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Guitar Cabinet Mic Shootout - by Sweetwater's Lynn Fuston Dynamic Microphones
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Guitar Cabinet Mic Shootout - by Sweetwater's Lynn Fuston

I'm at it again.

I've heard lots of questions about some new mics that are challenging the perennial favorite SM57. Most people want to know how different these new mics sound compared to the mic they've been using for years. I wanted to know the same thing. So guess what. Yep, I took 21 mics into the studio, set them up, and listened to them side by side.

And you can too. There are 320K MP3s in the article so you can play them on your phone or computer but there's a link to the 24/96 files so you can download them and really dig in. You can even mix and match pair of mics.

Let me know what you think. Which mics do you prefer? Did you learn anything about the sound of these mics? I know I did. I'd never heard an i5 on a guitar cab before. And I had no idea how big a difference there was between an M80 and an M81, or an e609 compared to an e906.

Plus there's lots of geeky engineering details. Enjoy.

https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/gu...-mic-shootout/
Attached Thumbnails
Guitar Cabinet Mic Shootout - by Sweetwater's Lynn Fuston-laser-mic-calibration.jpg  

Last edited by Lynn Fuston; 1 week ago at 03:59 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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Thread Starter
Here are the mics we auditioned.

Shure SM57
Telefunken M80-SH
Telefunken M81-SH
Audix i5
sE Electronics V7
Sennheiser e609
Sennheiser e906 (with presence boost engaged)
Beyerdynamic M 88 TG
Audio-Technica AE2300 (no lowpass filter)
Sennheiser MD 421 II (M setting)
Shure SM7B (no bass rolloff, no mid-range emphasis)
AKG C414 XLII (cardioid pattern, -12dB pad engaged)
Neumann U 87 Ai (cardioid pattern, -10dB pad engaged)
Neumann U 47 FET (no pad engaged)
Audio-Technica AT4047/SV (with -10dB pad engaged)
Audio-Technica AT5045
AEA N22
Royer R-121
Royer R-10
sE Electronics Voodoo VR1
Beyerdynamic M 160
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Interesting. Hard to say what I prefer, especially with the dirty examples, because context matters so much. "Thin" sounds right when something else fills in the bottom, for example.

You're right about M80 vs M81 -- huge difference.

And not being familiar with that particular strain of 414, I wasn't expecting it to be that dull. Or warm. Take your pick.

All in all, though, a brilliant compared-to-what shootout. Amazing work, sir.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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Did you vary the technique with each mic or were they all put right up to the grill? I never really liked the sound of any mic right up in the grill, at least not at settings that sound good in the room.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psykostx View Post
Did you vary the technique with each mic or were they all put right up to the grill? I never really liked the sound of any mic right up in the grill, at least not at settings that sound good in the room.
If you read the article, it will answer most of your questions. Here's the link:

https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/gu...-mic-shootout/

All the mics were positioned in exactly the same place.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Cool test I would like to see (ok, hear) other cool dynamics in the mic list:

Beyerdynamic M201TG
Audio Technica ATM 650
Electro Voice ND46
AKG D40
Lewitt MTP 440 DM but Sweetwater no longer carry those, killer mic though.
Old 6 days ago
  #7
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Thread Starter
Keep those cards and letters coming. No one has said we won't do a part 2 with even more mics.

I had several other mics that I wanted to include. Just so you know, this was originally going to be 12 mics. It ended up as 21. (We actually recorded 25 in all.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mario-C. View Post
Cool test I would like to see (ok, hear) other cool dynamics in the mic list:

Beyerdynamic M201TG
Audio Technica ATM 650
Electro Voice ND46
AKG D40
Lewitt MTP 440 DM but Sweetwater no longer carry those, killer mic though.
Old 4 days ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
If you read the article, it will answer most of your questions. Here's the link:

https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/gu...-mic-shootout/

All the mics were positioned in exactly the same place.
That mic placement is far from optimal for a lot of those mics. Placing an LDC mic right up in the grill is not going to sound pleasant unless you set up the amp with your ear to the grill; and then it won't sound right in the room for the guitarist. If those sound-files are of that mic placement I'd like to hear what the amp sounded like from the guitarist's position.
Old 4 days ago
  #9
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psykostx View Post
That mic placement is far from optimal for a lot of those mics.
Totally true. But we're not comparing a certain mic here versus the same mic there, we're wanting to hear what the mics sound like relative to each other. In that sense, Lynn did it right. And I think if he had to pick a spot, that was a good one.
Old 4 days ago
  #10
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by psykostx View Post
That mic placement is far from optimal for a lot of those mics. Placing an LDC mic right up in the grill is not going to sound pleasant unless you set up the amp with your ear to the grill; and then it won't sound right in the room for the guitarist. If those sound-files are of that mic placement I'd like to hear what the amp sounded like from the guitarist's position.
The guitarist's position was in the control room next to the amp head, not in the studio by the cabinet. You can see that in the pictures.

Don dialed in the sound by listening to what was coming out of the cabinet.

By the way, we experimented with mic placement (vertically, horizontally, proximity) and came up with this position as the optimum on that amp/cabinet combination.
Old 4 days ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Totally true. But we're not comparing a certain mic here versus the same mic there, we're wanting to hear what the mics sound like relative to each other. In that sense, Lynn did it right. And I think if he had to pick a spot, that was a good one.
If we had positioned 21 mics each in a different spot on the cabinet at different distances and then presented all 21 of those audio clips, what could a listener conclude from listening to the samples?
Old 4 days ago
  #12
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
If we had positioned 21 mics each in a different spot on the cabinet at different distances and then presented all 21 of those audio clips, what could a listener conclude from listening to the samples?
That Lynn Fuston has a very, very patient guitar player.
Old 4 days ago
  #13
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by psykostx View Post
That mic placement is far from optimal for a lot of those mics. Placing an LDC mic right up in the grill is not going to sound pleasant unless you set up the amp with your ear to the grill; and then it won't sound right in the room for the guitarist. If those sound-files are of that mic placement I'd like to hear what the amp sounded like from the guitarist's position.
One thing I learned long ago is that for a comparison to be meaningful there must only be a single variable. Introducing even a single other variable or using any other methodology makes the comparison meaningless because you don't know which factor is the influencer.

If I said "The SM57 through the BAE 1073 at a distance of 6" from the grille when positioned 2" from the center of the speaker sounds like this. Then the e609 through the Chandler TG2 preamp at a distance of 4" from the grille when positioned 3.5" from the center of the speaker sounds like this," what could you conclude?

Sure they'd sound different. But was it due to the mic? The mic position? The preamp? The distance off center?

In any given recording, there are potentially dozens of variables — all significant. It's simply impossible to explore them all except on your own time in your space. I should know — I've been exploring these kinds of variables for decades now. It's endlessly fascinating to me. And I learn something every time I compare them. (Which is why I keep doing them.)

This comparison was designed to show what 21 different mics sound like in the exact same position with the exact same signal chain, the exact same performance — everything exactly the same.
Old 4 days ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
One thing I learned long ago is that for a comparison to be meaningful there must only be a single variable. Introducing even a single other variable or using any other methodology makes the comparison meaningless because you don't know which factor is the influencer.
Well if you're quantifying the results and comparing them directly without applying any conversion to adapt the results, then definitely.

But if you simplify the formula into "task, tool, technique, and result" you can do qualitative analysis and still be subjective. There can be more than one task, more than one tool, and more than one technique applied to achieve a particular result or various results, then compare that with the task. It gives you a way to effectively evaluate the tools without having to compare apples to candy apples to chocolate covered strawberries haha

For example, to evaluate modes of transportation you could then have a list of tasks from traveling to the grocery store to traveling to a vacation spot. Then you have modes of transportation. And finally you can evaluate various aspects of each to determine an optimal method of transport for each task. Even if you only had one task, tool or technique it still works; you could rule out air travel as a way to get from your house to your car in the driveway. You can compare things that have almost nothing in common with qualitative analysis. All you have to do is identify the qualities desired and compare them to what's obtained.
Old 4 days ago
  #15
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If doing that helps you get a better guitar tone, then I'm all for it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by psykostx View Post
For example, to evaluate modes of transportation you could then have a list of tasks from traveling to the grocery store to traveling to a vacation spot. Then you have modes of transportation. And finally you can evaluate various aspects of each to determine an optimal method of transport for each task. Even if you only had one task, tool or technique it still works; you could rule out air travel as a way to get from your house to your car in the driveway. You can compare things that have almost nothing in common with qualitative analysis. All you have to do is identify the qualities desired and compare them to what's obtained.
Old 2 days ago
  #16
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Jerrick's Avatar
 

Listened to all of them by starting from the bottom. I think I need to pick up one of the sE Voodoo mics. That thing sounded real nice, nice full and dark sound to it. And a good price. That mic mixed in with the 57 or i5 sounds awesome.
Old 1 day ago
  #17
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I like the 57.
Old 1 day ago
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toowrongfoo View Post
I like the 57.
I've heard from a few people that share that sentiment.
Old 22 hours ago
  #19
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Thanks for doing this, glad to see the beyer m88 in the list. It’s still one of my favorites and one lives in my iso cab with a tul g12.
Old 22 hours ago
  #20
Gear Nut
 

Well, I dunno if anyone cares why, but the reason is that that sound is going to be workable in nearly any mix, any time, any situation.

The other vary too much. Too warm (needs eq) to thin (needs eq) too whatever (....needs eq)

I you recorded something/anything with the 57 examples, I can make it work, and I'm a bedroom composer with no credits. The others, very situational.
Old 22 hours ago
  #21
Gear Nut
 

BTW, I really appreciate this kinda stuff. I can't do that, so it's really helpful to me and my ears to get a reality check with this kinda thing.
Old 14 hours ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtripper View Post
Thanks for doing this, glad to see the beyer m88 in the list. It’s still one of my favorites and one lives in my iso cab with a tul g12.
The M88 was the real standout in this group to my ear. It offered something that none of the others did. Some of the other mics were EQ'able to sound like something else but the grit that the M88 offered was a characteristic I don't think any other mic in this group could duplicate.
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