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Microphone Month 2

Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

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Violin Mics

CB&theMFO

I do a lot of orchestration for rock and pop bands and I'm looking for a good mic to track a violin. I've found a few that I'm interested in, but if anyone else has any suggestions, I'd really appreciate it! My budget is in the $1200 range, but I can go a bit higher if necessary. Here's my list so far:
Royer R-121
AKG 414
Earthworks QTC40
Also, if anyone has any tips on mic placement for recording stringed instruments, I'm all ears! Thanks!
May 28, 2007 @10:48pm
Roadpebble

The following is taken from Studio Buddy, a free recording tips program located here: http://www.studiobuddy.com/.
" How do I record a violin?
Recording a solo violin is very straight ahead. Rules of thumb: Use a condenser mic. Keep at least a couple of feet of distance between the mic and the violin to give it some air. The mic should be above the violin, and looking down at it. EQ should be minimal - if anything, just a little 10K on the top. Use a limiter to catch any unwanted peaks. "
StudioBuddy has tips on recording just about any instrument. The section on recording a string section may be useful to you.
As far as the microphones go, I say use the Earthworks. I am most impressed with the range that those microphones have, 9Hz - 40kHz. Yes it goes beyond the range of human hearing, but I believe that music is more than hearing, it's feeling too. While we might not be able to hear those frequencies, we can feel them. Although, if your sound system can't reproduce those frequencies then it's all for naught. But it's nice to know that you at least got it down on tape.
May 29, 2007 @07:18am
jpleong

At this budget range, you should seriously also look at the DPA 4060 or 4090. Absolutely amazing microphones. I honestly have no idea why the 4090/4091s aren't listed on Sweetwaters website or in their catalogs.
Don't forget about other ribbon mics, too. The Beyer Dynamic M160 and M130 are defacto-standard strings recording mics. I've used the M500 (now discontinued, sadly) and can't find a more natural sounding mic on violin.
As far as positioning goes, pointing at the bridge of the violin, viola, cello, bass, etc... will give you more attack while aiming away will mellow out your sound. Using an omni bridge mic (like the DPA 4060) will allow for a strong attack balanced with a good bit of body.
Close mic'ing may be your better bet if you're doing a pop or rock mix, as this will allow you to vary the reverberation or ambiance (or even add effects!). If you're doing a piece that prominently features a violin, I would strongly suggest a combination of distance mic'ing (in a nice hall or church if you can) and close mic'ing and then mixing to taste. It might even give you chills...!
JP
May 29, 2007 @06:05pm
karlw

I would personally go with the Royer ribbon mic. Condenser mics have a tendency to be a bit "zingy" with violins, while ribbon mics do a better job IMO in capturing the body of the sound and the "woodiness" without too much of the harsh top end. Quite a few violinists I've known have preferred ribbon mics, including Itzahk Pearlman, who has his own Coles 4038.
Placement is also critical, but it seems like you already have some experience in this area. It's easy to get too muddy of a sound if you pick up too much from the f-holes, and easy to get a scratchy sound if you pick up too much bow noise. Generally, I like to back off a bit as much as space and bleed allows, obviously considering the reflections from nearby surfaces, etc. The true sound of a violin does not exist when close-miked, but only when the various directional elements have a chance to blend.
May 30, 2007 @08:24pm
Ted

I honestly have no idea why the 4090/4091s aren't listed on Sweetwaters website or in their catalogs.

They're great microphones, and we can order them in with no problem...but we just don't have the room to list everything we have access to, and we haven't had a whole lot of requests for these microphones in particular.
I'll throw in my recommendation for a ribbon microphone as well...my personal favorite on violin. The R121 is nice because you can get a slightly brighter sound out of it by turning it around, or if you want a more neutral sound the SF1 is a great microphone as well and especially popular for acoustic instruments.
-Ted
May 31, 2007 @07:23pm
Audioholic

Violin is a very bright instrument and peircing, so anything that can help not hype up those tendencies will help, such as the earthworks or maybe the royer. Your room setup will probally be a factor as well, like do you need to have a more focussed pattern?
May 31, 2007 @07:33pm
jpleong

They're great microphones, and we can order them in with no problem...but we just don't have the room to list everything we have access to, and we haven't had a whole lot of requests for these microphones in particular.
-Ted

I know that there are space constraints, for sure, in print and on-line but I must say...
I had forgotten Sweetwater even carried DPA microphones until I was thumbing through an old catalog. By then, it was already too late and I had ordered from someone else. The same goes for Midas. Sweetwater can get it, lots of people recommend it, but when doing budget requests, folks like me have to go elsewhere to get cursory info. I wish, at least, the Sweetwater website would have a more complete "upscale" commercial/pro-audio listing.
Off the top of my head, these are things I looked into that I was surprised not to find on the website:
Sennheiser MKH series (not shotguns)
Complete DPA mics
Midas
Yamaha DM, LS, PM series
I mean, my first Sweetwater catalog had an $80,000 Oramsonics console in it! And yet, I can't find any info about a lowly Yammy DM1000. Sorry... I've got PTSD from a previous buying experience, apparently.
Completely off topic...
Back to topic...
Ribbons = great violin/viola/cello mic!
JP
May 31, 2007 @07:54pm
Audioholic

I know that there are space constraints, for sure, in print and on-line but I must say...
I had forgotten Sweetwater even carried DPA microphones until I was thumbing through an old catalog. By then, it was already too late and I had ordered from someone else. The same goes for Midas. Sweetwater can get it, lots of people recommend it, but when doing budget requests, folks like me have to go elsewhere to get cursory info. I wish, at least, the Sweetwater website would have a more complete "upscale" commercial/pro-audio listing.
Off the top of my head, these are things I looked into that I was surprised not to find on the website:
Sennheiser MKH series (not shotguns)
Complete DPA mics
Midas
Yamaha DM, LS, PM series
I mean, my first Sweetwater catalog had an $80,000 Oramsonics console in it! And yet, I can't find any info about a lowly Yammy DM1000. Sorry... I've got PTSD from a previous buying experience, apparently.
Completely off topic...
Back to topic...
Ribbons = great violin/viola/cello mic!
JP

I am with you my friend. There are just some things that sweetwater doens't carry or apear to carry that I have to look elsewhere. Sure, they can "get" them, but I am a man of little patience, HA.
May 31, 2007 @09:02pm
JeffBarnett

Last year, we published a printed directory called "Sweetwater Select" that highlighted some of the higher-end gear that gets overlooked in the main publications.
You can download a PDF of it here.
It's still far from everything we carry. There's so many things we have access to (over 500 manufacturers last time I counted, with over 75,000 different SKU's, I'm told), that we could never put it all on the website. Most of the time, it's safe to assume we carry what you're looking for unless we've told you otherwise. It's always worth asking!
May 31, 2007 @09:08pm
holickpro

I record the violin quite frequently, in many different styles. I use a C414 with a Avalon 737 almost all the time. I have tried many mics, and had many good results. I think the violin is very easy to record. I just ordered a Sontronics Sigma Ribbon a couple days ago because I am trying to get that 1930's swing sound. I will let you know if it has a tone worth using.
June 1, 2007 @04:51am
CB&theMFO

Thanks for all of your replies. I'm going to try to get in a studio and try out the R-121, but I think that's probably going to be my best bet.
June 2, 2007 @07:42pm
xstatic

Based on what I read in an earlier post in this thread, I would avoid that "studiobuddy" website. The information was very basic and shortsighted.
As for the mic choices for this, I personally would go with a ribbon mic in general, but will sometimes use large diaphragm or small diaphragm condensors as well. I like the ribbons the most usually because of the rich focused lows, and the smoother less abrasive highs. Personally, I would suggest that you maybe look into the R-122 instead of the R-121 unless you have really nice preamps. The 121 sounds great, but often requires a ton of gain to get an average level on quieter sources. The 122 will reduce those problems quite a bit.
June 3, 2007 @04:24pm
fLiPaudio

for years i have been recording violin with a u87 through a 737...i have had some great results but not exactly what i was looking for...now that i have a vintech x73 i have found a match made in heaven...
June 19, 2007 @12:20am
holickpro

for years i have been recording violin with a u87 through a 737...i have had some great results but not exactly what i was looking for...now that i have a vintech x73 i have found a match made in heaven...

Can you describe the sound you get from this combination, and what you might use it for, or maybe you have a clip we could download? Thanks!
June 19, 2007 @01:04am
Sound-Weavers.com

the Royer R121 will complement a violin nicely - run it through a nice preamp and you will get an even better sound. but the best is if you can use two mics, then pair the ribbon r121 with a LDC like u87 or even a Rode K2.
- great river mp2nv
- UA 610 (could run short on gain)
- Purple Audio BIZ (API 500 series)
- API 512c
- Vintech X73 and X81
good luck with it.
July 18, 2007 @09:47pm