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 21 
 on: December 03, 2017, 05:56:28 pm 
Started by klaus - Last post by soapfoot
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.

 22 
 on: December 03, 2017, 04:23:43 pm 
Started by klaus - Last post by Timtape
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

 23 
 on: December 03, 2017, 04:17:09 pm 
Started by klaus - Last post by Timtape
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?



 24 
 on: December 03, 2017, 01:29:25 pm 
Started by klaus - Last post by klaus
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.

 25 
 on: December 03, 2017, 12:02:42 pm 
Started by klaus - Last post by Jim Williams
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".

 26 
 on: December 03, 2017, 10:49:49 am 
Started by klaus - Last post by soapfoot
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

 27 
 on: December 02, 2017, 10:18:02 pm 
Started by klaus - Last post by Timtape
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.







 28 
 on: December 02, 2017, 01:59:16 pm 
Started by klaus - Last post by soapfoot
I take your point

 29 
 on: December 02, 2017, 12:38:56 pm 
Started by klaus - Last post by klaus
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]

 30 
 on: December 02, 2017, 09:06:09 am 
Started by klaus - Last post by soapfoot
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. 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.

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