I have tried to record a cello with a Audio Technica ATM10 omnidirectional microphone with mixed results.

As this is something I am likely to do regularly, I would like to receive advice.

There exist piezo cells that you can place on the cello (depending on model on the table, the bridge, across strings below the bridge, etc. )

Most of the ones I have seen are either very cheap or expensive and I am not sure they can capture adequately the whole thing. Besides, you would need one by instrument.

This is for classical chamber music (with possibly a few more instruments: violin, piano, viola, one more cello, ...)

  • (I used violin as a tag because I am not able yet to create a "cello" tag)
    – ogerard
    Mar 29 '11 at 7:28
  • What do you refer to as 'classical microphone'?
    – Pelle ten Cate
    Mar 29 '11 at 12:46
  • I think this answer also applies to recording celli: audio.stackexchange.com/questions/61/…
    – Kim Burgaard
    Mar 30 '11 at 1:33

First off: If you intend to record chamber music, don't go with a surface-contact microphone such as a piezzo microphone. These microphones are attached very very close to the instrument, and you will not get the sound you want to have. (Remember that that is not where you put your ears when you listen to the result.)

I have no idea what you mean by a 'classical' microphone, please enhance us with a brand name and type number.

A solo cello is best recorded with a large diaphragm condenser microphone such as the Neumann U89. I understand though that you are on a budget, so you might consider a more affordable alternative instead. In the past, I got pretty good results using the Studio Projects B1 microphone, which sells for around $100. It needs a general microphone pre-amp that is capable of feeding 48v phantom power.

If you are recording a chamber music session (e.g. a piano trio or a string quartet), you might however get better results by not trying to record all instruments individually, but getting the entire sound using a stereo pair of microphones. In that case, go with a pair of small diaphragm condensers. For affordable solutions, I can recommend a matched pair of Oktava MK-012 (Made in Russia, beware of Chinese fake) or a matched pair of Rode NT5s, both ship for around $300. These too need a preamp that is capable of giving 48v phantom power.

  • Thanks a lot for your advice. So what are piezzo microphone used for ? Only for rock or folk ?
    – ogerard
    Mar 31 '11 at 7:32
  • Well, I never used them personally, so I might be wrong about this, but in general, I think these type of microphones are used for very close mic-ing because of their characteristcs. (As you mention: putting them on the instrument is basically as close as you can get.) Close mic-ing (i.e. putting the microphone very close to the instrument) is not recommendable for chamber music, as one wants it to sound like natural, acoustical instruments. Part of the music is the acoustics of the room where they were played.
    – Pelle ten Cate
    Mar 31 '11 at 18:38

Just a comment about piezzo microphones: As far as I know they are mostly used live, they can be used for recording though - mainly for having a second channel (with lots of treble) to mix with input from the "proper" microphone (similar use to line-input from electric bass for low frequencies). Scenarios include string instruments in electronic/pop/rock etc.

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