The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Gear for recording viols and harpsichord Condenser Microphones
Old 3rd March 2018
  #1
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Gear for recording viols and harpsichord

Hi all,

I’m a professional viola da gamba player interested in recording my and others’ concerts. I’m running a relatively portable setup as follows:

Matched pair Oktava mk-12 (cardioid only)
Shure sm81-LC
Focusrite Scarlet 18i8

I’m thinking of adding something to this setup - possibly an LDC omni - and was wondering if anyone had an opinion on the best approach to recording eearly string instruments. My budget is quite small (around £300) and I’ve been wondering about buying an Oktava mk-220 which has Switchable polar patterns and is based on the MK-319.

Any advice would be really appreciated!

Thanks all!
Old 3rd March 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 
jimjazzdad's Avatar
If you like the Shure SDC sound, you could try the KSM141, which is switchable between omni and and cardioid. You might even find a used stereo pair for 300 quid. In switchable pattern LDC, the Audio Technica AT4050 is a great value mic.

Also, if you search this forum, there is lots of info on the Line Audio OM1 and CM3 mics.
Old 5th March 2018
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Tried to post this earlier, but it didn't seem to go through. Apologies in advance, if this is a duplicate.

I'd stay away from the MK-220, unless you plan to get it modded. IMHO, it would be better invest in a Michael Joly mod and/or a pair of omni capsules (which I find much more useful for early chamber music) for your MK-012s. There are a number of better LDC options available these days (including some of Joly's modded options). You might also consider investing in a good ribbon mic. I've got a Samar VL373A, which I really love for early strings.
Old 5th March 2018
  #4
Use your MK012's as a near-coincident pair. Not sure how much experience you've had recording, so forgive the next statement if it doesn't apply: go out and record a few concerts with them. Once you are fluent with reading a room, how to place and adjust the mic's to get the balance and perspective you are after, hire yourself out. Save your money.

When you have enough, purchase a pair of Schoeps CMC621's.

Especially if you intend on hiring yourself out, don't waste your money on cheap gear.

IMHO, and YMMV &c.
Old 6th March 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roflmaoist View Post
Hi all,

I’m a professional viola da gamba player interested in recording my and others’ concerts. I’m running a relatively portable setup as follows:

Matched pair Oktava mk-12 (cardioid only)
Shure sm81-LC
Focusrite Scarlet 18i8

I’m thinking of adding something to this setup - possibly an LDC omni - and was wondering if anyone had an opinion on the best approach to recording eearly string instruments. My budget is quite small (around £300) and I’ve been wondering about buying an Oktava mk-220 which has Switchable polar patterns and is based on the MK-319.

Any advice would be really appreciated!

Thanks all!
i've been sticking a transducer on a harpsichord and got much more low end than i could get from any other mic - maybe you want to try this (or an additional mic on the harpsicord) and use your existing cardioid mics in ortf.
Old 6th March 2018
  #6
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for all your input.

Jimjazzdad, the Audio Technica AT4050s look great, though are a little above my budget. They might be worth saving up for!

Partimento, thanks for the warning re the Oktava Mk220s - I think if I get anything it'd be the AT4050s Jim mentioned. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the Samar mics you recommend. Do you think using the omni capsules for the Mk 012s is a better option than the cardioid capsules in general concert recording?

RobAnderson - Thanks very much for the advice. I've already recorded a few concerts with just the pair of Oktavas. They're ok but lack a certain depth to the sound. It feels like there's something missing from the 'middle' of the sound. I'm hoping the Shure mic (lent to me by my brother) will help fill that hole, though I've not yet used it in anger. Maybe I should wait and try the three in combination before I get anything else. I am hoping to hire myself out eventually and just want to be able to cover as many bases as possible.

You recommend near-coincident config for the Oktavas. Thus far I've experimented with spaced pair and ORTF - I'll have a go with near coincident for the next thing I do (a harpsichord recital). Are there specific benefits for that configuration that you like?

deedeeyeah - I've got an analogue pre-amp that I'm going to try out on the aforementioned harpsichord recital. It's an old Round Sound MP105. I'm thinking of using the Oktava pair at a distance with the pre-amped Shure close up, covering the sound hole...

Huge thanks, all!
Old 6th March 2018
  #7
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i've been sticking a transducer on a harpsichord and got much more low end than i could get from any other mic...
Don't you also get more "thump" as well? Harpsichords' noise-to-signal ratio is plenty high as it is.
Old 6th March 2018
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Don't you also get more "thump" as well? Harpsichords' noise-to-signal ratio is plenty high as it is.
i do, but schertler makes this transducer (overpriced) that comes with some kind of 'chewing gum' - perfect for attaching the transducer to an instrument (i used it on harp and acoustic guitar before): it picked up sound AND dampened some rumble. together with a low cut on the mic pre, it worked pretty well for me - or i might have used a di with a (too) low impedance which got me a rather thin yet usefull sound to blend in with the main mics.

p.s. on some mixes of a large harp, i sent signal from the transducer into an eventide with pitch shiftters one or two octaves down - now that's some nice rumble!
Old 7th March 2018
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roflmaoist View Post
Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for all your input.

Jimjazzdad, the Audio Technica AT4050s look great, though are a little above my budget. They might be worth saving up for!

Partimento, thanks for the warning re the Oktava Mk220s - I think if I get anything it'd be the AT4050s Jim mentioned. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the Samar mics you recommend. Do you think using the omni capsules for the Mk 012s is a better option than the cardioid capsules in general concert recording?

RobAnderson - Thanks very much for the advice. I've already recorded a few concerts with just the pair of Oktavas. They're ok but lack a certain depth to the sound. It feels like there's something missing from the 'middle' of the sound. I'm hoping the Shure mic (lent to me by my brother) will help fill that hole, though I've not yet used it in anger. Maybe I should wait and try the three in combination before I get anything else. I am hoping to hire myself out eventually and just want to be able to cover as many bases as possible.

You recommend near-coincident config for the Oktavas. Thus far I've experimented with spaced pair and ORTF - I'll have a go with near coincident for the next thing I do (a harpsichord recital). Are there specific benefits for that configuration that you like?

deedeeyeah - I've got an analogue pre-amp that I'm going to try out on the aforementioned harpsichord recital. It's an old Round Sound MP105. I'm thinking of using the Oktava pair at a distance with the pre-amped Shure close up, covering the sound hole...

Huge thanks, all!
Lack-of-depth is hard to diagnose - that could have to do with the venue acoustic, the staging, the mic placement, the mic itself, the preamp, or even the converter (one reason I still drag my Mytek around).

When you mention depth,
(this being a very subjective term for something you are perceiving, so it may be that we are not talking about the same thing), my general feeling is that you are either referring to a sense of front-to-back with regards to the musicians, or you are referring to a sense of separation between the direct sound/early reflections from the reverb tail. The former can be achieved with varying the height of mic array; the latter perhaps with varying distance, though it is often dependant on the acoustics of the venue as to whether or not it can be achieved at the tracking stage. Sometimes this may call for a closer, dryer recording with the use of artificial reverb later, or perhaps using a combination of close and distant mic's.

I will theorise that adding another lesser-quality directional mic is probably not going to add depth, but perhaps you will find differently.

ORTF is one prescribed near-coincident configuration. You should learn to manipulate angle and spacing, and what the effects are when you vary height and distance of the array. The mk012's are what they are, but I made some very nice recordings with mine before I was able to get something better.

Better-quality equipment (especially microphones) will definitely help when trying to achieve the illusion of depth.

As always, IMHO and YMMV
Old 10th March 2018
  #10
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Thanks for your help, Rob

By 'depth' I'm actually referring to the quality of the sound itself. There's a certain warmth missing from the sound reproduced by the Oktava mk012s. I have found that the acoustic of venues massively changes this, though I do wonder if having an LDC would add warmth if placed in the middle of an ensemble (most likely to be a consort of viols).

Your suggestion of using a closer mic solution and adding reverb later is really interesting. I have a recording gig coming up where this is the case so I'll have a go. As I say, I'm just getting started doing this sort of thing - recording for friends for a bit of money - so am learning as I go.

My circumstances have changed and I now have slightly more money to spend so I'm wondering about getting the AT4050 switchable mic suggested earlier in the thread. There are so many options!
Old 10th March 2018
  #11
Lives for gear
 

This is out of your budget but I think the goal for you should be a pair of schoeps cmc6 with an assortment of capsules for different rooms, and a sound devices usbpre2. That would give you a rig that you would not really ever need to upgrade from and your recordings will be limited only by the quality of playing and your mic technique.
Old 14th March 2018
  #12
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Ok then.

While I'd love a pair of Schoeps, I can't see myself spending £3,000 on mics any time soon. What I really want is something that will produce good quality audio for people to use on their websites and YouTube as publicity material. If I end up going in a more advanced professional direction, maybe I'll consider selling some old pics to get the Schoeps but that's probably a way down the line at this point.

So, excluding the Schoeps as a possibility, I've now bought 2x omni capsules for my Oktavas from Thomann, and am thinking seriously about complementing them with either an AKG C414 XLS or an AT4050. The AKG is almost £100 more than the AT and there seems to be no real consensus as to which is best. Bearing in mind that I'll be using these for recording viol consorts, cellos, and harpsichords, does anyone have a preference?

Is this a can o' worms?!

Thanks all!
Old 14th March 2018
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roflmaoist View Post
Bearing in mind that I'll be using these for recording viol consorts, cellos, and harpsichords, does anyone have a preference?

Is this a can o' worms?!
it is! - yet there seem to be more fans of omnis around here (for both mains and spot mics while i mostly use more directional mics).

you may want to compare different seetings (omni a/b versus ortf) to find out for yourself.

regarding mics: why ldc? switchable pattern? maybe a second sm81 could be helpfull too to get another pair - sorry, another cardioid :-)

lots of options...
Old 14th March 2018
  #14
Lives for gear
 
jimjazzdad's Avatar
While SDC mics seem the more commonly used type of mic on instruments, there are plenty of instances when LDC mics are used too - I believe the Beeb has employed scads of AKG C414s for recording music over the years. Personally, I often prefer the sound of my LDCs on violin. I do mostly orchestral recordings and have both AKG C414 XLS and Audio Technica AT4050 mics in my locker. Both are very versatile 'Swiss Army knife' kind of tools. I like the sound of both equally, but the AKGs are quieter. I have never found the self noise of the AT4050 an issue and almost any LDC will be quieter than a SDC. Also, the AKG offers more patterns than the card-omni-fig 8 of the AT...so, if you want to spend that £100 more, you get a bit more flexibility. I think you will be happy with the sound of either. Just remember, my advice is worth every penny you paid for it
Old 14th March 2018
  #15
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
@deedee - yeah, now that I have the omni capsules for the Oktavas, maybe it would be sensible to get another Shure. Thing is, the one I have now isn't mine... I've also found that I want a warmer sound - especially with viol consort recordings - and others have suggested that a switchable LDC is the way to go for that. Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree. Hmm.

If there's not a whole lot of difference between the AKG and AT, maybe I should just go for the cheaper AT. If I get another mic at all...

ARRGHH too many decisions!
Old 14th March 2018
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roflmaoist View Post
...maybe it would be sensible to get another Shure. Thing is, the one I have now isn't mine... I've also found that I want a warmer sound - especially with viol consort recordings
then don't! i was suggesting it for the function (to get a pair), not for the sound! maybe you can find some second hand akg c460/ck61/62/63 - imo mucho more pleasing. or beyerdynamic, calrec - anything with not too much of a hf boost...
Old 14th March 2018
  #17
Lives for gear
 
hbphotoav's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roflmaoist View Post
@deedee - yeah, now that I have the omni capsules for the Oktavas, maybe it would be sensible to get another Shure. Thing is, the one I have now isn't mine... I've also found that I want a warmer sound - especially with viol consort recordings - and others have suggested that a switchable LDC is the way to go for that. Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree. Hmm.

If there's not a whole lot of difference between the AKG and AT, maybe I should just go for the cheaper AT. If I get another mic at all...

ARRGHH too many decisions!

One more worm from the open can...

You might give back the SM81 and buy a pair of Shure KSM141 (Shure KSM141/SL ST PAIR Condenser Microphone KSM141/SL STEREO). They are an excellent pair, "mechanically" switchable from omni to cardioid. Remotester Plush was in on their design, and, had I not already had MKH8040 cardioids and Gefell M296 omnis in my kit, would have been sorely tempted to buy a pair. Search a few threads dedicated to them before you buy anything else.

If I was building from scratch, they would be the first pair I'd consider. FWIW, my LDCs (AT4050, TLM193 pair, Joly-mod K47 NT-1, Rode NT1-A pair) get relatively little use compared to my Sennheiser, Gefell, Sony, AT and DPA SDCs.

One old guy's opinion... worth every farthing paid.

HB

Last edited by hbphotoav; 15th March 2018 at 02:02 PM.. Reason: Autocorrect correction
Old 14th March 2018
  #18
You said you are a professional viola da gamba player. I am sure you have a very nice instrument. However, would an instrument you picked up at Guitar Center (or Dawsons) be good enough “quality audio for people to use on their websites and YouTube as publicity material.” If so, get a pair of SM57s- they are great at what they do. cheap, and very “good enough”. If not, save up your shillings…
Old 15th March 2018
  #19
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Some very good points, everyone.
@hbphotoav - yes, I'd spotted those. They seem to get excellent reviews and the fact that they're switchable and a pair is very tempting. I'd then own two matched pairs to work with. Problem is that they're £250 more expensive than the AKGs... I'll have a think.
@wildplum - you're absolutely right. I have some extremely nice instruments and I agree with your point. However, playing is my main career and so justifying a huge outlay on mics isn't really possible for me at the moment, more's the pity. I am aware that there's no point in buying cheap gear though.

Thank you both for you input - it's hugely appreciated!
Old 15th March 2018
  #20
Lives for gear
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
I did the Oberlin Baroque Ensemble for a number of years. Main microphone was an AKG C422. I got a lot of good reviews on the recordings. The recordings were done in a small "shoe box" hall (Kulas Hall) at the Conservatory. Good picture of the microphone here AKG C422 Stereo Large Diaphgram Multipattern Condenser | Reverb with the power supply. Not suggesting you get one of these but a pair of good LDC microphones in a coincident pair is a good way to go. My pick would be the AT4060s. You have a lot invested in your viola da gamba for a reason. Same goes for recording equipment. You might also want to look at one of these Sound Devices MixPre-3 Audio Recorder | Sweetwater much better mic preamps and a GREAT piece of remote recording hardware.

When I was doing these recordings I learned a lot about how a viola da gamba should sound and be recorded from August Wenzinger August Wenzinger - Wikipedia who was the artistic director of the group and principle player. A GREAT man and musician.
Old 15th March 2018
  #21
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Hi Thomas,

Wow! That's some serious experience! Thanks for contributing! So you think that an ldc is a good idea? Would you recommend a (matched?) pair over a single ldc?

I've also just found a used matched pair of share Ksm141SL on Reverb.com - that seems like an enticing offer. Have you any experience with those mics?

Huge thanks!
Old 15th March 2018
  #22
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
The way to go on this is for you to play the gamba and have a real recordist record the music. You save money and get a better result.
Old 15th March 2018
  #23
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
That's probably true but much less fun.
Old 15th March 2018
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roflmaoist View Post
Hi Thomas,

Wow! That's some serious experience! Thanks for contributing! So you think that an ldc is a good idea? Would you recommend a (matched?) pair over a single ldc?

I've also just found a used matched pair of share Ksm141SL on Reverb.com - that seems like an enticing offer. Have you any experience with those mics?

Huge thanks!
Always a matched pair of LDC mics. No experience with these Shure microphones. Sorry. Buying used microphones can be somewhat "tricky" since you don't know what the person who owned them did with them. I bought a used pair of AKG C414s that were in mint condition and sounded incredible. I also bought a pair of Oktava MK-012-02 microphones that someone had "rock and rolled" and the microphones looked gross and they sounded gross. Hard to tell from pictures. (In this case the person used pictures from the Octava website and not actual pictures of his mics) If you are going to buy used microphones make sure they come with an iron clad money back guarantee. FWIW
Old 15th March 2018
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
The way to go on this is for you to play the gamba and have a real recordist record the music. You save money and get a better result.
Although I agree, some people simply cannot afford to hire someone of your caliber and choose to do it themselves. FWIW
Old 16th March 2018
  #26
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Interesting. Yes, ideally I’d hire someone to do this for me. Unfortunately, that would cost several hundred pounds per concert. Instead, i can buy some mics and record things myself AND get paid a small fee to do it for my friends too. AND I enjoy it. So call it a useful (if expensive!) hobby...

As it turns out, I did a live broadcast on BBC radio three today and guess what they used to mic us up? Old AKG 414B-ULS...

If it’s good enough for the Beeb...
Old 16th March 2018
  #27
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roflmaoist View Post
ideally I’d hire someone to do this for me. Unfortunately, that would cost several hundred pounds per concert. Instead, i can buy some mics and record things myself AND get paid a small fee to do it for my friends too. AND I enjoy it.
recording is no rocket science, so better spend some money on nice gear, start recording by yourself and keep the fun factor up!

(can recommend sound devices gear, cannot recommend those shure mics...)

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 16th March 2018 at 12:58 AM.. Reason: typo
Old 16th March 2018
  #28
Lives for gear
Here is my view on SDC shopping.

The best are KM84, Schoeps CMC621's, Sony C55

The mid range is: Rhode NT3 & NT5, or Advanced Audio CM-1054

And the good stuff in the lower mid range, you already have, and I also suggest the CM3.

But here is the big picture. I Think you are already using the right mic's. Those sounds are twangy, and the 012 or 81 are mic's I try on twangy sources. The 81 smears things, but is still useful. You will need to get to the high end to make significant improvements.

A Sanken SDC could be what you are looking for. Very transparent

3/4" (Mid size) condencers is where you may find some good fitting mic. Groove tubes MD1 or MD2, Sure SM91, U89, many others

And another rout could be rectangular condencers. Milab 96B or AT's new one.
Old 16th March 2018
  #29
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Hi elegentdrum,

Thanks for your advice. You mention Rhode nt5s as mid-range possibilities. I’ve been looking at a matched pair of nt55’s (with omni capsules) on Thomann. Perhaps those would be a good addition?

Rode NT55 MP – Thomann UK
Old 16th March 2018
  #30
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Hi all,

I’m aware that this is becoming ridiculous but I’m now thinking seriously about upping the stakes. i’ve found a 2nd hand (ex showroom) matched pair of Neumann km184s on Reverb.com for £850. They seem to be a make that is very highly regarded (the more recent version of the km84 you mention, elegentdrum). They’re not omni but i have the oktava omnis which could be used as flankers.

What do y’all think o’ that?

Again HUGE thanks for all this help - this community is AMAZING!
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump