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Topic: Mic setup for a Cajon  (Read 7962 times)

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Offline Bob Bartley

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Mic setup for a Cajon
« on: July 06, 2010, 01:31 PM »
Was wondering what some of you have used for mic'ing a Cajon. I have tried a couple different things, one mic in the back, one in back and one if front. What have you found to work the best to get the best sound? Where and how do you place them? What type and kind of mic's have you used?


Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: Mic setup for a Cajon
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2010, 03:33 PM »
For me it often times will vary depending on the music genre, the venue, and the role I'm playing in the music.

If I'm playing the Cajon, and taking on the role of drummer for a singer/songwriter, etc., I'll often times mic the port with a Kick mic, and the playing area with a vocal mic (same mic I would use on a Snare drum). If the venue is reverberant or the stage volume will be loud, I'll go with dynamic mics. For studio work and low-volume gigs, I'll use a condenser mic for the playing area.

If I'm playing the Cajon in a traditional manner, I don't mic the port. There's actually a lot of low-end that you can capture just from the playing surface, but the type of mic, mic-pre and the venue will affect the outcome.

In the studio, I've used one mic, an AKG 414 ULS, on the Cajon with great results. The custom-made Cajon that I own has two parallel playing surfaces, so they are on either side of the port side. I can take the AKG 414, set the polar pattern to cardioid, and mic the Cajon at the corner ... picking up the playing surface and the port. This is especially nice to have when I'm using a lot of unconventional playing techniques; the mic captures them all.

Offline Bob Bartley

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Re: Mic setup for a Cajon
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2010, 08:18 AM »
Thanks Bart, I have used a kick mic on the port and an AKG C1000 on the front. Do think that is a good all-around set up? Do you put the kick in the port or outside? Also the front mic do you point it up towards the playing area or straight on towards the center?

I use broom sticks on some songs and it seems it is harder to pick up when I use them.  I know that is somewhat up to the sound guy but was wondering if different mic setup would help.

Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: Mic setup for a Cajon
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2010, 10:02 AM »
Bob,

I don't place the Kick mic inside the port typically. Doing so, and I'm not trying to sound "punny", but it sounds very boxy; not pleasant.

I think your mic set-up is fine. You are just going to have to experiment with the exact mic placement for your Cajon.

When it comes to mic placement, there are a number of variables that you have to deal with. The mic-pre, the board, the speakers, the room/venue, the instrument ... they all play a role in the end result. What works on one gig may not work at another. What works with one Cajon may not work with another. So on and so on.

I tend to place the Kick mic so that it is off-axis in relation to the port. This keeps the rushing air from "popping" the mic's diaphragm; not a pleasant sound. I position the mic based on it's polar pattern. If the polar pattern is cardiod, I position the mic so that the heart of the pattern (no pun intended) is focused towards the part of the instrument that is producing the sound that I want to capture the most.

In the case of the AKG C1000, it has a cardioid polar pattern, or hypercardioid (with the PPC 1000 attached). With this mic, you would not point it directly at the area you were trying to capture the most; if it were a directional mic, you would do this. With the cardioid pattern, you pick up the most from the areas just to the side, off-center, of where the mic is pointing. Use that to your advantage; work with it. To hear the differences, move the mic as you play, monitoring it with headphones to hear the slight nuance differences that can occur.

The nice thing about cardioid mics in a live situation is that they reject sound(s) coming from behind or towards the back of the mic. Many vocal mics used in live situations are cardioid patterned mics; rejecting the sound from the monitor, crowd and anything else making sound ... position behind/back or back/side of the mic.

To answer your question on miking the playing surface, you'll need to experiment. If you want to pick-up more of the attack, where you are striking the Cajon, you would want to not point the mic direct at the area you are playing on the instrument. Position the mic so that it's pointing across that playing area, or so that it's polar pattern is at its greatest right where you are playing. That will capture the most attack. If you want more tone and less attack from the Cajon, you would position the mic so that the polar pattern is greatest in the region of the instrument that produces the most tone acoustically ... and away from where you are striking it ... if possible. Point the mic towards the center of the instrument will allow the heart of the pattern to capture off-center of the playing surface, which is where most of the tone is.

Also note the difference in results from miking directly from the front, pointing at the center of the playing surface, versus miking from the side and pointing at the center of the playing surface. The first way, the polar pattern is running above the surface, so the results will be weaker ... which may or may not be what you want. Positioning the mic from the side, and pointing at the center, allows the heart of the pattern to actually touch (if you will) the playing surface, so your results will be much stronger.

Hope this makes sense. I wanted to go ahead and get into some details for those who may read this in the future and not be aware of some of these techniques.

Bottom line: use your ears ... listen and experiment. If it sounds good to you and works for your given situation ... go with it!

Offline Bob Bartley

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Re: Mic setup for a Cajon
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2010, 08:25 AM »
Thanks Bart, that was very clear. I will try the headphone thing and listen at different positions. I kind of posted this with the thought that others would have the same question so thanks for the detailed answer.

NJPariah

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Re: Mic setup for a Cajon
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2010, 06:02 PM »
I play as part of an acoustic trio and sit in with several acoustic performers at open mic venues weekly.  Throwing a 57 in front of the cajon, angled downward from about seat height towards the center of the playing surface has worked well for me.  The pattern of the 57 picks up a fairly balanced spectrum of sound.

I've tried mic'ing outside the port and find that it's too bassy and boxy sounding, and in one venue gave me terrible low-end feedback that we were unable to eq out.

Offline Steve Ramsey

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Re: Mic setup for a Cajon
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2012, 05:05 PM »
I use a Rode M1 positioned directly over the snare with a baffle system similar to a guitar feedback buster on the sound hole, simple and works well.
I get plenty of bass, so I tend to focus on getting the right snare sound.
but this is a sample of the drums I make without amplification, fair bit of punch!
The recording was done with a zoom h2 field recorder with no post production/effects right on the road.... about 5 meters away.
http://www.cajon.com.au/images/soundfiles/rockboxpromodel.mp3

Offline Paul Jennings

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Re: Mic setup for a Cajon
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2013, 08:18 AM »
Hey folks,

I agree with Bart that it does depend heavily on the situation. There are all kinds of ways to do it.

Since I started www.playcajon.org I get asked this question a lot so I decided to put a post togeather to help people.

Here it is: http://www.playcajon.org/how-to-mic-a-cajon/

And again, so much of it is about what is best for the situation you are in. If you are new to doing it, do some research as miking the cajon can be a bugger sometimes.

All the best,

Paul

www.pauljenningsmusic.com
Paul Jennings

 


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