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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:11 am 
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88man wrote:
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I was wondering if a pair of good 'ol SM57s would work to start out with. They are a very versatile mic that sees a lot of use on guitar amps and things. Not to mention they are only $99 apiece at Sweetwater. I'd rather not break the bank until I have more experience.

Horowitzian, anything will work when starting out. However, You won't be happy with a SM57 in the long run - it's not as sensitive, it has frequency peaks in the mids, and lacks air in the highs, and is deficient in the bass. The SM57 is a dynamic mic. You really should have condenser mics in your arsenal.

Dynamic and condenser mics differ in how they produce an electrical signals going into your recorder:

Dynamic mics use a diaphragm attached to a moving-coil in a magnetic field to generate a signal in the presence of sound vibration, just like a speaker working in reverse. The mass of the moving coil results in a relatively poor transient response and less sensitivity than a condenser mic. They are better suited for louder sources like in guitar amps or drums where they don't distort as much as condensers in high SPL situations.

Condenser mics have a very thin plastic diaphragm coated with gold/nickel, mounted very close to a conductive back plate, which forms a collective unit called a capacitor or condenser. A polarizing voltage feeds through the capacitor by an external power supply, e.g. Microtrack II's 48V "phantom power." Sound causes the diaphragm to vibrate: as the diaphragm moves closer to the back plate, there is an increase capacitance which results in a discharge of current, when the diaphragm moves away from the back plate, there is a decrease in the capacitance which results in a discharge of current. This cycle produces an electrical signal going to the recorder. Condensers are better suited to capture nuances, wider frequency response, and transients due to their increased sensitivity over dynamic mics.

Avoid the temptation with less expensive Chinese mics (Studio Projects, Samson, Rode, MXL, etc.). I find them to sound brittle, harsh, lack a full body bass, and are not as reliable. You don't need Neumann either. I'd save up for the U.S. made Shure KSM141. At $800, you're essentially getting a pair of omni and cardiod mics all in one package. I've looked all over... It's going to be difficult to find a pair of quality condensers that are as neutral or as classy in sound as the Shure for that price. Like I previously mentioned, these are Schoeps clones, which are standard in high end classical piano recording studios. The Schoeps omni and cardiod capsules with the amplifier body will cost $5525.

I hope some of these ideas and concepts help... I hope you capture the best sound from your piano! Good Luck and keep me posted!


Thank you for your detailed response, George! You may have sold me on the 141's, too. :D

However, I play electric guitar too, so perhaps I could put SM57's to use if I didn't like them for piano. So much to think about! Not only that, I want to do some upgrades to my MacBook Pro this year (max out the RAM, get a new larger and faster HD, and install OS 10.6 Snow Leopard). So it all has to come in good time, since the MBP is the computer I use for my audio stuff. :)

If the 141's are made here, that makes the choice even clearer to me; I buy US made whenever possible. ;)

Again, thanks for your response, and I will keep you posted. May be a few months, though!

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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:53 am 
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Yes, the SM57, (or even the Audix i5) should work well with guitar cabs. Let me know how things turn out!

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"Nobility of spirit has more to do with simplicity than ostentation, wisdom rather than wealth, commitment rather than ambition." ~Riccardo Muti


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:32 pm 
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88man wrote:
Certain mic manufacturers have body + capsule mic arrangement. This allows the flexibility of having interchangeable mic pickup patterns on a similar mic amplifier platform. There are capsules for omnidirectional, cardiod, wide cardiod, figure-8, etc. pick up patterns. MBHO, Gefell, Schoeps, Neumann are just examples of a few manufacturers which employ this arrangement in their mic designs. This avoids having redundant mic amplifier bodies and saves space, as well as lowering cost.

Pianos love omnidirectional mics, and to a lesser degree wide-cardiod mics! Each mic pick up pattern has its pros and cons. I discuss some of them in my thread on "Home Recording." In less than ideal room, a wide-cardiod will give good results, and in some cases only a cardiod will do if there are severe limitations in acoustics.

For the money, the Shure KSM141 is the best deal for versatility, value, quality, reliability, and simplicity. The MBHO is more expensive and is sold only from Atlas Pro Audio in the U.S., but still of excellent quality for pianos with its various bodies and capsules.


Thank you so much for the great explanation! I see what you are talking about now. I am definitely sold on the Shure 141 mics... they sound like they will work very well in my smallish piano room, as well as for other applications. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I'm saving up! :wink:

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:21 am 
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88man wrote:
Yes, the SM57, (or even the Audix i5) should work well with guitar cabs. Let me know how things turn out!

Sure thing! :)

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Horowitzian


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:10 am 
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Posts: 59
88man wrote:

I would go for a more versatile unit like the M-Audio Microtrack II. It has very good digital converters, and the mic preamp has full 48V phantom power to add condenser mics in the future. This hidden gem is definitely a better investment for classical recording...


I think, this is a very good suggestion. This little thingie has another advantage very few even (much) more expensive units do not have--S/PDIF input. One day you might grow out of its pres and converters, then you could just get a high quality preamp with a digital out (or separate units of pre and AD converters). Another advantage would be using it for archiving, when getting from computer through stand alone hardware reverbs or EQs.

88man wrote:

Avoid the temptation with less expensive Chinese mics (Studio Projects, Samson, Rode, MXL, etc.). I find them to sound brittle, harsh, lack a full body bass, and are not as reliable. You don't need Neumann either. I'd save up for the U.S. made Shure KSM141. At $800, you're essentially getting a pair of omni and cardiod mics all in one package. I've looked all over... It's going to be difficult to find a pair of quality condensers that are as neutral or as classy in sound as the Shure for that price. Like I previously mentioned, these are Schoeps clones, which are standard in high end classical piano recording studios. The Schoeps omni and cardiod capsules with the amplifier body will cost $5525.


While I agree the Samson, Rode, and MXL small diaphragm mics have those quality, the Studio Projects SP4 might be rather an exception. Their low end in fact is pretty nice (for the money), they come in matched pair, they have two pairs of capsules--omni and cardioids, and they are CHEAP. Besides, the customer service of Studio Projects is legendary. Most often they just replace the mic for free even if you step on it and it is long out of warranty. In other words, I mean if you are REALLY on a budget those could be the minimal entry option.

If you are JUST on a budget :) , other cheaper mics to consider would be AT 4021/4022, or 4049/4051, depending if you want omnies, or cardioids.

Another whole world of a difference would be ribbon microphones, but this is already another story.

Best, M


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 6:43 pm 
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Ribbons are pretty expensive, aren't they? The only brand I've seen very much is Royer, and they cost thousands of dollars.

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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:17 am 
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Location: France
No it is for ribbons like for condensers: there are cheap ribbons made in China and expensive ones made in Europa or USA. Ribbons are not better than condensers, just different. Because they are passive (except some models who have an internal preamp), they have a very low output. Then the preamp quality may be more critical for them than for a condenser mic. I would not advise ribbons as a first pair of mics.

Just for a quick illustration, I attach two files that I got back from my HD, the beginning of the arietta of Beethoven's opus 111, one recorded with European ribbons, and the other oen with USA condensers, both pairs costing about the same in Europa (less than 1000 €).


Attachments:
Beyerdynamic M130.mp3 [3.5 MiB]
Downloaded 228 times
Josephson C42.mp3 [3.27 MiB]
Downloaded 225 times
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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:47 am 
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Location: France
88man wrote:
Like I previously mentioned, these are Schoeps clones, which are standard in high end classical piano recording studios.


The Shure KSM 141 clone of the Schoeps Colette range, who decides that ?

Then I'm a clone of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. :P


Last edited by Didier on Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:29 am 
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Location: France
Marik wrote:
While I agree the Samson, Rode, and MXL small diaphragm mics have those quality,


I think that the Rode NT5 is worth a bit more respect. It was in the 19 most appreciated mics in the big comparative test of 61 small diaphragm condensers made by Mike jasper forTape Op on last year.


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:04 am 
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Location: Boston
Quote:
The Shure KSM 141 clone of the Schoeps Colette range, who decides that ?

Hi Didier! It was Hudson Fair that told me that the Shure KSM141 mic is a Schoeps Colette series clone. He is a Grammy Award winning recording engineer from Chicago. His studio is a "House of Schoeps," as he puts it. With the Schoeps sound sound in mind, he helped design the KSM141 small condenser mic for Shure (no pun intented). He admits that it doesn't have the exact Schoeps level of refinement, but for thousands less, it comes close for most people, plus you're getting an omni and cardiod in one package. IMHO, Hudson Fair is an American ton meister, as in the great German tradition, and when it comes to piano recording he has a good sense of judgment.. We've had some interesting discussions on the subject of piano sound in the modern era of digital recording...

I haven't tried the Rode NT5, but I've tried the Rode K2 and was not pleased with a nasal tone for piano. I even replaced the tubes with matched pair of NOS 1964 Siemens CCA tubes and it little to improve the sound. I ended up returning the Rode mics.

I agree with Didier that ribbon mics will not make great first mics. I've also thought about using a Ribbon mic for getting a darker tone on piano, but their slower transient response will sound blurred or sluggish on larger pianos. If one is absolutely intent on using Ribbons for piano, then the Coles 4040 might be your best bet as the highs are more extended to 20kHz than other ribbon mics which fall off after 15kHz.

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"Nobility of spirit has more to do with simplicity than ostentation, wisdom rather than wealth, commitment rather than ambition." ~Riccardo Muti


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:25 am 
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Didier wrote:
No it is for ribbons like for condensers: there are cheap ribbons made in China and expensive ones made in Europa or USA. Ribbons are not better than condensers, just different. Because they are passive (except some models who have an internal preamp), they have a very low output. Then the preamp quality may be more critical for them than for a condenser mic. I would not advise ribbons as a first pair of mics.

Just for a quick illustration, I attach two files that I got back from my HD, the beginning of the arietta of Beethoven's opus 111, one recorded with European ribbons, and the other oen with USA condensers, both pairs costing about the same in Europa (less than 1000 €).


In many situations ribbons can be extremely helpful and often, just way to go when we talk about long (or large dimensions) ones. The very first advantage would be since the pickup element is much longer than any other mics (about 2") the vertical directionality is limited, which greatly helps with ceiling and floor reflections. As such in many situations (esp. with low ceilings) they might be the only choice (in this respect, the M130 being a small ribbon (only 1" long) is not representative). Second, since the ribbons have a virtually perfect fig.8 pattern (actually, Royers because of their patented assymetrical pickup would not be the first choice here) they are the best choice for MS recording.


Didier wrote:
Marik wrote:
While I agree the Samson, Rode, and MXL small diaphragm mics have those quality,


I think that the Rode NT5 is worth a bit more respect. It was in the 19 most appreciated mics in the big comparative test of 61 small diaphragm condensers made by Mike jasper forTape Op on last year.


Ah, yes. Actually, it is my understanding they are the same as SP4. The only reason I excluded them is since they are Ausies, for US or UK folks the customer service is much easier with the Studio Projects. Mike Jasper had the complete, unabbridged article on his site. To bad it is down at the moment. I will ask him as for what's up with that.


88man wrote:
I haven't tried the Rode NT5, but I've tried the Rode K2 and was not pleased with a nasal tone for piano. I even replaced the tubes with matched pair of NOS 1964 Siemens CCA tubes and it little to improve the sound. I ended up returning the Rode mics.


Definitely, the K2 is just a wrong mic for the application. It is OK for some, albeit limited vocal applications, and some rather blue-grass stuff, but not a classic piano. The NT5 on the other hand is a SDC SS mic, so completely different animal. Usually, I avoid the LDC for piano.

Quote:

I agree with Didier that ribbon mics will not make great first mics. I've also thought about using a Ribbon mic for getting a darker tone on piano, but their slower transient response will sound blurred or sluggish on larger pianos. If one is absolutely intent on using Ribbons for piano, then the Coles 4040 might be your best bet as the highs are more extended to 20kHz than other ribbon mics which fall off after 15kHz.


I actually disagree. But again, everything depends on every particular situation. As I already mentioned above, the ribbons are unmatched for MS, which I prefer for such an unpredictable situation as a regular living room. Second, again, as I mentioned before, the ribbons unique vertical directivity qualities can solve a lot of room problems. Third, for "too lively rooms" with lots of high end resonances and ringing their natural top roll-off might be just a ticket for a nice a balanced recording. Fourth, their "slower transient response" is a myth. In fact, often, their transient response is equal, and even superior of that of condensers, due to lighter mass of the diaphragm and means of damping.
The main difference being, the condensers are tuned to the middle of the range (somewhere in the 900-1300Hz range, with a peak sometimes as large as 60dB) and apply a lot of acoustical resistance in order to damp that huge peak to get a flat response. As opposed to that, the ribbon's tuning resonance is out of the bandwidth, usually somewhere in the 16-45Hz range. Across the bandwidth they usually work as a strict mass controlled system, do not exhibit usual non-linearities associated with condensers, and loaded just with mass of air (which provides efficient enough damping, except of that on mid and low part of the bandwidth, where additional damping is needed to get rid of resonant modes, which is done by means of the additional screen installed right in front of the ribbon itself).
Due to those (as well as some other) differences, the ribbons actually can sound much more natural than any condensers could possibly dream.

Having said that, I would never buy a mic based on anybody's suggestion (including mine), or the fact it worked for somebody else, without trying it in your particular situation. You know, it is like getting married on advice of your best friend, who tells you: "It feelz'n'workz good, maaaan"!

On the other hand, it is my strong believe, while electronics themselves (including microphone, preamp, and AD converter) are important, they are only some 30% of the final sound. Piano and room aside, the rest 70% of the sound is a microphone position and exactly right microphone technique, for each particular situation... and we even do not touch mastering phase, which is an art in itself...

Best, M


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:01 pm 
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Location: France
88man wrote:
Hi Didier! It was Hudson Fair that told me that the Shure KSM141 mic is a Schoeps Colette series clone. He is a Grammy Award winning recording engineer from Chicago. His studio is a "House of Schoeps," as he puts it. With the Schoeps sound sound in mind, he helped design the KSM141 small condenser mic for Shure (no pun intented). He admits that it doesn't have the exact Schoeps level of refinement, but for thousands less, it comes close for most people, plus you're getting an omni and cardiod in one package. IMHO, Hudson Fair is an American ton meister, as in the great German tradition, and when it comes to piano recording he has a good sense of judgment.. We've had some interesting discussions on the subject of piano sound in the modern era of digital recording...


I knew the story but don't consider the advice from Plush (the pseudo of Hudson on Gearslutz) as being impartial enough because he participated in the development of this mic and because the Shure factory is close to Chicago. Actually according to Plush, there are significant differences:
Plush wrote:
Yes, the circuit is indeed discrete class A like the Schoeps. It is not exactly the same because it is a Shure product and not a copy cat product. The capsule, however, is 3 times as thin as a Schoeps and that lends a very fast transient response behavior to the Shure KSM mics.


So clearly, the KSM 141 is not a clone of the Shoeps CMC-MK5. Indeed, it could even be better! :P

I'm convinced from all what I read, not only from Plush, that the KSM137 and KSM141 are very good mics. The KSM141 and the CMC-MK5 were in the 19 top selection from the listening panel of Mike Jasper's shootout on guitar. However I was a member of this panel and the Shure was not in my (blind) 15 top selection while the Schoeps was.
On the organ samples proposed on the same page (first post) where there is the above quote from Plush, I preferred the Oktava, which was in my 15 top selection in the Mike's shootout. A modded version (by Marik ?) of the Oktava was in the overall 19 top selection.


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:19 pm 
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[quote="Marik"]
In many situations ribbons can be extremely helpful and often, just way to go when we talk about long (or large dimensions) ones. The very first advantage would be since the pickup element is much longer than any other mics (about 2") the vertical directionality is limited, which greatly helps with ceiling and floor reflections. As such in many situations (esp. with low ceilings) they might be the only choice (in this respect, the M130 being a small ribbon (only 1" long) is not representative). Second, since the ribbons have a virtually perfect fig.8 pattern (actually, Royers because of their patented assymetrical pickup would not be the first choice here) they are the best choice for MS recording.[quote]

Hi Marik,

I agree with your arguments. But I have not yet been convinced that the ribbons would be better than the condensers for at-home piano recording. I've got also a pair of Coles 4038. They have a huge low end that need always being tamed a lot by EQ. A comparison with Oktava MK-012 omni recorded on this morning here attached. If not Royer, which ribbon would you advise? I'm looking at he AEA R88....


Attachments:
4038, 53 dB gain, -12 dB@100 Hz.mp3 [1.08 MiB]
Downloaded 231 times
MK-012, 35 dB gain, -6 dB @100Hz.mp3 [849.31 KiB]
Downloaded 220 times
DSCF0761.JPG
DSCF0761.JPG [ 82.86 KiB | Viewed 2136 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:10 am 
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[quote="Marik"]Definitely, the K2 is just a wrong mic for the application. It is OK for some, albeit limited vocal applications, and some rather blue-grass stuff, but not a classic piano. The NT5 on the other hand is a SDC SS mic, so completely different animal. Usually, I avoid the LDC for piano.

[quote]

Oh, I cannot let that unanswered. The K2 was my first valve microphone pair. I sold them because I was delighted by the valve sound and got some other microphones. And all these power supply boxes in my living room, it was .... embarrassing.

The K2 is a fantastic bargain and would still be such at twice its price.
My penultimate recording for Pianosociety of the second piece of the Moments musicaux from Schubert was done with them. For this recording, I moved the piano in the room to get better acoustic conditions.
Here attached this recording and a photo of the session.

I just agree that like most valve mics, the K2 doest not sound much natural, but rather bigger than life. And it has some color; Is it a drawback ? :)


Attachments:
dscf0606o.jpg
dscf0606o.jpg [ 102.85 KiB | Viewed 2128 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:36 am 
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Didier wrote:

Hi Marik,

I agree with your arguments. But I have not yet been convinced that the ribbons would be better than the condensers for at-home piano recording. I've got also a pair of Coles 4038. They have a huge low end that need always being tamed a lot by EQ. A comparison with Oktava MK-012 omni recorded on this morning here attached. If not Royer, which ribbon would you advise? I'm looking at he AEA R88....


Hi Didier,

Right now my music computer got a MB problem, so I could listen only on my laptop. Even so, I don't think this is a fair comparison, as they have completely different pickup pattern, and the omni should be quite a bit closer (or the 4038 moved further). The back-wave damping shield also affects them completely differently. Another thing, it seems you place the mics close to the open lid, so it is not about the "huge low end", but big proximity, which 4038 because of their particular construction, have. Also, I am sure you are aware, those mics has a short (1") ribbon, so the vertical response should be considered.

As for the ribbon to suggest, what is your budget? For the classical piano I'd be almost inclined to suggest you a modified one, or if you are not in a hurry, wait until a certain model (I can let you know later) is coming to the market.

Didier wrote:

I just agree that like most valve mics, the K2 doest not sound much natural, but rather bigger than life. And it has some color; Is it a drawback ? :)


If it matches what you want to accomplish then it is not, otherwise, it... is :D . But I'd say, the right microphone positioning and recording engineer's experience are about 90%-98% of the recording, so if the equipment is decent then almost anything would work (except dynamics, of course). I personally, do not use the LDC on piano.

Best, M

P.S. BTW, is your 4038 a 30 Ohm, or 200 Ohm version?


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