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Advice on Brass Section Recording!!! Condenser Microphones
Old 14th December 2004
  #1
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Arrow Advice on Brass Section Recording!!!

I have a very important session coming up next saturday.
I would like some fellow GS's advices! ;-p

it's a 3 pieces brass section: SAX, TRUMPET and TROMBONE.

I'm used to record drums, bass, guitars, keys, vocals and even solo sax or solo trumpet... in a daily basis for the last 4 years.
But horn sections is not very common in my studio. :-(

The guys are the top players in town. (So their original sound is great).
The music is soul-funk stuff.
We will overdub 1 time all the tracks.

So, what's the best way (mic positions) to record these section?
Shoul I record the room (m -s ??) additionally to the close?

My mics are:

-Neumann U87i
-Neumann TLM103
-AKG C1000
-AKG C391(a pair)
-AKG D112
-Shure SM57

THX!
Old 14th December 2004
  #2
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bump
Old 14th December 2004
  #3
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djui5's Avatar
 

Use the u87.....the D112 might be good on Trombone...have to toss it up to find out......but if not the 87 will work....

How does your room sound?
Old 14th December 2004
  #4
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The room is small but very good.
Designed by Jeff Forbes.

Just to make it clear, I just have a single U87, a single Tlm103, a single C1000 etc... The only pair is the C391.

thx!
Old 14th December 2004
  #5
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Fletcher's Avatar
Damn... that's a tough one as I really don't think I'd choose any of those mics except from necessity... but giving it a guess... I think I'd try the 57 on the Sax aimed at the body of the instrument about a foot off the bell aimed at the middle of the keys; the D-112 on the trumpet, about a foot off aimed at the center of the bell and the U-87Ai on the bone about a foot or so off aimed at the top of the bell... but that's a damn rough guess that could at best be constued as a "starting point".

The one thing I would definitely do is be a little slow in starting to set things up so the players eventually gravitate to the best sounding part of the room... then let them play a bit on their own while I fiddled with the sound... then let them play with the track, do my final tweezes and print it with as little to no EQ as humanly possible.

Best of luck bro... I think you're gonna need it.

Peace.
Old 14th December 2004
  #6
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Fletcher
Can you recommend the Mic for recording sax under $1,000
Thanks
Old 14th December 2004
  #7
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kudzu's Avatar
 

Can you recommend the Mic for recording sax under $1,000

kbjazzman...I'M NOT Fletcher but have worked with some heavy weight saxophonists...Mike Brecker, Joe Lovano, Lenny Picket, Tommy Smith....
For under $1,000 try electrovoice RE20 or Sennheiser MD421 on tenor sax. Sennheiser released a gold grill anniversary MD421 last year...origonal spec...nice
Old 14th December 2004
  #8
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you might try making a dissimilar XY pair of the 87 and the 103, with the 103 pointing towards whatever side the trumpet is NOT on. Unless the room is really soupy, I often find that if it's a horn section going into an otherwise busy arrangement, miking them as a section sounds better than blending individual close mics.

If you go with this approach, the key is getting them positioned for an appropriate blend (ie, trumpet a few steps back).

I once had a horrible time recording a similar section and couldn't get the blend without the trumpet blaring until we had gotten a few shots of single-malt into the trumpet player. So, you might also want to have some scotch on hand in case you need to soften up your trumpeter's embouchure.

-dave
Old 14th December 2004
  #9
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Thanks guys
Thanks Kudzu I like the sound of Mike Brecker... very good man
Old 14th December 2004
  #10
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Thread Starter
Fletcher: Thx for the detailed tips!! Would try them all for sure. Is there a specific reason for the D-112 on the trumpet? I usually use them for Kick Drums and Acoustic Bass.
Just as a matter of curious (and possible future purchase), what would be your choice of mics?

Dave-G: Lol.. I like the scotch idea... maybe I will need a few shots too... haha
Now seriously, the music arrangments are quiet busy, small room... I'm considering record the room anyway. Will watch the trumpet's volume.
The guys are known to blend very well with each other. Let's see if it's true. ;-p

Please, keep ideas coming! thx all!
Old 14th December 2004
  #11
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Vari-Mu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Cosmonauta
Fletcher: Thx for the detailed tips!! Would try them all for sure. Is there a specific reason for the D-112 on the trumpet? I usually use them for Kick Drums and Acoustic Bass.
Just as a matter of curious (and possible future purchase), what would be your choice of mics?

I would have suggesetd the D-112 for trumpet as well because it's not bright. I usually like to use a 4038 for trumpet because it's very easy to get a harsh result with brighter mics.

Is the sax going to be alto or tenor?


Best

Vari-Mu
Old 14th December 2004
  #12
Trp
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Hi everyone,

I really have to disagree on D-112 for trumpet (being a trumpet player). It will not give you the sound you consider funk-section-like (which is bright). Actually I would never use it on trumpet.

I would use TLM 103 on trumpet, U87 on trombone and maybe get a EV RE 27 for sax. You might want to change trombone and sax - depending on who sounds weaker within the section (and should therefore get the U87).

Trumpet is really sensitive to mic placement since the sound (especially the highs) is really focused. For real lead trumpet playing I would have the mic 1-2 feet away and and make the player aim slyightly next to the membrane. Also turning the TLM 103 a few degrees can make a real difference, too.

If the guys really know how to play as a section and are really strong you can also mic them in stereo or just mono (I heard Jerry Hey, Chuck Findley and Gary Grant just played on one mic on Jarreau and Quincy´s stuff). They should take care of the blend.

Generally TLM 170 is one of the best mics on trumpet IMO.

Good luck and enjoy the session.
Old 14th December 2004
  #13
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I think Dave G had some good ideas!heh

That D112 has a kind of high end boost that would aggravate me on trumpet- but a tlm103 would as well.

Trp, I am curious where the re27 is supposed to come from
Good idea though.....

This is not an ideal situation, and the one thing that I can add, is that if the volume blend is not happening on your tracks, don't be afraid to get players to move back or forward from the microphones.... ie., asking the trumpet player to step back a little bit.

I would probably go with the "mismatched" xy that Dave-G describes if that sound lent itself to the track. I am not familiar with akg 391's; don't know if they would be nasty as a xy or not.

If the track lent itself towards spot miking, I guess my pick would be a 57 on the sax, the tlm on the trombone and the 87 on the trumpet (in omni or fig 8). That being said, if the trumpet is played with a mute, a 57 is not so bad.
Old 14th December 2004
  #14
Trp
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally posted by toledo3
I think Dave G had some good ideas!heh
Yeah, the malt might also help if the guys tend to rush and play before the beat heh

Quote:
That D112 has a kind of high end boost that would aggravate me on trumpet- but a tlm103 would as well.[/B]
Why is everyone against bright? Lead trumpet needs to be bright, that sizzling "laser sound" is really happening between 6-9kHz (if the player delivers it). Listen to Earth, Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, Al Jarreau, all the salsa stuff, great big band section work: if those trumpets are not bright, what is? Since Cosmonauta said, he needs to get a soul-funk session done, keeping him away from bright is not a good idea IMHO. I would also rather use a rather smooth and open mic like a TLM 170 or Brauner VM-1, but I´d rather go bright than dark on trumpet for that occasion.

Quote:
[i]Trp, I am curious where the re27 is supposed to come from
Good idea though.....[/B]
Just thought that one could easily be borrowed or purchased, since Cosmonauta mentioned that possibility for the future.

Since you are probably using both 103 and U87 anyway you can easily try them on different instruments, but my guess is that U87 will have be a bit more of a "brassy" quality on the trumpet (which often seems to be around 3kHz), where as the 103 gives you bit more "sizzling". If your player doesnt have an open sound, everything might be different.

The question, whether to use spot micing or just a single/stereo mic doesn´t depend so much on the song IMO, but on how well those guys can blend. And that´s not done by pulling someone back a few feet. It´s not just volume but mostly sound and that blending has to work in different ranges on the instruments, at different volumes etc. If you want to play safe I would (also) spot mic your horn section to be able to work a bit on the blend during the mix.

But then if your players work as a section all the time and are really great the session can be a piece of cake.
HP mix is pretty important for most horn players though.

Quote:
[i]if the trumpet is played with a mute, a 57 is not so bad. [/B]
True if it´s harmon mute and you are going for that focussed sound, not the lush one.
Old 14th December 2004
  #15
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MIKEHARRIS's Avatar
Borrow a Royer SF24.........Carlos Sander has a SF12...
Old 14th December 2004
  #16
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Fletcher's Avatar
Great sax mic under $1,000 USD... the AEA R-84!! Absolutely killer in my experience.


Quote:
Originally posted by Trp
Hi everyone,

I really have to disagree on D-112 for trumpet (being a trumpet player). It will not give you the sound you consider funk-section-like (which is bright). Actually I would never use it on trumpet.

I would use TLM 103 on trumpet, U87 on trombone and maybe get a EV RE 27 for sax. You might want to change trombone and sax - depending on who sounds weaker within the section (and should therefore get the U87).
Here's a blow below the belt... when was the last time you heard a German "funk band" [or 'blues band'] that had a clue? [Trp lists his location as "Germany" on the profile thing under his name]

Seriously... this is why they play the games [sport] and run the races [horses]... because you can't really predict a winner on paper or a forum.

I wouldn't go near a TLM-103 on a trumpet because I have a gut feeling that the son of a bitch would be so bright [can you say 4kHz of the apocalypse?] that it might rip the hair right off my scalp... but who knows, with the right mic placement, the right song arrangment, the right atmospheric pressure, the right player, motherfukker could be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

The only reason I went with the D-112 as my trumpet selection was because it wasn't a condenser and I knew from experience that the 57 should work like a charm on the sax... and I was going to commit the U-87 to the bone. AKG condenser mics and horns? They should probably pass global legislation prohibiting that... maybe an article in the Geneva Convention or something.

Anyway... that's how I hit on my guesses... and they sure as **** were just guesses.

Peace.
Old 14th December 2004
  #17
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DanV's Avatar
 

Coles 4038 is saweet on horns, just be careful not to set it up in the line of massive spl.
Old 14th December 2004
  #18
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Cosmonauta's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Thx for all the advices so far!
A lot of different opinions, but all great!

This attachment is a sample from a song wich contains a kind of sound I like and may suit the arrangments I will record. I judge them as bright sound. Am I right?

As a mentionate before we will overdub all the parts.

First take will be:
Alto Sax + Trumpet + Trombone

sacond take (overdub):
Tenor or Baritone + Trumpet (or flugel) + Trombone

The guys plays great togheter, they are top session players. Actually the sax and the trumpet are brothers... so you can imagine. (I hope this helps my debut )

The only mic that maybe I can borrow is another TLM 103. In case to go all condenser, that helps?
Attached Files

hornsample.mp3 (1.29 MB, 3367 views)

Old 14th December 2004
  #19
Trp
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Fletcher

Here's a blow below the belt... when was the last time you heard a German "funk band" [or 'blues band'] that had a clue? [Trp lists his location as "Germany" on the profile thing under his name]
*yawning*
Quote:
[i]Seriously... this is why they play the games [sport] and run the races [horses]... because you can't really predict a winner on paper or a forum.[/B]
Sure, but there are some starting points that can be helpful IMO. That´s what Cosmonauta asked for. My experiences on using these mics on horn sections just seem to be different from your experiences (or guesses).

Cosmonauta - I am sure you will be fine
Old 14th December 2004
  #20
Trp
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Cosmonauta
This attachment is a sample from a song wich contains a kind of sound I like and may suit the arrangments I will record. I judge them as bright sound. Am I right?
Yes, they sound bright. Not super bright but they don´t play high notes on that tune, it´s really all mid-range.

If you can easily borrow that other TLM 103 I would and have it ready. It´s hard to tell before, but sometimes if one player is not as strong he might sound less "direct" using a dynamic. You might not realize when he plays alone, but maybe within the section.

Since you can´t get any other mics anyway, don´t let people make you nervous here about how inapropriate your stuff is. It´s´not. You´ll be fine.
Old 14th December 2004
  #21
JTR
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brass sections

Some interesting answers; nice to see more than just debating about boxes on this site...

If I may, as a first-time poster, offer some suggestions?

You haven't mentioned the recording medium - that would be one thing to consider; the tendency of certain converter & mic combinations to bring out more brightness than would be the case with an analog medium, or if using ribbons, which you don't have.

Fletcher's point about finding the acoustic sweetspot in the room is very important; can make all the difference.
A good, recording savvy section will give you a blended sound - the Tower Of Power guys sound amazing in a studio; kind of one giant horn player with 8 arms - so all you gotta do is capture the blended tone as naturally as possible
If your room sounds good, and the goal is a blended section, with some doubling, then perhaps the 87 & 103 set up as a mid-side pair at a distance would be worth considering?

Then use the dynamics for fill in, but be careful about harshness (which is why I'm suggesting using the 103 at a distance)

(Yes to Fletcher's 2nd point - resist the urge to grab eq on the way to tape!!!!! and likewise, avoid compression unless absolutely needed, and then only a coupla dB)

I'd also try and avoid the "liquid courage" solution to problems with players - you tend to get a relaxed musician with lousy pitch and timing - not a great recipe for good horn tracks
Old 14th December 2004
  #22
Gear nut
 

As a trombone player who has arranged for and played lots of these kind of sessions I might chime in.

Borrow that second tlm103.

Use the Neumanns as close up mics + the pair as rooms mics. Try whether 103 or U87 fits best on the trumpet as it is the most important instrument in the section.

I also second Fletchers advice on finding the best part of the room. If the players feel that they can make a good sound in the room without having to work too hard then you´re halfway there. The worst sessions is when you're in someones project place with wall to wall auralex foam or similar.

..and while I can agree to some extent that finding German bands PLAYING good funk (this was about sound though) can be tough. If you ask around among horns players, finding an AE brought up on 70's rock that knows what a horn section is supposed to sound like is even more rare...

The most cruicial part is how they play though. Generally the louder the room allows you to play the better it is.

/A
Old 15th December 2004
  #23
Trp
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally posted by stampen
..and while I can agree to some extent that finding German bands PLAYING good funk (this was about sound though) can be tough. /A
There are lots of great horn players that live/work in Germany. Fellow trumpet players I played in sections with here have recorded for and played with Rolling Stones, Sting, Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, Phil Collins, Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, Robbie Williams and others.

BTW, looks like Nils Landgren is going to move to Hamburg.

Old 15th December 2004
  #24
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I wouldn't go near a TLM-103 on a trumpet

Eh....?....Fletch...recorded acclaimed New York trumpeter Ingrin Jansen thru her own TLM 103
Check out "Ingrid Jansen with the SNJO - Miles Ahead" on Sparticus Records
Sounded good...got fav. reviews


Yes, yes, yes to AEA R-84
Old 15th December 2004
  #25
JTR
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Re: I wouldn't go near a TLM-103 on a trumpet

Quote:
Originally posted by kudzu
Eh....?....Fletch...recorded acclaimed New York trumpeter Ingrin Jansen thru her own TLM 103
Check out "Ingrid Jansen with the SNJO - Miles Ahead" on Sparticus Records
Sounded good...got fav. reviews


Yes, yes, yes to AEA R-84

No offense to Ingrin, but musicians are the last folks I'd refer to about anything to do with gear - they hear notes, not tone.
Old 15th December 2004
  #26
Gear nut
 

Re: Re: I wouldn't go near a TLM-103 on a trumpet

Quote:
Originally posted by JTR
No offense to Ingrin, but musicians are the last folks I'd refer to about anything to do with gear - they hear notes, not tone.
....unless you're a musician who begun doing recordings because he got tired of AEs f-cking up horn sounds for years and years and became an AE himself. Is that irony? heh

/A
Old 15th December 2004
  #27
Trp
Gear Addict
 

Re: Re: I wouldn't go near a TLM-103 on a trumpet

Quote:
Originally posted by JTR
No offense to Ingrin, but musicians are the last folks I'd refer to about anything to do with gear - they hear notes, not tone.
Sorry, but if that´s your experience than you haven´t worked with good musicians.

Do you really think Ingrid (not Ingrin) doesn´t care how she sounds on her record? I can asure you that a lot of high class musicians (I can´t speak for Ingrid) are very sensitive to changes in sound, hear them very well and have gone through a lot of mic and mic positioning testing. Especially if their personal sound is a big part of their success. They might not know how to handle certain pieces of gear (but those are only tools anyway) or call frequencies but they hear them very well.
Old 15th December 2004
  #28
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Fletcher's Avatar
Re: Re: I wouldn't go near a TLM-103 on a trumpet

Quote:
Originally posted by JTR
No offense to Ingrin, but musicians are the last folks I'd refer to about anything to do with gear - they hear notes, not tone.
I would very much disagree with that statement... most of the musicians I know are very concerned with "tone", as well as "texture"... they sometimes lack the concept of "context vs. solo'ed" but understand, and can often communicate things they want to accentuate or bury about the tone of their instrument.

That said, musicians are indeed the last people I would talk to about gear as recording generally isn't the main thrust of their existance and their experience is limited... in my case they need to worry about playing their instrument while I play my instrument... if they're unhappy with the results they have attained working with different engineers the thing they should do is to "jam" with people who are at their level in terms of playing their instrument [recording studio] rather than try to "jam" with themselves.
Old 15th December 2004
  #29
JTR
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tone moan

Apologies gentlemen: I threw that statement out to be provocative without qualifying it -

I wasn't meaning to imply that musicians aren't concerned about these issues, only that from my experience, their ability to hear nuance, discern good sound from bad, and correctly use a tech vocabulary to describe these details isn't always what it could be. And yes, there are many studio experienced folks with all the listening skills of a good engineer or producer - thank goodness!
(Hey, some engineers can even hear notes!)

Likewise, you know that "musicians notch" that audiologists refer to?
I think many musicians unknowingly overcompensate for it with their choice of tone, mics, eq, etc.
Which, as an example, perhaps explains their preference for equip that sounds the way a TLM103 does - which in my opinion, isn't a quality piece of kit.

Discuss, consult, etc with them as you are saying? Absolutely! 110%
Leave crucial decision-making in their hands?
A dicey proposition, in my opinion

Fletcher's reference to the "jamming" concept is very good - but isn't that idea something that should/could be considered part of the pre-production process?


Sorry about misspelling "Ingrid" I was referring to the first spelling of it in the orig post
Old 16th December 2004
  #30
one man, ONE mic pre
The "musician's notch" USED to be i Audiology texts s the 'Boilermaker's notch'.. either way it refers to the 3k dip that is classic evidence of a noise induced hearing loss (probably beginning there because it's the resonant freq of the inner ear).
They could as easily cal it the Engineer's Notch, but i suspect they see a lot more musicians by sheer numbers.

I don't personally like the TLM103 period... I'm not sure there IS a transformerless Neumann that i really like.
but certainly many great trumpet solo recordings , and even more in sections, were done on 87's and they sound great.

I know hearing a trumpet on a dynamic playing with a bone on a condenser would bug the %^&* out of me.
But your experience may differ.. depending on the depth of YOUR Boilermaker's Notch <g>

my choice if the world were my mic closet (instead of your closet):

3 87's or UM-70's

or 3 STC/Coles 4038's or RCA 44BX on trumpet with 77DX's on Bone and Sax

given your choices:
87 on Trumpet, TLM on Bone, probably C1000 on Sax, or switch the sax and bone and see what you like better.
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