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jon.s5634

Advice on recording a Horn section

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Anyone out there have any advice on recording a 3 piece horn section (Tenor sax, Alto Sax and Trumpet) for a funk/hip hop band). Started laying some stuff down but decided to leave it because we weren't happy with the sound.

I tried a variety of mic positions (i have easy access to 57's, a couple of NT5's and an NT2A) but to my ears the close mics were really 'notchy' and harsh and the condensers weren't defined and crisp (probably due to the room).

So thoughts on

a)mic choice

b)mic placement

c)band arrangement (line, semi circle)

d)room choice (should it be more dead or live)

Cheers,

Jon

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I'm not saying this is definitive, but my two cents worth, if they are good players who know each other:

1) for a bit of natural reverb and resonance, a room with wooden surfaces sounds good. A bit of diffusion even better to even out the reflected frequencies.

2) let the players park themselves in the room where they think they sound the best - there's only three of them, they'll work out a sweet spot and position. If their horns sound great to them in the room, then they should sound great to us. Semicircle or circle would well for the next bit...

3) try a less directional mic - omnidirectional smack in the middle of them, or even better your sweet spot when you hear the play in the room. Let them balance it, or use two omnis for gentle stereo effect. Omni position has very flat frequency response (will stop the 'notchy' sound), good amount of bottom end for warmth, and it will capture them equally no matter where they are in the room (assuming they are same distance from it)

Yes you get less separation, but the tradeoff is a pretty even, natural sound.

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What sort of sound are you trying to achieve?

Good question.... There's a few songs where i think a real smooth sounding horn section (rockin the porno soundtrack vibe) would work well, and others where they might need a bit more punch and 'in your face-edness'.

As for an actual example of something to shoot for, i'm keeping my ears out but i haven't really come across that one sound that makes me go 'thats what i want'.

Couple of places i read that ribbon mics are pretty common to use on horns.

Thanks guys

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Ribbon and small condensers are pretty common. Large diaphragm condenser requires a bit more experience both from player and tech. Of the mics you listed the 57 would be most suitable, IMO... but it's going to depend on the sound you want. The smoother more rounded sound should suit the 57's well.

I'm not sure what you mean by the second phrases. If you're looking for a more raspy 'high pitched' brass sound then the ribbons and small condensers come int to their own.

RB's tips on basic mic placement are also gold. Keep it simple initially and you're more likely to get a good base. You may find, depending on the room, you need to add a bit of reverb and delay to the final recording to get the sound you're after. EQ can also be important to boost some aspects and give the sound a more raw/brassy sound - taking away often has more effect than boosting, so be prepared to use notch filters.

But, yeah, it really comes down to the sound you want as to how you should be trying to record. You wont get "that sound" until you know what "that sound" is.

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I'm not sure what you mean by the second phrases. If you're looking for a more raspy 'high pitched' brass sound then the ribbons and small condensers come int to their own.

It probably comes more down to the way they play it and how it gets mixed in. Ah well the research and experimenting continues.

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