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Author Topic: How an AKG 451 Discussion Went Global...  (Read 21369 times)

klaus

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2013, 01:42:08 PM »

I agree with one of your last sentences, with the following modification:
"It (test gear) won't tell you when something sounds good, but can help in finding errors or limitations once your ears have detected that something does not sound good".
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Klaus Heyne
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boz6906

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2013, 11:28:35 AM »

(A glitch- one that has happened with this forum software a few times before- deleted the original post (except for a few quotes to which I responded), but nevertheless inserted the original poster's name as author. Though I cannot fix this problem, I apologize to the original poster. KH)
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I'm sure we all wish we possessed 'golden ears'...
Not golden or otherwise mutated, modified, or genetically pre-selected ears are necessary to hear the difference between bad, good and better. Make the test any time, with an uninitiated member of your family: put that person in front of speakers or under a pair of headphones, and let yourself be pleasantly surprised by the results of a simple A-B test. The esoteric language associated with expertise and connoisseurship may be absent from the ensuing comments from your loved ones, but the outcome will be the same: we know when something sounds good, especially when we can compare between two samples.

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...that exhibited ruler-flat response, with consistent conversion of acoustic energy to neural impulses, over a range of SPL & freq.
Our hearing is so decidedly non-linear, non-ruler-flat, that we had to adopt and adapt a logarithmic, rather than linear, scale of decibel representation: we are hyper-sensitive, both in terms of volume and frequency detail- in the vocal range (evolution dictated it), but worse than a deaf dog in the highs and very lows.

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(we don't have) ears with accurate and repeatable transfer function, even under changing physiological conditions such as age, blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, O2 sat, infection/parasites, illness, etc.
Why give yourself such low grades as a critical listener? Over time and repetition, even the most unstable and unreliable variables inserted by human frailty or hangovers will still not outsmart our exquisite sense of hearing. As if you one day woke up, listened to an MXL China mic and declared: "Best mic ever!"

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Until we evolve a bit more I think reliable test equipment and protocols will remain very useful.
I have not found, or heard of, "reliable test equipment" and "protocols" that were responsible for creating the ELA M 251, the C12, the U47 or any other desirable microphone. All I have seen is picture after picture of Messrs. Neumann and Kühnast Sr. in their simple workshop listening, with headphones on.

If anything, a compelling argument could be made that the current state of microphone development is a rather tragic example of technological de-evolution. How else to to explain the many manufacturers- from the giants to the hobby shops- which are trying to emulate or copy microphones designed more than fifty years ago?
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Uwe

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2013, 08:11:04 AM »

One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions ...
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Kai

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2013, 02:38:03 PM »

... test gear) won't tell you when something sounds good, but can help in finding errors or limitations once your ears have detected that something does not sound good".
It works both ways, you hear something that doesn't (or even does!) sound good, then you can try to find out why that is by using proper test equipment.
You might even find that the device under test does produce artifacts that do make it sound better.
With proper meeasurements you can find out where those are generated (if you don't already know) - this brings the evaluation from trial and error (or even guesswork) to a more scientific level.

Of course, it all starts and ends with hearing, but inbetween measurements can be of great help, specially in complex constructions beyond a basic tube condenser circuit with few variables.

There's an exception - a person with great experience in a certain field - call him an expert - might get faster and even better results when concentrating on hearing and bypassing more then basic measurements.
Probably it takes many years to become such an expert who has a Zen-like feel for what works best.

Regards
Kai
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klaus

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2013, 02:52:56 PM »

I've found the relationship between testing and hearing to be rather a one-way street. Measurements sometimes are helpful in analyzing what we perceived with our ears as unpleasant or artificial of plain
off".

But it never seems to be the other way around, where trial and error are shortcut through scientific analysis up front, getting to the good sound first, by itself, without hand-(ear) holding. Can you give an example of a stellar-sounding audio device, including microphone, that was by and large created or improved as the result of scientific measurements, rather than just analysis protocols post fact?
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Klaus Heyne
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Kai

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2013, 01:43:46 PM »

Can you give an example of a stellar-sounding audio device, including microphone, that was by and large created or improved as the result of scientific measurements, rather than just analysis protocols post fact?
As I can't look behind the curtains, so I can only guess: DPA / Bruel&Kjaer mic's might be such.
Their 400x-line of mic's construction (and sound) is so close to their measurement mic's that I would bet they are developed with a close look on test results.
Nevertheless (sic) they sound great and unique.
BTW - even their measurement mic's can make beautiful recordings, I specially like their one inch capsules for that. Connection isn't straight-forward, but in a studio environment it can be handled.

Regards
Kai
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Jim Williams

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2013, 02:19:07 PM »

Can you give an example of a stellar-sounding audio device, including microphone, that was by and large created or improved as the result of scientific measurements, rather than just analysis protocols post fact?

Bricasti M7 Reverberator. Try and build something like that without the world's best test gear.
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klaus

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #22 on: August 19, 2013, 02:23:55 PM »

The device you cite is a computer, in my view, not an audio device in the classic term. Maybe I should have been more precise in my wording. Or maybe we limit the question down to microphones.
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Klaus Heyne
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Jim Williams

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2013, 02:40:06 PM »

It's a traditional audio device in many studios, including mine. Whether built with 6 Analog Devices Blackfin processors (each outperforming your Intel PC),  a sheet of stretched steel or even a treated room, reverberators have been used a lot longer than microphones have been around. Classical halls and churches are also considered reverberators and were a large part of the creation of classic music pieces. That is why those halls were built that way.

I'm with Uwe on this one. Your coveted German mics were also built with the best test gear available at that time as well. I have no doubt that the designers would have used and appreciated modern test rigs as well, if they were available. I suspect you will find TEF and Audio Precision rigs at Sennheiser's factories today. If you ask those current designers if they believe in your "design by ears" process, you may be in for a bit of a surprise.
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klaus

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2013, 02:45:31 PM »

What do you think the ratio of modern Sennheisers to vintage Neumanns is in the condenser mic closets of the world's top studios?
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Klaus Heyne
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Uwe

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #25 on: August 20, 2013, 08:39:18 AM »

... just look at the history of Neumann, particularly in the 'Classic Era". Toward what end do you think Neumann actually pioneered various audio test equipment, including highly revered measurement microphones (MM-series) and logarithmic level recorders, and why was (still is) Neumann instrumental in the development of measurement standards for audio. Trust your ears, but verify through accurate measurements has always been the mantra for reputable and successful players in the field of electro-acoustics. In my humble opinion, it is as irresponsible to dismiss the importance of documenting technical standards through measurements as would be the failure to actually listen to the gear under investigation.

Without multiple and careful measurements along the various steps during the manufacture, the expectations for acoustic properties could never be met by listening alone.

While this fundamental insight is shared by Sennheiser and Neumann in their design and manufacture, its connection to modern Sennheiser VS classic Neumann condenser microphones in the world's top studios is a misguided red herring at best...
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Kai

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #26 on: August 20, 2013, 08:55:08 AM »

...Neumann actually pioneered various audio test equipment, including highly revered measurement microphones (MM-series) and logarithmic level recorders...
Although I have quite a bit of knowledge about historic audio measuring equipment (I do collect B&K), I never heard of a level recorder from Neumann.
Might it be you mix Neumann and Bruel&Kjaer, one of the world leading companies for audio test equipment (to say the least)?

Or do you mix Neumann with Sennheiser, who built some measurement equipment, but never much beyond some useful Audio Level Meters?
Sennheiser, BTW, aquired Neumann lately, but there's still some separation between the two brands.

EDIT: I found the Neumann P2 audio level recorder from 1934.
This was 15 years ahead of B&K, who built one in 1949.
http://www.neumann.com/?lang=en&id=about_us_history_part_2
http://asadl.org/jasa/resource/1/jasman/v21/i2/p91_s1?isAuthorized=no

Neumann history:
http://www.ppvmedien.de/pdf/Neumann_S32_47_Ansicht.pdf

QUOTE:
No guesswork, just the facts
Despite the rapid growth of the firm and all the organizational work that went with
it, Georg Neumann poured all his energies into research and development. He was always looking for new solutions and was intolerant of guesswork. “It was the inexactitude of the methods of measurement in use at the time that provoked Neumann, who was a modest but determined man and something of a precisionfanatic, to develop new electrical and mechanical measuring techniques,” records the commemorative volume for the 50th
anniversary of the firm’s foundation.
Speaking in 1978, Professor Aschoff of the Technische Hochschule, Aachen, explained that “at the time of the founding of the company, Georg Neumann was already convinced that further development in the field of electro-acoustics would have to go hand in hand with improved techniques of acoustic measurement, ...

Regards
Kai
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Uwe

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #27 on: August 20, 2013, 12:26:14 PM »

Kai, in the interest of full disclosure, I started my employment with Sennheiser as Service manger in February 1971. My current position is that of Director - Technical Services for Sennheiser Electronic Corp. and its Neumann Division in the USA. I hope my professional affiliation and my interest in the history and heritage of our industry may have earned me some credibility. I am not surprised by your independent confirmation of the importance of proper measurements in the fields of audio and electro acoustics.
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Kai

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #28 on: August 21, 2013, 04:22:03 AM »

What do you think the ratio of modern Sennheisers to vintage Neumanns is in the condenser mic closets of the world's top studios?
If I look at my studio vintage Neumann is the clear winner - I do own just one pair of Sennheiser MKH40s, but more then 10 vintage Neumann's - besides some new ones.

In average Studios the balance might be more even - vintage Neumanns are expensive - Sennheiser doesn't build a great variety of studio condensers, but offer one for almost each purpose.

BTW: I like the MKH40's if a room sounds overly bright, a situation where a Schoeps or Neumann might not give enough separartion between direct- and roomsound.

Regards
Kai
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Jim Williams

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Re: AKG 451 E
« Reply #29 on: August 21, 2013, 01:12:45 PM »

What do you think the ratio of modern Sennheisers to vintage Neumanns is in the condenser mic closets of the world's top studios?

That can easily be confirmed using sales and serial number records. I suspect they have built quite a few more lately than 30+ years ago. I don't recall seing them in every Guitar Center in the USA back then. Like old cars some are also no longer in service.

Then again, who decides what qualifies for one of the  "world's top studios" and who is counting?

The larger question is what does that have to do with this discussion?
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