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Help! Violin Pickup Noob
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augustoad
Ponta Grossa, Paraná - Brazil
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November 27, 2014 - 6:28 am
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Hey. I've been wanting to record my violin, but my camera's mic is terrible and my PC's mic is only good for voice, and since condensing mics are too expensive for me, I think I'll go for a pickup.

However, I've heard there are different kinds of pickups for the violin and I don't know what's better. In fact, I don't even know how many kids of pickups for violin there are, I just know there are different options.

So, what kind of pickup is a good option for a cheap but good sound? I'm sorry if this has been discussed before, I couldn't find it with the search engine.

Skype: augustoad Email: augustoaguieiras@hotmail.com Phone number/whatsapp: +55 42 9861-4084. I'd be happy to talk anything fiddle-related to anyone! :)

 

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DanielB
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November 27, 2014 - 12:03 pm
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The most common pickups for violin are piezo or condenser.

Well, it depends on how cheap it has to be, for still managing "good".

Some condenser mics that aren't all that bad can run less than even the inexpensive commercial violin pickups. 

For example, consider this pickup at 65$ USD from Fiddlershop.com

http://fiddlershop.com/super-s.....ame=pickup

 

And then look at this condenser mic at about 50$ USD from Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/BEHRINGE.....microphone

 

So it isn't necessarily less expensive to go with a pickup than something like a studio condenser mic. 

If both of those options are more expensive than what you are hoping for, there are some lower cost things you can try.  But the lower you go in price, the more you risk getting something that won't be as good as you want.

Some members here have gotten pickups off ebay.  I've thought some of those sounded pretty good.  But again, you're kind of taking a chance there, since the seller may not take it back and give you a refund just because you don't like it.

Or there are some super cheap possibilities we explored a while back, for DIY.  They had varying degrees of success, but they were experiments in the very low price range.  Some of them actually didn't sound too bad, and *maybe* would be an improvement over the mic on your phone or computer.

http://fiddlerman.com/forum/re.....2-or-less/

http://fiddlerman.com/forum/re.....or-violin/

http://fiddlerman.com/forum/re.....-a-violin/

 

I don't want to start a huge controversy, so let me start this next statement by saying that it is strictly my personal opinion.  I have not heard many if any piezo type pickups that I felt actually sounded like the acoustic instrument.  They are more of an electric instrument sound, and specifically a piezo electric instrument sound.  That can be great if it is what you are looking for.

The best luck I've had with preserving what I consider the acoustic instrument sound so far has always been from using mics.  For recording single acoustic instruments, I prefer large diaphragm studio type mics, with FET pre-amp if it is an option.  For strictly computer based recording, the ones that plug right into a USB jack and don't need any other gear are probably one of the better options for beginners.  Not real hard to get decent sound with those.

Another factor is if you are maybe an electronics hobbyist.. Most of the DIY options that were super cheap could have actually sounded much better with a little bit of preamp and/or tone shaping circuitry.  But unless you know how to build that sort of thing, it can get expensive fast and hard to find what you actually want.  The DIY experiments were mostly for folks that might just want to try pickup type gadgets (including small condenser mic mounted on the violin in some way) to see if it works well enough for them or if that is a direction they might like to look further in.

Anyway, hopefully that gives you some food for thought, augustoad.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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augustoad
Ponta Grossa, Paraná - Brazil
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November 27, 2014 - 3:17 pm
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DanielB said
The most common pickups for violin are piezo or condenser.

Well, it depends on how cheap it has to be, for still managing "good".

Some condenser mics that aren't all that bad can run less than even the inexpensive commercial violin pickups. 

For example, consider this pickup at 65$ USD from Fiddlershop.com

http://fiddlershop.com/super-s.....ame=pickup

 

And then look at this condenser mic at about 50$ USD from Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/BEHRINGE.....microphone

 

So it isn't necessarily less expensive to go with a pickup than something like a studio condenser mic. 

If both of those options are more expensive than what you are hoping for, there are some lower cost things you can try.  But the lower you go in price, the more you risk getting something that won't be as good as you want.

Some members here have gotten pickups off ebay.  I've thought some of those sounded pretty good.  But again, you're kind of taking a chance there, since the seller may not take it back and give you a refund just because you don't like it.

Or there are some super cheap possibilities we explored a while back, for DIY.  They had varying degrees of success, but they were experiments in the very low price range.  Some of them actually didn't sound too bad, and *maybe* would be an improvement over the mic on your phone or computer.

http://fiddlerman.com/forum/re.....2-or-less/

http://fiddlerman.com/forum/re.....or-violin/

http://fiddlerman.com/forum/re.....-a-violin/

 

I don't want to start a huge controversy, so let me start this next statement by saying that it is strictly my personal opinion.  I have not heard many if any piezo type pickups that I felt actually sounded like the acoustic instrument.  They are more of an electric instrument sound, and specifically a piezo electric instrument sound.  That can be great if it is what you are looking for.

The best luck I've had with preserving what I consider the acoustic instrument sound so far has always been from using mics.  For recording single acoustic instruments, I prefer large diaphragm studio type mics, with FET pre-amp if it is an option.  For strictly computer based recording, the ones that plug right into a USB jack and don't need any other gear are probably one of the better options for beginners.  Not real hard to get decent sound with those.

Another factor is if you are maybe an electronics hobbyist.. Most of the DIY options that were super cheap could have actually sounded much better with a little bit of preamp and/or tone shaping circuitry.  But unless you know how to build that sort of thing, it can get expensive fast and hard to find what you actually want.  The DIY experiments were mostly for folks that might just want to try pickup type gadgets (including small condenser mic mounted on the violin in some way) to see if it works well enough for them or if that is a direction they might like to look further in.

Anyway, hopefully that gives you some food for thought, augustoad.

Thanks, @DanielB ! I've been looking on the internet, and I found an USB condensing mic for ~US$125 (R$300), and decided to buy it. The savings I had for my new guitar are gone, but I'd say it's worth the price. I don't have any experience with electronics, so I'll leave the experiencing to the experienced. :P

Your description and opinion were very in-depth, so thanks once again for taking the time to search forthe info. I'd buy from amazon or fiddlershop, but I'm not in North America or Europe and it the taxes in my country are frequently absurdly high (sometimes doubling the price of the product itself, in some cases), so it's a no-no for me. :s

Skype: augustoad Email: augustoaguieiras@hotmail.com Phone number/whatsapp: +55 42 9861-4084. I'd be happy to talk anything fiddle-related to anyone! :)

 

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DanielB
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November 28, 2014 - 2:40 pm
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Glad if it was of any help at all, augustoad.  I had noticed you are in Brazil, so I didn't assume Fiddlershop or Amazon would be the best prices for your part of the world.  They were just handy places to show typical examples of the gear I was talking about.

Sorry to hear about your guitar savings getting depleted.  But if there is one place to spend a little more if you can, I'd say the microphone is a good place to do it.  Being able to capture the sound of the instruments well is just one of those things where you may end up thanking yourself many times.

The next thing to look at (if you want an idea to think about for that) would be good headphones.  "Good" does not have to mean expensive.  Headphones that are comfortable, cover a wide range of sound well, and seem well enough made to last you a good while are what I mean by "good".

Comfort is a personal thing, where I don't think anyone can really tell you what is best.  Just try to remember that you may end up wearing them for many hours sometimes.  So far as being made well enough to last, again, you can figure that out yourself, really. 

Sound range, I can give a little help with, though..

That sort of test is handy for hearing which headphones you may try actually deliver sound you can hear over their range.  What a manufacturer or seller says the range is and what it actually is can be very different.

Often friends or family will have a spare set of headphones or two around that they might give you or sell much cheaper than buying a new set.  Or maybe they will let you try a set they don't want to sell or give away, just to see if you want to get the same kind they did. 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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augustoad
Ponta Grossa, Paraná - Brazil
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November 28, 2014 - 4:05 pm
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Hey! to my luck, I bought myself some good headphones when I arrived in my country back in September. It uses a USB jack instead of P2, so the quality is pretty good for it's price (around US$30).fone-de-ouvido-shg7980-philips-microfone-gamer-usb-headtset-892-MLB4722443022_072013-F.jpgImage Enlarger

 It's actually meant for gaming, but it does a great job with music as well.

 

As for the mic I bought, it should be arriving around next week. It's a Samson Meteor, condenser mic meant for PC use. Here's a picture of it as well:

samson-meteor-cover-5.jpgImage Enlarger

I've read some pretty good reviews on the internet about it, and as I found it in a decent price, I bought it right away. Here's a video of a guy messing around with his guitar, recording it with that very mic:

So I guess I made a good investment. :P

Skype: augustoad Email: augustoaguieiras@hotmail.com Phone number/whatsapp: +55 42 9861-4084. I'd be happy to talk anything fiddle-related to anyone! :)

 

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cdennyb
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November 29, 2014 - 1:41 am
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OH my, nice stuff. I almost bought the Samson mic, ended up getting a steal of a deal on a Blue Snowball instead. Those things are just 3 cents shy of studio quality aren't they? Anyway, great stuff.

My kid has some of those headphones for his gaming thing. I was wondering about a set of wireless headphones, maybe they'd be too primitive not being hardwired to the sound source.

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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