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Favorite Clarinet Mics
Old 10th August 2020
  #1
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Favorite Clarinet Mics

Hey, all. Not an actual remote question as this will take place in my studio, but I've got a clarinetist coming in to record a piece for 11 clarinets (sopranos and basses), all by himself. Complex and difficult piece with lots of time changes, to a click track obviously. I'm thinking I'll want to rotate some mics to avoid too much similar timbre stacking, and I'm wondering what mics y'all would choose for such an adventure.

Looking elsewhere it seems Schoeps is pretty well favored, and since I happen to have just gotten a pair, I'll start with that. What other magic combos do you like?
Old 10th August 2020
  #2
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fred2bern's Avatar
 

Mk22 is a good choice I think.
I often use line audio CM-3 to spot all the woodwinds with my symphonic setup and it works very well too.
Fred
Old 10th August 2020
  #3
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My first thought was: That is way too many clarinets!

I'm a natural Schoeps fan - and honestly don't think that I would ever rotate them out. Instead, I would rest responsibility for timbre stacking solely on the performer.

Due to its size you may need the pair of Schoeps for the bass clarinet? Otherwise singles.

OK, depending on the room, I would maybe want alternate mics running onto additional tracks. . .in case I got some itch in post. But I would likely prefer the matched all-Schoeps tracks when all is said and done - unless the arrangement really calls for a 'hero' track to stand out in some way the performer couldn't pull off.


A humble musician,

Ray H.
Old 10th August 2020
  #4
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IME, positioning is critical for a clarinet. It's a mistake to put a mic at the bell, as you might for brass where all the sound does come from one place.
I'd consider something fairly directional, placed at a distance to allow the instrument to acoustically sum. Above the instrument gets a lot of "clacks" from the buttons, so to the side or underneath might be worth trying.

My approach would be to put a lot of same/similar mics up in a load of different positions, and work with the musician to get something they're happy with.

The next step would be to play around with mic choices. Clean SDC vs LDC vs ribbon vs dynamic. Record the 4x mics for one take, and ask the musician to think about how they might wish to colour with that palette. ie, a big vintage ribbon might take a bit of "harshness" out of the higher harmonies, but similarly might impart a "warmth" to the bass parts.

It's difficult to know whose responsibility it is to decide on vintage ribbon vs modern SDC (for example). I try to guide the musician toward making their own decisions on this stuff.

Chris
Old 10th August 2020
  #5
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lukedamrosch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
Looking elsewhere it seems Schoeps is pretty well favored, and since I happen to have just gotten a pair, I'll start with that.
What capsules do you have available?
Old 10th August 2020
  #6
I like the tlm193 for clarinet, but seeing as you've already got schoeps then use that.
Old 10th August 2020
  #7
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Plush's Avatar
Avoid an AKG 414 variety on clarinets and oboes. They have a resonance that is not flattering to those instruments. This observation taught to me by Ray Still.
Old 10th August 2020
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukedamrosch View Post
What capsules do you have available?
Well, since you asked: In addition to the Shoeps CMC65's, U-87 (1972), M930's, UMT70s's, 4060's with Jim Williams mods, KM-140's, CM-3's, 414 EB P48, 4033's, Lawson L47, M160 with Sank 77DX mod, R84, NT-1 with Joly MJE-K47 mod, 441 and a number of other dynamics.

My previous clarinet recordings have all been single overdubs for jazzier-type stuff, and I've been happy with the U-87. For this application it seems it might be wise to avoid the character mics and stick with SDC's—though I have seen several people endorse the M160, so I'll probably throw that into the mix.
Old 10th August 2020
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pencilextremist View Post
I like the tlm193 for clarinet, but seeing as you've already got schoeps then use that.
Similar to the Gefell M930, I would think?
Old 10th August 2020
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred2bern View Post
Mk22 is a good choice I think.
I often use line audio CM-3 to spot all the woodwinds with my symphonic setup and it works very well too.
Fred
CM-3's I have, and I'm thinking they might be nice on bass clarinet. I don't believe I've ever recorded a bass clarinet outside of its inclusion in an orchestral section.
Old 10th August 2020
  #11
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 

If it were me, I'd mike the room and not the instrument. Set up a pair in the room, record the room in stereo with the performer in one location. Then move the performer to the location of the next instrument and record that. Sum them all together and you get a group playing together with a decent sense of space and ensemble... the room is your reverb and your panpot. The extreme version is to put down 11 chairs and move him around.

If this was a jazz clarinet intended to go into a panpotted mix, I'd just put up an RE-20 at eye level so it gets some of the sound from the bell and some of the sound from the body...  but it's not, it sounds like a classical (well, Western Art Music) ensemble, or at least a virtual one. So I would treat it like that with a pair of schoeps or similar.
--scott
Old 10th August 2020
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio View Post
If it were me, I'd mike the room and not the instrument. Set up a pair in the room, record the room in stereo with the performer in one location. Then move the performer to the location of the next instrument and record that. Sum them all together and you get a group playing together with a decent sense of space and ensemble... the room is your reverb and your panpot. The extreme version is to put down 11 chairs and move him around.

If this was a jazz clarinet intended to go into a panpotted mix, I'd just put up an RE-20 at eye level so it gets some of the sound from the bell and some of the sound from the body...  but it's not, it sounds like a classical (well, Western Art Music) ensemble, or at least a virtual one. So I would treat it like that with a pair of schoeps or similar.
--scott
The idea of physically simulating the live ensemble like that is a great one! I have a neutral 10 X 10 booth, so it won't work this time around, but I'll definitely keep that in mind for any similar future projects.
Old 10th August 2020
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
Similar to the Gefell M930, I would think?
no, the m930 is more like the tlm103, tlm193 is much less hyped in the high frequencies, it's more neutral.
Old 10th August 2020
  #14
Mesanovic Model 2 is quiet lovely for clarinet: https://www.mesanovicmicrophones.com/model-2
Old 10th August 2020
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
Mesanovic Model 2 is quiet lovely for clarinet: https://www.mesanovicmicrophones.com/model-2
I've found the Neumann U89i to work really well on oboe...I'd be surprised if that didn't generalise across to clarinet also
Old 10th August 2020
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Avoid an AKG 414 variety on clarinets and oboes. They have a resonance that is not flattering to those instruments. This observation taught to me by Ray Still.
I don't understand. Is there anywhere more info regarding the assertion and specifics on the [apparently sad] result?

BTW, I do own a pair of AKG C414 XL II - I do like them and find them quite useful with a touch of EQ on just about every kind instrument I've tried [1].

I would like to see if I can duplicate and comprehend the issue.


Kind Regards,

Ray H.

[1] Depending on the tune, part, player, technique, arrangement, mix goals, room, specific instrument, instrument configuration, etc.
Old 10th August 2020
  #17
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i like using two mics on the bass clarinet: mostly a mk21 on top and a blm03 on the floor (with a fairly steep lpf).

i'm mostly using a pair of ambis when recording a solo instrument (and a 'main' pair if the room is large enough) even if i'm going to replace them with artificial efx.

i have a soft spot for my u67 (used in cardioid) on clarinet but mine seems to be especially 'sweet'... - nothing wrong with tlm170r either (mostly used in wide cardioid)!
Old 10th August 2020
  #18
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath View Post
I don't understand. Is there anywhere more info regarding the assertion and specifics on the [apparently sad] result?
Clarinets have a tiny spike in their overtone series that some but not all 414's will turn into a big spike. Makes them sound, for lack of a better word, "adenoidal." That overtone spike is a lot bigger in oboes, English horns and bassoons.
Old 10th August 2020
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
Mesanovic Model 2 is quiet lovely for clarinet: https://www.mesanovicmicrophones.com/model-2
Not familiar with Mesanovic mics, but this ribbon recommendation further convinces me to include my Beyer 77DX in the mix.
Old 10th August 2020
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Clarinets have a tiny spike in their overtone series that some but not all 414's will turn into a big spike. Makes them sound, for lack of a better word, "adenoidal." That overtone spike is a lot bigger in oboes, English horns and bassoons.
Thanks, Brent.
Old 10th August 2020
  #21
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lukedamrosch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
CM-3's I have, and I'm thinking they might be nice on bass clarinet. I don't believe I've ever recorded a bass clarinet outside of its inclusion in an orchestral section.
I have used them on bass clarinet in smaller ensembles at least a couple of times which I can recall and they (unsurprisingly) did perform well.

Worth no more than the grain of salt with which you're welcome to take it, but in my limited experience with this kind of single-instrument-multiple-overdub work, I have found limiting the room's sonic fingerprint to be very important. Especially with 11 tracks, a lot of mutually reinforcing information is going to be stacking up -- i.e. from the room, even if you are using neutral mics.

This might be another good argument for some ribbons/figure 8s as part of your approach...
Old 10th August 2020
  #22
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Agreed. My booth is well-treated and very neutral, but like any room that size, it does have a sound. Getting a balance between not miking too close and not getting too much room will be an interesting challenge.
Old 10th August 2020
  #23
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Plush's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath View Post
I don't understand. Is there anywhere more info regarding the assertion and specifics on the [apparently sad] result?

BTW, I do own a pair of AKG C414 XL II - I do like them and find them quite useful with a touch of EQ on just about every kind instrument I've tried [1].

I would like to see if I can duplicate and comprehend the issue.


Kind Regards,

Ray H.

[1] Depending on the tune, part, player, technique, arrangement, mix goals, room, specific instrument, instrument configuration, etc.
First you have to understand who Ray Still was. Please look him up. I began to work with him in 1982 and he asked me not to use my AKG 414 mics on his oboe and on his ensembles. He mentioned that there is a resonance in the microphone that was unflattering to the oboe.

I switched to Schoeps mics for him and the sound was much more pleasant. To understand one would have to compare and contrast.
Old 10th August 2020
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
First you have to understand who Ray Still was. Please look him up. I began to work with him in 1982 and he asked me not to use my AKG 414 mics on his oboe and on his ensembles. He mentioned that there is a resonance in the microphone that was unflattering to the oboe.

I switched to Schoeps mics for him and the sound was much more pleasant. To understand one would have to compare and contrast.
Thanks, Plush.

I did look up Ray Still before asking the question - even watched & read some interviews.

Schoeps is my favorite line of mics - well, I am pretty attached to a new Heiserman H47tube that arrived last month. . .but that is apples and oranges.

Since I have both mic brands/models, I'll grab a high-end oboe and clarinet and give it a go. . .now that I think I know vaguely what I am looking for in the sound.


Appreciate the response,

Ray H.
Old 10th August 2020
  #25
Gear Nut
 
Uncle Russ's Avatar
I am a clarinetist. For years my favorite mic was Schoeps and I used an MK4. A few years ago, when AEA and Royer introduced their newer ribbons, my friend, Ben Maas, suggested the Royer SF-2. I tried it and was stunned; whereas the Schoeps required some EQ, the SF-2 needs very little or none at all and the sound surpassed anything else I've tried. I have recorded my last five albums with the SF-2. If you have the opportunity, try it.
Old 10th August 2020
  #26
Gear Addict
 

Sir, do you think your favorable impressions are attributable to the specific model of ribbon mic, or ribbon mics in general?

Of course, given that your objective was getting a great recording, and not to make a rigorous study of different mics, you may not be able to say.

Just wondering.

Thank you.

DG
Old 11th August 2020
  #27
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I'll reach for a Schoeps first (mk 4 / 41 usually), but depending on the tone and what's being used on other instruments, I'll also use a 121, 441, c617set or c700s.
Old 11th August 2020
  #28
Gear Nut
Recorded the Berlin Philharmonic woodwind leads here in Toronto back in 2017. MKH 8040 on a grip stand above the soloist. MKH 40's on other musicians, 3 of them. MKH 40,30 MS rig 15 feet back, Sounded great into my SD 788T.
Old 11th August 2020
  #29
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First session was today, and the CMC65 (in cardioid) sounded really nice. Because he was bouncing around parts in such a random way for this movement I didn't get a chance to use different mics, but before he left I tested the M160/77DX on him and it also sounded great. Noticeably different from the Schoeps, so from this point I'll be alternating the two.
Old 11th August 2020
  #30
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Simmosonic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio View Post
Set up a pair in the room, record the room in stereo with the performer in one location. Then move the performer to the location of the next instrument and record that.
That was my first thought as well. It’s how Mark Hollis‘ solo album, ‘Mark Hollis’ was recorded, and it’s beautiful. But it needs a good room...
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