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Mic'ing a 3-piece horn section in-studio w/ limited mic selection
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refae
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#1
2nd July 2013
Old 2nd July 2013
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Mic'ing a 3-piece horn section in-studio w/ limited mic selection

I've got a session that requires a 3 piece horn section & have a pretty limited selection of mics with which to do it. Sax, trumpet, trombone laying down over a pre-recorded drums/bass/rhodes/el gtr rhythm section.

They want all 3 players to lay down at once over the track, which is a challenge given my mic selection:

SM7b
SM57
SM58
Gauge ECM47 (LDC tube)
AKG 451E
AKG C2000B

I'm thinking of doing LDC tube on trumpet, AKG 2000 on sax, SM7 on trombone, no room mic. What would you do given the limitation?

If I had unlimited mics I would guess EV-20s on all horns close mic'd and a stereo pair of U87s or Coles as room mics, however that's totally out of the question in this situation...

I've been told to find the sweet spot in the room, no worries on that I always do that anyways however just pretty unsure of what to use.
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2nd July 2013
Old 2nd July 2013
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You can definitely get the job done with what you've got. Your plan is solid, especially the SM7 on trombone. Is the saxophone soprano, alto, tenor, or baritone? (My guess would be probably alto or tenor?) That makes a big difference in choice. Regardless, I probably wouldn't use the 2000 on saxophone. 451 could work if the player isn't too bright. Otherwise, for this style of music (I'm assuming blues/funk/r'n'b), the 58 would be fine. Or swap mics with the trumpet and use the LDC on sax on a dynamic on trumpet.

BTW, all three players together, as a section, is the standard way of doing this. Wind players are used to working this way since they usually come from a jazz and classical background and they've typically been playing in ensembles since elementary school band. Their playing is always tighter and better in tune when they can listen to each other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by refae View Post
I've got a session that requires a 3 piece horn section & have a pretty limited selection of mics with which to do it. Sax, trumpet, trombone laying down over a pre-recorded drums/bass/rhodes/el gtr rhythm section.

They want all 3 players to lay down at once over the track, which is a challenge given my mic selection:

SM7b
SM57
SM58
Gauge ECM47 (LDC tube)
AKG 451E
AKG C2000B

I'm thinking of doing LDC tube on trumpet, AKG 2000 on sax, SM7 on trombone, no room mic. What would you do given the limitation?

If I had unlimited mics I would guess EV-20s on all horns close mic'd and a stereo pair of U87s or Coles as room mics, however that's totally out of the question in this situation...

I've been told to find the sweet spot in the room, no worries on that I always do that anyways however just pretty unsure of what to use.
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refae
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2nd July 2013
Old 2nd July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matyas View Post
You can definitely get the job done with what you've got. Your plan is solid, especially the SM7 on trombone. Is the saxophone soprano, alto, tenor, or baritone? (My guess would be probably alto or tenor?) That makes a big difference in choice. Regardless, I probably wouldn't use the 2000 on saxophone. 451 could work if the player isn't too bright. Otherwise, for this style of music (I'm assuming blues/funk/r'n'b), the 58 would be fine. Or swap mics with the trumpet and use the LDC on sax on a dynamic on trumpet.
Thanks for the info!

SM7 on trombone it is.

Yes, Tenor sax. So a 451 would work on that right? I will just tell the sax player to not play too bright (what does that mean technique-wise anyway? How can I get him/her to 'turn down' the highs? Is it a lip thing or what?)

The horn section are seasoned pros that have all gone to high-end music college so they can probably do whatever I want tone-wise as long as I know how to communicate that to them..

LDC on trumpet is all good? Or would it make sense to do 451 on trumpet (any reason NOT to use 451 on trumpet?) and LDC on sax as you suggest?

I have read a few places to NOT use 57s/58s on horns, however not sure of the legitimacy of this opinion in the real world...

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Their playing is always tighter and better in tune when they can listen to each other.
I wish the same could be said of most rock bands
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2nd July 2013
Old 2nd July 2013
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With your choice of mics, I'd probably start with SM7 (or 57) on trumpet, 451 on trombone, and that tube mic (which according to its type wants to imitate an U47) on sax.

I'd do this because:
a. a dynamic will tame the trumpet's sharpness
b. a 47 type always sounds good on sax
c. the 451 is the only mic left that I'd use for trombone.

A "standard" SDC mic like the 451, or lots of other usual suspects, will work with almost everything because of their neutral sound.
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2nd July 2013
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As a horn player, I'd use the Shure options across the board. Give it something of a uniform sound.

Sm7b on trumpet, sans presence boost
Sm58 on sax
Sm57 on Tbone

Maybe reverse the last 2 if they are sounding wrong. Make sure to take time to place and find sweet spots in front of the horns, as these mics can have a tendency to sound too honky if placed carelessly. Slightly Off-axis of the Tbone/tpt bells. Sax is a bit of a trick as sound comes from all over the horn. Find a sweet spot where you're hearing the sound from the top and bottom tone wholes as well as the bell.

In my untreated living room at home where I sometimes record horns, I use dynamics, m88s and sm7bs. With some careful placement of mics and players, you can get excellent sounds, isolation, balance, an blend :-D

Or you can do what we did with Mojoflo back in '10 and just use 1 mic for a 3-4pc horn section. We were lucky to have an RCA 44, such a cool sound, and WE made the balance. Save the mixer some time ;-)
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#6
2nd July 2013
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Oh, and if you want a mono room, you could use the C2000 for that, since it's probably only gonna be mixed in very low.
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2nd July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by refae View Post
I will just tell the sax player to not play too bright (what does that mean technique-wise anyway? How can I get him/her to 'turn down' the highs? Is it a lip thing or what?)
You do not want to give the saxophonist (or any skilled musician) advice on what to do with his/her tone. That will immediately discredit you in their eyes!

Some saxophonists have a very bright tone naturally. Bright mics can accentuate that. That's where the sharp-pick-to-the-ear annoying pop sax sound comes from. Assuming you don't want that (and why would you?), I recommended exercising some degree of caution with the 451 on saxophone IF the player's natural tone is on the bright side.

Honestly, though, both Pkautzsch and Kingplaya offered up some good, though contrasting, advice. If you have time to experiment, try all three approaches. If not, pick one and go with it.
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2nd July 2013
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Trumpet SM7 , no mic EQ switched
Sax ECM47 maybe set to wide card and not too close
Trombone AKG 451E not too close either and maybe angled off mike a bit
And SM 57 & 58 from distance as "section mics", stereo XY or whatever to clue these together, mix to tastes and if used pan the invd. mics the same

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5th July 2013
Old 5th July 2013
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I used a 391 on sax last month. The house guy made that choice and I was just tracking and mixing for CD later. It sounded better than I expected! An intimate and clean sound.
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refae
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23rd August 2013
Old 23rd August 2013
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Thank you everyone for the input. I ended up using SM7 on the trumpet (the player gravitated towards it before I could even give instructions!) and SM57 on the other two. Used the 47-type as a distant room mic for some room/verb. I think it turned out great. Took a minute to get the gain staging right though.

It was funny to watch them go from petty bickering one moment to 100% in sync w/ each other the next, once I hit record. Crazy!
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