Best mics for recording classical guitar

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Arash Ahmadi
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Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:54 am

Trying to set up a home studio to record classical guitar mostly. I would like to know your opinion on what the best affordable mic is for recording classical guitar. I have the Apogee mic in mind but have also checked Blue yeti which sounds good.

Meanwhile, I know its best to record with 2 mono mics from different angels and distances but is there a good stereo mic that can work just as good?

Please share your thoughts and experience.
To send light into the darkness of men's heart, such is the duty of the artist. (Robert Schumann)

PeteJ
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by PeteJ » Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:22 pm

I went with two matched Rodes NT5s with cardoid/omni caps and am happy. if I had a better room I'd go for something different but these are pretty good.

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:57 pm

With money the sky's the limit.

I use a Shure SM57 and a Shure PG81 into a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Nothing resembling professionality. The mics are useful for some uke gigs on occasion. Also the SM57 is useful for the harmonica. As Pete says, there are other considerations - room acoustics etc. The amount of room acoustics the mics pick up is proportional to the square of the distance from the mics to the guitar. You might find that useful to know.

At the moment for software I only use ....err....oops, I haven't even reinstalled it since I last did a system reinstall!
It was free, and famous and horrible, and I have totally forgotten what it was called. Audacity (I just Googled).

A matching condenser pair sounds like a good investment for someone with more ambition than me.

Anyone who ever thinks of buying an SM57, I'd offer the advice to buy it new AND from a Shure-recommended dealer, otherwise you will end up with a Chinese karaoke copy.
1975 Calatayud y Gisbert, Yamaha CG131S.

Kurt Penner
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Kurt Penner » Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:23 pm

FWIW, I use a single Neumann KM184 into a Zoom H5 and edit the files in Reaper DAW with fairly good results. Two mics are better but one mic can be quite good.

KP

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robin loops
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by robin loops » Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:27 pm

Kurt Penner wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:23 pm
FWIW, I use a single Neumann KM184 into a Zoom H5 and edit the files in Reaper DAW with fairly good results. Two mics are better but one mic can be quite good.

KP
Two mics are better but can also be problematic until you have experience working with mics. The main problem is getting them out of phase. Some stereo micing methods are much less susceptible to phase issues than others, so it's helpful to study up on the various methods (x/y pair - spaced pairs - etc.) before attempting stereo recording. Personally I would recommend using just one mic to begin with and hold off on stereo until you're familiar with mic placement, finding the sweet spot, using the room to your advantage, etc.

A simple way to get started is to use one mic and add a bit of stereo room ambience post recording. Then go from there. One caveat: if you plan to do start with mono recording and go to stereo eventually, you might want to consider buying a matched pair of mics to start off with. If you buy a single mic, you will then have to buy a matched pair when going to stereo. Often people will just use any two of the same type of mic (not matched pair) as a stereo pair, but variations in the characteristics of each (no-matched) microphone can cause a narrow stereo field or other problems. There are some methods that involve using a condensor and a dynamic together (which obviously won't be matched) so that's also worth looking into. This method can also work best when using two unmatched mics of whatever type (2 condensors or 2 dynamics). This method is more about combining the two mics for more dimension (combining characteristics of the two mics) and using very slight panning (if any at all) to widen the stereo field, than actually having a 'left' and 'right' microphone.

One more thing to consider when choosing a mic is your recording space and choosing a polar pattern that works well within that space. Basically some mics have a narrower polar pattern and pick up mainly what is directly in front of them, while others can pick up more side sound and others cancel less sound from the bqack of the mic, and so forth. Mics that pic up mostly sound from the front work better in poor acoustical environments while more open patterns work when recording stereo in a space that has good acoustics you want to capture. Anyway that's a poor explanation but learning about polar patterns is important for understanding the concept (and choosing the best mic for your studio).

Finally, some room dampening is also helpful. This can range from as simple a solution as adding some pillows and putting a rug on a wooden floor, to using blankets draped over mic stands (or anything else you can find), to actually buying some acoustic foam, diffusion shields, or even building a small sound isolation booth, etc.
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robin loops
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by robin loops » Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:40 pm

Personally I prefer to use analogue mics (as oppossed to USB mics) with a separate audio interface for recording, along with an analogue mixer for monitoring in real time (no computer latency issues) rather than through the software I'm recording on. Latency (even very small amounts) can be a bit disorienting when playing because of the delay between making a sound and hearing it through the monitors. There are many audio interfaces that allow for direct monitoring (without having a hybrid system that uses an analogue mixer) but I prefer keeping my monitoring completly outside of the digital realm. This allows for recording without even using the computer screen (other than to get the recording started) and I find it much less distracting. Basically combines the best of old school recording methods and modern digital technology together. either way, it's a good idea to have some form of real time monitoring capability and a decent set of studio headphones. Don't underestimate the importance of good (closed back) studio headphones. Aside from helping you hear what you're recording, they can be even more useful when playing with mic placement.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
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Gorn
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Gorn » Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:41 pm

I have very good results with a matched pair of Røde NT5. The basses are a tiny bit reduced, but that's easy to compensate by EQ without changing the sound - and, in my opinion, that's better than emphasized bass frequencies, which usually cause problems. Noise is very low and mid and treble frequencies are very accurate. Of course, it's not a pair of Schoeps CMC-64, but the difference in sound is much less than the price difference.
Mics go into a very recommendable Roland Quad-Capture A/D-Converter (USB) and either to PC or a Zoom H4 (Line level input = no hiss).
I use AKG K271 headphones for monitoring - never heard anything closed which is more neutral and transparent.

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sxedio
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by sxedio » Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:19 pm

Kurt Penner wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:23 pm
FWIW, I use a single Neumann KM184 into a Zoom H5 and edit the files in Reaper DAW with fairly good results. Two mics are better but one mic can be quite good.
It seems weird to combine an affordable recorder with a very expensive pro microphone. I'm not putting the H5 down, I have one myself. I was expecting a much higher end converter/pre-amp where the budget and specs require such an expensive mic.
robin loops wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:27 pm
There are some methods that involve using a condensor and a dynamic together (which obviously won't be matched) so that's also worth looking into. This method can also work best when using two unmatched mics of whatever type (2 condensors or 2 dynamics). This method is more about combining the two mics for more dimension (combining characteristics of the two mics) and using very slight panning (if any at all) to widen the stereo field, than actually having a 'left' and 'right' microphone.
The late great Tweak mentions
Though it breaks with studio wisdom, I have found awesome results mixing and matching different mics, such as PZM with dynamics, condensers with electrets when trying to capture a stereo image of the acoustic, taking time to experiment and place the mics to get the most out of them.
. Working with budget gear I've found that sometimes a dynamic will help add some body to a rather thin sounding electret, and vice versa the electret keeps the high end detail lost on the dynamic, but I am far from having perfected mic placements etc. please give more detail on this combination.
Andrew Fryer wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:57 pm
I use a Shure SM57 and a Shure PG81 into a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Nothing resembling professionality. The mics are useful for some uke gigs on occasion. Also the SM57 is useful for the harmonica.
How do you place the mics?
(Gr) (En) (very little Fr)

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:31 pm

sxedio wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:19 pm
Andrew Fryer wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:57 pm
I use a Shure SM57 and a Shure PG81 into a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Nothing resembling professionality. The mics are useful for some uke gigs on occasion. Also the SM57 is useful for the harmonica.
How do you place the mics?
They are on a cheap stand about 6" apart and I just place them as close to the sound-hole as possible to minimise extraneous sound. I only use two because I can't find a way to get mono sound using just one - once one is plugged into the left channel of the pre-amp, that's it: it comes out of the left speaker only!

I'm useless, so you can discount me; it's just that the OP asked for our experience. I'm well aware that in time more than a dozen semi-professional sound-people will come forward, so there was no real need for me to respond at all.
1975 Calatayud y Gisbert, Yamaha CG131S.

Kurt Penner
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Kurt Penner » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:01 am

[/quote]
It seems weird to combine an affordable recorder with a very expensive pro microphone. I'm not putting the H5 down, I have one myself. I was expecting a much higher end converter/pre-amp where the budget and specs require such an expensive mic.
robin loops wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:27 pm
It works well enough for me. I think my next purchase will be a medium quality preamp to run into the inputs of the H5, but I don't think I'm hurting for a good sound. You can search for my name and "classical guitar" on youtube to find my channel and listen for yourself.

Kurt Penner

Ceciltguitar
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Ceciltguitar » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:17 am

A guitarist suggested the Shure SM81 for both recording and for performance on another guitar forum recently. I have not tried it.

DCGillrich
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by DCGillrich » Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:26 am

Hi Arash

There is a lot of information on microphones, set up, and recording classical guitar by Per Lindhof Frederiksen (who is on this forum), and Uros Baric, which I recommend. After looking through many of their recommendations, I purchased and use a matched pair of Rode NT5 cardioid microphones and a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 pre-amplifier and A/D converter. Along with a stand and microphone mounting beam, this cost me about US$700.

I record in a 14 sq. m, carpeted room. I don't detect any internally generated noise from the Rode NT5s, although I do sometimes pick up bird noises outside my window. I set up the microphones in a DIN pattern, with the recording ends 200 mm apart, mounted in a horizontal plane approximately 1 m above the floor. The mounting boom is aligned more or less between the sound hole and the bridge, and the microphones are an arm's length from the sound board. Therefore, one of the microphones is directed at the fret board, an the other above the guitar body. I think this was one of the setups Per Lindhof found successful.

I think I get a good sound, but I am recording only for amateur use with limited distribution. Although I use a DIN setup, I can't really detect much if any different with ORTF and X-Y. But my speakers and headphones are not high quality either.

I am using REAPER (x64) as my DAW, and sometimes experiment with adding reverberation. To add reverberation, I use ReaVerb, which is a convolution reverberation plugin that comes standard with REAPER. For the impulse generator, I use an impulse response wav file measured in the Promenadikeskus Concert Hall in Pori, Finland (http://legacy.spa.aalto.fi/projects/poririrs/).

The recording setup used by Uros Baric is relatively much more sophisticated.

Hope that is helpful.

Cheers... Richard
Last edited by DCGillrich on Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

DCGillrich
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by DCGillrich » Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:29 am

Deleted duplicate.

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Arash Ahmadi
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:23 am

DCGillrich wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:26 am
Hi Arash

There is a lot of information on microphones, set up, and recording classical guitar by Per Lindhof Frederiksen (who is on this forum), and Uros Baric, which I recommend. After looking through many of their recommendations, I purchased and use a matched pair of Rode NT5 cardioid microphones and a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 pre-amplifier and A/D converter. Along with a stand and microphone mounting beam, this cost me about US$700.

I record in a 14 sq. m, carpeted room. I don't detect any internally generated noise from the Rode NT5s, although I do sometimes pick up bird noises outside my window. I set up the microphones in a DIN pattern, with the recording ends 200 mm apart, mounted in a horizontal plane approximately 1 m above the floor. The mounting boom is aligned more or less between the sound hole and the bridge, and the microphones are an arm's length from the sound board. Therefore, one of the microphones is directed at the fret board, an the other above the guitar body. I think this was one of the setups Per Lindhof found successful.

I think I get a good sound, but I am recording only for amateur use with limited distribution. Although I use a DIN setup, I can't really detect much if any different with ORTF and X-Y. But my speakers and headphones are not high quality either.

I am using REAPER (x64) as my DAW, and sometimes experiment with adding reverberation. To add reverberation, I use ReaVerb, which is a convolution reverberation plugin that comes standard with REAPER. For the impulse generator, I use an impulse response wav file measured in the Promenadikeskus Concert Hall in Pori, Finland (http://legacy.spa.aalto.fi/projects/poririrs/).

The recording setup used by Uros Baric is relatively much more sophisticated.

Hope that is helpful.

Cheers... Richard
Hi Richard,

Thanks, it's very helpful to hear about your experience.

Best,
Arash
To send light into the darkness of men's heart, such is the duty of the artist. (Robert Schumann)

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sxedio
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Re: Best mics for recording classical guitar

Post by sxedio » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:50 am

Andrew Fryer wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:31 pm
They are on a cheap stand about 6" apart and I just place them as close to the sound-hole as possible to minimise extraneous sound. I only use two because I can't find a way to get mono sound using just one - once one is plugged into the left channel of the pre-amp, that's it: it comes out of the left speaker only!
Have you tried using Audacity or a similar editor to edit the recording? You can split the stereo channel to two mono channels, listen for yourself if you like the solo condenser, or if you prefer the two channels together: whether centre panned or hard panned.
The OP is only just starting in recording, and given that he is considering USB mics I think the experience of those of us on a budget with weird gear might be more relevant than the experience of the pros with a high budget.
(Gr) (En) (very little Fr)

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