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Manley Ref Card vs Brauner Valvet X
Old 21st July 2013
  #1
Manley Ref Card vs Brauner Valvet X

Both quality tube mic's with less color and nice top end. What are the different sound characteristics between them two?
Old 22nd July 2013
  #2
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Ryan Gregory's Avatar
 

I am also curious about this. I have a reference C and I sometimes wonder if I wouldn't prefer a little bit cleaner mic. I do love it tho so not willing to sell it and buy something else on a hunch, even though I do think the brauner might be perfect for my uses.
Old 22nd July 2013
  #3
I tried the Valvet in my studio and really liked the clean detailed smooth sound. I wanted a tad more character and the Valvet X is suppose to have a tiny bit less high end and a touch of lower mids character. It seems to be a great option. Never heard the Reference C but am thinking perhaps this could be another great option.
Old 22nd July 2013
  #4
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Earcatcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason rocks View Post
I tried the Valvet in my studio and really liked the clean detailed smooth sound. I wanted a tad more character and the Valvet X is suppose to have a tiny bit less high end and a touch of lower mids character. It seems to be a great option. Never heard the Reference C but am thinking perhaps this could be another great option.
Valvet X is supposed to be the mic with "character", but to my ears it simply sounds very good: full, detailed, extremely low noise. The standard Valvet is a bit bright to my taste. Valvet X's lows are firm and rich, almost like those from a pressure omni.

I have never directly compared Valvet X with Ref C, but Ref C users seem to complain quite often about sharp highs and sibilance problems. Valvet X highs are endless, but have a golden sheen over them. A very expensive sound with lots of air.

Brauner does not publish frequency response curves because they believe that only your ears should decide. Of course I agree, but there is nothing wrong with informed ears, so a graph can still be very interesting. I managed to find a very small image of a frequency response curve for the Valvet X from a test in German Professional Audio Magazin. If anyone has a frequency response curve of the Manley it might be interesting.

It is said that the Manley capsule is Chinese, which would be in line with the sharp highs complaint. The Brauner capsules are German, partially from Haun and partially from Brauner themselves. The Valvet X has a Brauner-made capsule these days. Note that the response curve hereunder is from the original capsule that was in the Valvet X.

Also attached is a piece recorded on location (a medieval chapel) with a stereo pair of Valvet X. Please note this is a track with some room sound recorded with SDC omnis (HPF cut at 300 kHz) mixed in. Since this is viola da gamba you can very well hear the tonal richness and detail of the Valvet X. It's an mp3 made from 44.1kHz 16bit wav.
Attached Thumbnails
Manley Ref Card vs Brauner Valvet X-pa6165_brauner-black_valvet_x.jpg  
Attached Files

Prélude.mp3 (6.52 MB, 3943 views)

Old 22nd July 2013
  #5
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Ryan Gregory's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
Valvet X is supposed to be the mic with "character", but to my ears it simply sounds very good: full, detailed, extremely low noise. The standard Valvet is a bit bright to my taste. Valvet X's lows are firm and rich, almost like those from a pressure omni.

I have never directly compared Valvet X with Ref C, but Ref C users seem to complain quite often about sharp highs and sibilance problems. Valvet X highs are endless, but have a golden sheen over them. A very expensive sound with lots of air.

Brauner does not publish frequency response curves because they believe that only your ears should decide. Of course I agree, but there is nothing wrong with informed ears, so a graph can still be very interesting. I managed to find a very small image of a frequency response curve for the Valvet X from a test in German Professional Audio Magazin. If anyone has a frequency response curve of the Manley it might be interesting.

It is said that the Manley capsule is Chinese, which would be in line with the sharp highs complaint. The Brauner capsules are German, partially from Haun and partially from Brauner themselves. The Valvet X has a Brauner-made capsule these days. Note that the response curve hereunder is from the original capsule that was in the Valvet X.

Also attached is a piece recorded on location (a medieval chapel) with a stereo pair of Valvet X. Please note this is a track with some room sound recorded with SDC omnis (HPF cut at 300 kHz) mixed in. Since this is viola da gamba you can very well hear the tonal richness and detail of the Valvet X. It's an mp3 made from 44.1kHz 16bit wav.
I've heard these complaints as well but must admit- I've never had sibilance issues with mine, and it has anything but harsh highs.... Or really harsh anything. It's a very smooth mic with lots of low- mid character. I find that I could go for a bit less low mid and a bit more high
Old 22nd July 2013
  #6
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madehumble's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Gregory View Post
I've heard these complaints as well but must admit- I've never had sibilance issues with mine, and it has anything but harsh highs.... Or really harsh anything. It's a very smooth mic with lots of low- mid character. I find that I could go for a bit less low mid and a bit more high
I never had harsh issues with mine either.

Sent from Galaxy Note 2
Old 22nd July 2013
  #7
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I have never had sibilance issues with my Ref C. Never noticed the highs doing strange things either. Certainly wouldn't describe it as bright. Just an all round smooth mic.

I really only use it for vocals (and bass guitar occasionally). Perhaps the Brauner is more versatile ie for recording a variety of different instruments.
Old 22nd July 2013
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waldie wave View Post
I really only use it for vocals (and bass guitar occasionally). Perhaps the Brauner is more versatile ie for recording a variety of different instruments.
The Valvet X is my no. 1 choice for vocals, but the choice of this mic for the above viola da gamba recording was the result of a huge shootout between a whole range of mics (we tested more than twenty, ranging from Royer 122v to Schoeps (all their basic capsules) to Blue Bottle with five caps to JZ BT301 to Sennheiser MKH, Sonodore 402, several Violets, a DPA, AKG C414, Røde NT55, AT 4081, Royer SF24, Brauner Phantera V and some I forgot). The X stood out right away (also for the player who has no knowledge of or bias regarding any of the models tested). By the way: the preamp used on this recording is the most straight wire "non-sounding" that I know of: Lake People F355.
Old 22nd July 2013
  #9
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The X sure sounded fine on the viola da gamba recording. Do you have a vocal track that you recorded with the Valvet X that you can post?
Old 22nd July 2013
  #10
Both the Manley and Brauner are amazing Mics. I can only afford one high end tube mic and these two are on the top of my list. After I have saved enough money to buy a mic, I will most likely have to buy both and try them both in my studio. Test them on my voice as well as at least one female voice. Then return one of them. I have a feeling I will love both of them. So it's like do you want yellow or a touch more brighter yellow.
Old 22nd July 2013
  #11
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Earcatcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by waldie wave View Post
The X sure sounded fine on the viola da gamba recording. Do you have a vocal track that you recorded with the Valvet X that you can post?
Unfortunately I cannot post a vocal track as all useful stuff I have is for clients (lots of VO's).
Old 22nd July 2013
  #12
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Even just spoken words from your voice (eg counting 1-5 check) or a nursery rhyme (eg Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) would do the trick.
Old 23rd July 2013
  #13
With searching online and speaking to some that have one or the other, it seems the Brauner is a cleaner sounding tube mic. Though I would love to own both, I am leaning more towards the Manley mic as would prefer a little more character.
Old 23rd July 2013
  #14
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Just don't forget that most people mix up the Valvet X with the Valvet if you ask them. Or they say the Valvet X is just the fixed pattern brother of the Valvet, which it is not. Or they just go on general experience with Brauner mics. The Valvet X has a fat Lundahl transformer (bigger than the Phanthera) while the Valvet has none. "Warmth" and "character" always comes from the transformers, as we know. Only when you drive tubes they may add some "traction" as well, but this is not very likely to happen in the microphone's signal path. Here they give you smoothness in the highs mainly. Just find a way to listen to them next to each other. And please report here what your findings are!
Old 23rd July 2013
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
The Valvet X has a fat Lundahl transformer (bigger than the Phanthera) while the Valvet has none. "Warmth" and "character" always comes from the transformers, as we know. Only when you drive tubes they may add some "traction" as well, but this is not very likely to happen in the microphone's signal path. Here they give you smoothness in the highs mainly. Just find a way to listen to them next to each other. And please report here what your findings are!
I did not know that, and thanks for advising me of this. Now I am more drawn to the Valvet X.
Old 23rd July 2013
  #16
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Earcatcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by waldie wave View Post
Even just spoken words from your voice (eg counting 1-5 check) or a nursery rhyme (eg Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) would do the trick.
Well, you asked for it! Normally I would use a de-esser on my own voice, but in this case I left out all filtering stuff. (Actually I hardly ever have to record my own voice as I am not a performing artist in any way; I record other people's voices. You know, professional's.) So this is a good chance to hear the X with a sibilant voice AND without any filtering (no HPF!) or compression. Preamp was Lake People F355 with class A option, for absolute colorless amplification (and mic Valvet X, as discussed). Speaking distance was 25 cm. Are you all comfortably tucked in?
Attached Files

Twinkle_twinkle.mp3 (2.95 MB, 4245 views)

Old 23rd July 2013
  #17
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jamwerks's Avatar
 

Sounds great !
Old 23rd July 2013
  #18
Very clear with some weight, due to the transformer.
Old 23rd July 2013
  #19
Gear Head
 

Well - I know the difference between Valvet and Valvet X quite well, valvet X is quite a bit more colored than the Valvet. In fact it's the most colored of the Brauners; and indeed still sounds detailed.
Some more people have complained about a sharp edge in the Brauner mics, for people who experience this, it is worthwhile trying a combo with different preamp (makes a big difference - specially since these modern tube mics have a fairly high output level, some pre's just don't like that..)
Because of the combo of warmth / color and still nice typical Brauner fine detail it's a very popular choice. It doens't have the openness of the VM1 but its clearly related. And sounds a whole lot more 3D than the Brauner solid state mics. Excellent instrument mic too - or as a pair, for stereo recordings of classical ensembles and such.

I can't comment on the Manleys but I am pretty sure they don't use Chinese capsules..

good luck,
michiel
Joystick Audio
Old 24th July 2013
  #20
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Slikjmuzik's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
Well, you asked for it! Normally I would use a de-esser on my own voice, but in this case I left out all filtering stuff. (Actually I hardly ever have to record my own voice as I am not a performing artist in any way; I record other people's voices. You know, professional's.) So this is a good chance to hear the X with a sibilant voice AND without any filtering (no HPF!) or compression. Preamp was Lake People F355 with class A option, for absolute colorless amplification (and mic Valvet X, as discussed). Speaking distance was 25 cm. Are you all comfortably tucked in?
God, what an awesome sounding mic!! I could use that tone on so many things!!That Lake People preamp as I understand is pretty colorless, so all the tone we're hearing is pretty much just the Brauner, right? Killer, killer vibe out of that mic, thanks for this!!
Old 24th July 2013
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
Well, you asked for it! Normally I would use a de-esser on my own voice, but in this case I left out all filtering stuff. (Actually I hardly ever have to record my own voice as I am not a performing artist in any way; I record other people's voices. You know, professional's.) So this is a good chance to hear the X with a sibilant voice AND without any filtering (no HPF!) or compression. Preamp was Lake People F355 with class A option, for absolute colorless amplification (and mic Valvet X, as discussed). Speaking distance was 25 cm. Are you all comfortably tucked in?
Sorry, I fell asleep listening. LOL, just kidding! That was freaking beautiful man! I hope they give you a free mic for doing that. An exquisite unintentional sales pitch!
Old 24th July 2013
  #22
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
Well, you asked for it! Normally I would use a de-esser on my own voice, but in this case I left out all filtering stuff. (Actually I hardly ever have to record my own voice as I am not a performing artist in any way; I record other people's voices. You know, professional's.) So this is a good chance to hear the X with a sibilant voice AND without any filtering (no HPF!) or compression. Preamp was Lake People F355 with class A option, for absolute colorless amplification (and mic Valvet X, as discussed). Speaking distance was 25 cm. Are you all comfortably tucked in?
Bravo!!
Old 24th July 2013
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michiel H View Post
I can't comment on the Manleys but I am pretty sure they don't use Chinese capsules..

good luck,
michiel
Joystick Audio
Michiel, you may like to read on the Manley website some history: Manley Labs: Professional Studio & Hifi Audio Gear There are no indications that Manley is using a capsule for the Ref C from another source than previously, which is Chinese company Feilo. The capsule of the Ref Gold seems to come from Josephson. I am not inherently saying that Chinese capsules would be "no good", but there may be a cultural difference in the taste to which they are tuned.
Old 24th July 2013
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikjmuzik View Post
God, what an awesome sounding mic!! I could use that tone on so many things!!That Lake People preamp as I understand is pretty colorless, so all the tone we're hearing is pretty much just the Brauner, right? Killer, killer vibe out of that mic, thanks for this!!
The Lake People preamp is the "straightest wire" preamp that I know of, so that is why I used it. You're hearing all Valvet X here. The X also works nicely with Forssell SMP-2, but I have to warn that the highs may be too "gold plated" with that preamp. Of course if you need tons of character you can easily couple the X with any of your favourite colored preamps. It will never sound weak.
Old 24th July 2013
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ward Pike View Post
Sorry, I fell asleep listening. LOL, just kidding! That was freaking beautiful man! I hope they give you a free mic for doing that. An exquisite unintentional sales pitch!
I know mr. Brauner loves me anyway. He made a big effort to match my second X to my first one, at no extra cost. I'm not trying to sell this mic to anyone. Just trying to provide some information. In all honesty I'd rather keep this secret weapon to myself.
Old 24th July 2013
  #26
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Ryan Gregory's Avatar
 

that does sound fantastic
Old 24th July 2013
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
Michiel, you may like to read on the Manley website some history: Manley Labs: Professional Studio & Hifi Audio Gear There are no indications that Manley is using a capsule for the Ref C from another source than previously, which is Chinese company Feilo. The capsule of the Ref Gold seems to come from Josephson. I am not inherently saying that Chinese capsules would be "no good", but there may be a cultural difference in the taste to which they are tuned.
I don't think many care where the capsule comes from as long as the mic sounds incredible, which the Manley does.
Old 24th July 2013
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintageidiot View Post
I don't think many care where the capsule comes from as long as the mic sounds incredible, which the Manley does.
Why is it so difficult to find "incredible" samples from the Manley, or even important tech specs like self-noise expressed as dBA? I'd love to hear some typical Ref C sound samples.
Old 25th July 2013
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by hotab View Post
my minitest Brauner Valvet X. Pre - Martech MSS10
What's causing the harmonics 2&3 octaves above the resonant frequency of the voice to ping so much? Is it the room, a desk bouncing a reflection, something in the room or something from the Martech preamp?

If I had to work with that, it would drive me bonkers!! (albeit, a short drive)
Old 25th July 2013
  #30
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ward Pike View Post
What's causing the harmonics 2&3 octaves above the resonant frequency of the voice to ping so much? Is it the room, a desk bouncing a reflection, something in the room
Yes. It disadvantage of room.
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