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Ultra-bandwidth mic suggestions?
Old 23rd March 2017
  #1
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charlieclouser's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Ultra-bandwidth mic suggestions?

I'm looking for any and all suggestions for mics that have ultra-high bandwidth. I know about the EarthWorks QTC-50 (50kHz claimed response) and the Sanken CO-100k (100kHz claimed response) - but there must be more, right? List all the ultrasonic-capable models you know in this thread!

The reason - I'm getting ready to do some sampling of various bowed metal instruments, and I'm hoping to make use of extended-bandwidth capture. The reason is because I'll be using these samples in situations where I might transpose them down quite a bit (multiple octaves), so if I can capture more ultrasonic information, then that might provide some interesting sonic effects that will be revealed when the samples are transposed (not digitally pitch shifted) down - as you would on any sampler. Like, map it across the whole keyboard with the root key at C4 and play C1.

I'd like to use my CraneSong Spider as my mic pre and A>D and pass the signal via AES to my rig - the Spider supports sampling rates up to 192k and hopefully its analog front end is up to the task of passing signal beyond 20k. CraneSong don't explicitly list the frequency response for the analog side of this unit, does anyone know or have a guess as to how high their bandwidth on the analog side goes? You think I'll be good with the Spider, or should I be looking at an EarthWorks ZDT mic pre and a different A>D? Or something else?

Thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks!

(cross-posted to the Post Production area as well)
Old 23rd March 2017
  #2
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Hi Charlie,

The problem with ultrasonic recordings (especially when you pitch down) is the noise/self-noise of the mic. The Sanken you mention is a good mic. The Earthworks is fairly noisy. B&K make a few mics that fit your needs: 4136 (70kHz), 4135 (100kHz), 4138 (140kHz), 4178 (100kHz). In general, you are looking at small electrets in a tube which make great measurement mics but not great "studio" mics.

If you can figure out the limit of the frequency you are looking for, going as low as possible on top-end bandwidth is best to limit noise.
Old 23rd March 2017
  #3
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I'd also contact Dave Hill on the Spider. I'm fairly sure he has the numbers on the pre. If not, Gordon Audio goes to 300kHz on their mic pres and I know a lot more do. You could also track using a DXD AD converter (DAD and Merging are the first I can think of that go easily that high.)
Old 23rd March 2017
  #4
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Thanks for the suggestions, pentagon. If possible, I'm going to try to rent before I buy, but I can't find the Sanken for rent anywhere in LA so far. Earthworks, yes. I'll look around for the B&K's as well. I realize that this type of mic isn't going to be a "normal" studio mic, with mojo or character or anything else that we normally like in a microphone - but I figure it's worth a shot. All of my other mics are "normal" music recording mics and therefore probably won't be capturing much of anything above 20k on a good day.

This will be more of an experiment to see if I see any concrete benefit - I'm often pitching these bowed metal samples downwards, and sure, they get evil and girthy sounding, but if a high-bandwidth mic captured some extra "hair" up top that would transpose down into the audible range in these situations, it might be cool.

The sound of some 100k fx samples transposed down in the Synclavier piqued my interest, but I'd like to avoid buying a Synclav if at all possible!
Old 23rd March 2017
  #5
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Pitching down ultrasonic recordings has been done before on a score I worked on for great effect -- though no one in the audience would have ever realized its origination which was applicable to the move at hand. (dead giveaway if mentioned so I'll leave it at that)
But it was a good sound and a great inside joke.

Sanken would probably send you out a loaner to try direct. B&K would do the same through DPA dealers -- but you could check with any of the measurement groups we have in LA too (JPL, all the car company design groups (Toyota, Audi, etc are in Santa Monica now) keep them around for NVR testing, even JBL in Northridge.) The other big group that keeps ultrasonic microphones is Telecoms (due to having to check interference with wildlife.) I'm sure the right guy or gal in any of these places would be up for loaning a mic out for a week.
Old 23rd March 2017
  #6
Gear Addict
The Sennheiser MKH8020 omni (10hz-60kHz), MKH8040 cardiod (30-50k),
MKH8050 hypercardiod (35-50k) and other patterns in the same series are
options. Very clean, quiet, excellent on and off-axis response, humidity safe due
to being RF condensers.
I own MKH 8040's and 8050's and
have Gordon preamps so let me know if you need a sample recorded at 2496 or 24192. (recording would be done to Sound Devices 788, could also do screenshot of spectral view inside Izotope
RX5).
PM me with questions.
Bill
Old 23rd March 2017
  #7
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Mkh800
Old 23rd March 2017
  #8
I like the Earthworks stuff. The QTC series isn't noisy, unless you think being quieter than most recording studios on Earth is noisy. Looking purely at the numbers can fool one into thinking something is significantly noisy. But how do those numbers translate to the real world?

Same thing with high frequency capture. None but the best playback devices will output the frequencies you capture above 20k. And only special ears will perceive it. On top of that, what are the limitations of your conversion? Most converters won't output audible signal well above 20k because it's not likely to be heard. What about the limitations of the preamps? Just how noisy do they become at maximum gain and what does that sound like in practice?

All of this stuff works together. So, from experience using them, I'd go with the Earthworks mics. Sanken is also a good company. But to be honest unless you're a researcher trying to record mosquito wings in an anechoic chamber, and you're using custom, esoteric equipment you're not going to get much out of ultra high frequency capture besides the specter of confirmation bias.

If I was going to try to push the limit of ultra-sonic capture I'd use a Gordon preamp and custom designed mics and converters. That's many kilobucks of investement (many, many kilobucks). Good luck with whatever you decide.
Old 23rd March 2017
  #9
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Sounds like a very nice assignment. Hope you'll share some of your bowed-metal transpositions.

Our earthworks QTC40K mics are pretty boundless, fwiw. And, as Enlightened says, your microphones won't be the frequency-limiting step.

John Caldwell
Old 24th March 2017
  #10
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Pueblo Audio mic pres go to 500kHz (JR series) @-3dB, +7.5dB gain; 300kHz @-3dB, +60dB gain
Grace Designs 801 mic pres go to 350kHz @-3dB, +40dB gain; 65kHz @-0.2dB, +40dB gain
can't find the Spider's numbers but the above two are common in foley tracking.
Old 24th March 2017
  #11
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The Earthworks mics have been redesigned and have a new capsule and the electronics were updated over a year ago. The QTC40 has a 2/12 db better noise spec and the output is 6db higher than the older series. The frequency response is flat to 40 kHz, mics like the Sennheiser MKH8020 and 8040 have the high frequencies boosted electronically. Not sure how much noise they have up there, look at the flatness of the curve if that is important for what you need to do. My choice for sound is the Millennia HV3-C and the HV32P portable version for less money, both ultra quiet super accurate straight wire with gain pres. Call the engineering Dept at Earthworks and see what they have to say, by the way I understand that they also make measuring mics, probably with higher noise floor.

P.S. The Pre and AD that you have is probably fine,no need to look at others.
Old 24th March 2017
  #12
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand View Post
I like the Earthworks stuff. The QTC series isn't noisy, unless you think being quieter than most recording studios on Earth is noisy. Looking purely at the numbers can fool one into thinking something is significantly noisy. But how do those numbers translate to the real world?

Same thing with high frequency capture. None but the best playback devices will output the frequencies you capture above 20k. And only special ears will perceive it. On top of that, what are the limitations of your conversion? Most converters won't output audible signal well above 20k because it's not likely to be heard. What about the limitations of the preamps? Just how noisy do they become at maximum gain and what does that sound like in practice?

All of this stuff works together. So, from experience using them, I'd go with the Earthworks mics. Sanken is also a good company. But to be honest unless you're a researcher trying to record mosquito wings in an anechoic chamber, and you're using custom, esoteric equipment you're not going to get much out of ultra high frequency capture besides the specter of confirmation bias.

If I was going to try to push the limit of ultra-sonic capture I'd use a Gordon preamp and custom designed mics and converters. That's many kilobucks of investement (many, many kilobucks). Good luck with whatever you decide.
You may have missed an important part of my first post - I will be transposing the recorded audio downwards by anywhere from one to four octaves or more - so even when I'm playing back inside a 48k session in a "normal" music mixing setting, any upper harmonics that were captured get brought down into the audible range. I'm talking about bowed metal instruments that have "nails on a chalkboard" upper harmonics. Say I record at 192k with a mic+preamp+A>D chain capable of 100k, edit my samples, map them to the keyboard, and then transpose down by four octaves. That 192k sample is now playing at an effective playback sample rate of 48k, so now, what was formerly upper harmonic spectra from 20k-100k is now in the range of 5k-25k - definitely audible, even in a 48k session played back through normal music mixing gear. I already have recorded these bowed metal instruments a lot, at 48k, and when I map the samples and transpose downward they sound evil and girthy, but there's no "hair" on the top. Four octaves down, the highest frequencies that were captured are now at around 5k - and just sampling at a higher rate doesn't do any good if the mic and preamp aren't capturing anything above 20k. That's the reason I'd like to try out a high-bandwidth mic - to take full advantage of my CraneSong mic preamp / A>D unit, which supports sampling rates up to 192k, and knowing Dave Hill's reputation, probably has pretty high bandwidth on the analog front end as well.

I'm not a dedicated user of using ultra-high sample rates for normal music recording - I've made albums at 96k but that was because we tracked to analog tape, dumped to ProTools at 96k for editing, and then transferred back to analog tape for mixing - totally a different application than what I'm talking about here.

This application is purely a sampling / sound design exercise.
Old 24th March 2017
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
Pueblo Audio mic pres go to 500kHz (JR series) @-3dB, +7.5dB gain; 300kHz @-3dB, +60dB gain
Grace Designs 801 mic pres go to 350kHz @-3dB, +40dB gain; 65kHz @-0.2dB, +40dB gain
can't find the Spider's numbers but the above two are common in foley tracking.
Who cares? There's nothing up there in ultrasound, carrier wave range, but noise.
Old 24th March 2017
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhandy View Post
Who cares? There's nothing up there in ultrasound, carrier wave range, but noise.
Ha. Small-minded people. Low thinkers.

I know what he's going to do and it works. Shifting down (transposing down) catches some unusual sounds and they are fun and interesting to play with if they start from natural sources.

I've worked with infrasounds pitching up and pitching down ultrasounds. There's interesting stuff when you bring it to human hearing.
Old 24th March 2017
  #15
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
Ha. Small-minded people. Low thinkers.

I know what he's going to do and it works. Shifting down (transposing down) catches some unusual sounds and they are fun and interesting to play with if they start from natural sources.

I've worked with infrasounds pitching up and pitching down ultrasounds. There's interesting stuff when you bring it to human hearing.
Yep. I have heard what I'm after - and now I want to make some of my own.

Samples that were made at 100k sampling rate on a Synclavier, then pitched down a couple of octaves, sound completely different to the stuff recorded with our normal "music oriented" gear. Other factors come into play, sure - the Synclav's individual D>A hardware per voice, anti-aliasing filters implemented as discrete analog circuitry on both the sampling inputs and individual voice channels, and its transposition methodology is certainly different to something like Kontakt or EXS....

... but still. These metal instruments I'm recording have insanely screeching high frequencies when you're just standing in the room next to them, so I'm interested in hearing what else might be lurking up there, even above 20k, and what it might sound like when it's brought down into the range of human hearing. I love these sounds when they're transposed down, but then they lack anything above 5k-10k, so the sound has a muffled quality. This exercise is an attempt to create recordings of these instruments that retain some high frequency "hair" even when pitched down.

I don't need to get to 500kHz bandwidth or anything crazy like that, but a 20kHz top-end just ain't cutting it for these sounds. So I'll give a try and see what I discover.

I hadn't known about the Sennheiser or B&K mics that offer extended top-end response, so I'm glad to add them to my list. Some of those might be easier to find as rentals here in LA than the Sanken, which nobody seems to have in their rental fleet.

Thanks for all the recommendations, everyone!
Old 24th March 2017
  #16
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nednerd's Avatar
I see all your questions have been answered already.
Let me add this nevertheless since it might be of interest to you.

For similar applications to the one you mentioned, I am using a pair of Earthworks QTC40 via a 9098 mic pres sampling straight into a Synclavier or alternatively via a Prism ADA into my DAW.
My nearfields are Earthworks Sigma powered by ultra wide bandwidth amps in a propperly treated room so my complete chain is reasonably flat up to about 40kHz.

First of all the QTC40 don't have any mojo, they just sound very real. What you hear is what you get. I did never encounter any problems with their noise floor. If need be you can bring them up as close as you want since they completely lack any proximity effect.

If you really want to transpose down as extreme as 4 or 5 octaves you might want to get the QTC50 or the Sanken but I am perfectly happy with my 40s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlieclouser View Post
...
Samples that were made at 100k sampling rate on a Synclavier, then pitched down a couple of octaves, sound completely different to the stuff recorded with our normal "music oriented" gear. Other factors come into play, sure - the Synclav's individual D>A hardware per voice, anti-aliasing filters implemented as discrete analog circuitry on both the sampling inputs and individual voice channels, and its transposition methodology is certainly different to something like Kontakt or EXS...
There are no antialiasing filters on the Synclavier DA voice channels.
Just on the discrete AD. The laser trimmed R-toR DAs are routed straight to the outputs. This and the variable clock architecture is part of why it sounds so great. Therefore even sampling at 100kHz, the ADs aliasing noise will come into play from approximately 2 octaves down onward. Due to the brilliant design of the AD/DA even going down 6 or even 8 octaves sounds utterly fantastic.
You wont get this sound from a modern DAW. What you get will likely be worth wile nevertheless but different then what you get from the Synclav.

So before investing you first might want to spend some more time to find out what part of the transposing topology it is you are after. If you didn't already
Old 24th March 2017
  #17
What you seem to be describing is transposing the harmonics of pre-recorded file made with specialty equipment into the audible frequency range.

I'm betting you aren't capturing that stuff in the first place. But who knows?
Old 24th March 2017
  #18
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand View Post
What you seem to be describing is transposing the harmonics of pre-recorded file made with specialty equipment into the audible frequency range.

I'm betting you aren't capturing that stuff in the first place. But who knows?
Well, yeah.... that's exactly why I want a mic that can capture that stuff. The rest of my signal chain is up to it, but all of my mics roll off below 20kHz.
Old 24th March 2017
  #19
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charlieclouser's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by nednerd View Post
I see all your questions have been answered already.
Let me add this nevertheless since it might be of interest to you.

For similar applications to the one you mentioned, I am using a pair of Earthworks QTC40 via a 9098 mic pres sampling straight into a Synclavier or alternatively via a Prism ADA into my DAW.
My nearfields are Earthworks Sigma powered by ultra wide bandwidth amps in a propperly treated room so my complete chain is reasonably flat up to about 40kHz.

First of all the QTC40 don't have any mojo, they just sound very real. What you hear is what you get. I did never encounter any problems with their noise floor. If need be you can bring them up as close as you want since they completely lack any proximity effect.

If you really want to transpose down as extreme as 4 or 5 octaves you might want to get the QTC50 or the Sanken but I am perfectly happy with my 40s.



There are no antialiasing filters on the Synclavier DA voice channels.
Just on the discrete AD. The laser trimmed R-toR DAs are routed straight to the outputs. This and the variable clock architecture is part of why it sounds so great. Therefore even sampling at 100kHz, the ADs aliasing noise will come into play from approximately 2 octaves down onward. Due to the brilliant design of the AD/DA even going down 6 or even 8 octaves sounds utterly fantastic.
You wont get this sound from a modern DAW. What you get will likely be worth wile nevertheless but different then what you get from the Synclav.

So before investing you first might want to spend some more time to find out what part of the transposing topology it is you are after. If you didn't already
Excellent info! Thanks for that. I had been leaning toward QTC's anyway, since they are not too expensive (about half the price of the Sanken) and they're fairly easy to find as rentals just to check 'em out. Sanken CO-100k doesn't seem to be in rental fleets at the obvious sources in LA, but I still have some corners to sniff around in yet.

Thanks for the correction on my assumptions about the Synclav's signal path - I thought that there weren't any digital anti-aliasing filters, but I didn't realize that the D>A was completely unfiltered. This backs up my buddy's claim that things just plain sound different when being played out of the Synclav's outputs, and that even sampling on it and then dumping the samples to other systems will destroy some of its magic. Short of buying my own Synclav rig, I suppose the only way to discover what it might do with these bowed metal instruments would be to sample directly into it at 100k, pitch the samples down inside the unit, and then re-sample the result from its analog outputs. Not ideal, since neither these instruments nor the Synclav is what I'd call portable! But that might be a reasonable compromise. Still, even recording on my rig at 192k with the Sanken or QTC's will hopefully give me "something" more than I'm getting from 48k recordings done with the usual suspects.

None of this is really all that mission-critical for me anyway - I'm just looking to maximize what I can pull from these bowed metal instruments, sound-design-wise.

My buddy is not a long-term Synclav owner, he's a fairly recent convert. He called me one afternoon a few years back from one of LA's electronics salvage places, begging me to get over there ASAP with my station wagon to haul something that wouldn't fit in his sedan. When I got there, he was standing on the sidewalk with a tarp covering a familiar blue rack that he had bought "by the pound" - a 16-voice system had been sitting out in the salvage yard and it was just starting to rain! The salvage yard guys just wanted it out of there and he paid pennies on the dollar. As it turned out, the hard drives were intact and full of all sorts of interesting stuff that the previous owner probably should have wiped! With a little (okay, a LOT) of time and a little bit of money spent at SynHouse he got the unit up and running and quickly became a true believer. A few months later he picked up a very large system from UC Long Beach, again for pennies on the dollar. In the years since he's become quite the devotee, with three VPK's, two complete systems, and tons of spares. I believe his end-game is to get the thing booting from an SD card (!) instead of the giant floppies, and I think he's got sample storage on SD card working but the boot sequence still requires the floppy? Not sure exactly.... He's a bit of a glutton for punishment and never met an obscure technical challenge he didn't like! But, as a collector of vintage arcade video game systems he doesn't mind searching for outdated tech, like the vector displays used in games like Tempest, Battle Zone, Rip-Off, TailGunner, etc. Kind of the thrill of the chase and the sweet taste of victory I guess. His garage is full of that stuff.

I think he should re-name his company "YesterTech".
Old 24th March 2017
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
Ha. Small-minded people. Low thinkers.

I know what he's going to do and it works. Shifting down (transposing down) catches some unusual sounds and they are fun and interesting to play with if they start from natural sources.

I've worked with infrasounds pitching up and pitching down ultrasounds. There's interesting stuff when you bring it to human hearing.
Small minded would be ignoring the obvious RF and EMF in the air at those bands. The other thing to consider is the majority of the mics that have that kind of range are not linear up there.

SANKEN MICROPHONE CO .,LTD. | Products [ CO-100K ]
Old 17th May 2017
  #21
Here for the gear
 

Reviving this thread because I'm looking at the same mic options for similar and different reasons (I'm also looking to use them for field recording sound effects assets that can be pitch-shifted, etc.).

Charlie, did you make a decision and what were the factors?

BTW, if still looking to try the Sanken CO-100K, contact Jim Pace at Plus24 in West Hollywood. They are the North American distributor for Sanken for a long time and he could help you arrange a demo if anyone could.

Now my question, (not to hijack the thread but it seems relevant to this one) is if the new Sound Devices MixPre6 would be good enough to record these mics in the field?
Old 18th May 2017
  #22
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MixPre 6 arrival

Well we should get a lot of opinions in a few days because Trew audio said the arrival time should be by this weekend and according to Sound Devices the ADC and mic pre's are the best that they have designed.
Old 18th May 2017
  #23
Les
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Knowles makes a MEMS chip mic that goes to about 80kHz. They're fairly noisy but you can parallel several to get lower noise.

They are about $5 each.
Old 18th May 2017
  #24
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You can get a sonar trasducer, it works almost 300 KHz, but only for water waves, maybe a submarine recording?
Old 19th May 2017
  #25
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The Grace 801 or old 201 would be the best preamps for stuff like this. I cant think of anything that would be cleaner in the over 50K Hz area. I would expect the Sanken to be about as good as it gets for 50K Hz.
Old 19th May 2017
  #26
Gear Addict
Actually the Gordon preamp is better than the Grace for high frequency response/phase accuracy.
The Grace's: +/- 0.2 dB from 18Hz
to 64kHz (+/- 3 dB from 4.5Hz to 350kHz).
The Gordon: +/- 0.01 dB from 2Hz to
300 kHz!
Old 19th May 2017
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by bhandy View Post
Who cares? There's nothing up there in ultrasound, carrier wave range, but noise.
They are trying to get the phase-shift to "0",
Old 19th May 2017
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nnajar View Post
Mkh800
Came in to post ^^^this.

That mic's a real sleeper, I'm surprised I don't hear more people raving about it for all sorts of applications.
Old 21st May 2017
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
Came in to post ^^^this.

That mic's a real sleeper, I'm surprised I don't hear more people raving about it for all sorts of applications.
I guess it is in the wrong price range for most people.
Old 21st May 2017
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
Came in to post ^^^this.

That mic's a real sleeper, I'm surprised I don't hear more people raving about it for all sorts of applications.
I use and like them a lot (especially on piano) but the MKH800 is a double transducer so its omni freq response is not like a "true omni" and the other thing is its extended frequency response is very, very far from flat.

It is not something I'd use for ultra-bandwidth recordings.

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