Best Mic For Recording Trumpet The Sennheiser MD 441-U Microphone For Recording As Well As For Live Gigs
Last year I was on a hunt to find the best mic for recording trumpet. Not only recording but I wanted to find a mic that would be good for live gigs as well. After trying out a bunch of them, I decided to buy the one that came closest to the way I wanted the trumpet mic to capture my sound.
The mic I recommend for live trumpet and for recording trumpet, is the Sennheiser MD 441-U. It’s a very good mic for trumpet since it’s a dynamic microphone, build to capture the sound in a way that suits brass instruments just perfect, and in particular, the trumpet. However, It’s not the cheapest mic on the market (you can click here to check the price on Amazon) but it’s certainly the best microphone for trumpet I found, for under 1000 dollars.
Why I Think The Sennheiser MD 441-U
Is A Good Mic For Trumpet
- The mic has got superb feedback rejection
- Spring capsule mounting provides low sensitivity to handling noise
- Sound quality is phenomenal
- Hum compensating coil
- Five position bass roll-off switch
I think this is the best mic for trumpet because it is the most accurate and versatile dynamic mic I have ever tried, and I’m not alone in my observations either.
With it’s super-cardioid pattern and a two-position high frequency switch, in combination with a five-position low frequency contour controller, as well as a critically damped internal shock suspension, and a hum bucking coil, this is a very good mic for live trumpet as well as for recording trumpet.
In my hunt for finding a good mic for recording trumpet, I found that, many of the microphones that I tested had problems with the dynamic range of the trumpet. And by that I mean that the trumpet is a musical instrument that be can played very softly, almost like a whisper all the way to…well, as loud as a het plane!
And I’m not even kidding about the loudness here. Finding a microphone that can handle those, extreme dynamics, is not an easy task and this was something that I noticed first hand.
Most microphones are not good for trumpet
Even many of the more expensive microphones did not handle loud playing well at all, and I was not happy with the sound…
…until I tested the Sennheiser MD 441-U
I was happy to notice that the Sennheiser could pick up the trumpet “sizzle” at loud volumes without distorting OR changing the core of the trumpet sound in some way.
With this, I was a bit worried that being able to handle the loud volumes would come at the expense of not accurately picking up the trumpet sound, when playing very softly, but this was not the case at all. I was happy to discover that the Sennheiser was indeed also able to handle trumpet playing at pianissimo levels.
The Sennheiser MD 441-U For Trumpet
It is difficult to describe experiences of sound in words, but I’ll give it a shot:
The Sennheiser md 441-U captures what I call “the core” of the trumpet sound really well. Or the “body” of the trumpet, unlike most of the other microphones, as I found them to sound more “sterile” and without that “core”.
Another way to put it would be, if we would be talking about food here, there was “flavor/salt/taste” with the Sennheiser MD 441-1, while the other mic’s presented a dish without spices and flavor.
A short video clip that I recorded with the Sennheiser to test how well it can handle soft playing.
Keep in mind that I’m playing on my Eb-trumpet so if you think the trumpet sounds “small”, it’s not the mic that is doing it, as the trumpet actually is really small, compared to a “normal” B-flat trumpet.
The Sennheiser MD 441-U is a dynamic microphone and here’s why that matters…
The Sennheiser is what we call a “dynamic microphone”. Those are useful for recording and picking up sounds that can potentially be very loud and sharp. They are often used for snare drums, for example, or for drums in general. Using a dynamic mic for trumpet is a good idea as dynamic microphones is superior for recording loud sounds compared to condenser microphones which often will have issues with that.
What if I want something cheeper than the Sennheiser MD 441-U ?
Before I bought the Sennheiser I was using an USB-mic called “Blue Yeti”. This is one of the best condenser mic’s that you can found if we are talking within a price range of 100-200 dollars. You can click here to check the exact price on Amazon, as it’s always changing.
The Blue Yeti did a decent job, and if you only have a budget around 100-200 dollars, to spend on a good microphone for trumpet, then you should consider the Blue Yeti. However, you should know that, since the Yeti is a condenser mic, it does not handle really loud trumpet playing all that well…
…so, if you are planning to record a version of Maynard Ferguson’s “Give it One”, then you should not go for the Yeti. The Yeti does handle “normal” trumpet volumes really well, though so…
…if you are not planning on making a professional recording of your trumpet playing but you rather want a good mic for recording trumpet at home, and if 100-200 dollars is your limit, then I recommend the Yeti mic.
Unlike the Sennheiser, the Yeti it is a USB mic, so you can plug it directly into your computer and then record your trumpet music on a free audio program like Audacity, for example. If you are interested to learn what others think about the “Blue Yeti”, you can click here to read other real user reviews on Amazon.
A short video clip of me using the Blue Yeti as a trumpet mic
The Blue Yeti has a decent sound however, you can hear that the trumpet “core/body” is not the same as with the Sennheiser, which I used in the first video clip. The soft playing works pretty well but, again, keep in mind that I’m using the Eb-trumpet so the results can not necessarily be transfered to the B-flat trumpet, even though the Yeti does a good job with the bigger trumpet, as well.
What to consider before you order a microphone for recording trumpet on your computer
When you are in the market for the best trumpet mic that your beloved budget can agree to, there are a few things you must know before ordering.
- What kind of music are you going to be playing?
- Do you want to be able to plug the trumpet mic directly into your computer?
- Does the mic need phantom power or not?
- What kind of cable and plugs does the microphone have
What kind of trumpet music are you going to be recording?
If you only need a mic for recording trumpet, playing at “normal” volumes, like pop songs, ballades or other beautiful melodies, then you have a lot more options at you hands. Most microphones will be able to handle this kind of trumpet playing and if this is what your ambition is, then you can also consider a condenser mic for recording your trumpet playing.
However, if you want to be able to play with the full dynamic range of the trumpet, and really be able to blast some loud notes, then I recommend choosing a dynamic mic for your trumpet recording. The dynamic mic is also the best mic for trumpet live playing. Many trumpeters use it on live gigs with their band.
Do you want to be able to plug the trumpet mic straight to your computer?
Whatever you think the best mic for recording trumpet playing is, it’s almost certainly a mic that’s not going to fit directly into your computer. Most high quality microphones use “XLR” cables and plugs, and to be able to connect them to your computer you will need a “USB audio interface”
There are adapters for XLR plugs to USB but if you want a trumpet mic that fits straight to your computer then don’t bother with that but instead you should invest in a usb-mic, like the Blue Yeti, for example. Messing around with adapters, when the mic is best used with an audio interface, is almost certainly going to present you with some form of problems.
Does the mic need phantom power or not?
Some microphones need phantom power to be able to function. If you choose a mic that needs phantom power then you should also make sure that you have a audio interface that supports phantom power. I recommend the Presonus AudioBox USB96, which is the one I use and it has the option to choose if you want to operate your trumpet mic on phantom power or not. The Sennheiser MD 441-U does not require phantom power to function though but you will need an audio interface for it.
What kind of cable and plugs does the microphone have?
As I already mentioned, make sure to check what kind of cables/plugs the mic has. Most microphones use the XLR system, however there are still a few microphones out there that uses other systems.
A few final F.A.Q’s
Using The Blue Yeti USB-mic for trumpet
Q: How long is the cable for the Blue Yeti?
A: The USB cable to the mic is a little over 3 meters
Q: What happens I I try to record really loud trumpet playing with it?
A: Nothing “happens” but since it’s a condenser mic it won’t really give you a super authentic sound at extremely loud dynamics
Q: Are there any adjustable volume knobs on the mic?
A: Yes, there are two for volume as well as one for messing with directions of sound
Q: Is the Blue Yeti the best mic for trumpet?
A: No, it’s not, however it could be the best trumpet microphone for you if you have about 120 bucks to spend. At least that was the price I paid for my Blue Yeti a couple of years back. You can click here to check todays price on Amazon.
Using The Sennheiser MD 441-U For Trumpet
Q: Does it need phantom power?
A: No it does not
Q: Can it handle extremely loud upper register playing
A: Yes, without a doubt. You can give it everything you got and it will accurately pick up the sound, the way it sounded in the room. No matter the volume.
Q: What about soft playing ?
A: Same answer as above!
Q: how big is it?
A: 5.3 x 2.6 x 13.8 inches
Q: Does it come with a warranty?
A: Yes, two years
Q: What frequencies can it work with
A: 30 – 20000 Hz
Q: I understand the Sennheiser MD 441 U is a good mic for trumpet live and for recording the trumpet but what about trombone?
A: It works excellent for all brass instruments!
Q: Is it really worth the money
A: Well, everything is relative. I certainly think so as I could not find a better microphone for trumpet in this price range (you can check the price here) so that’s why I bought it.
Whether you are an amateur or professional trumpeter, recording your music can be really fun and motivating. Not to mention, you will learn A TON of things when you sit down and listen to yourself. Time and time again I have noticed small details about my own playing that I never would have realized if I did not listen to my own playing objectively, from a recorded track….
…we THINK we know exactly how we play…the truth is, we don’t!
I often record my trumpet practice sessions as well, exactly for that reason. You can really become your own best teacher when doing this because the trumpet mic picks up everything….
…and I really do mean everything, the good and the bad. In addition to this it is easy to become blind, or perhaps “deaf” would be more appropriate in this case, to your own playing and by putting the microphone in front of your trumpet bell you get to sit down AFTER you practice session and objectively listen to it.
Sure, it can be a bit hurtful, at first, to notice all the “ugly things” that you were not aware of doing, I have to admit. However, if we put our ego aside and instead focus on what we can improve, and how to improve it well…
…we could potentially skyrocket the results, faster than we ever thought possible. And I’m being 100% serious here.
So whether you are just looking for a mic for recording trumpet practicing, for live gigs, or for recording your own music on the computer, it is a good investment for sure. And I can guarantee you that, one year from now, you will be a better musician and a also a much better trumpet player because of it.
Thank you for reading the article about microphones for recording trumpet.
P.S. While we are on the subject of sound and trumpet playing, maybe you also would be interested in reading about how to improve the sound quality on trumpet ?