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Author Topic: Microphone Myth Busters: Overview  (Read 19257 times)

David Satz

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Re: Microphone Myth Busters
« Reply #30 on: July 04, 2011, 10:48:12 PM »

Klaus, I don't feel competent to second-guess what these authors would say if they were here, but in all seriousness, your question is just the one that isn't so easily solved--if the concept of "solved" even applies to it. If we could avoid illusion through an act of the will, we would all be the Buddha, no?

One big source of illusion (or "bias") is that we become attracted to our own theories as to what causes the things that we perceive--but our theorizing and perceiving tend to occur more or less together. In particular the Schulz book deals with this phenomenon--it is (apparently) clinically demonstrable that one's theories can have a great effect on what one does or doesn't perceive within the domain of those theories.

On a modest, personal level I've been studying philosophy of science and particularly the philosophy of knowledge in science for the past year or so. It's been a great and useful shock to discover how oversimpified, ahistorical, and full of wishful thinking the concepts were that I was taught in school. The way I was taught to respect the word of scientists (this was back in the 1950s and 60s) wasn't really very different from the way that medieval scholars were taught to respect the word of religious authorities. On the other hand that's no indictment of science, since science doesn't ask to be "believed in" as such.

There is even quite a bit of science that its own proponents and developers don't claim is necessarily "true" in the absolute sense; they may claim only that the given theory is useful as a basis for ongoing research until the next, better theory comes along. To some people that seems like an appropriate level of modesty while to others, it seems like evasion of a responsibility to establish a narrative.

Apparently when Newton published his theory of universal gravitation, he had no explanation of what gravity was, or how any force could operate across a distance with no physical contact between the objects affected by it. There were critics and dissenters against Newton, some of whom faulted him precisely for that lack of a narrative--even though his equations were accurate enough to describe and predict all the phenomena of time and motion that were observable in his day or for centuries afterward.

--best regards
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Kai

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Re: Microphone Myth Busters
« Reply #31 on: July 05, 2011, 05:22:04 AM »

One big source of illusion (or "bias") is that we become attracted to our own theories as to what causes the things that we perceive--but our theorizing and perceiving .... science doesn't ask to be "believed in" as such. ... the given theory is useful as a basis for ongoing research until the next, better theory comes along.
Be careful not to mix therory and hypothesis.

A theory is a scientific explanation or model of natural effects, sufficiently correct to work within its limits, and it's proven to a certain degree.

A hypothesis is a pure assumption ("believe", "feel", "myth") that needs to be proven, but actually is not.
When proven, the hypothesis becomes a theory.


Example:
Bor's model of atoms (a core with electrons circling around it like the planets around the sun) is still usable to explain most chemical reactions, although it's proven not to be reality.

Now we have fotos of the electrons moving in clouds, which is a strong confirmation that this is the "real" way atoms are built, but still Bor's model (theory) is also used, because it's much easier to handle in some cases.


Regards
Kai
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David Satz

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Re: Microphone Myth Busters
« Reply #32 on: July 05, 2011, 08:58:32 AM »

Hello, Kai. A year ago I would have agreed with you--I would have stood for making a strong, unconditional distinction between a hypothesis (or conjecture) and a theory. But this distinction seems to be observed mainly in the professional discourse of scientists and philosophers. Current American dictionaries don't maintain it for general usage.

When it comes to creating observational bias, any idea that one has about "why X is happening" creates an expectation that "it is X which is occurring"--and this steers one to some extent toward perceiving the occurrence of "X" as we happen to define it, and away from perceiving whatever is inconsistent with "X". That's the opposite of what most people intend when we want to learn the truth about something. But despite our intentions it occurs nonetheless, instantaneously and on a deep level. And we generally don't want to know that about ourselves.

In creating this bias, pure opinion (or hypothesis, or speculation) and the best-founded scientific theory behave in exactly the same way, and that is why I lumped them together. Of course that is not to equate them otherwise, as creationists do when they say that Darwin's theory of evolution is "just a theory" (a statement that relies on ignorance and spreads it further).

I know it's not likely to happen, but I really wish that people would spend five minutes in a bookstore reading the first chapter of either book that I recommended. Amazon sometimes has books set up so that you can read a little of them on line; maybe that's true for these. For folks who are into "audio books" I can recommend The Teaching Company's recorded lectures on "What Scientists Know and How They Know It" (course #1235) as a good general introduction.

--best regards
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klaus

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Re: Microphone Myth Busters
« Reply #33 on: July 05, 2011, 12:33:50 PM »

(...)
When it comes to creating observational bias, any idea that one has about "why X is happening" creates an expectation that "it is X which is occurring"--and this steers one to some extent toward perceiving the occurrence of "X" as we happen to define it, and away from perceiving whatever is inconsistent with "X". That's the opposite of what most people intend when we want to learn the truth about something.
We are lucky in audio to have a method to avoid just that: blind and, even better, double-blind testing.
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Klaus Heyne
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Re: Microphone Myth Busters
« Reply #34 on: July 08, 2011, 08:47:46 AM »

I believe that the goals in audio are different enough from the goals in most empirical "sciences" (for lack of a better word) to change the nature of evaluation. In audio, the results themselves are judged, over time especially, primarily by perceptions and emotional responses rather than by measurable data. Its more like acoustic instrument building or maybe even wine making.
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David Satz

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Re: Microphone Myth Busters
« Reply #35 on: July 08, 2011, 08:55:08 AM »

> We are lucky in audio to have a method to avoid just that: blind and, even better, double-blind testing.

Those approaches give the most reliable evidence but are costly in time and effort, and can only address a rather limited class of question. I think it's fair to say that most of the opinions that people have about audio aren't directly based on them.

It's not uncommon for the results of various studies of the same question to come up with significantly different results. This implies that the result of a single study shouldn't always be regarded as conclusive, even when that study is carried out in complete good faith. A double-blind test which finds no evidence for a significant audible difference between, say, a tube amplifier based on a triode and another one based on a pentode, wouldn't prove that there is no audible difference between the two amplifiers; another study (even one that used the same two amplifiers) might have a different outcome with different listeners or different listening conditions. And such tests would say little or nothing about triode vs. pentode circuits in general--a more likely subject for a personal opinion.

Even when controlled testing is used, the results are interpreted according to people's pre-existing beliefs such that usually, nothing much is really settled. In the end we still pick and choose our own evidence based on our preferred side of an issue, and tend to distrust any study whose outcome goes against what we believe. That's probably the biggest bias of them all.
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wildcowboys

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Re: Microphone Myth Busters: Overview
« Reply #36 on: March 02, 2012, 02:19:36 AM »

Bringing back this topic...

I think one of the most widespread myths is that dynamic mics have a certain "range" close to the capsule and compared to condensers, reject sound originating from beyond this range way stronger than condenser mics - which are said to pick up more room reflections and ambient noise for the same reason.
It simply is not true. When you put up a dynamic and a condenser with similar polar patterns and match output levels using a close source, and then feed them sound from far away, the output levels are still identical. It's just that people tend to keep more instance from condensers, resulting in a more ambient sound.
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Kai

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Re: Microphone Myth Busters: Overview
« Reply #37 on: March 02, 2012, 06:44:23 PM »

one ... myths is that dynamic mics have a certain "range" close to the capsule and ... reject sound originating from beyond this range way stronger than condenser mics...
I wouldn't completely name this a myth.

The ambient or distant sound of most low price dynamics (say Shure SM58 to name the most popular) ist quite diffuse and muddy.
There are several reasons for this:

- the transient response or "definition" of a dynamic is bad, smeared.
- The bad transient response is compensated by a strong presence boost, to give the mic more "bite".
- the frequency response is optimized for close distance, compensating the bass boost caused by the close talk effect. From the distance the result is a thin, bass-shy sound.
So in fact bass and lower midrange is "supressed" for distant sounds.
- The polar response is very uneven. Sounds from the side (even at not so big angles) and from the back is extremly coloured, filtered. This is different for every direction, but counts to the muddyness. "Normal" sound is only achieved from the front.
- The output (gain) is much lower (about 10-20dB) then a condenser's. You need more preamp gain for distant sounds. Not all mic pre's do sound good at high gain settings, some are too noisy, some cannot be controlled well at high gain (bad potentiometers).

Dynamics do not "gate" the distant sound - it would be a good tool if such a mic could exist.
But the typical vocal dynamic needs a different handling then a condenser to work well.
Then it can in fact be used to blend out some amount of distant sound on the lower freq. range.

If you turn this round - one can use a condenser quite similar to a dynamic.
Use the lowcut and attenuation on an U87 (+ a bit of EQ), let the vocalist sing with lip contact to the grill and the result will be a high class version of that "stage" sound.
But be advised to use a fine layer of cloth on the grille or you can send the mic to Klaus for cleaning after doing so :-)

Regards
Kai
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