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View Poll Results: Which do you prefer?

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  • Mic A

    19 51.35%
  • Mic B

    4 10.81%
  • Mic C

    11 29.73%
  • Mic D

    9 24.32%
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Thread: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

  1. #1
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Another thread prompted me to post a shootout I'd had up my sleeve for a while. There are four microphones and I recorded exactly the same snippet of tenor (at the same time)

    The mics were placed as close together as possible, so placement should have no significant effect, and this should give a good comparison between the mics. Mics were 2 - 3 feet from the saxophone.

    I'm not asking you to guess which is which (but I will reveal that in a day or two) just say which you prefer (and why) or which you hate. Files are 320MB mono mp3.

    There is no compression or EQ

    Soundfiles at: http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-recording.html

    NB: you can vote for more than one if they rate equally. It's not a public poll, people can't see who you voted for, only the number of votes cast.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Thanks for this Pete. Very interesting. I have been wrestling with mics lately in some recording projects I am working on. Glad to hear some of the results you were getting. Amazing how much a mic can make you sound like you are playing a different mouthpiece. I don't want to give my reasons for choosing. I don't want my opinion to influence anyone's ears before listening.

  3. #3
    Distinguished SOTW Member hallkat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Hi Pete I liked A and C...hard for me to tell the difference in the 2 of them but they seemed to be a purer sound...if that makes any sense....
    " Healthy people dont need a doctor-sick people do "

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Pete, forgive my ignorance, what are we talking here, stage mic's or studio/condenser mics?
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  5. #5
    E-mail problem rolltrane's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    interesting- consensus so far!

  6. #6
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Quote Originally Posted by kingsax View Post
    Pete, forgive my ignorance, what are we talking here, stage mic's or studio/condenser mics?
    I don't actually subscribe to the difference. I have used expensive condensers onstage and cheap dynamics in the studio.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    And the audio files are where for this?

  8. #8
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Quote Originally Posted by ericdano View Post
    And the audio files are where for this?
    The link in the first post:

    http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-recording.html

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Pete, this is very cool. You are an incredible resource to the saxophone community. I loved the great R&B Sax players page, and the mouthpiece shootouts, and now this. I listened using my Altec Lansing desktop speakers, sampling each part of the playing and comparing all 4 mics. Then I listened to all the mics and the same parts of the playing using my Sony on-ear headphones. Mainly what I hear is Mic B has fewer highs and more lows. Mics A and C emphasize highs and are missing lows. Mic D seems to be more mid-rangy with less highs and less lows. Other posters like A and C but I prefer B for its warmer, richer sound. However, I think my second choice would be A. It may have the most true-to-sax-like sound.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    Oh, it is some crappy flash thing......was expecting links to actual files. If you have a flash blocker enabled, one does not see anything.

    Also you list Emagic on the page? Really? They were bought buy Apple like.....a decade ago?

    I think all the mics are good except for C. C sounds like a vocal mic, like a Shure 58. It has definite boosts in the sound. D sounds like a large diaphragm mic. Mic A also seems to be boosting, so I'd say that is some sort of condenser mic. So that leaves B, which I think is like D.

    I think my favorite is D. It doesn't seem to be adding anything, which a good mic is supposed to do and doesn't break up when you were doing those Rock licks.

  11. #11
    Forum Contributor 2007 Bari Gordon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    My preference was mic A, but I would be very pleased if my recorded saxophone sounded like any of them. Great sound, Pete!

    I liked mic A for its overall response. Mic B seemed to cut some midrange, and D seemed to overemphasize the bass. Mic C sounded "dry".
    Also I thought that mic A picked up the room reverb well and did not emphasize the breath sounds.

  12. #12
    Forum Contributor 2014 Smokey613's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    I like the sound of D best. Can't tell you why in "technical" terms. It just sounds cleaner to me.
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  13. #13
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Quote Originally Posted by ericdano View Post
    Also you list Emagic on the page? Really? They were bought buy Apple like.....a decade ago?
    Yes, the page was written about a decade ago, Space Designer was developed by Emagic. I have updated it to Apple now.

  14. #14
    Forum Contributor 2014 Smokey613's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Pete, what frequency range is required by a microphone in recording the various saxophones?
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  15. #15
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey613 View Post
    Pete, what frequency range is required by a microphone in recording the various saxophones?
    Talking about frequency ranges can be a bit misleading. I would expect a bass can go down to 50 hZ or lower and any of the saxophones would easily go up to 8kHz and further depending on the overtones you wheedle out of it, and the room reflections. It's possible there are harmonics and transients that not many peplum actually hear, but feel when they are not there. I'm sure a better engineer than I am can give a better, more accurate and precise answer.

    Generally I've had a tenor go down to about 100Hz, but I would filter that as it got in the way of other instruments in the mix. On a solo saxophone I may well leave it there unless it sounds too woody, which is possible on a low Bb sub tone and a close mic. I have also sometimes filtered out very high frequencies (7 - 8kHz), it can be a bit spitty or harsh up there and if I want a warmer sound I might use some low pass filter.

    You need to have a mic that goes beyond the ranges you are recording, so if I'm recording bass, I'd probably make sure the mic was capable of faithful reproduction below 50hHz. Any mic would need to be quite a bit above 8kHz, but of course most are. The important thing is how they behave at each frequency.

  16. #16
    Forum Contributor 2014 skeller047's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    I liked B and C the best - obviously my finger is firmly off the pulse of the community...

    I actually preferred B to C a little - C sounds a bit "edgy", though I suspect it is pretty true to the sound. The tonal spectrum of A and D is much more covered than on B and C, to my ears.

    When will you reveal what mics these are?
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  17. #17
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Quote Originally Posted by skeller047 View Post
    C a little - C sounds a bit "edgy", though I suspect it is pretty true to the sound.
    This is a very good point. Nobody can really know how true any of them are, even me because I'm hearing the saxophone through bone conduction as well as in the room.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeller047 View Post

    When will you reveal what mics these are?
    Tomorrow.

    BTW, I would like to have done more mics, but I only have four of the same preamps. I could have 8 mics in two passes, but at the moment I think it's useful that all four are the exact same take as I don't seem to be able to play the saxophone twice and get the same sound each time these days.

    BTW, the The preamps and converters are Apogee (Ensemble) and it's recorded on Logic.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    I would like to have done more mics, but I only have four of the same preamps. I could have 8 mics in two passes, but at the moment I think it's useful that all four are the exact same take as I don't seem to be able to play the saxophone twice and get the same sound each time these days.
    I appreciate the limitations, but I think it's way cool that you did this with the 4 mics on the same take. It's very instructive. What I find most interesting is that each of us describes the sound of each mic quite differently. This suggests that part of what we hear in the differences among the 4 mics is in US, not inherent in the mics themselves. It would be interesting to take the "winner" of this shootout (probably Mic A) and do another test take with 3 other mics. We can learn a lot from this -- or maybe not much at all. It's still fascinating. Thanks again for doing it.
    The Martin "Official Music Man" tenor, Barone black tenor, The Martin baritone, Richards Martin Indiana alto, cheap Chinese soprano, Metalite mouthpieces, Plasticover reeds, Nord Electro 2, bunch of other instruments
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  19. #19
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMusicMan View Post
    . It would be interesting to take the "winner" of this shootout (probably Mic A) and do another test take with 3 other mics.
    That's a good idea!

    And of course not say which mic it is.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Sax mic shootout: which do you prefer?

    I liked A and B. Both C and D sounded a little shrill to me. Mic A sounded very natural, picking up a good amount of breath and some natural reverb from the room. Mic B sounded the least natural to me (of course I am making an assumption based on all of the clips) BUT the result was pleasant and would work very well in a mix. B did not seem to pick up as much of the room as any of the others. C sounded a lot like A to my ears, but a tad more shrill. D sounded again more shrill, with some buzz in the top register that I don't like.

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