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Cheap mic pair, why do omnis sound better?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Cheap mic pair, why do omnis sound better?

I primarily record single, often quite bright, string instruments at a close perspective in my living room.

I have a cheap set of small diaphragm condenser mics (studio projects C4 mkii) and I consistently prefer the omni capsules (spaced 17-20 cm apart) to the cardioid capsules (17 cm apart at ORTF angle). The omnis are less harsh on the high end, sound more natural, more open, and are consistent close (6 inches) and further away (2 ft). My room isn't even treated but there are no nasty reflections at least.

The downside of the omnis is increased ambient sound from my neighbors which can be significant at times.

Is it more likely I just prefer the sound of omnis or is it possible a better set of cardioid mics would sound much better?

Thanks for any advice!!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Addict
 

When the mic is 6 inches away, the omni will not have proximity effect, unlike the cardiod. So, part of what you prefer might be the omni's unhyped bass frequencies.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honkermann View Post
When the mic is 6 inches away, the omni will not have proximity effect, unlike the cardiod. So, part of what you prefer might be the omni's unhyped bass frequencies.
At that distance that probably is part of it but especially further away because then the cardioids are lacking in bass / richness.

After listening to some examples of bad off-axis response it could be the ORTF cardioids that close are creating a lot of bad off-axis coloration. The 3-5k region is what sounds the worst on the cardioids.

Thanks for your response!

Last edited by saltpig; 3 weeks ago at 04:47 PM.. Reason: for clarity
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Addict
 

Omni mics have a more true sound to them. It's not just the lack of proximity boost but as well they are without the colorations that come along with a directional microphone.

Much higher quality cardioid mics may be smoother and may appeal more to you but recording acoustic stringed instruments it may be that you are simply a fan of omni mics.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Head
Just my opinion, but... Don’t close mic in ORTF!! It makes no sense. If it must be stereo, always go coincident when close micing to avoid a hole
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SDunscombe View Post
Just my opinion, but... Don’t close mic in ORTF!! It makes no sense. If it must be stereo, always go coincident when close micing to avoid a hole
I need to try XY again then. But what about two omnis spaced 17 - 20 cm apart?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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TurboJets's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by saltpig View Post
I need to try XY again then. But what about two omnis spaced 17 - 20 cm apart?
Sometimes I really like a spaced omni pair. I usually go 60 cm apart, 60 cm from source. Panned hard L/R they make a beautiful image leaving plenty of room in the Middle for vocals or other instruments.

20 cm will just give you a tighter image which may be more appropriate for string instruments. The further you separate the mics from each other the wider your image will be when you pan them when mixing.

Sometimes the uncolored, neutral capture coupled with the lack of interference of proximity effect just sounds perfect.

Spaced pair facing straight forward.

Last edited by TurboJets; 3 weeks ago at 01:43 AM.. Reason: add specific info
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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Thanks for all these responses!

When I was using a "spaced pair" of omni mics I actually was angling them at 110º like the ORTF angle. While it did reduce harshness on the ukulele it made the classical guitar sound like mud. When I straightened them out so that both mics were on-axis to the instrument the sound changed dramatically. There was way more width (too much for close micing) and even more brightness than the cardioid options. I'm confused because the capsules are nearly the same distance from each other as they were before... and I thought the angle of an omni mic wouldn't change the sound that much.

The XY gave the most balanced representation tonally of any instrument, gives the most isolation from ambient noise polution, and can be moved even slightly to change tonal balance which in a way is a plus. It's just pretty narrow is all.

I wonder if in a small room with single fairly quiet instruments it would be worth it to set up a different pair of mics further from the XY to add depth, mixing them together. I feel like it might make more problems then solve them but I'm wondering if anyone has had success with that.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Your ears are omni, which might be why it sounds "better" to a lot of people to listen to omni recordings. They can sound more natural.

Also if the mic has a particularly restrictive pickup pattern that distorts as your source sound approaches the pattern boundary you might get more of that audible distortion in certain mic designs.

You might like this: http://recordinghacks.com/2010/04/03...ue-comparison/
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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esldude's Avatar
The same reason when using expensive mic pairs, the omni capsules sound better.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by saltpig View Post
The downside of the omnis is increased ambient sound from my neighbors which can be significant at times.
yikes!
well, you can hardly blame that on the mic.

Quote:
Is it more likely I just prefer the sound of omnis
I would guess yes. To me, your thread title is like asking "cheap ice cream, why does chocolate taste better than vanilla?" It's entirely possible that the cheapness of the ice cream is immaterial.


Quote:
or is it possible a better set of cardioid mics would sound much better?
since you are using capsules from the same mic 'system', I think you are making a reasonably fair comparison between the two patterns. Better mics will sound better, of course, but I doubt that will alter your preference. That is to say if you got better mics with interchangeable capsules, I bet you will still prefer the omnis

Quote:
I primarily record single, often quite bright, string instruments at a close perspective in my living room.
perhaps your living room has a pretty good sound - notwithstanding the neighbors and you like the "room" sound the omni mics give you.


Your results may also be influenced by how you use the mics. Getting in close will change a cardioid's sound, not so much an omni. Putting the mics is the same exact position is not really a fair comparison of their capabilities. I mostly record songs with many many tracks and I use mostly cardioid mics up very close. And usually in mono. The cardioid mics almost always need to be high-passed. There is also a lot more "finagling" in the positioning when in close. An inch one way or the other can make a big difference. It can with omnis too, but IMO, not to the same degree.

When I record with a 'classical' approach with cardioid mics it is usually from quite far away - 10-12 feet or more.

Last edited by joeq; 3 weeks ago at 07:30 AM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Head
Also note: if xy sounds narrow to you, just increase the angle! As long as they are coincident, it’s not going to be an issue until you get quite extreme (and then you open up a hole in the middle again)...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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avare's Avatar
 

Omnis have best sound because they have the least of chambers etc. to shape the pattern

I do not know why so many people in North America are afraid of them.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by avare View Post
Omnis have best sound because they have the least of chambers etc. to shape the pattern

I do not know why so many people in North America are afraid of them.
Because we like the illusion of control...

Can't trust those damn omni's they get sound from everywhere!!

Yup, you're right though. People should get over it but if they can't figure out that omni mics are useful tools then I guess it's their loss.
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