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What To Listen For When Recording Brass

In this article Audrey Martinovich shares her approach to and mic choices for recording brass instruments. They are loud, they are bright but they are all different and should sound different. How do you do that?

Between recording jazz and classical music, I’ve worked with a lot of horn players to capture their sound. To me, the most important thing with recording brass instruments is making sure to represent the instrument accurately. Microphone placement can change the tone of the instrument so much that it can sound like a different member of the brass family if you’re not careful. Usually the first thing I ask myself when listening is: Does the instrument sound like itself? In this article, I’ll describe the sounds we’re hoping to achieve, some things we are hoping to avoid, and my first choice mic out of my collection for each instrument.


Trombones should sound low and full but still have plenty of attack. You can lose that attack by placing the microphone too far inside the bell of the instrument, or by being too off-axis, and end up making it sound closer to a french horn which has a more indirect sound. 

The trombone has a slide so make sure you leave the player room to move. Usually the player will place their music stand on their left so the bell is on their right side of the stand. Place your mic in front of the bell, not IN the bell, to the right (player’s perspective) of the stand so there is space for the slide to move to the right of the mic. Always make sure the musician is comfortable and feels like they can move freely when placing mics. I never want a musician to feel like they can’t move as they need because their performance can suffer. I tend to like large diaphragm condensers or tube mics on trombones because of their warmth without sacrificing detail. 

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Tags: audio, brass, desktop music production, instrument, ios music production, mastering, mixing, music production, orchestra, recording, tips, Tutorial

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