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While your first inclination might be to place the mic on the bell of a saxophone, that position can sound very edgy and harsh. The sound at the side pads generally radiates a more woody sort of tone that's usually a lot more pleasing. While it's natural to believe that the sound of the saxophone comes mainly from the bell, it actually comes from every hole of the instrument at the same time, but in totally different proportions for every note. With that in mind, in this movie we'll look at one of the ways to record a solo sax. Place a mic about 18-24 inches away from the player's right side of the instrument, about halfway up the keys, and then slightly down at the bell.
Have the sax player play the song that you'll be recording. (music playing) Try moving the mic about 6 inches closer to the sax for a tighter sound. The problem here is that you might pick up some of the valve clicking as well. (music playing) If you move the mic away from the sax, you'll pick up more of the room ambience.
(music playing) After you've found the place that sounds the best, replace the first mic with another directional mic to see if it sounds better. Dynamic, ribbon, and condenser mics all work well on saxes, although sometimes a ribbon can be a particularly good choice if the sax's sound is honky, since the mellowness of the ribbon combats the edginess. (music playing) Now replace the directional mic with one with an omni-directional pattern.
(music playing) Many engineers choose to mic the bell of the sax, but the result can be harsh and honky, with none of the reedy and wooden tone that makes up the sound of the instrument. Let's give it a listen. (music playing) In the end, you want to place the mic where the sax has the best combination of frequencies and the best balance of direct ambient sound.
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