Tips for Recording Brass

Trumpet, bugle, cornet, and flugelhorn work well with a large diaphragm dynamic mic placed about 2′ in front of the bell.

Trombone, bass trombone, and baritone work well with a large diaphragm condenser mic placed about 2′ from the bell.

Tuba, sousaphone, and euphonium work well a large diaphragm dynamic or condenser.

These lower frequency instruments need to be mic’d farther away in order for the sound wave to develop. Mic too close and you will not get a good balance the lower frequencies.

French horn or horn (as it is called today) is a very different animal. So much of the sound is controlled by placement of the hand in the bell. The sound is very mellow not much attack. Use a large diaphragm condenser placed about 18” in front of the bell.

What are your favorite techniques for recording brass?

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Tips for Recording Strings

Usually a string “date” involves 2 or 3 violins, viola, cello & violin bass. A nice medium size room works really well with the players arranged in a semi circle. Mic the instruments individually using high quality condenser mics. Mic the violins and viola from overhead, the cello and bass about 18” in front of the “F” hole. If you don’t have enough mics for the instruments you can also use a stereo pair and mic it like an ensemble. Pay attention to balance and move the players forward and backward, in relation to the microphone, to achieve the desired balance between the different instruments.

Great Mix Recording MilwaukeeSolo instruments: Violin, Viola, mic from overhead using either a small condenser or a ribbon about 18” above the bridge area. Most of the sound comes from the body, like an acoustic guitar. Watch out for bowing angles from the player.

Cello, use a large diaphragm condenser about 18” from one of the “F” holes. Aiming the mic towards the lower body will give you more of a mellow sound, while aiming towards the bridge/fingerboard will give you more of an aggressive/bitey sound.

Violin bass/double bass/acoustic bass, is very similar to the cello. For live sound or recordings using a bridge pickup or a hyper cardioid dynamic mic will keep feedback at a minimum.

These tips will also work quite well with other string instruments as well. Zither, mandolin, auto harp and the like.

What are your favorite string recording techniques?

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Recording Piano

The piano is also one of the most difficult instruments to get a great sound from. There are so many harmonics and playing styles to work around. You need to know the genre of music/style that the piano will be doing. Also, how the player plays it. Light? Aggressive? Dynamic? Rock? Country? Classical? Jazz? Yikes!!!!! 😛

Solo piano will require a pair of condensers aimed at the side of the piano where the lid opens up. And most likely the lid will be fully open for this type of playing. Mics need to be about 6 feet away, a couple of feet above the strings, one on the player end and one near the opposite end. You are looking for a balanced sound in low to high frequencies. Rock piano usually has more hammer sound to it so you can get closer to the strings. An XY configuration over the bridge area or split mics to cover the lows and highs works well.

What are YOUR favorite piano recording techniques?

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Recording Live Jazz

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band makes the first jazz recordings.Typically you will not need to use many mics for this style of drum set. The kick is not the main time-keeper. The hat or bass keeps the time. The snare is played with lots of dynamics and accents. The kick is also used to accent the rhythm. A stereo pair over the drummers seating area and maybe a mic on the front of the kick 2 to 4 inches is all you’ll need. It’s about the whole sound of the drum set not the individual drums, like in rock. Do not even think of trying to muffle the drums. You will get evil looks from the drummer. 😉

What are YOUR favorite live jazz recording techniques?

. Record . Mix . Master . Music .
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