R/E/P Community

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4  All   Go Down

Author Topic: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?  (Read 11766 times)

dennis1127

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 23
  • Real Full Name: Dennis Raddle
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2011, 04:52:34 pm »

I should add something. I am not likely to have room choice. I am lucky to find people to play my music at all, and I have to take what I am given.

It is likely that many of the recordings will be in practice rooms or small rehearsal rooms. I got a comment from James Boyk that figure-8 microphones are best for small rooms. I don't know if that is right, but I do understand that a small room presents the problem of comb filter effects through reflections, so a highly directional mic is desirable.

I also want to clarify my tastes, which have developed a lot through my audiophile hobby. I don't demand that these recordings be acceptable for commercial releases. They don't need to be free of "quirks", they don't need to be smooth and without obvious faults. What I would like is something that preserves dynamics and musical beauty. That's more important than, say, balance. I also tend to like natural perspective rather than close perspective. There are so many commercial releases that sound perfectly balanced and detailed, but they obviously put a mic on every instrument (even for as few as two instruments) and so each instrument exists in its own "acoustic space." I find that far more distracting than natural perspective. Heck, I'd take a mono recording over a close-miked recording. It seems like so many recordings are produced with a "typical consumer" mindset.

I'll take a rolled-off recording if it still has musical beauty. This is not the mindset of most classical producers as far as I can tell. They want a big, bold sound.. and they'll try to get it at the expense of natural dynamics and beauty.
Logged

klaus

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1662
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2011, 05:00:53 pm »

The preservation of 'musical beauty' as you call it, is the highest goal for any audio component between the source and the ears. That quality is also the hardest to come by, and virtually impossible to come by with cheap, inexpensive components.

As a matter of fact, the market puts a high premium on those devices that are capable of transmitting musical beauty: no microphones are more expensive than those which can achieve that goal.

There is a stark parallel between microphones and any other commodity designed to deliver sensory satisfaction. Take wine: the more a wine can transport olfactory and gustatory beauty to the taster, the more expensive the wine. Nothing else determines price.

So start saving your pennies, if that is your ultimate goal.
Logged
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

dennis1127

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 23
  • Real Full Name: Dennis Raddle
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2011, 05:25:30 pm »

I'm not asking "what is the ultimate system," I'm stating my priorities when evaluating what's available at a given price level.

In my experience, there's no agreement on what constitutes beauty so there isn't a correlation to price. There are plenty of super-expensive stereo systems that are sterile, while a simple tube circuit can make an amp with beauty to spare.

I don't even agree that everyone is trying to achieve beauty. Or at least their notion of it is so different than mine, I can't tell what they are trying to achieve.

Don't get me wrong-- if I want "beauty + resolution" I expect to pay a lot. I haven't found any cheap equipment that does that.
Logged

klaus

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1662
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2011, 05:34:51 pm »

I have found: there is no beauty without resolution. Human beings uniformly respond positively to complexity in the delivery of sensual information. (Think wine, again.)
Logged
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Nob Turner

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 38
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2011, 08:27:49 pm »

To get back to one of your earlier posts, I definitely don't believe that figure-8 mics are "best for small rooms;" quite the contrary, because small rooms don't typically enhance the sound of acoustic instruments, you'll have fewer problems with a cardioid. The figure-8 by nature picks up more of the ambiance of the space you're in, and if it's not pretty, you'll hear it.

Also, forget the discussion of mic self-noise. Most of the noise you're going to deal with will come from your preamp. If a ribbon mic needs 20-40db more gain than a condenser, the noise will come up proportionally. Given that you indicate you don't care to close-mic, a low-output mic (like a ribbon) will be an issue. Significant hiss can be distracting from an otherwise attractive recording.

Also, I got the impression that your total budget for mic(s) was $400. If so, you're going to have a hard time finding a pair anything decent for your budget. If you're willing to buy used, I'd encourage you to look for an AKG C460B with CK61 capsule (the CK62 is the omni equivalent). These have a smoother sound than their predecessor, the C451, and if you can stretch your budget and bide your time, you may find a pair for $5-600. They have a pleasant character, are relatively quiet, and can accept a range of different capsules. Their output is hot enough to work under low-volume conditions. At this price point you definitely aren't into "sexy mic" land, but I believe these will fit your requirements better than ribbons.

dennis1127

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 23
  • Real Full Name: Dennis Raddle
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #20 on: December 03, 2011, 01:03:22 am »

Thanks Nob, sounds like something I should consider.

I had another thought. Maybe I could rent a mic for those few times I will be making a critical recording. The rest of the time, something "adequate" is all I need. I live in the LA basin so there has to be a pro audio rental shop somewhere nearby.

Logged

dennis1127

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 23
  • Real Full Name: Dennis Raddle
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #21 on: December 03, 2011, 04:16:29 am »

By any chance, for someone who prefers distant miking, is it best to get a mic with a bright sparkly high end? I think that high frequencies drop fastest with distance, do they not?

Logged

David Satz

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 122
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #22 on: December 03, 2011, 06:16:59 am »

("sparkly" high end for distant recording?) If you'll be using omnidirectional microphones, then yes; otherwise, probably not; and in any case it's important to keep this all in proportion to your recording distance and the actual absorption in the hall.

This is because it's not so much about high-frequency absorption of the direct sound, which we're all used to hearing in live music anyway. (If you try to compensate for those losses you will end up with screechy recordings.) Rather, it's because at large distances in normally reverberant spaces, very little of the sound that you pick up will be direct no matter what pattern of microphone you use. Nearly all of it has been reflected off of room surfaces one or more times, and high frequency energy is absorbed on every bounce, to varying degrees depending on the surfaces involved.

The reason for singling out omnidirectional microphones is that they--at least the ones quiet enough to use for distant recording of wide-dynamic-range material--aren't truly omnidirectional at high frequencies for reasons of sheer physical size. You can see this from the manufacturers' polar patterns. The on-axis response might be nice and neutral but then the off-axis response physically has to roll off; alternatively their total, integrated response might be neutral but that would require their on-axis response to rise. So if you're far enough from all direct sound sources that the angles of sound arrival at your microphones are nearly random, then you need flat integrated response, which (in a usable omni) goes with rising on-axis response.

This effect basically doesn't occur with other microphone patterns, so while there are omnis appropriate for close-up ("free-field") recording and omnis for distant ("diffuse-field") recording and omnis for in-between, there aren't (for example) cardioids or figure-8s classified in that way--or at least there needn't be from the standpoint of physical acoustics.

--best regards
Logged

didier.brest

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 15
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #23 on: December 03, 2011, 02:02:29 pm »

If a ribbon mic needs 20-40db more gain than a condenser, the noise will come up proportionally.

This is obviously not exact : there is not 20-40 dB more noise from a ribbon mic than from a condenser mic. See my previous post about how determining the equivalent acoustic noise expressed in dB SPL from the ribbon mic sensitivity and the preamp EIN. It may be lower than 20 dBA.

maybe a small diaphragm like the Oktava MK2. These are fairly versatile, good value mics that will give you an opportunity to learn about mic placement, room choice, etc...things that matter MUCH more than the actual mics themselves (within reason).
You mean Oktava MK-012 ?
For this kind of budget (< 300 € for a pair), I prefer the Line Audio CM3.

I do not agree that a multi-k$ preamp would be required for making a ribbon mic work properly. The AEA Ribbon Mic Pre, specially designed for ribbon mic costs less than 900 $.
 
Logged
Didier Brest

klaus

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1662
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #24 on: December 03, 2011, 03:54:25 pm »

This thread is starting to drift into "Gearslutz" territory: Everyone has his favorite mic recommendation and the thread starter soon will not know up from down if this continues (I, too, should have never gone for the bait.)

RE: Ribbon noise:
There is little or no doubt in the professional audio community that noise is a concern when deciding whether to use passive ribbon mics. Because of the noise (it's largely academic whether the noise is generated at the mic or from the gain make-up required), ribbon mics in modern recording studios are relegated to high output sound sources, which, in addition, need to be recorded fairly close to the mic, to keep the signal high.

Regarding the absolute level, in dB, of that additional noise:

When using a -70dBV passive ribbon mic, there is not a 20dB or more increase in noise compared to a condenser mic- but in the course of making up gain, even as little as 6dB of additional white noise is quite objectionable for most recording situations. Unfortunately, objectionable noise on a recording is not easily quantified in an objective manner: the frequency components of the noise matter a lot. I sometimes reject, for example, a tube with a noise signature that has strident frequency (hiss) components but is otherwise on par with the noise of another tube whose objectionable noise band is an octave lower.

Maybe we can agree on this conclusion: at equal SPL measured at the monitor speakers or headphones, a passive ribbon mic will always generate an audibly higher noise floor than a common use, professional condenser microphone.

Logged
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

didier.brest

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 15
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #25 on: December 03, 2011, 04:55:15 pm »

Yes we can agree than in general ribbon mics are noisier than condensers. But certainly not at a point than they could not be used for professional recordings even of quiet material like encountered in classical music. The active version of the SF-12 noise level is less than 18 dBA according to Royer ; this figue is rather well in accordance with my own evaluation for the SF-12 coupled with a quiet preamp: 19 dBA. An active ribbon is nothing else than a passive coupled with with a fixed gain quiet preamp. The noise level specified by DPA for the 4006, a standard for classical music recording is  15 dBA typ, 17 dBA max.

Example of professional recording of a string quartet done with a SF-12.

Note that -70 dBV applies to vintage ribbon microphones not to modern ones, the sensitivity of which is higher than -60 dB re. 1 V/Pa.
Logged
Didier Brest

klaus

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1662
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #26 on: December 03, 2011, 05:28:42 pm »

I understand the desire to beef up the low gain of a passive ribbon by packing a tiny mic pre inside the mic's housing. But: how good can this mic pre be? Why spend thousands on a high res, musical external gain make-up amp if the built-in pre is so great?

And: to what extend does this dilute the beauty of the ribbon mic? After all, if the internal mic pre must be fed into an external mic pre/board, for further processing, would that not mean a further dilution of the original pure ribbon sound into a mish-mash of the passive ribbon + (low priced?) fet + transistor/op-amp processor?

This reminds me a bit of the Neumann issues with digital mics (i.e. an analog mic mated to a D/A built into the mic's housing: is this convenient "all-in-one" package tonally and musically the best we can do, specs be damned?
Logged
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

didier.brest

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 15
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #27 on: December 03, 2011, 06:57:48 pm »

I don't know whether internal amp in a ribbon microphone is a real advantage or not but I could see the reason why it could be :

* perfect matching of the integrated electronics and the passive part of the microphone,
* allowing a longer cable to the preamp without a risk of SNR loss,
* allowing the use of any preamp,
and last but not least
* answering the reluctance from some users about low sensitivity and potential damage caused by phantom power.

In the Neumann digital microphones, the signal from the capsule is digitalized without being amplified. The gain setting available in the control software is a numerical gain that does not impact the AD conversion, which covers the full dynamic range of the microphone (~130 dB).  Preamplification is a requirement from full analog recording era.
Logged
Didier Brest

halocline

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 20
  • Real Full Name: Matt Dunne
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #28 on: December 03, 2011, 07:27:38 pm »

If you're in a small highly reflective room then ribbons (or any figure 8) are definitely NOT what you want to record with. In my limited experience, there is simply no substitute for a good sounding room to record acoustic and especially classical music. The room is in essence part of the source, so you can have the best, most musical microphone in the world and you will not get anything that sounds better than the room. Sorry...

To get the best possible representation in a bad acoustic environment, my guess (as I said, I have limited experience in this) is to use mics that are as directional as possible, like hypercardiods, and get them as close as possible. I really think, given your budget, you seem to be concerned about things that are not likely to have near the impact as learning good mic placement techniques and above all using a nice sounding room.

Maybe your best bet is to rent some really nice mics and a preamp, try them out, try some different rooms, and you'll be able to determine for yourself. Best of luck!
Logged

halocline

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 20
  • Real Full Name: Matt Dunne
Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #29 on: December 03, 2011, 07:33:19 pm »

By any chance, for someone who prefers distant miking, is it best to get a mic with a bright sparkly high end? I think that high frequencies drop fastest with distance, do they not?

Distant mic placement and small, reflective rooms like a practice room are more-or-less mutually exclusive, I'm afraid.

I hope that you can enjoy, as I have, the process of learning the basics of making nice sounding, musical recordings of classical music. One thing that I learned quickly is that even slight differences in room sound and placement FAR outweigh even radical differences in microphone type and quality, once you get past the really inexpensive consumer products.
Logged
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4  All   Go Up