How To Record Violin and Viola With the R88

Audio Samples and Techniques Using the AEA R88
The natural character and expansive tonal range of the R88 make it an exceptional mic for recording the violin and viola. Its far-field functionality and dual figure-of-8 polar patterns allow for the blending of the direct sound of your instrument with expansive, dimensional room sound.
Close Miking
Try positioning the R88 roughly 2 to 4 feet from the instrument with the white line aimed directly at the center of the instrument. This will give you a balanced stereo spread in the two channels of the microphone. Within that range, the R88 can be moved closer or farther away to temper the amount of low-end proximity effect. Because the two ribbon elements are perfectly in phase with one another you can pan the two channels however you wish. Most engineers start with channel 1 panned hard to the left and channel 2 panned hard to the right. This creates the largest and most realistic stereo width.
Distant 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 R88 and its great capacity for far-field applications. The R88 delivers an astonishingly balanced treble/bass ratio from as far as 20 feet away.

When miking solo musicians or quartets or ensembles at a distance, start by positioning the R88 from at least 5 feet away from the musicians with the white line aimed directly at the center of the ensemble. This will give you a balanced stereo spread in the two channels of the microphone. Because the two ribbon elements are perfectly in phase with one another you can pan the two channels however you wish. Most engineers start with channel 1 panned hard to the left and channel 2 panned hard to the right. This creates the largest and most realistic stereo width.

The image below shows where both elements of the R88 capture sound. The green area is the location that sound is captured in. When recording ensembles, make sure that the musicians are located within this green area. When both channels are hard-panned left and right, any source that is within this green area will sound like it is coming from that specific area.

R88-Pick-Up-2
Ribbon Mics

The far-field R88 delivers a balanced treble/bass ratio from as far as 20 feet away, Often times, it is best used while supplementing a close mic’s direct sound of an instrument with expansive, dimensional room sound.

Ribbon Mics

In the following video, the R88 adds depth and capture the natural sound of the lion cages at the old Los Angeles Zoo, while its sister mic, the N8 is positioned up close and acts as a focus mic adding clarity.

Distant Miking String Quartets, Sections, and Orchestras

String Quartets

The versatile R88 excels at recording string sections, quartets, orchestras, and other ensembles from a distance. From as far as 20 feet away, the R88 captures detailed, balanced sound of an instrument section and supplements it with massive room tone. When arranged 6 to 10 feet from the source, the R88 creates a massive, detailed room image without the need for any support microphones.

Ribbon Mics

In the following video, the talented Cattus Quartet perform their arrangement of Etta James’ song, At Last with only an R88 positioned 8 feet in front of the group and 6 feet above the ground. Listen to the depth and articulation of the individual instruments, and how the natural sound of the group comes through.

Sections and Orchestras

In the following clip, composer Jeremy Zuckerman chose an R88 to capture the lush sound of an entire orchestra at the outdoor music festival, Playfest, in Malaga, Spain. An AEA N22 was blended in as a focus mic to capture solely the Ehru. In the following audio clip, everything is captured–including the sound of the ocean, a crying baby, the loud audience, and the beautiful sound of the orchestra.

 

Listen to the R88 live capturing an orchestra outdoors

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