Dwight's search for the perfect tuba microphone
Dwight González searches for the perfect microphones to record his tuba/sousaphone.
Hello, my name is Dwight González, I’m a sousaphone/tuba player from Mexico, and I’m here to share with you the story of my search for the ideal sound.
Let me start from the beginning: I’ve played several instruments, but for 8 years now I’ve been completely dedicated to the tuba. I’m in love with it! I’ve realized that the tuba is the most versatile thing I’ve ever played, and since the first day I played it, I’ve been working on getting the best possible sound out of it.
For that, I first had to work on my technique, obviously (and I’ll keep working on that forever). Next, I had to get the best instrument that my small pocketbook could afford. I then started modifying my instrument and crafting my own mouthpieces – but I still wasn’t happy with my sound.
A little while ago, I bought an old Yamaha sousaphone; it was all dented and in overall bad shape, but the sound was pretty good, so I took it to the workshop to do a complete restoration. After some modifications, the sound started to get bigger, with more and more harmonics. We then did an artistic paint job (made by the great artist “Milton Bass”) based on the final results, representing the big range of harmonics and the depth and elegance of the sound, and we named the instrument “Estelara”.
But even though I was pretty happy with what we’d done, my sound was always poor – at live gigs and even in recording situations. So I started trying out lots of microphones and spent a lot of money on what turned out to be bad investments – until an audio engineer told me to look into LEWITT mics.
The condenser mics I’d tried had always sounded decent, but they were never anything special, and I’d even tried out a super-expensive German mic with the same results: no mic ever captured the complete spectrum of my instrument. I wanted to hear the deepest lows, the clearest mids, and the smoothest high-end possible, but not just that: I really wanted to get a faster response and an overall precise representation of my sound. Again, no mic ever gave me that – except for the LCT 450! This little mic has an exceptional definition, it’s precise, and it has deep and punchy lows, a beautiful, fresh mid-range, and highs that usually only the super-expensive mics have!
Recording chain: Yamaha sousaphone > LEWITT LCT 450 > RME Fireface UFX > Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5024 preamp (Completely raw samples, no EQ, no processing at all)
What I love about the sousaphone are the organic details and bigness of the sound, and the LCT 450 captures the complete range of harmonics, the organic sounds, the air, the brass bell, the articulation, the breathing, everything.
I use a DTP 340 REX, as well, and it has the best low-end but also still maintains some clarity. And it’s built like a tank. I use it most of the time on live stages, on a small Bb tuba to add some bass to it, but also I like to use it on the sousaphone. I usually have it switched to flat response, but the EFR mode is fantastic for when the PA system has poor lows or the audio engineer uses my archenemy, the low-cut filter!
Recording chain: Yamaha sousaphone > LEWITT DTP 340 REX > RME Fireface UFX > Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5024 preamp (Completely raw samples, no EQ, no processing at all)
This video with the Raúl Carrillo Trio was made using the DTP 340 REX (Flat response) on sousaphone, the LCT 450 on guitar and the LCT 640 as mono overhead microphone.
Stay tuned if you’re interested in hearing more We’re currently working on a pretty ambitious project called Moctezuma & Cortés, which will be coming soon on YouTube. For that project, we’ll be using the LCT 450 and the DTP 340 REX on the smaller tuba and on “Estelara” – with a harmonics enhancer, they’re both responding extremely well! And there will be a new Buddy Bolden Clan video.
These days, electronics and sound engineering are really part of the music, as are the acoustics involved in each instrument. I believe that every musician has to have their own sound and style, including their own gear such as instrument, microphone, preamps, and sometimes other stuff – but don’t get me wrong, you don’t need the most expensive or famous gear in the world. You just need what’s right.
As for me, perhaps I’ll never stop trying to sound better and better, but thanks to the LEWITT, I don’t have to worry about microphones anymore.