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I am a newbies here and want to say hallo to everybody.

Can somebody help me to chose the condenser microphone type for conga drums recording?
I got a question about microphone type that ware used on the linked
below movies.

Nr.1. Giovanni Hidalgo - Suite For Congas
good overview you can take from 1.55 to 2.08 min.

Nr 2. Giovanni Hidalgo - Son En Las Altoras
ood overview you can take from 3,20 to 3,30 min.

In movies nr 1 and 2, Its look like a condenser microphones, but I
would like to know the exactly type of it and the manufacturer.

I am asking because in my own studio I am using for each conga drum the AKG c416 condenser microphones and dynamic Shure beta 57A.
I had found that the sound that is taken by bigger condenser
microphones like these from movies above give absolutely better sound
quality ten my small AKG.

meaby some of you can recommend any other condenser microphone for conga recording? I am looking for the profesional solution, not low budget.

And another think also about the microphones.
Do somebody know if the microphones used in the movie :

are the Shure beta 56A ? (spec. Here: content )

its look very similar but I am not sure..

thanks in advance for your help



Cucco Fri, 01/18/2008 - 06:37

Hey Andres -

The mics in the first two videos are u87s by Neumann. If you're looking for a pair, get ready for some sticker shock.

However, I wouldn't dismiss your existing microphones so quickly. You could get very good quality recordings from those. Bear in mind that the sound you get while recording (especially something like the Congas) is only maybe 5% about the microphone and so much more has to do with it.

The first and most important aspect is how do the actual congas and the performance sound in the room that you're recording? If they don't sound as dynamic and punchy and powerful as his, they won't record that way either.

Another HUGE factor is the room itself. In the first two videos, he's in a rather large area where the drums have room to develop their sound. Also, the room is designed for performance. If you're doing this in your living room or similar, you just aren't going to get that sound.

Placement is another issue - The AKGs you have may not work very well when they're placed exactly as the u87s. They may need to be a tad further back or even closer in. The u87s off-axis response is nice - it sounds good when the sound is not directly aimed at the capsule. However, the interesting thing is, while it sounds "nice" as I just described it, it does get a bit colored. It just does it in a good way. Not all mics are created equal in this department. The AKGs aren't as fun off axis, so to get more drum on-axis, you'd need to get the mic further away. But now the problem is, you've got a more distant sound with less attack. So, you may need to go with more mics - one over each drum.

I sound like I keep beating this drum (yes, pun intended...) but one of my favorite new large diaphragm condensers is the Blue Bluebird. I would go as far as to say that it's the poor-man's u87. It has a nice crisp top end that doesn't sound strident (and will work perfectly on congas and toms) and a nice deep low mid with a great proximity effect. The coloration off-axis is still better on the Neumann, but that's why it costs 10 times as much as the Blue.

In any case, my advice would be to play around with what you have and get as good as a sound as you can and then, when you've maxed out what you can do, then look for more gear to fill in the gaps. Don't just do what he does on the videos, think outside the box. Otherwise, you'll never get the same sound.


anonymous Wed, 02/06/2008 - 07:19

I love the way Sterling Audio's ST44's (Groove Tubes GT44s) sound on conga's either in x/y above a set of congas for a player like Giovanni who's all over the place, or closer on each drum for a player like me. (i'm not near as skilled as Giovanni)

I can guarantee that it's impossible to get a recording that sounds that good, regardless of what mic was used, if it's not Giovanni playing. The other major factor that needs to be accounted for is the actual congas themselves. They are LP's Galaxy series, and they sound better than any other conga out there.

anonymous Sun, 04/06/2008 - 01:30


Before you dismiss all dynamic mics, check out the specs on the EV N/D468. Low noise floor, big frequency range, smooth-warm tone, able to handle loud spikes, and supercardioid pattern to minimize bleed. I like them very much on congas. A huge improvement over a SM57. And the price is right. Sennheiser 421's would also be a good.

IMO, the player's skill, the tone of the drums, and the sonic qualities of the room are far more important than expensive condensor mics. But if you have a good player, good-sounding drums (I'm a fan of Isla, a proper recording space, and money left over, then by all means go for it. You can get a pair of Neumann 184's for about $1,700.