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Recording sax

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Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:01 pm
by Bob Bickerton
CS70 wrote:But.. hold on, the M201 is not very expensive.. this is tempting! Damn! :D

In any case, I am thinking a 58 over a 57.

Go on you know you need a new microphone!

And just to tempt you further:

Hypercardioid dynamic mic, can handle very high SPL. Useful for snare drum, freak high-SPL situations where you still need good midrange clarity. If the SM57 were a microphone, it would sound like this some magazine (not SOS)

Bob

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:30 pm
by CS70
Bob Bickerton wrote: If the SM57 were a microphone, it would sound like this

:mrgreen:

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:49 pm
by ore_terra
And I’d add: it’s small so you can place it anywhere quite easily!

With a 90 deg XLR you’d be surprised how little space from hi hat to snare you need to place a M201 :-D

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:53 pm
by CS70
Well, session done - always a bit stressful with location recording and suddenly a USB cable which didn't seem to want to collaborate. I was sweating bucks for a few minutes but luckily a change of port did the trick.

The combo U87 and 4047 is really good. Alone, the 87 outshined the 4047 - was actually the first time I thought the 87 was really great on something! It sounded perfect out of the box.

The room was very controlled and sounded pretty uniform - a little dead perhaps but better that than the opposite. After testing various position in the end I simply had the player face one of the huge bass traps columns and we called it a day. The 4047 was at "body" level and looking a little down, the 87 was a little higher (at mouth level) and at slight angle on the floor (maybe 10 degrees) but looking straight. Perhaps the slight inclination of the 4047 was detrimental to the sound. It's not sounding bad, but it would need more processing, alone, to get a produced sound - at least one right for the track..

I kept the two mics near each other to avoid phase problems if I wanted to use both, and it turned to be a good idea since I did (use both).

As last time, I'm amazed at how noisy the mechanical keys of the sax are when standing nearby recording, and how the clicks completely disappear on the recording itself.

Now I've spent 10 minutes comping and mixing, and using both mics, with hard panning left and right and reverse-panned reverbs sounds pretty amazing. As said, the 87 alone sounds good, but adding the other microphone really makes things 3D.. the two sounds complement each other very well. Slight compression with my LA2A, added a tiny bit of stereo reverb, and that's it.

Since we had limited time, we never tried the dynamic microphone, but luckily dont feel i missed anything.

Now the challenge is upping the game on the rest of the parts :)

Thanks everyone who took time to respond.

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:48 am
by hobbyist
CS70 wrote:Well, session done - always a bit stressful with location recording and suddenly a USB cable which didn't seem to want to collaborate. I was sweating bucks for a few minutes but luckily a change of port did the trick.

The combo U87 and 4047 is really good. Alone, the 87 outshined the 4047 - was actually the first time I thought the 87 was really great on something! It sounded perfect out of the box.

The room was very controlled and sounded pretty uniform - a little dead perhaps but better that than the opposite. After testing various position in the end I simply had the player face one of the huge bass traps columns and we called it a day. The 4047 was at "body" level and looking a little down, the 87 was a little higher (at mouth level) and at slight angle on the floor (maybe 10 degrees) but looking straight. Perhaps the slight inclination of the 4047 was detrimental to the sound. It's not sounding bad, but it would need more processing, alone, to get a produced sound - at least one right for the track..

I kept the two mics near each other to avoid phase problems if I wanted to use both, and it turned to be a good idea since I did (use both).

As last time, I'm amazed at how noisy the mechanical keys of the sax are when standing nearby recording, and how the clicks completely disappear on the recording itself.

Now I've spent 10 minutes comping and mixing, and using both mics, with hard panning left and right and reverse-panned reverbs sounds pretty amazing. As said, the 87 alone sounds good, but adding the other microphone really makes things 3D.. the two sounds complement each other very well. Slight compression with my LA2A, added a tiny bit of stereo reverb, and that's it.

Since we had limited time, we never tried the dynamic microphone, but luckily dont feel i missed anything.

Now the challenge is upping the game on the rest of the parts :)

Thanks everyone who took time to respond.

Congratulations and thanks for the update.

Did you use a HP or low cut filter?

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:32 pm
by CS70
I did use the pad, yes. I tried with and without a few times, and honestly, after adjusting the gain accordingly, there wasn't a noticeable difference in my headphones (I brought open cans to judge the sound, and almost forgot to disengage them when recording :D).

Much more difference was evident with different mic positions. After picking up the general position, it took a good 15 minutes to micro-adjust the orientation and floor angles. Would have been happy to use even more time, but we had limited room time and the player is not that used to recording (he is the soloist in a live jazz band) so was fretting a bit.
Still, another confirmation that it pays off to spend time positioning mics "right" and listening.

The sax can really go from soft purring to blasting in no time at all, so I liked to have loads of headroom and once I found a good gain structure that was it, no point in overthinking.

Super happy with the result - it came out exactly the sound I was going for.

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:59 pm
by hobbyist
CS70 wrote:I did use the pad, yes. I tried with and without a few times, and honestly, after adjusting the gain accordingly, there wasn't a noticeable difference in my headphones (I brought open cans to judge the sound, and almost forgot to disengage them when recording :D).

Much more difference was evident with different mic positions. After picking up the general position, it took a good 15 minutes to micro-adjust the orientation and floor angles. Would have been happy to use even more time, but we had limited room time and the player is not that used to recording (he is the soloist in a live jazz band) so was fretting a bit.
Still, another confirmation that it pays off to spend time positioning mics "right" and listening.

The sax can really go from soft purring to blasting in no time at all, so I liked to have loads of headroom and once I found a good gain structure that was it, no point in overthinking.

Super happy with the result - it came out exactly the sound I was going for.

There would only be a difference if there had been a problem. Use it for insurance if you do not have time to test.

Of course mike position makes a big difference. You do not always have the luxury of trying multiple spots before selecting. That is why I like to mike several locations that I record at once and pick the best later.

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:00 pm
by Terrible.dee
CS70 wrote:Gonna record a (tenor) saxophone next Wednesday and I'm going to use my AT4047/SV because I think it'll fit the sound and it has a pad. :-)

The 4047 It also has a low cut switch (80Hz), which I think to engage - but suddendly wonder if is there any sonic benefit on leaving it off and hipassing in post. The tenor sax should range from well above 100Hz but dont do it very often so appreciated experience from the esteemed members.

I also bring along the U87 as it's always a safe backup and - as I've resurrected my Focusrite Forte + PC combo, I have to channels anyway.

I'm also vaguely wondering if it's better to use the Focusrite Forte preamps (that's the plan so far, traveling light) or take with me the ISA One. I also have an old Safesound P1 which sounds great and has a compressor/limiter and I've used to great effect on vocals, any advantage in compressing the sax on the way in?

It's been a little while since I tracked a sax player, but from what I recall your mic options are........BAD!!!!!

Going from memory (I could be wrong but this is what I remember) stay away from condenser mics, they will be awful.

What I remember settling on was either an RE-20 or a 421 (You could substitute an SM7 B)

A LARGE diaphragm dynamic is the way to go. Brass is much too abrasive to use a condenser on, you'll overload the capsule guaranteed.

Some may disagree with me on this but I say 100% DEFINITELY compress it on the way in, brass players use a HUGE dynamic range...but it won't just be "set and forget"

You'll have to take some time and work with the player on the dynamics and his/her mic performance, to ensure you get a natural performance but one that is within an acceptable dynamic range for recording. Some "Band" type players are so in love with their use of dynamics that they fail to understand recording is different.

Tell them they have to "Play" the mic, any dynamic drops mean they need to move closer, huge dynamic swells means move away (Not too much, and this is where a transparent compressor becomes your last line of defense, I could see a FMR RNC working well for this application. That compressor, in "Real nice" mode is actually THREE compressors in series, each takes the signal down a notch before passing it to the next, that's how it stays transparent, no one compressor has to "Snap into action") You'll have to experiment and take the time to listen to the compression kick in on any loud parts, make sure it sounds natural, do not just "Let it do it's thing" I would also suggest using MULTIPLE compressors in serries. This makes for a more natural sound, I mentioned how the RNC works (And I assume you own one, everybody does) Use the RNC in serries with whatever else you have and now even MORE of the load has been taken off any one compressor.

BTW I would be looking for the compression to kick in only on those parts that exceed a certain dynamic range, I'd have the first compressor with a low ratio and slow attack, threshold low enough to make it the first compressor to kick in. So that compressor starts taking the signal down gently, then the NEXT one kicks in at a higher threshold and so on. Use a LOW ratio on multiple compressors, be careful with the attack, it has to be fast enough to catch the transient of the loud part, but you don't want artifacts, again MULTIPLE stages of compression are preferable.

To summarize: LOSE the condensers, get a large-diaphragm dynamic, and use as many compressors as you can manage, making sure no one compressor is working hard. Low ratios (2:1,3:1) Attack getting faster with each compressor. The threshold set higher with each successive compressor, so they kick in one after another, and each makes the job of the next one easier. The release is program dependent, you'll have to see what works best for the music you are recording, but NEVER TOO FAST!

I would suggest no EQ (Maaaaybe a low shelf at 50hz) a sax is a naturally good sounding instrument and should sound good as you record it. If you are reaching for EQ (Which you will later on as you mix it with the other instruments) in the tracking stage, there is a problem.

I now see you are happy with the results you got, using what you had. Hey, if it works....IT WORKS!!

Still, I would be interested in you hearing the same material recorded with a 421 or RE-20 and cascading compression....ah well, the session worked, and that's the important thing.

(Still, have no idea how you didn't overload the U87....where was it placed?)

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:35 pm
by James Perrett
Terrible.dee wrote:It's been a little while since I tracked a sax player, but from what I recall your mic options are........BAD!!!!!

Going from memory (I could be wrong but this is what I remember) stay away from condenser mics, they will be awful.

I've tracked quite a few saxophones in my time and I'm happy using condenser mics - especially the U87 although one sax player I know prefers the sound of a VTL CR3A. No problems with overloading either. Your experience sounds more like my experience when starting out using cheap 1980's electret condenser mics powered from AA batteries - they certainly had problems handling the levels.

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:23 pm
by Ramirez
Terrible.dee wrote:Brass is much too abrasive to use a condenser on, you'll overload the capsule guaranteed

:headbang:

A well placed U87 or other condenser can be just the ticket on sax. So can a dynamic or ribbon.

Also, any decent 24bit recording system will have more than enough headroom to not have to worry about compressing on the way in.

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:56 pm
by CS70
Terrible.dee wrote:I now see you are happy with the results you got, using what you had. Hey, if it works....IT WORKS!!

Indeed. The 87 especially worked big time. But also the 4047 sounds very respectable and I would certainly be able to use it alone - just a different flavor. I would definitely reuse both mics, but of course it'd be interesting to try with dynamics, especially ribbons. So little time, so many mics.. :).

The more I record (and let's just say that with the passing years I start accumulating a reasonable amount of mistak.. er, experience), the more I get the feeling that how you use the microphones (position, gain structure, angles and room sound) matters - within reason - even more than the specific mic.

As for the dynamic range, I was a little worried myself (hence my question here) but all it took was to pay attention to the gain structure at every stage, as always is the case: from the mic input to the preamps to the interface gain and A/D converter. Recording at 24 bits, I never felt I needed a compressor. Guess would have been different on tape, but that was way before my time.

I have compressed a little bit with an optical compressor in the mix, but really just to be able to produce a quick comping of the takes. Interestingly, I normally have zero qualms in EQing the crap out of anything to make it sound like it should in my mind.. but I actually totally forgot the equalizer until you mentioned it. It's all flat - all there is, it's the usual anti-rumble HPF that I put as a default.

Of course everyone's experiences are different and I guess a lot depends on how you deal with the whole chain, but the LDCs combo really worked well and I would have no hesitation to recommend it.

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:04 pm
by hobbyist
Ramirez wrote:
Terrible.dee wrote:
Also, any decent 24bit recording system will have more than enough headroom to not have to worry about compressing on the way in.

YES !!!

I am starting to think that the old analogue users do not really understand digital and how it is so different.

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:59 pm
by Ramirez
hobbyist wrote:
Ramirez wrote:
Terrible.dee wrote:
Also, any decent 24bit recording system will have more than enough headroom to not have to worry about compressing on the way in.

YES !!!

I am starting to think that the old analogue users do not really understand digital and how it is so different.


Perhaps some.

Also, to correct myself, I should have said that "any decent 24bit recording system will have more than enough dynamic range to allow plenty of headroom to not have to worry about compressing on the way in."

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2019 4:13 pm
by CS70
Oh, I thought you had said exactly that :D

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:49 pm
by hobbyist
Ramirez wrote:
hobbyist wrote:
Ramirez wrote:
Terrible.dee wrote:
Also, any decent 24bit recording system will have more than enough headroom to not have to worry about compressing on the way in.

YES !!!

I am starting to think that the old analogue users do not really understand digital and how it is so different.


Perhaps some.

Also, to correct myself, I should have said that "any decent 24bit recording system will have more than enough dynamic range to allow plenty of headroom to not have to worry about compressing on the way in."

Every 24 bit should have 144dB DR.

Personally I peak at -16dBFS. That leaves 128dB.

Depending on the preamps mikes and other devices you will lose some from the bottom due to noise.

VU meters had 20dB plus some overage. Let us say 30dB DR would be the max that is usable in real life playback situations.

So you have 98dB to be above any noise and problems.

Typically you should have at least 60dB of DR that you just do not need or use.

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:57 pm
by Hugh Robjohns
hobbyist wrote:Every 24 bit should have 144dB DR.

Well, if we're wearing Mr Pedant hats today... actually, no it shouldn't. :D

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2019 6:15 pm
by James Perrett
hobbyist wrote:
Every 24 bit should have 144dB DR.


Erm - are you contradicting what you said in the convertors thread? Maybe you would like to explain exactly where you stand on this. Or are you just trying to pick another argument here?

Re: Recording sax

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2019 7:21 pm
by hobbyist
James Perrett wrote:
hobbyist wrote:
Every 24 bit should have 144dB DR.


Erm - are you contradicting what you said in the convertors thread? Maybe you would like to explain exactly where you stand on this. Or are you just trying to pick another argument here?

I am not contradicting anything.

While I prefer 384 floating point I would never claim that the results are 'better' due to that versus 24bit fixed point. Only that it is different sonically although other factors may make it personally preferable to use.