your sound out, and suppress what little collective noise the audience might make.

August 5, 2019, 12:03 PM · Here's the feedback from the manufacturer of the DPA on phantom power for those interested:
"The 12v your amp is suppling is fine. Its needs 5-50v or phantom in order to work to spec."


August 5, 2019, 12:26 PM · What's a few volts? LOL
Edited: August 5, 2019, 1:08 PM · Marco, the notch filter, the ease of mounting the pre-amp on a mic stand, etc., I agree with you. The fact is, there's lot of these devices to choose from and they all have pros and cons. The Fishman Platinum Stage has a selectable low-cut and an adjustable-frequency mid tone control (the same as a notch filter in principle but the width of the band may differ). Remember this whole discussion was originated by someone who bought a battery-powered amplifier. That suggests wanting to travel light and have as few things "on stage" to deal with as possible. But women don't usually wear belts nearly as often as men, that's true too! And I didn't say belt-mounting was comfortable, I said it was convenient. And I said it would be certainly less comfortable with a 500-g preamp compared to something lighter (mine weighs around 150 g). Because it's light, mine also clips easily to my folding music stand, that's really the ideal configuration for me, since usually I'm using a fake book or a gig book anyway.

My particular pre-amp only has one knob (it's homemade; I use it only for gain), so I know which one I'm turning. And if you look at the Baggs Gigpro (a very minimal device) the volume knob is quite distinct from the others, you'd get use to that pretty quick. A volume pedal solves all of that, but that's yet another thing to deal with.

Malcolm there's lots of situations where you need amplification. I once went to an old-time jam session where it was advertised as "entirely unplugged -- don't bring an amplifier" so I didn't, and when I got there, I saw a keyboard player and a guitar player and a mando player, all running wireless pickups into a Peavey board, and twelve other people standing around with guitars, basses, and mandos. I knew immediately that I would never be heard in that room, and my violin didn't come out of its case as a result.

August 7, 2019, 8:27 PM · Bought the DPA!

Will report back....

Edited: August 8, 2019, 11:49 AM · I got a DPA 4099 last year, and it's great. You can position the mic higher away from the violin to get a more natural sound, or put it closer if you're in a situation more prone to feedback. I find angling it at 45 degrees to the violin top gives a better sound that pointing it straight down. I see a lot of performers using this mic. I saw Jean Luc Ponty use one, but it looked a little different. Turns out it's the DPA 4011, which costs about three times as much as the 4099. Not sure how much difference in sound quality there is, although the DPA website says the 4011 has the most natural sound.

DPA has a video on mic placement and how it affects the sound:

It used four different mics, though, so it's hard to compare the placements exactly. The one using the 4011 does sound the most natural, to my ears, even though the placement is affecting what gets captured.

I have to say, Elise, that the 4099 sounds perfect for what you're looking for — something to just boost the natural sound. With my 4099 in a smallish room, the sound is just like my violin but louder. Of course, I can crank it up when playing with drums and electric guitars, and then it cuts through everything just fine but loses some of the transparency.

Also, I agree that the Art Tube MP is a great little preamp if you need to supply your own phantom power. It has a very natural sound, and is very affordable.

August 8, 2019, 7:18 PM · Thanks Michael - in particular for the placement video link. I have to fool around with that a bit. Later I'll try it with my gig amp....
Edited: August 9, 2019, 12:31 PM · Elise, there's a misunderstanding somewhere in your communication with dpa about required phantom power voltages. The 4099 for phantom powering comes with a preamp/impedance matching device that's built into the XLR plug, and that does require 48+/-4 volts to operate at full performance specifications. I don't doubt that it will "work" at 9 volts, but you won't get anywhere near full design performance.

But that preamp can be removed and replaced with a wide variety of wireless system adapters that will fully function at 5-50 volts as provided by the different brands/models of wireless transmitters that each adapter is designed to match. That may have been what your dpa correspondent was referring to.

I don't mean to alarm you, and I'm sure you'll be able to work this out, but it won't be as simple as you're imagining. Maybe you should consider wireless? It's nice, but there goes some more money. I'm thinking about it myself.

(Note that my Fishman Loudbox Artist provides 24 volts of phantom power, and it works well enough with my dpa 4099, but there's a big difference between 9 and 24 volts. And it's always been a mystery to me why Fishman chose to provide 24 volts, when it would have been so easy to provide a full 48.)

Edited: August 9, 2019, 12:45 PM · I should also point out that I corresponded with an engineer rep from Remic violin microphones (another Danish company) and asked this very question, would their mics work with the 24 volts my Fishman amp provides, and he was adamant that it would not yield full design performance, but it would work if I was willing to accept a slightly reduced performance. And he furthermore said that that will be true for ALL condenser microphones, regardless of the manufacturer. Reducing the phantom power voltage will compromise the performance, and reducing it more will compromise the performance even more.

These audio engineers are "artiste's," and I think they find it annoying that, after having spent years wringing out the best possible performance from a microphone that they can get, the end users power them with inadequate voltages and all that hard earned performance falls off a cliff.

August 12, 2019, 4:34 PM · I have a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB preamp, and it provides 48V of phantom power.

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