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Vanguard Audio Labs stereo mic Condenser Microphones
Old 7th January 2018
  #1
Lives for gear
Vanguard Audio Labs stereo mic

Just wondering if anyone here has experience with the new US assembled Vanguard Audio Labs V44S stereo mic ?

YouTube

V44S Stereo Condenser - Vanguard Audio Labs

Vanguard Audio Labs V44S Stereo Microphone - NOW SHIPPING

At $650US it looks like a contender for at least stereo spot duties, if not main pair ? Has 3 selectable patterns per capsule, and I really like the generosity of the matrix box, which is able to immediately give 3 outputs for MS ...even for those mics you already own not made by Vanguard...I'd almost buy that as a standalone unit by itself !

One of the co-founders has apparently come from Avantone.

A couple more videos for you: YouTube

YouTube
Old 7th January 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Looks like yet another minor variant on the same Chinese pattern that has been doing the rounds for many years (see also the Avantone CK-40 and no doubt many others).

Personally I think you might as well buy the original from alibaba or similar, save some money and have done with it.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Head
 
VanguardAudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peller View Post
Looks like yet another minor variant on the same Chinese pattern that has been doing the rounds for many years (see also the Avantone CK-40 and no doubt many others).
I can't believe I just saw this thread only 1 year behind!

I can completely understand and sympathize with the skepticism and at first glance, they would appear quite similar.

The mics to which you are referring and the V44S are definitely a chalk-and-cheese difference. Many, many differences and NOT built in the usual OEM chassis. Not OEM at all, in fact.

One of the most drastic is that we're using our custom-voiced edge-terminated V13 capsules in the V44S, not the usual 32mm K67-style capsule. (Different circuitry as well.)

After a lot of research, we ended up just ground-up designing a new rotation mechanism because all of the ones I've ever seen (including some of the lovely vintage ones like SM69s, C24s) are, at the best of times, "finicky".

Ours uses a punched-steel rotation plate and ball bearings, with 15º detents. It is about as bulletproof as we could make something that's designed to move by hand. One of our V44S mics took an 8-foot fall on Andy Grammer's tour last year, and is still functioning perfectly. That's about as good of a road test result as I could ask for!

I can tell you from fixing other stereo mics years ago - the usual OEM stereo mic top capsule is held in place by two 1" pieces of formed 1mmOD wire. It is not on good terms with the effects of gravity. Not sure if that's changed in the last 5-odd years on those designs, but was definitely the case before. Once they came apart, it was VERY difficult to get them to sit correctly again, because it usually changed the shape of the wire.

A lot of other differences - circuitry, components, yadda yadda, but I tend to drone on about geeky things, like transistor spec sheets and matching signal trace lengths on the PCB, that make people fall asleep.

On a final and more useful note, I can tell you from testing that the V44S and the mics you are referring to sound vastly, vastly, vastly different.

Not trying to ruffle feathers, Peller. Like I said - sympathize with the skepticism and at first glance I can totally see the similarities. I will be the first to tell you that I've got a cynical streak about 5 miles long and twice as wide.

Quote:
At $650US it looks like a contender for at least stereo spot duties, if not main pair? Has 3 selectable patterns per capsule, and I really like the generosity of the matrix box, which is able to immediately give 3 outputs for MS ...even for those mics you already own not made by Vanguard...I'd almost buy that as a standalone unit by itself !
Thanks! We figured 99% of people who use it would prefer to just do it in the box...but if you're a concert taper using a hip mixer and don't have phase inversion available, we figured it's a nice thing to have at your disposal. We did the available inputs too just for kicks, so if people have two 414s (or V13s! ) ...we thought it was something that couldn't hurt to have as an option.

As far as stereo spot duties...here's a photo of a V44S under the Abbey Road decca tree for an orchestra session.



Needless to say, we were rather tickled when we got this photo.

Any questions, give me a shout anytime - [email protected].

-DEREK
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Well, I stand corrected! Sounds intriguing.

Tell us more about this capsule -- is it like a CK12, then, or something of your own design?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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jnorman's Avatar
Frequency response curves available?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
Here for the gear
This would be more compelling if it featured small diaphragms.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Gear Head
 
VanguardAudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peller View Post
Well, I stand corrected! Sounds intriguing.

Tell us more about this capsule -- is it like a CK12, then, or something of your own design?
Sorry, can't answer that, I have a 1-year minimum wait time on all my responses

Edge-terminated capsule, similar in some ways to a CK12 but with some very key differences. It's a series of different tweaks to make a one-of-a-kind capsule voicing we worked on for quite awhile. If you put it up against any C12-style clone (or original AKG C12/414 brass capsules, which we've done) it's a significantly different-sounding capsule.

Most inexpensive capsules need a heavy amount of circuit correction, and both Ken and I are fans of the less-is-more technique. Get it right at the 1st element (the capsule)...make it glorious, and you don't have to add any artifacts from the circuit. It reduces a lot of variables when you just start with a fantastic-sounding capsule. Then you design the rest of the mic around optimizing and enhancing the sound of the capsule instead of compensating for it.

Or, to put it another way - if you're making a steak, start out with a GREAT cut of meat. Then there's no need to over-season it. (Sorry if any vegetarians read this.)

We try to take a fresh “from the ground up” approach to all our gear. The world already has a lot of mics to choose from, so we strive to be original, different and make right-to-tape world-class mics that real world music makers can afford without mortgaging a kidney.

In that vein, just filed the patent paperwork on a new capsule design that we're quite excited about.

Quote:
Frequency response curves available?
We don't offer published FR charts. Few reasons - partly to protect our proprietary capsule voicing that we worked for several years to get "just right".

...and partly because so often plot charts are over-smoothed and "corrected" that they confuse & distract from the best gauge of a microphone's character - the ear.

Most of our dealers offer demos, and I always encourage people to test there. "Hearing is believing" is the expression I use (and probably accidentally lifted from some other manufacturer's marketing campaign without realizing it). I also recently hosted all our audio samples on soundcloud, with links to the hi-res wave files. IIRC those are all user-generated samples.

We're working on a few other things to help people be able to evaluate the mic with their earballs - stay tuned on that one

Our R&D is based on listening to 3-4 mics with several constants and one variable (e.g. a particular component, dimension, etc.), in real sessions, versus as many great mics as the studio will put up. Then pick a favorite - or none of them and start again with another 3-4 mics on the same variable - wash-rinse-repeat a few dozen times, and you've got yourself an outstanding microphone. "It's the ear, not the gear", and it follows that if you use the ear to develop the gear, then you've got ear-worthy gear. Not the only valid approach, but the one we've found most beneficial in our work.

That's not to say there aren't important objective things to do properly, but the subjective part is the reason there's so many mics out there, and also (IMO) the most laborious part of development. But I'm nothing if not a completionist, and I have so many obscure components laying around the shop its starting to border on unhealthy.

Quote:
This would be more compelling if it featured small diaphragms.
I'll leave this here then

Vanguard Audio Labs V1S+LOLLI Multi-Capsule Pencil Condenser System


/END NOVEL/ If you'll excuse me, I have to go clean up all the digital ink I've spilled.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Here for the gear
Quote:
This would be more compelling if it featured small diaphragms.
I'll leave this here then

Vanguard Audio Labs V1S+LOLLI Multi-Capsule Pencil Condenser System

The world has plenty of excellent small-diaphragm mics, with and without interchangeable capsules. What it doesn't have are variable-pattern diaphragm mics, outside of the Sennheiser mkh800 and partially the Shure 141 and Schoeps MK5 (one of my favorites). If you made your V44 with diaphragms made for excellent off-axis response, that would be interesting. I'd love a contemporary Neumann SM2 / 23!
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by VanguardAudio View Post
...............

Most inexpensive capsules need a heavy amount of circuit correction, and both Ken and I are fans of the less-is-more technique. Get it right at the 1st element (the capsule)...make it glorious, and you don't have to add any artifacts from the circuit. It reduces a lot of variables when you just start with a fantastic-sounding capsule. Then you design the rest of the mic around optimizing and enhancing the sound of the capsule instead of compensating for it.............

In that vein, just filed the patent paperwork on a new capsule design that we're quite excited about...........

We don't offer published FR charts. Few reasons - partly to protect our proprietary capsule voicing that we worked for several years to get "just right".

...and partly because so often plot charts are over-smoothed and "corrected" that they confuse & distract from the best gauge of a microphone's character - the ear.

Most of our dealers offer demos, and I always encourage people to test there. "Hearing is believing" is the expression I use (and probably accidentally lifted from some other manufacturer's marketing campaign without realizing it). I also recently hosted all our audio samples on soundcloud, with links to the hi-res wave files. IIRC those are all user-generated samples.

We're working on a few other things to help people be able to evaluate the mic with their earballs - stay tuned on that one

Our R&D is based on listening to.....
A few observations, and thank you for a very coherent, frank and concise outline of your R+D and mic-voicing policy...most refreshing !

"Less is more" has an initially attractive ring to it, although occasionally the more technically-complex 'road less taken' has real-world benefits also (eg Sennheiser MKH RF series mics perform well in humid climates, and have enviable pattern control, plus very good low self-noise...which sets them well apart from their competitors )

I'd care less about how you achieved your goal, as long as the final product is consistent (ie from unit to unit, so stereo pair-matching is a non-issue), reliable, low to zero maintenance, has good to excellent performance in all benchmark criteria (v.low noise, v.low distortion, sufficient headroom....you can guess the rest) I'm purchasing a product, not so much a philosophy.....although the "we use our ears in the first instance" strikes me as a good informative first approach. All of the above criteria are tradeable (to a degree)....they are ideals and failings in one area can be partially offset by strengths in another, and price enters the equation also of course

Regarding reluctance to publish spec charts: there are highly regarded mics which don't necessarily measure well (eg many ribbons, with early LF and HF roll-off...and wobbly peaks/valleys rather than flat) and this doesn't always bode poorly for market acceptance or sales, but I can understand the 'prejudicial forensic evidence' nature of such measurements...I'm sure you'd prefer potential users judged your mics on audible performance (ears), rather than measured performance (usually, eyes...oh, and left brain too !)

Do be advised that if you don't publish graphs, tables etc (smoothed or not) others will (on your behalf) cf. Microphone Database | RecordingHacks.com I doubt competitors could backward engineer a patent-stealing move by copying a response curve alone...but can appreciate your desire to protect your IP in this increasingly " 3D printed world" Just be aware of the quizzical scepticismhere, which may entrain itself to your policy....

I'd say a variety of audio samples, harvested in credible realistic concert or session contexts, could supplement (perhaps even replace) published lab specs....and your Soundcloud pages are an admirable step in that direction, may they continue to flourish and expand: V44S Stereo Large-Diaphragm Multi-Pattern Condenser by Vanguard Audio Labs | Free Listening on SoundCloud
Listen to Vanguard Microphones On SoundCloud - Vanguard Audio Labs

This forum represents a broad church of practising recordists, mainly focussed on the classical/orchestral/chamber/baroque/jazz end of the spectrum...a few with Grammys under their belts... and many fanatical hobbyists. Spend a few hours trawling the exchanges in a typical week and you'll soon discern the tenor of the place....it's also highly oriented to critical but constructive feedback (we all want to see more competent, ground-breaking gear to feed our addictions !)
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Lives for gear
** "Do be advised that if you don't publish graphs, tables etc (smoothed or not) others will (on your behalf)......"

Indeed Recordinghacks have done so, as well as 4 other reviews cited in the Vanguard V13 overview: http://recordinghacks.com/microphones/Vanguard/V-13

The joys and fun of DIY tube swapping are warmly endorsed by the writers.....
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
benoïde's Avatar
 

Any experience on a string quartet or a small chamber ensemble (blumlein config)? I'd be very curious to hear it.
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