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Thread: Microphone Placement for Small Room?

  1. #1

    Microphone Placement for Small Room?

    Hey everyone,

    So I have my virtual college auditions starting up and I was wondering if anyone knew a good mic position for the best sound? The room I will be in is a pretty small room, it has carpet and a decent amount of sound panels pinned up on the walls. I have a Shure SM57 microphone and a pretty maneuverable mic stand. I will most likely be sitting down, but if standing up could lead to a better sound on the other end then I can definitely do that. If anyone has suggestions on where to place the mic for as clean and even sound as I can get, I would really appreciate it. Thanks!
    Jared Lazansky
    Besson 2051 Prestige
    K&G 3.5D
    Bach 42BOG Stradivarius
    Greg Black 3.5GSD

  2. #2
    Small room is bad in many ways, so your best bet is to get as direct a sound from the instrument as you can in order to minimize the sound of the room as much as you can. SM57 is going to have a pretty pronounced proximity effect so you don't want to get too close, though. I would start with 6" to a foot from your bell, slightly off axis. Do some experiments and go with what sounds best. If you can get a portable acoustic treatment device that mounts just behind the microphone to help get just direct sound and less room it might help, something like the SE Reflexion Filter or one of the many similar products. Because you've got such a direct recording you're going to want to add a little digital reverb to make it sound more natural. Not too much! A little bit will do the trick, and don't add 8 seconds of cathedral. A nice subtle digital effect that could plausibly be from your room is ideal.

    But in the end they are listening for your playing and not your skills as a recording engineer. Do what makes you most comfortable to play your best.

  3. #3
    Barry's advice is, as usual, spot on. A few additional thoughts:

    1. With the mic placement Barry's suggesting, an SM57 is going to be almost all direct sound. Unlike a condenser or ribbon, you're not going to get a ton of the room. As such, I think you'd be safe to start working out mic placement without an acoustic treatment device.
    2. With that said, if you can spring for an SE Reflexion Filter, they're excellent at getting the last of the room ambiance out of the sound. If you're going to get serious about recording, I'd buy one of these before even a different mic.
    3. When you're positioning off-axis, work so that your valves are farther off axis than the bell. This is going to help minimize any mechanical noise you might have. I generally like to have the mic a little more horizontal relative to the axis of the bell.
    4. As you're playing with different mic positions, make sure you take notes. Nothing is worse than doing a bunch of test tracks and not remembering which one corresponded to which position.
    5. Plan on a good amount of time in the record, listen, adapt cycle. As you start to record yourself playing, you're going to start hearing your playing in new ways. Focus on listening and making specific, intentional improvements based on what you hear.
    6. Always warm up well before you hit record. It's tempting to dive in, but the quality of sound you'll get without being dialed in from a good warmup will not be encouraging.
    Adrian L. Quince
    Composer, Conductor, Euphoniumist

    Kanstul 976 - SM4U


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