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JumaStudios says

Hey guys, Basically I am a violinist and this is mainly the instrument I want to record home and add to my tracks (others would be acoustic guitar and some weird ethnic string instruments I gathered from different countries) The microphone I use now is an NT2000 Rode Condenser … im starting to think its not quite the best idea for a violin, catches way too much trash from the room even if i try to keep it as silent as possible. Should I go for a small diafragm mic? Rather a dynamic one? Also, the violin that I am using is a pretty good one, but the qualities of the sound are lost in the recordings. I wont even start on choosing the best software effects (reverb, some chorus bla bla)

Could you please share some tips on recording string instruments at home?

So, would really appreciate any advice. Violin is my main instrument and I kinda feel handicapped without having it in my tracks :)

Peace!

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permian says

Ok, may be it’s not the answer you’re looking for, but did you consider an electric violin? )

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JumaStudios says

I do have one which I use mostly for Jazz Sessions. I am not such a big fan of electric violins though. Its not quite the sound I am looking for,doesnt have that warmth of an acoustic instrument. I did try to put a piezzo pickup on the violin and record with in this way…results? even worse :)

Anyways thanks for your thoughts mate!

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matsteiner Reviewer says

Hi Permian’s Suggestion is the perfect solution regarding the ambient noises, but in my opinion a electric violin is maybe for live use within modern music styles, but it sounds horrible for recordings. It doesn’t sound like a real violin anymore. I tried once to record a electric violin, but it sounded like a bee…. (no joke). The guy left his acoustic violin at home because he could play better on the electric and he was afraid to not perform good enough on the acoustic. But the Sound was so awful that i forced him to get his acoustic violin. With this he didn’t perform so good, but i fixed it with melodyne as good as possible. But the result was so much better anyway! It’s a bit different when playing live, the Sound is not that important anymore because a PA Speaker System never brings a voilin very nicely anyway.
For recording a violin in my opinion a condenser microphone is the only way to go! A dynamic wouldn’t record the high frequencies good enough and with a small diaphragm microphone you have the same problem you already have.
That happens with condensers, no matter if small or large diaphragm, they record a farting ant in 2m distance.. :)
Now, there are to possible solutions:
1) buy this: http://www.seelectronics.com/reflexion-filter-pro
BUT , NEVER buay the cheap China copies of this from thomann or similar, because they don’t have the same effect plus they add really ugly resonances!!! (exactly what they shouldn’t do!) This eleiminates a lot of ugly room reflections, when you can place the microphone pretty Close to the violin.
2) equip your room with mattress, heavy courtains, put a Sofa the vertical way behind the microphone or you, try different positions in the room etc… don’t buy cheap nap foam, but better hang up carpets (e.g. cheap ones from thrift Shops) on chains or straps 20cm from the wall (not too light ones nad very important: they have to hang free, so they can move). This all will dramatically improve the recording capabilitys and quality of your room because it will damp reflections almost in the full frequency range (2-3cm acoustic nap foam will just take some high frequencies).
The only thing that is much harder to control is noise (like street noise) from outside and other disturbing things. For this you need a recording cabin (expensive and big….). But maybe you can damp street and other noises pretty much by putting a mattress in front of the window, door etc. Hope that helps? And i hope you can understand what i try to explain…it would have been easier in german, but this we shouldn’t do in this Forum… so ein Mist :-)
Good luck und schöne Grüsse aus der Schweiz!

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matsteiner Reviewer says

oh sorry, in meantime you’ve answered the electric violin question yourself ;-)

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JumaStudios says

First of all thanks a lot for the useful information Mat Its true, the electric violin I keep mainly for live gigs and even there its more as a show off. During such gigs I take my classical acoustic violin, put the piezzo pick up, run it through a sound effect guitar processor and I got myself some Hendtrix wild things to play with :) Now, I do have this condenser mic (Rode NT2 -A, not nt2000 as i mentioned before) and regarding the room, I did what I could to get rid of reflections, but obviously not enough. I will follow your advice and go for the filter you showed me.

What about software effects? I am struggling to find that perfect reverb and other stuff but its quite hard and of course it varies so much from project to project. Do you recommend an outside hardware solution? Until than, what about the software effects?

Thanks a lot once more, really appreciate your tips!

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matsteiner Reviewer says

What’s a hardware effect? A rackspace filler :)
No, serious: Software reverbs do nothing else. I use the Lexicon PCM Native Reverbs Bundle for the most things, which has exactly the same sound like the (expensive) Hardware PCM reverbs or even the older famous Lexicons. Software FX have a lot of benefits because they are much easier to use with DAW ’s of course, but also because you can use multiple instances without spending more money (eg. Long Reverbs, Small Reverbs, Long and short Pre-Delays etc… in the same project).
Even the LXP which is much cheapoer does a excellent job! Of course there are other great software reverbs too on the market (sampling reverbs like Waves IR-1, which i use sometimes too).
But of course reverbs never make a bad recording really better, garbage in – garbage out…
Generally: Very important for using reverbs is not only the lenght and amount of the reverb, but also the question, if a instrument shall sound like close or far away from the listener. By increasing the predelay time the instruments using this reverb appear closer to you while they go further back when you use no or just a very short predelay (0-8ms). This is just a very simple description, but if you practice around with that, you’ll get the feeling what you neded to do.
Hope that helps, good luck!

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garethcoker Reviewer says

The microphone I use now is an NT2000 Rode Condenser … im starting to think its not quite the best idea for a violin, catches way too much trash from the room even if i try to keep it as silent as possible.

If your room is a problem, then you need to improve your room. You are wasting your money on anything else until you improve the quality of your room. The quality of the room is one of the most important things when trying to record an instrument. With acoustic instruments, the sound needs space to develop (soundwaves move air) and for that to happen, you need a reasonable room. To do this, ideally you should have some acoustic treatment (absorption / diffusion), as well as the room being quiet.

The microphone you currently have is good enough to do a good job – in the right room.

I would personally avoid the carpets on the wall/mattresses recommended above. Get fiberglass panels (they are by far the best at absorbing sound), and cover them with fabric. This will also look way better (and is much easier) than nailing mattress/carpet to a wall. Recommended manufacturer – GIK Acoustics.

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jhunger says

Totally agree with Gareth – that is a nice mic you’ve got there, and definitely it sounds like the problem is the room from what you describe.

I don’t have much to add, except just to double check how you have the mic set up. The NT2000 has continuously variable polar patterns – you may want to try playing with these. If the room is subpar, setting it to cardiod (so that it’s only recording mostly in the direction of the source) might be better than figure 8 or omni for ambient noise.

You might like the sound of an SDC better, depending on the mic (I really don’t know since I’ve never recorded a violin, but I prefer SDCs usually on acoustic guitar), but it won’t likely allieviate your room noise issue. You could also try a dynamic mic like a SM57 to cut down on unwanted room noise, but IMO it won’t sound as good as the Rode you have now.

Oh, and another thing that might help is to get the mic a little closer to the source (if you have it placed way back currently) so you don’t have to record as hot, and set up a gate when you’re mixing so that when you’re not playing you’re not just hearing noise from the room. Sometimes a little room noise is tolerable if it’s only there when the instrument is playing.

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JumaStudios says

Guys those are some really helpful tips there! Really appreciate them. I will work on a track and show you the results when it will be uploaded here just to show you how I did it and prove your tips right :)

Indeed a violin recording is really tricky. And also as a violinist, because of bow changes or simply out of the feeling for the melody, you do tend to move a lot. And that is really a thing I try to avoid as much as possible but you still find it there. Also as I was saying before, the violin that I play has quite a good sound but its also a little bit unbalanced in sound. I mean, lower strings have a warm round sound,volume being not to high no matter how much you press.The upper strings though, they are really shouting out. So, if I record a tune which stretches on all strings, I have to work with the equalizers and volumes and stuff on all parts of the recorded track. I hope I am not just trying to perfect a thing which is not within my reach considering my tools,room and other stuff.

So once more, thank you for the great replies!

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