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
Tags: , , ,

Sax Mics in a Jazz Band Orchestra Good Enough for Recording. Dynamic Microphones
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 
dtube's Avatar
 

Sax Mics in a Jazz Band Orchestra Good Enough for Recording.

Hi all. This question probably straddles into Live Sound, but my priority here is improving the multitrack recording quality more than the live sound aspect. Anyway, our campus jazz and stage ensembles use a pretty stock mic plot that I developed years ago. There are some tweaks here and there for additional instruments or vocals, but for the most part, the core plot is unchanged. I've tried several things on the sax section over the years, but nothing seems to work as nicely as 414's in super-cardiod positioned positioned below player eye level and aimed down at the instrument end-bell. When they stand and solo in place, the mic is in perfect position; when they are sitting down, I get a good sound with some nice bleed from the adjacent saxes. But, I only have two available and this is about the only thing I use them for. So, I supplement with a couple KSM-44's and they work fine for the recording and don't create issues for the live sound mix. BUT, these are college-level bands -albeit good ones - and hanging heavy, somewhat expensive mics on a stage that has student lighting techs running cables and instruments all over the place; and the musicians aren't exactly hip to keeping an eye on their mics. I have had a couple near-misses with falls (and then the occasional mic stand boom with performance anxiety mid show; we buy good stands, but if the musicians ask to tweak positioning for comfort, they don't always get the clutches tight..and I am sometimes running too fast to remember to double check each one). So, I'm looking for good sax mics that are hardy, sound reasonably good, but won't break the bank. I do not want clip on's due to the cost and and mid-level quality of the current wireless mic rig in the primary theatre. Ideally, I would get four or five of the new generation ribbons that can handle the SPL. But they are prohibitely expensive (and in a college stage environment, there is still the safety issue with them). So, I guess I'm looking for $200-$300/each LDC's with ideally pad and roll-off switches. Most of the mics I've heard in that range have that unnatural, high prescence peak that makes saxes unbearable to listen to as the spl rises. I've even considered picking up some cheap MXL 990 donors and change the capsule and pcb with Microphone-Parts kits (probably RK47 capsules). But that too gets me above my price point (but I have a 990 that I rebuilt this way and it really sounds good on saxes; but I would have to experiment with caps to get the mic level padded; and there is no HP filtering...and our stage encompasses the orchestra pit lift, which resonates around 70hz as people walk across it and that leaks into the sax mics no matter how the mic stands are decoupled or what shock mount is used on the mics). If the bari sax player is not playing the instrument at a healthy level, I will pull the LDC and stuff an SM7 in their bell to elimiminate the rumble.

All input here is welcome, no matter mfg or mic type.

Thanks crew.
-D
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
I use 414 TL's here for the saxes in Big Band recordings. They always deliver the goods. For budget subs the Mic Parts designs with the rk-12 capsules makes a good alternative for very little $. Those are the closest the the 414 sound.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 
12ax7's Avatar
 

I still really like the lowly Electro-Voice RE20 on (almost any) saxophone.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by 12ax7 View Post
I still really like the lowly Electro-Voice RE20 on (almost any) saxophone.
I've had good results with MD421s on saxes as well.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
I've had good results with MD421s on saxes as well.
If there's gonna be amateur crew knocking stuff around, you may not want 421's.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtube View Post
and the musicians aren't exactly hip to keeping an eye on their mics. I have had a couple near-misses with falls
For this reason, I would personally choose a dynamic mic for the purpose. As others have pointed out, and as you are probably aware, many quality dynamic mics work very well on brass and saxophones in this sort of situation. Beyer m88 could be another good choice. Often a little over your budget new, but easy enough to find used or on sale for less.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Here for the gear
 
dtube's Avatar
 

I have RE20s on the trumpet and trombones. I could pick up a few more. And, being the "radio guy" here, I've also tried SM7's (with good preamps or CloudLifters) and liked the results, particularly on bari's (and I used sm7's for the downstage solo mics foe years with great sonic results). But, both of those are heavy mics that also tend to cantilever the weight a bit when positioning such as I what I use with the 414's. But, they are substantially more durable. As a bit of an o/t aside - the saxes on one of the groups have been, collectively, extremely soft the last couple years. They play well - just incredibly shy on the projection thing. I'm not sure with dynamics positioned high that i will be able to recover them from the ambient wash abyss when they pull back. Granted, that is more of a live sound issue than on the tracks, but still a concern. My current fave downstage solo mics are Shure KSM9's set on super-cardoid. Those would be great over the regular saxes and then go back to SM7's into the bells on the bari's. But, they blow the budget. Years back, I had good luck on the live sound mix with 535's on the saxes; but I really did not like the sound of the recorded tracks with those.

So, the search continues. Thanks everyone for the input.
-D
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Easy fix. "Hey guys, play louder."
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 

re20, md441, md421, m88, m201, sm57/beta57, m160, ck61/63, c414, tlm170 etc.
i mostly aim between the hands, a bit more towards the bell for some more lows
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
Here for the gear
 
dtube's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Easy fix. "Hey guys, play louder."
Not my call. I work closely with the director on every aspect of the concerts; and just like I welcome his input on mics and monitors, he welcomes my comments on performance issues. That said, he knows the problem with that section -as do the adjuncts who work with them - and he is working around it by pulling other sections back when the saxes need to lead - i.e. think negative eq. But it is not my place to tell him how to balance his ensembles. All I can do is experiment with mics and placement to translate what he has on stage to the folks in the seats (and get him the cleanest/detailed/warm/haunting mids/etc tracks possible for post).

He doesn't ask me why the saxes aren't projecting in the house mix - I don't ask him how semi-pro musicians can't push their instruments correctly.
-D
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Addict
 

I'm going to throw in a plug for the Heil PR30 and PR40. Both sound very good on saxophone, or any horns really. I think they sound better than the MD421 and RE20, myself.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Wyllys's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Easy fix. "Hey guys, play louder."
Stand up when needed, sit otherwise.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyllys View Post
Stand up when needed, sit otherwise.
If they stand up they can at least look louder.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Wyllys's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
If they stand up they can at least look louder.
And the high notes are easier...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Nut
 
Simmosonic's Avatar
 

I ran the PA in a jazz club for two years, six or seven nights a week, and recorded most of the gigs. I was working with jazz musicians who had been around a long time, only occassionally with students. Many sax players were happy to use Shure SM58s (note, however, that most hated using SM57s). I had other mics too, but I needed mics that could handle all the problems of being on stage, with good feedback rejection, not be a tragedy if damaged or stolen, and still sound acceptable for recording. The SM58 satisfied all of those requirements. They needed some EQ in mixing (for live and recording) but the players knew how to ‘work’ them and so I’d get a better capture of their performance. Whenever possible, I would let each player dictate where their mic should go so that they could work it appropriately. I would do the actual positioning of the mics and locking off of stands, but do it with the musician guiding me as to their preferred height, angle and so on.

Just putting that out there because sometimes the right mic choice is a pragmatic decision based on more than just absolute sound quality for recording...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtube View Post
He doesn't ask me why the saxes aren't projecting in the house mix - I don't ask him how semi-pro musicians can't push their instruments correctly.
-D
Understood.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
Here for the gear
 
dtube's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simmosonic View Post
I ran the PA in a jazz club for two years, six or seven nights a week, and recorded most of the gigs. I was working with jazz musicians who had been around a long time, only occassionally with students. Many sax players were happy to use Shure SM58s (note, however, that most hated using SM57s). I had other mics too, but I needed mics that could handle all the problems of being on stage, with good feedback rejection, not be a tragedy if damaged or stolen, and still sound acceptable for recording. The SM58 satisfied all of those requirements..
I completely agree with your perspective; and I have watched a few sax player boards over the years and encountered the sm58 fan thing. If I'm filling a rider for a band or solo artist and they want 58's, I will have the cleanest examples I have on the stands - no argument or questions asked. That said, I somewhat question if their preference for that mic is due to the sonic results it delivers - upper mid-forward, edgey, brash, cutting, ouch, etc - that makes it easier for a player to hear themselves amidst stage wash as opposed to it sounding "good" out front? I can't imagine a pro sax player using one in the studio or on a solo recording? That said, if someone knows of an example of a pro sax recording done in a good studio that used a 58, I will certainly change my opinion and take my well-deserved lumps.

On a related subject - the college I work for brings in artists, ensembles, and bands of all sizes and genre's. I am always taken aback when a brass section wants 57's or 421's as - in my opinion based on more than few years of stage and studio work - they result in a piercing, painful, splatty tone on brass that I will not even solo in my cans; I hate it that much. But, an older trumpet player with Doc Severinson's band told me many years ago that those mics gave him the complete, unvarnished truth about his tone; he said he always did session work with good ribbons - but they "sounded too pretty on a loud stage" (and, oh dear gawd, that band's stage levels were so high that I actually experienced balance and slight nausea issues within 10' of Ed Shaunneay's kit; he had every drum mic in his ring of butt fill wedges with subs).

I do like the Heil suggestion as I have used PR40's in radio studios and liked them a lot. My only quibble with them in broadcast studio use (their pattern is closer to super-cardoid, so air talent who move their heads around a lot tend to wander in and out of the sweet spot) would actually help out on stage. And they balance better in the smaller clips than SM7's and RE20's. But, they would blow the budget.

Thank again folks. I am enjoying the conversation.
-D

Last edited by dtube; 3 weeks ago at 11:10 PM.. Reason: Quote not framed correctly.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
Lives for gear
 
hbphotoav's Avatar
 

Strictly small-time here (several HS jazz band outings a year) so, for budget and durability, SM57s are my sax section mics (usually 5, sometimes 6, depending). The "harshness" is the 57's presence peak centered around 8k (which it shares with the SM58)which is easily tamed with a corresponding parametric cut in the mid/high region for the PA, and, if I need to mix a tune or two from the multitrack recording, same thing in post. All 57s have Shure foam filters, which not only keep out the breeze on outdoors gigs... they also move the element "back" 1.5-2" from the un-filtered position... which is one reason for the SM7s "lower" sensitivity spec (the diaphragm is about 3" back from the end of the cage and foam).

Mainly... 57s are relatively bulletproof and of a "known" sound signature, are "correctable" for whatever I don't like in the mix... and I can afford to carry 8 between two mics cases, for situations like this.

One old guy's opinion... mileage may vary.

HB
Old 2 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Nut
 
Simmosonic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtube View Post
That said, I somewhat question if their preference for that mic is due to the sonic results it delivers - upper mid-forward, edgey, brash, cutting, ouch, etc - that makes it easier for a player to hear themselves amidst stage wash as opposed to it sounding "good" out front?
Yes, I have always suspected that was the main reason. It’s a very good reason because if it makes it easier for them to hear themselves then it also makes it easier for them to ‘work’ the mic - moving in close on soft bits, pulling further back on loud bits, and so on. I’ll suffer with having to do the work on the tone of the mic if it means I’m going to get a better overall capture of the sax performance, including things like going closer on soft parts so the track is not getting swamped with drums.

My ‘recording engineer’ mind likes the idea of a clip-on from a control and consistency point of view, but I’ve worked with jazz guys who outright refuse to use one because they cannot ‘work’ it; they’re on-mic all the time, even when they don’t want to be.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #20
Here for the gear
 
dtube's Avatar
 

Lol. I've never encountered a device that could inspire more distinctly bipolar opinions than clip-on mics. I too am ok with using something like the DPA's on my end of the mixer...IF I am working with group on a consistent enough basis to anticipate where I need to push and pull those sources throughout the show. But, yep, a lot of great musicians I've encountered have to "work the mic" and want nothing to do with them (also heard a great trumpet player reason with me that the clips hurt the bell resonance on his $$$ vintage trumpet)? And the other issue with clip-ons is whether or not they can be hard-wired on stage. I cringe when I see a good-quality clip-on plugged into a Guitar Center-grade wireless beltpack (not that there is anything wrong with GC...). But, horses for courses, I suppose. If I'm working with a group on an on-going basis, I'm more free with my suggestions and opinions if it will genuinely help the band and not stir-up a performer before they need to play (a large of part of what we do I think should fall into social work; hey @berkely , how about a LCSW degree in keeping musicians in their "happy place" for a good show?
-D
Old 2 weeks ago
  #21
Gear Nut
 
Simmosonic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtube View Post
...a large of part of what we do I think should fall into social work; hey @berkely , how about a LCSW degree in keeping musicians in their "happy place" for a good show?
-D
In the early ‘80s I attended some lectures on sound engineering and the lecturer said that sound engineering was about 20% technology and 80% psychology. Over time, I learnt the truth of that!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #22
Lives for gear
 
12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler View Post
I'm going to throw in a plug for the Heil PR30 and PR40. Both sound very good on saxophone, or any horns really. I think they sound better than the MD421 and RE20, myself.
Tell me more about your experiences with these Heil mics on stage for wind instruments:

How are they about "stage leakage"?

...And not just how much "rejection" you get, but also about how the leakage you do get from them "plays well" with all the other leakage from all the other open mics.

That's one of the things I really like about the EV (RE20/15/etc.) "Variable-D" mics: When there are multiple open mics on the same stage, the leakage from them seems to combine in a "friendlier" fashion.

Are the Heil PR30 & PR40 mics good in this respect?
.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #23
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtube View Post
...(also heard a great trumpet player reason with me that the clips hurt the bell resonance on his $$$ vintage trumpet)?...
Bull****.

The bell isn't vibrating that much. Musicians have all kinds of old-wives tales about how their instrument is so much more special than everyone else's. It's all myth. And his hands holding the trumpet would affect the instrument resonating more than a little rubber clip anyway. To say nothing of all the crud and corrosion inside the tube of the trumpet from his decades of playing and not properly cleaning out his instrument.

The sound is affected by the design of the instrument, the diameter of the tubing, the density of the material used, the curve radius of the tube, etc... Even the finish of the instrument plays a negligible role in the overall sound.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12ax7 View Post
Tell me more about your experiences with these Heil mics on stage for wind instruments:

How are they about "stage leakage"?

...And not just how much "rejection" you get, but also about how the leakage you do get from them "plays well" with all the other leakage from all the other open mics.

That's one of the things I really like about the EV (RE20/15/etc.) "Variable-D" mics: When there are multiple open mics on the same stage, the leakage from them seems to combine in a "friendlier" fashion.

Are the Heil PR30 & PR40 mics good in this respect?
.
I'm sorry. I don't really understand what you mean. Not sure what you mean by "the leakage from them seems to combine in a "friendlier" fashion".

The Heil mics have a solid on axis response, and are notable for their off axis rejection, which is more like a wide carioid, with greater rearward rejection. I've used them as brass and saxophone mics. I've seen others use them as over head string mics. They sound great. I don't really understand how one microphone's off axis leakage would combine better than the off axis leakage from another kind of mic.

Microphones don't really produce comb filtering the way speakers do.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Tommy-boy's Avatar
 

I used a bunch of M88s on the sax line for the last big band recording i did. Dynamics so they can be knocked around and be fine. Wont pick up other instruments as much as a condenser mic. And they sound great on sax. Not harsh, but smooth round full tone.

Ive tried 441 and 421 on sax and im not a fan. M201 was decent, byt M88s are better. Also have used sennheiser and schoeps condensers. My pref out if all of these is the M88.

Tom
Old 2 weeks ago
  #26
Lives for gear
 
hbphotoav's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy-boy View Post
I used a bunch of M88s on the sax line for the last big band recording i did. Dynamics so they can be knocked around and be fine. Wont pick up other instruments as much as a condenser mic. And they sound great on sax. Not harsh, but smooth round full tone.

Ive tried 441 and 421 on sax and im not a fan. M201 was decent, byt M88s are better. Also have used sennheiser and schoeps condensers. My pref out if all of these is the M88.

Tom
If you can lay hands on a BeyerDynamic M500, give it a try on reeds. My pair from the '70s was pretty fab on bassoon, oboe and clarinet on a pit band gig I did a couple of years ago. Smooth and silky... words not usually deployed in chats about bassoon and clarinet...

HB
Old 2 weeks ago
  #27
Lives for gear
 

In my opinion for mics there is a meaningful difference between the different saxophones, baritone vs tenor vs alto vs soprano. For example, I've used a 441 many times on tenor sax, and I like it a lot, while I don't like it so much on alto sax. I don't own a 421 to try on alto but one of these days I'd like to give one a try.
Old 1 week ago
  #28
Gear Head
 

For big band live sound, I started using EV 408/468 yoke mics on saxes to be able to get some more isolation from the brass behind them. I have recorded the bands a few times, and have been happy with the result. Not the depth and "beauty" of a good condenser, but very durable and sounds good.

That being said, I have a couple of 408s that need repaired after 10+ years.

Doug
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