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Author Topic: Schoeps' New Studio Vocal Mic: SDC vs. LDC on Vocals  (Read 9022 times)

aremos

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Schoeps' New Studio Vocal Mic: SDC vs. LDC on Vocals
« on: September 16, 2013, 07:45:55 pm »

Any interest or curiosity in this mic (4V U)?

It has a Schoeps SDC BUT with an exterior element around the capsule ...
made specifically for studio vox recording.

Or would you, if called for, as some classical singers do, use their CMC6 (or 5) with the capsules (4, 41, 21, etc.)?
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klaus

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Re: Schoeps new Studio Vocal Mic
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2013, 08:09:58 pm »

The proof will certainly be in the pudding. And an SD-pudding's reputation as a 'lite' desert, compared to the more caloric LD pudding, needs to be disproved in the field*, even when made by a dedicated microphone company like Schoeps.

*There is something lacking for me in even the best SD studio vocal mics. But I have not been able to clearly pinpoint the technical reason for its shortcomings. Is it capsule surface area? Do larger diaphragms pick up more? Do larger-size mics allow for placement of bigger, better components? (This was certainly the case in the tube mic era, where larger capacitors and transformers allowed for more robust, distortion-free, higher res performance.

Why don't we see more B&K high voltage measuring mics in the studio? I heard some outstanding rural acoustic blues recordings, made in the field. Their s/n and overall musicality on guitar and harmonica was astonishing. Yet, on the same recordings, vocals, recorded through the same two B&K, fell (slightly put noticeably) short.

When I compare, let's say, a very good KM56 or KM54 to an M49, (both modified, to avoid model-specific idiosyncrasies and convolutions) I can instantly hear the difference in "resolution" (don't clobber me for that expression, I cannot think of a better one right now).

So: why does Schoeps refer to the indisputable draw LDCs have as vocal micsin its story about this new SD mic? In order to better market an SD as a studio vocals mic?

I am not, for the moment, questioning, and cannot, through first-hand experience, examine their claims that the only difference between the two is diffuse field behavior in the higher frequencies, which, they claim, they addressed in the SD 4V U).
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Klaus Heyne
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David Satz

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Re: Schoeps new Studio Vocal Mic
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2013, 06:33:10 am »

> I am not, for the moment, questioning, and cannot, through first-hand experience, examine their claims that the only difference between the two is diffuse field behavior in the higher frequencies ... [emphasis added]

Where do they make this claim, specifically, please?

In the little "white paper" that accompanied the product release, Dr. Wittek points out that the diffuse-field response of a larger-diaphragm capsule begins to roll off at lower frequencies than with a smaller-diaphragm capsule.

That is a basic physical fact, not at all controversial, and easy to see (if one looks) in the polar diagrams for microphones. But I've never known Schoeps to say that it's the only difference. In fact I've never heard anyone claim that.

--best regards
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Jim Williams

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Re: Schoeps new Studio Vocal Mic
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2013, 10:48:35 am »

Much depends on where the pudding is served. Maybe not so much in a modern rock/pop production, but a classical opera singer would be very satisfied using the Schoeps designs.
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klaus

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Re: Schoeps new Studio Vocal Mic
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2013, 03:37:42 pm »

Jim: I am not referring to vocalists being recorded live on stage, in the middle of an orchestral ensemble, with sight-lines for the audience to consider, where engineers usually have to do a more distant, whole-ensemble pickup, but I was referring to classical music vocals rarely being close miked with Small Diaphragm condensers. Please cite some examples.

David: They made this claim here:
Quote
The fundamental idea was clear that only a small diaphragm capsule could meet the requirements for homogeneity of response curves and transparency of sound. But the special diffuse-field characteristics seemed to call for a large-diaphragm capsule, in which the pressure build-up due to the large membrane surface would cause the inevitable narrowing of the pickup pattern at high frequencies to begin sooner.
http://www.schoeps.de/en/products/v4u/application
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Klaus Heyne
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David Satz

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Re: Schoeps' New Studio Vocal Mic
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2013, 07:57:08 am »

But that doesn't say what you said it said ("the only difference between the two ...").

In any case, imitating a large-diaphragm capsule wasn't their goal; their goal was a certain kind of sound quality.

--best regards
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Marlan

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Re: Schoeps' New Studio Vocal Mic
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2013, 09:17:53 am »

Disclaimer: 

I should state off the bat that I'm a Schoeps devotee and have been for most of my professional life. Almost all of my most recent commercial recording sessions were done with a main tree of CMC6/MK2H microphones in tandem with other models as outriggers, soloist and spots like Sennheiser, Neumann, Lucas, DPA and Bock.

Firstly, on a non-technical and purely aesthetic note: This has to be one of the ugliest designs of a microphone I've ever seen. Sorry. I had to get that off my chest. I am aware however, that it's entirely possible that this microphone may indeed sound like the finest pudding in all the land. Only time will tell.

Here is my take on the whole LDC versus SDC comparison as it relates to vocal performance.

Some background: But only because I feel like telling a story first.

I remember when still a youngblood in the mid 90's and had landed one of my first jobs as a production engineer in training at Sony Classical. The halcyon days of the classical recording business were already clearly coming to an end. London Decca was about to fire their entire engineering staff, and I saw the festering corpse of my vocation on the horizon for the first time. I graduated too late (Cue out of tune gypsy violin).

An old time veteran classical engineer was talking with me one day. While I was trying to pick his brain about acoustic recording, I distinctly remember him saying that unlike a lot of orchestral engineers who were recording for labels or major motion pictures, he rarely used LDC microphones on low end instruments like celli or contrabasses (you always see that) because he felt that the larger surface area of the microphones diaphragms had a greater tendency to move and therefore distort at lower frequencies and sometimes higher spl's. He urged me to try using SDC's in this capacity and said they still reproduce the low end accurately but with a sharper focused sound. I believe clarity is what he was referring to.

Fast forward to the future like Michael J. Fox in his DeLorean. I've used just about every type of microphone there is, and using my ears, I can't necessarily prove nor disprove what he was trying to tell me. Some microphones work great on a particular musician playing a particular instrument in a particular space. Some don't.

Now the voice and my experience with it:

Because of a lot of the work I do for singers, I often find myself choosing different types of microphones for the human voice on a regular basis. For instance, while recording an opera during live performance, it would be impossible to use LDC microphones because of their physical footprint on the stage and the fact that the mics we use in this capacity HAVE to be small and as unobtrusive as possible.

Microphones I've used for this application have included Neumann KM140's, Schoeps MK4’s, DPA 4011's and as of late, the newer DPA 4023's. These microphones are strategically placed along the lip of the stage and pointed towards the chest of singers if standing several feet away. I agree with David Satz regarding low end roll off LDC mics in the diffuse field. I would never, even if I were allowed to, use LDC mics across the lip of a stage to pick up sources.

However, when I'm on a commercial location session where a singer is being featured, I almost always exclusively use LDC microphones. Usually tube mics. On occasion, a standard U87. There seems to me to be a much more aesthetically pleasing frequency response when using an LDC up close as opposed to a an SDC microphone on the human voice to my ears. Perhaps it is the positive attributes of proximity effect that only a large diaphragm mic will react to under these circumstances. Perhaps it is the larger surface area of the mic diaphragm or larger components within the bigger housing of an LDC mic as Klaus alluded to, that contribute to what MY EAR tells me is a beefier, reedier and open engaging sound quality. Perhaps at the age of 42 my ears are starting to exhibit the the beginnings of fatigue, and the slight but inevitable high frequency hearing loss that a large number of men start to experience after the age of 50. Not all (I had my ears checked 6 years ago and could still hear 20-20 thank god). By the way, I used to have a theory that older engineers love tube mics because they couldn’t hear all the high frequency information an sdc mic captures. That their ears were not as sharp and therefore loved the mid range “bloom” a lot of older tube mics seemed to impart on the sound. This was just a hypothetical theory not based on fact. Just gut intuition. I can’t say I really believe it anymore. Or, maybe I’m an example of my own suspicion???

Now I’m a big fan of putting your money where your mouth is, and feel the one true way to make a determination of which technique has better performance for you on any given day is to engage in a real world test where one can control the variables in as exacting a manner as possible to come to some sort of logical conclusion. Oh, and by the way, it will still be your opinion only.

Are you in a hall or studio? Can you measure carefully and have the same singer or narrator speak at the exact same distance to the different microphone setups? Have you used the exact same preamp? have you matched the gain level of each setup and buzzed them out with tone to get the meters to behave in as similar a fashion as humanly possible? You will hear differences for sure. Have I done a test like this? Nope. Why? I like what I like and I don’t really care “which is better”? I will however, always investigate new microphones for myself, listen and come to my own conclusions. As of late, my main soloist choice for vocals is my Lucas CS-1. I recently made a trio recording using Flea 49’s and fell in love as well. That will surely be next purchase.

My 2 cents only. And don’t forget- who the hell cares what I think anyway.

p.s.

If anyone is interested, I would be happy to assemble some short clips of different vocal recordings I've made using all the techniques described above. SDC diffuse field recording along the lip of a stage, LDC tube and LDC fet mics on a singers voice. Two recordings in particular feature the same singer performing in the same concert hall, on separate commercial sessions, singing music by the same composer. On one session he was tracked by a U87 and on another he was recorded with a Lucas CS-1.
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Jim Williams

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Re: Schoeps' New Studio Vocal Mic
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2013, 11:33:15 am »

I have used Schoeps CMC5's on lead vocals in recording studios. Usually it's for an artist that wants a very intimate sound, a sound without the bloom and largess of the LDC. I've also run both on the same source, at the same time. I recall a 1/2" was used on a Al Stewart CD back in the 1990's. George Massenberg also has some examples using 1/2" on vocals. Every film location guy in LA uses the Schoeps.

They do shine on a background vocal group. Get everyone in the right spot and they sound wonderful.

They also exibit far lower THD in the lowest octaves than any LDC. Some SDC models with 10 gig input impedances reach down to .001% THD at 20 hz, great for pipe organ recordings.

IME, the source was 90%, the mic was 10%. Microphones are tools. A good craftsman is always finding new uses for his tools. Sometimes that requires thinking outside the box.
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soapfoot

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Re: Schoeps' New Studio Vocal Mic
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2013, 11:39:07 am »


They do shine on a background vocal group. Get everyone in the right spot and they sound wonderful.


I do remember being struck recently at how great a BV mic the M221b was. I never would've thought to try it (I was the one singing on this particular occasion) but it was fantastic.
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klaus

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Re: Schoeps' New Studio Vocal Mic
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2013, 12:57:05 pm »

I have experienced the same complementary combination of SDC mics and background vocals.

Could it be that an SDC's sonic properties don't take the spotlight away from the big pudding (LDC main vocal)? If it was just a matter of EQ, that could always be fixed using an LDC. But maybe Jim is on to something with differing distortion properties of the two: maybe they complement the main event (LCD), but in the case of background vocals and instruments, would lack focus, and distract from the main vocals?

Again, I don't have a technical explanation.
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Klaus Heyne
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aremos

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Re: Schoeps' New Studio Vocal Mic
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2013, 01:16:34 pm »

I see a lot of classical vocalists now singing into 2 LDC's (stereo pair) & 1 Schoeps (SDC) in between.

One of the main reasons, I think, is because of movement. But they are mixing the 3 channels - at the end.
Very interesting & it comes out as 1 solo vox.

Marlan, nice post!
Have never used the Lucas but have tried the FleA 49 & it sounded just like their 47. Maybe the one I got was different ( without the 701 tube?).

So, would you use an LDC, an SDC or a combination to record a classical vox in a studio (controlled environment)?
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Marlan

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Re: Schoeps' New Studio Vocal Mic
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2013, 02:11:58 pm »

So, would you use an LDC, an SDC or a combination to record a classical vox in a studio (controlled environment)?

Good question. I consider both the recording studio and concert hall a controlled environment when recording and producing a closed session. I always use a combination of several microphones and then blend those signals until I get the desired results.

Below are a couple of links to recordings I've done just a year or so apart with the amazing young tenor, Nicholas Phan. This may provide you with a little idea of the different spaces, and highlight the differences between some studios and halls. Although the first excerpt is from a really nice studio with a 28x30 wood room and a 22 foot vaulted ceiling, it's still not the same as the second excerpt which was recorded in the recital hall of SUNY, Purchase. Please see pictures of both spaces. The second one is actually a shot of a recent Purchase session with the Lucas before mics were moved into final position (you can see the outriggers aren't that symmetrical). These were later adjusted slightly.

The first of Nick's records, Winter Words was done at BiCoastal Music Studios in Uopstate New York. This studio was one of the few places in New York where I recorded classical music outside of a hall or church. The track 'Before Life and After' is a nice place to start. The last disc we did, 'Still Falls The Rain' was in the "Green Monster" as I like to call Purchase's  C-Hall. Track 5 - 'We are Darkness in the Heat of the Day' is a nice one to compare with.

In the first excerpt, the piano was miced with a combination Schoeps omnis and cardioids together and blended. The room mics were carefully placed Schoeps MK2H omnis and Nick's vocal chain is a Brauner VMA in 'vintage' mode through a Neve preamp.

In the second excerpt which was recorded in the hall at Purchase, the piano was miced with Neumann SDC's. The hall mics were a main stereo tree of Schoeps MK2H and Sennheiser MKH 8020 outriggers. Nick's main vocal mic in this recording from the album 'Still Falls The Rain' was recorded with a Gunter Wagner U47w.

In the first disc everything was tracked to an SSL C200 console with SSL conversion into ProTools HD at 24/88.2

In the second "Hall recording", everything was tracked to a Metric Halo ULN 8 interface with Metric Halo's proprietary console capture software at 24/88.2 to a Macbook Pro laptop.

Because of the nature of a smaller studio environment, you will see that Nick's vocals are more predominant through the Brauner in the first example. It's not good or bad. It's what it is. Actually, correction: you might find it good or bad. What do I know?

In the second "Hall" example, even though the Wagner is a wonderful microphone, I relied just as much on the hall mics, which were strategically placed to pick up everything with the Wagner acting more as an "accent" mic, if you will.

It's really different. Perhaps not better or worse per say, but it more depends on what musical aesthetic you're going for. There are pluses to both as far as I can tell.

The main point of this as far as I'm concerned, is that room mics are essential when recording this type of music regardless of whether or not one is in a studio or hall. It opens up the voice and let's it breathe if you will, and doesn't impart that boxy monophonic quality a lot of studio recordings can sometimes have.

Even for me, as the engineer on these recordings, the studio version had a few of these negative sonic attributes associated with the sound, in my opinion. These are my ears I'm talking about. I feel Nick's performance and musicality transcended these variables. That's the way it should be. People like us know enough to get the hell out of the way so that the musicians who trust us with their gift can shine through no matter what.


Take a listen:

Nick through the Bauner in the studio with Schoeps room mics

Track 8:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/britten-winter-words-seven/id466776550

Nick through the Gunter Wagner and Metric Halo in the hall with Schopes and Senn mics

Track 5:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/still-falls-the-rain/id557390386
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Marlan

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Re: Schoeps' New Studio Vocal Mic: SDC vs. LDC on Vocals
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2013, 02:14:43 pm »

Forgot the photos. Sorry.
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Jim Williams

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Re: Schoeps' New Studio Vocal Mic: SDC vs. LDC on Vocals
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2013, 12:30:59 pm »

As I do a bit of location recording, I found the use of 1/2" condensers to be excellent for lead vocals. I use the AKG 535's here. Neumann KM105's are also rather good.

When mixed that sound about as good as live can get, no problems with not having a 1" capsule bloom and the 1/2" does a better job at feedback rejection and stage leakage. The only disadvantage is they will pick up everything so watch what you say to band members on stage!

The 535's have a bump at 8k hz, that common SM58 "presence peak" but I found it to still sound smooth without any excess spit. I tend to mix them flat and they sound just right.

A friend has a special AKG 535 that was made custom for Frank Zappa. It does not have the 8k peak, it's flat and very smooth sounding. I'm not sure if they used a CK-61 diaphram as the head is sealed in a brass casing. It is one heck of a sounding hand held vocal mic.
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Dan Lawrence

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Re: Schoeps' New Studio Vocal Mic: SDC vs. LDC on Vocals
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2013, 12:54:36 pm »

I sing like Johnny Cash meets Homer Simpson ... only way off key and with poor projection. Somewhere between baritone and bass w/ a stunning 1 & 1/3 octave range.  I was laying out scratch tracks for a tune one day and my Schoeps CMC6 (mk4 capsule I think) was on hand, so I was like, hey, just for #$*'ts and giggles, lets sing through this!

I was really shocked at how much I liked the sound I got. Of the mic, that is ... It almost made my voice sound, uh, ... nice?!

Reading this post I began wondering about lower tones and larger diaphragms, and low and behold many here have touched on that very issue. I have zero tech savvy, but appreciate y'all who enlightened us on the reasons why.

Anyway, great topic.

d
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