R/E/P Community

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:


Author Topic: You Want Your Mic Warm Or Accurate?  (Read 2506 times)

Offline klaus

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1556
You Want Your Mic Warm Or Accurate?
« on: July 25, 2016, 01:28:22 pm »
Is there really a choice between accurate (mostly FET/transistor) or warm (tube) condenser mics?

From recent forums posts:
   
   “Personally, I tend to prefer FET or transistor mics, as I want clarity rather than color (as I record classical music mainly)”
   
   "FET mics also have their fans due to the faster sound and more defined nuance capture. What is warm and rich in a tube mic       
   can often be clear and more defined in its FET counterpart.”



If we follow that logic, the mic that renders the musical performance accurately, and with “nuance capture" should therefore give greater sensual satisfaction to the listener.

But the vast majority of those who can afford any type of microphone do not choose mics advertised as "accurate".
If there is no link between a seemingly “accurate” sounding mic and high aural satisfaction, why would so many choose mics that are not "accurate"?

I suspect mics described as accurate produce just as much or more of artifacts than "warm" ones, but they show their deficiencies in ways that are harder to pinpoint. "Accurate" mics may just lead the listener to an intellectualized detour from the path towards greater sensual satisfaction and connection to the music. They may be emphasizing certain features of the musical envelope, highlighting individual instruments and their tonalities, without rendering the connective tissue, the "gestalt" that makes the music come alive and opens us up emotionally (all very hard and awkward to explain with words).

One definition of a superior microphone would be: the listener should be able to effortlessly connect performance to ear, to heart. Microphones used in that pursuit must deliver high emotional, not intellectual, resolution and detail; they must avoid the thought machine.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 11:45:30 pm by klaus »
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Offline AusTex64

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 73
  • Real Full Name: Robert Mokry
Re: The False Choice Between Accurate and Colorful
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2016, 08:42:46 pm »
Just faced this dilemma on a lead vocal I tracked with a CS-1 and CS-4. They both sounded great. Even though I really liked the silkiness of the CS-1 on this very good male vocalist, I had to go with the CS-4 simply because it's more forward midrange allowed understanding the words better on that track with this particular singer. Even though I preferred the tone of the CS-1 track. And yes, I tried EQ to get the midrange like the CS-4, but it never equalled it.

For me, it's paramount to stay 100% focused on the song and getting the emotion and meaning across the best I can with the tools at hand. What tone I prefer is much farther down the list. I serve the song, whether as a player, engineer or producer. Whatever combo of tools will accomplish that best is the best choice. And sometimes, the mic and signal path that accomplish that can be VERY surprising!

Offline J.J. Blair

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 130
Re: You Want Your Mic Accurate Or Colorful?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2016, 08:10:33 pm »
Klaus, didn't you and I once discuss that there's a reason that we don't have records with measurement mics? 

The idea that phase shift or distortion is always bad is a tone-deaf argument, literally.  Not to mention, I find that tube mics are more forgiving when they run out of headroom, and as you have prove over and over again, FETs are rarely biased properly in solid state mics, causing not the most pleasant of distortion qualities.  And as far as my favorite capsules go, it's usually the phase shift that appeals to me. 

Offline klaus

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1556
Re: You Want Your Mic Accurate Or Colorful?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2016, 09:50:29 pm »
I have an exceedingly hard time engaging with anyone who, when describing an audio component's characteristics, uses the the word "accurate". Once the descriptive territory is occupied by that word, any further arguing seems futile.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2016, 03:01:43 am by klaus »
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Offline Mickeyrouse

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 25
  • Real Full Name: Mickey Rouse
Re: You Want Your Mic Warm Or Accurate?
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2016, 05:23:28 pm »
"Accurate", while a nice idea is most likely an unknown, and at best subjective anyway. What are the standards for " accuracy" anyway? Like so much other blah-blah, it is merely another pseudo technical usage to justfy why we like (or don't like)any given sound- speakers, mics, EQ'S, compressors, preamps, my wife's voice.......

Offline klaus

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1556
Re: You Want Your Mic Warm Or Accurate?
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2016, 05:53:39 pm »
When asked what defines "accurate", most defer to measurements and specifications (frequency response, level of distortion, phase, etc.) though no one can convincingly correlate which of any of these specifications may be responsible for greater or lower "accuracy".  Does flat response to a sine wave input indicate greater accuracy?

The type of specs which could tell us what we hear in terms of getting closer or further away from the musical event through a the choice of microphone have not been defined or discovered yet.

One of the reasons why this may never be achieved: microphones are rather primitive devices of approximation to our hearing. Witness the latest discoveries in the field of hearing loss: the 'cocktail party effect'. This describes the ability (and difficulty, increasing with age) to filter out conversation or other desirable acoustic information from background noise. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418135045.htm)

What helps reduce the effect, and directional hearing in general, is also how our outer ear and the ear canal are shaped- sounds from different source points arrive at different times at the membrane, allowing three-dimensional hearing and discrimination by the brain.

These are just two examples to show how difficult of a job a simple membrane/backplate capsule system is to convert acoustic energy. And we haven't even touched on the electronic processing...
« Last Edit: August 18, 2016, 09:07:31 pm by klaus »
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Offline soapfoot

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 225
  • brad allen williams
Re: You Want Your Mic Warm Or Accurate?
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2016, 01:41:32 am »
One thing I feel I've noticed--

Two microphones that measure very similarly on-axis under measurement conditions can sound and perform subjectively QUITE differently in real world use.

One of the big things, I think, is the aggregate of off-axis characteristics. Bleed from an off-axis source into a good microphone like a U87 (as one example) will usually sound quite acceptable, and the spill will often (assuming proper polarity relationships and sensible placement) even be an asset to the overall sound of the source causing the spill when signals are combined.

Even when an inferior microphone performs acceptably on-axis in the free field, often when distance is increased (increasing the proportion of off-axis room reflections), or when other sources are spilling into the mic from off-axis, the difference can be drastic.

On-axis frequency response is near-useless to me when it comes to determining a microphone's suitability for a given source, and that's often the only measurement provided.

Offline Jim Williams

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 572
Re: You Want Your Mic Warm Or Accurate?
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2016, 11:34:08 am »
Microphones are just tools. Like any tool, there is a time, place and application for all of them. Without delving into the protoplasm of subjective analysis, a good mechanic will have all the tools available to perform any job.

The term "accuracy" is also subjective as some assign the meaning to be anything from subjectively pleasant to total realism. One man's accurate is another man's colored.

I perfer the term "neutral" as that seems to satisfy most for describing audio gear with little or no "flavoring" of the signal.

To that end I prefer the sonics of live acoustic instruments played in an acoustically pleasant space, sans all microphones and electronic amplification. That is what I refer to as "neutral" sound. While most left in this remaining industry select a certain "recorded sound" result, I prefer microphones that will deliver a closer representation of that live experience. That I've found is the most challanging aspect of recording, designing electrical audio equipment that can duplicate the live experience. It is a worthwhile pursuit as many of the colored options have already been well explored