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Recording the violin


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If you do a search on recording and on microphone you'll turn up a lot of information. You'll need a microphone and a USB or firewire audio unit. There's even a microphone with a built in audio unit and USB cable that goes straight to the computer. You can spend anything from $100 up. It's even possible to record using a $10 computer voice mic plugged into the mic input but it won't sound very good. Audacity is a nice free recording program.

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some small information here:


I would suggest deciding on your total budget, then talking with a

salesman at a large Music store (Or perhaps one of the big online

dealers such as  Sweetwater, Music 1-2-3 etc) It

sounds like you are very new to this, so you need to have the

basics explained.  later on, we can help you with subtleties

and upgrades.

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I use Audacity with a Radio Shack Omnidirectional Boundary

Microphone. The mic is plugged in the mic jack on my laptop. The

boundary mic picks up the natural reverb but you can add it with

Audacity too. This is the setup used on the recordings on my


I picked up the mic on eBay for $25 or so. Audacity is a free down

load. This is simple,inexpensive, yet effective way to get a

good recording.


Select Violins

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The following thread at the Internet cello Society has been going on for a month now:


As a result of these postings I purchased an Edirol R-09 and it certainly solved the self-recording problems I've had since "forever."

The recording goes on to an SD card (up to 2 GBytes at this time - 3 hrs of CD quality sound or weeks of MP-3). The quality with the built in mikes seems quite professional - although the bass and high treble are boosted (so it will sound balanced on cheap playback machines). My computer's i-tunes playback allows me to attenuate these regions by 12-db to normalize the balance through external speakers. The boost seems to be noticiable only for ensemble recordings; for a solo violin, viola, or cello, the balance seems fine and natural.

You can listen to the R-09 directly and immediately by plugging in any headset. The R-09 will also record from an external mike or an external line - so you can record your old disks or cassettes. The machine has a USB port - or you can remove the SD card to load your recording into your computer. Full (CD-quality) recording at 41.4 or 48 KHz is possible (as is MP-3 quality).

You can carry this thing in a shirt pocket - and even record from there (sneak it in to concerts you want to retain illegally).


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The one downside of the Edirol is that it only takes 1/8" plugged microphones, which eliminates most professional recording mics, unless you use extra external gear. That's why I got an M-audio Microtrack, and I haven't been unhappy, even with some of its difficulties (battery life, for instance). There's a new machine from Zoom that appears to trump both though, if it meets the promises it makes. I notice on the various forums that the Edirol fans are rabid to the point of irrationality sometimes, which makes accurate comparisons problematic. I'm really tempted to buy the Zoom machine just to see how it works. . . .

But for convenience, if you're not looking for nearly-professional results in a covert situation, some type of simple soundcard on a laptop or desktop is a technically easy approach. For a long time, I used the best mic I could buy, going mic-in on my laptop, and it wasn't terrible, either. I think the bottom line is that NO self-executed recording is going to be good enough to be confused with a professional one, no matter what the equipment, since the weak spot isn't the wired stuff, it's the person placing the microphone.

My mic experience, by the way, is that unless you're careful you'll end up with a mic with a "presence peak", which I think makes most violins sound excessively harsh. Most condenser mics in most price ranges have this. The Behringer ECM8000 is a crummy mic in most other respects, but has flat response and costs around $40. After trying a few, my choice was a pair of AT3032s. Neither of these recommendations will work on the R-09, though.

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A most helpful addition - and so well written - thanks. But ti seems to me that I've been collecting segments of "wire" (adapters) over the years that allow me to plug "real microphones" into 1/8" plugs and 1/8" plugs into the hardware with big holes. Doesn't that work OK?

I'm sticking with this R-09, however, it's the first time in 30 years of trying that I've been able to use my own judegement to asses the sound of my own instruments from a distance and think I'm hearing realistic violin sounds (compared to professional recordings through the same amplification and speaker system).

It's helping me make other musical chices too. I have a performance of the Schubert Arpeggione sonata coming up next month and i wanted to decide whether to do it on cello or on viola (which is at least 10 times easier - even for me, a non violist). Cello wins hands down tonally - I just have to work out the virtuosic elements.

I can also take this thing to ensemble practices (without carrying a computer) to prove to others how much we suck!! (Runs on 2 AA batteries - or the included AC adapter).


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What the R-09 doesn't have is phantom power. It's got 5V for small condensers on the 1/8" mic-in, but not the 48V that studio mics require. The Microtrack only has 30V, so it doesn't work with some mics, and the H4 has the full 48V. There's another issue of balanced connections that confuses things, too--studio mics have three wires to them, not two.

If you have a R-09, there's no reason to switch, nor for me to switch from the MT, except for that darned battery, which doesn't stay charged long, even if you don't use it. The Zoom H4 is available new for $268, though (a lot less than either of ours), and getting a lot of really nice reviews, though.

The whole concept is fun, though, as you're finding out. I keep mine handy for recording samples of violins that come through the shop. I do a standardized run of notes for every violin that's interesting. Eventually I'd like to expand it to players, when the new shop situation settles down a bit.

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Could be interesting except that it doesn't exist yet. Wait and

see. Also, recording to IPOD - what compression format would it


Oh yeah, and what will it cost when it exists?

As of now, if you don't want to go with a dedicated recorder, if

you have a laptop, any number of usb/firewire based interfaces is a

pretty darn good way to go.

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A really great condenser mic for recording violin is the KEL HM-1 condenser mic. I think they go for $129.00

or so now. It does require 48v phantom power. Very nice smooth top end without sounding muffled.

I carry one with me when I go to recording sessions and always seem to get a great sound with no eq needed.


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Originally posted by:
Michael Darnton

.............There's a new machine from Zoom that appears to trump both though, if it meets the promises it makes. I notice on the various forums that the Edirol fans are rabid to the point of irrationality sometimes, which makes accurate comparisons problematic. I'm really tempted to buy the Zoom machine just to see how it works. . . .

I'm not sure which model you're referring to but I can share my experience with a Zoom MRS-4 redcorder. It's a 4 track digital recorder that I bought about a year ago.

There's two 1/4 inch mic inputs so you can't use a balanced mic and it comes with a 32 MB smart media card which isn't very large. Also it eats batteries like you breathe air.

Now for the good points. It's portable, simple to use, and makes recordings that are astonishingly professional in sound quality. I have used it for violin recording, whole band recording, and seperate track recording when doing a mix. It will record in stereo or mono and it allows headphone monitoring while recording. You can lsiten to 1, 2, or 3 tracks while recording another and or listen to an electronic metronome at the same time. It also has a multitude of built in effects but I seldom use them. I usually mixdown into my PC and then add any effects I want with Sound Forge software.

I bought a 128 MB smart media card to give me more recording space and an AC adapter to eliminate my battery budget.

I paid $167.00 US for mine but the price has gone down to $125.00 or so. I have a decent Santa Cruz sound card in my PC and decent recording software but the Zoom recorder beats them hands down.

In a nutshell - Highly Recommended. If you're looking at the 8 track model or somethng even more advanced I imagine it would be even better.

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Fiddler59....Thanks for the tip about the Kel HM-1. I have been searching for the Holy Grail of mics for the past 2 years. I currently use the Sure SM81 because of it's flat response but like most mics it tends to be a little harsh when recording the top end of a violin. The Kel mic is very flat throughout yet is very smooth at the top end. A great mic for violin at a super price.

Ernst....Michael is referring to the brand new Zoom H-4 (a pocket 24/96 recorder). I own both the Microtrack 24 as well as the Zoom H-4. I love both. You can't go wrong with either one. The Zoom offers a bit more for about $100 less.

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