Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Microphone discovery! Shure SM-7B for violin...


palousian
 Share

Recommended Posts

It is not uncommon for someone to come onto Maestronet looking for suggestions for microphones.  Usually I suggest a ribbon mic, and if it's a classical player, I suggest adding a stereo pair of small-diaphragm condensers, or maybe a single large-diaphragm condenser, out there about two feet (or more, depending on the room) away from the player. 

For a traditional fiddle player, it is not unusual to be using a microphone for live performance, and that is problematic.  You can't really use a ribbon mic live (the figure-8 pickup pattern is an issue, and they are too fragile for the stage).  There are the various clip-on options, which of course don't allow you to "work" the mic, but many of them sound OK.  But I wanted something that would give me that warm, not-scratchy ribbon mic sound onstage, without clipping something on my nice violin. Over the last couple of years, I have noticed singers using (what I thought was) a microphone for broadcasters--the venerable Shure SM-7B.  It seemed to be a warm, rich sound--not unlike what I appreciate about the ribbon mic.  In normal, not-pandemic, times I would have just booked an hour or so at a good studio with an SM-7B to try it, but... not now.  So, I just bought one.  With a Cloudlifter CL-1 (hijacks phantom power from your preamp to very cleanly boost the sound 25dB).  Wow, this is definitely the solution.  Has anyone else tried this microphone on violin?

I did an experiment with four microphones to test out the theory, and what I wasn't expecting was that the SM-7B just running through the Cloudlifter into a solid-state preamp would be a better sound than even the ribbon mic into the super-duper Avalon 737 tube preamp.  I think I will have to try the SM-7B into the Avalon to see if that's a recording option.  Anyway, I quickly recorded a couple of tunes to test (so, be kind, I wasn't trying to make a record here)--"Hector the Hero" (J. Scott Skinner) and "Hardiman's Fancy" (traditional Donegal Irish)--a sort-of Donegal Irish set, playing in a Clare-ish style.  Here is a link to my blog, explaining the test, and there's a link therein to my website with the recording, if you're interested.  Cheers!

http://palouserivermusic.blogspot.com/2021/11/violin-microphone-shoot-out.html

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It would be much easier if you would put the time stamps on the same page as the recording.

So far the 421 is a bit edgier, not as satisfying, I assume it is full on and not rolled off any? The  fatboy has a fullness that could get a bit annoying in a recording, the 7-b is well balanced, but listening is a bit of a pain having to flip back and forth between pages to see what is being listened to.

Could you copy and paste the time stamps?

The Playing is nice,, would listen more carefully if it was more convenient.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry.  I figured that you could open a tab with blog and the timings, and a tab to play the recording, and go back to the timings while you listen.  Yes, the 421 is not rolled off at all, and the SM-7B has neither bass rolled off, nor "presence" added.   Thanks for the suggestions, though--now you can go to the website and the timings are in the description (click "read more") to see them.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

45 minutes ago, palousian said:

Sorry.  I figured that you could open a tab with blog and the timings, and a tab to play the recording, and go back to the timings while you listen.  Yes, the 421 is not rolled off at all, and the SM-7B has neither bass rolled off, nor "presence" added).   But here are the timings, as requested. 

 

No that's too simple for me,,Ha! Duh:blink:

that particular font was difficult for me to read anyway, thanks,,, now it is  much better.

I think the 7-B has a lot going on for it, The others seem to single out notes and frequencies too easy and get out of control. Fatboy is least favorite, 421 could have the highs dialed back a bit, it is even, the 4050 leans toward the fatboy a bit,,

I cranked the mids and lows, ,  then I cranked the highs insanely high, i like to hear the extremes, it reveals a lot. The 7-B held it together better than the rest for sure.

Nice round tight pleasant sound, something that you could work with. The others seem to leave a bit of a distinctive fingerprint that you could not really erase. Don't really know till some time is spent in the studio with it, but it does sound solid so far.

I like it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I think that the SM-7B sounded the most like the actual fiddle in the room.  I probably could upgrade my ribbon mic to a Royer or something, but thus far the Fathead has been fine in actual recording applications. However, I may be retiring the ribbon for the violin, anyway.  I suspect that running the 7B through the Avalon preamp will be the ticket for recording. An experiment for later this week.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was hoping more would respond, oh well. I've been looking for a decent live fiddle mic forever, so I suppose I elevated the importance of finding a good one.  Anyway, I tried the SM-7B through the Avalon, and while it was rich enough that I would do this for recording, it wasn't some transformational moment--clearly it is the microphone itself that has this pleasing tone.  Overall, though, this is a great violin microphone.  They're about $400, and the Cloudlifter is another $150, so... there you go...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apologies if this is off-topic. I'm totally new to the challenges of recording, but am now trying to learn how to record, exchange, and mix tracks with friends. Am using windows 10 laptop with focusrite 2i2 audio interface; software is Audacity. Would like to explore upgrading the mic I'm using. Is there anything at max 250USD that you would recommend?

The instruments I need to record are: violin; also a gamba shaped viola tuned down an octave with a mixture of sensicore octave viola strings + 1/8 size Heliore cello strings.

 

Many thanks and again sorry if this posting is off-topic.

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would hesitate to recommend the SM7B for someone's only microphone to record, even though it is now by far my favorite violin microphone.  It will set you back around $400, and the Cloudlifter (highly recommended) is another $150.  If you have to get one good microphone, I'd recommend spending your money on a large diaphragm condenser microphone, though I don't know of anything around $250.  I mean, there are a bunch of mics at that price, but I haven't heard them--my favorite large diaphragm condenser under $1K is the Audio Technica AT4050.  They seem to be about $650 here and there, and that is a lot of microphone for that price.  You can record anything with one of these (placement is everything and the room sound is important), and if you listen to my test recording, the examples I recorded with it are not bad at all--and I was using it close (a foot away) for comparison.  There are some ribbon microphones close to your price point; the Cascade Fathead II that I used, and was my go-to violin mic (and for some voices, the bass side of some acoustic guitars, and also trumpet... in my experience) for years used to be around $300, but now they're around $500.  I think supply-chain trade war weirdness has clearly taken a toll on the price of gear.  Your violin would probably sound great with an SM7B, or a good ribbon mic, but the cello/viola thing might like the large-diaphragm condenser.  Depends on what it sounds like. 

I think that microphones are not unlike violins--it costs some money to get quality gear.  Unless you find someone who is selling good equipment they need to sell.  I got my arsenal of fabulous preamps from a guy transitioning from being an up-and-coming rock star to being a filmmaker. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, Al Cramer said:

Apologies if this is off-topic. I'm totally new to the challenges of recording, but am now trying to learn how to record, exchange, and mix tracks with friends. Am using windows 10 laptop with focusrite 2i2 audio interface; software is Audacity. Would like to explore upgrading the mic I'm using. Is there anything at max 250USD that you would recommend?

The instruments I need to record are: violin; also a gamba shaped viola tuned down an octave with a mixture of sensicore octave viola strings + 1/8 size Heliore cello strings.

 

Many thanks and again sorry if this posting is off-topic.

 

 

 

As a newcomer to self-recording you may want to keep the hardware side simple. I also run Audacity software on a Windows 10 PC. You don't say what your present microphone is but I find a $100 USB microphone like the Blue Yeti or the Zoom H1n more than adequate without the need for any audio interface.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you. There are a few rugs, and you're right--Baluchis, Turkmen,...and South Persians.  Mainly from eBay, over the years (especially in the Wild-West period before 2007), which was always better for antique rugs than violins, I think.  Sometimes there are crazy things--$30 19th-c. rugs!, and well, what can a rug fiend do?  The high ceilings in this house, and all the rugs make a couple of lovely-sounding spaces for recording acoustic music.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/19/2021 at 6:01 PM, Al Cramer said:

Apologies if this is off-topic. I'm totally new to the challenges of recording, but am now trying to learn how to record, exchange, and mix tracks with friends. Am using windows 10 laptop with focusrite 2i2 audio interface; software is Audacity. Would like to explore upgrading the mic I'm using. Is there anything at max 250USD that you would recommend.

 

 

 

The Rode NT1 ( not the NT1a) can be found for around  $260 in the US. It is a large diaphragm condenser which does a good job. I would also consider springing $60 for Reaper rather than Audacity. You can do everything you need with Audacity but its much less work with a good DAW.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Perhaps over the budget of many for this sort of thing, but I've found that ribbon mics tend to work really well for strings, especially upper strings. Ribbons provide the detail but not the harshness of condenser mics. The Royer R10 is about the most affordable of their line, at about $500. With a good mic pre/interface, it sounds *really* nice on violin and viola. Since I do some pro recordings here and there, I opted for the very expensive but amazing SF-2, which is an active ribbon mic - it sounds spectacular on strings, but is out of the budget for all but a few at over $2,000. 

I personally haven't tried the SM7B, but now I have it on my list!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Oh yeah, along with the Electro Voice RE-20, it's a classic broadcast mic.  I knew a classical guitarist who swore by his RE-20, but I think they are huge and ugly.  The SM-7B is a better stage look.  It was when I saw vocalists using it that I started paying attention.  I should get a commission from Shure--I've already sold two fiddlers on them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Purchased one ( for a student ) and found it to be smooth and velvety and articulate. It does capture nuances quite well making it possible to be more expressive without exaggerating too much. It was fun to play with for a few weeks. 

The Cloudlifter is an interesting detail. It boosts gain and had interesting results, making it more sensitive and dropping the noise floor? though it was very quiet. Mic placement, as usual, is important. The Cloudlifter is likely unnecessary in my home set up. But I wanted one so bought it. I have not A/B'd with any of my preamps but the CL was significantly less expensive, $100+usd ( mono ) vs $500usd.

Did not perform live with the mic, and only monitored nearfield and with headphones, but it was nice. The mic is relatively inexpensive for the higher-end and expensive for the lower-end but is definitely tonally more forgiving compared to higher-end microphones. It is easier to get a nice sound. Wherever the mic was pointed, the resulting sound was just as imagined.

The guy who sold me the mic told me that it was super popular. 

  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...