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Mic choice for celli and basses
Old 31st December 2002
Lives for gear
Mic choice for celli and basses

Hi folks,
I'm wondering what mics to try on the low end of a string section. Probably 6 celli and 6 basses. I'm using B&K 4011s on the violins and they work well but the celli don't really cut through. I've tried AKG 300s in the past but they are not great either.
By the way, I will individually mic each instrument. Thanks for your input.
Old 31st December 2002
Moderator emeritus

Re: Mic choice for celli and basses

Originally posted by Daire Winston

By the way, I will individually mic each instrument. Thanks for your input.
In the spirit of Scott Dorsey, why would you mic each instrument individually? The sound of a string section is not (in my opinion) the sound the individual players, but rather the sound of the group, with the individual instruments subsumed in the sound of the whole. I could see using spot section mics (in addition to the main stereo pair), mut each instrument? Besides, to do that, you'd have to close mic, and that doesn't record like a section actually sounds
Old 1st January 2003
Lives for gear
I agree with all you say Dave, but I forgot to mention that I may have a kit of drums on stage as well. Celli are so quiet that it's really hard to pick them up, even with close mics.
Anyway, aside from that, if I was to put an overhead over each section of the orchestra, ie. firsts, seconds, etc. which mic for over the celli and basses?

Old 7th January 2003
Gear Addict

So what did you end up doing? Just curious.
Old 8th January 2003
Lives for gear
In the live situation where I had 20 string players on stage with a full band, I used DPA 4021s mounted on the bridge of the violins. This worked pretty well (and no spill!), except for the celli. That's why I was enquiring about alternatives for celli mics.
In the studio, I use a Soundfield over the string section, with close mics on groups in case the arranger requests more of one particular section. In this situation I am usually left with only AKG 300s for the celli.

Old 8th January 2003
7rojo7's Avatar

I've used shure SM98's on celli with outstanding results in SR situations. With the acoustic hyper-cardioid adapter.
In celli and basses, I always mic. the bridge and never the hole, as this was conceived by instrument makers to "throw" bass out of the instrument and not into a mic. If you mic. the hole with a cardioid, theres nothing but mush and you end up eq'ing the whole mess. Trying to make off-axis signals louder than the on-axis rumble.
Recording and sound reinforcement have different needs. Live, a 421, RE20 on orchestral bass or 421, shure SM-7 on cello works well, recording celli, U-67/87, Gefell UMT70s, bass, M-249 or the same for the cellos, 12-18 inches in front of the bridge. Shure has a new LD condensor that someone used for me, but I didn't try it myself , I was too busy with other things. I didn't notice it, that's good.
Recording. Alot of times I'll end up using the stereo group mic. to position my direct mics. without ever using the stereo. Other times I'll do the opposite or use the directs to feed the ambience machine.
To you use a High Quality mic. pre. with any of these satisfactory choices for a mic. is more important than the mic. itself. In many situations I've felt that the pre has made the sound instead of the mic.
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