Apex210 Ribbon Mic w/ Presonus Firestudio (Cello Recording)
OK so I just went out & rented an Apex210 Ribbon Mic & a Firestudio recording interface, with the hopes of getting a glorious Cello recording... it's turning out to be much easier said than done. here are specs for both products for your reference.
-Cello is about 30cm (1 foot) away from the mic.
-Mic is plugged into channel 1 of the firestudio.
-Recording is being done using Adobe Audition.
In order to get any kind of sound, the input knob for channel 1 has to be turned all the way up. What we get is a growly/scratchy sound for bass tones & a weak/wirey sound for treble tones. This can be mildly improved after recording using adobe's frequency equalizer, but this doesn't help much for monitoring while recording.
Just to give an example of how much of a newbie I am, I'll let you know that before today I knew nothing of preamps for microphones, or matching impedance levels for ribbon microphones... It's all very overwhelming (right now I am assuming that firestudio acts as it's own preamp, although this is a wild assumption). If anyone can give me advice on how to obtain a better sound without having to obtain anymore hardware, I'd very much appreciate it. Would a different channel on the firestudio be more appropriate? can I use software to mix the sound before it's recorded? Any other ideas?
Ribbon microphones need a lot of gain. Which means you need a strong, clean preamp (or a ridiculously loud source). From personal experience trying to record delicate sources, the XMAX preamps in the FireStudio are neither strong nor clean.
There may be several factors though. Does the ribbon mic sound OK on other sources? It's possible for the ribbon to become slack and give poor frequency response.
Ribbon microphones need a lot of gain. Which means you need a strong, clean preamp (or a ridiculously loud source).
Indeed they do - on the order of 60 to 70 db of clean, quiet gain. With the emphasis on QUIET. Or, a ridiculously loud source! I can't think of a low cost pre that can give you that combination, but I'm sure someone can make a liar out of me. The best bang for the buck pre intended for ribbons out there is the AEA TRP, IMHO. It isn't horribly expensive, either, and it can be used with other sources (dynamics, self powered condensers, etc).
Yeah, unfortunately that equipment is a bit low-end and will likely not give you the best results. I do really like ribbons on cello - I have done it several times with good results.
Keep trying different positions and see if you can get anything better. The thing holding you back the most is probably the preamps in that interface. When you crank the gain like that you are gotting to have a lot of noise...
-Cello is about 30cm (1 foot) away from the mic.
In order to get any kind of sound, the input knob for channel 1 has to be turned all the way up. What we get is a growly/scratchy sound for bass tones & a weak/wirey sound for treble tones.
If anyone can give me advice on how to obtain a better sound without having to obtain anymore hardware, I'd very much appreciate it.
I don't think the problem your having is due to the Firestudio. If you have a ribbon mic 1 foot away from a cello, you should not need to crank the preamps all the way up. There should be plenty of signal coming out of the preamp at a lower setting to drive your converters.
Make sure your firestudio settings are correct. They are probably a few software controlled items that might not be set correctly. I'm not familiar with it, so I can't really point you to anything in particular (sorry). Make sure your converters aren't clipping -- keep them far from the red indicators.
If you are still having problems, check that the ribbon mic is working properly. Try comparing the sound coming out of it with another mic (any mic). If the ribbon sounds fuzzy, gnarly, clunky, and the other mic doesn't, then you probably have a blown ribbon.
I think if you play around with the things I mention, as well as mic positioning, you'll probably find your solution.
Take the money you spent on renting and go to a decent studio with a good engineer.
A good sounding room will help with this type of recording more than almost anything. A decent engineer will have the experience to know what mic, preamp, placement, etc to use to capture your instrument the best.
Trust me. It will be much more satisfying. And, you can just focus on your PERFORMANCE.
okay, maybe he should have rented, but he didn't and there's no need to take him to task for it...
I own an Apex 210 (I pulled all of the screens out of mine though) and they are very low output mics. I have Seventh Circle preamps and they have plenty of gain in them and I have to crank them up to get a good useful level, especially on stuff that doesn't have a lot of loud transients. So with a cello you will need quite a bit of gain and while I'm not familiar with the Firestudio, others have indicated it doesn't have a lot of gain in the preamps, which is pretty typical of prosumer level gear.
Try a different mic or a different preamp. The Grace 101 should work well and is a good budget piece for a pre.
Agreed. All that needs to happen is someone to drop that puppy once or twice and that mic is will be shot. It is not like renting a sm57. I have a couple of apex 205s and they are quite delicate (as are most ribbon mics)