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Clarinet Mic'ing - Live
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chetatkinsdiet
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29th December 2010
Old 29th December 2010
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Question Clarinet Mic'ing - Live

I have searched and not found anything speaking about clarinet, live. Not necessarily for recording, but just for a live show in a small club. Man, all the other horns are easy...sax with clip ons, 'bones...they don't really need much, or clips when they do....but this clarinet is giving us fits.

I've tried using my RE20 pointed up at the bell, but the notes are hit or miss. I realize that we should be micing the body, but with other horns in proximity and movement of the player, it's just not too practical to use two mics like that. Even if we did, what would you do?

I know they make a specialized, clarinet mic, in the neighborhood of $600, but that's a little steep for right now. I don't mind putting $200 or so into the horn clip mics, but $600 for one that only works on clarinet is a little rich for my bands budget at this time.

Any other ideas? Homemade solutions? I was thinking pipe clamps (the metal bands that we used to use on radiator hoses in the 70s/80s and somehow attaching a regular sax, clip on mic to that.

later,

mike
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29th December 2010
Old 29th December 2010
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Dave Davis is offline
I'm actually a clarinetist by training. It's been ages since I've played one in public, but I recorded a Grammy-nominated LP with the amazing Eddie Daniels (cool joint, featuring him performing with a jazz ensemble as well as a classic recording orchestra), so I'm pretty familiar with capturing the instrument.

Forget the bell. Nothing good (sonically) comes out of the bell... it's just wind noise and grunts, modulated periodically by music. The actual sound comes off the FRONT (and to a lesser degree the top) of the instrument, specifically from the holes that represent individual notes.

When you have isolation, an overhead mic, similar to a vocal position can be great. As you raise the mic higher, you start losing low register notes and getting more of an "orchestral" sound. In fact, when I mic a clarinet section of an orchestra, I try to place a mic mid-section, over the players, and support that with a front mic between the first two chairs of each section.

Isolation on a stage is achieved via mic placement and pattern. You can close-mic a clarinet 1'-2' in front of it, near the mouthpiece, with the cardiod pattern pointing to the player and angled downwards. The players body and the floor become a baffle in this configuration. You do want to cheat a bit towards the reed because A)high notes are quieter, so you need to be closer to those holes, esp the thumb hole for the higher register, B)the reed is what makes the sound, and where expression mostly lives, and C)you minimize key-clanking sounds emanating farther down the tube.

In most cases you want to aggressively high-pass a B-flat or alto clarinet (bass clarinet or sax are another story). Even 100Hz isn't too high... it really depends on the piece and problems you're having.

If you still get too much bleed, find a mic with a tighter cardiod pattern rather than trying to get closer or adding mics (which will add more noise). Don't be afraid of the rear-node in a tight-patterned mic - assuming the audience isn't talking through performances, the level differences front/back will mask any bleed on the audience side, and what remains will provide a nice ambience to counteract any "can-sound" from the tight pattern.

That should be a good start... hope this helps.

PS: I've never been able to use the horn clip mics successfully, even the good ones. In spite of this nearly every working soloist I've recorded has one, and insists on trying it first, even when there's an orchestra waiting, on the clock. I typically humor them and track it, alongside the "real" mics. 100% of the time that mic isn't used. YMMV
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29th December 2010
Old 29th December 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chetatkinsdiet View Post
I have searched and not found anything speaking about clarinet, live. Not necessarily for recording, but just for a live show in a small club. Man, all the other horns are easy...sax with clip ons, 'bones...they don't really need much, or clips when they do....but this clarinet is giving us fits.

I've tried using my RE20 pointed up at the bell, but the notes are hit or miss. I realize that we should be micing the body, but with other horns in proximity and movement of the player, it's just not too practical to use two mics like that. Even if we did, what would you do?

I know they make a specialized, clarinet mic, in the neighborhood of $600, but that's a little steep for right now. I don't mind putting $200 or so into the horn clip mics, but $600 for one that only works on clarinet is a little rich for my bands budget at this time.

Any other ideas? Homemade solutions? I was thinking pipe clamps (the metal bands that we used to use on radiator hoses in the 70s/80s and somehow attaching a regular sax, clip on mic to that.

later,

mike
Does it have to be a clip-on? I've used an AKG 535 on clarinet with good resultsthumbsup You could find them on ebay for around $100
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chetatkinsdiet
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29th December 2010
Old 29th December 2010
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thanks for the tips guys. I think I'll put the RE20 back in the cabinet and grab the Beyer M201. That hyper pattern might work for live. Or maybe I've got something else that will work. I'm thinking more patterns and placement over mics really, as I think that will be more important. The placement of our horn players make it so the crowd walks right in front of them while playing, so I don't want to use a really expensive mic that might get bumped and knocked over. That's what's made me use the RE20 before...plus it's a great horn mic and I always have it with me.
What have I gotten myself into playing this jazz stuff....rock and roll was so much easier.....

m
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30th December 2010
Old 30th December 2010
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fifthcircle is offline
I'm a clarinetist, although the gigs are getting fewer and further between...

A couple suggestions:

For a mic on a stand- Sennheiser MD441 is fantastic- probably one of my "go to" mics. Aim at the body- near the split between top and bottom joints.

Clip-on- DPA 4099 without a doubt. Clips on to the bell with a gooseneck that brings the mic up. Aim it up the body towards the top joint. Not a perfect pickup, but good in a high-spl environment.

Wireless- a DPA 4061 lav mic clipped to the chest of the player, about where the ribs come together. Usually do this with Sennheiser 3000 or 5000 wireless, but also used Shure UR, Audio Technica Artist and other good systems. This is a great way to go with a surprising amount of isolation and a good sound. Used this both in classical and jazz situations with great success.

I'm not a huge fan of the clarinet mic systems. The one with two elements (can't remember who makes it) isn't horrible, but not great either. The Barcus-Berry pickups that force you to drill out your barrel are beyond horrible.

--Ben
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30th December 2010
Old 30th December 2010
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Those are great suggestions, Ben!

I never thought about a lav, but now that you mention it, hellz yah! I have used the 441 many times, also RCA77 on Aflats or alto sax. Beyer M88 and M300 are nice too.
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31st December 2010
Old 31st December 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Davis View Post
Those are great suggestions, Ben!

I never thought about a lav, but now that you mention it, hellz yah! I have used the 441 many times, also RCA77 on Aflats or alto sax. Beyer M88 and M300 are nice too.
Dave
Any mic will sound great with your ULN-8.I've used the lav technique many moons ago when I was working with the "Old Man". Sony ECM 55 strapped to the percussion players chest.Worked out great...thumbsup
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