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I explain a little about my situation. I am a violinist and I have some experience in recordings (rather being recorded, which has given me some experience especially in editing) but I do not have much experience as far as recording equipment is concerned, now I only have a Zoom H6 and a couple of mics Studio Projects C4 with which I usually record some concerts.

I would like to invest and start recording my group (violin, cello and harpsichord, http://www.scaramuc…) and get the best results as possible.

I expose my idea (sorry if I say many stupid things!)

  • Use the Studio Project C4 that I already have as a room mic (I could also invest later in adding a couple more)
  • Invest in 3 mic for each instrument, here I accept suggestions ... many have recommended me large diaphragm for violin, other ribbon, what will be better for the key? ... there is so much to choose !
  • Invest in an interface like MOTU 8 Pre USB or similar and connect it to the computer, here I am in doubt if in the long run it would not be better to invest in a good preamp separately ...
    What do you recommend me with a budget of more or less 4000 euros? Any advice will be more than welcome.



Boswell Mon, 07/24/2017 - 09:04

Harpsichords are not too difficult to record in their own acoustic space, but are notoriously tricky to record as part of an ensemble. The main reason for this is sound balance across the frequency spectrum, but a lot depends on the period of music you will be playing.

I've done many recordings of baroque ensembles where the solo instrument varies (violin, flute etc) and the continuo is usually cello and harpsichord, both in a concert situation and also in a studio. At least in a studio you can place the microphones where you want them without the concert organiser getting upset about sight lines and stage clutter.

Whether you need to spot mic the instruments will depend on whether you have the freedom to put up a stereo pair of overheads. If you can do this, a pair of carefully-chosen Schoeps or DPA small diaphragm condenser (SDC) microphones would give you great results when coupled with pre-amplifiers that have a good transient response (particularly needed for the harpsichord). However, that quality of gear does not come cheap. At a considerably lower cost level, I've heard perfectly respectable recordings of harpsichords done through AKG C414s (avoid the versions that have the "presence" peak in the response) put through an RME Babyface, but I would hesitate to go much lower than that level in terms of audio quality if you are looking for results that can stand up against professional recordings.

Prehaps you could tell us the conditions under which you aim to record these instruments, including the room dimensions and whether the environment is acoustically treated?

paulears Mon, 07/24/2017 - 14:55

The thing that concerns me is that you've missed out a very important feature - the person you trust to sort the balance and blend. It cannot be you because you are playing! So to find the right place for the mics relies on somebody else. Boswell's mic choices make sense, but only with somebody skilled using them.

You have the choice of using stereo recording techniques which will be probably the best in a gorgeous sounding room, or close miking with plenty of work afterwards to get these multiple sources gelled together and balance - but handy if the space is less good acoustically? I've never seen a member of an ensemble do the producer/engineer job properly - too much conflict and guesswork.