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New XLR mic for trumpet + trombone: dynamic vs ribbon?


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Dutch Guy
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 6:55 am    Post subject: New XLR mic for trumpet + trombone: dynamic vs ribbon? Reply with quote

Hello guys,

I'm starting a little home recording studio. Got the room ready, got the computer set up with a Focusrite Scarlett interface, and did some experimenting with a cheap clip-on microphone. I am ready to buy something that I can attach to a stand, and actually sounds good and works good for trumpet and trombone recording.

At first I was going to go for the Shure SM58, for its low price and good reviews. Then I saw some video's on ribbon microphones, and man, those sound good. It made the SM58 sound bright and unnatural, whereas the ribbon sounded so alive. Living in Europe, I have to rely on online stores based in Europe to prevent insane taxes, so I went onto the Thomann website. Turns out, they have a nice ribbon microphone from their own brand (T.bone), the T.bone RB 500, priced at 99 euros. They also have a RB 100, and RM 700, priced at 69 and 89 respectively.

Sadly, I know nothing about this kind of stuff. What would you guys recommend for doing multitracks with trumpet/flugelhorn/trombone/baritone? I'm doing it on the attic, with the possibility to do limited acoustic treatment. There is a PC that makes some noise as well.

Your answer doesn't have to be limited to the microphones I mentioned. Lets say I have a budget of 150 euros, with a bit more if it really is significantly better than the other options.
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Rompson
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have any experience with Thomann's ribbon mics, but that one in particular looks kind of big and cumbersome, and has an always attached XLR cable which seems like it would be a pain to store. My first choice would be a Shure 57A. They have a little better frequency response in the highs and lows than a regular 57/58, and they are reliable and durable. You could even use it to play out somewhere without having to worry about the fragility of a ribbon mic.

I would get my feet wet with a a cardioid dynamic mic (SM57, 58, 58A, 58B) and save up for a nicer ribbon mic later (IMO).
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Dutch Guy
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your opinion!

Fragility will not be an issue. The mic will remain on the attic. I won't be using it anywhere else. What would you say would be a 'nicer ribbon mic'?
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Rompson
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A "nicer" ribbon mic can be had for much less than in the past. I'm not an expert, but I know the Royer R121 is the "new standard" for ribbon mics. It costs around $1300. The Royer R10 is similar and costs $500. I'm sure there are other competing brands.

Frankly, I'm sure that that Thomann mic is perfectly fine. I just would be very surprised if you get all of the warmth and definition you are expecting out of a $99 ribbon mic.
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Don Herman rev2
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have phantom power a decent large-diaphragm mic works well and generally do not have the same upper-midrange boost of a SM57/58 capsule. E.g. AKG C3000 or C4000.
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Dutch Guy
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sadly I don't know much about microphones. The AKG C3000 is within my price range, but will it do better than a ribbon? Does it have advantages / disadvantages?
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Gregg Peele
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 10:49 am    Post subject: Ribbon mic Reply with quote

If you are handy with a soldering iron, you could build a ribbon microphone yourself. I built a couple of these...

Check out this website...

https://diyribbonmic.com

Gregg
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theslawdawg
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 10:54 am    Post subject: Re: Ribbon mic Reply with quote

Gregg Peele wrote:
If you are handy with a soldering iron, you could build a ribbon microphone yourself. I built a couple of these...

Check out this website...

https://diyribbonmic.com

Gregg


This is awesome. Thank you.
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've experimented with an SM58, it'll record trumpet but it's not ideal for the purpose. The SM58 is a dynamic mic and its primary intended use is as a live, on-stage vocal mic that will punch through the mix and a loud crowd, also they're famous for being really rugged, to stand up to many cycles of setup and take down, being dropped here and there. They also get used for mic'ing guitar cabinets. While the SM58 and its almost identical cousin the SM57 get used for a lot of things they weren't primarily designed for, it's not famous for picking up the nuance of instruments. For recording there are many better options.

Some mics I've used and the real-world results I've gotten. Bear in mind on all of these there's been additional tweaking with EQ and or multiband compression - i.e. software that selectively adds compression on a specific frequency. Also reverb of one variety or another. None are expensive mics, the most expensive of the bunch is the CAD E100 which I got used for around $125. I think they were around $300 new at the time. All were bought used or at a discount, however none of the MXL mics listed here are more than $120 new. None of mine are USB mics, all are going through a preamp into the line-in jack of either the onboard computer sound or a sound card. This is a small sample of not expensive mics, there are many mics out there that I'm sure are great, and of course you can spend a lot more money. There are individual mics and individual preamps that cost more than my entire rig. But you don't have to spend big money to get decent results.

The Pre on all of these except The Christmas Song is a Studio Projects VTB-1. The Christmas Song was recorded through a Presonus Bluetube. I've never used a Focusrite, my assumption is you'd get similar results.

Trumpet recorded with an Equitek CAD E-100. This is the older, original version of the mic, there's a newer version. Vocal recorded with a Marshall MXL-990 which also does a great job on trumpet. Horn is a King Silver Flair with a Jet-Tone T1A.


Link


Flugel with a Marshall MXL 1006 that's been electronically modded, which mostly is about making it able to take more SPL (loudness) doesn't really alter the sound of the mic. Chinese faux-brand stencil horn.


Link


Flugel with a Marshall MXL V63M - has a more rolled off high end, good if you want a more subdued sound. I was also playing a very mellow mouthpiece - a Denis Wick 4FL.


Link


Flugel with a Marshall MXL R40 ribbon mic.

https://soundcloud.com/brassplyer-1/autumn-leaves-on-flugelhorn/s-jdWhJ

Here the trumpet part was recorded on a Marshall MXL-990. I added my trumpet to a singer's existing karaoke recording, she was using some inexpensive generic computer mic. Same Silver Flair as above.

https://soundcloud.com/brassplyer/rebecca-sings-god-bless/s-k3csr

Trumpet section and backing harmony vocals recorded with a Marshall MXL-990. They were added to an indie artist's existing CD track. Same Silver Flair as above.

https://soundcloud.com/brassplyer-1/believe-for-soundcloud/s-yZv3e
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Last edited by Robert P on Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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Trumpetingbynurture
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robert P wrote:


Flugel with a Marshall MXL 1006 that's been electronically modded, which mostly is about making it able to take more SPL (loudness) doesn't really alter the sound of the mic. Chinese faux-brand stencil horn.
...

Flugel with a Marshall MXL R40 ribbon mic.

https://soundcloud.com/brassplyer-1/autumn-leaves-on-flugelhorn/s-jdWhJ


Hi Robert,

Thanks for sharing all these recordings!

Funny, I was just a few days ago trawling though youtube trying to find examples of things recorded on MXL mics and totally given up on finding anything that wasn't recordings of guitars or people singing, often rather questionably. I've been wanting to add a few extra microphones for recording various classical chamber music combinations as I frequently write for such ensembles and want to up my recording game a bit without going for either the cheap garbage microphones or the really pricey industry standards for such stuff. But there's very few examples I've been able to find of MXL mics being used for strings or winds.

The MXL R40 was on my short list, and hearing your recording has confirmed for me that it's probably pretty suited to what I want.
How do you think it would go with recording stuff like a solo cello, probably from a few feet away (where it isn't in the way of the cellist)?
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J.D. Heckathorn
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Best mic I've used for horns is the Sennheiser MD441 condenser. Other than that a ribbon mic or even SM57 can do the job just fine.
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trumpetingbynurture wrote:
The MXL R40 was on my short list, and hearing your recording has confirmed for me that it's probably pretty suited to what I want. How do you think it would go with recording stuff like a solo cello, probably from a few feet away (where it isn't in the way of the cellist)?

As far as how the R40 specifically would work unfortunately I can't give any meaningful insight. I have no experience recording bowed stringed instruments, I've piddled with guitar a little.

To be honest, it's my least favorite of the group that I referenced above for trumpet & flugel. I find it yields a kind of tubby, harsh, buzzy response on the bottom end. However I haven't experimented with it much, and also it's at the budget end of the ribbon mic world. Something like cello I would think puts out big vibration waves, I don't know how that R40 would handle it. Unfortunately you'd just have to try it and see what happens. It's also not the only MXL ribbon mic. I happened to get mine because it was a Musician's Friend Stupid Deal Of The Day, I seem to recall I got it for around $40 or so and was curious having never used a ribbon mic. Like any mic I'm sure there are tweaks that can be done to improve the performance from the out of the box state.

Of course ribbon mics as a class are used to record everything. The Tonight Show had Doc blowing into an RCA ribbon mic for a long time. RCA ribbons have been around a long time, I assume Doc's had been refurbished and tweaked from whatever the original internal configuration had been.

Royer ribbons are popular, I know Coles 4038 ribbons were among the mics used on Doc's "Trumpet Spectacular" album. Of course both are much more expensive.
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Last edited by Robert P on Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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kalijah
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Sadly I don't know much about microphones. The AKG C3000 is within my price range, but will it do better than a ribbon? Does it have advantages / disadvantages?


Absolutely not. I own a C3000. It is terrible for trumpet. But fine for flugel. Even a cheap Chinese ribbon is far better on trumpet.

Trumpet records best with ribbon or dynamic mics.

I have the Apex ribbons which i upgraded with Lundahl transformer. It souds fantastic.
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thing to be aware of is the distance to the mic can make a difference, you need to find that sweet spot that gives you the sound you want. Close-mic'd is going to sound different than farther away. Recording in a large cathedral is going to be a different proposition than recording in your living room. Single mic, stereo mics.

You can also use effects - you can use modeled reverb to simulate a concert hall or cathedral sound such as the "Acoustic Mirror" effect in SoundForge. You can even use microphone modeling to alter the character of your mic within limits - it's more to achieve a certain coloration, you're not going to make an SM58 sound like a Telefunken tube mic.

You can also mix mics - for example a single ribbon mic closer to you and a stereo pair of condensers farther away.

Look at the vast array of mics being used on this Alison Balsom album. They're using a mixture of ribbon and condenser mics. Besides the mics on her, she's also picked up by the mics on the rest of the ensemble and vice versa. The room has a bearing as well, they're in a purpose-built room that gives a nice lush reverb.


Link

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OldHorn
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like Robert P said, you can also use effects. With a distortion/saturation plugin you can add incredible warmth to a track. It'll use digital technology to emulate the warmth of analog tape machines. With home recording, there's a lot to learn, but it's great fun.
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theslawdawg
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So if I were using Musiciansfriend, what is an ideal shopping list you recommend for my own little recording setup at home?
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

theslawdawg wrote:
So if I were using Musiciansfriend, what is an ideal shopping list you recommend for my own little recording setup at home?

It depends on the specifics of what you want to do with you recording setup. Do you want to record just yourself? A group? Are you going to want to sell what you record? What instruments do you want to record? Will you ever for example want to record an acoustic grand piano? A drum set? Strings? Guitar? A church choir? An orchestra? A big band? They all require a particular technique and setup to record well. Do you want to be able to record in stereo? Multiple instruments to multiple tracks?

What's your budget? There's no end to the money you can spend on a "little recording setup".

Various considerations:

What you're going to use to record. A computer is going to give you the most options and power. Personally I'd go with a full-tower setup, not a laptop. You could use a portable digital unit. You could look for an old cassette-based portable recorder. But again, if you want to be able to do the most and get the best sound, you want to be in the digital realm.

The computer should have at least one auxiliary drive to record the audio data so the system drive isn't doing everything. Lots of cooling, especially if you're using HDD's instead of SSD. Depending on the physical space you have to use, you might want to look into noise-management for the computer so the noise doesn't get picked up by the mics.

Software - endless options here. You want to be able to record multi-track. Lots of exotic software that can do things like pitch fix, noise reduction, voice alteration - change male voice to female-sounding, reverb, compression, expansion, aural exciters and on and on.

ProTools, Cakewalk, FL Studio, Ableton, Melodyne, SoungForge and many, many other options.

You'll probably want to have MIDI capability as well - all kinds of stuff you can do with that. Then there's software synthesizers. If you're going to do MIDI you should have a decent controller keyboard.

The hardware - if you get serious about it you don't want to use the onboard sound, you'll want better sound cards, and you need more than one if you want to be able to record lots of instruments individually.

Mics, preamps - you can go budget or spend a king's ransom.

Do you want an isolation booth? How big? It needs to be acoustically treated, have ventilation.

You'll need some kind of decent monitoring - not earbuds or computer speakers. You want a decent amp driving your monitors.

Ideally you want both your recording area and your monitoring area to be acoustically treated. Bass traps, etc. That by itself is a whole area of study.

Then there's mixing and mastering. You get your tracks laid down as the raw material but then you need to massage them into a final product, and you need the tools, sensibilities and ear to be able to do it. How's your high-frequency hearing? Or you can pay someone to do it.

Etc. etc.
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theslawdawg
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robert, thank you for this. This gets me in the right direction.
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lipshurt
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheap Chinese ribbons sound great on trumpet. There are thick ribbons that are made for guitar cabinets which are high volume and those work great on trumpet. Specifically the Nady RSM4 or similar. Good for loud and soft trumpet playing and cost about 100 bucks.

Condensers generally are too bright if they popular for recording vocals.

The sennhieser 441 is a dynamic not a condenser and sounds great and costs about 900.

Electro voice RE20 also great but about 500 now.

Electro voice RE16 is a flat out perfect trumpet mic. Better than about anything. 500 or 250 used. Rebuildable.
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lipshurt
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is group of trumpet microphone tests

https://soundcloud.com/doug-meeuwsen/sets/trumpet-live-mic-tests

Many of these have been mentioned in this thread
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