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Recording Cello with limitations
Old 6th January 2013
  #1
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Recording Cello with limitations

I want to record a cello, but have several limitations...

1) Have to record at home in untreated rooms (large bedroom, bathroom, or walk-in closet)
2) Budget equipment:
  • Focusrite Saffire 40 Pro interface/preamps
  • ART Dual Tube Pre preamp
  • Shure SM57
  • Shure SM58
  • Audio-Technica ATM25
  • MXL 990 condenser (large diaphragm)
  • MXL 991 condenser (pencil)
  • Karma Silver Bullets

I've been told that room is even more important than usual when recording bowed strings. Are there ways I could arrange a bedroom to make the best out of the acoustics for a cello?

Also, what do you recommend for mic placement? I was thinking of maybe the ATM25 near the bridge pointed up, and then the 990 a foot or so away from the body. Thoughts? I have no experience recording bowed strings.
Old 6th January 2013
  #2
Lives for gear
 
king2070lplaya's Avatar
Is there any way to get another atm25? Or to borrow a pair of quality sdc's (km184, Beyerdynamic mc930, etc?) the cello doesn't really need 2 different perspectives, unless you are in a big room and the second perspective is a room perspective. I would use a pair of sdc's, spaced about 20-30cm and parallel to one another, a few (3-5) feet in front of the instrument. Treat the room as much as possible to kill the bad reflections, which are what will kill your sound. Pan these 2 mics hard L and R and the sound will be fabulous.
Old 6th January 2013
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Could you tell us a little more about what you are working on? How you want to record it will really depend on how you want it to fit into your mix.
Old 6th January 2013 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya ➑️
Is there any way to get another atm25? Or to borrow a pair of quality sdc's (km184, Beyerdynamic mc930, etc?)
Let's assume only the equipment I mentioned. I actually have a few other dynamic mic's, but nothing I imagine would suit this application.

Quote:
Treat the room as much as possible to kill the bad reflections, which are what will kill your sound.
What in particular? Should I just try to do my best to make it a "dead" room?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warfunkel ➑️
Could you tell us a little more about what you are working on? How you want to record it will really depend on how you want it to fit into your mix.
It is a rock ballad lead by piano and vocals. There's a stronger rhythm during verses with the help of drums/guitar/bass and they all play during the chorus but it's more wide open. I want to add a cello counterpart to the intro (which is just piano and vocals) and have it come back to fill out and build up the chorus more.
Old 6th January 2013
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
djmj's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin_B ➑️
I want to record a cello, but have several limitations...

1) Have to record at home in untreated rooms (large bedroom, bathroom, or walk-in closet)
2) Budget equipment:
  • Focusrite Saffire 40 Pro interface/preamps
  • ART Dual Tube Pre preamp
  • Shure SM57
  • Shure SM58
  • Audio-Technica ATM25
  • MXL 990 condenser (large diaphragm)
  • MXL 991 condenser (pencil)
  • Karma Silver Bullets

I've been told that room is even more important than usual when recording bowed strings. Are there ways I could arrange a bedroom to make the best out of the acoustics for a cello?

Also, what do you recommend for mic placement? I was thinking of maybe the ATM25 near the bridge pointed up, and then the 990 a foot or so away from the body. Thoughts? I have no experience recording bowed strings.

Hi, I would put a few blankets on the walls and a thick carpet where the cello is gonna be. I would use the ATM25 pretty close maybe 2-4" away from the bridge. There is all aqoustics and alot of low freq, hence I choise that mic. I would use the MXL 990 further away, maybe 2-3 feet from the bow, try to capture the high mids.
The Focusrite is a dual channel preamp? Then I only use that one.
Cheers.
Johan
Old 6th January 2013
  #6
Gear Addict
 
RoadToNever's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
How about sticking an pincil mic under the bridge and add the room in post?
Old 6th January 2013
  #7
Lives for gear
 
king2070lplaya's Avatar
No need to overthink this, you'd be surprised how far 1 mic or a stereo pair in the same place can get you ;-). Typically you use a stereo pair for solo capture of that instrument, but 1 mic in the same place will work just fine. Don't put it too close, the instrument is made to be heard a few to a few dozen feet away. Not like a guitar cab.... Or wait, is it.....?
Old 7th January 2013 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya ➑️
Don't put it too close, the instrument is made to be heard a few to a few dozen feet away. Not like a guitar cab.... Or wait, is it.....?
Probably not a few dozen, but yeah, imagine a small recital hall. That sound is ideal, but obviously isn't the acoustics that a bedroom is going to be able to duplicate.
Old 10th January 2013
  #9
Gear Addict
 
skinnypete's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Subscribed. I will be recording cello in an untreated room in the near future as well.

Is there any use for him using an SM-57 for the low end, along with the condenser? That has worked for me somewhat on arco double bass, but maybe since cello is higher pitched that doesn't come into play. Not a suggestion but a question really.
Old 10th January 2013 | Show parent
  #10
S21
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S21's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadToNever ➑️
How about sticking an pincil mic under the bridge and add the room in post?
+1
Old 10th January 2013 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by skinnypete ➑️
Is there any use for him using an SM-57 for the low end, along with the condenser? That has worked for me somewhat on arco double bass, but maybe since cello is higher pitched that doesn't come into play. Not a suggestion but a question really.
SM57 isn't particular to low end. Actually, quite the opposite, it rolls off a bit on the lower frequencies:


The ATM25 on the other hand is made for lower frequency applications, and this is reflected in its response:


The standard cello tuning is (from low to high): C2, G2, D3, A3 so I think the ATM25 should do a better job at the lower registers. Even the highest string is at 220 Hz when open so most cello root notes will be in that area of the SM57's frequency response chart that has a moderate fall-off.
Old 11th January 2013
  #12
Gear Addict
 
skinnypete's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin_B ➑️
SM57 isn't particular to low end. Actually, quite the opposite, it rolls off a bit on the lower frequencies:


The ATM25 on the other hand is made for lower frequency applications, and this is reflected in its response:


The standard cello tuning is (from low to high): C2, G2, D3, A3 so I think the ATM25 should do a better job at the lower registers. Even the highest string is at 220 Hz when open so most cello root notes will be in that area of the SM57's frequency response chart that has a moderate fall-off.
Thats interesting to see the charts like that. I played a gig tonight with the bass miced with a 57, right to the PA. I had to boost the treble on the PA like all the way up, and back off the bass and mids. It definitely didnt seem like there was a big spike around 7k or so? Weird. I have always assumed that those mics were much less open in the highs, based on what i was hearing.

But yeah it sounds like the ATM25 is a better mic for the job all around. For what its worth though, as you probably already know the cello doesnt have much fundamental on the lower notes, its mostly the higher harmonics.

Sent from my Droid
Old 11th January 2013
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
1 ATM25. Get two pairs of headphones. Give one to the cellist, and ask them to play their part along to the track while they monitor. Put the other one on yourself. Turn the monitoring volume up a touch louder than the cello would normally be in the final mix. While the cellist is playing the part over and over, move the microphone around until you hit a "sweet spot".

I would recommend this as it has worked very well for me in the past. Positioning the mic without listening back until it sounds good might without being in context with the existing mix may not translate well, I've noticed this many times.

Also, stereo pairs of SDC haven't been overly useful in the past. I just stick one mic in there now and away it goes, always sounds great! Ribbon mics work well btw, even a cheap one like the apex 205, also more forgiving with positioning...but that ATM25 will treat you nicely! Don't overthink and definitely don't overprocess the cello. This is done all the time.

My wife is professional cellist, so I've got a fair bit of experience getting a nice recorded sound out of the instrument over the last little while, lots of experimenting has led me to this conclusion: keep it simple!
Old 11th January 2013 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by audibleobsession ➑️
1 ATM25. Get two pairs of headphones. Give one to the cellist, and ask them to play their part along to the track while they monitor. Put the other one on yourself. Turn the monitoring volume up a touch louder than the cello would normally be in the final mix. While the cellist is playing the part over and over, move the microphone around until you hit a "sweet spot".

I would recommend this as it has worked very well for me in the past. Positioning the mic without listening back until it sounds good might without being in context with the existing mix may not translate well, I've noticed this many times.

Also, stereo pairs of SDC haven't been overly useful in the past. I just stick one mic in there now and away it goes, always sounds great! Ribbon mics work well btw, even a cheap one like the apex 205, also more forgiving with positioning...but that ATM25 will treat you nicely! Don't overthink and definitely don't overprocess the cello. This is done all the time.

My wife is professional cellist, so I've got a fair bit of experience getting a nice recorded sound out of the instrument over the last little while, lots of experimenting has led me to this conclusion: keep it simple!
Thanks, that's great advice. From your experience, did it work better to record in a relatively "dead" area, or to take advantage of wall reflections?
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