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1st February 2012
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Low-cut on a MIC...

It might sound like a complete "noob" question, but when (if ever) do you use low cut filter ON THE MIC while recording?? I am experimenting with M149 and the six different options of low cut caught my attention.

I NEVER use low cut while recording on mics that have that option - I think that filtering (low end) is best left for the more optimal monitoring environment and while mixing. I must also add that I don't use compression when recording and with 24bit we can record with enough headroom to accommodate all the low end there is. So, why would I use low cut ON THE MIC? And have six options where to cut it.

Does low cut on the mic have any benefit over low cut with EQ in mixing?

I can understand that some high frequency bump achieved with different grids or a different style capsule is better than boosting HF with EQ because the possible phase shift (or accurately - exposes the comb filtering you might not have heard before boosting the highs) and it can in general sound more natural, is the story the same for low cut?

So - do you ever use low cut on the mic while recording or not? And if yes - why?
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1st February 2012
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Kudelski always had LFA on his Nagras
LF can overload a mic pre effortlessly
Attenuation at 40/80/160 Hz is essential in some situations
If you have good suspensions (Lyres) and proper mic stands (KnM) its a start
Cut on mics is normally proximity
Mixer LFA and good cans is SENSE.
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2nd February 2012
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I sometimes use it to save headroom in situations where I'm sure I don't need the low end anyway.
Although the digital mixers I use have analog low cut filters before the audio hits the converter, so I use that to save headroom most of the time.
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2nd February 2012
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There's very little, if any, energy coming out of most human voices below 80 Hz, so it could be argued that a cut at 80 will save you time later and help prevent unwanted noise/energy on the tracks. Same goes for other instruments - it's good to know the ranges of frequencies coming out of various sources.

Of course it depends on what type of recording - orchestral classical recording would warrant an open low end down to say 20.

As Rolo46 mentioned, low cut on a vocal mic is often due to a LF buildup due to proximity. You might want that "close, breathy" sound, but not the huge LF boost that comes with eating the microphone.
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2nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karlw View Post
There's very little, if any, energy coming out of most human voices below 80 Hz, so it could be argued that a cut at 80 will save you time later and help prevent unwanted noise/energy on the tracks. Same goes for other instruments - it's good to know the ranges of frequencies coming out of various sources.

Of course it depends on what type of recording - orchestral classical recording would warrant an open low end down to say 20.

As Rolo46 mentioned, low cut on a vocal mic is often due to a LF buildup due to proximity. You might want that "close, breathy" sound, but not the huge LF boost that comes with eating the microphone.
Yes, I know about those usual low cutting situations, even though I am against cutting low end by default even on voices - some can get even as low as 60Hz and cutting of low end can affect the timbre, too.

It is fine knowing the ranges (and I like having those charts, like the one I got with Bob Katz' mastering book - they are good to impress friends geeks), but I would not cut based on that - it sounds artificial many times - I wouldn't make that decision while recording and on cans... since it is easy to do that while mixing if and only if needed - I like full range signals and no EQ if not neccessary.

I usually just ignore those cut filters on the mics that have them, but seeing so many options on this mic made me wonder what would that be good for, since I never use it.

I rather lower the gain if there is excessive low end - hey, it's 24bit, I don't need to print hot... Also for proximity - I usually try to avoid it with proper placing of the mic or I use proximity as an effect to enhance some spoken word, etc. and decide exactly where to low cut in the mix, not on the mic.

I still can't quite understand why would low cut ON THE MIC be necessary if you use adequate preamps and converters - and today almost all are.

Anyway - because there are so many options of cutting low end on this mic I'll experiment a bit, but probably I'll return to no cut approach anyway.

I thought there was maybe a more clear cut answer (of a technical/electronic/physical nature) about a possible benefit of cutting low end on the mic over cutting on preamp/board/EQ/computer.
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2nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Listener View Post
I thought there was maybe a more clear cut answer (of a technical/electronic/physical nature) about a possible benefit of cutting low end on the mic over cutting on preamp/board/EQ/computer.
Perhaps to prevent excessive LF content from overloading circuitry in the mic itself rather than the preamp, or saturating a mic's output transformer (or input transformer in a preamp).
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2nd February 2012
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Sounds like you've answered all your own questions.

I do think that low cut on a mic was probably more important with earlier equipment designs, for instance those with transformers, in that perhaps you might saturate and/or get distortion from plosives and excessive lows.

It comes down to how it sounds - the slope and character of low cut in a mic is probably different than what you get with a preamp or console, although of course the better of the latter will give you more flexibility and probably the ability to match what you could get from the mic.

Certainly, many modern mics forgo the low cut to save costs, since the same or at least similar processing can be found elsewhere in the chain.
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2nd February 2012
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Thanks for the ideas. Appreciated.
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2nd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Listener View Post
Yes, I know about those usual low cutting situations, even though I am against cutting low end by default even on voices - some can get even as low as 60Hz and cutting of low end can affect the timbre, too.
The low end of the range of even the most basso profundo has a frequency around E2 (82.4Hz) Only (rare) Russian "Oktavist" singers can reach 60Hz, but you didn't mention what kinds of recording you are referring to?

Quote:
It is fine knowing the ranges (and I like having those charts, like the one I got with Bob Katz' mastering book - they are good to impress friends geeks), but I would not cut based on that - it sounds artificial many times - I wouldn't make that decision while recording and on cans... since it is easy to do that while mixing if and only if needed - I like full range signals and no EQ if not neccessary.
If you are not dealing with wind noise (either ambient or talent-based), or other kinds of low-frequency noise, then it seems possible that you don't need that kind of low cut.

Quote:
I still can't quite understand why would low cut ON THE MIC be necessary if you use adequate preamps and converters - and today almost all are.
Preamps that don't handle high-level LF well are probably NOT in the majority. Now if you only work with high-end equipment indoors, you may have never encountered equipment that works well with "normal" signals, but doesn't tolerate LF noise. But many of us work in environments and with equipment that makes low-cut quite necessary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bass_(voice_type)
Oktavist - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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2nd February 2012
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Thanks for some more opinion and ideas.

Yes, you are right, I have not encountered the situation when I would need low cut on the mic in recording, only when close micing flamenco guitar on stage did I use that directly on the mic (AKGc451), because the mixing desk had low cut at 80 and a bit higher was better for that application.

But I have to be a bit cocky and tell you that I have indeed heard an "oktavist". One of the most amazing choral performances I ever witnessed was Mikhail Glinka choir from St.Petersburg that were twice in my town and I went to see them both times. My jaw dropped when a bass soloist stepped a bit to the front of the choir and delivered the most powerful low energy I ever heard emanating from a human being, almost feeling his voice in my chest (without amplification!!). They were mostly singing Orthodox repertoire, but also some Russian classical and folk songs. It was an incredible choir with amazing bass section and THAT guy, and he was not the only one, there were two more soloists almost as powerful.

I have also recorded spoken word with two actors that reached below 80Hz... I actually posted short clips around here (no EQ applied): Tipps for recording an audio book

edit - I went to see if I can find the name of the soloist that amazed me so - no wonder he did - his name is Vladimir Miller and he's one of the world's greatest oktavists. Wow, and only now I learned that he is so famous for this. Well, it was obvious that it is not something you hear everyday... That's him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oMjR...eature=related



Quote:
Originally Posted by rcrowley View Post
The low end of the range of even the most basso profundo has a frequency around E2 (82.4Hz) Only (rare) Russian "Oktavist" singers can reach 60Hz, but you didn't mention what kinds of recording you are referring to?



If you are not dealing with wind noise (either ambient or talent-based), or other kinds of low-frequency noise, then it seems possible that you don't need that kind of low cut.



Preamps that don't handle high-level LF well are probably NOT in the majority. Now if you only work with high-end equipment indoors, you may have never encountered equipment that works well with "normal" signals, but doesn't tolerate LF noise. But many of us work in environments and with equipment that makes low-cut quite necessary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bass_(voice_type)
Oktavist - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Last edited by The Listener; 2nd February 2012 at 06:54 PM.. Reason: adding some more interesting trivia
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I used mixers with HP filters before the preamp stage of the mixer but in theory you can
overload the mics amp also if the the filter is after the peamp stage there

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3rd February 2012
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My video shotguns have the low cut filter on permanently. Those lowest frequencies are not needed, they might overload pre-amps and if the editing is done in a hurry without proper monitoring using only laptop speakers all kinds of needless thumps and wind/handling noises might get thorough.

For high quality studio and remote work I see not much need for the filters. In some cases yes if it is certain that filtering the lowest lows out will do no harm and could do some good.
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Regarding the lows in male choirs: I've sung in male and mixed choirs 15 years and in my experience, at least 25% of the pieces have tones below 80 Hz. It's common to see a C2 or D2, and a few pieces I've encountered reach H1. The lowest I've ever heard was Russian Orthodox music: All-Night Vigil by Rachmaninoff. There are a couple of G1's in that one!!
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3rd February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcrowley View Post
The low end of the range of even the most basso profundo has a frequency around E2 (82.4Hz) Only (rare) Russian "Oktavist" singers can reach 60Hz, but you didn't mention what kinds of recording you are referring to?
Ime most choirs I've sung in that perform modern choral music require the basses to reach C2 or even B1. We sing a piece now that has G1 in it(!) but it is optional... Then again it was written by a finish guy.

I never record choirs with low cut engaged on either the mic or pre and rarely, if ever do it when mixing either. Izotope RX helps fixing some stuff.
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9th February 2012
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Couldn't a low cut below e.g. 100 Hz be justified e.g. for female choirs if there is a risk of distant traffic noise, air conditioning rumble or mechanical noise from accidental footsteps and such?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evinrude View Post
Couldn't a low cut below e.g. 100 Hz be justified e.g. for female choirs if there is a risk of distant traffic noise, air conditioning rumble or mechanical noise from accidental footsteps and such?
well it could be useful if the choir doesn't have foot stomps, percussion or other stuff in the repertoire. Better leave it in until mix imo.
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9th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mats H View Post
Better leave it in until mix imo.
Unless the LF noise is high-energy and threatens to clip the microphone electronics and/or the mic preamp. And that brings us full-circle back to the original intent of LF cut in microphones. Thankfully, for modern electronics, intermod distortion is not a significant issue anymore.
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10th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evinrude View Post
Couldn't a low cut below e.g. 100 Hz be justified e.g. for female choirs if there is a risk of distant traffic noise, air conditioning rumble or mechanical noise from accidental footsteps and such?
Justified, sure, but it depends on what the filter is doing to the audio band that is wanted, in terms of both program material and room tone.

As to whether to deploy filters in the microphone v. something elsewhere, sometimes microphones-particularly older school ones-have much nicer filters available than some other options now commonly used.
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If you're recording and have separate tracks for each mic, you could adjust in post. If you're mixing mics to 2 or doing reinforcement, Hpf is mighty. Stop the problem before it goes anywhere else. For cardiodd mics the problem would be linearity, which changes with proximity to the source.
Gavino Murgia sings traditional Sardinian music and can hit an A, 55 Hz. He sounds like a walking volcano. If a sound like that is close to a cardioide, it will sound undoubtedly bass heavy and one may wish to tribble with trouble when the answer is to find the corner and cut the lowdown
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Sometimes I use a hpf when recording VO if there's a definite and consistent problem like ventilation or air conditioning noise. Usually no higher than 80hz.

Since low frequencies often "tic" when making a straight edit, it makes narration or character voice editing much easier. I could always do crossfade edits, but when dealing with hundreds of edits a straight cut is much faster.

Otherwise usually not.
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12th February 2012
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I always record on location
LFA is essential for traffic,footfall on stages, airco and rumble
I like cityskyline ambience, it makes it real, but it must be controllable
I was recording Tibetian singing bowls recently,very close, hi gain, in omni/ms , occasional direct hits of the array by felted hammers were total speaker killers.
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