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Basic Recording Techniques: Saxes

From the orchestra to intimate jazz clubs, the saxophone family of woodwind instruments can be found in a variety of musical setting. Saxes come in many sizes, each producing a distinct sound. Naturally, these will each require unique techniques for recording. As part of our basic recording techniques video series, we’ve laid out everything you need to know to record the most common saxophones. Audio-Technica Basic Recording Techniques

Alto Sax

Unlike the trumpet, a large portion of the saxophone’s sound comes from the body, not the bell. Therefore, positioning your mic inside the bell is not recommended. Instead position an AT4080 ribbon microphone above the bell, aimed at the body. Experiment with mic placement to find the spot that achieves the right balance of bite from the bell and warmth from the body. Audio-Technica Studio Microphone

Soprano Sax

The soprano sax stands out amongst the other members of the saxophone family with its distinct straight-line configuration. It is also the highest pitched of the common saxes. To find the balance between bell and warmth, position an AT4060 tube condenser mic above the end of the sax aimed halfway up the body. Audio-Technica Studio Microphone

Tenor Sax

To properly capture the tenor sax, position an AT4047/SV cardioid condenser microphone approximately 10" from the bell. The goal is similar to recording the alto; you want to find the right balance of bite and warmth. In situations where isolation isn’t a problem, you can capture a more developed sound with greater depth by backing the mic off the instrument. Basic Recording Techniques

Baritone Sax

The baritone is the largest of the common saxophones, as well as the sax providing the lowest pitch. Its large size requires that the bell is above most of the body. As a result, make sure to position your AT4047/SV about 6" off the bell, slightly off-axis. Audio-Technica Microphones Audio-Technica’s wide variety of studio microphones can help you capture the sweet sounds of any member of the saxophone family.