Recording - May 2018 - 32

RECORDING HORNS
the microphone diaphragm as the points.
(This is shown with a sax in Figure 3.) As
with the brass instruments, you may find
that putting the mic slightly off-axis results
in a more appropriate sound for the tune.
A dynamic mic can work just fine on
woodwinds, providing a neutral-sounding
pickup. Again, ribbon and tube condenser microphones can capture an open,
honest, warm sound-a lot of time-tested
classic jazz and blues recordings utilized
these mics.
Medium to large-diaphragm solid-state
condenser mics work great on woodwinds. If you have a Neumann U 87
or similar, you won't be disappointed
with the results. Many of the inexpensive
large-capsule condensers, very often
generally modeled on the U 87, can
work great as well; I have used my MXL
2001 (shown in Figure 4) many times
for capturing tenor sax.
I've also used the AKG 535 effectively
as a sax mic. It used to be a go-to for me
for live recordings, but it works great in the
studio as well. Though its capsule is smaller
than the U 87-type mics, it has a tight
cardioid pickup pattern-helpful if you're
trying to minimize bleed-and a reasonably flat frequency response (see Figure 5).
One note of caution about less expensive
solid-state condenser microphones: many
of them have a frequency bump in the high
end that can exacerbate harshness in both
brass and woodwind instruments. Don't be
afraid to try them out-as I said, I've had
great success with the MXL 2001-but let
your ears be the final arbiter.

Polar faces and ambient spaces

Two things come into play when
choosing the pickup pattern to employ:
the sound of the room you're recording in, and the amount of isolation you
need to achieve between instruments.
Many large-capsule condenser microphones have selectable pickup patterns.
Generally you'll want to use the cardioid
polar pattern to achieve more isolation.
A figure-8 pattern is a good option if the
room has a good sound-the back of
the mic is just as sensitive as the front, so
you will capture sound coming back off
32

RECORDING May 2018

the walls, floor, and ceiling, as well as
from the other instruments in the room.
Nearly all ribbon mics have a figure-8
polar pattern. The off-axis sound these
pick up is, to my ears, more smooth and
natural sounding, and consequently less
challenging to deal with at mixdown.
Bleed isn't necessarily a big problem; in
many cases it can even be desirable. I
find this very true on jazz and blues sessions
with musicians who are adept at playing
as an ensemble. That ensemble feel is
often made more evident by some degree
of bleed into the various mics, giving a
more organic and cohesive sound.

4
You can take advantage of the polar
patterns of the microphones you're using
to manage bleed. Being familiar with the
null points for each mic-cardioid, supercardioid, or figure-8-should inform you
on where you position the players in the
room. Cardioid mics have the greatest
rejection 180º off axis. Figure-8 mics
have null points at 90º off axis, and super
or hypercardioid mics fall in between.
Bleed control can also be achieved with
gobos or other sound damping strategies,
as shown in Figure 6 with a DIY gobo.
However, if it's an overdub, isolation isn't
an issue. If appropriate for the tune, you
can take full advantage of the acoustics of
the recording space. I often do overdubs
in my living room-it's a large space with
a long sloping ceiling that is 14 feet high
at the tall end. It also has hardwood floors
and two large windows. I can damp the
window walls by simply closing the blinds.

It's a great sounding room. The back
of a figure-8 mic captures the reflections
coming back. I adjust the amount of that
by moving the mic nearer or farther from
the reflective wall, depending on the playing
style. This room provides a nice alternative
to the relatively dry sound in my basement
tracking room. (See Figure 7)

In the mix

If you are careful with mic selection and
placement, you'll arrive at the mix stage
with great natural-sounding horn tracks.
These elements should be treated as you
would any other element in the mix.
Hopefully your mic choice and positioning
will result in tracks needing minimal or no
EQ. You may want to sculpt out some of
the very bottom end to make more room for
other instruments in that range. There is a
lot of mid-frequency energy in these instruments; pay attention to that range if you're
having trouble fitting the tracks into the mix.
I tend to like my horn section tracks
panned in a fairly wide stereo spread. I often
double-track sections, to beef up the sound
and provide more elements to spread and
create a dynamic stereo soundfield.
Alternatively, a very focused sound
can be obtained by essentially creating
a barely-stereo or tight mono mix of all
the horns. This is especially good when
the function of those instruments is to add
punctuation to a track.
As for compression, I generally tend
to treat solo instruments similarly to how
I would compress a lead vocal. In most
cases that would be not very aggressively.
I'd choose a small ratio and set the threshold
for 3 to 5 dB of gain reduction. The attack
and release should be appropriate for the
tempo and the feel of the song.
For ensemble parts with a lot of drive,
you can slam the compressors fairly
hard to enhance the sense of excitement. The stock compressors in your
DAW are more than up to these tasks.
As an alternative, try a "character compressor"-certainly one of the
1176-style compressors would be a
good choice. Opto compressors work
well for this application, too. Parallel
compression can also be effective-



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - May 2018

Contents
Recording - May 2018 - Intro
Recording - May 2018 - Cover1
Recording - May 2018 - Cover2
Recording - May 2018 - 1
Recording - May 2018 - 2
Recording - May 2018 - 3
Recording - May 2018 - 4
Recording - May 2018 - 5
Recording - May 2018 - Contents
Recording - May 2018 - 7
Recording - May 2018 - 8
Recording - May 2018 - 9
Recording - May 2018 - 10
Recording - May 2018 - 11
Recording - May 2018 - 12
Recording - May 2018 - 13
Recording - May 2018 - 14
Recording - May 2018 - 15
Recording - May 2018 - 16
Recording - May 2018 - 17
Recording - May 2018 - 18
Recording - May 2018 - 19
Recording - May 2018 - 20
Recording - May 2018 - 21
Recording - May 2018 - 22
Recording - May 2018 - 23
Recording - May 2018 - 24
Recording - May 2018 - 25
Recording - May 2018 - 26
Recording - May 2018 - 27
Recording - May 2018 - 28
Recording - May 2018 - 29
Recording - May 2018 - 30
Recording - May 2018 - 31
Recording - May 2018 - 32
Recording - May 2018 - 33
Recording - May 2018 - 34
Recording - May 2018 - 35
Recording - May 2018 - 36
Recording - May 2018 - 37
Recording - May 2018 - 38
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Recording - May 2018 - 40
Recording - May 2018 - 41
Recording - May 2018 - 42
Recording - May 2018 - 43
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Recording - May 2018 - Cover3
Recording - May 2018 - Cover4
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