Recording A Saxophone

The saxophone is a member of the woodwind family, usually made of brass and played with a single reed mouthpiece. Saxophones come in many different shapes and sizes. The most common type of saxophone is the S-curved B-flat Sax, which has harmonic content ranging up to 8 kHz.

Microphone Type

  • Option one: Condenser microphone
    • Polar response: Cardioid or omni
    • Example AKG 451
  • Option two: Dynamic microphone
    • Polar response: Cardioid or omni
    • Example: Shure SM58

Technique

Place the microphone on a stand at approximately 30-60cm from the bell (the part where the sound emits from). Position the diaphragm of the microphone at the middle of the instrument, facing the keys. This allows for both the sound of the bell and the keys to be captured permitting a greater overall resonance of the true instrument sound.

Top Tips

  • If the lower notes sound disproportionately loud due to the proximity effect, place the microphone slightly to one side to help eliminate the problem
  • Keypad noises are usually considered part of a performance. However, these sounds can be reduced by positioning the microphone closer to the bell’s outer ring
  • To get more of the room ambience position the microphone further from the instrument
  • Avoid using an omni directional microphone if the room sounds too reverberant. This prevents excess room ambience
  • The saxophone has the sound characteristics similar to that of the human voice, hence, using a shaped frequency response microphone designed for the voice can work well