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There don't seem many videos on this subject, so I thought I'd make one. In other videos, some of the differences between microphones, and even microphones of radically different prices, was actually quite subtle. To be honest, I usually have a goto mic for recording double basses - an AKG 414, so in this video I deliberately looked for alternatives. Before the audio, I've discussed some of the features of double basses that can help or hinder you once you know them.

I actually got a surprise with the mics I chose. The list was:

  • Neumann U87
  • Neumann TLM103
  • Shure SM57
  • AKG D112
  • Samson C01
  • Samson C02

I also recorded the sound of the bridge pickup, intending to use it as a reference - but while I'd used this on occasions on stage through my bass guitar rig, I wasn't aware how simply horrible it sounded without savage EQ - and even with, still quite nasty.

My favourite of all of these turned out to be the TLM103, but I wasn't expecting that.

There is a hum in a few places in my narration - discovered too late to fix, but coming in on the unbalanced jack-jack and somehow it leaked into the SM7B's channel - I don't know quite how I did it. You may also note the more distant version with the U87 was also missing - but it picked up the clicking and clacking to a degree where it wasn't usable, again, not expected and probably down to a placement issue. On the grand piano video, the two cheap SDC Samsons did a pretty good job. Recording double bass is something they were a bit less good at. I picked the AKG D112 - a kick drum mic, just on the chance it's design for bass capture followed through. It didn't.It's a bit personal, but second best in my own humble opinion is the SM57 - again, not something I really expected it to be that good at.


audiokid Sat, 04/02/2022 - 13:15

Interesting as always. I like how you explain things about the instrument prior to the comparisons.

If you could make each comparison shorter it would be better for me but as always, very informative. Thank you for sharing this!

If I had to pick a fav... I think I preferred the “far” TLM 103 the most, however, as we know.. they could all work depending on the mix/ instrumentation etc around the bass itself.

The TLM 103 sounds smooth and focused (less eq) is suspect would be needed as it sounded the most even and good to me👍🏼

Your explanation about reverb was really good. I agree... bass/kick seems to sound better in a mix with less reverb.

Looking forward to other comments and more videos from you!

paulears Sat, 04/02/2022 - 13:35

In reply to by audiokid

I started with them shorter, but found then they were all quite similar - some mics seemed to struggle with the bottom E, but other were duller at the top - the longer clips all reveal something, hence why I let a few run a bit longer. I'm trying to think of other similar things that are simple on the surface but difficult to do in practice. I'd like to see if I could organise a stereo recording in a church or something like that - maybe either a choir or organ? and maybe do an X/Y, Blumlein, M/S or even A/B to let people hear the differences. Organ might be arrangeable, but getting a choir together could be tricky - there isn't one at a venue with good acoustics but there is one at a church with worse acoustics? I'll carry on investigating possibilities?

paulears Mon, 05/30/2022 - 12:19

audiokid wrote:

What is the difference between:

  1. Double Bass
  2. Stand Up Bass
  3. Upright Bass
  4. Bass Fiddle
  5. Classical Bass

There are some differences

  1. Double Bass - generic term for the lowest pitch/largest body viol shaped string instrument in the violin, viola and cello family.
  2. Stand Up Bass - A term often used to differentiate between a bass standing on a tail spike, directly on the floor - opposed to an electric or acoustic base that can be played sitting or standing, with a strap.
  3. Upright Bass - same as 2 above
  4. Bass Fiddle - a friendly term for a double bass used in a country, folk or Irish band - where the violin is also likely to be called a fiddle.
  5. Classical Bass - a double bass in full size 4/4 format, as an alternate to the typical Jazz/rockabilly/big band instrument which is correctly described as a 3/4 size instrument. Orchestra basses often feature an extended fingerboard just for the low E string, extending the range downwards to a low B. These are normally fitted with a peg that frets the low string at the nut for normal playing.

Other differences are that while they all can be played Arco, with a bow, there are 5 string 3/4 size basses, although I have never seen one in the flesh. the Three Quarter size basses can also be found in an electric version popular with some players. Electric cellos oddly, have extension tubes or woodwork that can be squeezed with the knees for stability, but electric double basses tend to just be a neck, and a thin body. Both size of double bass have tuning pegs similar to electric bass, while cellos don't. They have old fashioned wooden pegs in tapered holes at the top and lots of players fit fine tuners to the tailpiece. Both type of double bass normally are tuned the same as a bass guitar E,A,D,G, tuned in fourths - Cellos are different and are normally C,G,D,A. It is possible to tune a cello in fourths like a bass guitar, but the range top to bottom is limited, and the tone suffers. You can buy special string sets to tune a cello like an electric bass or double bass, but they're not cheap! Some bass players tune cellos D,G,C,F, but as that makes higher notes from C upwards quite tricky to play, you don't get access to the really high notes, so it's a compromise.