Recording Tips

INSTRUMENTS

 

 

 

 

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Recording Tips

Brass

brassIf we had to pick one instrument that benefits the most from ribbon microphones, it would be the trumpet. Complex, powerful, loud and on the higher-end side of the frequency spectrum, the trumpet is an emotional, moving and exciting instrument - there's nothing like a great trumpet solo or a powerful brass section letting it rip!

Brass has been one of the more difficult instrument groups to record, often sounding overly bright and thin on recordings and live performances. Brass benefits greatly from the right choice of microphone and ribbons are the best - the smooth high end response of a good ribbon mic makes a real difference, capturing all of the detail with none of the harshness or peakyness that is often associated with brass.

Tracking

Capturing good brass recordings is fairly simple. Let's start with miking a single trumpet or trombone with an R-series mic.

  1. Before setting up the mic, have the player move around the room and play until you find the spot where the instrument sounds best.
  2. A good starting position is to place the mic 3 to 6 feet from the instrument and about 6 inches below the line of sight of the bell. While monitoring through headphones or taking direction from someone listening in the control room, move the mic or have the player adjust his position until you find the place where you think it sounds best. Royers are very forgiving and will sound good at various distances and angles, so anchoring the player to one position is not necessary. Many microphones will distort if the player moves too close to them, but Royers won't.

Miking a Horn Section

When miking a full horn section, engineers often use one Royer per player, at a distance of 1 to 2 feet. Grouping two players on one mic also works well - the off-axis response of a good ribbon mic is excellent, so having two musicians play into one ribbon mic simultaneously will yield excellent results.

For miking an entire section, you can achieve beautiful results with a Royer SF-12, SF-24 or a stereo pair of R-series microphones. Position the mic in front of the section and move the mic until you achieve an even blend. Consider how much room sound you want, since this will determine how close the mic will be.

Solo Brass

Click on photos to enlarge and view comments.

R-121 Ribbon Mic
Arturo Sandoval at Capitol Studios soloing on an R-122 during the recording of his brilliant record Trumpet Evolution (for more pictures of this session see Arturo Sandoval Session Photos).

 

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Arturo Sandoval on the Los Angeles Sony scoring stage soloing on an R-122. Picture taken during the recording of a John Debney score.

 

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Wayne Bergeron soloing on two R-122's during the recordings for his release Plays Well With Others.

 

R-121 Ribbon Mic
The legendary Maynard Ferguson soloing on two R-122's during recordings for Wayne Bergeron's Plays Well With Others. Producer Gary Grant looks on.

 

Brass Set-up
Solo trumpet on an R-121 during the Dirty Dozen sessions (for more pictures of this session see Dirty Dozen Session Photos)

 

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Live trumpet mic setup for a Barry Manalow concert. One R-122.

Brass Section

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Five R-122's on the trumpet section during the Alf Clausen sessions for his release Swing Can Really Hang You Up The Most. In addition to the spot trumpet mics, each of the three sections (trumpet, trombone, sax) were room miked with SF-12 stereo ribbon mics. The SF-12's were moved in closer to the sections after these pictures were taken.

 

Brass Set-up
R-121's on brass section on Sony scoring stage, Los Angeles. Picture taken during the recording of a John Debney score.

 

R-121 Ribbon Mic
Brass section setup for the Arturo Sandoval Trumpet Evolution recordings. Four R-121's on trumpets and four R-121's on trombones.

 

Brass Set-up
2007 Academy Award pre-records at Capitol Studios, Los Angeles. Brass section recorded with four R-122V's on trumpets, four R-121's on trombones.

 

Brass set-up
SF-24 active stereo ribbon mic used for the room mic during the 2007 Academy Award recordings.

 

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Members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band tracking What's Goin' On in 2006. They recorded together, with each player individually miked.
(for more pictures of this session see Dirty Dozen Session Photos)

 

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Brass section tracked using seven R-122's during the Ray Charles sessions for Genius Loves Company. Recorded at Warner Brothers in Burbank, CA.