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Matched mic pairs - fake voodoo Condenser Microphones
Old 17th November 2006
  #1
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Matched mic pairs - fake voodoo

Hi, I answered a thread on mics earlier on and I noticed how many slutz boasted about matched mic pairs in their mic collections.

IMHO, matched mics are a bull**** concept. How are they matched? Does an audio engineer measure their response with respect to each other in an anechoic chamber? Or is it just down to consecutive serial numbers and some voodoo type mystery about mic capsules. Absolute crap. Mics of the same make and from the same factory should have the same technical specifications, and should therefore be matched as a matter of course. No other industry would tolerate any significant deviations in spec and quality in the manufacture of expensive precision instruments such as microphones. So, for us to pretend that individual mics need to be matched to other mics from the assembly line is an admittance that the assembly line or workshop isn't good enough - and thats where things start to get scary......
Old 17th November 2006
  #2
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I don't know about other brands, but Gefell matched pairs are in fact matched by an expert at the factory, and are not consecutive serial numbers. They come with frequency response plots for each mic, signed by the tech who selected them.

Does this mean they sound "better" than a non-matched pair? No idea.
Old 17th November 2006
  #3
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True matched pairs really aren't bull****. When measured in an anechoic chamber they should have the same frequency response, sensitivity, signal to noise ratio and polar pattern. But...whether anyone can really hear it is another story. Like you said any manufacturer that makes a good product should have tolerances so low that matched pairs aren't necessary.
Old 17th November 2006
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaChunkyStudio View Post
Hi, I answered a thread on mics earlier on and I noticed how many slutz boasted about matched mic pairs in their mic collections.

IMHO, matched mics are a bull**** concept. How are they matched? Does an audio engineer measure their response with respect to each other in an anechoic chamber? Or is it just down to consecutive serial numbers and some voodoo type mystery about mic capsules. Absolute crap. Mics of the same make and from the same factory should have the same technical specifications, and should therefore be matched as a matter of course. No other industry would tolerate any significant deviations in spec and quality in the manufacture of expensive precision instruments such as microphones. So, for us to pretend that individual mics need to be matched to other mics from the assembly line is an admittance that the assembly line or workshop isn't good enough - and thats where things start to get scary......
It's the capsules - stupid. That's were variations occur, even with the better manufacturers that make their own capsules from scratch.

My Schoeps and Gefell SD pairs were matched, by Schoeps and Gefell employees, respectively, with testing. I can't tell a difference, even years later.

Last edited by sdelsolray; 17th November 2006 at 06:34 AM.. Reason: spelling
Old 17th November 2006
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdelsolray View Post
My Schoeps and Gefell SD pairs were matched, by Schoeps and Gefell employees, respectively, with testing. I can't tell a difference, even years later.
Well, that doesn't tell us whether it makes any difference. The only thing we know for sure is that they offered the service, and you agreed to pay for it.

JSL
Old 17th November 2006
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jslevin View Post
Well, that doesn't tell us whether it makes any difference. The only thing we know for sure is that they offered the service, and you agreed to pay for it.

JSL
Please don't pluralize your statements - don't include me in them. Try using the first person instead, you might learn something - you are obviously lacking in knowledge about the matching of small diaphragm condensers by Schoeps and Microtech Gefell.
Old 17th November 2006
  #7
Dan
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Sometimes when people ask me if certain microphones are matched, I say, "yeah, but I'm not really sure because my ears haven't been matched." Which is to say, I kind of understand what the original poster might be saying. Generally though, I don't believe matching mics is b.s. in any way from most manufacturers. Especially when the diaphrams are hand tuned to begin with. The whole idea seems a little trollish. Manufacturers are ripping us off, blah, blah, blah. Yes, most mics bought at the same time are close enough for many. However, if you want to know that mics are similar enough to use as a coherent pair, $100 or whatever the manufacturer charges is well worth it. It all boils down to how much you care about objectively accurate recordings.
Gene Lawson did it for free when I bought two of his mics, and I consider it a fantastic service. Definitely a big added value, because I use the mics as a stereo pair, and I take great comfort in knowing a highly skilled person took the time to do the job right. Matching was $100 from Royer, and I didn't find it valuable for 121s, but maybe I will for 122s. I'd be much more likely to use those in a blumlein. (another story) Anyhow, if you doubt stereo matching, I don't blame you. I would talk to the manufacturer though, and maybe they would be willing to explain it to your satisfaction.
Old 18th November 2006
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdelsolray View Post
Please don't pluralize your statements - don't include me in them. Try using the first person instead, you might learn something - you are obviously lacking in knowledge about the matching of small diaphragm condensers by Schoeps and Microtech Gefell.
Actually, using the word "us" is a first person usage. And besides, I'm not sure how avoiding that word would help me "learn something" about the microphone matching services sold by two companies in Europe.

That said, I am sorry to have included you in my statement without your permission. Let me try again:

"Well, that doesn't tell those of us who aren't obtuse jackasses whether it makes any difference."

Better?

JSL
Old 18th November 2006
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pegleg View Post
I'm sorry, but your post (original post) is uninformed, and it's questionable to call something BS when you obviously have not taken any time to investigate the matter;

1. Most manufacturers allow +/- 2dB in their frequency response, based on the generic response chart for that make and model (this is usually printed on their website info). Remember that many companies still make mics, to some extent, by hand. While this tolerance is considered acceptable for a microphone model over a production span of years, it would not be for a stereo pair.

2. Manufacturing methods change over the years, and sometimes the mic isn't re-designated to reflect these changes. They may be very small changes, but may have an effect that's noticeable on stereo pairs.

3. Most industries allow similar tolarances to spec, especially in a non-life-threatening area like audio gear. For example, in golf clubs, loft and lie angles are often +/- 1 degree, which is why, just like matching mics, we get our clubs checked and tweaked to our desired spec.

As for how they are matched;
YES, most companies match their mics in anechoic chambers, and many (such as DPA/B&K) will give you the prinouts with serial numbers, and the name of the engineer who matched them, date, etc. Some companies, DPA for one, do not issue serial numbers until the mics have been matched, so that a 'matched stereo pair' is both tested and consecutive serial numbers.

Some people believe that this type of matching does not work with large diaphragm mics, so many companies do match them by ear. I own a factory matched pair of U87s, and my understanding is they were matched by a person choosing them. They are several hundred serial numbers apart. I can tell you they sound as identical as I could ask for, whereas I own another U87 which sounds slightly different.

I own two AKG C414B-ULS which sound as different as I can imagine two of the same mics sounding. I cannot use them as a true stereo pair for any application.

I do think that current manufacturing processes keep the tolerances tighter. Many of us do work where matching is very important (in classical, critical), and the further assurance that they are as close as can be is important. If it doesn't matter to you, then don't pay the few extra dollars. (Rates vary from nothing to $150 or so). But if you do the research, you will find there are reasons, whether you can personally hear them or not...
i enjoyed reading this, thx . thats good info !
Old 18th November 2006
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jslevin View Post
"Well, that doesn't tell those of us who aren't obtuse jackasses whether it makes any difference."

Better?

JSL
heh

Hey, your statements aren't matched!
Old 18th November 2006
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jslevin View Post
Actually, using the word "us" is a first person usage. And besides, I'm not sure how avoiding that word would help me "learn something" about the microphone matching services sold by two companies in Europe.

That said, I am sorry to have included you in my statement without your permission. Let me try again:

"Well, that doesn't tell those of us who aren't obtuse jackasses whether it makes any difference."

Better?

JSL
Not really. I can only suggest you research the question yourself. You'll learn about how Schoeps, Gefell and others take the time to match, as best they can, two of their mics. You will also learn that they succeed. Then again, maybe it doesn't matter to you, which is fine too - not everyone needs or wants factory hand-matching. In the meantime, I'm content being a obtuse jackass with matched pairs of Schoeps and Gefell mics, and you can continue to be a smartass.
Old 18th November 2006
  #12
I have a 'factory matched' pair of Neumann M149's

To me that means someone at the factory went through a few boxes untill they found a pair of mic's who's test graphs match closely. (held up to a bright light is a good way to see how close the graphs are)

There were then dispached to the (German) dealer, who sent them to me.

Old 19th November 2006
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdelsolray View Post
In the meantime, I'm content being a obtuse jackass with matched pairs of Schoeps and Gefell mics, and you can continue to be a smartass.
You've got yourself a deal.

My original point was only that ultimately, the test is whether stereo recordings really come out differently using matching. My sense of it is that outside of a situation where you're setting up extremely finely calibrated stereo positioning, having factory matched pairs can't possibly make much difference. For most mics of this quality, the working assumption is that the standard deviation within factory specifications will make less difference than minute differences in mic positioning which are far more common than not.

But I really have no quarrel with those feel that it's worth paying a few hundred dollars to not even have to think about those differences. I over-engineer certain specifications all the time; we all have our quirks. You're definitely getting peace of mind for your dollars, and you may in fact be getting a very slightly better recording capability.

The actual matching processes different companies might be interesting to some people, and I might even be one of them if you catch me on the right day. But even knowing those processes doesn't ultimately tell you whether your recordings got any better.

JSL
Old 19th November 2006
  #14
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Slightly off topic, but for many applications I prefer UNmatched pairs- emphasizes the stereo image- Unmatched drum oh's, for example, can be very interesting-
Of course, it depends on what you're doing and what you want in the particular application.
Old 19th November 2006
  #15
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Isn't it ironic that everyone's arguing and calling each other names while the person that started the thread is nowhere to be found???
Old 19th November 2006
  #16
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lucey's Avatar
matching is legit and a good idea.

mics that arent matched sound obviously different as a rule, effecting imaging and adding a step to your brain when you want to pick one mic for a mono source
Old 19th November 2006
  #17
Dan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pegleg View Post
Well, that's kind of the point. ...
Should I put the one with a little more 8k on the left or right?
On the left. That's where drummers loose their hearing from the Hi Hat. Also, violinists, well just because. Trust me, it's Fletcher-Munson approved. (Hey, do you think Fletcher is the same one from Bell Labs?)

Wow, this was an easy resolution. I'm sure glad it didn't take a flame war to get here.
Old 19th November 2006
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaChunkyStudio View Post
No other industry would tolerate any significant deviations in spec and quality in the manufacture of expensive precision instruments such as microphones.
Wrong! For instance, cylinders and pistons are measured, classified and matched. Measuring and matching IS in fact a common approach to increase the quality and precision, which can't be assured by production tolerances alone. It's all about that: tolerances. Certain production processes demand certain tolerances. If you wnat to minimize them, you've got to select. If manufacturing processes were so accurate there wouldn't be any defects either, but there are, sometimes up to 20%.
So, definitely no voodoo there!
Old 19th November 2006
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pegleg View Post
Well, that's kind of the point. The concept of stereo matching is marketed towards, and goes hand in hand with, things like classical recording; where the engineer wants to be confident of equality in tone across the stereo spectrum. In these instances, the 'finely calibrated stereo positioning', which you seem to infer is unusual, is not only the norm, but considered critical.
Not everyone who does classical recording finds that approach to be critical, or even desirable. It has its limitations. In almost every situation, the tonal balance of the source and the room are going to be more significant issues than anything going on with your microphones. And although we tend toward clean/transparent tones as a rule, in the final analysis, good sound beats "correct" sound.

That said, again, I have no quarrel with those who stress that approach, and obviously many do so with outstanding results.

JSL
Old 19th November 2006
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by pegleg View Post
Jules; do you have any factual basis for your assumption about Neumann's matching policies? My understanding, based on questions I asked when buying my matched U87s, was that it was a little more involved than that; I understood some listening test(s) were involved.
Good point, if they listened, even better! No to be honest, I wasnt told the method used. I WAS guessing
Old 19th November 2006
  #21
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1. Matched pairs make sense to me, if you want to use it for stereo applications or just want to have identical sounding mics.

2. I´ve been to Sennheiser/Neumann factory. They seem to seriously take care about this problem.

3.Roumors say, that some other manufacturers "fake match" their pairs by follwing serial numbers (XXXXX1, XXXX2).

This could make sence, if you think that differences could be smaller, if the 2 mics are manufactured in nearly the same date and time. But this thesis isn´t prooven for me. I watched the production chain at sennheiser (by the way, this isn´t talkink about business secrets, everybody who does a trip to the factory can watch this). The mic has a tolerance, just like said earlier in this thread. The frequency response can be beetween X and Y, showed at a display. The machine detecs errors and the capsule goes to hell if it doesnt fit. If you watch this display, you can see that some mics are more above the middle line and some are more beneth. Off course, its to quick to watch all the details happening, but it seems to me theres no really relation between the serial numbers. This make me think off: Why paying more for a "serial number" matched pair? Well, witch company does it right, which not? Good question....

Maybe the best would be to get 2 mics and judge this by ear...... Or if you got a good retailer, maybe he could do it before sending.

By the way, don´t you often think that the advertised frequency response can´t fit, if you listen to the mic ?
Old 19th November 2006
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying_Dutchman View Post
but it seems to me theres no really relation between the serial numbers.
Machines may tend to drift off. So an additional tolerance may be added if the serial numbers are quite a bit apart.
Old 19th November 2006
  #23
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how do we get matching ears?heh
Old 19th November 2006
  #24
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The original post was clearly ignorant.

Clearly manufacturers do go thru the extra effort to make matching microphones.

Why do they do this extra work?

Supply and demand. The customer wants it and so they deliver.

No big deal and no bull sheet.

However…

The need is BS in my how humble opinion.

Nothing else in the equation is really matched.

If you're using (for ex) an old Neve console, then you'd need to have the preamps, faders (send), EQ's line amps (on returns), power amp, monitors, speaker cable, and the room design to be perfectly matched.

That's not even going into the fact that the instrument isn't perfectly matched on both sides and neither is anything that the end user will be using to listen to it on.

And my ears are by no means matched.

So why would someone spend so much time perfecting only one step in a very long chain?

YMMV.
Old 19th November 2006
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Produceher View Post
If you're using (for ex) an old Neve console, then you'd need to have the preamps, faders (send), EQ's line amps (on returns), power amp, monitors, speaker cable, and the room design to be perfectly matched.

That's not even going into the fact that the instrument isn't perfectly matched on both sides and neither is anything that the end user will be using to listen to it on.
That's a pretty good point right there.

I would assume that in a (stereo) preamp unit the specs would be pretty darn close, as compared to the difference in two different mics (not matched).

I also think that it depends on the quality control of the company (of course... ), but two behringer mics are WAY more likely to sound much different than two different U87s. I'm not comparing qualities between behringer and neumann here, I mean the differences between the two of the same type is likely to be much greater in a lower quality product.
Old 19th November 2006
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Produceher View Post
So why would someone spend so much time perfecting only one step in a very long chain?
Because it's making things better overall?
Why should I buy a good preamp or a good microphone? The average listener won't give a dfegad probably.
What about people using a dedicated stereo preamp, no EQ and stuff at all?

Also, let's stop making new cars, the current ones can drive, that's enough. And /exaggeration on/ I sh*t my pants yesterday, but I won't change them, because my trousers are totally clean /exaggeration off/.

Getting a tiny bit better demands a lot of effort at that quality stage. But there is no compromise, either you do it or you don't.

Claus
Old 19th November 2006
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Nighman View Post
Isn't it ironic that everyone's arguing and calling each other names while the person that started the thread is nowhere to be found???
Typical troll, IMHO...
Old 19th November 2006
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Produceher View Post
The need is BS in my how humble opinion.
Nonsense...
Quote:
If you're using (for ex) an old Neve console, then you'd need to have the preamps, faders (send), EQ's line amps (on returns), power amp, monitors, speaker cable, and the room design to be perfectly matched.
The L/R channel deviations of most other pieces of gear (except maybe mediocre monitors) are usually considerably less than those of unmatched mics.

Quote:
That's not even going into the fact that the instrument isn't perfectly matched on both sides
A matched pair of mics will show you that exactly. A non-matched "pair" will distort it even further. Argument does not compute.

Quote:
And my ears are by no means matched.
Irrelevant.

Quote:
So why would someone spend so much time perfecting only one step in a very long chain?
Because it can be done, doesn't take "so much time" and will help keep the signal chain as even as possible. And because it is a very important step in this chain.

Daniel
Old 19th November 2006
  #29
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As others have said, I can understand wanting matched mics, in theory at least, for classical recording, maybe some kinds of jazz -- but speaking for myself, I really can't imagine wanting them for rock & roll. Jeez, a good chunk of us make a point of eq-ing fx returns or even room mics slightly differently on each channel. I often go one further and use entirely different mics for stereo room mics. Hell, I get criticized if my stereo image is frequency matched. heh

Weird topic to go off about.....



Old 20th November 2006
  #30
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i guess for classical recordings, a matched pair is essencial.

any tips for matched positioning... that's a tough one...

last week i had a session with former chicago percussionist laudir deoliveira recording a shaker in stereo and when i took notice he was leaning to one side a lot....we got great dinamic panning, but not matched by any means, solved the problem by recording again reversed without telling him...

i guess the hard time is matching signals...
or track mono...
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