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Recording brass and woodwinds
Old 23rd September 2012
  #1
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secret secret's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Recording brass and woodwinds

Lately I've been recording a fair number of brass and woodwind instruments (clarinet, flute, piccolo, bass clarinet, trumpet, flugel horn, trombone) for a project. I don't have a lot of experience recording any of these instruments, so I started by combing the archives here and other places on the net to get some basic idea of which mics to use and where to put them. I have the luxury of recording the instruments one at a time, but don't have the luxury to be able to take a lot of time experimenting with lots of different mics and positions. So... what I've been doing is putting up 6-8 mics in various positions for each session, and tracking all of them. I make careful note of which mics were in which position going through which pre, and then when it comes time to mix, I listen to each of the mics and find which one(s) I like best, often selecting two or three to use in combination. Obviously, I can't use all them because it's a massive phase nightmare. I've discovered that while some mics are clearly losers (SM57 on flute... I swear I found that suggestion on GS) the mic(s) that I end up using vary from piece to piece, even with the same player in the same session. So... It's not hurting anything doing it this way (at least I don't think it is!) but I also feel there's got to be a better way to go about this, because I've seen sessions happening at other studios where they don't have a whole mess of mics up for each instrument. I'm certainly open to suggestions.

Maybe if there's enough interest, I should post clips of each instrument through each mic along with my notes about the pres used and mic position as a public service....
Old 23rd September 2012
  #2
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🎧 10 years
You'd be better off using condenser mics. If you can afford a few of these it would make things a little easier:

Audio-Technica PRO 35 | Sweetwater.com

If you wanted to record everything at once you have the option of deca tree or X-Y.

As for where to put then, you want them near the bell/sound hole, depending on how you angle the mic you can pick up or reject more or less finger noise as well.
Old 23rd September 2012 | Show parent
  #3
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by AstralPStudios ➑️
You'd be better off using condenser mics. If you can afford a few of these it would make things a little easier:

Audio-Technica PRO 35 | Sweetwater.com

If you wanted to record everything at once you have the option of deca tree or X-Y.

As for where to put then, you want them near the bell/sound hole, depending on how you angle the mic you can pick up or reject more or less finger noise as well.
I actually had condensors up for every session. I mentioned the SM-57 only as an example of a mic I put up but ended up hating in that application. I used a Neumann TLM-103 (sounded pretty good on almost everything), and Oktava MK-012s (nice on the flute and clarinet), and tried a CAD M179 during one session (another loser).

I also used an EV RE-20 on some sessions (worked for some trumpet stuff, but not most of it) a Fat Head 2 (o.k. on some trombone stuff, great on a few trumpet things, lousy on the rest), a pair of Beyer Dynamic M-160s (o.k. on some flute stuff, worked sometimes on Trumpet, so-so on the rest) Sennheiser MD-421 (good in certain instances on trombone, not good on anything else) and even had a Beta 52 up for the trombone and bass clarinet sessions (didn't care for the sound, however.)

As for position, I generally preferred the closer positions, but found the somewhat more distant positions (about five feet) very effective when recording an orchestral cinematic piece with a very high, soaring trumpet solo.

Have you gotten good results with the AT Pro 35? I have never tried them, but I'm open to suggestions if they're cool. Judging by the price, they look a little low-end. I try to keep an open mind, but I've never heard a single AT mic that i liked. I dunno what the deal is. Probably just me.
Old 23rd September 2012
  #4
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The Pro-35 is flat and sounds awesome. Don't be fooled into the whole "just because it has a good price tag it's bad" propaganda. It'd be like saying because 57s are $99.00 new they're bad. We all know they aren't . CAD is terrible. Oktava and Neumann get thumbs up.

All of those other mics...they're not made for brass and winds and won't pick up the nuances you want out of those particular instruments and seeing as how they're dynamics you're going to get a lot of excess low end. RE-20 = my all time fave vocal mic. Also great for guitar cabs, but brass...not so much.
Old 23rd September 2012 | Show parent
  #5
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secret secret's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by AstralPStudios ➑️
The Pro-35 is flat and sounds awesome. Don't be fooled into the whole "just because it has a good price tag it's bad" propaganda. It'd be like saying because 57s are $99.00 new they're bad. We all know they aren't . CAD is terrible. Oktava and Neumann get thumbs up.

All of those other mics...they're not made for brass and winds and won't pick up the nuances you want out of those particular instruments and seeing as how they're dynamics you're going to get a lot of excess low end. RE-20 = my all time fave vocal mic. Also great for guitar cabs, but brass...not so much.
I'll check out the Pro-35. At that price, I can easily pick one up.

Yes, the CAD179 is consistently lame. I bought three b/c I liked how they sounded in the epic drum mic shoot out elsewhere on GS, and I have used them successfully in that capacity, but have yet to find even one other application in which they are even tolerable. I don't ever record vocals (weird, I know), so I've not tried the RE-20 in that capacity, but I've heard over and over again that it's awesome in other capacities. I've put it up over and over in my studio and have yet to find any application where it really shines.

I read over and over again on GS how lots of pros like a royer 121 at close distance for brass. Any thoughts about using ribbon mics for brass and/or a fav mic in that dept.?
Old 23rd September 2012
  #6
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You can use the 20 for other stuff but it has to be vocals, cabs, even some SFX, low endy things benefit well from it.

As for ribbons, I don't own any and have never really used any. Dynamic/Condensers are pretty much all I need.
Old 1st October 2012
  #7
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🎧 15 years
I'm a session brass guy and yeah the Royers are very popular for trumpet. Not my favorite of all time (they tend to be a little too smooth for my preference - Id go with RCA or Coles first) but a solid choice. Basically if the trumpet player has a bright sound (usually coinciding with a silver played horn) Ribbon is def the way to go. If condenser 47/48 are great, 87 is solid, but TLM 170 is probably best case scenario for big 70s cop show trumpet. Any of these work for trombone too, but then so do cheaper condensers as the high end hype is generally useful on a trombone, not so on a trumpet. For more economic options Fathead is decent sounding ribbon for cheap, and Little Blondies makes a mic called the Havana which sounds great and often is the go to over my RCA if I want a little more snap and bite, not to mention breathy/spitty sounds.
Old 1st October 2012 | Show parent
  #8
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by amanitas ➑️
I'm a session brass guy and yeah the Royers are very popular for trumpet. Not my favorite of all time (they tend to be a little too smooth for my preference - Id go with RCA or Coles first) but a solid choice. Basically if the trumpet player has a bright sound (usually coinciding with a silver played horn) Ribbon is def the way to go. If condenser 47/48 are great, 87 is solid, but TLM 170 is probably best case scenario for big 70s cop show trumpet. Any of these work for trombone too, but then so do cheaper condensers as the high end hype is generally useful on a trombone, not so on a trumpet. For more economic options Fathead is decent sounding ribbon for cheap, and Little Blondies makes a mic called the Havana which sounds great and often is the go to over my RCA if I want a little more snap and bite, not to mention breathy/spitty sounds.
Thanks for sharing your insights! It's always really useful to hear from someone who is a brass player how they get the sound that sounds right to them. I just looked on the little blondie website (Little Blondie Mics) but I don't see any references to the Havana. I'd be interested to check it out.
Old 1st October 2012
  #9
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
brass and woodwind recording

I would suggest you to use ribbon mics on brass, 1-2 feet in front of the source (depending on the tone, the room etc). You can also put a condenser a few feet behind the ribbon to get the reflections coming from the room, if your room sound good. Ribbon will give you a warm tone and a good ratio attack/envelope of the sound.

Finally I suggest to rather record these instruments in parts, not in solo....that's what's make the "sound" of a brass section. Recording each instruments in solo give you a less natural sound of the ensemble.

Hope it helps.
Old 1st October 2012 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soundofamind ➑️
Finally I suggest to rather record these instruments in parts, not in solo....that's what's make the "sound" of a brass section. Recording each instruments in solo give you a less natural sound of the ensemble.

Hope it helps.
Thanks for the advice. I like the idea of recording brass in sections where appropriate. A lot of the brass parts on this last album were solos, so it worked out o.k. to record one at a time. I'm also working with such razor thin budgets for each of these projects that it was cheaper to do one at a time so that no one was sitting around waiting for their turn to play...
Old 2nd October 2012
  #11
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🎧 15 years
Yeah not sure if the Havana is in production or not... might only be a special order kind of thing, but I gotta say it sounds fantastic on brass.

All the horns on this song are recorded with a Havana into Chandler Germanium, a particularly great pairing with that mic pre I think. Also pretty sure we used the same combo on the vocals on this tune (plus a lot of effects which you can hear). Second chorus (1:30) is where the horn arrangement really gets happening.

One Time In Your Life | DRGN LYZR
Old 2nd October 2012
  #12
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🎧 15 years
Also check out around 2:15 in this tune. Another example of the Havana/Germanium on trumpet and trombone.

Sweet Candy Heart | DRGN LYZR
Old 2nd October 2012 | Show parent
  #13
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by amanitas ➑️
All the horns on this song are recorded with a Havana into Chandler Germanium, a particularly great pairing with that mic pre I think. Also pretty sure we used the same combo on the vocals on this tune (plus a lot of effects which you can hear). Second chorus (1:30) is where the horn arrangement really gets happening.

One Time In Your Life | DRGN LYZR
Really a great pop brass section sound. I do more cinematic orchestral stuff myself, but you certainly nailed that sound.
Old 6th October 2012 | Show parent
  #14
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by secret secret ➑️
Really a great pop brass section sound. I do more cinematic orchestral stuff myself, but you certainly nailed that sound.
Thanks! I think probably the trumpet I used (not to mention the arrangement) has more to do with the 'pop' sound vs. the orchestral sound - I'm playing a 60s large bore Martin Committee on this stuff, which I think is the same kind of horn dude from Tower of Power used to play (not to mention Miles Davis ), which I think is probably why the character is more on the pop side (although way back in the day Armando Ghitala used to play a Committee).

Carina Round Backseat (Official Video) - YouTube

This song is all Bach Stradivarius trumpet, definitely on the more orchestral side of things. Of course it's a different room, mic and pre (think this is a coles 4038 into an API) but more than anything I think the character of the actual trumpet sound itself is very different and more in the orchestral realm.

That said I don't usually use my Havana with my Bach Strad as it's a very bright horn and the Havana tends to pick up a little too much of the top end, I'd rather have a ribbon for that. So yeah might not be the best mic for your application, but then again if the trumpet player has a darker sound, or you pair it with a darker pre (although I'd say the Germ is a kind of dark-ish pre) it could be a good option...
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