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joesmohello
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29th March 2004
Old 29th March 2004
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Question about micing trumpet.

Last summer I bought a setup consisting of an iBook, an Mbox, and a Rode NT4 for recording my small acoustic jazz ensembles. I know that this is far from a pro setup, but I have gotten great mileage out of it for my demo/composition needs.

I am a trumpet player so I end up recording solo trumpet a lot. My NT4 has been just barely adequate (using some mic placement tips I received here), but I was wondering if an SM57 would be much of an improvement as far as trumpets go. Are there any other mics in the $100-$150 range that any of you might recommend?

I have read here about people going to stores to "audition" a mic before purchase, but I can't picture myself standing in the middle of Guitar Center playing my trumpet through some speakers. Thank you for any advice or suggestions.
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29th March 2004
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The SM57 would be fine if you are keeping under $150. Real nice trumpet mics run north of there (keep in mind that some people prefer the 57s on trumpet as their number 1 choice). However - the thing is - you can multitask with the 57 so its not like its a waste if you end up not liking it for trumpet. Besides - if you dont like the 57 on anything - the used market keeps the price of them up pretty good so you wont take any substantial hit. I would prefer the 57 over the NT4 personally.
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29th March 2004
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Thanks for the quick response Scinx. Out of curiosity, what mics would you consider "real nice" and what price range would they be in? Would a higher end mic like that be undesirable for most other instruments? Thanks again.
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29th March 2004
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From a fellow brass player...

Yes, a 57 is alright, and probably better than the RODE, but not by miles, rather inches: if you're in the market for spending more, there are a few options - dynamic mics: Shure SM7, Sennheiser 441, or possibly 421, EV RE20 (a sleeper mic for trumpet), and possibly others...

Ribbons are the answer - from a few hundred bucks to a few thousand, they rule the roost, and will put a smile on your face with the least harsh, and most flattering tone: on the cheap - Beyer M160/M260/M500NC - from $300 to $600, and all with different tones, but nice for most horns, tho they need gain (not an issue if you're just recording trumpet )
The "real" deal is a bit more spendy - Royer, Coles, AEA, etc., and are the most luxurious sound on brass: once heard, you can never go back, and tho dynamics can do a pretty reasonable job, ribbons are often the "only" way to do horns right...

Best of luck,

and YMMV,
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29th March 2004
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Thanks PlugHead, good to hear from a fellow brass player. Those other dynamic mics are unfortunately out of my price range at the moment (and probably for many moments to come Maybe if I keep a lookout I can score a good Ebay deal on one of those Beyer ribbon mics.

So I am assuming that there is nothing in the between range of +-$150 that would be a nice step up from my Rode.
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29th March 2004
Old 29th March 2004
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Oh yeah, I forgot. What do you mean by, "a sleeper mic for trumpet" regarding the EV RE20?
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29th March 2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by joesmohello
Oh yeah, I forgot. What do you mean by, "a sleeper mic for trumpet" regarding the EV RE20?
"sleeper" meaning, it isn't often thought of/used, but can often be the right contender for the job...

If you're thinking of spending $150 on a mic, see if you can find one of those, or possibly a 421: both can work quite well, tho not always. In any case, I'd rather use a 57 on a horn than a cheap, "fizzy" sounding condenser...

Another possiblity is micing from your side of the bell: same perspective as you get from playing the horn, and loses the "shrillness" of the front of bell. Might help with the Rode's strident top end, but watch out for valve noise...

best,
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29th March 2004
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Interesting, I have not tried that mic placement yet. I have played around with different angles and distances from the bell and decided on about two feet away with the Rode pointing down towards the bell at about a 45degree angle. I will have to try your suggestion. Where exactly would you recommend placing the mic, right next to my head?

I found this Beyer M260 on Ebay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...EBWA%3AIT&rd=1

but there is still a while to go on the bidding. Thanks again.
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Quote:
Originally posted by joesmohello
Interesting, I have not tried that mic placement yet. I have played around with different angles and distances from the bell and decided on about two feet away with the Rode pointing down towards the bell at about a 45degree angle. I will have to try your suggestion. Where exactly would you recommend placing the mic, right next to my head?
Experiment with it - there's not any "right" or "wrong", only what "works" - if you like the sound you hear from your head, try that - if not, move it around a bit.

Also, I'd assume that M260 will shoot up well beyond your $150 budget, but what the hell - someone's bound to get it - might be you!
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29th March 2004
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Quote:

Another possiblity is micing from your side of the bell: same perspective as you get from playing the horn, and loses the "shrillness" of the front of bell.

best,

Great idea, and extra great with muted trumpet
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30th March 2004
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"Another possiblity is micing from your side of the bell: same perspective as you get from playing the horn, and loses the "shrillness" of the front of bell. Might help with the Rode's strident top end, but watch out for valve noise..."

I tried this today with my Rode NT4, right next to my ear and 1" back from directly under the bell, and the recording sounded too muffled. I wonder if there is any way to improve the acoustics of my room with everyday householde items, i.e. furniture, a rug, towels.

Sorry if I am sounding so cheap, but money is too tight at the moment.
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30th March 2004
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Micing Brass

I used the very affordable Oktava ML52 ribbon to mic a Tenor Sax recently and the results were fantastic.
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30th March 2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by joesmohello
"Another possiblity is micing from your side of the bell: same perspective as you get from playing the horn, and loses the "shrillness" of the front of bell. Might help with the Rode's strident top end, but watch out for valve noise..."

I tried this today with my Rode NT4, right next to my ear and 1" back from directly under the bell, and the recording sounded too muffled. I wonder if there is any way to improve the acoustics of my room with everyday householde items, i.e. furniture, a rug, towels.

Sorry if I am sounding so cheap, but money is too tight at the moment.
How is your ear right next to 1" back from directly under the bell? I can't picture it...

I would put the mic so the diaphragm is parallel with the back top of the bell, and a few inches away. Point it right at the bell.

Or try something else.
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31st March 2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by joesmohello
I tried this today with my Rode NT4, right next to my ear and 1" back from directly under the bell, and the recording sounded too muffled. I wonder if there is any way to improve the acoustics of my room with everyday householde items, i.e. furniture, a rug, towels.

Sorry if I am sounding so cheap, but money is too tight at the moment.
FWIW,

I'd give up on the NT4: not a trumpet mic by any stretch. Go with a dynamic - surely you must have a mate with a 57/421/reg. dynamic sumthin? Give a few the 'ol 1-2 - throw'em up, get a backing track ready (anything you could play the head/some line would do...) and start recording, playing consistently - don't change attitude from take to take, that can affect judgement/tone as well. Change mics, and then positions. Take notes, or write it on the tracks for proper ID. That should at least give you an idea whether to pursue a sound with a certain microphone, or not...

Opinions are like bellybuttons: everyone has one - let your ears decide what mic/placement you dig best, and move forward...
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31st March 2004
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Ted Nightshade - Lol, those were two different mic positions I tried. Sorry if I was not clear I will definitely try the mic position that you suggested. Thanks.

Jay - Unfortunately, none of my friends are into recording. My setup is a full blown studio compared to them. It's funny, because around here I am like a guru, then I come on a forum like this and I am a total newbie. I'm thinking I might just eat the $100 and pick up an SM57. I figure it will also be useful if I ever want to record some vocals.

Lately I have been working on a writing project involving trumpet, alto sax, and trombone. I recorded the trio live to two tracks with my Rode NT4 once so far and it came out fair, but I am wondering if I might be better off selling the NT4 and using two SM57s in its stead. If I sold the NT4 my budget would probably move up to $350 or so for two new mics. Any thoughts on that. Thanks again.
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31st March 2004
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Bloodstone - Thanks for the mic suggestion. I did a quick search for that mic and found it to be in the $300 range. I understand that that is considered affordable in the world of mics, but it is too much for me at the moment. Thanks anyway, I will keep that mic in mind in the future.
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31st March 2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by joesmohello
Jay - Unfortunately, none of my friends are into recording. My setup is a full blown studio compared to them. It's funny, because around here I am like a guru, then I come on a forum like this and I am a total newbie. I'm thinking I might just eat the $100 and pick up an SM57. I figure it will also be useful if I ever want to record some vocals.

Lately I have been working on a writing project involving trumpet, alto sax, and trombone. I recorded the trio live to two tracks with my Rode NT4 once so far and it came out fair, but I am wondering if I might be better off selling the NT4 and using two SM57s in its stead. If I sold the NT4 my budget would probably move up to $350 or so for two new mics. Any thoughts on that. Thanks again.
Well,

Ya can't get blood from a stone: if you're the only guy with a microphone in your circle of chums, then you're stuck. I gather you don't gig (often), or else you'd have at least a couple of (dynamic) mic options to try. Start with one SM57 - if you're at all serious about playing, let alone recording, you should have at least that in your kit - really. It is "the" all 'round, most widely used (stage and studio) mic in the world, period. However, for stereo recording (with 57's), I'd say you're dreaming... heavily..... At least you could find more uses for them than the NT4, IMHO...

Sorry, can't be more helpful - you need gear to get the sound, and from your budget, it's more than tough.

Best of luck with it!
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31st March 2004
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Jay -

You're right, I haven't been gigging much lately, but I am a full time musician/teacher. My friends actually gig more than me, but it is all acoustic jazz in restaurants and bars so there is no need for amplification.

I think I am going to get the SM57 for the reasons you stated in your last post. Thanks for your time and guidance.
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If you're going to go the 57 route, I would not buy new. They go on ebay for 50-65 reguarly and it's pretty hard to damage a 57 so you're probably getting one that is as good as new.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Jburn34
If you're going to go the 57 route, I would not buy new. They go on ebay for 50-65 reguarly and it's pretty hard to damage a 57 so you're probably getting one that is as good as new.

Jeremy
Actually they can be damaged significantly, and often get rough usage, but they still pass signal- it's hard to get them to stop passing signal, but the response can be not what it should be. I have a few 57s that have had brutal stage wear for years- next time I want to use a 57 I will use a new one. Probably part of why I think it's not such a hot mic is that mine have been beaten up too many times.
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57 for Trumpet

Quote:
Originally posted by PlugHead
Well,

Ya can't get blood from a stone: if you're the only guy with a microphone in your circle of chums, then you're stuck. I gather you don't gig (often), or else you'd have at least a couple of (dynamic) mic options to try. Start with one SM57 - if you're at all serious about playing, let alone recording, you should have at least that in your kit - really. It is "the" all 'round, most widely used (stage and studio) mic in the world, period. However, for stereo recording (with 57's), I'd say you're dreaming... heavily..... At least you could find more uses for them than the NT4, IMHO...

Sorry, can't be more helpful - you need gear to get the sound, and from your budget, it's more than tough.

Best of luck with it!
I don't know what your standards/expectations are, but I had one experience with a 57 on Tenor Sax, and it was a disaster. Track ended up really shrill and gnarly. I can't say you'd get the same result with trumpet, but you might.
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Re: 57 for Trumpet

Quote:
Originally posted by bloodstone
I don't know what your standards/expectations are, but I had one experience with a 57 on Tenor Sax, and it was a disaster. Track ended up really shrill and gnarly. I can't say you'd get the same result with trumpet, but you might.
Refer to my first post: it's a matter of inches, not miles, and good dynamic mics can be effective at recording horns - often better than cheap condensers. Does that mean a 57 will be the answer - hardly: not one mic will work for everyone, but first and foremost, sound, and it's quality comes from the player - all we have to do is pair the right combination to present their performance in it's best light in context to the tune. A squakin, kill yo momma tenor might need a different mic/pre than a kenny g clone, know what I mean?

As far as recording goes, ribbons are the answer IMO, but the brother can't spend that kind of bread. A 57 for live and studio work is about as brown shoe as it gets, and often can work, tho is not the prettiest girl at the dance. What we have to keep in mind is the brother has almost nothing to spend on a mic, and would a 57 be a step in the right direction - I would safely assume yes...

One other option is the Sennheiser 609: heard great things for horns, but I have no experience with it - any testimonials out there? Runs under $100, and is suppposedly the bomb on brass, but I can't say whether or not it's as useful as a 57 overall.

YMMV greatly,
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OK, now you guys are beginning to talk me into living with my NT4 until I can save more money. Let's say my budget jumped up to $300-$400 in a year. Would that put me in a significantly better place? If I were going to spend that much money I would want to buy two mics to replace my NT4, so I guess that selling the NT4 would be a possibity, bumping me up to $500-$600. I would want to use the new mics to record 3-6 piece acoustic ensembles live as well as recording myself solo. Keep in mind I would still be using my Mbox's pres, etc, so maybe higher end (than what I have) mics would be lost on my setup anyway.

Regardless, I think I will find out if Guitar Center has a decent return policy so that I can hear the SM57 for myself.

Thanks for bearing with me, everyone. As I said before, I am a recording newbie and this site along with trial and error is really my main learning sources.
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About my expectations - I know that for the money I am spending/have spent on my overall system I am far from studio quality equipment. I am not comlpletely dissatisfied with my current setup either, nor am I trying to compensate for lack of proficiency with my instrument. I just feel like I have to play with the EQ levels a little too much when using the NT4. I also feel like the results I get out of the NT4 sound a little distant. I am not a very harsh player and I really like a close up, intimate sound. At the moment I am using my gear for

1. Demos
2. Tool for composition
3. To listen back to my practice sessions.

Thanks again. Sorry if I am being a PITA
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This is a great place to learn, you got the right idea. I wish I'd been hip to these forums long ago... anyhow I'm getting up to speed these last few years.

I have my own ideas about recording acoustic solos and ensembles- they tend to the very simple and purist. Not everybody is so nuts this way! So take it with a grain of salt, but I think there is a lot to be said for spending forever and a day getting the mic placement just right, the playing just right, and pretty much not messing with it once it's recorded. This is tough on the players, but you learn a whole hell of a lot! I'm a player and recording is the best teacher I ever had. Without you know what you sound like from a listening perspective, you're just flailing unless you have a good coach or conductor.

Every process you do to your digital signal, even a level change, wreaks total havoc with the sound. EQ can save the day, but unless you can hear exactly what you're doing, you can really screw it up too. Monitoring is a big big deal. I would try to keep everything just exactly as it comes into the recorder, whatever that is, and really get solid on what mic placement and horn placement in the room, other rooms, who stands where in an ensemble, etc. If you're careful with mic placement and refrain from altering the recorded sound, you can be pretty confident that your work will translate fairly well. Listen to your work in as many places as possible and don't sweat any one in particular, just get a feel for the middle ground.

I have some pretty kind spendy gear, but I still do things this way. Until my room is really well treated, and I can afford some really good EQ and compressor and that, I'll just be skipping that part and concentrating on getting great sounds into the mic(s).

A couple good mics is a very good place to sink a little dough. For one thing, they last a long time and are useful live too, unlike a lot of kit. You'll be glad you did. For $500-600 you should be able to get a couple solid mics of some kind. Better to have great dynamic mics than cheapo condensors! Shop mics for a year or so, and you'll pick something good you can keep for the rest of your life, and use with whatever they come up with next.

A really crazy idea is to sink for *one* really good mic, and go mono. Why not? Stereo is gravy, really. If you're doing basic but basic recording, why not get really basic. Spend your life arranging the players around the single good mic with a good off axis response. If you got time but not money...

Whatever you do, don't get a cheap version of an expensive mic. Get a for real great mic that happens to be affordable.

Anyway, that's my take on things!
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Keep in mind that trumpets put out really high SPL levels and it's pretty easy to rip a ribbon mic to pieces. The rule of thumb is "don't put the mic anywhere you wouldn't put your own ears". Having said that, I keep a whole lotta distance between the mic and the trumpet, at least 2-3 feet.

On a budget I've had good luck with an SM57 with a sock over it, 421s, an RE20, the Oktava MC012's and other darker mics. Any mic with a bright, exaggerated top usually hurts a bit and sounds tizzy. Some people like that. YMMV.
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