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Microphone for Flute Condenser Microphones
Old 30th August 2007
  #1
Question Microphone for Flute

Hello. Can anyone recommend me a suitable microphone , and technique , for recording a Flautist?

Any advice with the approach would be greatly appreciated.
Thankyou.
Old 30th August 2007
  #2
krs
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Classical recording? Solo flute? Nice hall?
Old 30th August 2007
  #3
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For solo flute, I usually use a Coles 4038, U87, Royer 122, C12 or M49.
After that, one of those mics would go into a V72, Pultec Mb-1, or a Neve 1073.

Sometimes we might use 2 mics, one by the wind hole and one towards the middle of the flute. I would buss the two mics to one track. But usually I put one mic above the flute from 6" to a foot above for starters, depends on the sound you are looking for. Closer to the lips for that Jethro Tull vibe or more on the flute for more tone.

I usually asked the flautist where the best spot is. If they don't know, I would do the above micing thing.


Hope this helped.
Old 30th August 2007
  #4
krs
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Seriously hle are you kidding?
Old 30th August 2007
  #5
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The MKH40 yields good results on flute.

There is no way to give you advice if you do not elaborate on the context.
A description of the players sound and style would also help.
Old 30th August 2007
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krs View Post
Seriously hle are you kidding?
Whats the problem?
Old 30th August 2007
  #7
It will be recorded in a small chapel with rather dry acoustics. No audience will be present .
Solo Flute - Debussy , Bach and Bersanti .

I have two weeks to arrange the microphone(s) purchase and test the technique.

Quote:
For solo flute, I usually use a Coles 4038, U87, Royer 122, C12 or M49.
After that, one of those mics would go into a V72, Pultec Mb-1, or a Neve 1073.

Sometimes we might use 2 mics, one by the wind hole and one towards the middle of the flute. I would buss the two mics to one track. But usually I put one mic above the flute from 6" to a foot above for starters, depends on the sound you are looking for. Closer to the lips for that Jethro Tull vibe or more on the flute for more tone.
That is good advice.
I thank you.
Old 30th August 2007
  #8
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I think that you would be very pleased with an ORTF pair and an accent mic.

Place the flute where you want in the stereo picture and use any good mic as an accent mic. The accent is placed about 3 ft. away from the butt end of the flute on the same plane. In other words, the accent mic looks at the flute from the end of the flute, not the front of the playa.

Adjust the distance between the flute and the mics so that breath noise and mechanical noise from the flute are minimized. You should not be able to hear much breathing.

Any mics will do and any mic amp will do. Just stay away from mic that have a tipped up treble sound.
Old 30th August 2007
  #9
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You might also want to see if any of the information here is of use:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remot...lin-flute.html
Old 30th August 2007
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I think that you would be very pleased with an ORTF pair and an accent mic.

Place the flute where you want in the stereo picture and use any good mic as an accent mic. The accent is placed about 3 ft. away from the butt end of the flute on the same plane. In other words, the accent mic looks at the flute from the end of the flute, not the front of the playa.

Adjust the distance between the flute and the mics so that breath noise and mechanical noise from the flute are minimized. You should not be able to hear much breathing.

Any mics will do and any mic amp will do. Just stay away from mic that have a tipped up treble sound.
+1

Once again Plush beats me to the post... This is perfect advice. You may find that you don't even need the spot- really depends on the room.

I will usually place the spot somewhat higher than the player and in front, but down the body a bit. Putting a mic anywhere near the head joint is a bad idea for getting a good flute sound.

--Ben
Old 30th August 2007
  #11
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You have some good answers already, but....

I have done a few solo flute recordings and found the following:

Using the Sennheiser MKH40 omnis in stereo pair - great image and good room. A little brittle on the top end.

Stereo pair DPA 4006 - unbelievable clarity, a bit to clear as the mechanicals were obvious

Stereo pair TLM170 wide cardiod in a huge church - very warm and picked up the wood stage reflections nicely. Minimized overly large room to a managable ("tasteful") level so focus remains on performer. Make sure you have very clean mic pre for these as they require a lot of gain.

Really you should be able to get away with a stereo pair by taking the time to find the sweet spot. By adding a third, you open the door to comb phasing possibilities (adhear to the 3/1 rule and you should be fine though).

Let us know what you settle on.
Old 30th August 2007
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by draudio2u View Post
You have some good answers already, but....
Using the Sennheiser MKH40 omnis in stereo pair - great image and good room. A little brittle on the top end.
MKH40's are cardiod... I think you mean the MKH20 which is Sennheiser's omni.

--Ben
Old 31st August 2007
  #13
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MKH20's correct! I hate trying to remember all the microphone model numbers.

Thank you.
Old 30th September 2007
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronnie Dixon View Post
Hello. Can anyone recommend me a suitable microphone , and technique , for recording a Flautist?

Any advice with the approach would be greatly appreciated.
Thankyou.
I've had good results by placing microphones behind the head of the player. The head shields the breathing and tongue action, if you find it works then it works. Also you could try a pair facing the player but higher than he is, don't point the microphones down but over his head so that you get some ambience from that dry room. (I use Schoeps Mk5 capsules in cardiod when pointing over the heads of ensembles as the pattern is nice and tight and the off axis sound is good). I've had good results on flute with a pair of Calrec cardiods too in ORTF. You can move the array further away or closer as needs be.

Hope it's helpful.
Old 30th September 2007
  #15
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I am not an engineer but a flute player who is very picky about his sound, thus my hanging around this forum.

I know that some classical engineers try to stay away from the head-joint of the flute because of the sound of the breath but unfortunately there's key audio information about the natural sound of the instrument that comes from that area (besides the body). So far, the most natural sound I've been able to get is in M/S setup with the center mic above the player, a few feet away, in front, pointing at the middle of the instrument, the side mic then picks up some of the embouchure sound but not directly, and that seems to yield a fairly natural representation of the instrument.

My favorite flute mics after much testing are Crowley & Tripp Prosceniums and lately, Jim Williams' modified AKG 460Bs. I like the modified AKGs for live playing and the C&T Prosceniums for recording. I also think that the preamp is as important as the mic and something that is clean and fast (without accenting the high frequencies), generally does the job quite nicely.

Peace
Marco
Old 1st October 2007
  #16
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Hi
I sometimes worry about how players themselves hear their own instrument and how an audience hears it. I am a professional trombonist and I'm used to hearing the instrument from behind the bell, however, when I record the trombone I do not place the microphone directly in front of the bell but about 45 degrees off axis. If the mic is placed in front of the bell the tongue action and the air which produce the sound predominate. Nasty. All of this "gubbins" that makes the sound is usually heard at a distance by the audience, they are not standing a metre in front of the instrument. I feel the same can be said of the flute - it is true that there is information at the head which is part of the flute sound, but do we want all of it!? If it dominates the sound you're lumbered. The audience don't get the edge of the sound like the player does - nor do I think they should, distance plays its part in modifiying the sound. So I think using distance, or angling the microphones to include more room, is useful. All adjustments are ultimately made using the ears aren't they?
Old 1st October 2007
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobilmente View Post
The audience don't get the edge of the sound like the player does - nor do I think they should, distance plays its part in modifiying the sound. So I think using distance, or angling the microphones to include more room, is useful. All adjustments are ultimately made using the ears aren't they?
Although I am a player, I was speaking in terms of perceiving the natural sound of the instrument as an audience member, that's why M/S has worked for me, because with the middle mic I have perfect mono compatibility and the side mic captures some of the embouchure information but not directly. And I am also getting direct sound and room sound as well. Somebody else from another forum tried this (to record flute in M/S) and they found that it sounded the most like what was being hear live in the space.
Old 1st October 2007
  #18
Gear Head
 

My flute teacher's first CD was a solo flute in a church like this. For that it was two CAD VX-2 tube mics in Blumlein. I'd have to ask about position, but but it's the best flute recording I've heard.
Old 1st October 2007
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Just Dan View Post
My flute teacher's first CD was a solo flute in a church like this. For that it was two CAD VX-2 tube mics in Blumlein. I'd have to ask about position, but but it's the best flute recording I've heard.
I would be curious to hear that recording. I am not a fan of Large Diaphragm Condensers as they tend to distort or maybe compress the upper register, but I am open to hearing all possibilities.

My reference recordings in terms of best balance of detail with ambient sound and Great Flute sound are a series of recordings done by Philips in the early nineties of Slovenian Flute Virtuoso Irena Grafenauer. Her recording of the Mozart, Mercadante and Stamitz concerti is in my opinion, the best recording of flute concerti, Period......Beautiful balance of great detail and presense from the flute, great Orchestral sound (Academy of St. Martin in the Fields) and it all balances perfectly.......I wish I knew who did those recordings.....I imagine it must have been the Polyhymnia Engineers. Also, her French Baroque recording "Flute Gala in Versailles" is another reference recording for me.

Although I have my own gear that I like and have certain ideas about how I want to sound, next time I record I am bringing those recordings with me so that whoever I work with can have an idea about what I want to sound like (in terms of the recorded sound, not the playing of course).

Thank you
Peace
Marco
Old 1st October 2007
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Just Dan View Post
My flute teacher's first CD was a solo flute in a church like this. For that it was two CAD VX-2 tube mics in Blumlein. I'd have to ask about position, but but it's the best flute recording I've heard.

Are you studying with Leone?
If so say hi from Carrie and I!
Old 2nd October 2007
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klaukholm View Post
Are you studying with Leone?
If so say hi from Carrie and I!
No, my flute teacher is Catherine LeGrand, living in North Carolina and makes periodic trips back to Houston to teach masterclasses and lessons. Flute was my third instrument, along with clarinet (primary) and saxophone (secondary).


To Marco: Her website is www.catherinelegrand.com
There are a few sound clips from the cd, but the MP3s don't do it justice.

Daniel
Old 2nd October 2007
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunflute View Post
Although I am a player, I was speaking in terms of perceiving the natural sound of the instrument as an audience member, that's why M/S has worked for me, because with the middle mic I have perfect mono compatibility and the side mic captures some of the embouchure information but not directly. And I am also getting direct sound and room sound as well. Somebody else from another forum tried this (to record flute in M/S) and they found that it sounded the most like what was being hear live in the space.
Hi Sunflute

My remark was not aimed at your contribution, I can see how the M/S would work, the two side channels are recording the room ambience more than the direct sound, which is similar to my suggestion of angling the ORTF array over the head of the player slightly, at a distance of three metres, or more, away from the player,depending on what is required. I guess the only problem with M/S is that when you alter the direct to indirect sound, the width is affected too.
Incidentally, if you ever have the opportunity to try a pair of Calrec (1050) microphones on your flute, I think you will get a wonderful surprise. I don't know what the current Calrec microphones are like, they are based on the original design that I use, and are now called Hebden Sound. The current ones are available from here Hebden Sound

Anyway, something to look at if you get the chance.

All the best





All the best
Old 2nd October 2007
  #23
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By the way Ronnie Dixon, what did you finally decide on, and how did it sound?
Old 2nd October 2007
  #24
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A single Royer SF-24 will do the job very nicely - or SF-12 if you have a really good preamp, but the 24 will work better with most preamps. With careful placement of one stereo mic, you can get the correct balance of direct-to-indirect sound without the complications of multiple mic pairs.
Old 2nd October 2007
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MBishopSFX View Post
A single Royer SF-24 will do the job very nicely - or SF-12 if you have a really good preamp, but the 24 will work better with most preamps. With careful placement of one stereo mic, you can get the correct balance of direct-to-indirect sound without the complications of multiple mic pairs.
Thank you for your post Michael,

I've been wanting a SF-12 (to use w/ the TRP).

How do you setup these stereo mics in M/S OR Blumlein?
And I am curious, how do you place it in relation to the flutist?

If you are recording, let's say a flute and piano duo, would you use a single stereo mic? and would you use accent mics and or multiple stereos?

Thank you so much,
Peace
Marco

Last edited by sunflute; 2nd October 2007 at 04:56 PM.. Reason: Spelling
Old 2nd October 2007
  #26
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Funny Story,

Although I love my Sf24, over the years I had done a number of recordings for a Boston flute teacher that often wanted her students to record themeselves. Before I got my SF24 I used to use my U89's mostly in bluemlein, sometimes in M/S. Some with Piano some not. With a grace 802R or Millenia into prism. She always loved the sounds. This was not recorded in Jordan Hall but instead in the utilitarian studio of NEC.

The first time tried my SF24 on her sessions she was so bumed out about the sound. She acted like I was skimping out on her and actually made fun of the tone of it a bit. She thought it sounded lo-Fi and made me switch back after about forty five minutes. By the way, the mic is in good shape and was of course brand new at the time, is matched well side to side, and definetely gave the vibe of SF12 that I had used.

I dig the smoothness and chunkyness which is unlike my condensers. I often use it for SPCO broadcasts, in certain rooms, along with SDC as flanks. I can see why some don't dig it though. It of course has a darker top end than condensers that people may be used to.

Cheers!

Cameron
Old 2nd October 2007
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roonsbane View Post
I dig the smoothness and chunkyness which is unlike my condensers. I often use it for SPCO broadcasts, in certain rooms, along with SDC as flanks. I can see why some don't dig it though. It of course has a darker top end than condensers that people may be used to.

Cheers!
Cameron
Thanks for your story Cameron,

Unfortunately not many flutists have experienced ribbons and are so used to the sound of condensers that they've forgotten what it is like to sound natural. To me the most natural sound for flute comes from Ribbons and a fast, clean preamp.

Peace
Marco
Old 3rd October 2007
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunflute View Post
Thank you for your post Michael,

I've been wanting a SF-12 (to use w/ the TRP).

How do you setup these stereo mics in M/S OR Blumlein?
And I am curious, how do you place it in relation to the flutist?

If you are recording, let's say a flute and piano duo, would you use a single stereo mic? and would you use accent mics and or multiple stereos?

Thank you so much,
Peace
Marco
Most of the time I'm using the SF-24 in Blumlein. I'll use it in M/S in situations requiring post-production mixing.

As for ribbon vs condenser mic: yes, a lot of people expect to hear the sizzle of a condenser so they'll think the ribbon just isn't "hot" enough for their taste. The ribbons take EQ very well though - although I've rarely felt the need to add EQ myself.

Yes, I'd try to use one stereo mic for piano and flute - IF it's a nice room or hall. I prefer to let the room acoustic do the majority of the work for me. The musicians must be capable of balancing their performance. Classical musicians do that all the time, but it amazes me how many non-classical musicians can't get an ensemble balance anymore. They've gotten used to manipulating balances after the fact. The problem with that approach is that there's a big difference in instrument sound at different dynamics. It's not enough to just pull or push the level around artificially. One can get a decent balance, but the overall ensemble or duet sound can be so much better if they get the balances in the room themselves.

To find the position (in a decent-sounding LIVE room), I use a step-ladder and get well above the recording subject and out in-front. I find the height where all the sound comes together. There's a spot where the foreground and somewhat distant sound comes together in a balance that I like. I move forward and back to find the starting position for the microphone. I know the microphone's characteristics well enough to know how it will translate what I'm hearing up on the ladder. The spot I find is usually pretty close to what I'll ultimately use for the mic.

I've also use the Neumann KU-100 many times as a single-point pickup. Here's an example of such a setup with Ensemble Gallilei, although this is actually a 5-channel recording. This audio example is the front KU-100 pickup only.
ftp://telmedia.telarc.com/telarc/mp3/80536-320.mp3
Attached Thumbnails
Microphone for Flute-ensemble-gal01.jpg  
Old 3rd October 2007
  #29
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SF-12 example

Here's an example of flute (James Galway) recorded with a Speiden SF-12 (pre-Royer) with Millennia HV-3. This was actually recorded in NYC (Right Track) on the morning of September 11, 2001 while the World Trade Center was being attacked. James knew all heck was breaking loose downtown, but he wanted to continue recording. What you hear here was the take made while the first tower was collapsing. I can't hear one bit of evidence in James' sound of the mayhem taking place just down the street.

ftp://telmedia.telarc.com/telarc/80571/80571-4-m.mp3
Old 3rd October 2007
  #30
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Michael,

Thank you so much for your very informative posts.
This is really helpful.

I hope to listen to those mp3s but right now I am getting no response from the Telarc server. Hopefully later it will allow us to download.

I am particularly interested in hearing Galway's recording. I've been a fan of his and actually got to study with him a while back while he was playing at the Aspen Music Festival. From time to time we run into each other at Flute Festivals and he is always very encouraging.

Thanks again,
Peace
Marco
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