A lot of people have been asking me
about horn recording. Like what mics do I use ?
How do I set them up ? How do I get that sound ? So I thought a little video would be interesting
to explain all of that ! So the first thing
you need to know is that… recording french horn is a bit tricky
compared to other instruments. The thing is when you play the horn,
the sound goes behind you ! And that’s very specific to the horn
I’m even not sure there’s another instrument like that. So the listener doesn’t hear
its direct sound… like they would for say
a trumpet or trombone… since their bell is directly
facing the audience. For the horn they will hear
its reflected sound. So that means the sound
will go behind the horn player… and it’s gonna bounce back
on whatever is behind him… and then into the room
or the venue… and eventually
into the ears of the listeners. So you need to capture that sound
when you record your instrument. And for that I found that having two mics
to record in stereo is extremely interesting. I’ve experimented a lot with mic placements
and in the end I came up with this setup. There’s one mic in front of me
and anoher behind. And the key-thing is that you do not want
the mic behind you to directly face the bell. Otherwise you would catch too much
direct sound, which if you remember … we don’t want to capture in order
to recreate that reflected, ambient sound. I use two mics : the one
in front of me is a Sennheiser 421 … and the one behind
is a Shure SM27. I can’t say if these are
the best for french horn. They might not be but I happened
to have these two… and when I combined them
I was very happy with the sound I got. So in the end
I just kept it that way ! And that’s the sound you hear
in all of my covers 🙂 Another technique I wanted to share with you
is when you’re recording multiple horn parts… you can change positions. If you want do a full horn section
playing a unison for example… it’s always better to record
each horn part differently. So you can either record them
with different horns… but not everyone has
several horns to play with. So another solution is
to change your position… so that you can somehow
recreate a horn section. Which as you know is made of different
horn players with different horns all sitting at a different
angle from the mics. Then once you’ve recorded everything… the next step will be to apply
effects to your tracks. Just to name a few, there’s EQ which enables you
to cut or boost any frequency in your tracks. Another important one
is Reverb. You will also pan your tracks. Which means you will spread them
through the stereo sound field. For example in the context of a symphonic piece,
the horns will be on the left side… Since that’s where they are
in the orchestra. And you will do it like this. But if you’re recording a horn quartet for example
it’s gonna be completely different. So you will have to give each horn
its own spot within the stereo field… in order to recreate the way
it would sound in real life. So in the end all of this
will help you polish your sound. There’s a lot of aspects to the sound that
you can tweak with all of these tools… in order to get
the best sound out of your horn. And this will all be done
in what is called a DAW. DAW stands for
Digital Audio Workstation. Mine is Cubase and it’s a professional DAW
so it’s quite costly. If you’re just starting and you don’t have a lot of money
there are free options such as Audacity. Another cool thing about the DAW
is the clicktrack ! If you want your tracks
to be perfectly synchronized… especially when you
multitrack like I do… it’s always better to record
them with a clicktrack. And the DAW
has this option. You can program tempo maps like this
with time signatures and tempo changes. You will of course need headphones to listen
to that click while you’re recording. There’s a lot of great tutorials on Youtube
about all of that stuff that I just mentioned. So you can easily get started. After all that’s how I started ! 10 years ago when I did the John Williams
Tribute video which was my very first one… back then I honestly didn’t know
anything about music production ! So it’s all about
doing some research… and experimenting yourself ! About the mics. Unless you use a USB microphone,
you will also need an Audio Interface… to plug those microphones into. My mics use an XLR connector… and I use this audio interface
to plug them in. It’s a UR242 by Steinberg
(same company that did Cubase) This interface is plugged
with a USB to my computer… and my mics are plugged
into it with XLR cables. One last thing you need
to know is that certain mics… Condenser mics to be precise
like my Shure SM27… need what is called
Phantom Power in order to work. This is what this little button
here is for. When you press it it sends
48 Volts into the mics. Without it, a Condenser mic
will basically be useless. Once again this is just for Condenser mics
like my Shure SM27. On the other hand
my Sennheiser 421 is a Dynamic mic. Those do not need additional power,
they can work on their own. So beware of this
when you choose your microphone. And like I mentioned earlier
there’s also USB microphones… which could be an interesting option if for example
you don’t have the budget to buy an audio interface. I’ve never used a USB mic myself
but I know of some people who do and… some of those mics seem really cool !
Like the Blue Yeti. So I hope
this was instructive ! I wish you luck if you’re about
to try and record yourself ! It may seem
a little daunting at first. Especially when you first open
a software like Cubase… since there’s so many options everywhere
and you can easily get lost ^^ But once you get the gist of it,
it’s honestly not that hard ! Once again when I started out 10 years ago
I had no idea of how to properly set up a mic. I didn’t even know how to do the most
basic things like panning or EQing ! And it’s just by doing some research and
experimenting that I finally figured it out ! And I can tell you that to this day
I am stil learning new things all the time 😉 So don’t feel discouraged
by any of this. It can be
hard work at the beginning… but it’s really
worth it in the end 🙂

Categories: ArticlesBlog

25 Comments

llrefael · February 5, 2020 at 5:28 pm

Did you get the tip I donated (10 euros)?
Keep up the great work!

Alexandre Guiavarc'h · February 5, 2020 at 5:33 pm

I recorded my very first Horn quartet like 5 days ago. I wish I could have had these precious tips. Thank you for sharing your experience!

Chris Reid · February 5, 2020 at 5:38 pm

Absolutely loved that you decided to do this video Marc! It was a really clear introduction. It seems you have a knack for explaining concepts and teaching 😉 <3

Thomas Kubler • Compositeur · February 5, 2020 at 5:43 pm

« And this will all be done with what is called a D'UH »
I can't unhear it.

Isaac Murray · February 5, 2020 at 5:46 pm

Thanks for this 😂 I didn’t ask you about your equipment but I wanted to 😂 your sound is beautiful 🤗

ARM · February 5, 2020 at 5:56 pm

Very interesting lesson about how horns work! Thanks

Siempie p03 · February 5, 2020 at 5:57 pm

Cool and helpfull video! It really shows how much effort you put into your covers/videos to make them such a high quality! Keep it up man!

Tobias Zimmermann · February 5, 2020 at 6:24 pm

Thank you for your very informative video! I had been searching a tutorial on how to properly record french horns for quite some time.
Do you use a pre-amp for your dynamic microphone (like Cloudlifter)? Because I also have a dynamic microphone but I have the problem, that its very quiet and a little noisy. The noise gets worse when I boost the gain on my audio interface.

WaterMusic34 · February 5, 2020 at 7:10 pm

Secrets revealed

Joshua McMillan · February 5, 2020 at 7:13 pm

Awesome explanation! If you are just starting out with recording, you can use either Audacity OR Cakewalk. Cakewalk has been bought out by Bandlab and made free!

STARRYSKY · February 5, 2020 at 7:18 pm

Quel accent anglais parfait =O !
(ouais c'est ça qui me marque mdr)

Ranedom · February 5, 2020 at 7:41 pm

This is the video I've literally always wanted to see. I'm very interested in possibly trying to record some Horn playing.

Kenneth Brush · February 5, 2020 at 7:48 pm

Rock on! 📯

Connor Utegg · February 5, 2020 at 10:20 pm

Yes, I am so happy! I've been looking all over for something like this and have always been curious about your setup, which you saw in a few of my other comments. Thank you so much!

Didier Martini · February 5, 2020 at 10:29 pm

Small information to add as marc said that he doesn't own a USB mic or tried one ;).
Usb Mic are not recommanded to be used in a Daw, especially cubase.
A trick must be done to use it like AsioforAll if not it will not work.
All this is documented on the Steinberg forum at this adress.
https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=8824

so to resume, best is to use an audio interface with an XLR mic ;).

P.S: lovely well done Video Marc ! (and Thanks for the Subtitles 😉 ).

Nicholas Gonzalez · February 5, 2020 at 10:42 pm

Makes me appreciate your videos even more. Nice 👍🏼.

Profundis Confutatis · February 6, 2020 at 2:59 am

bruh you should supply me with some stems to play around with!

I've got enough reverbs to kill a man

811414182梦见 · February 6, 2020 at 3:37 am

Very cool video… it’s been great to see your progress and growth from a technical standpoint over the years. Thanks for all of the hard work you put in.. very inspirational

Antonio Cunningham · February 6, 2020 at 4:49 am

Thank you for sharing this with us. So many answers to questions I didn't know I wanted answered:-)

Oritsuru · February 6, 2020 at 8:51 am

This is hardwork, I confirm.

Et ça fait toujours du bien d'avoir un petit tutoriel pour se remémorer tout ça. Merci Marc ! 🙂
<3

King Cornelius · February 6, 2020 at 10:40 am

What a nice voice!

kaukenk20 · February 6, 2020 at 11:03 am

I really like what you did, can you tell me the first song of the videos? thank you…!

Bruh M. Oment · February 6, 2020 at 1:31 pm

This was uploaded on my birthday

Máscara Nawrowq · February 6, 2020 at 2:39 pm

Thank you for this, Marc 🙂 very good tips

Kato Chan · February 8, 2020 at 9:08 am

As always. Beyond expectation.

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