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Author Topic: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims  (Read 8580 times)

klaus

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Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« on: January 20, 2014, 07:50:37 pm »

Received a PM from a client, who wanted my opinion on this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rzzoFCm8qk&feature=youtu.be

Towards the end of the presentation, the presenter claims this:
"With the VMS you get the EXACT SOUND of classic and modern microphones and pre-amps".
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

aremos

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2014, 09:39:53 pm »

Didn't Antares (Auto-Tune) put something out like this years ago?

Where you could record with a 57 (or even a Radio Shack mic) and then put the original recording into the plug-in & make it sound like a C800G, C12, U47, etc.?
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Jim Williams

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2014, 11:22:46 am »

As I recall they included an Audio Upgrades 'modified' AKG 414 B-ULS in their samples. I always wanted my SM58 to sound like a modified 414.
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radardoug

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2014, 02:56:31 pm »

What a load of B**S**!  Quite smart though because you have to buy their hardware which is presumably not cheap.
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klaus

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2014, 03:30:54 pm »

"Slate's" premise here is to start with a proprietary, "completely frequency-flat, uncolored" microphone", upon which you are then able to superimpose the various mic sounds you wish to emulate through electronic manipulation.

One fundamental flaw in this approach (there may be others) is the mechanical properties of the capsule.
Anyone who has, for example, followed the lengthy discussions about the difficulties to reproduce the mechanical response of a Neumann M7 PVC capsule will understand that, even slightly different diaphragm tension, different substrate material, different sputtering methodologies... will alter the sound of the capsule, for everyone to detect and appreciate (or not).

This is just one of many optional capsules in the mix of hundreds of mics to be emulated.
In simple terms: you cannot electronically emulate or copy the complex mechanical/dynamic behavior of a capsule's movements.

And this is where the whole concept propagated so effectively (three microphone forums currently have threads on this new invention) may fall on its butt.
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Klaus Heyne
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Kai

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2014, 05:52:58 pm »

... the presenter claims this:
"With the VMS you get the EXACT SOUND of classic and modern microphones and pre-amps".
I have used various ways to model mics:
Antares, convolution and the "learn sound" option of Sequoias FFT Eq.
Modeling my own (say known) mics always yielded useful results.
Was it authentic 1:1 - no, but close if the mics where not too different.
Did antares give an exacting sound of a historic?
I have no idea, I don't know their "original".
If the VMS is decently built, it can be very useful.
I will have an eye on it.
Regards Kai
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soapfoot

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2014, 06:14:20 pm »

even if it were possible, it sure doesn't sound like much fun.
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David Satz

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2014, 10:51:27 pm »

Klaus, it isn't necessary for a device or software routine to "emulate or copy the complex mechanical/dynamic behavior of a capsule's movements" since the source material in the type of situation that we're talking about is already the output of a capsule. I think that the main flaw in the idea really lies elsewhere.

It may be possible to emulate very closely the response of a given microphone at one angle of sound incidence. But different capsule designs produce different relationships between their response at any one chosen angle of sound incidence versus their response at other angles.

This is why the manufacturers have to print different polar response graphs for their different microphone models; otherwise they could all use the same set of graphs, no?

So if you only record single-point sound sources in anechoic chambers, then I suppose an emulator could work pretty well for you. But with most real sound sources in most real acoustic spaces, a rather large amount of the sound energy arrives from different angles; I would think that even the best possible emulation would be less successful in that case.

--best regards
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klaus

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2014, 01:45:53 am »

Klaus, it isn't necessary for a device or software routine to "emulate or copy the complex mechanical/dynamic behavior of a capsule's movements" since the source material in the type of situation that we're talking about is already the output of a capsule.
How so? The source material in this system includes a mechanical-to-electrical transducer (condenser capsule). Let's assume for clarity of my argument, that the capsule they are using in their emulator mic is of sufficiently low enough quality, that its capacity to translate complex acoustical waveforms is severely compromised.

How then, could such capsule deliver to the electronic processor/emulator enough data points, for the processor to read and fill in the missing information to render, let's say, a K47 or MK2 capsule's characteristics? I could understand that this system could somehow work (never mind all the lossy processing from such a complex machine), if the exact dynamic behavior of the capsule was available for rendering. That way, one could possibly fake the sound characteristic of an M49, U47, M147 or M149 with the K47 capsule input available.

But if the timbral impulses of the original capsule-the kind that determine its characteristic personality- are not sufficiently present to trigger a specific pre-recorded mic model algorithm, how can it be faked? Wasn't this the same problem with the Antares mic modeler-where you supposedly could plug in your SM58, to produce the sound of an ELA M 251?

P.S.: if the video isn't an all-out fakery in the first place-no live footage is shown during the A-B tests starting at 2:09- but an actual comparison between a real U47 and the modeler system, I don't think that the result is all that flattering to the product: The sibilance of the modeler, with its thinned-out esses doesn't please my ears half as much as the U47 (with god knows what electronics and capsules inside!)- all this with Sennheiser in-ear phones straight through the Macbook Pro.
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Klaus Heyne
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David Satz

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2014, 08:54:19 am »

Sorry, Klaus, you apparently meant that the complex characteristics of the particular "target" capsule would not be present in the input signal, which is of course true. When you wrote "a capsule's movements" I thought you were saying that capsules generally have special modes of motion that can't be synthesized well enough for this type of tool to succeed at what it claims to do.

But even if you are saying that each particular capsule has such characteristics, that's unfortunately an inherently unprovable statement. There are ways to highlight the limitations of microphone modelers that don't have that problem, and what I wrote is one.

There are other contradictions in the claims made by this vendor. Why are two different, supposedly "completely neutral" microphones being offered--one large and one small? Are they not identical to each other, being both "completely neutral"?

I also wonder at the statement that the plug-in is neither a convolver nor a filter. More specifically I wonder whether whoever wrote the script knows the actual meaning of those terms, because if you're putting in one signal and getting out a non-linearly altered version of that signal, it's a filter. And I'll bet a shiny nickel that it does use convolution based on impulse response, directly or indirectly, whether or not the writer of the script realizes it.

One last point which is petty, I know, but: Isn't the guy singing into the back of the U 47 in the first part of the video? The label can be seen on the side facing away from him.

--best regards
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Kai

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2014, 09:42:58 am »

I'll bet a shiny nickel that it does use convolution based on impulse response, directly or indirectly, ...
I hold against this bet  :)

They claim their plugin has zero latency, this is impossible with convolution or any other type of windowing process like FFT.
It's (almost) possible eg. with FIR or IIR filters.
Additionally they seem to use saturation effects.

Of course they use filters of any make, or how else should the frequency response curve be adapted to the mic (and preamp!) they model?

I'm quite interested in their system. As soon as it's available here in Germany I will get one to test.

If you look at it as an investment - that not so good.
As it combines hard and software, you have to rely on, that the company building it will continue to exist and willing to update the software in the future.
Very likely that any time near or far this will no longer happen and render the system (per se) useless.
This will not happen with a real U47 eg.

Regards
Kai
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Jim Williams

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2014, 11:21:13 am »

The main flaw is a microphone is an analog device, all these emulations are dependent on a digitized signal.

So far no conversion I've ever heard can emulate the complex, non-band limited details of the analog source, whether a microphone, guitar, voice or orchestra.

A perfect simulator will be dependent on perfect conversion. Neither are available.
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brightmillion

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2014, 03:28:38 am »

How would it deal with proximity effect, if their mic is totally flat - how will it know how close I am singing to the mic, since it will in theory record a "flat" representation of my singing.. but when I switch models will it magically know how to adjust the proximity to make it sound like their respective mics "would have" recorded it? (or is this something that theoretically could be EQ modeled in..?)
To me that is the magic of a lot of vocal mics- the way a singer can play with proximity to get the appropriate "vibe" for a song before it even gets recorded.

On a more "hippie" take at the topic- It seems to me that every piece of gear has an (indirect?) quality that comes from the hardware, which in turn affects the final usage and result. Such as a guitar modeler that does strats, les pauls,etc. I find that you inherently play the same musical piece differently on a les paul vs a strat, and that may have some affect on the resulting "sound" we associate of that particular instrument that maybe can't be specified in a model. Or how the layout of the knobs on an EQ might influence how the piece is used (yes, you can always go against the design) but maybe what we all associate with a "sound" of a piece of gear is influenced by how it has most frequently been used?
Maybe its just me, but when I stand in front of a great mic I feel like I owe it to perform better ;) It really does pull out a better performance.. Singing into a 57 just doesn't make most performers reach for that magic. Even if they were to know that we'll "u47 model it in the mix"
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Jim Williams

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2014, 12:17:04 pm »

Saw it at NAMM yesterday along with the collection of virtual console screens. It all sounded like NAMM noise to me.
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BradL8068

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Re: Slate Virtual Microphone Claims
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2014, 04:27:02 pm »

Sadly I fear this will be "close enough" for new people entering the industry.

I run a three-room large facility in N.Y. Our overhead is incredible. All rooms have monitoring systems that cost about 80 Grand. I have consoles that cost around $500,000 new, and many vintage outboard eq's and compressors, a closet full of vintage microphones. Yet people working in their home studios are "close enough". Heck, I'll bet my expenditures on headphones alone exceeds the budget of many home studios.

MP3's were "close enough" to CDs, which were close enough to vinyl. Digidesign tried with liquid, Antaries tried with their mic modeler. What concerns me with Slate is he is currently respected as a plug in designer. A recent survey of my clients' desires for plug-ins all listed 'Slate'.

The irony to me, as far as his virtual console collection is: if older consoles were that colored they would not have been considered professional.

I wish this entire industry was more focused on compelling music, and capturing that sound, and less on gear and plug- ins.
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Brad Leigh, leighaudio.blogspot.com, leighaudio.com
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