Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

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DutchGuy
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Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by DutchGuy » Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:45 am

Hello guys,

I'm starting a little home recording studio. Got the room ready, got the computer set up with a Focusrite Scarlett interface, and did some experimenting with a cheap clip-on microphone. I am ready to buy something that I can attach to a stand, and actually sounds good and works good for trumpet and trombone recording.

At first I was going to go for the Shure SM58, for its low price and good reviews. Then I saw some video's on ribbon microphones, and man, those sound good. It made the SM58 sound bright and unnatural, whereas the ribbon sounded so alive. Living in Europe, I have to rely on online stores based in Europe to prevent insane taxes, so I went onto the Thomann website. Turns out, they have a nice ribbon microphone from their own brand (T.bone), the T.bone RB 500, priced at 99 euros. They also have a RB 100, and RM 700, priced at 69 and 89 respectively.

Sadly, I know nothing about this kind of stuff. What would you guys recommend for doing multitracks with trumpet/flugelhorn/trombone/baritone? I'm doing it on the attic, with the possibility to do limited acoustic treatment. There is a PC that makes some noise as well.

Your answer doesn't have to be limited to the microphones I mentioned. Lets say I have a budget of 150 euros, with a bit more if it really is significantly better than the other options.
bbocaner
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Re: Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by bbocaner » Fri Oct 18, 2019 9:39 am

SM58 is specifically designed as a live performance vocal mic. It'll work on trombone for sure, but there are so many better options.

You have to be a little bit careful with ribbon mics as they can be fragile, but they are generally a good choice for close-mic'ing of brass instruments.
DutchGuy
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Re: Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by DutchGuy » Fri Oct 18, 2019 9:46 am

Could you elaborate on the better options?

I will not be traveling with it at all. It'll remain on the attic. Fragility would not be an issue either.
Pre59
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Re: Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by Pre59 » Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:26 pm

You need is a mic with a flatter response than a typical stage dynamic mic. Dynamic mics lose lower frequencies over distance unlike a ribbon or a condenser. If you multitrack a lot using the same mic it's inherent qualities good or bad will be reinforced.. A cheaper ribbon mic is going to have the opposite frequency response to a stage mic, because the higher frequencies may be quieter. Also ribbon mics are more fragile than the ubiquitous stage mics, and just one drop or gust of wind could mean that it needs to be re-ribboned.

Bear in mind that attics can get extremely hot and cold, your gear is not going to like that.

You could pay more to get a modern ribbon mic that will cost you more, but will be stronger and have a flatter response,
or, a stage condenser mic with a flat frequency plot up to 10k, that you can use on gigs (with phantom power) like the Rode M2, and can take volume up to 141dB.

http://cdn1.rode.com/m2_datasheet.pdf

PS, Condenser mics don't much like the damp either..
Holmbone
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Re: Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by Holmbone » Fri Oct 18, 2019 4:33 pm

The t.bone rb500 is a very good mic consider it's low price.
JLivi
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Re: Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by JLivi » Fri Oct 18, 2019 5:57 pm

Ribbon mics are great, but they are very fragile. I would recommend a large condenser. As mentioned above you want something that's a flatter frequency response around the 2-5kHz range. I personally love my Audio Technica AT4050. It sounds like it's a bit out of your budget, but you should be able to find a "vocal mic" that's a level down in the $150-250 range.

To me, condensers have a very crisp and bright sound to them. There's definitely nothing wrong with a Shure sm57, but it depends on what you plan to use these tracks/recordings for.
2bobone
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Re: Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by 2bobone » Fri Oct 18, 2019 6:37 pm

It is easy to spend as much on a single mono microphone as what the rest of the supporting system costs. The truth is that even as ribbon and condenser mics have become more available and at more reasonable prices, the quality of those tempting microphones is quite like the general quality of the Chinese and Indian brass musical instruments that are flooding the markets. Yes, they are called "ribbon" mics and "condenser" mics, but beyond the name, their ability to record as well as the reputation of these two nomenclatures might indicate, is pretty sketchy. The same goes for the brass instruments ! Just as you can make a crappy trombone, it is equally possible to make a crappy microphone.
Most ribbon mics were prone to total destruction of the ribbon if the operator accidentally turned on the "Phantom Power", but the Royer company recently came up with a ribbon mic that is impervious to this accidental disaster. In the early days of ribbon mics, an over excited actor could blow a ribbon across the room with a healthy burst of diction despite the cage of silk that surrounded the ribbon element to protect it. The considerable sums required to purchase a microphone designed to meet the rigid requirements of recording are actually worth it ---- and your ears will definitely tell you so. I've recorded dozens of musical groups over the past 30 years with great results, but I can assure you that the ratio of the price of the mics to the price of the rest of the system is still heavily weighted towards the microphones. The microphone is the first point of musical truth in the long chain of associated equipment. There is NO substitute. Just sayin' ------------
baileyman
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Re: Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by baileyman » Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:20 am

Carl Fontana used a Buchanan Hammer.

https://www.electrovoice.com/product.php?id=100
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elmsandr
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Re: Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by elmsandr » Sat Oct 19, 2019 7:50 pm

JLivi wrote:
Fri Oct 18, 2019 5:57 pm
Ribbon mics are great, but they are very fragile. I would recommend a large condenser. As mentioned above you want something that's a flatter frequency response around the 2-5kHz range. I personally love my Audio Technica AT4050. It sounds like it's a bit out of your budget, but you should be able to find a "vocal mic" that's a level down in the $150-250 range.

To me, condensers have a very crisp and bright sound to them. There's definitely nothing wrong with a Shure sm57, but it depends on what you plan to use these tracks/recordings for.
I like the 4050 as well. As noted, it is pretty pricey, however.

For a little more portable, a GLM 100 can be fun, but you will need to make a clip for it to put it where you want.

Cheers,
Andy
JLivi
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Re: Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by JLivi » Sun Oct 20, 2019 12:22 am

elmsandr wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 7:50 pm
I like the 4050 as well. As noted, it is pretty pricey, however.

For a little more portable, a GLM 100 can be fun, but you will need to make a clip for it to put it where you want.
FWIW, I got a good price on my AT4050 on eBay. You can usually find used gear in excellent or close to mint condition for less than the “new” price.
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ssking2b
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Re: Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by ssking2b » Mon Oct 21, 2019 7:37 am

I am having excellent results with a Shure Beta 57A. Excellent response, super hyperbolic polar recording pattern, and tough as nails! Better sound than the regular 57, and hotter output due to different magnets and voice coil inside.
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mwpfoot
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Re: Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by mwpfoot » Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:30 pm

In an attic, with a PC, is a relatively uncontrolled environment. I think that should drive your search more than starting with the specific microphone type.

Of the polar patterns, I personally think you should start with a directional (ie cardioid or hypercardiod) mic. Both omni- and figure-8 mics are going to introduce additional room and noise concerns ; omni- will capture the entire room sound at a point; Figure 8 will capture what is directly in front of it and the reflection from directly behind it, ie significant amount of room. Either can be made to work, but a direct, clean (ie cardiod) track will be most manipulable in the recording software, and also have the least noise accumulation as parts stack up. You can add a nice ambient reverb to your mixdown a lot more easily than you can subtract the actual uncontrolled elements of your attic away.

I start with that because while ribbon mics are flat, they are Figure-8. So while they sound great on bone, I think they require a relatively nice, quiet room, meaning their utility in a home environment varies. The sweet spot in terms of both horn AND room placement might not be found in your attic. Modern, active ribbons like the budget Sterling ST170 remove the old phantom power and signal level concerns. I wouldn't start there, though.

Omnis are flat, but by definition get the whole room. They sound great on natural sources though. I recommend dropping ~$35 on a Realistic 33-1070 on eBay or Reverb; Shure made them and they are solid. I add this becauce the Carl Fontana mic mentioned above is a handheld dynamic omni just like this. You will get the whole room, including the computer fan and possibly a weird reflection from the far end, so for layering parts I think this will be problematic. But this specific mic is cheap enough to be worth having around as an option.

Which leaves us with condensers and dynamics, and they are all over the map. Some are designed to be flat but most are tweaked for specific usage. I believe the critical factor for trombone is a flat response. We have significant, complex usage of the frequencies within the range of a human voice, and microphones tailored for vocal use (particularly "stage" use) put bumps in the midrange and high frequencies that significantly change our sound. Recording with an SM57, I hear "nasal". Recording with a SM58, I hear "hollow". You might find one that works; many people do. They are not the first choice for me. They introduce things that make me feel bad about my tone that I then have to fix.

Condenser mics are sensitive. Depending on mic placement, the PC fan might be in the mix. You can get close to improve your signal to noise ratio, but then I start to hear my breathing, my slide clacking, my eyelids blinking. Cheap condensers also tend to be noisy, sometimes even harsh and brittle in their capture. I think in a limited environment, with limited funds, they might be challenging. I am sure some of the ones mentioned will work. A refined player will have greater success than me.

For a noisy environment, layering parts, I'd recommend a nice quiet flat dynamic cardioid.

I've had best luck with large diaphragm dynamics, the type of mic you'd see in a radio station, and nowadays sold to podcasters: RE-20, SM7B, alternatives, derivatives. The RE-20 in particular is designed to minimize the proximity effect, so there is a wider sweet spot where all of our frequencies are full and rich (before "too close" and boomy). The RE-20 isn't cheap, but I found a derivative RE-320 with a lot of the same characteristics for cheap, ~$150/used.

There are many good mics for us, just dig into the characteristics you want a bit. In particular, look at the response curves. Bumps between 100 and 4000 will be emphasized in your tone. You might like them! I usually don't.

:cool:
wwright
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Re: Microphone for trombone and trumpet: Dynamic vs Ribbon?

Post by wwright » Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:07 am

mwpfoot wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:30 pm

There are many good mics for us, just dig into the characteristics you want a bit. In particular, look at the response curves. Bumps between 100 and 4000 will be emphasized in your tone. You might like them! I usually don't.
Really nice explanation of the tradeoffs. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :good:
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