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Small comparison Forssell SMP-2 vs. RME Micstasy - Tabla samples
Old 23rd January 2009
  #1
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Talking Small comparison Forssell SMP-2 vs. RME Micstasy - Tabla samples

GS member adebar sent me a pair of Josephson mics for testing (more on that after the weekend, will try them against a pair of Neumann KM131), and the parcel happened to contain an SMP-2 also... heh (the setup was with another studio for testing, they then sent it to me straight).
Here's a Q&D test on a Tabla, using a very well matched pair of AKG C 414 B-TL (not the TL-II, i.e. without treble boost). The 414 is my favourite Tabla mic. I put the mics side by side, as close together as possible, and about 50 cm or so above the drums (more than I'd usually do, in order to minimize effects from the different position). Files are mono and sample-aligned, just place them on two DAW tracks and solo channels to compare. The signal from the SMP went into a line input of the Micstasy for AD conversion. Both preamps were set to equal gain (the SMP's gain controllers are nice...). The Micstasy track was level-matched, i.e. raised by about one dB.

The following disclaimers apply:
  • The room is not ideal (too small)
  • The instrument itself is decent, but not great (mainly the right-hand drum) and the sitting position was not quite ideal.
  • I'm terribly out of practice... And I had to breathe sometimes.
  • Not everybody is familiar with the instrument. Might try something else on Sunday, if time allows it.

I personally can't really hear a difference... Sometimes I feel the Micstasy is a minute tad brighter, sometimes I feel the opposite. Sometimes I feel I hear that extra "something" the SM seems to have added (or not subtracted) on some of Ivo's samples, and sometimes I don't. The same applies to some piano samples I tried with Beyer and Josephson mics, but I won't upload these. I'll just say that even on those, I find it very hard to reliably hear a difference. Please listen on good speakers or headphones, else you'll not hear a difference.

BTW, it is impossible to create MP3 files here, I hear compression artefacts on some strokes even at 320k.

Daniel
Attached Files

fors.wav (5.55 MB, 3996 views)

mics.wav (5.55 MB, 4135 views)

Old 23rd January 2009
  #2
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It is mono Everything would sound quite similar and unified in this case ... Why don't you record it with a full stereo pair (each case). It would tell a bit more, I am sure ... (depth, space etc. would suddenly come on stage) ... In this way it is quite limited (whatever preamp you would use)
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
It is mono Everything would sound quite similar and unified in this case ...
If the preamp makes a big difference, one should be able to hear it in mono. Why would the difference apply to parameters of stereo recordings mostly? What about (pop/rock/jazz) vocal recordings, why would anyone even bother about the preamp..?

Quote:
Why don't you record it with a full stereo pair
Because I neiter have 4 identical mics nor a splitter. I find non-identical recordings (separate takes) a bit problematic.

Daniel
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
I find non-identical recordings (separate takes) a bit problematic.

Daniel
I don't at all ... Especially in case of tabla when the position of mics and instruments is 100% fixed ...
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
I don't at all ... Especially in case of tabla when the position of mics and instruments is 100% fixed ...
But the playing isn't... And I wouldn't normally record Tabla with a stereo pair close up anyhow. It's a mono instrument IMO.
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
And I wouldn't normally record Tabla with a stereo pair close up anyhow. It's a mono instrument IMO.
Mono ? With two separate drums, two hands and two completely different sounds ? )
Old 23rd January 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
Mono ? With two separate drums, two hands and two completely different sounds ? )
Absolutely... The hands and drums are musically not really separate, and they are positioned very close together, so there is no audible angle unless you put your head right in front of the Tabla when listening... Therefore, to artificially spread them up L/R is a big mistake IMHO, esp. in the context of a recording where the Tabla accompanies (often sitting slightly diagonally, which means even less of an angle between the drums from a listener's perspective). A small spread may be ok for a solo recording, even though I would personally see no need at all to ever use two microphones, even for Tabla Solo recording.
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
If the preamp makes a big difference, one should be able to hear it in mono. Why would the difference apply to parameters of stereo recordings mostly? What about (pop/rock/jazz) vocal recordings, why would anyone even bother about the preamp..?
Both, IvoΒ΄s and DanielΒ΄s, statements, are right in my view. For me also it is easier to hear differences on a stereo source. Most I even take a main pair in front of an orchestra to hear differences between preamps. It tells most about tonality, dynamics and definition.

On the other side Daniel is right. If I donΒ΄t hear a difference at a typical mono source like a voice, and if i do mainly voice recordings, why should I try it in stereo.

Preamps with almost no audible difference in mono do sound often more different on a stereo source.
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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Advice I've received from tabla players is to use a mic above each drum and one below each too. Spread to taste, but don't make it sound like the player has 6' arms.
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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Are we talking tabla? How can you place a mic bellow the drum, if the drum is on the floor???

Daniel, you may not be an indian master, but I would love to play like you!!! I never tried to play the tabla because it seems pretty difficult!!!
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozpeter View Post
Advice I've received from tabla players is to use a mic above each drum and one below each too.

Never seen or heard anything of the kind - esp. since I don't know how you'd place a mic below a Tabla... Sure you're not referring to Congas or so?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adebar View Post
Preamps with almost no audible difference in mono do sound often more different on a stereo source.
The only way I could do a test with two identical mic setups would be with two MS setups of a Beyer MC 803 and C-414 B-TL each... Not sure when I'd have an opportunity, and it might take a while to put two such setups up together...
Attached Thumbnails
Small comparison Forssell SMP-2 vs. RME Micstasy - Tabla samples-tabla2.jpg  
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by videoteque View Post
Are we talking tabla? How can you place a mic bellow the drum, if the drum is on the floor???
Maybe if the performance is on 2nd floor, you would place the mics on the ceiling of the 1st floor ? heh
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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He forgot to say the under-roof mic must be a PZM!!!
Old 1st July 2009 | Show parent
  #14
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Dream Setup

For about two weeks I had the opportunity to test a dream setup for a Harpsichord recording. GS member adebar sent me 2 Josephson C617 a Forsell SMP-2 and a Meitner Converter ADC8 MK IV. I wanted to compare in some way the results again 2 Schoeps MK2-S, and a Micstasy. Obviously it wasn't an AB Test, anyway the comparison was worth. Both configurations are really top, anyway I have to say the Forsell+Josephson+Meitner it's just fantastic. I was astonished about the quality and transparence.

I' ll try to attach two files of the recording. The position of the mics was the same.
Attached Files

Forsell.mp3 (1.86 MB, 3990 views)

Micstasy.mp3 (1.86 MB, 3976 views)

Old 1st July 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jormedinavic View Post
Obviously it wasn't an AB Test, anyway the comparison was worth. Both configurations are really top, anyway I have to say the Forsell+Josephson+Meitner it's just fantastic. I was astonished about the quality and transparence.

I' ll try to attach two files of the recording. The position of the mics was the same.
Yes there's an obvious difference, and off course the hi-freq lift from the MK2-S is clearly recognizable. So it's more a question of different microphones than it is preamps, in this test.

That said - I strongly prefer the wonderful dramatic, full toned and atmospheric sound of the Forsell+Josephson+Meitner combo. Beautiful captured!

What configuration/position did you use the microphones in..?

Thanks for posting

::
Mads
Old 1st July 2009 | Show parent
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jormedinavic View Post
Obviously it wasn't an AB Test, anyway the comparison was worth. Both configurations are really top, anyway I have to say the Forsell+Josephson+Meitner it's just fantastic. I was astonished about the quality and transparence..
Have you got pictures of the setup? How were the mics positioned? I guess it's the same 617s ...
Can you do a test with identical microphones?

As for the original files, I don't know which to prefer... The 617s have that extra mid-range that I've also noticed when comparing them to the KM131 (and which I'm not too fond of), and the Schoepses are a bit brigt at the very top, as Mads pointed out. If you shave off a dB around 3k here and a dB or so around 10k there, the samples seem almost indistinguishable, at least in the louder passages.
Old 1st July 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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Pictures

Here some pictures!
Attached Thumbnails
Small comparison Forssell SMP-2 vs. RME Micstasy - Tabla samples-4933_110012577736_622977736_2189410_2489922_n.jpg   Small comparison Forssell SMP-2 vs. RME Micstasy - Tabla samples-4933_110012612736_622977736_2189415_6203191_n.jpg  
Old 4th July 2009 | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
Absolutely... The hands and drums are musically not really separate, and they are positioned very close together, so there is no audible angle unless you put your head right in front of the Tabla when listening... Therefore, to artificially spread them up L/R is a big mistake IMHO, esp. in the context of a recording where the Tabla accompanies (often sitting slightly diagonally, which means even less of an angle between the drums from a listener's perspective). A small spread may be ok for a solo recording, even though I would personally see no need at all to ever use two microphones, even for Tabla Solo recording.
I guess you are talking about spot mics here Daniel.

I believe the main reason to use two mics in stereo in any recording of any instrument large or small is to secure the instrument image between the loudspeakers, including some acoustic cues from the recording space, which is usually better than the listening/lounge room. Panned mono can secure the instrument between the speakers, but without the acoustic cues, so it generally sound very uninteresting.
Old 4th July 2009 | Show parent
  #19
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I first said waow when I listened the Josephson-SMP2-Meitner after having listened first to the Schoeps-Mictasy. Then I had a doubt and checked the levels. The Josephson mp3 is 1.4 dB louder. After correction, I would be much happy with the Schoeps (which I have already) and the Mictasy (how significant is the sound improvement with respect to a Fireface 400 ?), because it sounds for me as good as the much more expensive Josephson-SMP2-Meitner combo. I listened on Fireface400 + Beyer DT 990 Pro.
Old 4th July 2009 | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
I guess you are talking about spot mics here Daniel.
No, not in the sense of spots that go with a main pair. I would usually work with close-up mics only on Indian Music setups.

Quote:
I believe the main reason to use two mics in stereo in any recording of any instrument large or small is to secure the instrument image between the loudspeakers, including some acoustic cues from the recording space, which is usually better than the listening/lounge room. Panned mono can secure the instrument between the speakers, but without the acoustic cues, so it generally sound very uninteresting.
Nontheless, in this case, and even if I were to use a stereo pair (which would be an additional ambience mic rather than a real main mic), I would still use a siingle mic. The Tabla is, in any normal listener's position, a mono source, there is nothing to spread L-R, just a pan position of the whole instrument...
Old 5th July 2009 | Show parent
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
The Tabla is, in any normal listener's position, a mono source, there is nothing to spread L-R, just a pan position of the whole instrument...
Unless a listener has just one ear, EVERYTHING is a stereo source for him ... For me, tabla is a typical stereo instrument, having two separate left/rght distinguished drums, each producing a different sound, each played by one hand ... If you sit in front of the tabla, it is very much stereo instrument
Old 5th July 2009 | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
Unless a listener has just one ear, EVERYTHING is a stereo source for him ...
No, the source may be mono (like a solo flute, voice, violin), it's the room that may make it stereo for the listener. And I'm referring to reproduced sound. Maybe I should say point source rather than mono source. The tabla sound will also come from one direction in a live concert setup (mostly from the left, if it's not a Tabla solo), that's why there is no need to spread it in the stereo spectrum.

Quote:
For me, tabla is a typical stereo instrument, having two separate left/rght distinguished drums, each producing a different sound, each played by one hand ... If you sit in front of the tabla, it is very much stereo instrument
It's pretty much a point source at any realistic distance from the listener. It doesn't really become stereo unless you put your head right between the drums, which the Tabla player may find confusing...
And the two drums/hands are not at all musically independent, which I would consider another argument against tearing them apart...

Daniel
Old 5th July 2009 | Show parent
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
Unless a listener has just one ear, EVERYTHING is a stereo source for him ... For me, tabla is a typical stereo instrument, having two separate left/rght distinguished drums, each producing a different sound, each played by one hand ... If you sit in front of the tabla, it is very much stereo instrument


Why does this come up in every thread about tabla?? Here is some info about Zakir Hussain's live setup at a particular concert.
"• One (1) microphone for Zakir Hussain with a boom stand that reaches from the floor in front of the stage to the instrument. "
1. Tabla Neumann KM 84 / 184 / 105 / or similar (have one SM 57 available as a back up)


Zakir is the master of the tabla, and to think he doesn't know what he is doing would make you a bit delusional
Old 5th July 2009 | Show parent
  #24
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I don't think it really matters what a master tabla player thinks, what he wants may have more to do with reliability or practicality. I am understanding Daniel more now that he has said point source. The table is a "small" source, all the sound comes from a small area.

But a stereo recording, even of a point or small source will always sound better than a mono recording of the same instrument.

When I am recording a point source and want it positioned accurately without any artificial expansion of its image or sound, I use Blumlein. I also use Blumlein for spotting singers in lieder recitals for the same reason.
Old 5th July 2009 | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
...EVERYTHING is a stereo source for him ...

typical mix up of source and receptor... or
cause and consequence...
Old 5th July 2009 | Show parent
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
I don't think it really matters what a master tabla player thinks, what he wants may have more to do with reliability or practicality.
... especially in a live setup.

Quote:
I am understanding Daniel more now that he has said point source.
Yes, I guess this term is more, errrr, to the point (har, har...)

Quote:
But a stereo recording, even of a point or small source will always sound better than a mono recording of the same instrument.
I am obviously not propagating mono recordings (I'll leave that to others... ). In practically any setup (even a solo performance), the Tabla will not be alone, there will be a sitar or so, or a sarangi or harmonium for a solo, and at least a tanpura... Enough to get some kind of stereo, even if it's just created by panning mono signals. But panning the two drums L&R, even partly, is something I'd never do...


Daniel
Old 6th July 2009 | Show parent
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
No, the source may be mono (like a solo flute, voice, violin), it's the room that may make it stereo for the listener.
If the mentioned sources would be infinitely small (zero size), then (in an open non-reflective space) yes. In case they have some size and produce sound that is received by two receptors (ears) placed at two different points, it will be always stereo. The same like with eyes - when using two, the world and everything in it becomes 3D.

As for the tabla - IMHO the two drums are musically independent and play a different (musical and sonic) role, if not, they would use just one drum and even that would be "stereo" But, of course, it is not a question of spreading them extreme L/R when mixing. As David says, even a small stereo would always sound better than a plain mono.
Old 6th July 2009 | Show parent
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
If the mentioned sources would be infinitely small (zero size), then (in an open non-reflective space) yes. In case they have some size and produce sound that is received by two receptors (ears) placed at two different points, it will be always stereo. The same like with eyes - when using two, the world and everything in it becomes 3D.
Oh well... Things that are 5 or 10 m away aren't really all that 3D anymore. Same with small sound sources (Flute, Violin, Tabla). There isn't really any significant stereo spread IMHO (unless of course you listen at a distance of 50 cm...).

Quote:
As for the tabla - IMHO the two drums are musically independent and play a different (musical and sonic) role, if not, they would use just one drum and even that would be "stereo"
Sorry, but that's simply incorrect. There are no musically independent or separate roles, rhythms or patterns between the two drums. Everything belongs together...

Quote:
But, of course, it is not a question of spreading them extreme L/R when mixing. As David says, even a small stereo would always sound better than a plain mono.
What's the point...? If you use a main mic setup only, you will get the stereo that the room provides. If you close-mic, you can pan individual instruments, but spreading the Tabla isn't of much use, I think. I would however, use two mics on a Sarod, Sitar, Santur, Vina, etc...

Daniel
Old 7th July 2009 | Show parent
  #29
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as a professional tabla player and sound engineer, i can definitely understand both sides of this debate. in a live context especially, 2 mics and stands and a vocal mic is a lot of hardware in front of a seated musician, especially for such an organic sound. on the other hand, i use 2 mics on the tabla is not for a stereo spread, but so i can process the 2 sounds differently. i like to compress the tabla, while the baya (the left, or larger drum) i usually leave less compressed, as it seems to have a much smaller dynamic range. several of the serious pros and my teachers usually use just one mic, they also are not sound engineers, and when they hear my recordings, they all seem to love the sound i get. i don't have a million choices of mic, but at a range of more than 8 or 10 inches, i hear too much bleed to make a 2 mic setup work. the room tone also comes in at larger distances, this can be good or bad. some musicians prefer a very dry tabla sound, and further mics can make that tricky. personally, 2 AKC c418's seem fine to me. the single point X/Y mics can accomplish both aspects of this dilemma, especially at short distances. the 2 drums (to me) play 1 musical voice, the rhythm part. however they produce sound differently and are 2 separate objects in the universe. i can point 1 mic at a kit or 3 or 7 and get a great sound (hopefully). recently too, tabla is coming out of the ethno niche and into popular music, (listen to Zakir on Tabla Beat Science) there's all kinds of ring modulators, filters, distortions and reverbs on 1 drum, while the other stays clean and "normal"

is there ever only 1 way to record anything???
cheers friends!

(oh and listen to him on Material's Hallucination Engine, insane!!!!!! he plays with bootsy, bernie worrell, bill laswell, sly and robbie (from the wailers) wayne shorter, some of the "planet drum" guys and others (one of my favorite albums EVER!!))
Old 10th July 2009 | Show parent
  #30
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Single or point source, there is often a real benefit to record that in stereo.

If IΒ΄ve a solist together with an orchestra the mono spot mic works well becuase you also have this solist in the main pair (or whatever is you setup like AB, XY, Decca Tree, ...)

When I record a solist AFTER the recording of the orchestra, I always take the solist with a stereo pair - sometimes even spot mic + stereo pair. This way it is far easier to integrate the solist in the mix of the orchestra.

A stereo recording always represents also a point source better than a mono recording.

Back to the comparison of microphones, preamps, cnverters: I prefer to do stereo recordings for comparisons. Because of the better representation of even a point source in stereo, you also can hear the very small differences in sound better than in a mono recording.
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