The first thing to consider about microphones is condenser vs. dynamic. Condenser microphones are, to my taste, too "accurate"...too clean for the didjeridu. They're also much more fragile -- something to consider when placing the microphone close (within 8") of the end of the instrument...
My favorite mic has been a Sennheiser (I forgot the number), which has a cardioid pattern, giving a nice bass boost which can be adjusted by pointing it at different angles.
Recently, the Mills' Ensemble has been doing some 'live rehearsal' recordings where a couple of Beyer (ribbon) mics have been used. These have a much 'cleaner' sound than the Sennheisers - but not objectionable. I'm thinking of changing my preferences...
Speaking of changing preferences: I think I'm moving away from the "close mic boost the bass so the rafters shake" sound. Those old Trevor Jones field recordings still echo in my soul...
Randy Raine-Reusch writes:
Recently I have been using a sony c-1000 on stage and like the response very much. It picks up both the highs and lows, and is very clean. I find it is best used through an xlr connection rather than transforming it to 1/4". Again, your didg sound is mostly determined by your soundperson. For recording, I use studios that have top end mikes and usually opt for diaphram mikes. I also tend to use more than one mike in recording, with a mike up close, one two fett away and a couple throughout the room. Mixed together, this gets you a good sound. I also tend to like to double my didj parts on recordings, If you listen to the didj part I did on Aerosmith's PUMP, that was doubled. Doubling and even tripling a didj part makes it alot fuller, especially with a good stereo spread.
Randy Raine-Reusch wrote in didjeridu digest number 15:
My experience shows any good quality instrument mike with a good low end is fine and placed about 4-6" in front of the end of the didj. Any closer and you boost the low end but lose the clarity, any farther the opposite. I always have to ask the sound person to boost the bass on the board as many try for a weak sound somewhere in the mid-range. Last concert had a good soundman and audience said the sound although not loud made their legs shake.
To which Ed Drury replied:
A taped on mic or clip on is very good with a slide for reasons which I think are obvious. Also, Randy's post speaks mostly to sound reinforcement systems for performing. In recording there are different requirements and different settings to consider. Recording in studio is different from home studios which is altogether different from recording in natural locations. While I have some experience with all three, I don't have a *lot* of experience with any one of them. So I'm as interested in hearing about these things as anyone. I think there is a lot to be discussed here, but I'm probably not the one to take the lead in the discussion. I approach microphone applications a situation at a time based on my previous experience (or lack of it). It is probably not a professional's approach, but experience is the only teacher I have on the subject at this point. I'm very happy to share those experiences if there is interest...but I feel that there are many people here who have more to offer on the subject. Hopefully, will dig a little more out of Randy and others.
Graham Wiggins (Dr. Didg) writes:
For live work I use an AKG C1000 mike placed about 4 inches from the end of the didgeridoo. This creates a bass boost which I remove by putting the signal through a graphic to bring the sound back to what the didg sounds like acoustically. The reason I don't just put the mike further away is that I want to avoid picking up stray sounds from the stage or spill from the PA which causes feedback, especially if you start using delay or reverb effects. The most important thing about live amplification of the didgeridoo, which hardly anyone seems to have worked out, is to put the signal through a limiter. The toots and screams are so loud when they are amplified that the soundman always mixes the didgeridoo down in the mix so that you only hear the toots and screams and all those wonderful subtle inflections you are putting into the drone are completely lost. If he turns it any louder the toots and screams will blow the speakers up. So set the limiter/compressor to start limiting only on the toots and screams. Personally I disagree with the comments about mixing lots of bass into the didgeridoo sound or leaving the bass boost from close miking intact. The didgeridoo is not a bass instrument and the things which go on in the bass end of it's sound, while they are spine tingling, are very mushy and hard to control. The heart of the didgeridoo sound for me is in the "vocal" range, the higher frequencies where the ee-aa-oo tonal variations take place. I usually find that the midrange around 1000 Hz needs boosting a little through most PAs. My aim with all these techniques is to get the didgeridoo to sound as much as possible like it does when you are sitting in front of it, but much much louder through a PA.