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R/E/P => Klaus Heyne's Mic Lab => Topic started by: klaus on June 05, 2017, 12:49:52 pm

Title: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on June 05, 2017, 12:49:52 pm
Can we really make a distinction between “colored” and “accurate” microphones? Who decides what mic falls into what category, and on what basis?

Proponents invariably define an “accurate” mic as one that does not add to or take away from, or in any other way alter the musical event: what goes in comes back out, exactly and precisely.

I think the premise that such a microphone currently exists is false. "Accurate" means that no audible or measurable difference could ever be claimed between brands and models, because, by definition, any “accurate” mic you chose would sound exactly like the next, given the same polar pattern. 

The reality looks different. Some like the sound of one mic they believe is 'accurate'. Others like the sound of a different mic, with the same claim of accuracy. But if there is a 'sound' (i.e. color), which one then is accurate?

It’s frustrating to read discussions of the term 'accurate' in forum posts, because quasi-scientific arguments are used to prove something that, in my opinion, is not currently provable, given the available (and rather primitive) parameters available to quantify data related to sound.

End (or start) of discussion...

Update: post #50 is brilliant, and I have copied it here, for those who do not have the time or patience to read all the others:

"Good sound" is not (for me) an objective that gets completed, but rather a lifelong pursuit of a feeling. I hope that each record I make is better (read: more emotionally-resonant) than the last, for the rest of my career. I doubt I will ever feel like that mission has been wholly and indisputably accomplished. In that sense, there is no "ballpark."

And much like there's no objective metric to determine the "best guitar player," I feel there's no objective metric (or set of metrics) that can meaningfully determine the "best (read: 'most accurate') microphone."

Because things which can be measured are almost always relatively unimportant in the context of work designed foremost to move someone emotionally.

For example: There are many people who can jump higher, run faster, have higher IQs, and have more symmetrical facial features than I. My wife may even know some of those people, but she loves me. Why? Emotion is profoundly illogical. Those objective metrics have a laughably-poor correlation to why my wife might've fallen in love with me. Broadly speaking, to contrive to explain an emotional response in terms of available objective metrics is folly. For one thing, it opens us up to the cognitive biases of anchoring/focalism, the availability heuristic, ambiguity effect and the base-rate fallacy, among others. Simply put: most of what moves us emotionally cannot be measured, and that puts us at risk of over-emphasizing things which can, when making judgments.

And so it is with microphones. If I listen to a recording of a great vocalist on a great U47 and instantly feel an emotional connection to the performance--more than the same performance into a microphone that measures quieter, flatter, more extended-- then which do I choose?

Do I choose the person with the higher IQ who runs faster? Or do I choose the partner with whom I've fallen in love?

Not everything that matters can be justified through empirical means. This is especially so in matters of emotion--and my goal with creating or capturing music is always to elicit within the listener an emotional response.


Brad Allen Williams

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Jim Williams on June 06, 2017, 11:37:40 am
Until a microphone can duplicate the locational sensing of the human ear none of them are even remotely accurate. A person with only one working ear can point and determine a sound's location easily in a 360 degree field.

At this point of microphone design we are at the same point as the romantic painters were in the 17th century before the advent of modern photography. Yes, those paintings are very emotionally pleasing to look at but are not in any sense accurate.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: soapfoot on June 13, 2017, 11:34:50 am
Even if you isolate one variable-- say "frequency response"-- invariably, other variables creep in.

One microphone might be "perfectly flat" in an anechoic chamber directly on-axis at a distance of 1m, but what happens when you're 90 degrees off-axis? What happens when you're 10 cm away, or 20m away?
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on August 01, 2017, 12:32:51 am
Well like any other measuring tool, mics are accurate within certain tolerances and limits, but the key is understanding those limits to produce very accurate results.

I suspect at least some of the distrust of mics as accurate comes from ignorance rather than knowledge. In the field of  acoustic measurement, there have been extraordinarily accurate mics around, such as from B and K, for many decades. Of course there are trade offs, such as frequency response vs S/N, and directionality vs proximity effect and polar pattern linearity, but the skilled person knows these limitations and carefully works within them.

Tim 
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on August 01, 2017, 03:30:15 am
If what you say were correct, why don't more people use B&K/DPA mics? Their static specs are certainly hard to beat: s/n and frequency linearity are exemplary.
Yet, they are not considered "musical" by most artists, music engineers and producers, and rarely find usage in recording studios.

What may be missing here?
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on August 01, 2017, 04:49:27 am
Part of what's missing is perhaps a common understanding of what we mean by terms.

So what makes  a microphone  "musical" or "non musical"? What is meant by these terms in relation to mics or indeed any audio gear?

Tim

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on August 01, 2017, 10:32:33 am
I already stated in my opening post that the term "accurate" is problematic, judging from the success, or lack of, of mics that claim to be accurate.

So, if such mic does not really exist, maybe a term like "musical" comes closer to what we ultimately envision* - a mic that delivers music's emotional content to the listener, connecting in ways "accurate" mics seem not to be able to.

* maybe I am in the minority here. But I still try to engage my right brain hemisphere when listening to music, rather than intellectually analyzing what I hear in the moment I hear it.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on August 01, 2017, 06:42:55 pm
People are musical - some more than others. But microphones? Speaker cables?

 
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: soapfoot on August 02, 2017, 10:54:28 am
People are musical - some more than others. But microphones? Speaker cables?

The commonly-measured factors do matter. But I think it's folly to assume we can derive the gestalt of a device by these factors alone.

Two cars can share the same top speed, horsepower and torque, but still offer different driving experiences. One might be enjoyable to drive while the other is less so, and the specifications alone would likely struggle to explain why.

It's important, I think, to acknowledge that microphones aren't strictly documentarian-- they are, in some sense, a tool for creating art (just like guitars or pianos). This remains true even when recording music in the most literal way.

If I'm recording a classical piano recital, my goal is to give to the listener the sense, as near as possible, that they're in the hall with the performer enjoying the concert in person. Since recording technology is still so far from replicating live performance in an indistinguishable manner, sometimes the non-literal is relied upon to help bring the illusion closer to the subjective ideal. This is where recording becomes an art that relies upon science, rather than science, strictly speaking.

And in art--even that art which relies upon science--a subjective impression (i.e. "this microphone sounds more musical to me") is certainly admissible. In fact, I'd argue that a keen grasp of the subjective is a big part of what separates a "skilled and experienced expert" from a "person with some training and equipment."
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on August 02, 2017, 12:46:37 pm
Well said, and to the point. Thanks!
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on August 03, 2017, 12:38:58 am

...And in art--even that art which relies upon science--a subjective impression (i.e. "this microphone sounds more musical to me") is certainly admissible.

 Sure it's admissible but to me an isolated comment like "this microphone sounds more musical to me" communicates merely that "I like what I'm hearing".

BTW enjoyed your guitar playing on "More than you know"  "Steppin' Out" and "Sly".

Tim
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on August 03, 2017, 03:46:16 am
Communicating "merely" that you like what you're hearing- not enough?
You think there's more? If so, what is it and what mic transports it?
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on August 03, 2017, 04:21:37 am
You mentioned musicians, producers, engineers considering flat mics - and you specifically mentioned B & K and DPA mics - not "musical".
But they would probably happily use a KM184 in certain situations where neutrality is considered important and the acoustics allow. As I understand it, the KM184's response  would be similar to that of a 1/2" omni  B & K measurement mic. What would be the difference in your opinion?

 
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: BluegrassDan on September 03, 2017, 06:08:04 pm
Who wants to hear a singer's every slobber, lip smack, and snot bubble afforded by an "accurate" mic and/or "transparent" preamp? Microphones are best when they represent the capture of a musical performance in a pleasing way.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on September 04, 2017, 09:36:11 am
Is  there a mic out there which is insensitive to "slobbers",  "lip smacks" and "snot bubbles" but let all the "musicality" through? Now that's one "intelligent" microphone.  What's its make and model number?
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Jim Williams on September 04, 2017, 11:23:47 am
If those natural sounds are so offensive, no one would have bothered singing until modern processing electronics were available.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on September 04, 2017, 12:00:36 pm
(...) As I understand it, the KM184's response would be similar to that of a 1/2" omni  B & K measurement mic. What would be the difference in your opinion?

The difference may be between truth and myth. Can you cite a source for your 'understanding'?
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: David Satz on September 24, 2017, 04:40:02 pm
In addition, the B & K measurement microphone is a pressure transducer with an omnidirectional pickup pattern, while the KM 184 is about 50% a pressure-gradient transducer and only about 50% a pressure transducer, resuting in a cardioid pickup pattern. No one would ever mistake the one microphone for the other, I think, even if the free-field, 0-degree frequency response of both microphones was identical (which I'm rather certain it is not).

--best regards
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 08, 2017, 08:50:12 pm
In addition, the B & K measurement microphone is a pressure transducer with an omnidirectional pickup pattern, while the KM 184 is about 50% a pressure-gradient transducer and only about 50% a pressure transducer, resuting in a cardioid pickup pattern...

 My apologies, I meant the omni capsule of course, the KM183. 
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 08, 2017, 09:07:14 pm
If what you say were correct, why don't more people use B&K/DPA mics? Their static specs are certainly hard to beat: s/n and frequency linearity are exemplary.
Yet, they are not considered "musical" by most artists, music engineers and producers, and rarely find usage in recording studios.

What may be missing here?

Perhaps that measurement mics are calibrated (and that may mean hand selected samples) to a very strict standard, with something like a frequency response accurate within 0.3db. That will cost the company and therefore the customer more money. For audio work that sort of accuracy isnt normally required. Of course the same company could also market essentially the same mics but without such stringent specs. I cant be sure. Hard to find such information on the net.

Certainly cardioid mics are often  more desirable in an audio recording vs omnis and especially in PA situations. But as we know in this case, some  accuracy is traded off for the more useful cardioid type pattern with its selected rejection of unwanted sounds and less feedback susceptibility. This seems to reinforce the first point that in audio recording situations, some accuracy trade off is acceptable where it wouldnt be for strict measurement requirements.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: soapfoot on November 10, 2017, 11:34:41 am
Perhaps that measurement mics are calibrated (and that may mean hand selected samples) to a very strict standard, with something like a frequency response accurate within 0.3db.

The thing is, when discussing such a calibration against a reference, we must (at a minimum) answer the following questions:

"at what distance?"
"at what angle of incidence?

And when we do answer these questions, we must also understand the limited scope and relevance of the information presented.

If a microphone is calibrated to be "accurate within 0.3 dB" at, say, 1m directly on-axis, that's not going to be perfectly correlated with its frequency response at 1cm, or 10m, or at 90 degrees off-axis, or even at ten degrees off-axis.

And outside an anechoic chamber, off-axis coloration will always contribute to the sound of a microphone. Even if a microphone measures completely "flat" in all typical tests, it's still possible that it may perform poorly for music recording.

Subjectively, I've found off-axis characteristics to be one place where some of the better microphones really "earn their stripes," for me. Bleed/spill/leakage from off-axis sources into something like a U87 or U67 is less-often objectionable to me than spill into a lesser microphone, even if the on-axis characteristic of the lesser microphone is acceptable.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 10, 2017, 04:08:03 pm
 We were discussing omni mics.  An omni DPA 1/2" SDC and the omni 1/2" SDC measurement mic equivalent will share an essentially identical polar response. The only difference between the two mics will be that the measurement mic is calibrated to a  higher degree of  accuracy. Again, will that higher degree of accuracy make it less "musical"? If so, how? What causes the alleged qualitative difference to appear?

On your last point about the desirability of well behaved off axis response in say a cardioid mic I totally agree, but how does that relate  to the claim that a measurement mic is by definition  less "musical" - whatever that means? Omni mics of course have a better behaved polar response than cardioid types, but regardless, when comparing otherwise identical omnis with omnis  it's of course irrelevent.

I suggested two reasons why measurement mics are less common in non measurement applications. You didnt acknowledge or address either point but made a point about polar patterns which is true but seems irrelevent to the point being discussed.

Tim
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on November 10, 2017, 07:13:03 pm
I can think of an issue that could make measurement mics inherently unsuitable for music recording: transducer and electronics that are customized for an ultra-linear rendering of single, sequentially fed sine waves.

You get that kind of response by using extensive corrective electronic and acoustic measures, which typically move the overall response of such a mic away from simple but musical (and decidedly not linear!) circuitry and capsule geometry.

The all-time greats still widely used today to record music do not measure well at all; look at a graph of an original ELA M251, for example: nothing but valleys and peaks, and audible differences from one mic to the next. But what seems to slip through quite nicely despite such gross non-linearity (or because of it) is the music.

Or to put it simply: it seems that the more complicated a microphone's circuitry, the less musical. Somehow non-linear musicality trumps the ultra-linear response of measurement mics.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 10, 2017, 08:43:10 pm
I can think of an issue that could make measurement mics inherently unsuitable for music recording: transducer and electronics that are customized for an ultra-linear rendering of single, sequentially fed sine waves.

Again I refer you to the earlier point.  Frequency response  over the audible range within a fraction of a db tolerance has been achieveable in  measurement mics for decades - and without external corrective EQ.  That sort of linearity is not normally needed for music and voice recording - but will hardly make recordings made with such a mic "less musical". Some people do indeed use measurement mics for recording. I personally think they are wasting money on a level of technical accuracy that nobody will appreciate just listening to music.

So  using a measurement mic and amp combination that has even more accuracy (ultra linear) at certain spot frequencies for a music recording would be even more pointless, and even more  needless expense.

Some mics are more suited to different tasks. The ELA M251 might have some roughness in response (I havent seen a graph or used one) but I suspect it's a very useable mic not because of some  roughness in response but in spite of it. And the response wont be very rough or nobody would use it for high quality work.

Then there's the issue of response graphs that have been "corrected" or "smoothed" We could discuss that separately...

And why  only talk about condenser mics? If roughness of response made a mic more "musical" then high quality condenser mics would not have needed inventing. Cheap, garden variety dynamics have bags of non linearity. But we pay more money for an MD441 dynamic which was carefully designed to rival the linearity of a condenser - but doesnt quite get there.

I dont agree that the more complicated the mic's design the less musical. The old AKG D202 had the unusual complication of two transducers. The ELA M250 had two backplates I believe. The U87 has two diaphragms. The new Shure KSM 8 stage dynamic mic is a complicated and more expensive design which achieves pretty flat response, the best absence of proximity effect and smoothest polar pattern in such a mic ever. Before it the whole range of EV "D" mics which aimed for similar performance in a rugged package but which also entailed a more complex design.

The wise old design rule is "as simple as possible - but no simpler"...





   
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Michael O. on November 10, 2017, 10:18:07 pm
I have to agree with KH here: very generally speaking simple proves best. Klaus is talking about simplicity in circuitry, and the EV variable-d design that was mentioned could hardly be more elegant in that regard (no circuitry). They're simply a transducer, a connector, and sometimes a transformer. The vents that create the pattern and avoid the typical proximity effect are innovative and clever, but not complex in their implementation. The corrective electronics he refers to is the sort within a (condenser) mic's internal circuitry (e.g. the hi frequency de-emphasis network in a U87).

If you follow this whole thought experiment to its logical conclusions it all becomes moot. Regardless of the accuracy of any given microphone we would have no perfectly accurate way to then output the recorded sound. And if such an accurate playback medium existed we would need an equally well-suited listening environment along the lines of an anechoic chamber to fully appreciate it (with our imperfect and indivually-tuned ears, at that). So, even if our music went from air, to perfect mic, to perfect circuitry and recording medium, and out of a perfect playback system, we would need particular listening conditions to even begin to accurately discern such a signal path.

But ultimately this all comes down to something completely subjective/aesthetics/personal preference. And to generalize, people certainly seem to gravitate toward non-linearity/coloration/roughness in sound.

One final (or maybe initial) consideration is that in this context "accurate" has no determinate definition.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 11, 2017, 12:00:55 am
I have to agree with KH here: very generally speaking simple proves best. Klaus is talking about simplicity in circuitry, and the EV variable-d design that was mentioned could hardly be more elegant in that regard (no circuitry). They're simply a transducer, a connector, and sometimes a transformer. The vents that create the pattern and avoid the typical proximity effect are innovative and clever, but not complex in their implementation. The corrective electronics he refers to is the sort within a (condenser) mic's internal circuitry (e.g. the hi frequency de-emphasis network in a U87).

Hi Michael, I'm  not sure what you are saying here. Are you saying that Neumann made a mistake in using the internal de emphasis in the almost legendary U87 mic? How could it ever have come to be such a highly regarded mic? BTW I didnt know the U87 had internal corrective EQ. Interesting. Which other mics have similar circuitry?

Quote from: Michael O.
If you follow this whole thought experiment to its logical conclusions it all becomes moot. Regardless of the accuracy of any given microphone...

 but "the myth of the accurate microphone " is the topic of the discussion...

Quote from: Michael O.
we would have no perfectly accurate way to then output the recorded sound. And if such an accurate playback medium existed we would need an equally well-suited listening environment along the lines of an anechoic chamber to fully appreciate it (with our imperfect and indivually-tuned ears, at that). So, even if our music went from air, to perfect mic, to perfect circuitry and recording medium, and out of a perfect playback system, we would need particular listening conditions to even begin to accurately discern such a signal path.

Quite and it puts into perspective the obsession some people have with getting just the right microphone, as if microphone accuracy is a fundamental problem, when in practice, the playback and potential for hugely variable listening conditions is far more problematic if fidelity to the source is our standard.

But ultimately this all comes down to something completely subjective/aesthetics/personal preference.
That's certainly a factor but it depends on the weighting we give it. If people's preference was so widely divergent, group listening to live symphony orchestras would be impossible to please most attendees, as it would be for any group listening activity. Unless a person has a moderate to serious hearing impairment there are good general guidelines as to what most people regard as good, listenable sound. Professional cinemas for example are only able to deliver good acceptable sound to most film goers because they are guided by such parameters and indeed there is a long history of this, with ongoing progress and development.

 
Quote from: Michael O.
And to generalize, people certainly seem to gravitate toward non-linearity/coloration/roughness in sound.

With certain sounds, and in certain musical genres yes but not so much in others. Classical music recording has a long tradition of fidelity to the sound of the performed music although there will always be some disagreement as to what constitutes the ideal listening position, balance of instruments, amount of venue reverberation etc, including listening level, which is also related to Fletcher Munson.

Quote from: Michael O.
One final (or maybe initial) consideration is that in this context "accurate" has no determinate definition.

Well if we limit ourselves to the initial topic of the thread: the accuracy of microphones, we might find there are  indeed objective standards and tests that are empirical and repeatable. Once we confuse this aspect with personal subjective preference - which is to some degree true - and the potentially huge variability of real world listening conditions, both of which you mentioned and are certainly true, we have changed topics. Again I thought the question was the accuracy of microphones.

Tim
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: panman on November 11, 2017, 05:16:17 am
Well if we limit ourselves to the initial topic of the thread: the accuracy of microphones, we might find there are  indeed objective standards and tests that are empirical and repeatable. Once we confuse this aspect with personal subjective reference - which is to some degree true - and the potentially huge variability of real world listening conditions, both of which you mentioned and are certainly true, we have changed topics. Again I thought the question was the accuracy of microphones.
Tim

I find this thread has been good so far and good points have been discussed. To me this topic requires a lot of deviations to make any sense at all or how would you make limits to this discussion? Too tight borderlines and what is there to discuss?
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Jim Williams on November 11, 2017, 01:16:48 pm
One should come to the logical conclusion that accurate microphones do not exist at this point of human development.

Measurement microphones are not in any way accurate as to encoding the reality of what a mammal can detect. Like all microphones they are an air pressure to electron converter with many factors of actual hearing left out, like location sensing and the ability to seperate multiple sounds at the same time.

Yes, measurement microphones use the same technology as recording microphones, diaphram, impedance converter and output stage. There are not any "electronics customized for an ultra linear rendering of single, sequentially fed sine waves". No such specialized amplifiers exist, either they have low THD specs or they do not. Amplifiers do not discriminate between differing wave shapes as long as the bandwidth can accomodate all of them.

After 100+ years of microphone development we are really no closer to that goal than we were 100 years ago. Maybe that's why microphone designs from the 1930's have not yet been bested.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 11, 2017, 09:28:44 pm
One should come to the logical conclusion that accurate microphones do not exist at this point of human development.

Hi Jim,

Of course all mics have their limitations. The question then is "accurate to what degree, and for what task?" The mic is part of a  chain. Typically is it the weak link in that  chain,  in what respect(s) and by how much? We'd need to look at specific real life cases.

Quote from: Jim Williams link
Measurement microphones are not in any way accurate as to encoding the reality of what a mammal can detect. Like all microphones they are an air pressure to electron converter with many factors of actual hearing left out, like location sensing and the ability to seperate multiple sounds at the same time.

The human ear  needs a brain to interpret the raw data. When we make a music recording we leave it to the brain of the unknown listener at home to do the interpreting. To compare the microphone with a mammallian ear PLUS the mammalian brain seems unfair and invalid.The ear on its own has the same basic limitation of a  microphone. It cant "interpret" sound.  That's not its job. (although the human ear does incorporate a basic kind of "limiter" but only to protect it from damage from loud sounds but even there I'm not sure whether or not that mechanism is triggered within the ear itself or by a signal from the brain). Again, when we make a music recording we leave it to the brain of the unknown listener at home to do the interpreting.

Quote from: Jim Williams link
After 100+ years of microphone development we are really no closer to that goal than we were 100 years ago. Maybe that's why microphone designs from the 1930's have not yet been bested.

Again not sure which goal you are talking about. If you mean that we still havent artificially created a mammallian ear and brain that does the same job as well I'd agree. But we were discussing just the microphone as a transducer (and I guess the associated preamp) and its accuracy.
Sure the capacitor mic of the 30's is still the basis of modern day high quality mics. That it hasnt been bested by another design is inconclusive. It doesnt prove that it will or wont be bested in future, or in what respects and by how much.  We  dont know. We will only know if or when it happens.
In the meantime  we could discuss the microphones that we do have today...

Tim

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on November 12, 2017, 03:14:40 am
(...) when we make a music recording we leave it to the brain of the unknown listener at home to do the interpreting.

In the field of analyzing any of the five senses, there is no reality outside subjective interpretation. So, objectively, nothing happens acoustically beyond and outside of sound reaching us and having an effect on us.

We continue to TRY correlating sound we hear to sound waves we measure, but that is only valid to the extent that it would allow us to identify specific measurable features of sound waves (like gross frequency anomalies) that we can correlate to dissatisfying sound and try to correct and improve it: listening is the corrective, nothing else.

The idea that certain idealized properties of measurements, like a ruler-flat frequency response, would get us closer to satisfying sound remains unprovable. So far, we can only verify by listening whether manipulating parameter x or y just got us closer to an aurally satisfying experience.

Quote
(...) we were discussing just the microphone as a transducer (and I guess the associated preamp) and its accuracy.

 'Accuracy' of a microphone can only be judged by hearing the musical event live, and comparing how close (accurate) the recording of that event comes to that experience. A determination of accuracy can therefore never be derived from any other (non-sensual) experience or method, see above.

Regarding the relatively primitive nature of microphones, even the best ones, compared to our hearing apparatus, I never get tired of citing this example:

Sitting in an auditorium, and listening to a quiet passage of the orchestra, I can tune out the noise of the person sitting next to me rustling her candy wrapper. If I were listening to a recording of this event with a microphone placed where my ear is, I would be royally annoyed by the disturbance.
The brain can analyze sound waves delivered from the ear's sophisticated pathways, and filter out unwanted noise. The relatively primitive rendering of reality by a microphone does not make this possible.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 13, 2017, 11:16:24 pm

...Regarding the relatively primitive nature of microphones, even the best ones, compared to our hearing apparatus, I never get tired of citing this example:

Sitting in an auditorium, and listening to a quiet passage of the orchestra, I can tune out the noise of the person sitting next to me rustling her candy wrapper. If I were listening to a recording of this event with a microphone placed where my ear is, I would be royally annoyed by the disturbance.
The brain can analyze sound waves delivered from the ear's sophisticated pathways, and filter out unwanted noise. The relatively primitive rendering of reality by a microphone does not make this possible.

To make such a test formally would I suspect be quite complex and challenging. It would have to be planned and executed very carefully at every stage. I notice you say "If I were listening" and "I would", implying you have never actually constructed such a test, let alone carefully sifted the results.  You just seem to assume that if you did, you would get a certain result. In addition, for the test to be more generally valid, it would have to include many subjects, not just yourself.

 If you have indeed conducted such tests formally and with proper rigour I'd be very interested in exactly how you went about it.

As well, I see a basic psychological hurdle with such a test. If people are listening to a live concert and someone makes continuous disturbing  noises in  quiet sections, what do affected listeners do? They often say "shhh". And if the person doesnt take the hint, they say "shhh" again. They can turn around, and glare  at the person. Then if the person still doesnt comply, action may need to be taken by the staff of the venue to formally warn the person or even remove them from the venue.

Whereas when we are listening to a recording of a concert we as a listener have no such control as the event has already happened. We are impotent to do anything about it. We can have no reasonable confidence that the noise will stop. Yes it would be frustrating and I have heard such recordings myself. Far more frustrating than the live situation where at least there's the possibility we can stop the  person from making the annoying noises...

Added to that is the bias of expectation. We are used to listening to professionally made recordings of live concerts where the microphones have been placed to minimise audience noise (except perhaps when the piece ends and carefully placed audience mics are skillfully faded up). That expectation alone could be hard to completely eliminate when listening to a recording made from a microphone placement position that no professional recordist would seriously consider. 

Just because we passionately believe something to be true doesnt make it true. Presumption  is the bane of science and common sense, and far from advancing our knowledge only keeps us in ignorance, I'd suggest.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on November 14, 2017, 02:36:23 am
If you have indeed conducted such tests formally and with proper rigour I'd be very interested in exactly how you went about it.
No I haven't and I don't think I need to, because a similar phenomenon, coughing on recordings, is proof enough for me that it's quite hard to ignore that on a recording, and much easier in a concert hall. Adding interactions with the culprit (glaring or worse) in a live context muddles the picture.

Which leaves me with the question, because I am losing track of what you are trying to communicate in all these lengthy posts of yours: Is there or isn't there an accurate microphone you can buy?
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: sonicdogg on November 14, 2017, 01:08:44 pm
Interesting. Not everyone is able to 'tune out' the offending noisemaker in a live performance setting. I believe it is very much a brain function and at some point a choice by the individual. An example would be when , as a mix engineer, listening 'critically' at certain points of a multi-tracked session and trying to achieve balance, I can 'hear' all the parts but at the same time I am able, by choice, to tune out parts that I'm not engaged with at that moment in time. It doesn't mean they don't exist or are not prevalent, I just choose to ignore them.
 
There isn't a mic that can ignore content as far as I know.
 
Man I love reading this discussion!
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 14, 2017, 03:23:44 pm
Quote from: klaus
...Is there or isn't there an accurate microphone you can buy?

 Accurate for which purpose? Accurate within which limits?

It's like asking "Is human hearing accurate or isnt it?"
Same reply.




Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Jim Williams on November 15, 2017, 12:47:48 pm
Add the fact that everyone's hearing is and measures differently. Finding/setting a baseline is impossible because everyone has a differing baseline.

One man's Neumann is another man's B+K. I would love to see more research and development into this field but ever since the record biz broke the financial incentives have dried up. The current market share is reduced to clones and reproductions of older existing designs. It's MJ doing the moonwalk.

There are new materials to test and new designs to try out. Further down the road they may get the attention they need but at this point recordists are very comfortable with the choices they now have. That's another incentive that is missing.

The search for the mythical accurate microphone will just have to wait a few more decades. I expect the breakthroughs to come from the science and aerospace community, not the remnents of the recording industry.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 15, 2017, 10:28:48 pm
 When someone says that the response of even today's highest fidelity mics is "rough as hell" or that today's mics are "primitive" I ask:

1. Compared to what?
2. What evidence do you have for those claims?
3. How  did (or would) you go about testing those claims?

Tim
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on November 15, 2017, 11:37:34 pm
I did not write the "rough" part. But what I wrote about mics being rather primitive simulations of how we pick up sound, I stand by that. Our ears are sophisticated organs with an ability to discern and process highly complex signals of varying intensity and frequencies with incredibly high resolution, without smear, and three-dimensionally.

Given the choice, wouldn't we all prefer to hear the original source and not the miked copy?

That is not to say that mics are useless. They make up for some of their deficiencies with euphony: enhance or suppress aspects of the original sound, then sprinkle fairy dust over it (ELA M251, U47, etc. etc.)
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 16, 2017, 04:15:33 am
I did not write the "rough" part.

Quite. The "rough" comment was written on another audio forum, coincidentally by a repairer and servicer of microphones.

Quote from: klaus
But what I wrote about mics being rather primitive simulations of how we pick up sound, I stand by that. Our ears are sophisticated organs with an ability to discern and process highly complex signals of varying intensity and frequencies with incredibly high resolution, without smear, and three-dimensionally.

 Yes F. Alton Everest (1989) referred to hearing as "that marvellous sense" and went into detail as to its amazing complexity and ability, while also mentioning some of its limitations.

But as alluded to earlier, a mic is in a way just the equivalent to the mechanical parts of the  human ear: eardrum, hammer, anvil, stirrup, cochlea perhaps. Just like those human parts, a microphone doesnt pretend to  "discern" or "process" sound. It doesnt need to.  We the human listener do that mental interpreting when the signals from the ears reach our even more amazing brains.

Quote from: klaus
Given the choice, wouldn't we all prefer to hear the original source and not the miked copy?

Of course, not to mention actually being there at the live performance and seeing it all before our eyes. I'm greatly looking forward  to being at this year's live Messiah performance with soloists, combined choir and orchestra at our local university's fine  auditorium. Nothing like it.

But  again, where is the evidence that the reproduction from top mics - even from some  cheaper mics- is "relatively primitive"? I welcome it.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: jaykadis on November 16, 2017, 11:05:44 am
The human auditory system is far from perfect, but in fact that does not matter because what we perceive is interpreted by the brain into "hearing" incorporating the system's imperfections. The "accurate" microphone's job is simply to present to the auditory system a minimally altered representation of what an ear would have heard had it been in the place of the microphone. Microphones that create a distinctly imperfect representation are sometimes preferred for musical purposes while those that come closer to transducing the air pressure and velocity changes at the point of measurement into electrical signals would be considered to be more "accurate". Both approaches have their uses.


I am still waiting for a true digital microphone that can convert bulk molecular motions into an electrical signal.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Jim Williams on November 16, 2017, 12:47:08 pm
Any digital based microphone design is limited by the front end that does the electrical conversion of sound pressure waves into an electrical signal. The digitizing comes after, not before the transducer.

Once encoded into an electrical signal, whether analog or digital the problems begin, not end. Then the rest of the system gets to do its destructive influence and removal of any reality that was originally preserved. Speakers are the worst offenders, none of them can approach the THD specs of a well designed microphone. Stick 5~10% THD on top of a low THD signal and it's a wonder we can discern any quality left at all.

In the end, electrical based audio reproduction sucks in it's ability to preserve the "moment". Until something else comes along, it's all we have right now besides the live experience.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: jaykadis on November 16, 2017, 02:15:21 pm
I envision a transducer that quantizes the air movement and force exerted at the molecular level, integrating the individual contributions in the device itself. Materials like graphene might make such a transducer possible, for instance. Thus the digitization becomes part of the transduction itself rather than a subsequent measurement. Clearly, this does not currently exist.

No argument about loudspeakers - they suck no matter how much money you throw at them.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 17, 2017, 05:30:17 am
The human auditory system is far from perfect, but in fact that does not matter because what we perceive is interpreted by the brain into "hearing" incorporating the system's imperfections. The "accurate" microphone's job is simply to present to the auditory system a minimally altered representation of what an ear would have heard had it been in the place of the microphone.

Not that I'm aware of. Mics normally output relatively flat. The human ear's response is not flat. It  has a special response a la the Fletcher Munson curves.  If mics responsed like the ear they would have a pronounced wide band peak centred  around 3 kHz and would sound overly midrange to us. But to take account of this fact, there are "weighting curves" incorporated in sound level meters which approximate how humans perceive sound levels and can be more realistic in some measurement situations.

Mics dont take the place of the ear. 




Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: jaykadis on November 17, 2017, 11:52:10 am
You misunderstand. The "accurate" microphone's job is to present to the ear what it would have received as input if it had been where the microphone was placed.

Unfortunately we also need a loudspeaker to deliver that stimulus to the ear so we're screwed regardless of how good the microphone gets at its job.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: soapfoot on November 17, 2017, 12:20:01 pm
My life got a lot easier (and my recordings got a lot better) when I ditched any illusion of (or aspiration for) "accuracy," and began to just listen and choose the subjectively best option.

The entire goal of recording is good sound. I am confident in my ability to use discretion, experience, and judgment to make that determination. I don't need any number or specification as a cosigner.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on November 17, 2017, 12:22:29 pm
Amen!
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 17, 2017, 03:46:12 pm
You misunderstand. The "accurate" microphone's job is to present to the ear what it would have received as input if it had been where the microphone was placed.
Ah, that's what you meant by "place". Understand now.

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 17, 2017, 04:45:54 pm
My life got a lot easier (and my recordings got a lot better) when I ditched any illusion of (or aspiration for) "accuracy," and began to just listen and choose the subjectively best option.

The entire goal of recording is good sound. I am confident in my ability to use discretion, experience, and judgment to make that determination. I don't need any number or specification as a cosigner.

Yes but how do I know that my subjective listening judgement is at least within ballpark?   These days we can easily put our judgement to the test  by presenting what we consider good sound - or improved sound - to our peers, or even the world.  What do 10 or 10,000  people's experienced ears think of my opinion  of good sound, good recording, good musical balance etc - specifically my audio sample file?

Then it's more than just the private, untestable claim: "I know what my ears tell me." The person  prepared to  submit their audio claims to public scrutiny gains immediate credibility, and useful feedback about their own listening judgements.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on November 17, 2017, 08:15:19 pm
Quote
Yes but how do I know that my subjective listening judgement is at least within ballpark?

In the old days, those aspiring to a career in recording engineering did not get their chance to put their hands on the faders until they were thoroughly educated in the finer points of good balance, good splices and good tea-making.

The next hurdle they faced was whether enough artists, producers, or labels would hire them, so they could actually make a living off discretionary listening.

The next step was, whether enough peers of these engineers would agree that theirs was a damn well-engineered record, deserving a Grammy® for their effort. 

Though the path to becoming a recording engineer has radically changed over the last 10-15 years, success in the profession can still be checked out by listening to recordings universally hailed as tops, then listening to enough of them, until it's going to be self-evident what's a well-recorded piece of music, regardless of the reverb fashion of the moment.

If you do not yet have the confidence to trust your opinion whether a recording is well-engineered, start your listening education. Here, more is really better!
And soon enough you will recognize that "Purple Rain" is a rather poorly engineered album, and "Talking Book" an excellent one, regardless of both of them selling Platinum a few times over, and deservedly somas far as the music goes.

Next, listen to your voice through a TLM103; then, if you can swing it, through a real ELA M251 or any other of the Big Five.

With these kind of experiences under your belt, you will have climbed another rung on the ladder towards recognizing sonic excellence.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 18, 2017, 04:38:29 am

...With these kind of experiences under your belt, you will have climbed another rung on the ladder towards recognizing sonic excellence.
My post was not about me but anybody. That's why I wrote: "The person  prepared to  submit their audio claims to public scrutiny gains immediate credibility..."

Of course it could apply equally to the audio claims of a company.

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on November 18, 2017, 05:16:11 am
This is what you wrote, and to which I responded:
Quote
Yes but how do I know that my subjective listening judgement is at least within ballpark?
.
But now you write:
Quote
My post was not about me but anybody

Referring to 'anybody' makes conversations rather imprecise and impersonal. So if this subject does not pertain to your own subjective listening, why not take a break, and let others chime in?
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: soapfoot on November 18, 2017, 11:56:59 am
Yes but how do I know that my subjective listening judgement is at least within ballpark?   These days we can easily put our judgement to the test  by presenting what we consider good sound - or improved sound - to our peers, or even the world.  What do 10 or 10,000  people's experienced ears think of my opinion  of good sound, good recording, good musical balance etc - specifically my audio sample file?

Then it's more than just the private, untestable claim: "I know what my ears tell me." The person  prepared to  submit their audio claims to public scrutiny gains immediate credibility, and useful feedback about their own listening judgements.

"Good sound" is not (for me) an objective that gets completed, but rather a lifelong pursuit of a feeling. I hope that each record I make is better (read: more emotionally-resonant) than the last, for the rest of my career. I doubt I will ever feel like that mission has been wholly and indisputably accomplished. In that sense, there is no "ballpark."

And much like there's no objective metric to determine the "best guitar player," I feel there's no objective metric (or set of metrics) that can meaningfully determine the "best (read: 'most accurate') microphone."

Because things which can be measured are almost always relatively unimportant in the context of work designed foremost to move someone emotionally.

For example: There are many people who can jump higher, run faster, have higher IQs, and have more symmetrical facial features than I. My wife may even know some of those people, but she loves me. Why? Emotion is profoundly illogical. Those objective metrics have a laughably-poor correlation to why my wife might've fallen in love with me. Broadly speaking, to contrive to explain an emotional response in terms of available objective metrics is folly. For one thing, it opens us up to the cognitive biases of anchoring/focalism, the availability heuristic, ambiguity effect and the base-rate fallacy, among others. Simply put: most of what moves us emotionally cannot be measured, and that puts us at risk of over-emphasizing things which can, when making judgments.

And so it is with microphones. If I listen to a recording of a great vocalist on a great U47 and instantly feel an emotional connection to the performance--more than the same performance into a microphone that measures quieter, flatter, more extended-- then which do I choose?

Do I choose the person with the higher IQ who runs faster? Or do I choose the partner with whom I've fallen in love?

Not everything that matters can be justified through empirical means. This is especially so in matters of emotion--and my goal with creating or capturing music is always to elicit within the listener an emotional response.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on November 18, 2017, 01:25:05 pm
Thank you for your brilliant thought. I have copied it into my opening post.
KH
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: panman on November 18, 2017, 03:14:12 pm
Yes Brad, that really was brilliant and well written.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 19, 2017, 06:48:05 am

 ...If I listen to a recording of a great vocalist on a great U47 and instantly feel an emotional connection to the performance--more than the same performance into a microphone that measures quieter, flatter, more extended-- then which do I choose?

Sure, no argument. So why not share it with others? Post comparison files, level matched etc, same performance, and see what others think...

Again, after listening to both, some might prefer the U47 vocal, while others might prefer the one with closer fidelity, and yet others might not even notice a difference, or if they do, arent much bothered by it. Some might just be more interested in the performance, the words, the story of the song, perhaps the emotion in the singer's voice. For them that's the emotional engagement, and they are perhaps indifferent to the sonic issues.

But regardless of whether one file sounds better, worse or indifferent to various listeners, we can be pretty certain that the mic with more fidelity has... more fidelity. Or am I jumping to conclusions here?
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on November 19, 2017, 01:50:43 pm
Your thinking is not clear:
if you upload files (an iffy proposition in the first place, due to, among many other reasons, lack of control of the test conditions by third parties), so that people can judge which of two mics has "more fidelity", the test is meaningless because the test subjects could not hear the original sound source with their ears, to compare which of two mics has the truest (fidel) representation of the original.
No baseline comparator, no test.

What you COULD do, and this would be best done in a controlled acoustic, not sound file, environment: put up two mics, any two, and a statistically significant number of listeners will prefer one of these mics for that specific sound source.

You could then go further and enlarge the test to using the better of two mics on many different sound sources (each time eliminating the worse-sounding one) and you will find that the Big Five end up near or at the top as finalists.

Then you really know what mics most recordists are lusting for, and why. And "fidelity" defined here as most true to one's image of the original source's emotional content will be the winner.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: sonicdogg on November 19, 2017, 02:20:43 pm


Not everything that matters can be justified through empirical means. This is especially so in matters of emotion--and my goal with creating or capturing music is always to elicit within the listener an emotional response.


 This is my new mantra.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 19, 2017, 04:30:45 pm
Your thinking is not clear:

 "Emotional content" is not always easy to pin down, but the irony is, without a certain minimum level of fidelity (in the standard sense of the word) no emotional content will be conveyed. For example for words to be understood. Remove enough treble, and speech become a meaningless mumble. Remove enough of the lows and all your hear are meaningless "sss"s  "fff"s, "t"s etc. Same for musical notes. It becomes very constricted and lifeless. 

Fidelity  has to be "good enough". It doesnt always have to be great. Just good enough for the purpose at hand.  So our telephone system was designed for speech intelligibility. People could also sing into a telephone call to a friend, using, from the strict fidelity point of view, the dreadful sounding standard carbon button microphone and yet the full emotion of that singing could generally be conveyed to the person at the other end.

That's why a term like "emotional content" in the context of comparing otherwise pretty high fidelity mics is I think not very useful. If "emotional content " can be conveyed  well enough over very limited fidelity telephone lines then it brings into question the association of that term with certain  mics. Beyond a certain point, certainly more  fidelity to the live voice will increase, but the "emotional content" has already been conveyed well enough with the much lower fidelity. How can that be?

An ear is just an ear. A mic is just a mic. Both are essentially  transducers.

But "emotion" is a quality of  mind. It is of a far different order.

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on November 19, 2017, 06:13:50 pm
You did not address my specific criticism of your unclear thinking, namely that, without direct and "live" comparator, no fidelity test as you envision is possible.

Then you picked words out of my concluding sentence that garbled my message.
I wrote:

Quote
"fidelity" defined here as most true to one's image of the original source's emotional content will be the winner.

One's IMAGE or memory of the original source's emotional content is the keyword here.
If you don't give the listener the original sound source when comparing a mic, the listener's image or memory of the (absent) original will be the next best source for evaluating a mic.

It's self-evident that a mic which lacks the ability to transmit bare essentials of sound transmission will not be chosen.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 19, 2017, 09:09:21 pm

...It's self-evident that a mic which lacks the ability to transmit bare essentials of sound transmission will not be chosen.

What are these bare essentials of sound transmission?
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: soapfoot on November 19, 2017, 10:15:21 pm
Sure, no argument. So why not share it with others? Post comparison files, level matched etc, same performance, and see what others think...

Should the requisite amount of "time off in my schedule" and the requisite amount of "inclination to further a discussion in an internet forum" ever coincide sufficiently to merit setting up such a properly-controlled experiment, I promise to share the results with you.

I know this answer is unlikely to satisfy at the present moment. I regret this. I do wish you the best of luck in your search for the perfect microphone!
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 20, 2017, 12:55:40 am
Should the requisite amount of "time off in my schedule" and the requisite amount of "inclination to further a discussion in an internet forum" ever coincide sufficiently to merit setting up such a properly-controlled experiment, I promise to share the results with you.

It was hardly a suggestion to do a properly controlled experiment. Just to put some vocal files out there, with  attention to basic things  like level matching, attention to proximity effect, vocalist on axis etc.  Nowhere near a "properly controlled experiment". Please  re-read what I actually wrote.

Quote from: soapfoot
I do wish you the best of luck in your search for the perfect microphone!

No need to. From what I have read of them, I would most happily use any of the listed "big five" mics on for example vocal recording, but lots of other duties as well. So long as they were in good condition, valve not overly noisy etc.
I wonder if you really know, Brad, where I am coming from here. Maybe with a little more time and patience we could come to a common understanding on this.

All the best,
Tim
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Jim Williams on November 20, 2017, 11:27:11 am
If that perfect microphone is ever developed, it will also require a perfect speaker to hear it.

We are closer to perfect microphones than we are to perfect  speakers.

Perhaps an implant will allow us to skip the speaker/hearing stage and feed the signal directly to the brain like Cmdr. Data or Rush Limbough?
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 21, 2017, 09:04:30 am
We are closer to perfect microphones than we are to perfect  speakers.

A lot closer I suspect, and have been for maybe 70 years or more.

What I dont understand in this thread at least is:

1. the ridiculing of accuracy on the one hand...

but then

2.   the praising of mics like the great U47 which from its makers' own words was designed primarily to be accurate. (I can supply the relevent Neumann quotes)

One or the other yes, but, not both. There seems amongst some people almost a fundamental disconnect.  I'm still trying to work out the explanation.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: kludge on November 21, 2017, 09:21:43 am
Well, we can distinguish because microphones that were _designed_ to be accurate, and those that were designed to be deliberately inaccurate.  This creates the interesting category of microphones like the U47 that were designed to be as accurate as possible when they were originally made, but which people like today because of their inaccuracies.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 21, 2017, 10:17:00 am
Yes but even today, their inaccuracies are relatively minor, I'd suggest.

Unfortunately confirmation bias can be very strong in some people. I believe the only way to sort this out is true blind listening tests where people have no idea which mic they are listening to.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Jim Williams on November 21, 2017, 11:12:54 am
Blind listening "tests" are not so blind when you are required to use a less accurate speaker than the mic is under test. Then add more errors from the power amps, converters or preamps, cabling, room, etc.

It's like trying to push down a floating ping-pong ball with your thumb.

"Two steps forward and one step back" ~Johnny Winter
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 21, 2017, 04:19:09 pm
Exactly. Michael O first raised the subject in this thread. The accuracy weak link/bottleneck is the playback, with the distortions of speakers and  rooms first by a large margin over amps, converters and cables etc. Not just in a blind listening test but any playback.

So again, why the focus on the much smaller accuracy weaknesses of the mic, and then paying big money for a barely "character" mic whose effect is swallowed up in the far more "characterful" playback.

To minimise the playback losses in blind listening to one mic, we can  listen on good quality headphones, which also removes the contribution of the room. For critical listening tasks many people do use quality headphones.
 
But on one point I differ, Jim. The defects of the playback, adding its own distortions, do not make the blind listening test less blind. They make it more blind, or deaf, by blurring away subtle differences. Another reason why many listeners dont want to subject themselves to blind listening tests when knowing what piece of gear being listening to results in so much more confident opinions. ;)

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: soapfoot on November 21, 2017, 11:20:25 pm
Let's clear something up here--

I don't like the U47/U67/U87/etc "because of their inaccuracies."

I like them because they sound good.

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on November 22, 2017, 04:08:55 pm
What I dont understand in this thread at least is:

1. the ridiculing of accuracy on the one hand...

but then:

2.   the praising of mics like the great U47 (...)

One or the other yes, but, not both. There seems amongst some people almost a fundamental disconnect.  I'm still trying to work out the explanation.

MY explanation since the start of this conversation had been:
Selling a mic as "accurate", whether doing so fifty years ago or today, is misleading. There are no accurate mics as long as there is no agreement which of them is most accurately representing the sound source as we hear it with our ears.

At best, the inaccurate but euphemistic additions and subtractions that mics like any of the Big Five deliver, will deliver to the listener the perceived musicality of, and emotional connection to the live performance.

Again, taking subjective perception out of the discussion is fallacy, as long as only subjective perception tells us in the end what truly matters in a mic.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 23, 2017, 07:37:17 am
MY explanation since the start of this conversation had been:
Selling a mic as "accurate", whether doing so fifty years ago or today, is misleading. There are no accurate mics as long as there is no agreement which of them is most accurately representing the sound source as we hear it with our ears.

As I understand it, audio equipment testing is based on two complementary approaches which are meant to be the two sides of the one coin:

1. formal  measurement
2. subjective listening

Quote from: klaus
At best, the inaccurate but euphemistic additions and subtractions that mics like any of the Big Five deliver, will deliver to the listener the perceived musicality of, and emotional connection to the live performance.


Euphemistic distortions definitely have a place in live amplified performance and recordings and can be perfectly acceptable artistically, although not in every music genre and definitely not to everyone's taste. But if fidelity/accuracy is the criterion - as you appeared to make it the criterion in this thread - euphonic distortions reduce fidelity/accuracy.

Quote from: klaus
Again, taking subjective perception out of the discussion is fallacy...

As far as I know nobody is taking subjective perception out of the discussion. Far from it.
But again I'd suggest listening is only one side of the normal evaluation coin, the other being formal measurement, as mentioned above.

Quote from: klaus
.. only subjective perception tells us in the end what truly matters in a mic.

Are you taking objective measurement of equipment performance, including mics, out of the discussion?

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Jim Williams on November 23, 2017, 12:14:41 pm
Objective measurements with current audio test kits are also far from mature or complete. Yes, an Audio Precision is a wonderful tool, I have one.

It will show errors, at least some of them. It will not qualify quality of sound. 
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 23, 2017, 06:21:17 pm
 I agreed how important is listening, supported by objective audio measurement.  The limits of human hearing can inform our discussions of equipment and testing. For example if under even ideal conditions nobody can hear distortion  100db below the fundamental tone, how important are audio gear distortions 110db down?
 
When the equipment under test, the test equipment and procedure must be unbelieveably accurate while human hearing is not required to meet anything like that stringent standard, that sounds to me like a double standard.

I remember encountering this repeatedly on a forum discussing analog tape gear. The argument was that to compete with analog recorders, digital recorders must have "perfect" reproduction, while with analog recorders, "who cares about a bit of noise, distortion and wow and flutter?"

Cognitive bias is a long standing issue, and not just in the audio world...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on November 24, 2017, 04:31:45 am
I agreed how important is listening, supported by objective audio measurement.
If something sounds good, it is good. I don't need to construct a measurement aura around it.

And if you want to bring cognitive bias into the conversation, then spell out how in your opinion it affects sound impressions, and how to avoid it.

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on November 24, 2017, 08:53:13 am

... if you want to bring cognitive bias into the conversation, then spell out how in your opinion it affects sound impressions, and how to avoid it.

I  already introduced it into the conversation. Earlier in this thread I wrote:

Quote from: Timtape
Unfortunately confirmation bias can be very strong in some people. I believe the only way to sort this out is true blind listening tests where people have no idea which mic they are listening to.

I also cited the Wiki page on confirmation bias in general:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

Here's a Wiki page specifically on audio equipment testing:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_equipment_testing

These are just two examples. Much other material out there.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: soapfoot on December 02, 2017, 09:06:09 am
I'm glad you brought up confirmation bias, because it's salient here. If, before auditioning a microphone, I examine some data to find that the microphone advertises


That information sets me up to believe, before I've even heard it, that the mic will perform well. Why do you think so many mic manufacturers include such figures and graphs in their marketing literature? But these data are not, in fact, especially reliable predictors of a mic's subjective performance in my experience/opinion.

I've always related to H.H. Scott's logic: "If it measures bad and sounds good, it's good. If it measures good and sounds bad, you've measured the wrong thing."

It's a mistake to assume that the "objective audio measurements" we're undertaking aren necessarily a) the most significant predictors of good sound as perceived by humans, and b) made under the most germane conditions (particularly when they're made by the manufacturers themselves).

Numbers are easy to understand. Metacognition is hard, thorny, and a moving target. So we tend to be easily seduced by the former, and gloss over the latter. How we perceive sound, though, is as or more important to audio than the bare physics of the sound. And when we do attempt to address perception in some way (such as with A-weighting of noise measurements), it tends to be crude.

But there's clearly much more to the story. There are several microphones which roll off at 30 cycles (or 15k cycles) that have been widely embraced by professionals, and plenty which measure ruler-flat, DC-to-light (metaphorically) that have fallen by the wayside. To explain this as some sort of mass delusion (or mass preference for distortion and narrow bandwidth) would be rhetorically lazy, so I've learned to embrace this metacognitive inconsistency as part of the mystery of audio. It's one reminder of just how far we have to go when it comes to understanding human perception of (and preference for) one sound versus another.

I'll leave you with one thought: I contend that there can be no such thing as true objectivity in a topic as broad as microphone performance. Because even the most rigorous methodology begins with a human's opinion about what's important; what's worth measuring, and under what conditions it should be measured. And even brilliant scholars can have blind spots.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on December 02, 2017, 12:38:56 pm
If, before auditioning a microphone, I examine some data to find that the microphone advertises
  • an extended frequency response that doesn't deviate more than 0.5 dB
That information sets me up to believe, before I've even heard it, that the mic will perform well.
Come again? Neumann, a leader in high quality condenser mics, usually specifies ±2dB across the transmission range, and I am unaware of anyone doing any better. The bulk of that tolerance, by the way, can be attributed to capsule variations, while Neumann's mic amps, downstream from the capsule, are typically within ±0.5dB.[/list]
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: soapfoot on December 02, 2017, 01:59:16 pm
I take your point
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on December 02, 2017, 10:18:02 pm
Brad, yours is a long post. I choose to deal with it one point at a time, the first being:

I'm glad you brought up confirmation bias, because it's salient here. If, before auditioning a microphone, I examine some data to find that the microphone advertises

  • an extended frequency response that doesn't deviate more than 0.5 dB
  • very low THD+N figures

That information sets me up to believe, before I've even heard it, that the mic will perform well...

OK.  Same solution. Blind listening where nobody  knows what mic they are listening to, and therefore what  '"specs" they are listening to, whether claimed or actual.

If we really want to  circumvent confirmation bias...we can.






Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: soapfoot on December 03, 2017, 10:49:49 am
Brad, yours is a long post. I choose to deal with it one point at a time, the first being:

OK.  Same solution. Blind listening where nobody  knows what mic they are listening to, and therefore what  '"specs" they are listening to, whether claimed or actual.

If we really want to  circumvent confirmation bias...we can.

Blind listening is great.

However, what's near-impossible is blind working. And I'm continually amazed at how often the thing that wins the "shootout" doesn't win in context; isn't selected when actual music is being made and recorded.

It took me some years to learn this for myself-- but now I seldom-ever do "shootouts" anymore, blind or sighted. I've just found that, for me, they're not all that predictive of what I'll find useful when doing actual work
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Jim Williams on December 03, 2017, 12:02:42 pm
If we really want to  circumvent confirmation bias...we can.

Not really at this point of audio equipment development. Everything else in the system also imparts its own sonic signature as well. That skews the tests every time.

When you get to the point when even a power cable changes the sonic picture you are also evaluating the "rest of the story".
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on December 03, 2017, 01:29:25 pm
Jim Williams raises a relevant point. We could not begin to explore the original premise (the possibility for an accurate mic) unless we identify and factor each active and passive component's contribution to the sound arriving back at our ears.

What is left, then, is a rather clumsy approximation to "accurate": Which total chain sounds closest to what we liked in the original experience?

That brings us right back to my original skepticism: we cannot even begin to search for, let alone, identify, an accurate mic until we can extract and isolate the mic from the rest of the recording/reproduction chain.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on December 03, 2017, 04:17:09 pm
Blind listening is great.

However, what's near-impossible is blind working. And I'm continually amazed at how often the thing that wins the "shootout" doesn't win in context; isn't selected when actual music is being made and recorded.

Sure in a work situation, being blind to the gear we use can be very difficult.  But you mentioned the making and recording of music  changing which mic you choose. Can you give some practical examples?


Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on December 03, 2017, 04:23:43 pm
Quote from: Tim
If we really want to circumvent confirmation bias... we can.

Not really at this point of audio equipment development. Everything else in the system also imparts its own sonic signature as well. That skews the tests every time.

When you get to the point when even a power cable changes the sonic picture you are also evaluating the "rest of the story".

Again, confirmation bias is  a cognitive issue, not an  equipment issue.  Again, if you're not familiar with the concept, please read up on it in the relevent sources. Here's one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: soapfoot on December 03, 2017, 05:56:28 pm
Sure in a work situation, being blind to the gear we use can be very difficult.  But you mentioned the making and recording of music  changing which mic you choose. Can you give some practical examples?

Sure.

The humble Shure SM57 is popular on guitar amp. But even in that application, it's not always something I find exceptionally gorgeous in "solo." It's certainly not anything anyone would ever describe as "accurate" (whatever that could possibly mean). It's got weird resonant peaks in its frequency response, a presence peak, a roll-off beginning around 200 cycles, its off-axis coloration is pronounced and not-too-helpful, always, etc.

However, in the context of a distorted electric guitar in a production I often prefer a good 57 to more expensive microphones which sound subjectively preferable in "solo", and which are objectively better in almost every commonly-measured way. It's a very popular microphone in this application, so either 2-3 generations of professionals are "easily led," or there's something about it that just works exceptionally well in that application, leading to the consensus.

Or for another example-- an RCA 44BX in good condition doesn't have a bandwidth extending much beyond 15k cycles (and is far-from-flat at least an octave below that). But on a trumpet, I prefer it to most other microphones, generally speaking-- even to expensive vintage German and Austrian condensers costing 5-10x more, and certainly more than modern offerings from the likes of DPA, etc which measure far better in every way.

My personal preferences are not overly meaningful. But to the extent that there's some degree of consensus among working professionals, that also constitutes data-- data that's every bit as meaningful as anything an Audio Precision Analyzer could measure.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on December 03, 2017, 09:13:57 pm

 ...in the context of a distorted electric guitar in a production I often prefer a good 57 to more expensive microphones which sound subjectively preferable in "solo",

As we know, compared to condensers, dynamic mics are almost immune to distorting under high SPLs. If the condenser mic overloads badly, it will probably sound horrible, adding unpleasant distortions that aren't coming from the amp cab.
So in this context, the SM57 which isnt overloading under the high SPL, is actually truer to the sound of the amp cab. It's more accurate to the source.

Re: the RCA 44BX on a trumpet. The trumpet  can have incredibly piercing highs especially when played full force and - unlike the player - we're standing in front of it! It's natural to sometimes want to tame some of those highs in a recording as it can sound more pleasing. Using a mic with  somewhat rolled off highs can be one way to achieve  that.
In this case we're talking about deliberate (but often perfectly valid) inaccuracy to the source.

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: soapfoot on December 03, 2017, 10:10:44 pm
1) I know the difference between an overloading microphone and a subjective personal preference.

2) I've never had a problem with frequencies above 15k on trumpet on any microphone. If anything is problematic, it's usually a strident (upper) midrange (well within the capabilities of a 44BX).

I disagree about "deliberate inaccuracy."

I select microphones, typically, that sound most to me like the source sounds in the room. I maintain that there's a decidedly imperfect correlation between that characteristic and a microphone's measurable parameters. Otherwise there would exist such a thing as the "perfect microphone," and I've yet to encounter it.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on December 04, 2017, 04:35:15 am

Quote from: soapfoot
I select microphones, typically, that sound most to me like the source sounds in the room. I maintain that there's a decidedly imperfect correlation between that characteristic and a microphone's measurable parameters. Otherwise there would exist such a thing as the "perfect microphone," and I've yet to encounter it.

How a source "sounds in a room" can vary enormously, not least on the characteristics of that room,  the placement of the source in the room, and our placement in the room, in relation to the source. There is no one sound - unless maybe the room is an anechoic chamber. So which sound is preferable? It's a choice of course.

Placement of the mic in relation to the source in the room is equally important, often far more important that the mic's spectral characteristics. Mic placement makes a huge difference, and again is a choice. 

Related to this, and recalling Klaus's candy wrapper example, I've been surprised that this subject hasn't been referred to in the thread:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_head_recording

http://www.neumann.com/?lang=en&id=current_microphones&cid=ku100_description
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Jim Williams on December 04, 2017, 11:36:03 am
Thr trumpet has a large amount of upper harmonics present, all the way to 50k hz.

Seems no one ever complains about the sound of a trumpet until we stick our less than accurate stuff in front of it.

Most microphones cannot deal with all those upper harmonics so they either distort them or in the case of a ribbon mic, low pass them.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on December 04, 2017, 01:41:26 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_head_recording

http://www.neumann.com/?lang=en&id=current_microphones&cid=ku100_description

Your reference to dummy head recording is problematic:
You need to listen over headphones to re-create the binaural experience, and even with headphones, the results are, musically speaking, poor, despite the three-dimensional impression they give.

I never figured out why dummy head recordings lack musical warmth. Could be the plastic material of the simulated ear canals, could be the size and placement of the membranes...

An interesting direction for more a ergonomic type of recording that was never optimized to overcome its shortcomings. Probably too few takers to invest a lot of energy and money to try to perfect it.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on December 04, 2017, 06:39:16 pm

Thr trumpet has a large amount of upper harmonics present, all the way to 50k hz. Seems no one ever complains about the sound of a trumpet until we stick our less than accurate stuff in front of it.

Forget microphones and gear  for a moment, and consider a more commonplace example. Some peoples' sibilants are  loud compared to their consonants and can annoy many people listening. A friend of my late mother used to speak her sibilants VERY loudly. My Uncle found it very uncomfortable and  humourously nicknamed her "sss".

In the old days, sibilants, cymbals etc caused major problems for disc cutting and for other low fidelity media, causing often massive audible distortion.  The recording gear, including mics steadily got much better and can now handle pretty much anything.

But an annoying sound is still an annoying sound! So no surprise recordings are often produced with EQ, de essing and other artificial manipulation of otherwise natural sounds not just because the gear might struggle to capture or reproduce it - though that can  be true with cheaper gear - but also because it is a more pleasant sounding balance to most listeners. That's why strict fidelity in recordings, while a good general rule, is not always desirable for the listener, just as a very sibilant person is not always appreciated in real life. 

Most microphones cannot deal with all those upper harmonics so they either distort them or in the case of a ribbon mic, low pass them.

We cannot hear ultrasonics. That is what the term means.  The only reason we could know trumpets have harmonics to 50kHz is because a specialised mic capable of that band faithfully captured them! And a specialised analyzer plotted them in a form we can see but not hear.  So if we cant hear them, why capture them? In practice there are very good reasons not to capture them. But that's another discussion perhaps.

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on December 04, 2017, 07:19:49 pm
Your reference to dummy head recording is problematic:

Your problem then is with  great microphone companies like Neumann and Bruel and Kjaer. Good luck with that...
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on December 04, 2017, 07:37:20 pm
Your response, punctuated with "good luck with that" is not helpful. Neither is your dismissive tone counter-arguing opinions that differ from yours.

I do not have a "problem" with "great microphone companies" but in my post I brought up reasons why, in my opinion, and based on my personal experience, dummy head recordings have never caught on with the public, despite their promise of three-dimensional reproduction.

Your arguments why you think dummy head recording is significant, are welcome, especially if they are derived from personal experience. But snippy retorts are not the way to do this, at least not on my forum.

Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on December 05, 2017, 09:46:41 am
My apologies if my words were unhelpful.

It's been an interesting time discussing microphones with a few of you.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: mbrebes on December 09, 2017, 11:45:32 am
There are few problems with the theoretical "accurate" microphone that have not been discussed but have been alluded to by some of the comments throughout this thread:

How do we measure the accuracy of a microphone?

1. We put the microphone in front of a speaker system, with all its linear and distortion errors (brought out by Jim Williams) that has been normalized for flat response using a test microphone that has been tested to be within a certain accuracy (yet another problem). We then measure the microphone with this "normalized" system to get a frequency response at one point directly in front of the microphone, with a given distance (already discussed), and at a given level.

2.  Off-axis measurements seem to be rudimentary at best, with usually two or three frequencies displayed.  In my experience with measurement microphones, I have found that they all have high end roll-off the farther off-axis you go. Microphones of the side-address variety might show some very interesting responses as they are measured close to the body of the mic.

3. I have never seen a measurement of the linearity of loudness in microphones or the loudness versus frequency.  I think we would find some very enlightening information from these tests.

My point is that the more we investigate the "accuracy" of a microphone the more we will find that there is no such thing, and no real way to measure it. 

We are left with using microphones that we like, for whatever reason, for specific situations.  Yes, my reality is not the same as the next person, but that's all we have.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on December 09, 2017, 12:49:20 pm
We are left with using microphones that we like, for whatever reason, for specific situations.  Yes, my reality is not the same as the next person, but that's all we have.

And, aside of insecurities that some have about trusting their ears and musical judgement: what's really wrong with that?

It's the sensuality of the experience that makes it so much fun driving a car whose engine sits over the (rear) drive wheels and plants the car, for immediate and direct input/feedback to the driver. 'Objective' horsepower or torque data cannot not show that: you may be fooled by a front engine/rear drive car's superior power stats but ultimately inferior "seat of the pants" experience.

I understand that many people in the audio world do not trust what they hear, but I believe it's a cop-out to then try to defer to measurement crutches, to "verify" what they hear, to avoid getting egg on their faces for sticking out with an opinion possibly not shared by others.

I have seen this so often at demos of high-end audio components in rented suites at trade shows. Most of these systems are not particularly good, but you will rarely hear critical comments, especially if the system demonstrated costs a lot of money.

Listening education these days is woefully undervalued and underutilized. Yet, trust in one's hearing increases with deliberate and continued training efforts.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Jim Williams on December 09, 2017, 06:23:53 pm
I have seen this so often at demos of high-end audio components in rented suites at trade shows. Most of these systems are not particularly good, but you will rarely hear critical comments, especially if the system demonstrated costs  a lot of money.

I've been thrown out of several of those demo rooms when they didn't like my comments. Besides their ego hit they don't want the other lemmings asking questions either.
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on December 09, 2017, 11:14:36 pm
There are few problems with the theoretical "accurate" microphone that have not been discussed but have been alluded to by some of the comments throughout this thread:

How do we measure the accuracy of a microphone?

1. We put the microphone in front of a speaker system, with all its linear and distortion errors (brought out by Jim Williams) that has been normalized for flat response using a test microphone that has been tested to be within a certain accuracy (yet another problem). We then measure the microphone with this "normalized" system to get a frequency response at one point directly in front of the microphone, with a given distance (already discussed), and at a given level.

2.  Off-axis measurements seem to be rudimentary at best, with usually two or three frequencies displayed.  In my experience with measurement microphones, I have found that they all have high end roll-off the farther off-axis you go. Microphones of the side-address variety might show some very interesting responses as they are measured close to the body of the mic.

3. I have never seen a measurement of the linearity of loudness in microphones or the loudness versus frequency.  I think we would find some very enlightening information from these tests.

My point is that the more we investigate the "accuracy" of a microphone the more we will find that there is no such thing, and no real way to measure it. 

We are left with using microphones that we like, for whatever reason, for specific situations.  Yes, my reality is not the same as the next person, but that's all we have.

Hi Michael, I'm not sure how familiar you are with the calibration of measurement microphones according to international standards. It's a very technical area but you and other forum readers might care to read this  accessible Primer from Bruel and Kjaer:

https://www.bksv.com/doc/br0567.pdf

I dont claim to be an expert working in this field so I defer to people who are and will happily cite their articles.

Cheers
Tim
 
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on December 10, 2017, 01:28:15 am
I am actually more interested in YOUR take on these things than referrals to manufacturers' publications, not that that's not interesting reading in itself.

To keep with the experiential mission of this forum: do YOU use measurement microphones for your musical recording work? If so, how do you like their translation of the music?

If you don't use them, what can you contribute from your experience to the subject of "accurate" vs. the myth of "accurate"?
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on December 11, 2017, 09:23:33 am

It's the sensuality of the experience that makes it so much fun driving a car whose engine sits over the (rear) drive wheels and plants the car, for immediate and direct input/feedback to the driver. 'Objective' horsepower or torque data cannot not show that: you may be fooled by a front engine/rear drive car's superior power stats but ultimately inferior "seat of the pants" experience.

With your exciting rear engined, rear wheel drive car, instead of a motor of 500bhp, lets reduce it to 5bhp and see if that makes no difference to the thrill of driving it. ;)

As with microphones, objective performance means nothing except when we havent got it any more. It's called taking it all for granted and then when we lose it, wondering why the playback sounds funny...or the car barely gets going...

Even today a U47 mic performs quite well because of its still respectable objective performance.
But like the car engine, try seriously derating its objective performance, and lets see if it still has "the magic"...
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: klaus on December 11, 2017, 11:41:20 am
The logic of your post escapes me. Are you saying that, once you sabotage a mic, it becomes obvious what its supposedly "objective" qualities were?

P.S.:
Quote
Even today a U47 mic performs quite well because of its still respectable objective performance.

How would you know the "objective" aspect of a mic's performance? You offer no proof for that claim. It might as well be a clever euphonic design, producing a sense of well-being and connectedness to the music in the listener, which is then assumed "objective".
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Timtape on December 11, 2017, 05:55:23 pm
... It might as well be a clever euphonic design, producing a sense of well-being and connectedness to the music in the listener, which is then assumed "objective".

Yes adding distortion  can increase listening enjoyment - I sometimes  love it. It also decreases fidelity to the source. Are we agreed on that?

But point taken. Equally someone might listen to a recording and assume they enjoy it more because of the "toob/transformer/analog tape" type distortion - only to be reliably informed that there was no such distortion added, or discover that their perceived enjoyment was due to  something else - or was just imagined.

As discussed earlier, we human beings can tend to believe what we want to believe. It can take quite an effort to avoid such convenient presumption. Perhaps we're never completely free of it. 

Do you agree? 
Title: Re: The Myth of the Accurate Microphone
Post by: Jim Williams on December 12, 2017, 11:08:30 am
For the average music consumer, the sound of the recordings are the least of their concerns.

That concern is reserved for folks like us, a distinct minority of listeners. The rest of the audience is quite happy with low fi bit reduced audio.

As much as we care about that stuff it is reflected in the complete absence of concern from the rest of the listeners.

It's important to keep that reality in mind less we get too caught up with our own opinions.