The violin is an instrument you can play on different occasions, from lively performances to solemn performances and anything in between. It is good to record the violin sound, but for this, you will need the best microphone for violin recording.
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What Is a Violin Microphone?
It is a microphone that amplifies the violin sound as you play. It is especially helpful when you play live in an orchestra because you need the audience to hear the sound. But, a violin microphone is not only ideal for playing live; you can also use it when recording violin in the studio.
There is one challenge many violin players have: choosing between a mic or a violin pickup. And not without reason, both amplify the violin sound quality. But, when recording violin and other stringed instruments, you need equipment that can capture the natural sound of your instruments with minimal invasion. Considering this, you will find a microphone is better suited for the job than a violin pickup.
When buying, you can choose between a ribbon, dynamic, or condenser microphone while also considering other factors that improve the sound quality. These are factors like frequency range, microphone placement, sound pattern or directionality, and the venue you will use for recording.
Before we delve deeper into these factors to consider, we will discuss the following best microphones for violin recording. You can also use the microphones to record other stringed instruments such as viola and cello as they offer the best and balanced sound quality. Read on to find which is good for your instrument and venue.
1. AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS Violin Condenser Microphone
- Engineered for highest linearity and neutral sound for beautifully detailed recording of vocals and any acoustic instrument
- Nine selectable polar patterns for the perfect setting for every application
- Three attenuation levels (-6/-12/-18dB) for close-up recording or high-output sources of up to 158dB SPL
- Three different switchable bass-cut filters to reduce wind noise, subsonic noise or proximity effect
- Overload warning with audio peak hold LED to detect shortest audio peaks
This AKG Pro Audio C 414 XLS condenser microphone is the best violin microphone for any recording situation. Firstly, it offers nine different polar patterns so you can record your violin from different angles. The patterns include the omnidirectional polar pattern and various cardioid polar patterns, plus the figure-8 pattern.
In addition, you will get a range of three attenuation levels (-6/-12/-18dB) to work with for close-mic recording and high-output of up to 158db SPL. The microphone also comes with three different switchable bass-cut filters to eliminate wind noise and unwanted sounds so that all you hear is a clear violin recording.
While this large-diaphragm condenser mic is designed with durable materials and is easy to mount whenever you want to use it, it is also designed with an overload warning, and a peak hold LED to detect short audio peaks.
2. Audio-Technica PRO 35 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
- UniMount clip permits accurate positioning, provides shock resistance and protects element
- Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source
- Extended frequency response captures subtle nuances of the performance
- 6' (1.8 m) cable permanently attached to microphone
When looking for a lightweight violin microphone, this Audio Technica Pro 3 model is an ideal buy that guarantees flexibility while recording. It is a clip-on microphone that comes with a Uni Mount clip which is easy to work with. Once you attach the microphone to your violin, it will only capture the violin's neutral sound.
That said, the microphone uses a cardioid pattern that helps it eliminate unwanted noises from the sides and rear for the best sound isolation. The mic also has an extended frequency response of 50HZ to 15 000Hz, allowing it to capture the best aspects of your playing.
It is an affordable microphone that is ideal for both studio recording and live performances. It comes with a permanent 6-foot cable attached to the microphone, and you will also need to use it with a phantom power source.
3. Beyerdynamic M160 Double Ribbon Microphone
- Unique double ribbon microphone transducer with hypercardioid polar pattern
- Extended frequency response
- Excellent transparency and transient response
- Compact and rugged design
- Warm and natural sound.Microphone Frequency Response:40 - 18,000 Hz
While ribbon mics are not so popular today, this Beyerdynamic M160 ribbon mic is a darling for recording violin sounds. It comes with a double-ribbon and hyper-cardioid pattern, for starters, which are two features not very popular with the ribbon design.
The mic has a frequency response range of 40 Hz to 18 000 Hz, and as a directional microphone, it exhibits the proximity effect. In short, the closer you place the microphone, the better the bass response and better flat frequency response. However, you will need to use your best judgment and skill not to overuse the proximity effect to preserve the best violin sound.
This violin microphone allows good sound isolation, but only when placed correctly. In addition, it has a low sensitivity rating of 1.0 mV/Pa = -60 dBV which means you may require mic preamps to recreate the best sound. The mic is a bit expensive, but it comes in a compact and rugged design that guarantees durability.
4. Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Instrument Microphone
- Contoured frequency response is clean instrumental reproduction and rich vocal pickup
- Professional-quality reproduction for drum precussion and instrument amplifier miking
- Uniform cardioid pickup pattern isolates the main sound source while reducing background noise
When you trust your violin skills are impeccable, why not use one of the best recording equipment to amplify the sound? The Shure SM57-LC is a legend of the microphone industry that is loved by legendary artists and is also used at the White House during presidential addresses.
It has a unidirectional polar pattern for the best sound isolation plus a frequency range of 40 Hz - 15 000 Hz. It is designed to recreate neutral sound from your violin or other string instruments, whether in a studio or stage setting.
Despite the affordable price, this microphone offers the best professional-quality reproduction you need for violin sounds. In addition, it comes with metal construction that guarantees durability even in case of frequent falls.
5. Rode M5-MP Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphones
- Compact 1/2 inch cardioid condenser microphone with low noise and a full frequency response
- Matched pair has been carefully selected to ensure a variation of no more than 1dB sensitivity betwe
- A premium foiled certificate is supplied to verify the authenticity of the pair
- Finished with RODE's proprietary ceramic coating which offers a sleek matt black finish
- Supplied with WS5 windshields and RM5 stand mounts
If you are a beginner looking to record your violin session, these Rode cardioid condenser microphones are ideal buys. They are small microphones sized 1/2 inches each, and if you spend a little more money, you can also get an option that comes with a microphone stand.
The cardioid pattern guarantees rear and side sounds won't affect your playing, and the microphones also come with a low sensitivity rating of 1 dB. As a result, you will need a good quality mic preamp to recreate the violin's authentic sound. A bit of a downside here is the 19dB self-noise level that could ultimately interfere with the kind of sound quality you need.
As a set of two violin microphones with full frequency responses, these affordable microphones are ideal for studio use or when playing in front of a small crowd. In addition, they are made with ceramic coating for a classy matte look, while the purchase also comes with a premium foiled certificate to guarantee you get the authentic product.
6. Neumann TLM 103 Large-Diaphragm Condenser Mic
- Large diaphragm cardioid microphone
- Extremely low noise: 7 dB-A. Supply voltage (P48, IEC 61938): 48 V ± 4 V
- Straightforward handling for homerecording and professional studios
- Set includes microphone, shockmount and briefcase.Dynamic range:131 dB
The Neumann TLM 103 condenser mic is your ideal violin microphone if you love miking different acoustic instruments. Firstly, it uses a cardioid polar pattern that effectively eliminates sound and noise interferences from the sides and the back.
Then, it comes with a self-noise level technology that eliminates even the slightest noise signals. It has a 7 dB-A self-noise level which is virtually unnoticeable to the audience you play for. Thus, this microphone is not only ideal for studio use, but you can also take to your live performances, and you are guaranteed the best sound.
If recording live, you won't have to worry about sound distortion as the mic can handle sound pressures of up to 138dB. An even better feature for live performances is the shock mount the mic comes with; when installed on your mic stand, you will not have to worry about touching the mic, which could interfere with your violin recording.
7. Sennheiser MD 441-U Dynamic Super-Cardioid Pattern Microphone
- Excellent feedback rejection
- Excellent sound quality
- Spring capsule mounting provides low sensitivity to handling noise
- Hum compensating coil
- Five position bass roll-off switch
When you need to prevent microphone bleeding, investing in a mic with a super-cardioid pattern is a sure way to get good results. This Sennheiser MD 441-U dynamic microphone eliminates any sound interference even when you are on the stage surrounded by other instruments.
The microphone also comes with a unique design; it is bulkier than other violin mics, made with metal, and sports a leatherette finish. It also comes with a unique mic clamp.
Performance-wise, this mic offers five low-frequency roll-off settings plus an additional two high-frequency roll-off positions. The mic offers a frequency range of 30 Hz to 20 000 Hz. It is a microphone sensitive enough to perform on a live stage with other instruments or at a studio with other recording software.
8. The Feather Violin Pickup
- Myers Pickups introduces their new lightweight powerhouse. So light that we named it The Feather. So compact that it can be positioned on a multitude of instruments without modification or permanent installation and still faithfully amplifies the natural tone and beauty of your instrument!
- Fully equipped with an internally powered, active preamp to produce the richest sound your instrument can deliver! Power-source (included) is pre-installed and each pickup is meticulously tested before delivery. No phantom power needed! Compatible with most wireless systems!
- Complete out of the box, plug in and play! All mounting hardware included. Instantly turn your instrument into an acoustic/electric instrument with volume! Compatible with almost any musical instrument! Made in the USA.
- (Instrument not included)
The Myers Feather Violin Pickup is your best solution if you need a clip-on, omnidirectional, and lightweight violin mic for recording. In addition to producing natural and accurate violin sounds, the mic also has a built-in preamp for better use since you won't need phantom power.
Its placement will be the least of your worries since the mic is omnidirectional, meaning it can recreate the violin sounds regardless of where you clip it. Its flexible gooseneck also makes placement easier.
Now, unlike other violin microphones on this list, this clip-on option from Myers comes with a soft rubber knob that lets you control the output volume before you record. In addition, it is made in the USA, easy to set up, and compatible with other musical instruments.
Why Do You Need to Use the Best Microphone for Violin Recording?
Playing the violin is satisfying to both soul and ears, but it is only good when your audience can hear the beautiful sounds. Therefore, when you have practiced a beautiful, emotional violin solo to play for a group of people, you need a great violin microphone ready before you can take the stage.
A microphone amplifies the sound of your instrument so everyone in the room can hear the sounds. Without a good microphone, even the best acoustic violin sound would be drowned by other noises in the room.
Here are other reasons buying a good microphone is good for your recording.
- A mic is not invasive and is ideal for occasional use. If you get a microphone, you can place it at a distance from your violin for recording. When you don't need it for the violin, you can also use it for other musical uses like vocal recordings.
- A microphone is small, lightweight, and thus, portable. You can pack it to any venue before playing, and carrying it across town won't exhaust you.
Factors to Consider While Looking for the Best Microphone for Violin Recording
Recording the violin is a vital part of your performance; you need a mic that recreates the original sound so it can entertain your audience. Now, if you can't find the best microphone for violin recording from our list of eight products, here are the factors that make any mic good for your violin.
a) Frequency response
Generally, all violins have an overall frequency range of 196 Hz - 17,000 Hz, and you will need a mic that can complement this range. A microphone frequency response of 150Hz and 18000Hz will work on most violins as you can easily pick it up. However, if you'd want even better results, you can look for microphones with tempered high frequencies since they offer me sound clarity.
Directionality when buying microphones relates to which sound source your mic can pick if in a room with other active instruments and movements. You will need your mic to reject unwanted sounds. As such, you can choose between different polar patterns such as cardioid, super-cardioid, and hyper-cardioid patterns that will reject sounds coming from the sides and rear.
Omnidirectional microphones can pick up all sounds from any direction, but you can only use these to record room sound in your well-treated studios.
While these are vital sound pattern considerations, you may not need to worry about them if you record your violin in isolation.
c) Mic placement
When looking for a great microphone, you need first to understand where you can place it to reproduce clear, balanced, and authentic sounds. You will need a microphone stand that you can place 1.5 to 3 feet from the violin to enjoy a balanced sound.
However, if you are using clip-on mics, placement becomes easier as you only need to experiment with it until you find a sweet spot where it won't interfere with your playing.
d) Recording venue
Here are two environments you can record your violin in; a well-treated studio or any other venue. If recording in a studio, you will easily recreate a warm sound without too many factors coming into play. A well-treated room sounds great as there are not many interfering signals or instruments.
Playing in any room that is not a studio can pause a challenge even for the most experienced sound engineers. You'd need to consider placement, bow noise, and various other factors. Generally, you will need to study the venue and find your microphone's accurate positioning before recording.
Playing a musical instrument means you will need to travel with it at one point, so it needs to be made with durable materials to survive a few knocks. The same consideration applies to your best microphone for violin recording. When buying, look for models made with metallic bodies that come with stage bags for easier portability.
How to Mic your Violin with the Best Microphone
So, you have considered all the factors above and bought the best microphone for violin recording you could find. You will be happy to know that recording is easier than you thought, as you can get going in just a few steps.
These are the steps you can follow to accurately place the microphone before you start recording.
- Place the microphone one to three feet away from your violin.
- Position the mic out and up from where you will be recording from.
- Once you have the height right, point the microphone towards the position of the bow. You will need to consider all bow movements for this step so the microphone can record all the nuances of your playing.
Here are signs that you need to adjust your microphone positioning farther after you start recording;
- If your bow sounds are harsh and crunchy.
- If you notice some strings are not getting recorded. This could happen when the mic placement is inaccurate or if you are moving as you play.
- If you can hear the violin's body resonating frequencies, moving the mic further out can help balance the sounds.
If your mic is positioned too far, you might learn the following when you start playing;
- You might hear too much room tone or air. When playing, it would be best to bring the mic closer to your instrument if you hear echoes.
- You will hear little bow definition as you strike the violin strings.
- The instrument will sound faint, and you will not hear a clear low end.
- You may not hear some articulations such as the ricochet, pizzicato, and staccato.
If you are certain you have the best mic placement but you can get the best sound reproduction, you can adjust the microphone six inches up, down, further out, or closer to the instrument. Make sure to record after each adjustment for faster results.
Buying the best microphone for violin recording may not be an easy task, but it is a worthy investment that will advance your playing skills. Lucky for you, we have shared eight of the best microphones to try today, plus the most important factors you will need to consider before buying your best choice.
Once you have a violin microphone, you can follow the placement steps we have shared and experiment with each position until you find a sweet spot. Also, if you don't always play an acoustic violin or can't use a microphone for a reason, you can use an electric violin.