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Recording sax

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Recording sax

Postby CS70 » Sun Aug 18, 2019 3:17 pm

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?
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Re: Recording sax

Postby hobbyist » Sun Aug 18, 2019 6:37 pm

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?


My intuition says to use the low cut switch.
Lowest freq on tenor sax is supposed to be 116 so cutting at 80 can not hurt but may help stop problems from getting onto the track.
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Re: Recording sax

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:42 pm

CS70 wrote: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.

There is an argument not to HPF at the mic because the phase-shifting that the filter introduces can change the sound in an unnatural way to some people's ears and if you put the HPF on the mic, you can't easily undo the effect later should you want to...

Conversely, there's another argument that says it's always better to remove unwanted VLF at source than to do it later. In a decent studio you're not likely to have unwanted VLF to worry about, but if traffic noise, or underground trains, or foot tapping, or wobbling mic stands -- or LF spill -- are likely to be problems then switch in the filter.

The Forte preamps are fine, and ideal if you're travelling light... but I do really like the ISA preamps. :-)

...any advantage in compressing the sax on the way in?

Again... if you compress on the way in it's really hard to reverse if you change your mind afterwards... and there's no technical need to reduce the dynamic range when tracking with digital recording systems.

But if you know you want a compressed sound, then make that decision, record with a compressor on the way in and stick with it. Compress Saves a lot of mix time that way! :-)

So... it really depends on the situation! Personally, I'd listen to the sax, and decide on which mic, which mic position, which preamp, and whether to use the filter or compression etc during the sound-checking the session.

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Re: Recording sax

Postby MOF » Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:51 pm

I’m not sure that you’ll need the pad, that’s more for close mic’ing of drums and trumpets etc.
Are you trying to get a natural sound or something with more colour, if the latter then the ISA One can be used with plenty of gain and pad down on the output plus you can experiment with impedance settings.
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Re: Recording sax

Postby CS70 » Sun Aug 18, 2019 8:06 pm

Thanks. Yes the ISA impedance really change the sound but honestly I never have a problem changing a sound to what I want in the mix. Still fun to get near tough.

Don’t plan to close mic, but the sax is bloody loud! I remember from last time, easy to overwhelm a sensitive mic (luckily also last time I had a backup which worked).

But yeah of course the plan is to listen and decide after. Good point with phase shift, gonna start without and see how it works, I know the room and the amount of rumble depend really from the time of the day :)
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Re: Recording sax

Postby ore_terra » Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:44 am

loudness wise, I recently used two SE R1 (pad less ribbons) in a trumpet and sax session and both mics are still alive.

also, don't forget that with a sax you probably wont place the mic right in front of the horn, so the "sound blast" wont be that high.

to sum up: I don't think the pad should condition your mic choice.
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Re: Recording sax

Postby CS70 » Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:54 am

Cheers, will try without first and see what 's what. Yeah certainly not at the horn :D

The player is quite smooth as well so we'll see. I'll report :)
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Re: Recording sax

Postby John Willett » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:07 pm

Just remember not to point the mic. into the bell of the Sax.

Only the highest frequencies come from the bell, the lower frequencies radiate from the body - so point the mic so that it picks up both bell and body. :thumbup:
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Re: Recording sax

Postby CS70 » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:08 pm

John Willett wrote:Just remember not to point the mic. into the bell of the Sax.

Only the highest frequebcies come form the bell, the lower frequencies radiete from the body - so point the mic so that it picks up both bell and body. :thumbup:

Yep, thank you :)
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Re: Recording sax

Postby MOF » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:43 pm

I recently used two SE R1 (pad less ribbons) in a trumpet and sax session and both mics are still alive.
Ribbon mic’s are ‘dynamic’ they don’t need a pad, just the appropriate gain at the mixer to stop distortion.
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Re: Recording sax

Postby ore_terra » Mon Aug 19, 2019 3:19 pm

MOF wrote:
I recently used two SE R1 (pad less ribbons) in a trumpet and sax session and both mics are still alive.
Ribbon mic’s are ‘dynamic’ they don’t need a pad, just the appropriate gain at the mixer to stop distortion.
Every day’s school day :thumbup:
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Re: Recording sax

Postby CS70 » Mon Aug 19, 2019 5:53 pm

Thought about a ribbon or even an omni, but not keen on getting more room than necessary..
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Re: Recording sax

Postby Wonks » Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:02 am

Always the option of sticking several different mics up of different types/patterns at the same time then seeing which recording you like the best.
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Re: Recording sax

Postby CS70 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:15 am

Yes that's the plan.

The chains will be the 4047 going into the ISA, into one channel of the Forte A/D; and either a U87 or a SM58 into a Brick into the other. Will decide which one depending on how the sonic result is.

If the Brick proves too much even with the 58 (it has a fixed minimum 30db gain), I'll swap the second mic to the Forte preamp. Still fitting the (heavy) backpack.

Will also experiment with the positions to get two flavors, keeping them at the same floor distance but trying different places to point them to along the body of the instrument.

I also wonder how would it be to put a mic at the player's back, basically to hear what he hears, but not sure I'll have time to try that, he's gonna improvise lines so it gets tiring pretty fast to repeat while keeping things fresh - I reckon three takes at most will have to do..
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Re: Recording sax

Postby John Willett » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:25 am

MOF wrote:
I recently used two SE R1 (pad less ribbons) in a trumpet and sax session and both mics are still alive.
Ribbon mic’s are ‘dynamic’ they don’t need a pad, just the appropriate gain at the mixer to stop distortion.

Although the SE R1 appears to be a dynamic passive ribbon mic., please be aware that many modern ribbon microphones come complete with an internal, phantom powered, pre-amp that is matched to the ribbon and has an output about the same as a normal capacitor mic.
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Re: Recording sax

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:32 am

Coming late to this, but if you happen to have an M201 hanging around, I'd use that over a 57 for the dynamic mic option (IMO), they can really shine on Sax.

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Re: Recording sax

Postby John Willett » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:34 am

Bob Bickerton wrote:Coming late to this, but if you happen to have an M201 hanging around, I'd use that over a 57 for the dynamic mic option (IMO), they can really shine on Sax.

So can the Sennheiser MD 421 - this is also excellent on a Sax. :thumbup:
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Re: Recording sax

Postby CS70 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:42 am

I wish, guys :) Two more mics on the wishlist. Actually I'd wanted a 421 for a while, just waiting for the right one to pass by...

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.
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Re: Recording sax

Postby John Willett » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:46 am

CS70 wrote:I wish, guys :) Two more mics on the wishlist. Actually I'd wanted a 421 for a while, just waiting for the right one to pass by...

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.

The SM 58 is really a vocal mic. with a tailored frerquency response for vocal use - it can be very good for vocals, but I would never use it for instrument pick-up (unless you need the specific colour of the sound that it will give you).
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Re: Recording sax

Postby CS70 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:56 am

John Willett wrote:
CS70 wrote:I wish, guys :) Two more mics on the wishlist. Actually I'd wanted a 421 for a while, just waiting for the right one to pass by...

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.

The SM 58 is really a vocal mic. with a tailored frerquency response for vocal use - it can be very good for vocals, but I would never use it for instrument pick-up (unless you need the specific colour of the sound that it will give you).

Well aware, but it saved my bottom the other time and I actually did like the result, and so did the saxophonist. Perhaps that's what he's used to hear. The 57, I feel it would sound a little harsher?

Luckily, I'm not aiming at recording a sax solo, but his lines will be well into a mix.
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