0% Interest for 24 Months! Learn more »
(800) 222-4700
  • Español: (800) 222-4701
Microphone Month

Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

After 15 years of great discussions, the Sweetwater Forums are now closed and preserved as a "read-only" resource. For discussions about current gear, check us out on Facebook, YouTube, inSync, and our Knowledge Base.

Recording a cello


I am pretty new to recording. I am a cellist and also a member of a string quartet. I am trying to figure out what a good combination of mics would be to record these types of instruments. I also have an interest in recording solid vocals. Currently I own the Rode NT4. It is a fantastic mic. I am wondering what you would recommend as a second mic to compliment it in order to meet the demands of acoustic instruments such as a cello. I am a big fan of Rode microphones but I am certainly open to other brands.
Thanks for your help!
April 26, 2007 @05:27pm

This is really contingent on what you really are willing to spend on the mic. R121 would be heaven on a cello, but it is out of the range of some people.
April 26, 2007 @08:22pm

The NT4 has small diaphrams right? You could try a large diaphram on the body and the nt4 on the neck. Might be interesting to mic in mono at the body and stereo at the neck. Never recorded a cello, and honestly my experiance with condensors has been limited to the mxl 770, but I'm getting ready for the rode nt1a, seems they are unrivaled at the price;^]
April 26, 2007 @09:14pm

My father acutally has his doctorate in cello performance. As a result I have recorded him and his students on many occasions. Here is what I have found works really well.... My favorite combo so far has been a Royer R121 through my D&R console when I want a natural sound, or through my Chandler TG2 to distressor when placing it in a thick mix. I also like placing a SD condensor (I usually use an AKG 451) on a little shorty stand under the chair facing the backside of the cello. I usually keep the primary mic about 18" out form the cello at a slight angle coming form the low strings side to help reduce overbearing bowing since the mic is so close. I also have a vintage Neumann U87i that sounds great with the D&R preamps at about 6 feet out and up high.
The biggest problem I have is the Royers low output. Luckily the D&R preamps have a lot of really quiet clean gain, and the noise that the Chandler does get is outweighed by its positive "thick" qualities and the fact that it is going in a dense mix or a mix where a little preamp noise is no problem. For recording cello I really wish I had just saved up a little longer and gone straight to the R122. That extra 20 db of output would really force me to use the Royer on many more sources than I do now.
In any case, since budget is probably a factor (when is it not?), I would seriously consider a ribbon mic. There are a bunch of cheap ones on the market that really sound a lot better than they cost in my opinion. If you can manage to get an active ribbon mic, you will probably be happier:)
April 27, 2007 @04:36am

Thanks for all of your helpful suggestions!
April 27, 2007 @01:46pm

we tend to use the following mic types in recording string (orchestra) instruments
- large diaphragm condensers (FET or tube) such as Neumann u87, Rode K2, AKG C414. We've had fantastic results with the Rode K2 coz its variable polar pattern allows us to dial in and find the most appropriate sound spots
- ribbon microphones such as AEA R84 or Peluso R14 (new). ribbon mics impart a very natural sound. unprocessed, your recordings will sound like the listener instruments are in
(btw, mic preamps matter, too!) most of the times, we tend to position the mics 3 to 4 feet away from the instrument.
I suggest going to a studio near your location and booking a 2 hour session, ask them about recording your performance with different mics so you can listen at home.
May 1, 2007 @04:53am