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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000116.txt from 1996/01

From: niethamer@-----.BITNET
Subj: Re: Good Microphone for Clarinet ?
Date: Sat, 6 Jan 1996 00:17:09 -0500

On Jan 3, Don Kinghorn asked:

> I have a little 4-track mini-studio and want to try my hand at recording
> the clarinet. Anyone have recomendations for a microphone? I don't want
> to spend over $500. I tried a Sure beta (something) their inexpensive
> condencer mic. I didn't like it. I'm considering an AKG C1000s or
> C3000, or maybe a Sure SM81.
> Any tips on recording the clarinet would be helpful also, mic placement
> etc..

I have a Neumann KM83i, which I got 10 years ago at the suggestion of the
engineer who records our symphony broadcasts (and who also works for the
Baltimore Symphony, National Symphony, and mastered our CD with the
Ginastera "Variaciones Concertantes"). He had me try a number of mics,
and this was the one I liked that I could also afford. I tried a number
of other more expensive Neumanns (with bigger diaphragms) which sounded
great but cost in excess of $1000. Mine was around $500 (10 years ago).
It seems that for clarinet, the bigger the diaphragm in the mic, the more
accurately the mic reproduces the complex overtone structure.

I've made recordings that I liked (purely from the point of view of how I
sounded) using AKG mics, but alas don't remember the specs or model #.
Someone mentioned one of the AKG's listed for a while when taped prelims
were all the rage in the early 80's, and I've recorded with one of those
- alas, I trashed that post, so I can't remember those specifics right
now, either.

For a while when I first came to Richmond, I did some jingles here (live
musicians! - imagine!), and the engineer used a small ribbon mic that was
amazingly accurate for the "surface" component of the clarinet sound
(perfect for AM radio car ads!). I've also forgotten what *that* was
exactly, but it taught me an important lesson about my "mpc-du-jour" of
the time. I'd been vaguely dissatisfied with my mpc, and couldn't figure
out why. It had a sweet, focused quality, but I couldn't seem to get the
"clarinet from hell" power I wanted with it in the orchestra. After a bit
of this recording work, I realized that the mpc had been designed by a LA
studio player, and would, quite naturallty, play to the requirements of
that sort of work. So, like many clarinetists, on to the next mpc!

But I digress.

On Wed, 3 Jan 1996, Jim Freeman wrote:

> this is an interesting thread. i,too, would be very interested in what
> other clarinetists are using to get tapes that are not depressing. i have
> an old sony d6c(walkman pro) that rarely makes a good recording. it does
> happen, however, and i would be interested in knowing more about why it
> does.

I too have a Pro-Walkman, also about 10 years of age. I always found the
clarinet reproduction pretty accurate with the included single point
stereo mic. I just had this machine repaired, because it has done well
for me.

I find that the best mic placement for me is that suggested by a number
of those audition spec sheets. That is, 8 - 10 feet high, 6 - 8 feet away
(for a seated player). That gives enough distance to eliminate all but the
worst key noise, but not so much that you're "recording the room". Some
of our orchestra recordings, for obvious reasons of space, have shortened
up this distance, but the proportions were similar. According to our
engineer, that's because one gets a certain amount of "bounce" from the
bell to the floor, then upward into the room, and a certain amount of
sound radiating directly from the tone holes. This setup works well with
my Neuman and my Sony.

Last summer the violist in the Richmond Chamber Players brought his DAT
Sony Walkman to record some rehearsals and a concert. Thereafter the VA
Museum, where we hold our concerts, took over the digital recording of
our remaining concerts. We submitted a number of works to Performance
Today, and the only recording they liked from a technical point of view
was the DAT Walkman!

Enough rambling.

David Niethamer

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