What an amazing instrument! With a very wide frequency response and huge dynamic range the marimba produces a stunning variety of colour quite unlike any other percussion instrument I can think of. Such tonal subtlety coupled with a battery of rapid transients requires a careful choice of microphone/s.
I did consider using a pair of Sennheiser MD441 dynamics as they have the required frequency response and have an excellent track record on other varieties of percussion, producing a big ‘punchy’ sound with plenty of attack. I also considered going down the condenser route with a pair of AKG C414s. Great frequency response and bags of detail. But………… In the end I realised that what was really needed to capture those rapid transients and subtle detail was a high quality stereo ribbon! In many respects a ribbon microphone has the best of both worlds. Being a variety of dynamic it can pack a great deal of attack and ‘punch’ and on the other hand has an incredibly light diaphragm (ribbon) which can react to transients and fine detail with incredible precision. There is also an intangible ‘smoothness’ to ribbons that even the best condensers just don’t seem to have.
Extinct Audio’s ‘Valkyr’ BM9x2 Stereo Ribbon Microphone was placed on a tall stand, stage centre, about 2m away from the instrument. The mic set in M-S configuration.
Apart from capturing the fine detail of even the most rapid passages the ‘Valkyr’ also delivers a very pleasing impression of the reverberant acoustics of the hall.