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Benefits of Mounting a Microphone on Musical Instrument
When you are producing music, how it is captured is crucial. The various musical instruments can sound even better if you use microphones in a way that best captures their sounds with lowest interference.
One smart way to maximize the acoustic effects of the instrument is to mount the mic directly onto the musical instrument. Since most instruments are designed to be heard from a distance, this can be a practical challenge in order to make sure that the quality of sound does not deteriorate due to too much proximity. Keeping them at a distance may cause ambient noise.
The delicate balance of finding the right spot to place a microphone near an instrument is not so simple. Of course, there are many microphones with varying shapes and mount stands that can help, yet there are mountable techniques and solutions that specialize in enabling robust close-miking.
The selected mount solution will obviously depend upon the type of instrument. Here is how you can get that balanced sound with a mic:
The Winning Positions:
When the mic is close to the center of the sound source, you get a clean and clear sound. As the mic moves to the sides of the source, there is more bass. Hence at times, the mic is positioned close to the center of the speaker for a hard tone and slightly off for a subtle and softer effect.
Positioning the mic close to the floor may mean that you get some low-end. At times, clubbing the mic and the amp together inside a sound absorber as crude as a quilt or packed with cushions can work wonders!
Each Instrument Has Its Peculiars to be Taken Care of:
Positioning the mic around a piano can produce interesting variants. Many prefer angling 2 mics one from each side or from above. Another option is to position the mic at the ear level of the player for recording the sound as is being perceived by him/her. Placing a mic at the rear side can also lead to a completely new effect. A combination of mics in back and front may also help. These can be adjusted separately or at angles that give the desired effect.
Violins have sound holes that point upwards, hence placing a mic from above at an angle will capture the sound well. The actual distance of course depends on the ambience and room acoustics as well. The mic needs to be able to handle high frequencies accurately. Positioning a mike at the spot below the bridge, between the deck and the strings, is a good place. This can capture the hard sounds as well as natural string plucks.
Music from a cello can be handled effectively by a mic that is placed at 90 degrees from the bridge. A combination of mics, including stereo ones can help capture the string effects smoothly, blending in all the sounds during the mixing stage.
Since the guitar’s body bounces off noises and sounds from other sources in the room, it may enter the mic as well. The position of the mic that is often considered the most optimum is the place between the sound hole and the fret board. This can capture the low tines as well as the mire aggressively played strums. Pointing the mic straight at the sound hole can yield much higher volumes.
The mic being too close to the guitar will make a dry effect, a bit away may lead to lack in sharpness. One might want to try more than one mic, one near and one further away, or else use an omni-pattern mic. One may also place amps from the guitar in separate rooms and mic them back as a feed to the player.
Drums and Drum Kits
These are very peculiar to get the right effect. Placing a mic close to the skin can cause it to pick reverberations. Drum kits, for instance, have high peak sounds which may cause clipping in mics close to the cymbals or drum head. The overhead hanging mic on each drum and cymbal is a conventional method, but nay lead to phasing effect between multiple mics.
For bass drums, a mic positioned at the hole in the front skin, adjusted to angle and distance is the best way to optimize between wind issues and frequency response. For snare drums, two mics, one on top and one below will yield the best results.
Flutes have polar patterns and thus a mic can be placed right above the player’s head, pointing at the holes of the flute. A mic placed mid-way between the mouth and left hand also picks up the sounds well, but it can also pick up unwanted breathing sounds. Overhead mics angled at the flute players) are probably useful as well.
Clarinets can be captured in very much the same way as the flutes, but the mic should be placed at about one thirds of the length away from the instrument’s bell. Another option is to place the mic very close to the bell, but pointed towards the keys to pick up a smooth blend.
Saxophones have complex sound patterns and capturing the perfect sound can be quite a tricky affair. Since sound is emanated from the bell as well as the holes, the microphone will need to balance all the sources. A conventional position is to place the mic to the player’s right side, near the bell. Adjustments can be made with angle and distance.
The Clipping Strategy
Mics can be mounted either on various types of stands that are available in the market. For close-miking, a range of clip-on attachments can be very effective as well, as these allow the microphones to be mounted directly on top of the instrument. One can also use clips that come with holders that fit easily on the frame of the instrument.
Usually a mix of instruments are used in a performance or recording. A little bit of experimentation and innovation in mounting the microphones around can product the best results.