A few questions about recording bass instruments

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Mr. Boyk:

I have been reading your fine book from MMB Music. Could you answer a question or two, before I get out by Visa card to start buying equipment.

I am an amateur bassoonist and contrabassoonist, trying to take up the instruments again after a 20 year hiatus. I live in a rural area, so the ability to assess my progress by recording some of my practice sessions could assist me to overcome the limited access I have to instruction.

My budget is limited, so I would like to record on my existing cassette deck, which has no microphone inputs.

Question 1. Am I correct that the signal path will be microphone to microphone preamp and then into the preamp of my stereo so I can record on the cassette deck?

Question 2. What microphone do you currently recommend? With the contrabassoon, we are dealing with the lowest 3 octaves of the piano. My lowest note is B-flat at about 28 Hz. The bassoon's range is an octave higher, of course. For both instruments much of the tone quality is the upper harmonics. I understand the 9th and 11th harmonics are particularly important to the tone of these instruments, so more than deep bass response is required. Among bassoon students and professors I have contacted the Sony ECM-MS957 seems to be in standard use. Do you have any opinions about it?

Question 3. What microphone preamp do you currently recommend? The Symetrix SX202 is no longer in production. The replacement is the model SX303. Do you have an updated recommendation?

While these questions are fairly specific to your equipment recomendations, I found the sections of your book on Outlining and the suggested methods of using recording equipment to aid my practice most interesting and helpful. I look forward to using them.

Kevin Damon

-- Kevin Damon (kdamon@allwest.net), January 18, 2001


Thanks for writing.

Q1: Normal path is mike==>mike preamp==>recorder.

Q2: Mike recommendations as in the book still stand. However, see my posts to the group concerning "The Musician's Ear," an inexpensive, hassle-free mike the practice and lessons. It will be able to plug directly into your recorder; does not require a mike preamp. (Full Disclosure: I've designed and will be building it. Fuller Disclosure: The *reason* I've done so is that so many people need something like this, and no manufacturer makes it, for some reason.) I hope to have a few available within six weeks. Cost will be about $100 (but don't hold me to that).

Q3: I'm currently evaluating the Symetrix 302 (that's the number, not 303). Will post update at http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~boyk/update2.htm pretty soon, along with review of another high-bit digital recorder and some other things.

Re Sony ECM-MS 957 mike: a perfectly decent cheap stereo mike. Rather wiry-sounding. I'm not sure about its low-bass extension, either. If you've heard it and find it acceptable, go ahead. Just don't expect the quality of a true studio microphone such as the top one(s) in the book.

Please let us know your experience with the self-teaching techniques in the book!

-- James Boyk (boyk@caltech.edu), January 18, 2001.

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