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Recording Sax with 2 mics (Bell and Side)
Old 1st April 2021
Recording Sax with 2 mics (Bell and Side)


I'm working on a recording assignment for a class that I'm taking and I could use some advice on close micing a saxophone with 2 microphones in terms of potential positions and decreasing any phase issues.

Since this is a close micing exercise, and my room is not that great, I'm using 2 mics in this case versus 1 microphone at a mid-zone distance.

I'm planning to use a Gefell UMT70s near the Bell and a Shure KSM32 on the Side.

For the Side mic, I'm assuming that I would place the mic on the right side of the sax (Facing the Sax). Is that correct?

Also, how do I lessen any phase issues between the mics?
Old 4 weeks ago
Lives for gear
๐ŸŽง 5 years
I don't think there is a "correct" left or right side. When close mic'ing and especially using 2x close mics on a single instrument the main focus is phase and also the tone of each mic.

So start with the bell mic, and listen. Move that mic around and try a few different things until that mic sounds the way you want it to.

Add in the side mic and do the same thing.

Then you'll have to listen to both of them at the same time panned right down the middle both mics. The first thing I will say is...If the sound you get like that is great and what you want...Then it actually doesn't matter if there are phase "issues". Phase is always considered a bad thing. But truthfully all that matters is that you are happy with the sound.

If you don't love the sound together, or think it could be better then what I would do is while listening to both mics together, flip the phase of the side mic, see if it sounds better or worse. If flipping the phase gives you more body and low end then you definitely have some phase issues.

At this point I would start moving around the side mic until you get something that sounds great without needing to flip polarity of the side mic.

The best option is to fix it at the source. Move the mics around and listen. Mic placement is always king so things like phase flip or time aligning tracks in your DAW. Those types of solutions are great tools for a mix engineer that was given files that are not recorded well or were recorded in a rush or without attention to proper mic placement. However, for those who have the time and opportunity, take the time to move the mics and get the best sound rom the source you can.

Another thing is to be aware of walls and reflective surfaces around the player and the mics. If your room is small, then you will likely want to also put up some blankets cause you can get some phase issues from not only multiple mics, but also from reflections into a single mic.
Old 4 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Progger's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Excellent advice from Korcraft.

I'm a saxophonist and I do quite a bit of session work, particularly remote work where I'm recording myself. Typically, I only use one mic, an LDC (u87) a couple feet in front of me, raised up to the height of my palm keys, and angled down ever so slightly. But like Korcraft says, experimenting and listening is the only way to do it, since every player, room, and instrument are different. The saxophone is very much like a human voice, tons of variation in sound between musicians.

When I have been double-miked, the two capsules have usually been close together, and then blended for tone rather than space; otherwise, it'll be a close LDC and a far ribbon for some room vibe.

However, in this excellent recording of Michael Brecker, you can see three mics on him: a u67 and Coles very close together, right in front of him, and then what looks like maybe a TLM170(?) angled off to his right a bit. Of course, Brecker could get whatever he wanted, and deserved it!

But you have two nice mics that should sound really cool on saxophone. I'm curious how it goes. Good luck!
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
Lives for gear
Originally Posted by Progger โžก๏ธ
I only use one mic, an LDC (u87) a couple feet in front of me
i do the same.

99% of the time.

87s are great for sax.
Old 4 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Progger's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I agree! I've gotten to record with almost all the heavyweight mics over the years (44, 47, 67, 251) and on me personally, for whatever reason, the u87 works best. So much that I bought my own for tracking at home. Nice bonus that it costs less than the others, not that it isn't expensive.
Old 4 weeks ago
Lives for gear
๐ŸŽง 10 years
are you required to use two mics?

the gefell is way better than the shure. why mix fine wine with cheap box wine?

brass instruments often sound great mono, especially if you are going to stack brass instruments together. the gefell has figure-8, which will cut out a lot of garbage coming from the ceiling, floor, and side walls. figure-8 has strong proximity, so try placing the mic back about 18 inches.

i would personally spend all of my time figuring out how to get the gefell to work rather than burdening myself with an inferior second mic.
Old 4 weeks ago
Gear Guru
Brent Hahn's Avatar
1 Review written
๐ŸŽง 15 years
One reason to use one mic on a sax is because sax players tend to move a lot. Especially if they're standing.
Old 3 weeks ago
Sorry for the late reply.

Appreciate the advice!

The assignment didn't technically mean I had to use 2 mics but that was the recommendation in my situation. I had to plan for it and then execute against the plan and then discuss the results.

The 2 mics blended pretty well and I got an A.

If I were to do in again in the future, I think I would use 1 mic at a mid-distance. I might try Omni or Figure 8 as was suggested.

Thanks again!
Old 3 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Progger's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 10 years
That Gefell in Omni would probably sound excellent on a good saxophonist in a good room. Worth trying out, for sure! Glad to hear the project went well, nice job.
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