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View Full Version : Ukulele Recording Setup (Low end)



BBJohn
03-14-2015, 09:35 PM
Hi,

I have used the blue yeti to record occasionally and considering to move up to some low end mic + audio interface. After doing some research and this is what I'm considering, due to the budget I cannot go really go high end :(

Mic: Shure sm57, Audio Technica AT 2041, Sennheiser E609, MXL 770, AKG perception 170

Audio Interface: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, M-Audio M-Track, Presonus AudioBox 22VSL

Any suggestion on which one or combo should I get?
I really love the look of shure sm81! It will be on my list when I upgrade next time!

Also, do people usually put the mic directly to the uke ( where the neck join) or on the amplifier? I have a loudbox mini that I haven't use once since i moved!

Mik
03-15-2015, 06:17 AM
This is not on your list, however just wanted to throw in. I have an apogee 96K cardioid condenser mic. It is extremely portable, very easy, and compatible with iPhone, Ipad, iPod Touch, or mac. I just use garageband.

That being said, it only works for Mac/Apple. It doesn't need to be very close to the uke. Even my on my daughter's clarinet, she records from a good 2 feet distance and it picks up really well. I've had mine for almost 2 years, and it's made in USA.

bnolsen
03-15-2015, 06:25 AM
To cut your price the focus itrack solo (80usd) has the same preamps as the scarlett 2i2 but not quite the ease of connectivity. I use it with linux. It has one powered xlr and one instrument input. An unbalanced dynamic mic works on the instrument cable input just fine for 2 mic setup or you can use a DI pedal for 2 instrument input.

For cheaper mics you can do some research and look at a behringer xm8500 (20usd) or a pylepro pdmic78. (10usd) On youtube there's 2 videos done by an older gentleman, one comparing shure sm57 and another sm58 knockoffs.

BBJohn
03-15-2015, 10:34 AM
This is not on your list, however just wanted to throw in. I have an apogee 96K cardioid condenser mic. It is extremely portable, very easy, and compatible with iPhone, Ipad, iPod Touch, or mac. I just use garageband.

That being said, it only works for Mac/Apple. It doesn't need to be very close to the uke. Even my on my daughter's clarinet, she records from a good 2 feet distance and it picks up really well. I've had mine for almost 2 years, and it's made in USA.

Haha I use windows thats why I didnt put the Apogee in the list, or else i'd love to have the Apogee ONE!!!

BBJohn
03-15-2015, 10:38 AM
To cut your price the focus itrack solo (80usd) has the same preamps as the scarlett 2i2 but not quite the ease of connectivity. I use it with linux. It has one powered xlr and one instrument input. An unbalanced dynamic mic works on the instrument cable input just fine for 2 mic setup or you can use a DI pedal for 2 instrument input.

For cheaper mics you can do some research and look at a behringer xm8500 (20usd) or a pylepro pdmic78. (10usd) On youtube there's 2 videos done by an older gentleman, one comparing shure sm57 and another sm58 knockoffs.

I'll do some research into these cheaper options! Cheap is good!!!
Thanks bnolsen!

bnolsen
03-15-2015, 11:38 AM
the channel is for "featureman" on youtube. these tests are with guitar and voice.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PdB-HbX_HA

bnolsen
03-15-2015, 11:40 AM
and the other video.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_h7kGTpFYQ

from all the research i've done the shure mics excel when it comes to low handling noise. That probably only matters for karaoke and a live singer on stage.

kissing
03-15-2015, 01:15 PM
My opinion: An USB microphone like the Blue Yeti is probably ideal for recording at home on a computer.

Adding an audio interface will add sensitivity to your recording setup. Great if your room is soundproofed like a professional studio. Otherwise it won't noticeably improve a bedroom recording - only add complications when recording.

If I was to get a best value recording setup on computer, my pick would be the Shure SM58 + X2U converter bundle. The dynamic mic is good for cancelling out background noise that a studio condenser will pick up. The X2U converter will work with any microphone with an XLR output and convert it to a USB output for computer. Furthermore, you can use the Shure dynamic mic for live performance, whereas you can't do the same with a studio condenser.

But given you already have a Blue Yeti.. I will not expect to see a major improvement in recording quality by spending more money on an interface. You only really benefit from an interface + higher end studio mics when you are actually in an acoustically controlled studio environment..

BBJohn
03-15-2015, 01:59 PM
Thanks for the reply kissing!
I guess i'll keep using the blue yeti for now and save for my first 4k then!:cool:

bnolsen
03-15-2015, 03:34 PM
the audio interface doesn't do anything except allow you to plug in xlr microphones and/or instruments. The quality of the preamps on the audio interface affect how much noise they add to the signal chain.

Dynamic vs condenser vs ribbon mic technology all impact noise, response, dynamic range, directionality, effective distance, etc of the sound capture.

I believe most if not all USB mics are condenser which unfortunately do very well at picking up anything and everything with a very wide frequency response. These are the ideal studio mics because of the controlled recording environment. A workaround with condenser mics is to record a period of "silence" and use that for noise cancelling during post production.

A dynamic mic like the shure 57 and 58 are designed for stage and podium use to limit that annoying and speaker destroying feedback loop. They capture sound at very close proximity in a directional fashion and are designed to work in a noisy environment. Their frequency response is more limited than a condenser mic.

here's a dynamic usb mic: http://www.amazon.com/Samson-Q1U-Dynamic-USB-Microphone/dp/B000EZMYRS

however you probably want to keep with the ability to monitor and playback through the mic/audio interface for overdubbing if you go that route...

Brad Bordessa
03-15-2015, 04:00 PM
I say go with your first two options - SM57 and Forcusrite 2i2. If you're just recording for personal use/giggles at home, maybe the USB stuff will be fine, but an interface and good mic will give you room for expansion in the future. Buy the best you can afford and don't look back. You've got to have/use the gear to learn whether you like it or not.

For what it's worth, I recorded my whole EP (except the drums) through a Focusrite 2i4. I thought it sounded great - certainly wasn't the weak point of the production. It has a couple more options that I thought were worth the extra bucks over the 2i2. Money well spent.

I don't have an SM57, but it will be my next mic purchase. You can do pretty much anything with it if your preamps have the juice. I don't think I've tried one through the Focusrite, but it would probably be fine. Our engineer at college used a 57 on my 'ukulele when I recorded my song for our compilation album. It sounded great. That said, I used a Neumann KM184 on the EP. But that's a big price jump.

As for placement, with the Neumann I found that a 20-30-ish degree angle from the headstock side and pointing at the 12th fret at 1 foot (give or take) gave me a really good sound. I did takes and takes of testing - move the mic, play, move the mic, play, etc... And that's what I liked best. Been using that placement ever since and it's served me well.

timmit65
03-15-2015, 04:29 PM
A couple of things to think about....
1-Since you're on a windows machine, make sure the interface you're looking at "likes" your PC. In other words, make sure you have the right mother board, chipset and USB card. This can be the difference in working and not working!
2-Make sure your DAW of choice "likes" the interface you go with.

That said, I'll throw out a recommendation..I've had really good luck with the Presonus hardware and software. They do have a small leg up on the many others, in that, they're the hardware and software maker. So, the interface and Studio One, should play well together. I would suggest you buy if from someone who can help you. I do like Presonus as a company, but their tech support is poor. You get the most help from their forums. Also, if you were to end up getting one of their VSL interfaces, DON"T use the VSL App. It's confusing at best and depressing at worse! Most USB Mics are "Class Compliant" a good number of interfaces are not, so it can be much more tricky to get them to work!

I agree with most of what's been written about Mics. I will warn you..Going from a condenser to a dynamic might leave you thinking the recordings are dull sounding.

BBJohn
03-15-2015, 07:44 PM
A couple of things to think about....

I agree with most of what's been written about Mics. I will warn you..Going from a condenser to a dynamic might leave you thinking the recordings are dull sounding.

How about a Dynamic right on 12 fret and a condenser somewhere further away and mix them? I think I saw some people did that and the sound was amazing!

kissing
03-15-2015, 11:41 PM
I believe most if not all USB mics are condenser which unfortunately do very well at picking up anything and everything with a very wide frequency response. These are the ideal studio mics because of the controlled recording environment. A workaround with condenser mics is to record a period of "silence" and use that for noise cancelling during post production.


I don't think this can be generalised to USB condenser microphones for 2 reasons:

1. I have found that most USB Condenser microphones (eg: Blue Yeti, Samson C01U, etc) behave a bit like dynamics anyway (a very rough comparison). USB microphones are basically normal microphones with a built-in interface that converts to USB signal. This simple interface usually does not allow the mic gain levels to get so high that it picks up "too sensitively" like a studio condenser through an interface, or a studio mixer. If this is the case at its maximum setting, it is easily controlled by dialing the microphone input levels down on the computer or recording software.

2. It depends greatly on the pickup pattern of the microphone. Most USB Condensers for home recording use have a cardioid pickup pattern. This means that it only picks up sound from a relatively narrow area directly in front of the microphone, and "filters out" noise that is coming from other directions.
I have found USB condensers to be quite easy to make noise-free recordings with, in the bedroom, without introducing any noise-cancellation software.




My opinion is that unless you are prepared to invest a lot more money into renovating your room into an actual studio, and you are going to make super professional quality recordings - a simple USB Condenser microphone suffices with the least amount of headache.
Interfaces are a bit overrated in my opinion. They give you options to customise what microphones to use, and have some extra dials and controls. But as for sheer quality of recording - I doubt they would give a noticeable edge over the right USB condenser used correctly.

spookelele
03-16-2015, 01:39 AM
Yeti is modal. Its got 3 condensers so you can pick stereo cardio omni

bnolsen
03-16-2015, 02:38 AM
guess i overstated. i played with 4 different condenser mics in the past and none of them were particularly good about rejecting noise even with selected cardiod patterns. They were all tested for live use.

kissing
03-16-2015, 03:53 AM
guess i overstated. i played with 4 different condenser mics in the past and none of them were particularly good about rejecting noise even with selected cardiod patterns. They were all tested for live use.

Condenser mics, or USB Condenser mics?

kissing
03-16-2015, 04:01 AM
Here is a quote from the member Booli who actually posted something relevant to this topic in another thread:


4. For recording, having tried all of the above, as well as some very fancy/expensive studio condenser microphones, and I've found that for recording purposes, there is nothing that is going to give a sound as close to your own ears as a good micrphone, or pair of microphones, since they are designed more to emulate the human hearing. I am about to sell off most of my studio gear since I purchased an Apogee MiC, which works with Mac, iOS and Linux out of the box with no drivers (there are 3rd-party drivers for Windows, but I have not tried them) and sounds AMAZING.

Better than my AKG studio mics. All it needs is a single cable into your device. There is a HUGE benefit to this simplicity as opposed to the octopus spaghetti nightmare of cables, a matched pair of stereo condenser mics, an overhead mic, and a 'room mic' into various preamps, setting and checking levels for untiy gain, running it all into your recording interface and then doing a few test recordings... and then finally you can record -- if you can even remember the music that inspired you to capture something 30 minutes ago now...not.

I no longer have a dedicated space for a 'studio' setup, so the Apogee MiC is ONE cable, and ONE mic stand/mount, and I've been ready to record in 5 mins or less, and it's much easier to get reproducible results since you dont have to tweak dozens of knobs to set everything up each time.

Simply put, for recording, there is NOTHING that I've tested for pickups that give me back the acoustic sound THAT I HEAR, when playing the uke, other than a good microphone(s) that are positioned properly.

The Apogee MiC's recorded sound varies based upon placement and distance relative to your uke, and I have several software plugins that give me a virtual stereo sound (or even surround-sound), using principles of psychoacoustics.

This means to get a wider, and bigger, cleaner and more natural sound without using lots of compression and artificial reverb, I can use just one mic, and these software plugins as needed.

I do not have a full song recorded yet, just some short tests, and so far this is the closest thing to what I hear with my own ears...(nothing to share at this time-sorry)

I'll be using this method to record the songs I've written on the ukulele over the past 2 yrs - STAY TUNED!
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?105700-To-amplify-or-not

Hope he doesn't mind that I quoted him here ... ! But it's a very useful piece of information, and also considering that the Apogee Mic is basically just a USB microphone, no external interfaces and cables. Just a plug and play USB microphone like the Blue Yeti.

bnolsen
03-16-2015, 05:33 AM
It's nice to be able to plug in a solid body (especially solid body ubass) and be able to record and monitor at the same time. For not much money the focusrite series allows great flexibility for not too much money.

timmit65
03-16-2015, 02:27 PM
How about a Dynamic right on 12 fret and a condenser somewhere further away and mix them? I think I saw some people did that and the sound was amazing!

Great question! Generally, I tend to use two condenser mics in an XY pattern. One pointing at the 12th fret and one pointing, not at the the sound hole, around the sound hole. By listening with headphones on, it should lead you to the micing position needed for the Uke. By using this technic, the mice facing the 12th fret will give you the "Attack" part of the instrument and the other mic gives you the "Woofness or Meat" of the instrument. Another trick is to mic it with one mic and run the pickup in to the interface and record it, too. The pickup should give you the "Attack" and the mic will give you the "Meat" of the sound!

As far as the dynamic mic goes, technically their "transient response" is slower, which is the "Attack" of the instrument!

You might try using the dynamic mic along with the pickup. You might try flipping the phase of one of the tracks...just incase there's any phasing weirdness going on.

Long answer to a short question!