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  #1  
Old 09-19-2012, 12:09 AM
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Default What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

Hello all, can you please suggest a dynamic microphone for recording all kinds of percussion? Congas, bongos, shakers, tambourines, all kinds of bells, etc. What the microphone won't record is bass kicks, snares and floortoms - no big drums. It will record cymbals and hi-hats most likely.

The sound interface is Roland UA-1G, so the microphone has to be dynamic (it does have a dynamic microphone preamp/socket, no phantom power). Also this is a portable lightweight setup, so condensers are most likely out of question (no phantom power source for them either).

My requirement is for a fairly transparent microphone that picks up a minimum of high-frequency reflexions if possible and does not colour the input (as open as possible, maybe even recording with the capsule exposed makes sense).

Price would be best around $100-150 (max., and better on the low end).
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:12 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

The Shure SM57 is a great choice in your price point. Heck, for any prince point.
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:18 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

What else?

There're good words being said about the Audix I5, http://recordinghacks.com/microphones/Audix/i5

This is for sampling by the way, not for recording parts. Basically the requirement is a microphone that can be as close to flat as possible yet still be quick with dynamics/don't add any colouring (the DBX RTA-M is used by a friend, and it tends to sound a bit murky/veiled on live instruments even though technically it's flat; could be the wiring though).
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:30 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

So basically what's needed is a dynamic with a decent response in the low midrange (around 120-300 Hz). That I5 looks interesting because of its smilie EQ with emphasis on low midrange around 150 Hz. But that can also be a bit of a problem as the end result is the overall midrange sagging.

Hacks also list Beyerdynamic TG-X47 in the same class, with words that it has a less aggressive rolloff in the low midrange/bass than an SM57. Of course there's more than just frequency response, there's character, tonality, all that, and volume. The bigger/more natural the recorded picture, the better (it's all going to be processed anyway, but natural uncoloured sound is needed always).
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:57 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

Also: the prime requirement is for the sound to be as dry as possible. It's sort of meant for roaming records, but a crude "anechoic cage" can always be improvised with a blanket, overrcoats, jackets, whatnot. No reverb is to be allowed whatsoever.

The Beyer -47 looks interesting because of its low midrange hump. That sort of implies it's sensitive to bass/low midrange at close distance, which might help a bit with some drums.

Does anyone here have experience recording smaller drums?
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:58 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

I say a good condenser is what you need. I have an AKG SE300B pencil condenser and it's awesome. You're basically talking about a mic that is partially an overhead mic anyway. Condense!

If it's because you don't have phantom power, Nady Audio makes this little $30 box called the SMPS-1X that is a phantom power supply. Plug the mic into that, and then plug the output of the box into your interface and you'll be good to go. You can get by with a dynamic, but a condenser would be better in this case.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:02 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

SE300B is a bit out of the price range... Anything cheaper that might work? The target is pretty much small drums (except for kongas and maybe timbales) and chromatic percussion.

Thanks for the phantom power supply recommendation.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:29 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

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Originally Posted by S-Priest View Post
What else?

They're good words being said about the Audix I5, http://recordinghacks.com/microphones/Audix/i5
I own a couple of Audix I5 microphones and they are no where flat at all with a 5 db peak at 150 hertz and a 10 db peak at about 6K. I had already typed a two paragraph reply, but after re-reading your threads one more time, I deleted it. You're asking for an improbable product with an impossible budget. Just get either a Shure SM57 or Beta 57.

Dennis
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:43 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

http://recordinghacks.com/microphone...eption-170#rpd

- AKG Perception 170 with the phantom power supply Bo suggested looks like it. Fairly straight frequency response graph and with an airiness past 10 KHz, that and a backup dynamic like the Beyer 47 for punchy takes looks like the setup...
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:33 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

Check out the CAD GXL2400. It's a side address large diaphragm condenser mic with a shock mount that isn't too big. I found one for $85. It's a great studio mic.
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  #11  
Old 09-19-2012, 11:18 PM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

Bo, the issue is, it's supposed to be a portable, lightweight setup. A mixer with a phantom power supply (which is required for the condenser, no phantom/XLR support on the sound interface, only RCA inputs) is already pushing it. It's all supposed to be carried in a backpack with the notebook. The Perception 170 page mentions "light percussion", which is what the microphone will record. Anything larger than that thing, combined with a small mixer or phantom power adapter (a music gear store nearby sells something which can convert between XLR/RCA and supplies phantom power), already risks not fitting in with the rest of the gear.

It'll have to be a dynamic, most likely the Beyer thing, for when there're no AC sockets anyway.
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:22 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

Why don't you go with one of those Blue USB Condenser mics? Fits your requirements, fits in a backpack, uses USB for phantom power...might be a good solution.

Other makes/models of USB mics (dynamic and condenser) that might fit the bill. Look into it.
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Old 09-20-2012, 11:19 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

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Originally Posted by S-Priest View Post
Bo, the issue is, it's supposed to be a portable, lightweight setup. A mixer with a phantom power supply (which is required for the condenser, no phantom/XLR support on the sound interface, only RCA inputs) is already pushing it. It's all supposed to be carried in a backpack with the notebook. The Perception 170 page mentions "light percussion", which is what the microphone will record. Anything larger than that thing, combined with a small mixer or phantom power adapter (a music gear store nearby sells something which can convert between XLR/RCA and supplies phantom power), already risks not fitting in with the rest of the gear.

It'll have to be a dynamic, most likely the Beyer thing, for when there're no AC sockets anyway.
Ah. You didn't say this was supposed to be a laptop kinda' thing. Then I agree with simmsdn: get a USB microphone and you're all set. I got one of those Samson CO1 USB mics and it's OK as a good overhead. There are others that are smaller and cheaper. Heck, I think BLUE has one that looks like a little rocket ship so you don't even need a stand for it as it'll stand up on its own. And since these are getting power over USB, they are condensers.
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Old 09-20-2012, 02:53 PM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

A USB condenser is definitely a good call by Bo there. They can produce surprisingly good quality and the DACs are not bad at all now for the money you pay. Alternatively you could get yourself a USB mic lead (they do exist!) and buy a battery-powerable condenser (AKG C1000S). They work quite well on a PC but sometimes the Mac support can be a little less impressive.
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:28 PM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

That may not work for the simple reason that they may not work with the sound interface. The DAC/ADC in UA-1G is excellent, and the recording format is 96 KHz/24-bit. That's about it, it's easier to adapt a condenser microphone like the P. 170 and use a backup dynamic than suffer from whichever low quality built-in sound interfaces of USB microphones have. There're 192-KHz interfaces that play/record duller than this one. So, unless the mikes sound interfaces that can match the UA-1G, it's not worth bothering. Or, the microphone only gets USB power for phantom and outputs standard unbalanced audio (which they likely don't).

A friend says he's gotten very good results with Rode NT5. That's a tad too expensive, and since the AKG Perception 170 page over at Recording Hacks lists "small percussion" as a target, it makes a lot of sense. It also fits the bill in that it has that high frequency boost that may improve the ambiental/airy part of drums - that tends to be distorted/harsh in low-res formats like 44/16 but comes out right in 96/24. It might be a tad too light for bassier instruments, so a backup dynamic with a "bass boost" will be handy. That's where the Beyer microphone fits.

As usual, who knows how exactly this will turn out once the microphones arrive; frequency response doesn't say all. But anyway, having worked with AKG gear, one more or less knows what to expect. TBH the graph looks a tad too good to be true, but hey, first this little project has to pay off, and then it might be the turn of more expensive gear. This is for "secondary" instruments anyway, of course it's nice they come out great, but they won't be the main voices in the drumkit.
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:31 PM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

What's that about a "USB lead"? Is there something like a USB phantom power adapter? It's sorta pointless anyway as the P. 170 needs 48V, so this phantom/RCA adapter box from the street store makes sense (also because it can get the signal to the interface).
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:40 PM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

On second thought, a small mixer with phantom power even makes more sense as it allows multiple inputs and helps hook oneself up to a free socket on a gig console.
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:40 PM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

All right, so, as expected, this has turned into a major expense.

The final setup is:

Condensers

AKG Perception 170 - works good for small metal percussion, though not too stellar really (it does stuff like cowbell, jingle bells, tambourine, etc.). The sound's a bit cold/muffled. Not the best SDC out there, it lacks body and tends to sound cold/hollow with non-metal instruments.

MXL 441 - miscellaneous stuff like tambourine. Overall the MXL 440/441 microphones were the worst buy as they're not properly shielded (the body isn't real steel?) - they pick up the most interference, and the MXL 440 LDC works as a radio receiver, which is a major showstopper for someone living a block away from a radio station. Still, the 441 sounds nice on tambourine, it gives a more mellow/full body than the more common "treble spike" kind of sound. By the way the MXL 441 and AKG Perception 170 look almost like twins, with similar rounded-out bodies. The 441 lacks HF splitter bars, which the P. 170 has, so it's brighter in theory, but in reality it can be down-equalised and then it gives a rather nice presence/body balance.

The 441/440 pack is cheap at around a hundred $, but it's not really recommended for anything too serious. The 440 might work as a voice condenser for a singer by the way, but again, the two are so cheap most likely because of not having true steel bodies, which makes them susceptible to EMI. The 441 likes to throw EMI hum into the mixer, the 440 receives radio. Enough said.

Rode NT5 Matched Pair - everything. They work for stereo sampling and as ambience pickup in pair with a dynamic. There're critics of Rode microphones for either "not cutting through a mix" and excessive brightness. As for the first point, well, a reverse cymbal recorded with a Rode NTG-1 goes through a mix just fine, in fact it had to be subdued with down-equalising and volume drops to fit in. And anyway the way microphones are set up for recording it doesn't matter much as the main body for the weightier drums is provided by dynamics.

The NT5 may not have been the best choice, but they're not the worst either. Frankly what seems to be nicer is a pair of AT4041 SDCs, but it's a hundred more expensive, money which went for a dedicated dynamic.

Dynamic Microphones

Shure SV100 - surprise, surprise. It's a cheap dynamic (methinks cheapest dynamic Shure makes) which gives a warm sound on certain instruments, like bass drums (not a standard battery bass kick, something else entirely, samples coming later). The trick with the more delicate instruments is to take the metal windcage off. Also it was always equalised to compensate for its frequency response, and then it sounds quite full-bodied (opposite to what it sounds like unequalised, with too much empty treble). The best samples produced by SV100 are of coarse-grain maracas.

AKG D-40. This is a possible "SM57 killer". Where the Perception 170 disappointed with its anemic sound, the D-40 surprised by even recording stuff like bells and shakers nicely. This is a microphone designed specifically for recording instruments, and it comes with a drum rim mount clip. The manual mostly deals with recording drums, but it can also be used for wind instruments. AKG's own description is "rugged instrument microphone for onstage use". The D-40 is short, so that even when clipped on a drum it leaves enough space for the drummer to hit at.
Again, the trick is recording with the metal cage head screwed off the microphone. This gives a more intimate, warm sound, though obviously this is not recommended for gigs.

One flaw with the D-40 is that it likes to overdrive/overload, responding with squelching when there's too much air movement. You can't just stick it into a bass drum, in other words. It also needs a lot of gain, driven next to maximum on the mixer. The sound is nice so far, the typical setup is AKG D-40 on bottom picking up exhaust, NT5 picking up the top hit.

Of course either microphone has to have phase switched in the editor, fortunately REAPER has a phase-invert button on each track.

The one setup that also worked quite nicely is SV100 for bottom, Perception 170 on top. They compensate for each other, the SV100 is warm with low midrange presence, the 170 gets the high midrange/treble/space. You can stick the SV100 into a drum or close to exhaust and it'll usually work, even with bass drums.

Bottom line is, no matter what, what gives a nice presence and warm sound is really a combination of dynamic and condenser. IMHO, what would work for recording a whole drumkit is dynamics on drums and overhead condensers for cymbals and ambience.

Now, about the other bits of gear...

The mixing console is a small thing, Yamaha MG-102C, with only 4 microphone XLR sockets and only 2 channels output. You could use the effect send sockets for more (?). Anyway, it's obviously a "budget" thing made by Yamaha, with a plastic body. It sure seems to have a steel cage inside though, as it doesn't get interference and the sound is pretty clean (Yamaha states a ~100 dB SNR). MG-102C is about the size of a 15-inch notebook computer, though it's a tad taller with all the knobs on top. The power supply is a minibrick with two cables, fatter and shorter than a notebook power supply.

The sound interface is Roland UA-1G, which sadly has been killed off by Roland. It's a 2 in/2 out arrangement. The nice bit about it is the analogue attenuation circuit with a control wheel on top of the interface. So the recording level is simply adjusted by the wheel, old-school. The attenuation seems to kick in at about -3 dB, soft-clipping the signal. No harsh digital peak distortion, ever. But, the circuit is a bit noisy.

The notebook, the mixer, sound interface, and some microphones (P. 170, D-40, SV100) all fit into a largeish backpack, complete with all wiring, and there's still space left for a small bag with Akai LPD-8/LPK-25 MIDI controllers. The backpack gets packed tight then, and the whole setup is a bit heavy (~10 Kg). Still, it works, though for battery-powered recording the only option is a dynamic plugged directly into the sound interface on an unbalanced cable.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:38 PM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

You cant go wrong with a SM57!
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:43 PM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

Actually you can. Got some samples here, of a snare drum, and congas, and they're nothing that special. They work, sure, but they lack the kind of definition that other microphones provide. And they need saturation/EQ to stand out in a mix. All of this adventure really is to sample drums for a virtual drumkit. The SM57 samples are from other people, and they both used SM57 plugged directly into sound interfaces, that might've been an issue though. Microphones like the SM57 need at least mixer amplification.

Anyway, the decision has been made and it's D-40, not SM57. It's an interesting thing, it's at least as good, if not better than the SM57. It even records bells and small metallic percussion nicely.

Here's what it looks like next to an SV100:
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:27 PM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

Well I've never seen another person with an LPD-8. At least there are two of us in the World.

I like what you've written. I also agree about the SM57s. I've never been too impressed with them. They work but they always need more work. I've always had difficulties with D112s too - probably something I'm doing wrong but all the same.
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

No idea about the D112. Haven't ever ventured to record bass kick drums. Here're some synthetic drums of my make, attached.

Microphones are always somewhat of a hit and miss, some work for recording one type of percussion, others work with other kinds of drums. The D-40 was recommended by someone who was delighted with them on toms, and well, that suits the application. They're not perfect either (the same can be said about SM57), but hey, if someone prefers them over anything (including SM57) for toms and that someone has a lot of experience recording his own band, well, then that does it. The other option could've been the ATM650.

The issue with SM57 is that it somehow tends to miss an important part of the sound. That's what usually happens with an underfed microphone though. Fixable with a dedicated preamp, or at least a goodie mixer. It's somehow rough-edged too, but that's fixable with a trick which works on any microphone, which is taking off any windshields and head cages for dynamics. An SM57 with no windcage ought to be more gentle and intimate.

The LPD-8 beats carrying any drums. With the right synth and the right gear synthetic drums can sound right too.
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File Type: mp3 Demo.mp3 (393.7 KB, 45 views)
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  #23  
Old 12-04-2012, 06:14 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

I do most of my work with an Arduinome, an LPD-8 and Max/MSP. Programming is so much fun, especially as I design my own software!
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:30 AM
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Default Re: What Dynamic Microphone for Assorted Percussion?

Well my method for recording bass kicks is synthesis.
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