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Need advice on condenser mic and pre-amp

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by giantrobotswinbig, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. Hello Everyone,
    I'm looking to record electric violin out of an SWR California Blonde II acoustic amp. The sound is very much like that of an acoustic violin/viola/cello. The genre would be mostly classical and soundtrack.

    Right now all I have an SM-57 and a Tascam US-122L Audio Interface, which does not work very well at all for capturing warmth, definition, and liveliness.

    I'm looking to seriously upgrade everything, and my total budget for a mic and mic pre-amp is around $1200. If possible, I'd much rather invest in relatively higher-quality equipment and then plan on not upgrading or getting additional gear for a long time. I am also planning to record in mono.

    As of now, I'm considering

    1. Shure FSM32 mic and DAV BG-1 Preamp


    2. AKG C414-XLS mic and Black Lion Audio Auteur Preamp

    Does anyone have any advice? Or perhaps recommendations for other options?

    Thanks :smile:
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    The Lavry Black MP-10 is a very high quality, clean micpre that would be excellent for classical and close to your budget. I have one and I will never sell it. You could also up your budget a bit and get a FF800 which would give you built in micpre's and a better interface in one. You could sell your other pieces and be possibly close to your budget.

    Great River makes the MP-500NV that I've heard is very nice.

    Then there is the HV-3C Stereo Mic but now we're getting past your budget but its something to shoot for is you are serious. This is the "truth" of preamps. I don't have one and should.

    That's my few cents worth.

    Best wishes and welcome to RO.
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    sorry, I missed your budget was including a mic. Still, some good advise but I'm over for you. Others will chime in with closer suggestions I'm sure.

    Check out the RME Babyface. It two excellent micpre's and and better interface for under $800 and you still have room for a nice mic.
  4. JasonAlanJohnson

    JasonAlanJohnson Active Member

    As usual, there is no right answer to your question. It all comes down to your opinion. Although, if you really want to capture warmth, I think you should put a higher end AD converter in your signal path as well. If I were recording an electric violin through an amp, my first choice of mics would be my BLUE Baby Bottle. It is one of the cheapest LDCs in my collection and yet one of my favorite mics overall. I think it sounds fantastic on everything. Then, if I were looking for more warmth, I might follow it up with a tube pre and nice AD converter. I have some tube mics, but I have found that I get a nicer sound when I add a vacuum tube at the preamp stage (and 2 tubes always sounds like overkill to me). How about the Aphex 207 Digital? It is 2 channels, but I am sure that you will find a use for the second one at some point. Also, it contains better AD converters than are in your US-122L.
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Everybody's recommendation is wrong wrong & wrong. Trying to record violins requires something other than crispy wispy metallic pickup devices. If you want your violin to sound like a violin and not an electric guitar imitating a violin you need a ribbon microphone. Ribbon microphones just make violins sound sweet, luscious with an incredible fast response (that's why they're called velocity transducers). None of that crispy crunchy crap. It's not so much the preamp as it is the transducer. Plug the ribbon microphone into an ultra bright preamp and you will still yield a sweet and luscious sound. Plug a ribbon microphone into a less than special preamp and it will still yield a fat luscious sound. What? You want to make your violin sound like you are sawing it in half with a hacksaw? Well then go to it. Don't listen to me, my father was nothing but a world-class concert master. So I don't know anything about violins. The same goes for operatic sopranos. Ribbon microphones are the only time that I like to listen to aluminum foil. The rest of the time I bake my chickens on it. Everything everybody has suggested for you will do nothing to give you the sound I'm speaking of. They don't know enough or have enough experience with ribbon microphones. They only know advertising hype. Try a Cascades for $160 US, AT, Beyer or, any of those other new ribbon microphones hitting the market today. And don't blow into them either! You don't want to prove that kind of stupidity. Remember they are as fragile as your violin and not like a Stratocaster or SM58.

    Breathe in don't breathe out
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  6. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I like my Beyer M160 through a Grace M101 for violin. Like Remy said, the M160 is a smoooooooth
    mic, and removes any edginess or scratchiness. The Grace is a VERY clean pre and it provides enough gain (with no capacitance in the audio path thanks to its' "Ribbon" mode). These (2) pieces should come in at right at $1200.00...you will still have to deal with the A/D conversion as a seperate entity, though.
  7. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    Even though I have a fair collection of great mikes at my disposal, I usually grab my Cascade Fathead for recording violin... smooth & silky, yet inexpensive! I'm with Remy, you don't want the crisp sound of a condenser for this. Go ribbon!
  8. Shadow_7

    Shadow_7 Active Member

    Is this for in studio use only? Or will it also be used on stage in all environments? Ribbons don't handle wind (outdoors) very well. And most of them have a limited frequency response range. They sound awesome, but not for everyone and everything.
  9. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Yes, we know that no mic is for everyone or everything. Thanks for that bit of tutoring! But for
    RECORDING VIOLIN (do they record soundtracks outdoors anymore?), a good ribbon is, to quote Martha Stewart, is a "good thing"...
  10. JasonAlanJohnson

    JasonAlanJohnson Active Member

    Werd up moonbaby.
    I wonder if everyone understood the "electric" part, Giant. Maybe I should try using One of my Royers in this way. I never really considered it.
  11. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I fully understood this. Electric violins can be especially harsh and edgy (most piezo'd instruments are prone to this). I wouldn't hesitate to put the M160 on the amp, albeit not as close as I would a 57...and I always put a Remy-inspired splatter/wind screen in front of the M160...LOL!!!
    As for the Royer, I'm surprised that you "never really considered it" because of the reputation that they have as a guitar amp mic
    in taming the overly harsh harmonics of modern high-gain stacks. Just gotta be careful with the placement. Peace.
  12. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Seems that this is a job for any signal chain that would work well for a Tele through a Twin......... Just for a bit of info....A long time ago, back before Edison went off on his tangent, we would actually mic the amp AND the electric violin. Not kidding here. Theres a bunch of frequencies in the bowing of ANY bowed instrument that lend themselves to mellowing the overall tone. So a DPA or some such sensitive mic with a nice curve in its response is a good thing whilst mic'n up that amp like any old amp gets mic'd .....and the choice, of course, depends solely on what you hear in the room at the time........now dont it.
  13. JasonAlanJohnson

    JasonAlanJohnson Active Member

    Davedog is preaching the gospel here, but I must always remind myself to be openminded. Otherwise I will stop learning new things. I only have 2 Royers, moonbaby. A R-121 and that stereo jobby they make. I have used the 121 on vox and as a room mic, but I will try this application out next time I get the chance. I am sure that it will sound great. Frankly, that mic always sounds great.
  14. Shadow_7

    Shadow_7 Active Member

    Perhaps you missed the ---The genre would be mostly classical and soundtrack--- part of the OP. MOSTLY would imply NOT ALWAYS. You only have to break a ribbon ONCE before you realize it might not have been the best choice. Why lock yourself in a closet if you don't have to?

    Lots of options. I agree with miking the amp and the instrument. Although it depends on the instrument. But there's more to a performance that what exits the amp. Perhaps an AT853 (U853) or MKH8040, depending on the actual versus desired sound that you're after. You can mellow things out in post. But it's significantly harder to UN-mellow. If you're playing electric violin, it's probably NOT because you want to blend with a section of like instruments.

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