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what mic for woodwind in a very noisy environment?
Old 12th November 2009
  #1
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Question what mic for woodwind in a very noisy environment?

First post.
I read most of the threads that seemed relevant to my question, but in case I missed the right thread, please excuse me and point me in the right direction.


I need a single mic that I can use (live, but in the rehearsal studio as well) for soprano sax, flute, and various other (more or less exotic) woodwind instruments in a very (!) noisy environment. Or to put it differently, how to pick up the sound of woodwind instruments, while someone else (me in this case) is making a lot of noise with various electric and electronic instruments, gadgets, and effects.

I have seen various suggestions for mics for woodwind instruments, but most (if not all) of those seem to be for ideal studio conditions. That's not the case here. Imagine some horrendous noise, and a soprano sax / flute player in the middle of that; what mic do I use for that? (I realize that there probably is no ideal solution, but any suggestion for something workable would be very welcome.)

Thanks in advance.
Old 12th November 2009
  #2
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springer's Avatar
 

Most everything I do is in hostile environs... your friends will be non-condensor mics.
Royer R122 if you can handle the $$$ and possibility of damaging an expensive mic. Otherwise RE20, or the Sennheiser 421/441 will be your best bet. Also the R122 needs a phantom power send from whatever preamp you will use.
Old 12th November 2009
  #3
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avebr's Avatar
 

As 'springer' said, in hostile enviroments a high quality dynamic mic can be a good choice - Sennheiser MD441 comes to my mind with good memories...

If you choose a ribbon, figure of 8 may be a problem on bad accoustics.

You can also use a 'harder' condenser, with less sensitivity, like Crown CM700 - it's a cheap SDC that works quite good, also for 'too powerfull' brass.

In a good-sounding hall my first choice for woodwinds is Sennheiser MKH40.


all the best,
ave.
Old 12th November 2009
  #4
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As much as I like fig-8 ribbons, I'd go as directional as possible in a situation like this. I'd also recommend dynamics instead of condensers.

Mics that come to mind- Beyer M160, M88, Sennheiser MD441 are all top contenders.

Depending on the situation, a lav or other clip-on mic can work well, too- mount it close to the instrument. This is the only time I'd consider condensers. For clarinet- I like a DPA 4061 mounted on the performers chest, flute- a DPA 4066 headset with the mic on the right side by the instrument. I think the new 4099 also looks quite cool, but I have not personally tried it yet.

--Ben
Old 12th November 2009
  #5
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Marlan's Avatar
 

Hi,

Since Shure SM57's and 58's are cheap and pretty darn ubiquitous in the live sound environment, try these first. They might just give you what you're looking for before moving onto more expensive options.

I don't necessarily agree that condensers are not the best choice for this application because I think polar pattern will play a much more important role. If anything, the using ribbons with line arrays on stage with they're null point may prove most problematic.

Look also at the Audio Technica ATM350 and Pro 35. I think the Pro 35 was designed for live stage use. Also look at the miniature DPA cardioid. You could use any of these mics with a clip to attach directly to your instruments or a nearby music stand for instruments they won't easily fit onto.

Good luck
Old 12th November 2009
  #6
I definitely agree that a dedicated instrument mic would be the best for the task. DPA of course being the obvious choice for great quality. I think ribbons are great for noisy instruments, but since most are figure 8, not great for noisy environments. Not to mention most are to fragile to be muckying around with on stage.
Old 12th November 2009
  #7
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Roland's Avatar
As has been suggested above, the DPA 4088 comes to mind, as does the ATM350, both great mic's and they clip on! Don't discount the ubiquitous Shure SM58/Beta 58. If you look at the jazz recording thread I started the sax on that is a 58, will work for flute and clarinet too and will handle hostile stage environments as good as anything.

Regards


Roland
Old 12th November 2009
  #8
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jnorman's Avatar
right - i would select a mic that mounts directly onto the instrument - there are a variety of makers of such specialty mics, from DPA on down. otherwise, you want a highly directional mic, such as a hypercardioid, with a tight pattern and lots of rejection.
Old 13th November 2009
  #9
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Jim vanBergen's Avatar
 

+1 for 441 or Beyer M69.
Tightly patterned dynamic mics are your best bet in hostile environments.
Old 13th November 2009
  #10
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Wow, thanks for all the answers.

springer

Expensive hardware is not a good idea for most live situations I think. (But that Royer R122 sure looks like a nice mic.

The studio we use for sessions/practice has some Sennheiser 421 mics, and I thought about renting one of those for next session. However, I didn't think of those for live usage. (In the studio, in principle, we could have the 'noise' on headphones rather than on speakers, then the 421 could be an acceptable (and cheap because of availability) option, but we'll have to try whether it would work live as well.)

The 441 is quite a different mic, and would be quite an investment as well (although slightly less than the Royer). We'll have to see whether we can arrange some kind of trials for these kinds of mics, but even then, they might be out of reach for financial reasons.


avebr

A second vote for the 441.
And indeed, the figure 8 worries me somewhat, because most live environments I am used to are far from ideal and getting the noise in the null point would be near impossible.

The Crown CM-700 is in quite a different class indeed, financially speaking. It looks interesting, although one of the reviews I read mentioned that it does distort high notes of wind instruments. Also, we'd probably have to get it very close, and get the woodwind player to try to not move too much. (What kind of distance would you suggest, and where to position it with soprano sax and flute?)

The Sennheiser MKH40 is another really nice mic that seems well out of reach. (Unless CD sales suddenly explode, and we get rich, of course.)


fifthcircle

A third vote for dynamic.
And a second warning about directionality.
Also, a third vote for the 441.

The Beyers are both more affordable options, but look more like studio mics than live mics to me. Nevertheless, an interesting suggestion.

Clip-ons would be good for the soprano sax indeed (although the sound is not ideal), but for the variety of other wooden and metal flutes used, I have my doubts. And live, it would be preferable to have just one mic for all of these (which makes the problem even more difficult than it already is).


Marlan

I think we tried the Shures, but had terrible results. (I'll have to check which mics we used to be sure.) Even in the rehearsal studio, while the woodwinds were actually louder (or sounded louder to us) than the rest of the music (on speakers, with the mics directed away from the speakers), the mics picked up more of the rest of the music than the woodwind instruments.

A third very conditional vote for condensers.
And I agree, as mentioned above, that using ribbons live might be rather difficult.

A second vote for clip-ons.
The Audio Technica mics you suggest look very interesting. Very affordable, and with nice characteristics. Those indeed deserve further investigation.


Roland

More votes for clip-ons.

How would the DPA work for flute? (Or any clip-on, for that matter.)

And I really have to check what Shure we used. And if it wasn't the 58, rent one from the studio to try.


jnorman

And a fourth vote for clip-on.


Jim van Bergen

And another vote for the 441.


So the current tally is:
- Sennheiser 441: 4 votes
- clip-on (DPA or Audio Technica): 4 votes

Thanks (again) for all the suggestions.
I'll do some further investigations about the clip-ons (I'm especially wondering about how to use those for different woodwind instruments, such as flutes (and even didgeridoo).) Ideas and suggestions are, of course, very welcome.
Old 13th November 2009
  #11
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avebr's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lajos View Post
avebr
A second vote for the 441.
And indeed, the figure 8 worries me somewhat, because most live environments I am used to are far from ideal and getting the noise in the null point would be near impossible.

The Crown CM-700 is in quite a different class indeed, financially speaking. It looks interesting, although one of the reviews I read mentioned that it does distort high notes of wind instruments. Also, we'd probably have to get it very close, and get the woodwind player to try to not move too much. (What kind of distance would you suggest, and where to position it with soprano sax and flute?)

The Sennheiser MKH40 is another really nice mic that seems well out of reach. (Unless CD sales suddenly explode, and we get rich, of course.)
Hello!

The CM-700 is an inexpensive SDC with 'dynamic mic' low sensitivity (2.5mV/PA). In my experience, for flute and soprano sax I still may prefer the MD441; but for clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone,... give the CM-700 a try. (clarinet and bass clarinet can still sound great on a good dynamic mic)

A friend of mine that has three CM-700 uses it for almost everything and it's [almost] always a nice surprise - even as an ORTF pair on too bright pianos - that at the end get less brighty. With a pair on woodwind section (even brass section) we never had 'distortion on high notes of wind instruments'... but if you need more gain, as the CM-700 is 'low sens', you may need a cleaner mic pre.

About positioning, you may use it from a near position (studio-like) and try a not so close, as the enviroment allows. With MD441 I would be more on close positioning; with CM-700 from close to 'mid' (almost as an 'spot' on a classical recording). If I am correct, the MD441 is also 2.5mV/Pa!

Try to borrow an MD441, CM-700, and other mics that were suggested here, and try by yourself to see (hear) wich one fits better to you! But surely the MD441 is the kind of mic that any great mic locker should have.

PS: I have no CM-700s, but I have a condenser with similar characteristcs. I have no MD441 , but had seven (!) in a studio I worked, but no more - I really miss them, also lovely on percussion...


Good luck!


all the best,
ave.
Old 13th November 2009
  #12
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Marlan's Avatar
 

Good to know that the Shures won't work for you. Sometimes they're great, sometimes not.

I forgot to give you the model number for the DPA I was thinking about.

Here is the link.
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