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 Post subject: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:19 pm 
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The last couple of months I've been considering purchasing a digital recorder of some sort. I've noticed that several of the pianists here use the Zoom H2, and I was wondering if that unit in particular would be a good investment. I don't want anything inordinately fancy that will break the bank, but I do want the ability to get a good sound. What do you think?

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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.

Felix Mendelssohn


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:54 am 
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The quality of sound from the Zoom H2 is okay. The determining factor of sound quality from these small digital recorders is the mic preamp and the quality of digital converters. Almost all of the built in mics are back electret mics, even though they look like "professional" small condensers, but their sound is mediocre at best.

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 have a thread which skims over some pertinent info about home recording. Here is a useful link too: http://www.sweetwater.com/feature/recorders/
I like Sweetwater because they have great tech support, free shipping, and a 30day return policy.

Good Luck!

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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:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:23 pm 
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Thank you very much for your help! I looked at the M-Audio II, and I like it; I've a couple of questions for you if you don't mind.

I plan at this point to use just the recorder's built-in mics, and I think you're saying that the ones in the M-Audio are definitely better than the ones in the Zoom. Is it any problem that the M-Audio has only two mics instead of four? How would you record with the M-Audio since it doesn't have a tripod? If that isn't a problem, I won't worry about it, but the tripod was one thing that I liked about the Zoom. And, one more thing... is the M-Audio fairly easy to use? I am completely new to digital recorders or anything of that nature.

Thank you too for the articles - they were very useful.

_________________
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.

Felix Mendelssohn


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:48 am 
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Hi Sarah, welcome to digital recording! The differences between built-in mics are small among portable recorders because they employ the same dynamic or electret elements in their mics. They don't provide great sound quality, they sound muddy, but are convenient to have as a self contained on-the-go-recorder, if that is your primary goal.

Don't be seduced by the number of mics - it's a marketing ploy. Even if you had 8 mics, they're all capturing the sound from the same point source. Only if you spaced the individual mics would it become significant. For example if you were intent on having 4 mics, then a typical configuration would be to have 2 spaced stereo pairs from 3-4ft of the curve of the piano and 2 spaced pairs 15ft from the instrument to pick up the natural reverb in a large room. For most of us, 2 mics are all you need on a portable recorder to give an accurate stereo image.

A tripod mount is a nice feature for some, but then again, having the recorder on a tripod means you have to get up to start/stop and can't read the meters to see if you're clipping or not. That's a pain after you just made a perfect recording only to realize that the fortissimo passage caused the signal to clip and distort. It all depends on what feature set appeals to you and what you want the recorder to do. Striking a balance between features and quality can be tricky in selecting any device.

The M-Audio may have slightly more menu oriented features to go through than the H2. But, for me at least, it's the sound quality of the mic preamps and analog-to-digital converters are more relevant to making sound investment. In this department, the MicrotrackII has a well documented success record where the dynamic range and noise figures exceed 100dB - that would be an excellent figure even for a $2000 recorder, let alone a $300 unit that does everything! A recorder like the MicrotrackII is not going to become obsolete anytime soon. Once you get used to digital recording, you might want to eventually upgrade with better quality mics. The MicrotrackII has the future capability of adding any decent mic ever produced because it has a built in phantom power supply that would be necessary to power any professional quality condenser mic. That's when you can have the mics mounted on stands to capture a beautiful stereo sound and the recorder beside the music to read the meters.

But, first, become familiar with the supplied mics, then build upon a system that should yield excellent results. Make it fun. Make it simple. Make it high quality. As it is to many of us, recording yourself regularly will in essence become your musical diary...

Keep us posted,
George

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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:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:30 pm 
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Mr. George, I so appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. You sold me on the Microtrack II... by next week I should get the one I ordered. :D I see now what you mean by being able to add professional quality mics; getting a good sound is my main goal in purchasing a digital recorder, and I don't mind learning a few extra menus in order to achieve that. I suppose that the mics my church has will work when recording there? I'm not sure how great they are, but if the recorder and they are compatible I can always give it a try.

Thank you again so much! I can't wait to get my recorder and start working with it.

_________________
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.

Felix Mendelssohn


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 Post subject: Recorder
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:28 am 
Quote:
Thank you again so much! I can't wait to get my recorder and start working with it.


It seems you have purchased a recorder already. For people who are still considering a recorder, If you have looked at the Zoom H2, Zoom H4, and the M-Audio Microtrack II but you are discouraged about the price, I have an audio recorder that you might consider. This recorder is the I-River E100.

Quick run through of the pros and cons

    Pros:

    built-in audio recorder is very good, is very sensitive (you better record your piano in a soundproof room!)

    expandable memory (micro sd cards)

    external line-in female jack for optional external microphone, or external mixer, piano line-out...

    Cheap (about $70)

    Cons:

    No real-time recording level meter

    records to files with .wma extensions (you need to re-encode file to mp3 in an audio editor)

    you are not given great control for rec level sensitivity (there is about 2 settings, low or high)

    menu navigation is clunky, not smooth like the touch technology of apple products.


there you have it! Hope this helps. The Iriver E-100-- a recorder that is cheap that will give you 'good' audio for recording your piano pieces. I use to have this recorder but I lost it on vacation and I think i might get a different recorder now like an H4 or an edirol.


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:31 am 
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Posts: 224
George,

We corresponded about Steinway D's sometime back at PW, so I hope you remember me! :D

Thanks for the great post about the M audio unit. I'm in the same boat as Sarah was last summer. :D I was considering a Zoom H4n, but you've sold me on a cheaper unit that appears to me to have more to go on, particularly in the area of eventually adding pro quality mics. I eventually would love to be able to make recordings as nice as Rachfan's, so I gotta start somewhere!

Cheers!

~H

PS — This thing has mics in it already, right?

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Horowitzian


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:24 am 
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Location: Boston
Hello Horowitzian! Of course I remember you. Everything you said was true about finding D's. I don't want to hijack Sarah's thread, so I'll PM you soon...

Sarah and Horowitzian, did you get the MicrotrackII yet? My recommendation is to avoid using the included electret mics as I was reminded how boomy they sound. The most bang for the buck are a pair of Shure KSM 137 or KSM 141 mics - they're copies of the Schoeps CMC64 and the CMC65 mics which cost 5x as much. The German engineered MBHO mics with transformer body and omni or wide-cardiod capsule is another great choice. (If interested, I can let you know more about them). Let me know what body-capsule combo will work if you're interested. The beauty of the MicrotrackII is the fact that it uses full 48V phantom power for those nice condenser mics of your choice.

Over the weekend, I was trying out a D at Steinway in Boston with the included tiny electret mic and you can hear how boomy they sound. It wasn't conducive for the occasion, so I didn't lug all my gear, nor did I practice (as you can tell), nor bring any music. I was just there to compare a D with my B in sound quality. Here are a few excerpts from my 2hour session... BTW, last time I practiced these 2 pieces were years ago... :P or :( is more like it!

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


Last edited by 88man on Fri Feb 26, 2010 4:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:04 pm 
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No I haven't gotten around to anything yet. Too much other stuff going on just now. :x Thanks for the mic recommendations though! I'll check them out. Any info you can provide will be most helpful; however, I have a feeling whatever gives the best bang for the buck will be my first choice! :D

Give me a chance to listen to those recordings. You are also more than welcome to PM. :)

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Horowitzian


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:53 am 
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Location: Boston
PM sent.

If the piano is good, you should get great sound. However, don't skimp on room treatment, as this can significantly improve the sound quality. If you're good at DIY, I can give you ideas to make your own acoustic panels - Simple Simon and cheap! I'll put some more ideas together for everyone...

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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: Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:01 pm 
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88man wrote:
Sarah and Horowitzian, did you get the MicrotrackII yet? My recommendation is to avoid using the included electret mics as I was reminded how boomy they sound. The most bang for the buck are a pair of Shure KSM 137 or KSM 141 mics - they're copies of the Schoeps CMC64 and the CMC65 mics which cost 5x as much. The German engineered MBHO mics with transformer body and omni or wide-cardiod capsule is another great choice. (If interested, I can let you know more about them). Let me know what body-capsule combo will work if you're interested. The beauty of the MicrotrackII is the fact that it uses full 48V phantom power for those nice condenser mics of your choice.

Over the weekend, I was trying out a D at Steinway in Boston with the included tiny electret mic and you can hear how boomy they sound. It wasn't conducive for the occasion, so I didn't lug all my gear, nor did I practice (as you can tell), nor bring any music. I was just there to compare a D with my B in sound quality. Here are a few excerpts from my 2hour session... BTW, last time I practiced these 2 pieces were years ago... :P or :( is more like it!


Hi George! Yes, I bought the Microtrack II last fall after you recommended it, and I'm very happy with it. It was well worth the little bit extra. Thank you so much for the mics recommendation - I've been thinking about investing in some condenser mics next year (right now I'm making do with a Sony condenser t-mic). I'd love to hear more about the Shure or MBHO mics. I don't quite understand what you mean by body-capsule combo, though... :oops:

Thank you for the sound samples, too. BTW, that was a gorgeous piano - I could listen to the bass all day long! :D

_________________
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.

Felix Mendelssohn


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:31 am 
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Posts: 224
Good to see it has good references, because it's pretty much what I've decided on. However, the price of good condenser mics (like the KSM141) is pretty steep! :shock: Of course, Neumann is much higher, but still. I suppose it is a necessary investment.

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Horowitzian


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 6:30 am 
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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. :)

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Horowitzian


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:51 am 
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Location: Boston
Hi Sarah, thanks for the comments. Ah, it's only because of those last 6 notes or so in the bass that I find the D so alluring... It's intoxicating!

Quote:
I don't quite understand what you mean by body-capsule combo.

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.

If you were intent on the MBHO mics, this would be the recommended set up:
MBP648 body (with transformer)
MBC KA 100 LK (Linear Omni) or MBC KA 300 NB (Wide-Cardiod) Capsule pair

http://www.mbho.de/t1.htm
http://www.atlasproaudio.com/mbho.html

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/KSM141ST/

Good Luck and let me know if you have questions!

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


Last edited by 88man on Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:22 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:56 am 
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Location: Boston
Quote:
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!

_________________
"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: Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:11 am 
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88man wrote:
Quote:
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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Horowitzian


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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!

_________________
"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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Posts: 301
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:

_________________
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.

Felix Mendelssohn


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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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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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Posts: 468
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 267 times
Josephson C42.mp3 [3.27 MiB]
Downloaded 258 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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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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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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 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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Posts: 468
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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Location: France
[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 269 times
MK-012, 35 dB gain, -6 dB @100Hz.mp3 [849.31 KiB]
Downloaded 259 times
DSCF0761.JPG
DSCF0761.JPG [ 82.86 KiB | Viewed 2930 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 2922 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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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:21 am 
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Hi Maric,

yes the proximity effect likely occurs in this case, despite the mics are about 1 m off the soundboard. It is much less with other mics, even in figure-of-eight setting, even with other ribbons (Beyer M160 and M130). The impedance shall be 300 ohms since they are recent (Millenium edition) and that is the value currently given by Coles in their data sheet. But their sensitivity is significantly higher than their -65 dB specification, closer to -58 dB according to their output level compared to the Oktava.

I'm not in a hurry for a new mic but I am interested by any good one, historical, current or future. :)

I'm not from any school, ribbon, SD or LD. I test... Some of my recordings here have been made with LD mics: Beethoven Op. 27 no.2 1rst movement, Schubert's Hungarian melody and Der Leierrmann.

Currently I'm interested in SDs placed close to the strings. I think it's a very suitable solution for home recording because there is nearly no concern with the room sound, which is most often poor in a normal house. As you said, the low ceiling is the first limitation.

What do you think of the attached sample ? The mic placement is shown in the attached picture. There is a bit of digital reverberation for a more natural acoustic image of the instrument.

Cheers,
Didier


Attachments:
DSCF0774.JPG
DSCF0774.JPG [ 74.84 KiB | Viewed 984 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:14 pm 
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Didier wrote:
Hi Maric,

yes the proximity effect likely occurs in this case, despite the mics are about 1 m off the soundboard. It is much less with other mics, even in figure-of-eight setting, even with other ribbons (Beyer M160 and M130).


Because of the particular construction the proximity in 4038 can be noticable as far as 2m away, so you will need to use low cut there.

Quote:

Currently I'm interested in SDs placed close to the strings. I think it's a very suitable solution for home recording because there is nearly no concern with the room sound, which is most often poor in a normal house. As you said, the low ceiling is the first limitation.

What do you think of the attached sample ? The mic placement is shown in the attached picture. There is a bit of digital reverberation for a more natural acoustic image of the instrument.


I think the close miking can be fine for Jazz or pop, where sound attack is important. For the classical I much prefer the blend of the direct and reflected from the open lid sound and to me this recording sounds too "pointy", without that blend and sense of air/atmosphere. I don't think the digital reverb can make up those natural qualities. Very often, it is easier and might be a better idea to accept the imperfections of the room than trying to add into the recording what is not there. If the room is acoustically not good I think it is time to invest into acoustical treatment--it will make much more difference than spending the same money on buying better equipment.

Best, M


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2010 10:31 am 
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Thank you Marik for your listening and your comment. I was trying to get the sharp attacks that I hear in many modern classical piano recordings. But I think that you may be right.

I'm not ready, and anyway would not be allowed, to transform my living room in studio. I could possibly put bass traps in the room corner where is the piano, but certainly nothing on the ceiling.

A possible advantage of LD is that at close miking the sound is less peaky than from SD. I did another take with LDs a bit further away just outside the piano. I think it's better.


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 Post subject: Re: Zoom H2
PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:16 pm 
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Didier wrote:
Thank you Marik for your listening and your comment. I was trying to get the sharp attacks that I hear in many modern classical piano recordings. But I think that you may be right.

I'm not ready, and anyway would not be allowed, to transform my living room in studio. I could possibly put bass traps in the room corner where is the piano, but certainly nothing on the ceiling.

A possible advantage of LD is that at close miking the sound is less peaky than from SD. I did another take with LDs a bit further away just outside the piano. I think it's better.


For less than perfect room conditions I prefer MS. Mathematically it is equal to XY, but has a few major advantages: 1) The "M" is pointed directly to the source, eliminating most of the room influence, 2) Later you can manipulate with the "S" channel separately--use an EQ, reverb, etc, removing resonances and peakiness, and adjusting the "room" sound, 3) Change the width of the stereo image to your liking in the post production, and 4) The microphone positioning is somewhat less critical, but still generally, in most of the cases I prefer at least 1.5-2m away, somewhere between a stick and beginning of the curve.

For the "S" I use ribbons only, which have much better fig.8 pattern and limited directivity in the vertical plane, eliminating a lot of ceiling and floor reflections. Also, their (generally) limited top frequency response helps to eliminate room "ringing".

Since you have two 4038 I would not be afraid to try Blumlein either--something what ribbons do a marvelous job. Each room is different, but with the right mic technique and right choice of microphones it is always possible to get a decent sound even in a very bad one.

Best, M


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