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Author Topic: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?  (Read 11736 times)

klaus

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #30 on: December 03, 2011, 08:20:07 pm »

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.

The impedance conversion (down from ca. 10 gig ohms) is an entirely analog process, and one of the most critical aspects of artifact prevention or creation. Therefore, the conversion from an analog to a digital signal is downstream from that process. It is arguably a very good impedance conversion that Neumann uses. The issue of integrating the A/D into the mic body is controversial, and, to some not ideally implemented in Neumann's D- mics.

But that is a side issue, and not germane to the discussion here. Your first three points are debatable, and should be debated, for the sake of separating promotional claims from user experience or fact.

* perfect matching of the integrated electronics and the passive part of the microphone,
- Who says they are perfectly matched? The manufacturer?

* allowing a longer cable to the preamp without a risk of SNR loss
- Since when are cable lengths an issue in most recording studios?


* allowing the use of any preamp
- come again? What restrictions are there, otherwise?

 

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Klaus Heyne
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David Satz

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #31 on: December 04, 2011, 12:59:03 am »

Klaus, ribbon microphones don't have a constant output impedance across the audio frequency band. At their resonant frequency the output impedance reaches a peak value that may be considerably higher than the specified impedance.

The Royer SF-1 mentioned earlier had a specified output impedance of 300 Ohms, but at its resonant frequency (ca. 60 Hz) its actual impedance reached ca. 1.2 kOhm. Thus a preamplifier with typical 1 kOhm - 2 kOhm input impedance would cause an easily audible response dip around 60 Hz.

But if this microphone is provided with an internal preamp (as in the SF-24 stereo version), then the full low-frequency response of the microphone could easily be obtained, and the output impedance of the active circuit could be lower and relatively constant across the audio spectrum--thus isolating the microphone from cable and preamp loading effects.

--best regards
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bodtbody

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #32 on: December 04, 2011, 07:57:22 am »

Excited about the technical discussion, but there is also a practical angle:
A modern ribbon microphone, with modern magnets and best transformer, has a higher output than the classic ribbons.
I (therefore) do not think, that noise is a common problem with modern quality ribbon microphones, but something you should be aware of in connection with the equipment used with.

The Danish national TV station, TV2, often uses ribbon microphones in a weekly broadcast with acoustic music; TV2 has a selection of (condenser) quality microphones, Neumann Schoeps. etc.

The choice of the ribbon microphones is a matter of taste, and does not lead to problems with noise.
(In a ribbon mic) the technician also has a microphone that is easily positioned and allows the performer to move in relation to distance and angle.

Two old Danish hippies are singing on this recording softly, and not very close to the microphone.

Link to the recording :
http://www.tv2lorry.dk/artikel/56049?autoplay=1&video_id=52020
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venlig hilsen JP

Marik

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #33 on: December 04, 2011, 07:20:56 pm »

I just spent an hour and half typing and everything disappeared in a cyber space--very frustrating. In any case, will try to do it short and concise.

There are quite a few myths and misconceptions about ribbons, including "ribbons don't have a sparkle". As David put it, it has only one foot in reality. Even fig8 ribbons can go as high as 30KHz (which BTW, none of the condensers I know of could do in fig8).


I personally would find it extremely hard to record piano with ribbons (if I interpret your inquiry- piano recording is your aim?), because, in order to keep a decent s/n, the mics would need to be very close to the piano strings, which is not an ideal position for a good blend of harmonics or any type of natural piano sound, therefore negating much of what you are aiming at by wanting to record with ribbons.
Because of the extremely low gain of a ribbon mic (in the neighborhood of -70db, which is about 30-50dB lower than the output of classic or current-generation condensers), some new ribbon mic manufacturers have combined the ribbon element with a built-in transistor amp, to boost the level up. This type of passive and active hybrid is an interesting idea which, in my opinion waters down some of the purity of a ribbon mic's timbre and purpose. 

It might be true for the old/vintage microphones with extremely inefficient motors and ceramic or Alnico magnets, which on top of that long lost most of their field.
The modern microphones use Neodymiums, which by far are more efficient and the output is usually in the neighborhood of -55--60dB, so most of the modern 60--65dB preamps will have sufficient gain (if it is quiet enough is completely different issue). 

I recorded the last V. Feltsman Chopin complete Waltzes and Impromptu album with ribbon microphones with (of course) distant miking (the mics were about 6' out the open lid) and did not have any noise problems.

Here is sincerely yours in Non Stop Music studio in Salt Lake City on Samick piano (clearly, it is not  a Steinway D, by any stretch). The hall is pretty small, but since formerly the building was a church the ceilings are high. The mics are set in Blumlein about 6' high and 3' out of piano. No EQ or processing of any kind.
 
Somewhere over the Rainbow:

http://samaraudiodesign.com/RibbonA.wav

You can judge for yourself if there are any noise or "lack of sparkle" problems.


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?


Klaus, you certainly have a very good and valid point here re: mish-mash". However, I don't see a problem using the electronic circuit if it optimizes, beautifies, and pulls out all the best qualities of the ribbon. After all, we are interested not in how it's been achieved, but in a final product, i.e. a tool which helps to make beautiful sound on the recording.

I am all for a ribbon microphone, where the ribbon part and electronic circuit are an integral system, parameters of which are chosen to compliment each other. Such microphone will have just as good of the noise floor as any professional condenser microphone (and certainly better than most of tube mics).

After all, one of the main points of H. Olson defending and promoting ribbon microphone technology was very low noise. And (as always) he was right. The problem is not in topology, but implementation.

Best, M
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Mark Fouxman
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soapfoot

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #34 on: December 05, 2011, 09:12:52 am »

Dennis,

I would encourage you to put aside temporarily any absolute preferences you have developed from your interest the audiophile/playback realm (an enthusiasm which I most definitely share).

In your price range and for your application(s), something far more practical may be in order when shopping for a microphone to make your demonstration recordings.

Suppose one of your non-audiophile friends were to say to you: "I need a recommendation for an .mp3 player to listen to while I jog, but I want something very fast with great transient performance and sparkling dynamics. It needs to create that holographic imagery of the performer that pulls the listener in. My budget is about $300." 

It would be not only exceedingly difficult to find a recommendation that would satisfy, but also a bit beside the point, as it would be extremely hard to achieve those objectives under the conditions (lossy compressed file, earbuds, jogging) at any price point.

I believe this is what many here have tried to tell you with regards to room acoustics, instrument quality and condition, microphone technique and placement, etc.  The microphone itself is but one link in the chain.

Going back to the audiophile world-- It's obvious that a modestly-priced playback system of quality placed in a well-designed room with the speakers configured carefully would achieve superior playback results in nearly every regard over a $20,000 system with the speakers stacked on top of each other in the corner of a square, concrete room--regardless of the design philosophies, topologies, and technologies implemented.

So it is with recording.  Since your budget limits you, frankly, to what are commonly referred to as "prosumer" microphones, I'd suggest taking one of the recommendations (Klaus's is a good one), going from there, and realizing that under the conditions you have described, the microphone is not in your case going to be the weak link in terms of getting the "dynamics, musical beauty, and natural perspective" you seek.

Is that to say that those things wouldn't be better with a sterling pair of KM54s?  No.  But the budget needed to get to the echelon where the mics are doing you 'favors' is quite a bit above what would be practical for you to afford at this time.

Best of luck!!



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bodtbody

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #35 on: December 05, 2011, 04:54:00 pm »

First, sorry I will fill your thread with views on ribbonmicrophones. :o

Then I would recommend MBHO microphones (over your budget but quality at a very moderate price).
Also I would also suggest the AKG 451 and Oktava.
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venlig hilsen JP

dennis1127

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #36 on: December 05, 2011, 10:50:56 pm »

Yes, I am convinced everyone, I will set aside any convictions about audio I have formed from my audiophile hobby and casual encounters with the recording process. I have a lot to learn about many aspects of recording, but actually even more than that, I have a lot to learn about locating musicians to play my pieces and locating rooms or venues. So it seems a bit premature to purchase any expensive recording equipment.

I do own this Audio Technica 813a condenser cardioid mic, and together with the Mini-Me I can record things that are noise-free and sound more or less like real instruments, so that's a good start. And run everything from batteries, which adds flexibility.

I think I need to focus more on composing and networking for a while.
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Piedpiper

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #37 on: December 06, 2011, 12:06:44 am »

To synopsize if I may:

Your aspirations are worthy.

There are better and worse choices at any price point, both in terms of quality and suitability for the job at hand, although it does get a lot more interesting over $1k.

Battery power can make a difference in the quality of the sound.

The hall will be the biggest determinant in your sound by far, along with mic placement.

I got way into esoteric audiophile recording techniques as well as playback. I've since expanded my practical vocabulary.

Look me up if you wanna talk...
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row row row your boat...

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soapfoot

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #38 on: December 06, 2011, 08:12:16 am »

Yes, and to add--

ultimately, many of the same concerns you enjoy attending to with audiophile playback DO, in fact, apply in some way to the recording side as well, especially for certain aesthetics-- just perhaps not at $400.  To everything there is a season, and right now your energies are probably best focused on the 'source' side of things.

Many of us love minimalism, well-designed tube gear, and are particular about high quality equipment down to the component level, right down to individual brands of capacitors and resistors (as an enthusiast of audiophile playback, I'm sure that sounds familiar to you). Please don't think I'm trying to say these things are unimportant or foolish-- quite the contrary, actually.  However, all of this does have its place within the grand scheme of things, and as in the audiophile world, it has its price point as well-- usually quite high for gear of any quality.

Ultimately, "you get what you pay for," and I can assure you that if you enjoy the audiophile hobby, as your recording experience matures you will likely revisit this notion when you are prepared to make a bit more of an investment.

Good luck!!
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dennis1127

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #39 on: December 08, 2011, 06:35:13 pm »

A guy is available to record my latest piano composition. We have to use a "studio" on campus which is a large office. Carpeted and fairly dead.

There's a pro audio rental store near me, with microphones:


http://www.audiorents.com/rental/14/group/Microphones.html

Through renting I can get some experience with a mic before buying it.

When I eventually buy something, it has been suggested that I get a used mic at a fair market value, and if it doesn't work out, I can resell it.
 

One of the mics at this rental place (see link) is the AKG 451 preamp/body with CK 1 capsule. I've gotten some suggestions I might like this one or find it useful.

One of my questions is: how would you recommending miking the piano for mono and for stereo?
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halocline

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #40 on: December 10, 2011, 01:28:17 am »

I think you'd want to rent a pair of the mics and I guess do a co-incident or near co-incident stereo pattern. There are lots of websites that describe those. There are, of course, a million opinions about this, but either the X/Y or ORTF set ups are pretty standard and probably a good place to start. One thing that's nice about this is you can put both mics on a stereo bar on one stand, and then move it around the room until you find a place that you like. You set it up, record someone playing 30 seconds or so, move it, record the same excerpt, repeat that several times, each time making a note as to where your mics are, listen to the excerpts, and choose what sounds best to you. By far the most valuable thing about this is that you will begin to develop an ear for the mic placement.

The 451s are pretty standard small diaphragm condensers. Personally I would rent 414s; they're the standard AKG large diaphragm condenser; but the choice is yours. If you got a pair of each you could then also learn about the difference in the sound of the mics. Doesn't that sound fun?

What are you connecting the mics to? You'll need a good preamp to discern much about the mics. Maybe the guy rents those too. Sorry to keep spending your money!!!

I don't know a thing about mono recording, but maybe someone with more experience and knowledge can chime in.
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dennis1127

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #41 on: December 10, 2011, 01:40:27 am »

You're not spending much of my money.. the standard mics are $10/day. (The vintage mics are much more.)

I have an Apogee Mini-Me combination mic pre and A/D. I've done some minor mods to it, things I learned from my audiophile hobby. Mainly giving it clean power and shielding some things. I've tested it with an Audio-Technica 813A condenser mic I have at home and the Mini-Me sounds okay to me. Not great but a good start, I think.

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soapfoot

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #42 on: December 10, 2011, 08:56:41 am »

you could do a lot worse than the mini-me in the "all in one interface" department. Should be more than adequate to rent some mics and learn a thing or two about placement!

There are a lot of mics on that list that would be educational to rent for a nominal charge. Perhaps if interested you could rent a different pair (or two) each week. You could learn so much about microphones that way!
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halocline

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #43 on: December 10, 2011, 10:29:27 am »

You're not spending much of my money.. the standard mics are $10/day. (The vintage mics are much more.)


From what I see on the list, the 451s are $20 ($40 for a pair?) the 414s (B-ULS and newer) are $35 each, and KM84s are $30 each. I don't see anything worth renting for $10....but there certainly might be something I've missed. So a pair of each of those would be $170/day. Would the guy throw in cables, a couple of stands, and a stereo bar? If so and he'd let you keep them for a weekend, and you could get a pianist to play the same excerpt a hundred times (hehe) it would be worth it to learn so much about the sound of these mics.

If your room is really small, dead is better than live. Most small room reflections, IMO, are just terrible for recording classical music.
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Tim Campbell

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Re: Ribbon Mics: Suitable For Purist Recordist On A Budget?
« Reply #44 on: December 10, 2011, 12:58:45 pm »

Well Mark (marik) I for one think your mics sound wonderful! Keep up the good work.
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