How To Record Violin and Viola With the N8

Audio Samples and Techniques Using the AEA N8

The N8’s open, natural character and expansive tonal range, make it the ideal mic to effectively capture strings like violin and viola. Its far-field functionality and figure-of-8 polar pattern allow for the blending of the direct sound of your instrument with expansive, dimensional room sound.

Ribbon Mics
Close Miking

When recording solo violin, try positioning the N8 between 2 and 4 feet above the instrument. Within that range, moving the N8 closer to the instrument increases low-end proximity effect, while pulling it back, or angling it away lessens potential low-end build up. The difference in tonality between 2 to 4 feet can be very drastic, but depending on the sound you are going for, both can sound great.

Due to the N8s proximity effect, you may find yourself positioning the mic from much further away than you would with a condenser or even other ribbon microphones. This is because from closer than 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) to the source, the N8 starts accentuating the bass.

Room Miking

Like other acoustic instruments, much of a violin’s sound comes from the room it inhabits, so accurately capturing that room sound is vital in achieving a comprehensive tonality. With this in mind, experiment with the vast spatial range of the N8 and its great capacity for far-field applications. The N8 delivers an astonishingly balanced treble/bass ratio from as far as 20 feet away.

Two N8s can be set up in Blumlein configuration or ORTF when miking violin and viola and placed at a distance to capture the room tone. This setup will act as another stereo perspective to the close mic and will provide added depth and dimension to your tracks. In many instances, this pair of N8s is all you will need to capture the sound and image of your string instrument while retaining the natural room reverb. These configurations are easy to setup when using the NUVO Stereo Kit and NUVO Blumlein Coupler.

Ribbon Mics
Distant Miking String Sections, Quartets, and Orchestras

The far-field N8 delivers a balanced treble/bass ratio from as far as 20 feet away, supplementing the direct sound of an instrument with expansive, dimensional room sound. Recording an entire string section is made simple by fixing two N8s in the Blumlein configuration or ORTF of the NUVO Stereo Kit and perching it 6 to 10 feet in front of the instrumentalists.

By moving the N8 or N8 Stereo Kit array closer or farther from the source, one can find the desired treble/bass ratio as well as balanced direct sound/room sound. In many instances, a pair of N8s positioned in Blumlein configuration or ORTF from 10 – 20 feet away from an orchestra is all that you need to really capture the sound of the musicians in the room. This setup with N8s has become a staple in Hollywood when recording movie scores.

In the following video, Kaleidoscope, an incredible conductorless chamber orchestra, performs a breathtaking piece by Prokofiev with only a pair of N8s in ORTF, positioned 10 feet above the stage. In this video, only the N8s are heard.

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