Ribbon or Condenser?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpet Dreamer, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. Trumpet Dreamer

    Trumpet Dreamer Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2010
    Jazz Town, USA
    What type of mic is best for recording brass instruments, ribbon or condenser? The two condensers that have been used here sound very tubby, non trumpet like. Yes, I'm a 18 month student, but my playing is not that bad! The condensers do seem to be ideal for stringed instruments and vocals, though.
  2. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    I think Tim on the following site has good success with a RIBBON

  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    ribbon mikes can be blown to bits outdoors. They are the least durable. Condenser mikes self destruct when they get wet or even damp.

    No mike works well at close distance without EQ,

    Which mike that you use depends on where you play and what you are trying to do. If you only can afford one trumpet mike, Shure SM57 or 58. I have had very good luck in the studio with a large membrane condenser like a Neumann TLM103. On stage, clip on mikes like the Audio Technica ATM350 do a great job of limiting feedback and inconvenience to the musicians.

    Again: close miking creates what is a called the "proximity effect" which greatly exeggerates the low frequencies. It MUST be eq'ed out. The only way to record without EQ is to find the sweet spot in a good sounding room - generally about 30 to 50 feet away from the instruments (depending on the room).
  4. Brad-K

    Brad-K Piano User

    Jun 18, 2011
    Proximity effect doesn't occur noticeably until within about a foot or so. And doesn't occur at all to omnidirectional mics.

    And, proximity effect isn't necessarily an evil thing. It can be used to give a bit of body to a given sound. I love it on my vocals.

    30'-50' away....well....that's incredibly far in the miking world.

    And, instead of eq, it's better to roll it off on the mic, using the bass roll-off switch/filter.

    And...Ribbon vs Condenser vs Dynamic .....that depends on the mic itself. Those are good mics you specified, though.
  5. Trumpet Dreamer

    Trumpet Dreamer Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2010
    Jazz Town, USA
    Thanks. My application would be to simply record my practice sessions, and perhaps some day be able to post something if I felt it worthwhile. I see lots of reviews on YouTube of various mics, but seems like all of them are guitar recordings rather than brass instruments...must be a lot of guitar players out there!
  6. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    Probably 10 to 1 over trumpet players (volume of guitar players).

    For recording practice sessions, I like to keep it cheap .... I use a Zoom H2n recorder that has mics in it. I get a fine sound from that with trumpet, guitar and voice.

    Be sure not to put the mics too close .... Finding a spot where the instrument you're recording sounds really good (never right on top of trumpets, guitar amps, etc), is best. Some feet away at least. If you find a place in the room where the sound is great, and put the mics right in that spot, you won't need any EQing for very decent recordings to post up. The Zoom H2n unit is $200.

  7. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    If you primary applications are practice recording and internet posting, you may find a good solution in a Zoom H2 or Zoom H4 - H2 Handy Recorder

    I record concerts, rehearsals, practice sessions, etc. on my H2 and it more than meets the need.

    As to the ribbon vs. condenser question, Eric Bolvin (::: Eric Bolvin Music Studios - home :::) did a ribbon vs. condenser comparison a few years ago and posted it to his "music and trumpet stuff" page - ::: Eric Bolvin Music Studios - Music and Trumpet Stuff::: (scroll to the bottom to "Trumpet Mic Demo ").
  8. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    As Rowuk mentioned, the ribbon mics are very delicate. They can be ruined with puffs of air (I've read that a few different places). Also, they need to be stored upright and never on their sides, as the delicate ribbon can sag over time. I'd be careful about buying an expensive ribbon mic for casual recordings .... it's probably overkill. But, I've read, more than a few places (I'm studying sound engineering) that the most natural sounding trumpet recordings can be made with ribbon mics.

    Btw, the little Zoom recorders are not only great in sound, but are probably the easiest recorders to use. The manual with my H2n is perfectly clear, couldn't be simpler and allowed me to get my first good recording in about 20 minutes after taking it out of the box.

    A two step process gives amazing results .... recording in one of the high resolution modes (like 24bit/96mHZ, in stereo!) .... and then, with a simple procedure, it converts it to MP3. If you record in MP3, it gives you hours of recording time. Also, the batteries last for around 20 hours (2 AAs), which means you really don't ever have to plug this thing in to AC power.

    Wherever I'm going, I just toss it into the trumpet or guitar case.

    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012
  9. SmoothOperator

    SmoothOperator Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 14, 2010
    I am a fan of condenser over diaphragm, but I don't know about ribbon. I was under the impression that part of the reason to do ribbon is to get an old time look and sound. My condenser is definitely HOT, and the treble needs EQ, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing, since no amount of EQ will put overtones in when they aren't recorded in the first place.
  10. shofar-blast

    shofar-blast New Friend

    Mar 25, 2007
    Here's the equipment I use - Tims Audio Recording Equipment Page - TimsTrumpetPlace

    I use the MXL R40 ribbon mic. It is inexpensive and a great mic for trumpets. I also use the Zoom H2 (predecessor of the H2n) and it works great on it's own -- good quality condenser mics. I also use the H2 for recording to MP3 or WAV with my external mic (MXL R40) since it works great as a recorder. It is very handy and versatile.

    I also use a tube Preamp (ART Tube MP Project Series USB). The tube helps "warm up" the tone. With many ribbon mics you have to be careful not to use phantom power since they are delicate.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012

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