Microphone to record Irish flute

Microphone to record Irish flute

I need to record some tunes on Irish flute. Does anyone have any recommendations regarding microphones?

Thanks

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Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

Bigger question than might meet the eye. What is the purpose of the recording. High end production of a professional product, a youtube video, to hear yourself play? The answer will make a big impact on your bank account. I am currently involved in a recording project using ribbon mics … at 4 digit prices. Of course most mere mortals like me can’t afford them. At home I use decent mid priced condenser mics in the $250 range. I would not use dynamic mics like the ubiquitous Sure 57 mics I choose for performance. There are endless arguments about brands. Pic your price point. I’ve found that within any price range there’s not much difference. Things like mic placement, and the recording environment probably make more of a difference.

Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

250 would be at the upper end of my price range, but could probably go for something like that. Any comments on specific mics?

The recordings are to accompany some written lessons I’ve created for a friend - so they don’t have to be fantastic but I’d like them to be as good as I can make them - within reason.

Is there a there any other equipment/software I would need?

Thanks

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Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

For that purpose and budget I’d recommend a Zoom H2n "pocket recorder," an all-in-one device with stereo (actually quad but you won’t use that) microphones that will record onto a flash card. Then you can remove that card, load it into your computer to edit the audio as needed with free software like Audacity.

I have the original Zoom H2, and although I have other, far more sophisticated recording equipment it does the job when I just want a quick and easy recording of something. The audio quality is good for the price, and much will depend on your room acoustics anyway.

A Zoom H2n currently goes for something like $180 USD. You will also need a cheap boom mic stand to place the recorder at an appropriate height angled slightly down on the embouchure hole of the flute. The H2n has a threaded socket on the bottom for that. You could also improvise by placing the recorder on the shelf of a music stand, but the top-down angle is the usual position for flute.

Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

Knowing your purpose Conical has a good suggestion with the advantage of using it anywhere for anything. Another might be simply any decent desktop mic for your computer that you’d use for say a podcast would work just fine. I’ve forgotten the brand I use but I’m pretty sure there’s not a lot of difference among any of them. Might help to remember that a part of the equation is the sound quality of the playback device on the receiving end. Your purpose need not be a budget breaker. Good luck.

Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

The Blue Yeti computer USB mic is great budget value for home recording, used in lots of professional podcasts. Not high end but a good compromise with a few capsule settings

Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

Anyone know of any reasonably priced attachable mics? That might help to ensure mic position is consistent I suppose.

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Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

Attachable mini condenser mics are available, but they will need either bias or phantom power, a preamp, and an analog/digital interface to a computer. Often preamp and A/D are combined in one unit, but it’s still more gear besides just the mic. Countryman makes a nice clip-on flute mic but it’s outside your budget for just the mic ($350 USD).

There are other drawbacks to a clip-on mic. It’s a mono recording instead of stereo, and I like stereo with flute (the Zoom H2n will do stereo). A mic position that close is good for feedback rejection on a live performance stage, but you may get more breath noise/hiss with the mic that close. A flute sounds better if the sound can "bloom" with the mic at least a foot or more away, and capture some room sound for early reflections and ambiance (unless your room acoustics are horrible).

Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

Yeti, that’s the one I use. And as Conical says it takes some other devices to work. For the record I do use an Audio Technical lavalier mic for performance and some times an AT headset mic but, as mentioned, they aren’t just plugs and are pricey. I suspect there are simple plug in and play type mics for mobile phones and an easy Google search would bring them up. As for attaching them to the flute I cobbled up a clamp from some thin foam, gaffer tape (no sticky residue), and hobby grade thermoplastic, Nobody makes anything for wooden flutes although there are several for the shiny ones. We’re it me, I’d go Zoom … good recording quality and versatile.

In seconds I found several lavalier (clip on) mics that would work just fine with some kind of home made clamp.

Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

I’d agree with the Zoom suggestion. There are other good makes (Tascam …) but I have a Zoom H4n and find it gives excellent recording quality, and if you then take the file (on a card) and put it into an editing programme, you can edit out any unwanted gasping breath sounds and other misc. clicks and rattles quite easily. I use Cubase, but Audacity is not only very good and easy to use but free!

Other thoughts: a pop shield would be a useful addition. Also, if more than one mic (or recording device) is available, try placing one fairly close above the embouchure hole, as suggested, and another several feet away in the room: you might find that it adds a bit of depth to the overall sound. But so much depends on the type of sound you’re after (reverberant or dry) and the acoustics of the space you’re using for the recording.

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Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

I’d second the recommendation for the Zoom. Great sound, simple to use and you can also take it out and about to record music in a session or whatever if that takes your fancy.

Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

Don’t worry about the technicalities, the bloke, sound engineer, at the studio will deal with all those problems. Just does what he says and play the flute well!

Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

I did loads of research into this when lockdown came in for playing online.

I went with a cost effective condenser microphone a few others recommended for flute/whistle called a Samson CO2

Very happy with it. You’d need two if you want to record in stereo, but I only needed/used one.
You need a pre-amp and I use the focus rite scarlet solo (the ‘duo’ allows two xlr microphones to be added).

It works great for me, but I think if I was buying again I’d get a zoom or tascam recorder as above.
You’d have more versatility (I believe you can use them exactly the same as regular microphones/wire them up etc, you don’t have to use their ‘record to sd card’ function).
I have an old-school tascam recorder (that can’t unfortunately be used as a regular microphone) and the quality is very good.

Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

There are various considerations.
1) Is this a long-term investment or for one recording project? If the flute needs to be clear but is going to be mixed in with other instruments, a moderate quality condenser mic will to the job, with proper approach by the performer (see below). If the flute is going to be a lead instrument, you want great clarity and very good dynamic response ability, but if the performer approaches the mic carefully, a moderate $$$ mic can still do the job well. I recorded an album using quite a bit of flute and used a RODE NTK, but that may be better then required in some regards. I had other instruments in the mix, but the flute did have quite a few "lead" moments going on.
2) Approaching the mic. TIPS: don’t aim the mouth’s airstream directly at the mic, aim slightly to the side, or above or below it. You don’t want the dynamics of air flow going at a condenser mic, just the musical sounds. Experiment with how close you play to it, and at what angle. I found something like 3 inches to a foot away was generally best. Each mic has a proximity area where air pressure can distort the sound, not "loudness" of the music, but air pressure coming off the instruments, which is also a problem for drums. It depends on volume dynamics, need for clarity, need for later compression. Remember that compression is usually involved in recording and with EQ and reverb adjustments, and doubling the track for other effects, can do wonders for a track, and it’s not the limitations of the mic that are a barrier. And consider adding harmony flute tracks at lower volumes, to colour the sound nicely, give it texture while still leaving the lead line clear as a bell. Try putting a small reflecting surface about 6" away from the mic, that reflects sound directly at the mic, but not air pressure. Don’t let air pressure from playing the flute go directly at the reflector or the mic. This can help capture the full tone of the flute, without causing volume or dynamics problems.
3) Room acoustics. As long as the room isn’t giving you echo or reverb pressure, you can try all sorts of dynamics in your playing and not be worried about excess room feedback being a problem. Aim the mic into areas where room acoustics don’t focus reverb effects bouncing around and have carpets, furniture, whatever, wall acoustic suppressors, etc., to dampen feedback. I’ve recorded in a medium-sized livingroom with carpets, bare walls, but only one instrument at a time (all acoustic, plus keyboards through lines) and never had a feedback or room-colour problem. Recording a group live makes this much more problematic.
4) Shop around. I have used a Zoom portable recorder, one of their basic models and for the middle to higher frequencies, it did a great job, and again, with careful approach by the player, you can maximize the quality of the recording, at a very good sampling rate. Not the greatest for bass tones, but voice, guitar, flute are higher pitched than the small-sized, lower-frequency limitations of the basic Zoom model self-attached microphones. Many companies (including the used market), make very good quality moderate-cost mics. $250 puts you in an area where you have to be careful. I thought ribbon mics were premium price and quality? Buying used, I’d ask lots of questions about how the mic was used and test it out before buying. I’d never buy a used mic from a band, but I’d buy from a single performer/recording artist, or a legitimate studio, something that gives you a suggestion the mic was well taken care of, and you can talk to the person who used it.

Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

Also, if you are recording just for one project, a limited time, consider renting a good mic from one of the music stores that supplies rentals to schools, they often have rentals on other gear, and you might find a reasonable quality condenser mic available as a rental for a month or two. That lets you spend all the time you want recording tracks to get what you want, no performance pressure, no time pressure, no studio pressure, and the cost goes way down.
Alternately, buy a good used mic, use it for the project, then sell it for the same price.

Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

I’d def not use a clip on for recording. I’m a big fan of "use whatever you can get your hands on." The main choice on this thread seems to be a zoom or something similar, which is portable, but you have an extra step to get the recordings onto a computer; or something computer based, which is more flexible, but not portable. (or at least not very). Any ol’ large diaphragm condenser will do pretty well, it’s just a matter of getting it into the computer, which does require some kind of preamp. Honestly, the ever popular SM58 will do just fine. Don’t overthink it. (would be my advice. some people love to compare microphones!)

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Re: Microphone to record Irish flute

I would tend to agree regarding clip-ons, which are usually designed for stage use (and associated problems) and are not exactly cheap.
For less money, in my opinion, you’ll get a far better sound "in the studio" from a large condenser.