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cornflakes
04-07-2013, 11:13 PM
Hello everyone!

A year ago I started recording some songs with a friend of mine. I began recording my voice and my uke with a SM58 and I was pretty satisfied with the sound quality (http://snd.sc/10Ms8nq or http://snd.sc/Z2Z0Ly).

Recently I wanted to take it to the next level and purchased a Rode NT2-A. I really love this microphone and I can really feel the sound quality difference with the shure (http://snd.sc/10LjfdO or http://snd.sc/Z2Zgds). But now I would like to buy a new mic to record my ukulele so that I can record my singing and strumming at the same time (yep, I have to record everything separately since I only have one mic).

So here's my question: what would you recommend me to buy for a simple (read cheap) home studio? I'm actually hesitating beetween two types of mic: a good pickup (L.R. Baggs Five O) or a small condenser mic. The advantage of the pickup is that I won't have to worry about hearing my voice through the uke track. But I think that a condenser microphone have better sound quality than any other pickup.

my actual home studio configuration:
- rode NT2-A for voice and uke
- m-audio fast track
- Cockos reaper software
nothing else ;)

What do you think? What model would you recommend me?
Thanks! :D

seeso
04-08-2013, 05:05 AM
Thread out of moderation queue. Sorry for the delay.

RichM
04-08-2013, 06:33 AM
I would take a good mic over a pickup in a studio session in a heartbeat. Pickups are great for live play where you have little control over the equipment or the environment. In a controlled environment like a studio, a mic is almost always going to sound more genuine.

thejumpingflea
04-08-2013, 06:45 AM
I would take a good mic over a pickup in a studio session in a heartbeat. Pickups are great for live play where you have little control over the equipment or the environment. In a controlled environment like a studio, a mic is almost always going to sound more genuine.

I agree with RichM.

A mike is the closest thing you'll get to the actual sound of an instrument. I recommend using 2 microphones to record your ukulele for a nice stereo sound.

The Great Bedini
04-08-2013, 06:46 AM
I'm new to Ukes, but old to everything else, so I'll tell you what I would do. There are inexpensive small mics, CAD cm217 is one brand, under $100, that will give you a darned good sound. Yes, there will be some bleed if you sing and play simultaneously, but you'll get a more "alive" sound.

Good luck on your recording ventures, I think it teaches you a lot, and keeps you humble. At least, it does for me! YMMV

thejumpingflea
04-08-2013, 06:47 AM
If you own an iPad, iPhone, or Mac with Garageband, I highly suggest checking out the Apogee MiC. It's incredible how well that microphone records!

OldePhart
04-08-2013, 07:39 AM
Microphone vs pickup? Depends on what you're looking for - perfectly natural sound or something with more sustain than the uke really has? I haven't seen an under-saddle pickup yet that doesn't introduce quite a bit of compression - reducing dynamic range but increasing sustain. You don't really realize how much compression until you record using the pickup and a good microphone simultaneously.

If you want the recording of the uke to sound like the listener is sitting in the room with you and your acoustic instrument then a good condenser microphone is definitely the way to go.

John

anthonyg
04-08-2013, 11:21 AM
Well if you want to take things to the next level then going for one microphone only for voice and instrument is a backwards step. When recording in a studio environment recording one track at a time allows you to concentrate on one thing at a time. Any mistakes you make can be isolated to one take. NOTHING is more frustrating than doing a great instrument take but fluffing the vocals or visa versa. Also one track at a time allows you to do balance the sound levels latter in production and use slightly different effects as required.

I have one good condenser microphone, an Audix VX5 which I use for most recordings. Sometimes I do simple live recordings with 2 microphones, using a dynamic microphone for voice. When doing this I have to do numerous pre takes in order to set the mix in a mixer before it goes to Garageband.

Anthony

Brad Bordessa
04-08-2013, 11:51 AM
Last time I was in the studio my engineer used an SM57 on my 'ukulele for the rhythm track. It was amazing (and I'm very picky). Proof that a $100 mic used the right way can sound as good as a $1000 mic, depending on the situation. My engineer says he uses the 57 all the time on ukes. I'm definitely getting one first thing when I start my own studio setup.

That said, your 58 is pretty much the same mic. You just might be needing a better preamp to make it shine. They say that Bono does all of U2's studio vocals with a 58 in hand.

C.A.McLane
04-08-2013, 10:02 PM
Well, you already have a nice condenser mike. I would try out the NT2-A for recording the uke and see how it sounds. Compare it to a recording with the SM58. Maybe you already got all you need (especially if you go the route of recording uke and voice separately). In case you like the sound of the NT2-A and want to record voice and uke together, why not buy a second one of these? That way you you could use those for stereo recording as well, or also if you want to record yourself playing together with somebody else. I find it very handy having two identical high quality mikes to hand for all kinds of recording situations.
Andreas

cornflakes
04-09-2013, 12:30 AM
Thank you all for you quick responses and cool tips! :)

Actually I wanted to be able to record my singing and strumming at the same time so that I can make videos with good sound quality. I tried recording both my voice and strumming with my NT2-a and the result was quite poor.

Ok so that's what I was thinking: pickups tend to compress the sound of the ukulele. I really like the idea of buying a second rode NT2-a to record a stereo sound and I think that this is what Iíll do! I have another question: how would you place the two microphones in order to have a sound that feels natural (like if youíre sitting in front of the ukulele player)? Iím guessing one a little away from the sound hole (for low and mid frequencies) and one in front of the neck (for high frequencies and to hear the fingers sliding along the fret board). Is it a good configuration?

I also think that Iíll need to buy a new audio interface because my M-Audio Fast Track MKII only has one XLR input. I donít know much about these stuffs and Iím pretty satisfied with my interface. So Iím thinking about sticking with the brand and buying a fast track C400 for more inputs. What do you guys think? Do you think that thereís a better interface to use with my NT2-a? And does the interface influence greatly with the sound quality?

Thanks again! :D
Evans

C.A.McLane
04-09-2013, 01:09 AM
Thank you all for you quick responses and cool tips! :)

I also think that Iíll need to buy a new audio interface because my M-Audio Fast Track MKII only has one XLR input. I donít know much about these stuffs and Iím pretty satisfied with my interface. So Iím thinking about sticking with the brand and buying a fast track C400 for more inputs. What do you guys think? Do you think that thereís a better interface to use with my NT2-a? And does the interface influence greatly with the sound quality?


The interface will greatly influence the sound depending on the quality of the analogue-digital converter and the pre-amp circuits. I am using the Alesis IO2 which costs around the £100 mark. It has two channels, both with instrument and microphone (XLR) inputs and the sound quality is really good.

Considering the positioning of the mikes, I would put one right in front of the sound hole and the other one close to your mouth with a plop screen in between. Then use the mixing software to adjust the panning in the stereo sound. For the video you might consider recording this with playback: Sing and play to your recording and use the original sound recording as audio for the video. If you manage to pull off the playback, that might give you the best quality.

Andreas

Kem
04-09-2013, 02:38 AM
I've been doing some recording for an album lately, and the recording guy (who has maybe the best basement studio I have ever seen) actually recorded via mic and pickup simultaneously. He said this allowed him to use the best qualities of both; the mic provided the main sound, but the pickup added a slightly different flavour. My knowledge of recording technology is so minimal that I just have to take his word for it.

Cliff Smith
04-09-2013, 05:32 AM
I'd go for a condenser mic (or two) for recording, and a pickup for live work.

OldePhart
04-09-2013, 07:21 AM
To comment on several posts at once...

If you have a Shure 58 and a condenser mic and you want to record vocals and uke in one pass I'd use the condenser on the uke and the 58 for voice.

When close-micing experiment with microphone position - a close microphone pointed directly at the sound hole isn't usually the best option for the most natural sound because you often get some weird acoustics directly in front of the sound hole, plus Doppler affect from the strumming hand, in some cases. Often, pointed at the top just below the bridge and behind the sound hole is a nice sweet spot. If you watch videos of pros recording in the studio what you will usually see is the instrument "close" microphone coming from low and to the player's right, where it doesn't interfere with their right hand (we're assuming a right handed player, of course) and generally pointed directly at the lower bout, but also picking up some of the sound hole due to the angle of the microphone.

Somebody mentioned a studio using microphone and pickup both - that is quite common - so is using two microphones for the instrument - a "close" microphone usually 2 to 12 inches away (the closer the better but have to leave the player room to be comfortable) and an "ambience" microphone a few feet away.

John

cornflakes
04-09-2013, 08:04 AM
For the video you might consider recording this with playback: Sing and play to your recording and use the original sound recording as audio for the video. If you manage to pull off the playback, that might give you the best quality.


Wow I haven't thought of that! I feel like a newbie now.... lol
I'm going to try this as soon as I get my camcorder! Thanks for the advice! :D

@Oldephart Thank you for the tips! While experimenting with mic placing, I found that the sound hole wasn't the best place to put the mic. I was getting some weird proximity sounds and it felt like the sound was saturated. Now I'm placing my mic at the level of the nut and pointing to the soundhole and I find that it sounds well. I haven't thought of placing the mic under the bridge, I'll try that as soon as I can! Thanks! :D

The idea of recording using both pickup and microphone seems interesting, I'll try that too and maybe I'll get an interesting sound too!

Evans

alan_f
07-29-2014, 10:42 AM
Evans,

I ran across this thread because I've been wondering how to start recording my 'ukulele. After listening to some of the songs you have on SoundCloud, I have to say you've definitely figured it out! Awesome job. What setup did you end up with?

Thanks,
Alan

cornflakes
07-29-2014, 12:43 PM
Hello Alan,

Actually I stuck with my rode NT2 for the voice recording, and months ago I bought a Focusrite scarlett 2i2. The sound quality is really great compared to my old fast track MK2 ;) And for the ukulele recording I now use a shure SM81. I do not use the pickup of my ukulele because it sounds really bad. The sound quality of the SM81 is really good and precise! But when I want a sound that is more "round" with more presence I still use my NT2 ;) For the software part, I use reaper with VSTs like Native Instruments' vintage compressors and lexicon reverbs.

For example, in this song I used my sm81 to record my uke: https://soundcloud.com/heroesandminivans/heroes-and-minivans-sunset

Hope it helps! :D
Evans

Dan Uke
07-29-2014, 12:51 PM
If you get two condenser mics, I would recommend getting an x-y mic holder to get the stereo sound. Good luck


Evans,

I ran across this thread because I've been wondering how to start recording my 'ukulele. After listening to some of the songs you have on SoundCloud, I have to say you've definitely figured it out! Awesome job. What setup did you end up with?

Thanks,
Alan

alan_f
07-30-2014, 10:40 AM
I thought about a pair of Shure SM81s in X-Y configuration plus an NT2-a to mix in as a center channel running through a Roland Octo-Capture. Then I woke up...

After weighing a few different options I finally settled on a Blue Yeti Pro. I figure it'll give me a few options to try out with a reasonable buy-in cost to get started, plus it can scale later.

Evans,

I just listened to your song again and am thoroughly at how good your recordings sound -- from the performance to the recording and mixing, excellent work. It's also helpful to hear what a reasonably-priced setup can do in the right hands.

Mahalo,
Alan

cornflakes
08-17-2014, 04:56 PM
Thank you Alan ;) Hope my answer helped. Good luck!