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I'm a classical composer and I'm putting together my own recording setup to archive my own works. The recordings do not need to be "professional level" -- this is for my own personal portfolio, not for any kind of wide distribution. I don't have a ton of money to budget, I was thinking maybe $300-400USD total for 2 mics that I could use for simple stereo recording.

I've been having trouble finding ANY info on this online with simple google searches. Most websites seem to focus on recording rock/pop music, which I have no interest in, or seem to be hawking much more expensive units. A friend recommended Shure SM57 but she has only recorded rock/pop, not classical.

I am mainly looking at recording small chamber ensembles, say 1-8 classical players (any/all instruments), in small-to-medium recital halls. I don't need a "versatile" mic as I'm not anticipating using them for any other types of recording. I just need something that will record the live/natural sound of the room fairly well.

I don't know a whole lot about microphones and I would appreciate any input you'd have! Thanks.


napolewan Thu, 09/08/2011 - 15:51

I have a DAT and a Mackie 1202-VLZ. I was not planning to use pre-amp -- if you think I should use one, please explain why. W/respect to something as transparent as classical music, especially for my modest purposes, I don't see why a pre-amp ought to be necessary. I'm only looking to pickup the natural sound of the instruments/hall as they are.

I have a good laptop I might use down the road but I have the DAT for now and I know how to use it.

1st off I need to record a piano quartet (violin, viola, cello, piano) and a piano solo piece. But I intend to use the setup to record a wide variety of classical chamber music combinations moving forward, as most of what I write is chamber music & I want the ability to make semi-decent recordings of stuff on my own w/o having to pay a pro engineer or service. (That said I would certainly pay a pro for commercial releases.)

Thanks for your suggestions so far.

BobRogers Thu, 09/08/2011 - 17:19

Just to be clear, you are using the preamps in the Mackie. These are good budget preamps, and I wouldn't recommend using external preamps unless you can spend substantially more (as in $500-700 per channel). What you get with better preamps is "more headroom." This means the ability to handle large, fast transients in a musical way. As with many things, you get what you pay for, but my experience is that it's not a steady increase in quality with price. You can get a good sound with less expensive preamps like those in the Mackie. But you have to baby them and tweak the level so you aren't pushing them too hard. More expensive pres are more forgiving.

BobRogers Thu, 09/08/2011 - 17:27

Oh, and on the mics, if you can afford to do it, I'd get a pair of NT55's over the pair of NT5's. They are basically the same mic, but the 55 comes with an omni capsule and has a pad and bass rolloff. You can add an omni capsule to an NT5, but then you are close to the price of an NT55 without the extra features.

Again the Rode SDCs are highly recommended. You really have to pay substantially more to improve on them significantly.

bouldersound Sat, 09/10/2011 - 11:20

I wonder if a decent stereo mic wouldn't be most suitable for your needs, something like an Audio-Technica AT825. It won't won't give you the options or sound of a quality pair of condensers but the convenience trade off may be worth it in your case. For that matter one of the flash memory based portable recorders might do the trick and let you dispense with the Mackie and the DAT machine while letting you transfer the recordings more conveniently to a computer. I would definitely not get SM57s.


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