Equipments 1 (StringQuartet)

Here are the lists of the microphones and mic preamps we used to record the violin, viola, and cello in the production of our Pop Sounds with String Quartet series.We’ve also included explanations about why we chose them.

We aimed for a natural string quartet sound, so to directly pick up the sound from each instrument we used Neumann microphones, which are characterized by their excellent frequency response to medium-range sound components.

Microphones used for direct pick-up of instrument sounds.

・1st violin and 2nd violin : Neumann M 269

We chose the M 269 mic because it has excellent frequency response to medium-range sound components, which enabled us to capture sounds in the high range without unnatural harshness.

We used two M 269 mics—one for each violin—because we thought an approach that accentuates the individuality of the musical phrases themselves would be the most effective way to record the identical sound range of the 2 violins.

・Viola : Neumann U 67

We chose the U 67 mic, which has the same set of characteristics as the M 269, but the high-frequency component of the sound is brighter.

The viola has a lower sound range than the violin, so it is usually the inner voice in a string quartet. Our aim in using the U 67 was to make the viola sound stand out.

・Cello : Neumann M 249

We concluded that the sweet sound delivered by the M 249 made it the best choice for capturing the rich low sound of the cello and the vibration of the instrument itself.

Room microphones.

・Main room mic : B&K 4006

B&K is a company with a long history as a manufacturer of measurement grade microphones, which are characterized by their flat frequency response.

The 4006 was our choice for the main room mic because it is a flat response microphone with acoustic accuracy perfectly suited for capturing the quartet sound in its entirety.

・Secondary room mic (near) : Neumann M 149

The M 149 is the most modern of the microphones we used for producing the Pop Sounds for String Quartet series. We set up these high-fidelity mics spread to a 115-degree angle according to the ORTF stereo technique.

✳︎ORTF is a stereo technique devised by France’s former national broadcasting agency in which 2 microphones are set up spaced 17 cm apart and spread to a 115-degree angle. The spacing of the microphones emulates the distance between the human ears and the angle emulates the shadow effect of the human head.

・Secondary room mic (far) : Shoeps BLM 3

This mic tends to deliver a sound somewhat sweeter than the B&K, but it is often used to record acoustic instruments because of its comparatively flat response.

The big advantage of this mic is that it is a boundary microphone, so it can be positioned on the floor. We used it to capture a wider area of sound in the studio.

Mic preamps

✳︎Some of the equipment in the photo was not used for recording the Pop Sounds with String Quartet series.

・We used a Focusrite ISA116-PP4 mic preamp with all microphones except the M 149. This is a remote control mic preamp that can be located near the performers, which reduces room noise and enables a very clear recording that is true to the original sound.

・We wanted to enhance the rich sound obtained from the M 149 microphone, so we used Neve 1073, a vintage mic preamp characterized for the deep silky sound it delivers.

These great mics and mic preamps are what made it possible for us to achieve the sounds recorded in the Pop Sounds with String Quartet series.

These sounds are a must for addition to your music creations.

Next time we’ll introduce the guitar recording equipment.

Enjoy your music.