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I have a Royer R-122 ribbon. My wife is a violinist, and I would love some tips on how to properly mike her violin for recording and mixing. I understand that ribbons are a little picky, so I would like ideas on placement etc. I would be doing this through my home setup, which is a modest Apogee Duet through Logic Pro into my MacBook Pro.

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It depends on what exactly you want to record. If you want to record a solo violin sonata, you want to have a nice sounding instrument with accoustical information as well. If you want to record a violin to add to a mix of a pop song, don't bother too much with recording ambient stuff, and make sure you have a clear and crispy sounding violin.

When recording violins, I am a bit reluctant in using ribbon microphones. While I don't have a real reason for this, the actual reason is that I had fabulous results with condenser microphones. This part of the answer is: Try, and listen. (And listen means: use your ears.)

Most important (especially on string instruments) according to my theory is that you NEVER use more microphones than you will need at least, that is, never use a microphone if you don't intend it for something. If you are making a stereo recording, 3 mics must be enough. A violin is not a stereophonic instrument (and should not be recorded as such!), so I would use two microphones for getting the ambient sound, and one for recording the violin. If you tend to disagree with me about the violin not being a stereophonic instrument, then you could mic. them with an XY stereo pair. Never use an AB or ORTF (or other hybrid system) to mic. one violin, those systems only work with multiple musicians and will only result in comb filter effects when applied to 1 musician.

While the placement of the ambient microphones really depends on the acoustical properties of the room/hall you record in, the placement of the spot microphone (i.e. the mic. close to the violin) can be varied with. I got the best results slightly tilted pointing towards the upper bout (i.e. above the F-holes, in the middle of the fingerboard.) If you point it more towards the F-holes, you will get more resonant low-mid frequency sounds than if you point it more towards the fingerboard. If you move the microphone in the direction of the bridge, you will get more of the 'attack' transients, which can be preferrable (depending on the type of music you record, suitable for Bartók rather than for Mozart.)

The distance you need to take highly depends on the directionality of the microphone. A good rule of thumb is to imagine the sound you hear when you put your ear at the place the microphone is. That is, for classical music, don't put it too close. If you happen to have an non-omnidirectional microphone, e.g. (semi-)cardioid, supercardioid or figure-8, don't put it too close. A violin is very sensitive to the proximity effect, which you really don't want in your recording. Therefore, keep distance when using a directional microphone.

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This is just my personal opinion, different engineers will have other ideas. A great starting point will be to find the room you like the violin in the best, I've always found the room will have a big impact on making strings sound nice. I would suggest keeping about bit of a distance if you want to get that room sound in, say a meter or two - this should help mellow the sound. Walk around the room while shes playing with one ear covered, try and find a sweet spot, and try the mic there.

I've had success putting ribbons in corners in omni (say 40cm from the corner) to grab a nice reflection with the direct sound. The main thing you want to avoid is a really harsh violin, if its painful to listen to then try another spot.

With the gear you've listed it should sound awesome no matter where you put it.

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One of my two tries at violin was pretty harsh - I second that advice - make sure it doesn't hurt the ears. I guess the player can help with that too. –  Sam Greene Mar 15 '11 at 2:07
    
Micing over-the-shoulder (as if you were standing next to the player's ear) is always something I've wanted to try with a violin - just never had the chance. Some engineer friends swear by it for some instruments, the violin may be too aggressive from that distance for a mic to cope well though (and it would be a much drier sound) - but perhaps blended with an AB/XY pair from comfortable listening distance, or ambient for room acoustics, might produce something sonically interesting. –  Christopher Woods Jul 22 '11 at 19:30

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