Skip to main content

I am going to record a student percussion recital some time next month. I'll get more details later, but I'm assuming a good deal of marimba or other mallet instruments. What do you recommend. There is an interesting thread on this here . Any other suggestions?


Cucco Thu, 04/17/2008 - 06:52

Wow...that was an old thread...

That's going to be a tough one Bob. Not because of the instrument itself, but if there's a variety of mallet instruments, and I'm assuming you won't have the luxury of striking sets and putting them back up, you'll have to work with a compromise.

Refresh my memory, what's in your mic locker? I seem to remember some Rode NT5s (or 55s??), a 414 or two and of course your new Langevin pres (right?).

Honestly, for a recital where I have to set it and forget it, I'd still go with a center pair with outriggers.

While, for marimba, I'd usually go with either a blumlein pair of ribbons about 4-6' above the bars and maybe a pair of room mics (if the room is nice), I've also had good luck with Audix SCX-25s (VERY good luck in fact) and Neumann KM84s.

If you're getting the distinct pleasure of recording xylophone or other bells, a mic with fast transient response is a must (ribbon, ribbon, ribbon...or those super thin diaphragm condensers with >1 mu diaphragm.) the abyss of one of my hard drives, I have a recording of marimba (a WONDERFUL hand made, custom voiced one played by a marvelous player). If I can dig it up, I'll post some samples. I threw the kitchen sink at it - MS pair of M130/M160, Blum pair of M130, Schoeps CMC64, Audix SCX-25, Audix SCX-1, AKG Blueline Cardioids and a pair of Schoeps CMC 62 in the hall for fill. All of these sounded quite nice. The Audix and the Blumlein pair of M130s stuck out in my memory as being the best two - both with very distinct and different sounds.


BobRogers Thu, 04/17/2008 - 07:51

I think that getting a good recording is a big motivation for the recital, so I may have a pretty free hand.

Mic locker is:
Rode NT5 (2)
Rode NT55 (2)
AKG C414 BULS (2)
Rode K2 (1)
Shure SM 87 (1)
Shure SM58 (4)
Shure SM57 (3)
AKG D112 (1)

I've been thinking about getting a pair of[[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.cascadem…"] Cascade Fatheads[/]="http://www.cascadem…"] Cascade Fatheads[/]. I've read enough positive reviews to make me think it's likely that they won't be a waste of money even if I get better ribbons down the line. Might be time to do it.

In addition to the DVC, the API 3124+ came in on Monday. Sounds great on the drums. Still need to play with it to see how hard I can push it. I think it will work well for this.

Cucco Thu, 04/17/2008 - 07:55

How's the hall?
How about the player?
How about the instrument?

If all of these are strong, I would say use the 414s overhead in blumlein (IMO, the strongest patter on the 414s is fig-8 anyway) and the NT 55s in the hall in omni.

You probably won't need too much of the 55s if the hall is nice, but will be good for a longer decay. Don't go too far back with the omnis though - obviously Marimba's middle and higher frequencies don't fill the hall as much as the lower frequencies and you don't want a muddy/ringy sound.

In a traditional hall, I'd probably go no further back than the first row of seats and maybe 8-10 feet above stage level - tops.

BobRogers Thu, 04/17/2008 - 08:46

The hall is a pretty good HS auditorium. Doesn't add a lot to a recording, but hasn't given me any problems as long as the HVAC is turned off.

The player is the best HS percussionist I've heard. Looking to go to Julliard. He'll get into some place good.

I'm not sure about the instrument. The best HS instrument is a Musser. I don't know much about marimbas, but I've seen cheaper looking and fancier looking Mussers, so I'm guessing it's a mid level model. Seems to be in good shape and sounds good with a good player. Now, I think the player owns one as well. But I haven't seen it, and I don't know what instrument will be used.

Your suggestion pleases me, since that was how I was going to mic the saxophonist who will be giving a recital the same day. How high would you put the pair? (I expect there will be a dress rehearsal so I can experiment.)

Cucco Thu, 04/17/2008 - 08:54

You know, I'm starting to see what your class schedule is based on the times of your postings... ;-)

As for height of the blumlein pair -

There's a couple schools of thought on this one.

1 - You could measure the longest resonating chamber (tube) - make sure you account for the bend and place your mic this high off the bars. This will ensure a full-toned accurate rendition. However, this may (and likely will) also make the stereo image too narrow.

2 - (my general approach) position the mics so that the instrument comes just about to the 45 degree-off-center-axis (or caps aimed pretty much at the outer edge of the instrument) on both sides. This means, essentially, setting up an equilateral triangle using either side of the marimba and your mics as the three points. Your image will be wide, but not too wide (afterall, who wants to hear a 20' wide marimba) and any width lost from getting farther back like this will be compensated by the width of your flank omnis. The flanks will allso (hopefully) pick up the lowest tones of the marimba. Keeping those flanks close will help to ensure that the low tones don't arrive at the listener significantly later than the higher tones.


JoeH Thu, 04/17/2008 - 09:02

Bob, the fathead stereo pairs are on sale again at Cascade. I bought a pair two months ago and really enjoy 'em. So far I've mostly used them on brass and in M/S config on smaller ensembles, but they sure are nice. You also get a stereo bar for working the two together in a variety of configs. The carrying case, while not as elegant or expensive as the Euro mic-makers is handy and (so far) rugged for gigs.

For the $, they're minimal risk and might be a nice addition to what you're trying to do there.

JoeH Thu, 04/17/2008 - 10:51

It's probably labor, more than anything else. I'm sure they get 'em from China already assembled and ready for testing. If they add the Lundy transformers, they have to take 'em apart, unsolder, re-solder, test again, ressamble, etc., and THEN stand behind a warranty.

Considering how cheap they are in the first place, my guess is their only option is to cover thier labor costs with REAL money.....?

Boswell Wed, 04/23/2008 - 09:35

Back on topic:

The only time I've recorded solo marimba I used my old B&O BM5 stereo ribbon, but as I remember, eventually positioned a little further from the instrument than Jeremy suggested. I had the luxury of setting up during a previous-day rehearsal and a listen that evening, and found that a marimba that stretched most of the way from left to right in my studio monitors was too wide, so I moved the microphone further away for the performance, keeping the height about 8 ft.

The BM5 doesn't have much extended top end, but the attack of the mallets came searing through the lovely warm sound of the resonators. My memory was that I had a pair of SDCs going as well in case I needed more high frequency (>15KHz), but didn't need to blend them in at the mix.

BobRogers Wed, 05/21/2008 - 05:54

Well the recital was last night, so I thought I'd post an update. It was a little more complicated than I thought it would be. Two guys were preforming - one percussion and one alto sax. They had stations set up over the stage so they could go from instrument to instrument. I ended up using the pair of 414s in Blumlein as the main pair - the NT55s as omni out riggers - an NT5 as a spot on the piano, and the two Cascade Fat Head IIs as spots on the sax, tympani and marimba. The performances were excellent, and the recording went well. Looks like I have good raw material for a mix.

The program was (1) solo snare (2) sax and piano (3) marimba (4) sax and piano - intermission (5) sax and piano (6) tympani (7) solo sax (8) marimba and sax.

The solo snare piece is interesting. Completely different than mixing a pop music snare close miced with a 57 of course. Huge dynamic range. There are about three or four shots that are about 12-15 dB louder than the performance and my pop music loving soul wants to squash them a bit and pump up the quiet, subtle stick work. I may be able to resist. The marimba sounded great. I love both it and the sax through the Fat Heads, but I didn't feel they captured enough detail for a good classical recording, so I went with the 414s as the main pair. We'll see how much of the spots I use.

I have not asked if it OK to post clips. My guess is that they'll be happy to let me. I'll try to get to it this weekend.


User login