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affordable mics for decent guzheng recordings?

 
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applevinegar
Rosewood


Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 84

PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 11:57 pm    Post subject: affordable mics for decent guzheng recordings? Reply with quote

I plan to make a cd and am wondering what microphones are decent for accurately/realistically picking up the delicate timbre of guzheng.
(Thought I'd post it on this forum for other people to benefit)

Please share your knowledge about affordable realistic mics on this thread. Smile

Here's my contribution:

From what I read, it seems as though a realistic mic should:
* be a condenser
* Have a small diaphragm
* have wide frequency response (20Hz to 20kHz)
* have low self noise
* have an omnidirectional pickup pattern
* have paired setup similar to binaural mics
* have a "flat frequency response"
* have little "coloration"
* have high sensitivity and etc.

So far this Behringer B-5 seems to have the best price for its realistic quality.
http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/B-5.aspx
But I read it sounds slightly tubey at a distance, and it might not be sensitive enough for soft playing of guzheng.

The Behringer B1 and Behringer B2 Pro seemed pretty good but they are pressure-gradient so they are not quite as realistic. (I think)

These mics have been used in pairs for realistic field recording:
Rode NT1-A
Audio Technica AT 3032 (discontinued)
Shure WL-183
http://www.rockscallop.org/JVp2.html
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magnuspater
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Joined: 14 Feb 2006
Posts: 185

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sdcs are a good bet for stereo recording. Most of the cheaper ones will have a hyped high end, as can be seen in a frequency response graph, and that will make your recording sound unnaturally bright.

Here's the freq response graph for the Rode NT1A (an ldc not an sdc):


I've used this mic in the past and while the bump at 12k may not seem like much, it did sound very bright. But that was years ago, and I haven't used the mic recently, so they may have changed it a bit.

Most untreated rooms in houses aren't made to sound good, but to maximize living space and asthestics. You may want to get cardioid sdcs instead of omni, unless your room sounds really good. Using cardioid mics will allow you to record more of the direct sound from the instrument and less of the room.

You have some good information to start with, but maybe a little more detail would help me give a better informed answer, namely budget and other recording gear you own.

Try checking out www.gearslutz.com for some mic recommendations. Here's a thread that might be helpful to you: budget sdcs

Recording can be an expensive, obsessive hobby, but it is very rewarding. Best of luck and post samples of your work if you can! Very Happy
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applevinegar
Rosewood


Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 84

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks magnuspater!
Actually at this very moment my budget is quite low, and I am new to studio quality recording so I only have a computer.
My budget is a $300 maximum including the price of an audio interface, xlr cables and stands.
But I'm still interested in hearing about realistic mics up to $300 because I might change my mind and go for them instead.

So far here's my shopping list:
* PreSonus AudioBox USB ($150)
* 6 or 20 foot XLR cables ($5 to $15)
* stands ($20)
* and, of course, mics

The quality I'm looking for is: The basics of all the sounds that the human ear would hear
That is, echoes, background sounds, soft hums, and even the barely audible sounds. (Basically, I just want it to sound pretty close to the real thing.)

I keep leaning towards the Behringer B-5 because of its flat frequency response and affordability. But My greatest concern is that it might not well enough pickup the soft sounds from my guzheng when being played with bare fingers.

So . . .
Is the Behringer B-5 well suited for realistically recording guzheng (including echoes, ambience, delicate sounds, etc.) played with bare fingers? If not: I need to find a different mic that will get the job done. (Perhaps I should go for the Rode NT1-A or an Sdc?)
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magnuspater
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Joined: 14 Feb 2006
Posts: 185

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the gear you listed will do just fine for a starter set. You should be able to make good recordings with it, but be advised that you may end up out-growing it in a few years or so. But for starting out, it should be fine and help you learn the ins and outs of recording.

If you're handy with a soldering iron, you can buy bulk cable and connectors from www.redco.com and save yourself a few bucks. They have videos on youtube to help if you have no experience but are mechanically inclined.

I would try to look on craigslist for used mic stands; they can get expensive if bought new.

You will also need some headphones or monitors to listen to the music you played.

As for the Behringer, I haven't used the mic so I can't comment on it. If that's the mic you like based on the research you've done, try buying from a store that will allow returns just in case the gear is not to your liking. Some online stores will allow free return/exchange within 30 days as long as the gear is in like-new condition.

Wow, I'm excited for you! I love recording as a hobby and I hope you do too! Very Happy
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applevinegar
Rosewood


Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 84

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, great tips! Very Happy
Used mic stands sound like a great idea!
And I'll check out www.redco.com as well as look at some headphones.

I'll think more about my options and hopefully have everything setup for recording in a few months.
I'll try to remember to post a sound clip for you guys.
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Giorgi
Plywood


Joined: 31 Jul 2011
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe a little late reply, but might be useful in the future.
Having some experience in recording different stringed instruments, I would not say you necessary need expensive condenser mics to get a quality recording. In fact if you plan to record at home (untreated room) I would look into some other options. I agree with what magnuspater said.

Look at Countryman mini mics - Isomax II. They are very flexible and naturally sounding. You could use them both for recording and on stage as well. There are also similar DPA mics, but they are more expensive.
They will give you the most natural sound (with omni pattern) and capture all nuances, as you can place them directly on the instrument or even inside.

You could also try dynamic mics, like Shure sm 57 or 58. Many notable santoor players for example prefer them to any condenser mic. I would not believe that, but they can sound really nice on instruments with metal strings.

Well, and finally I know people who recorded albums using Zoom H2 or H4, that's the most portable and inexpensive solution, yet with decent sound.

Hope it helped.
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applevinegar
Rosewood


Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 84

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, sounds like some good microphones, I'll have to look into those mics. Smile

Actually, I already bought my equipment. Laughing
I tried the B-5 through the audiobox USB.
I think I need a different mic, because it doesn't pickup distant sounds pleasantly.

Actually,
I'm doing a DIY mic right now, (cheaper and educational)
but I still appreciate any good mic info on this thread. Very Happy

Thanks for the suggestions Georgi. Smile


Last edited by applevinegar on Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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applevinegar
Rosewood


Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 84

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But as for the H2 ZOOM . . .
(I don't mean to be negative but I really think I should mention this)

It's volume is way too low and I'm not the only one who think so:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3kMIakGU4k
(You can google "H2 ZOOM volume too low" to see more cases)

The volume is always too low, and there is no remedy except to distort the sound with digital alteration. Sad
(I believe digital alteration will always make the music sound less natural, because the computer cannot comprehend/calculate the complicated and beautiful laws natural acoustics.)
I don't recommend the H2 ZOOM for music. It doesn't even have an XLR "mic-in" for an external mic.

Thanks Giorgi, I'll check out those other mics. Smile
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applevinegar
Rosewood


Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 84

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(Fixed my 2 previous posts a bit)
Sorry, I've been feeling a little scatter-brained. I just came back from a long trip . .

Here's my updated goal:

I found that the kind of sound quality I'm looking for is just too expensive for me right now.
So I'm just waiting until I either have enough money to buy a high quality mic, or until I make a quality DIY mic.

I wanted mic recommendations but-- Now I realize that, because I have a unique taste for music, possibly the only way for me to select a "decent" sounding mic, (decent for me) is to just hear "raw" (un-altered) sound samples before purchasing.
(Oddly, I found very little variety of "raw" mic sound samples.)

Hmm . . . it would be cool if a website gave in depth sound samples for every microphone . . . Anyone know if such a thing exists?

But anyways I can't spend much now, so maybe I should just leave this thread until later. Thanks everyone for helping me with my decisions. I appreciate your posts.
Smile
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magnuspater
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Joined: 14 Feb 2006
Posts: 185

PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey applevinegar,

there are so many variables in recording that it can get expensive very quickly!

maybe you can try reading up on gearslutz.com, 3daudioinc.com, thewombforums.com (powered by electricity! Laughing) , tapeop.com (they offer a free subscription to their magazine and also have forums), recforums.prosoundweb.com, or some other recording forums on the web.

there's plenty of great info on there.

what diy mic are you making? it sounds like a fun project. Very Happy
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applevinegar
Rosewood


Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 84

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Dad and I just finished building some DIY omni mics some weeks ago.

(Sorry no test with the guzheng yet-- because I haven't gotten to re-stringing it yet.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtzpDzTbPDY
(I purchased the schematics from Stefan Avalos)

But the mics are just a tad bit too quiet along with my digital-interface's hissy/hummy preamps. So I think I still need some "better" preamps. . .

So, I've been thinking of either building a DIY preamp or obtaining a "Marantz PMD661." (Though I'm concerned that if I build a preamp I will mess-up and end up paying extra for replacement components. . . And I'm tempted to save up for a "Marantz PMD661" because it's portable.)

More mic tests should be done once I have the chance.


Last edited by applevinegar on Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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magnuspater
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Joined: 14 Feb 2006
Posts: 185

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And so it begins... Laughing

Great projects you're working on. Please keep us updated on your progress.
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applevinegar
Rosewood


Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 84

PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

magnus, since you wanted me to keep up with the updates,

Here is another mic test with a random guzheng improvisation:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJB1Cx_XAA0

I am happy with the mics' quality. Very Happy

Next step is to get rid of the annoying hiss/airplane-turbulence with a better preamp.
(Possibly with the DIY Green Pre, by peterc.)

I think Stefan deserves a little bit of a promotion for his DIY mic schematics, so far-- I still need to do further testing.
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