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Stavrou's Mixing with your mind question... Ribbon Microphones
Old 28th February 2004
  #1
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guittarzzan's Avatar
Stavrou's Mixing with your mind question...

Ok, the facts are that I'm just a UPS driver/guitar player who's, time allowing, trying to gain as much knowledge as possible in the art of recording, mixing etc. Being a slut, I have good enough gear to get great results, but am still a little short on skill.
I've been reading Mixing with your mind (the most expensive book I've ever bought) and am finding it very interesting and informative, but I'd like some input on the "mic hardness" ratings as I don't trust my ears just yet with something this ambiguous.
The main mics I use to record with are:
-Lawson Lmp47
-Shure sm7b
-Rode NTK
-Shure 57
-Sennheiser 421
-AEA R84

From my little bit of experience, I would guess the R84 ribbon mic to be the softest of my mics, but from there, I'm not sure what numbers to place on em.
Would someone who has read the book and experience with these mics give me your opinions on what hardness rating you'd give to each mic??? I would really appreciate it.

thank you,
steve
Old 28th February 2004
  #2
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guittarzzan's Avatar
...no one???
Old 28th February 2004
  #3
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Beezoboy's Avatar
 

Well I haven't read that book, but I can tell you that a mic is only one link in the chain. Sometimes a mic that is generally regarded as being bight can be toned down a lot with the right compressor. Another huge aspect is converter quality. Converters have a sound of their own too. Some good, some bad. You have to pick the mic that suits the source, but you also have to know you're signal chain is not to blame. For example, a vocal part through a U87, into a 1272, into an ALESIS 3630, into a Lavry Converter might not sound as good as an SM57, into an RNP, into an RNC, into an RME Multiface. Why?? Because the Alesis 3630 is undoing the goodness of the 1st mentioned chain.

Who cares about experience. Stick 3 mics on 3 stands and have the singer sing into them. Pick which one is best and move on. Thats not where experience even comes into play.

Experince is knowing which mic out of the 3 is going to fit the song the best through a given signal chain. Experience is knowing that you can get good resutls out of YOUR SIGNAL CHAIN. Hard or soft. . .who cares. Its all about what fits the song.

Beez
Old 29th February 2004
  #4
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Guitarzan,

I got the book and I read it through twice in the first week alone. I started using several of the techniques but I haven't gotten around to the mic hardness rating yet. To be honest I am a little sceptical about this technique but that's what I have been loving about the book is the way that Stavrou challenges normal techniques.

As for help with the rating of the mics I think there is no standard. You will rate the mics and with the same pair of ears will rate the source audio. I might think an NTK is hard but you might feel it's in the middle somewhere. I reckon don't sweat it too much, have a quick run through and scribble down your thoughts, maybe check them the next day with a buddy but go with your gut,

cheers,
Ruairi
Old 29th February 2004
  #5
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Saucyjack's Avatar
 

Tell us more about the Book.
Ive seen it mentioned a few times on the net,worth the money?
Old 29th February 2004
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Re: Stavrou's Mixing with your mind question...

Quote:
Originally posted by guittarzzan
Would someone who has read the book and experience with these mics give me your opinions on what hardness rating you'd give to each mic??? I would really appreciate it.
It's an interesting book that offers a different perspective and approach to the norm. Why not write an email to Stav and get his opinion on hardness factors. Since he wrote the book and you bought it, I'm sure he wouldn't mind helping you along the journey.
Old 29th February 2004
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

Please don't believe everything you read.
If you own these microphones you owe it to yourself to shoot them out on every recording you do. You will progressively get a real feel for each mic that will help 100 times more than any book or suggestion. It's actually fun and very rewarding. When you really get intimate with each one you can start thinking about using several to get exactly the tone you want. Also mics react different with placement. With the mics you've got you can really go a long way.

Cheers
Old 29th February 2004
  #8
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droog's Avatar
 

I shall get over my personal dislike of Michael Stavrou and chime in here.

The hardness factor scale is something you have to decide for yourself as it completly depends on the number and types of mics in your collection and how they sound to YOU.

And yes I have discussed this with him in person.

No I don't subscribe to this technique.
Old 1st March 2004
  #9
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

Ah... droog

Were u an assitant to mike?

heh heh heh heh heh heh

Cos i heard heard a few funny stories from previous assistants.

The book is as Denial states.. a bipolar perspective of recording from what is usually peddled in books and schools... which suck ass most of the time. I find it a more interesting, organic and philosophical approach to recording and im sure that most people will learn a new trick or 2!

Cheers
Wiggy
Old 1st March 2004
  #10
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 

While I might not agree with all of the assertions made in that book (that's being picky, at least 95% of them I do agree with), I'd have to say that it is probably the most interesting book I've read on the topic of recording or mixing. It doesn't talk about gear much; it talks about concepts and approaches to this craft, and very real world ones at that...which is much more interesting imho. Great book, recommended buy even at $70 or so.
Old 2nd March 2004
  #11
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guittarzzan's Avatar
I like it because he gets real specific. I'm just a home recordist and the specifics are what I need. He also explains stuff in a way that anyone could understand and not just a veteran engineer.
Whether his philosophies are good or bad etc...well, I'll leave that to more qualified people to make that call.

cheers,
Steve
Old 8th March 2004
  #12
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Well, some pretty diverse views here........as always. heh

For me, this book has been more helpful than any other book I've read..........by far. It can not be characterized as a "technical book", in contrast to say Bob Katz's "Mastering Audio the Art and the Science". Bob's book is excellent. A wealth of detailed information. I highly recommend it.

On the other hand, Michael's book I can only describe as "inspirational". I say that because it has fundamentally changed the way I approach mixing. It is a lot more fun using some of Michael's approaches. Yes, you can argue with some of his specific techniques. Yes, it is sometimes almost spiritual in approach, with references to right brain and left brain (which are scientific concepts, by the way). But he gives you some specifics.........and he challenges you to come up with some specifics yourself. I think its great.

Anyway, I can only say it has changed the way I approach mixing, for the better. I have it handy in the studio every day. I have emailed him several times, and he has never failed to respond with well thought out answers. I just wish he'd write another one that follows up on this one.

Mike
Old 8th March 2004
  #13
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Crash's Avatar
This book is a wicked fast read, I blew through it in a couple of days and plan on reading it again. There are some really cool things in the book that make you stop and think. There is also some chapters where I just felt like Stav was real high when he wrote them....or maybe I should reach for the bong when reading them...I am not sure which. In any case I am going to go through the book again and try some of the techniques out and read the "hippy, stoner, flower power" type chapters again and see if I can get more out of those on the second go 'round. All in all, it is a good book with some cool approaches and ideas.

Crash
Old 8th March 2004
  #14
Lives for gear
Crash,
Interesting comment about it being a fast read. I had exactly the same impression first time through. But then, when I went back and started to try the approaches, chapter by chapter, there is a LOT of meat there. See what you think when you use it in the studio. Deceptive read.

Guitarzan,
In my enthusiasm for the book, I didn't reply to your question! No, I have not yet settled on hardness factors for my mics, either. What this has forced my to do, though, is listen very carefully as I try different mics for an application. As a result, I am starting to recognize the differences, and think of these differences in terms of "hardness" and specific frequencies. I think the process itself is worth a lot. If he had just listed mics and hardness factors, I would have just taken that and run with it.

Incidently, I find this is true of many topics in the book: it gives me an approach and a technique........and then forces me to really listen. Examples are the discussions of reverbs (the most "paradigm shifting" one for me, so far), monitor placement, and mic placement. Just forcing me to really carefully listen is a huge step forward for me (and I thought I was already doing this pretty well ).

Probably for you "old pros" in commercial studios who have been doing this for years, much of this is old hat. But most of it sure didn't surface for me in the many (way too many ) other books I've read.

Mike
Old 8th March 2004
  #15
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Crash's Avatar
Mike,

I think it was a fast read because it was so interesting, I just didn't put the book down during those two days. I definitely plan on using some of these techniques. As you, and someone else mentioned, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the whole mic hardness factor as well. This is going to take some time to establish for myself. Some of the techniques described in the book are really going to get me out of the box on how to accomplish them with my current rig. My brain gears are already grinding on getting signal routed just so I can accomplish some of the things in the book. A second read is definitely in order!

Crash
Old 25th March 2004
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

Damn good book, thumbsup I went through it in two days too. You don't have to agree with everything he writes - he only wants to get you inspired and he definitely fulfills that mission. I love that the focus is on the human being perceiving mixing and recording and not just numbers and specs.
Old 26th March 2004
  #17
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mykla,
And the neat thing is, it is much deeper than the two-day read suggests. I go to my copy almost every day to mine it for a few more ideas on the day's activity.
Mike
Old 26th March 2004
  #18
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Another vote here. I got mine yesterday and read most of it last night, will finish it tonight and start at the beginning again. Interesting stuff.
Old 13th January 2013
  #19
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Pinosmuse's Avatar
 

Just read through the book in a day and it was really funny how a lot of stuff gets put into words you 'kind of know' yet. It helped me to finally get my speaker setup better. It's a lot of listening from another perspective and that's kinda cool.
I just tried al my mics and had trouble judging the hardness of them all.
In a lot of cases I guess I recorded them too close up, so there's a lot of proximity that comes in. While listening back the files I judged most of my dynamics (and my R101 ribbon) to be harder then most of the condensers. They're in a way more 'gritty' in the midrange so it sounds harder. I'm still trying to get my head around it.
Did anyone check with him if he's pointing at the 'mid-grid' when he talks about hardness?
I'll try another 'shoot out' tomorrow while taking more distance so the proximity effect won't hit me that hard.
Old 14th January 2013
  #20
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinosmuse View Post
Just read through the book in a day and it was really funny how a lot of stuff gets put into words you 'kind of know' yet. It helped me to finally get my speaker setup better. It's a lot of listening from another perspective and that's kinda cool.
I just tried al my mics and had trouble judging the hardness of them all.
In a lot of cases I guess I recorded them too close up, so there's a lot of proximity that comes in. While listening back the files I judged most of my dynamics (and my R101 ribbon) to be harder then most of the condensers. They're in a way more 'gritty' in the midrange so it sounds harder. I'm still trying to get my head around it.
Did anyone check with him if he's pointing at the 'mid-grid' when he talks about hardness?
I'll try another 'shoot out' tomorrow while taking more distance so the proximity effect won't hit me that hard.
Old thread, old book, but it does indeed offer a different and still pertinent perspective on several things.
With regard to mic hardness, it means whatever "hardness" sounds like to you, since it is you who will also be determining what sources sound "hard" or "soft", to you, in your own personal mic-to-source matching choices. It is a subjective choice, based on your definition and perception of hard or soft tonal qualities.
Old 3rd November 2014
  #21
Here for the gear
It seems a "hard" sound would be finger nails on a chalk board in a room with many windows. "Soft" sound, might in this case describe a classically trained tenor singing a low note in a foam lined room. Hard vs soft in terms of microphones seems a comparison of shrillness vs having full lows with less presence in the upper frequencies. Many seem to refer to the latter as "warm". So in parlance, hard vs soft seem to me to be a comparison of shrill vs "warm". If my guess is correct A "soft" mic paired with a "soft" sound source might be lacking in definition. A "hard" mic with "hard" source might be shrill, or "tinny". Pairing a "soft" mic with a "hard" source, of vice versa, might allow for a good balance of sonic characteristics. Then again; seriously, what do I know?
Old 3rd November 2014
  #22
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Washington's Avatar
 

I've read the book a few times.

I did appreciate many of the ideas, more in an inspirational way than as pure methodical tricks. Outside of his erroneous (IMHO) take on 24 vs 16-bit recording, many of his approaches are interesting because he seems to always get there from an angle. A rather sideways one, too.

The hardness chapter makes sense, but I would take it mostly as a Trojan Horse. Remember, Stav used to be (still is ?) a magician, which makes me suspect that where he wants me to look (the hardness) is not where the trick happens. Diversion.

I'd venture that when asking you to assess the "hardness" of a mic vs. the "hardness" of a source, what he's really getting you to do is 1) separate your experience of the music and the audio, and 2) forcing you to listen differently and really carefully (not just in terms of transient or frequency translation, for example).

Therefore, it would be my understanding that having someone else help you gauge the content of your mic locker would go against the primary idea.

That's just me, though. Grain of salt at the ready.
Old 4th November 2014
  #23
Gear Nut
 
Toppermost's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Washington View Post
...where he wants me to look (the hardness) is not where the trick happens. Diversion.
Canny observation there...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Washington View Post
That's just me, though.
Nope, not just you!
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