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good mic for live cello on stage
Old 20th March 2017
  #1
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Thread Starter
good mic for live cello on stage

Hi I searched the forums and found answers to similar questions, but not exactly mine.

I need to find a good mic for a cello, for live sound.
The venues will mostly be 300-500 seat spaces.
The cello will be accompanied by voice + acoustic guitar. The cello will mostly play arco stuff...and quite aggressively (fast runs, heavy spiccato, double stops, etc). Usually classical cello should not be mic'd at all, but because the voice and guitar amplified, now so must the cello!

My head is spinning from all the possible choices.
The cellist will NOT allow anything attached to the cello (so no pickups, no bridge attached DPA mics)

From what I can find in these forms, the suggestions are like the sennheiser MD421 (mono or stereo), or Beyer M160. I have no experience with these mics, and wanted to know what you guys thought were the ideal mics for this application.

I currently have a Shure SM57, and Beyer M88TG. I like the M88, not the SM57 (not at all on the cello!! The Beyer blows it away). I have a few condensers too, but theyre useless for the stage. I'm looking to see if I can do something better than the M88 though, so I'm all ears for suggestions.

My budget is up to $1000 if the mic is really that worth it. Otherwise, reasonably i could spring for $400-600 mic.

Thanks in advance!
Old 20th March 2017
  #2
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

What are you using on the vocal and guitar? And what's the stage plot? Draw a picture, scan and attach if you can.
Old 20th March 2017
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

A good SDC would work.
Old 20th March 2017
  #4
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MIKEHARRIS's Avatar
Since the cellist will not allow the correct solution,4099C, have you a KMS104/5 ?

Btw..Carl Countryman used to recommend his ISOMAX Omni placed inside.
Old 20th March 2017
  #5
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Old 20th March 2017
  #6
KEL
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I've always thought the Shure ksm32 was very nice on strings
Old 20th March 2017
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

I regularly mic cellists for amplified music with an Earthworks FMR720HD on an Atlas MS-43 stand. The combination of the low stand and long gooseneck lets me get the mic about 8-10" from the bass-side F-hole, reaching in below the music stand and aimed slightly upward. The mic captures an excellent blend of the lower-bout resonance and bow-noise for articulation, I'm able to use very little if any EQ, and can easily get the cello to the front of the mix without getting near feedback. The cellists seem very comfortable with the mic position, and don't have a problem bumping or moving it when they get up and sit down with their instruments.
Old 20th March 2017
  #8
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KEL View Post
I've always thought the Shure ksm32 was very nice on strings
I like my KSM32's on almost anything...but have found the 44 in figure 8 pattern more useful at times when I needd the nulls to the sides.
Old 20th March 2017
  #9
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I know you said no attaching to the cello, but have you asked about the specific bridge mount for the 4099? it actually attaches to the strings not the wood, and makes no contact with the actual instrument so they may be ok with it.

I'm fairly sure last time I close mic'ed a cello (without using a 4099) I used an Oktava MK012 and it worked perfectly well.
Old 20th March 2017
  #10
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The 4099 can be stand mounted and used without problem, I've used it like this on cello in the past.

If I'm not using the DPA I'm using the MBHO 440 or the Schoeps colette with an MK4 capsule.
Old 20th March 2017
  #11
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grrrayson's Avatar
 

I've used Schoeps cardioids too live although that's quite over budget; the Shure ksm137 is solid and well under your budget. Get one and be done with the search. (Occasionally I like the 137 better than the mk4, by the way.)
Old 21st March 2017
  #12
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

Old 21st March 2017
  #13
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Thread Starter
Thanks everyone for your thoughtful replies!

My head is spinning even more with all the suggestions.
I have to give the DPA 4099SM d:vote a second look, since it is mounted on a stand.

Sorry guys, but yes the cellist is insistent on nothing attached to the cello.
Some of your suggestions are condensers like the KSM32 or the Oktava, but will these solutions work on live stage? I won't have trouble with feedback?

I like the Neumann KMS104/5 suggestion (never worked with one), so I wonder if I can find a way to A/B these?! (The Neumann vs the DPA).

Which of these two would you recommend?
Old 21st March 2017
  #14
Gear Maniac
I would seriously consider going for a stereo pair of something cardioid.

That way, you can pan them hard left and right, and use the rejection to the rear of the mic to keep feedback down. Alternatively, something hypercardioid or figure-of-8 will get the main PA in the rejection zone, but might pick up too much of what's at the other side of the mic.

Live cellos without anything attached are a pain if you want plenty of level. In comparison to an amplifier/drum kit/close-mic'd vocal, they're just too quiet.

Chris
Old 21st March 2017
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris661 View Post
I would seriously consider going for a stereo pair of something cardioid.

That way, you can pan them hard left and right, and use the rejection to the rear of the mic to keep feedback down. Alternatively, something hypercardioid or figure-of-8 will get the main PA in the rejection zone, but might pick up too much of what's at the other side of the mic.

Live cellos without anything attached are a pain if you want plenty of level. In comparison to an amplifier/drum kit/close-mic'd vocal, they're just too quiet.

Chris
We can't overcome the laws of physics and you will have feedback problems with any microphone or method if the stage/monitor is too loud and some solutions, like Using a stereo setup will cause more problems than they solve. A stereo pair will cause phase problems (especially on an instrument) that sounds different from all sides. Every time the instrument moves you will have all kinds of audible weirdness, and even if the musician keeps the instrument fairly immobile you can still have phase problems if both microphones are not at equal distances from the "immobile" source.

A single, good cardioid can work well even on a relatively loud stage without feedback problems if the musician does not need to monitor too loudly, and I have used a single DPA 4099 ST with good results in those situations in the past.
Old 21st March 2017
  #16
Gear Maniac
My point was that making sure the main PA speakers (and/or monitors, if they're loud) are in the null(s) of the mic(s) will get the best GBF, and one way to do that would be a pair of cardioid mics strategically aimed. You're likely to get ~20dB of rejection from each mic instead of the ~10dB often found around the sides of a cardioid mic. That's certainly a worthwhile improvement IMO.
A super/hypercardioid might also help, but you're getting constrained on where the nulls are. A pair of cardioids would allow flexibility between different venues.

Sure, the stereo effect might be a bit weird. You could narrow the panning a little and counteract this to some extent, though you're starting to lose the GBF gains from having two aim-able nulls.

FWIW, for a long time working with a cellist I used an AKG D58 wrapped in a little foam, wedged under the tailpiece. Took a lot of gain and EQ to get it sounding good, but it worked nicely when I was done with it.

Chris
Old 21st March 2017
  #17
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris661 View Post
My point was that making sure the main PA speakers (and/or monitors, if they're loud) are in the null(s) of the mic(s) will get the best GBF, and one way to do that would be a pair of cardioid mics strategically aimed. You're likely to get ~20dB of rejection from each mic instead of the ~10dB often found around the sides of a cardioid mic. That's certainly a worthwhile improvement IMO.
A super/hypercardioid might also help, but you're getting constrained on where the nulls are. A pair of cardioids would allow flexibility between different venues.

Sure, the stereo effect might be a bit weird. You could narrow the panning a little and counteract this to some extent, though you're starting to lose the GBF gains from having two aim-able nulls.

FWIW, for a long time working with a cellist I used an AKG D58 wrapped in a little foam, wedged under the tailpiece. Took a lot of gain and EQ to get it sounding good, but it worked nicely when I was done with it.

Chris
Your thinkng on this seems a bit skewed. Doubling the number of mics on a source will cut the headroom as much as 50%, so any perceived advantage in the application of nulls will be cancelled. Plus as Sam said, you'll get some phase anomalies as a free bonus. The solution is a single good mic. The best solution is the string-mounted DPA, but the artist seems to have their foot squarely in the gunsights in this regard...
Old 21st March 2017
  #18
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyllys View Post
Your thinkng on this seems a bit skewed. Doubling the number of mics on a source will cut the headroom as much as 50%, so any perceived advantage in the application of nulls will be cancelled.
50% is only 3dB, and that rule only applies if the mics are coming out of all the speakers equally. That isn't the case here - you're effectively cutting the PA system in two.
There's a lot of GBF to be had by aiming the nulls in the pickup patterns at the loudest unwanted source. A wedge monitor by the mic stand can be very loud before feedback, if the mic is aimed correctly.

Here, it's entirely possible that a little stereo weirdness is a good compromise for better GBF. That's application-specific, of course, but IMO a good suggestion for this case.

Chris
Old 21st March 2017
  #19
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris661 View Post
50% is only 3dB, and that rule only applies if the mics are coming out of all the speakers equally. That isn't the case here - you're effectively cutting the PA system in two.
There's a lot of GBF to be had by aiming the nulls in the pickup patterns at the loudest unwanted source. A wedge monitor by the mic stand can be very loud before feedback, if the mic is aimed correctly.

Here, it's entirely possible that a little stereo weirdness is a good compromise for better GBF. That's application-specific, of course, but IMO a good suggestion for this case.

Chris
Chris...

To put it plainly, using a single mic will give more headroom than using two mics for the same purpose. This is not debatable.
Old 21st March 2017
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris661 View Post
50% is only 3dB, and that rule only applies if the mics are coming out of all the speakers equally. That isn't the case here - you're effectively cutting the PA system in two.
There's a lot of GBF to be had by aiming the nulls in the pickup patterns at the loudest unwanted source. A wedge monitor by the mic stand can be very loud before feedback, if the mic is aimed correctly.

Here, it's entirely possible that a little stereo weirdness is a good compromise for better GBF. That's application-specific, of course, but IMO a good suggestion for this case.
This assumes a lot...we can't, or shouldn't assume that there is going to be a feedback problem. I've used the DPA on loud stages without any feedback problems. Then there is the question of the PA being in stereo...what if its mono?
This also assumes that the phase anomalies (and there will be phase anomalies) will be less significant than any feedback problem you may have and is trying to solve.

Another problem with what you're suggesting is that there are many variables with a small window of tolerance to work properly...acoustics, SPL, mic position in relation to the source, monitors and ambient sound. The chances of getting all these things just right on most stages to reap any benefit it brings are slim to none.
Old 22nd March 2017
  #21
Gear Maniac
Just did a concert where both the opening act and the main act had a cello. I used a Sennheiser MKH8050
(hypercardiod) SDC on both cellos and both musicians were very happy with the sound! This mic is also very versatile!-
In this same concert I also used MKH
8050's (or MKH 8040's-cardiod) on violin, panpipe, wooden flute, cajon, acoustic guitar, piano, bandoneon, accordion and bomba.
(In other concerts have used them on drum overheads, guitar and bass amps and many other instruments.)
Can't hope for a more natural sound
and very rarely need channel Eq.
(great transient response, very smooth on and off-axis response also makes feedback issues minimal).
Also excellent for live or studio recording!
Not cheap but definitely worth the price-$1200!
Bill
Old 22nd March 2017
  #22
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Short answer, a Rode NT5 (or better SDC) close to the point of bow contact and an Audix D4 at an F-hole.

But more importantly, did you threaten to quit before giving up on attaching a proper pickup? I might not quit but I would definitely threaten. Convincingly.
Old 22nd March 2017
  #23
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyllys View Post
Chris...

To put it plainly, using a single mic will give more headroom than using two mics for the same purpose. This is not debatable.
In general, yes, you're absolutely right.
In the very specific case of what I'm suggesting, I really do think that GBF will be improved. You'll be able to push each mic harder since the primary source of feedback will be in the null of the mic.
Say you gain 10dB advantage due to the polar pattern. That has to out-weigh the loss from doubling the mics.

Instead of just saying "no, you're wrong", could you explain how my thinking is flawed?


Sam, the biggest challenge I found with a cello was getting enough level out of it for small loud stages (pub gigs and the like). Feedback was a huge problem for a lot of venues we did, and I remember the frustration of having to insert a graphic specifically on the cello and chop it like crazy. A cello is pretty quiet when the mic needs to be far enough away to let them move (the player I was working with moved quite a lot, and wanted lots of cello in the monitors, both of which didn't help).
I accept that the DPA mic might've worked for you. I haven't tried one. We went through a few mics before we tried the D58 under the tailpiece, which worked well enough to run with. It wasn't great, but it was good enough.
IMO, feedback is a bigger problem than phase weirdness, which is why I suggested it in the first place. I now wish I hadn't - I'm convinced it'll work, even in fairly difficult situations, but it's not worth the effort to defend the idea.

Sorry about the thread de-rail.

Chris
Old 22nd March 2017
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris661 View Post
I accept that the DPA mic might've worked for you. I haven't tried one. We went through a few mics before we tried the D58 under the tailpiece, which worked well enough to run with. It wasn't great, but it was good enough.
IMO, feedback is a bigger problem than phase weirdness, which is why I suggested it in the first place. I now wish I hadn't - I'm convinced it'll work, even in fairly difficult situations, but it's not worth the effort to defend the idea.
Chris, you have the right to defend your opinion as much as I have the right to defend mine, this is a discussion forum and we don't always have the same experiences. My experiences with this particular instrument and a similar situation was very different from yours...the musician did not want anything attached to her (very valuable) instrument, so I used a single microphone on the instrument and feedback was never a problem, even on small stages.

You are convinced this method will work, but have you used it...have you used the stereo mic technique you're suggesting, I haven't seen any claim or indication that you actually had. In my experience, there is no way to always guarantee the conditions needed for this method to work on a live stage, and feedback has never been a bigger problem than the phase anomalies and comb filtering caused by using two microphones on the same source, and just panning the signals will not help.
Old 22nd March 2017
  #25
KEL
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Inevitably, if you aim a single monitor at a stereo mic setup, it's going to be pretty tough to hit the nulls of both Mics. If the player is ok with a pickup, then an XY pair of mics can be for the house and the pickup for monitoring purposes. Doesn't sound like that's the case here. Sure,(Shure!) use the nulls of whatever mic you choose. The dual mic idea can be used differently however. One mic really close for monitoring and something better placed for full spectrum. The problem with cello is it has quite a bit of bottom end that rounds out the sound. Your feedback will tend to be 140-300hz which no mics really do all that well at rejecting. I suspect that a player ardently rejecting a pickup might not like to play to a hpf'd cue however
Old 22nd March 2017
  #26
Gear Maniac
I haven't tried this particular arrangement, no. I have experience doing similar things - panning things a little to the opposite side has stopped things ringing when I've run out of options, so it seems fairly logical to continue along that line.
It seems to me like the idea would work, and work well, if implemented correctly. You're right, though, that it's probably not always possible. If nothing else, it's more messing around than a single mic.

It's entirely possible the mic you were using was much better for the job than mine. I tried a few different ones, but they were all more budget mics than the ones being discussed here.

IMO, feedback from the PA is the biggest problem that might happen in live sound. A 3kHz squeel that quickly runs into the limiters will annoy most people. I'd happily sacrifice a bit of phase coherence for better GBF, though that's subjective.

Anyway, I'm sorry for the thread de-rail. Next time I'll test things in real-life instead of in my head.

Chris
Old 22nd March 2017
  #27
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Roland's Avatar
Depending on the volume required, size of venue, etc, etc, a cardioid mic like a Schoeps mk4, Neumann km 140, 414, ksm 32 will all work well. More volume, a dpa 4066. Beyond that it's a bug system.
Old 22nd March 2017
  #28
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Wyllys's Avatar
 


Last edited by Wyllys; 22nd March 2017 at 07:49 PM..
Old 22nd March 2017
  #29
Gear Head
 

+1 for 441

I also had good success with an AE2500
Old 23rd March 2017
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyllys View Post
Chris...

To put it plainly, using a single mic will give more headroom than using two mics for the same purpose. This is not debatable.
Sure it is. The frequency ranges don't have to overlap, especially since the cello is bound to move enough to create delay artifacts anyway. Using my example you can use an Audix D4 at the F-hole for lows and an NT5 at the bridge for highs, with a crossover point somewhere between 400-1k. I'm not saying minimal overlap will sound best, nor will the resulting phase slewing do you any favors, but it will certainly achieve as much GBF headroom as a single mic, probably better.

If you have to compromise tone to achieve necessary GBF that's one way to do it. In a pinch an EV N/D468 instead of the SDC will get you better isolation, but won't be so smooth. Not a bad pick for the F-hole either actually.
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