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No more spot mic deliberations for me (but new mics needed!)
Old 11th May 2007
  #1
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Talking No more spot mic deliberations for me (but new mics needed!)

For listening pleasure I have become allergic to orchestral spot micing. The compression of the depth of the sound stage, the harshness added to instruments like the brass and the generally unnatural hyped sound doesn't help. I was listening to a Wagner highlights CD last night (recordings from the late 60's to the late 90's) and by far my favourite recordings were the older ones that, I presume, used minimal micing techniques. For example, In 'Siegfrieds Tod' I want the timpani to be distant and ominous, not strangely clear and upfront.

For my own recordings I am currently using a pair of MK21's. Everything I have recorded with them so far (all small ensembles) has sounded great, lovely mics. I recorded a Sitar and tabla concert 2 nights ago and it's the best recording that I have done thus far. I also quite like the restriction of 2 mics as it forces you to consider placement and angles a lot more which in turn maybe leads to better recordings.

So, I would now like another pair of mics as an alternative to the MK21's. I am not a fan of spaced omnis for various reasons and think that, although not in pure omni territory, the low end on the MK21 is good for most things. I also like the attenuation on the MK21 to help reduce audience noise. I therefore wonder if it might be worth going in the other direction (more directional) for less than ideal acoustics. I am also not a big fan of ribbons on location and can't afford a ribbon optimised preamp to get the most from them. I am very tempted by the Pearl cardioids but it's a significant hike in price to go that route than to just buy a couple of new capsules for the Schoeps. The problem with buying new capsules for the Schoeps is that it still has that Schoeps flavour and, although I love that, I would quite like an alternative flavour as well as polar pattern / array.

Any ideas most appreciated.
Old 11th May 2007
  #2
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Oh yes, a single stereo pair appeals to me the most, too ...

What about AEA R88 (Blumlein stereo) ? I just got mine back (purchased it after previous 2 weeks trial) and for some sources it sounds simply better (more natural) than Schoeps ... And for sure it sounds very different. If you get SD Gefells, Josephsons etc., it may sound quite similar to what you already have. R88 would not. But now I can see, you don´t want ribbons ...

Recently I tried a pair of LD mics (Horch) on instruments. I very much prefered Schoeps. Due to laws of physics LD microphones introduce some extra, non-transparent artifacts that sound a bit "dirty" comparing to SD mics ... Less clarity and depth. So I am not attracted to the idea of LD pair any more ...

As for MK21 - they are very nice. Yet in 90% of cases I prefer and use MK2: to me more open and natural sounding
Old 11th May 2007
  #3
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Thanks for your input Ivo. I know you've been to a similar place before (i.e. looking for an alternative to the Schoeps flavour). However, if I was to prioritise I would say that a different patterned array is more important to me at the moment than different flavours.

So if we say that ribbons are out for now then we are left with SDC's and LDC's.

I actually owned a Brauner Phantom C for a while and a pair of them might be an option although since getting the Schoeps my old Brauner recordings sound a little 'thin.' I suppose this could be more to do with the cardioid versus wide cardioid nature of things though.

Have you tried the Pearl cardioids by any chance?

Also, with your extensive testing of all things Schoeps, is there anything more directional in their range that might work for me? (possibly the tube stuff for a different flavour?)
Old 11th May 2007
  #4
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The Schoeps tube stuff is incredibly expensive. I think getting more "euphonic" preamp may be an eaiser and cheaper solution ... Fred Forssell´s Fetcode is on the way to me ... I will let you know :-)

I have not tried Pearl mics ... I don´t think that LD mics would sound better than SD mics for classical recordings.
For Schoeps - I just sold MK4V capsules, I found I have not used them almost at all for a long time and when tried again, I much prefered more relaxed and spacy sound of MK21 and MK2 on everything ... I can just recommend you to try MK2 pair ... There is nothing else from the Schoeps series I would think about to get (and I tried to think of something). MK21, MK2 and R88 seem to be all covering for me at the moment.
Old 11th May 2007
  #5
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Hi,
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
For listening pleasure I have become allergic to orchestral spot micing. The compression of the depth of the sound stage,
I don't feel this hapening when some delay is applied to the spots

Quote:
the harshness added to instruments like the brass and the generally unnatural hyped sound doesn't help.
That's really not a general issue of spot micing... It all depends on the mix (and the choice of spot mics).

Quote:
I recorded a Sitar and tabla concert 2 nights ago and it's the best recording that I have done thus far.
May I ask who were the musicians? And would you provide a sample?

Quote:
I also quite like the restriction of 2 mics as it forces you to consider placement and angles a lot more which in turn maybe leads to better recordings.
I no longer think you can do everything with two mics... pkautzsch put it nicely when he said spot mics do in recordings what your eyes do in live concerts. Mics and ears don't hear the same way...

Quote:
So, I would now like another pair of mics as an alternative to the MK21's.
As in an alternative stereo setup, not spot mics, right?

Daniel
Old 11th May 2007
  #6
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Hi Daniel, glad that you are here. I actually thought of you as I was typing, I was imagining the things in my post that you would question! (no bad thing, I appreciate your honesty). So without wanting to open a can of worms about spot micing here goes:

Quote:
I don't feel this hapening when some delay is applied to the spots
Still not convinced. Although my experience is mainly with smaller ensembles. As soon as you add signal from a spot mic it brings that covered area forward in the sound stage, surely...

Quote:
That's really not a general issue of spot micing... It all depends on the mix (and the choice of spot mics).
Agreed. Although I think that brass (if spot miced unsympathetically) is one of the worst offenders for this harshness that I mention. I suppose a smooth mic at a reasonable distance and low in the mix might reduce the said harshness but that doesn't detract from the compressed soundstage that I usually hear.

Quote:
May I ask who were the musicians? And would you provide a sample?
On its way...

Quote:
I no longer think you can do everything with two mics... pkautzsch put it nicely when he said spot mics do in recordings what your eyes do in live concerts. Mics and ears don't hear the same way...
I agree. Sometimes 2 mics just doesn't cut it. But for small ensembles and some orchestral gigs (the ones I'm marketing myself to) I reckon it can work and work to the benefit of the material. The eyes thing I am aware of. Having said that the flipside of that arguement for me is the fact that when you shut your eyes your sense of hearing acuity increases (or at least it does with me).

Quote:
As in an alternative stereo setup, not spot mics, right?
Correct.
Old 11th May 2007
  #7
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Quote:
I think getting more "euphonic" preamp may be an eaiser and cheaper solution
Good idea although it would mean me needing to get an outboard ADC also (I currently use the ADC card in my Amek pre).
Old 11th May 2007
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

I have a MK 41 set
MK 4 - MK 8 M/S (I've used MK 41 - MK 8 too)
Gefell 940 set
Royer SF12

My favorite by far are the Gefells, much more fuller and musical than the Schoeps, but kinda distracting on stage.

Unfortunately the band I record is difficult for just a stereo set.
Old 11th May 2007
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
So, I would now like another pair of mics as an alternative to the MK21's. I am not a fan of spaced omnis for various reasons and think that, although not in pure omni territory, the low end on the MK21 is good for most things. I also like the attenuation on the MK21 to help reduce audience noise. I therefore wonder if it might be worth going in the other direction (more directional) for less than ideal acoustics.
It's funny that this comes up now, as I was just talking with our new junior engineer about this very subject. I'm of the opinion that for main mic systems you should not go munch more directional than a sub-card. Besides the lack of clarity inherent in directional mics when compared with true omni's, there is very little benefit in the reduction of room noise from going more directional than a sub-card. At best you get 3 dB. Combine that with the progressive decrease in LF performance and increase in off axis coloration, well, you can see where I'm going with this. I'm not saying that there aren't any circumstances where a directional pair would be appropriate, but usually it is a compromise to offset an existing problem.
I would seriously suggest you give a set of decent omni's another try. My first choice would be a pair of MK-2S's or KM130//183's. There are so many more positioning options that can give you the precision and color you want, without the wonky character of more directional mics. If you feel that you need a little more reach, try a set of 40mm balls.

When it comes to the spot mic issue, yes, the numbers have increased over the years. But, there are VERY few commercial orchestral recordings made since the 50's that have not used spot mics liberally. Back in the RCA Living Stereo era, they had 12 and 16 channel mixers, and they used all of them. There are plenty of good recordings being made today, it's just that in many circumstances there are pressures from outside sources (Soloists, musicians listening committees and conductors to name just a few) to re-mix and re-balance orchestras after the fact These are pressures that are not new. Listen to Heifetz recordings from the late 50's and tell me that he didn't have a say in the balances.
When it comes to the delaying of spot mics, it is my personal preference to not delay and have the spot mic a little ahead of the mains. I normally get the color I'm looking for with less of the spot mic added to the mix. However, when the pressure to re-balance the orchestra is great, you can use a lot more of an individual spot mic when it is timed with the mains.
As always, YMMV.
All the best,
Mark
Old 11th May 2007
  #10
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You make some good points Mark. Perhaps it is time to give small A-B another shot. It would probably make more sense to just get a couple of Schoeps omni caps to save money if that was to be the case. Angular distortion, ghosting and phase issues give me nightmares though...

And you are right, the LF response of a more directional mic would probably bother me a lot. I think I would miss that rich bottom end.

Another option I have considered is to get the MK8 and use it in combo with an MK21. This would give a different array (better room rejection? at least from the rear) and MS might work better in some acoustics.

On the spot mic issue; I am of the persuasion that just because it's the norm doesn't mean it's right! I'm doing a full symphony orchestral recording in a weeks time and will tackle it with a single pair. I might well come back and agree that subtle use of spotting is essential, but at least then I will know
Old 11th May 2007
  #11
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ISedlacek's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
Sounds really nice, clean, natural and balanced. How did you record it ? (mic position). I suppose it was amplified ?
Old 11th May 2007
  #12
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d_fu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
Hi Daniel, glad that you are here.
Thanks for the compliment..

Quote:
Still not convinced. Although my experience is mainly with smaller ensembles. As soon as you add signal from a spot mic it brings that covered area forward in the sound stage, surely...
Delay prevents that up to a point, and then, bringing them forward a bit (aka adding some presence) is what I want to achieve with spots. If you focus your listening attention to e.g. woodwinds in an orchestra live and then listen to pure stereo recording from the same position, they will sound more remote than what you had in mind (esp. if the hall is quite live). Your ears can focus in a way a microphone can't. or rather, without the visual aspect, your ears can't focus as they can when you're there.

Have you tried using track delay? And reducing the spot mics in the mix to the point where you'll only really notice them if you mute them? Of course you don't want spots to be loud. The approach in classical recordings will always be main mic plus spots, not close mics plus a "room mic"...


Quote:
On its way...
Two rather competent musicians, obviously. Won't you name names? I have some questions about and comments on this recording as well, if you'd permit. Mind if I semi-hijack this thread?


Quote:
And don't listen on your PC monitors
I did... But incidentally, my PC monitors are my nearfields... heh
Old 11th May 2007
  #13
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ISedlacek's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by twotracker View Post
I have a MK 41 set
MK 4 - MK 8 M/S (I've used MK 41 - MK 8 too)
Gefell 940 set
Royer SF12

My favorite by far are the Gefells, much more fuller and musical than the Schoeps, but kinda distracting on stage.
I would say that MK4 and especially MK41 are not at all the most musical and full sounding of all the Schoeps capsules.
Old 11th May 2007
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
And you are right, the LF response of a more directional mic would probably bother me a lot. I think I would miss that rich bottom end.

Another option I have considered is to get the MK8 and use it in combo with an MK21. This would give a different array (better room rejection? at least from the rear) and MS might work better in some acoustics.
I think that MS is great for things like dialog in Film sound and in studio applications like drum overheads. But as you stated above, you'll probably miss the "rich bottom end". Besides the inherent lack of bottom in the mics used in the array, the coincident placement causes the bottom octaves to be in perceived in mono. (Lack of time/phase differential cues)

All the best,
mark
Old 11th May 2007
  #15
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d_fu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
Sounds really nice, clean, natural and balanced. How did you record it ? (mic position). I suppose it was amplified ?
That's what I'd like to know, too (got a picture?), although I would have probably recorded this differently, I'm all for close-miking Indian Music... I especially want those finer details of the Tabla sound that are lost otherwise.
It's strange how the sound of the resonating strings being strummed in the beginning seems to come from the left, although the Sitar is on the right, as per traditional seating order... The L/R separation between the two could be a bit more, IMHO. I assume the pair was pointed towards the Sitar?
Old 11th May 2007
  #16
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Quote:
Sounds really nice, clean, natural and balanced. How did you record it ? (mic position). I suppose it was amplified ?
Thanks Ivo. I am happy with it. The noise floor of the venue isn't great (fan noise) but it's not an altogether unpleasant fan noiseheh

The pres are those of the Amek that I mentioned in your thread about preamps. Even though I don't have a huge ammount of comparitive experience with preamps I have always liked the Ameks. A silky top end and no lack of fullness and depth, would you agree?

Quote:
Two rather competent musicians, obviously. Won't you name names? I have some questions about and comments on this recording as well, if you'd permit. Mind if I semi-hijack this thread?
No names yet I'm afraid. Not totally sure where the recording is going yet. Feel free to hijack away, opinions always appreciated.

Quote:
That's what I'd like to know, too (got a picture?), although I would have probably recorded this differently, I'm all for close-miking Indian Music... I especially want those finer details of the Tabla sound that are lost otherwise.
It's strange how the sound of the resonating strings being strummed in the beginning seems to come from the left, although the Sitar is on the right, as per traditional seating order... The L/R separation between the two could be a bit more, IMHO. I assume the pair was pointed towards the Sitar?
Yes but the Sitar is such a wide dispersing instrument. And the tabla is very deifnitely in its place.

Pair was biased to the Sitar. Took a while to get a good balance. Array was around 3-4ft up and pointed down.

Quote:
I think that MS is great for things like dialog in Film sound and in studio applications like drum overheads. But as you stated above, you'll probably miss the "rich bottom end". Besides the inherent lack of bottom in the mics used in the array, the coincident placement causes the bottom octaves to be in perceived in mono. (Lack of time/phase differential cues)
I've gone off MS a bit. Although I did a recording of a small choir in a big Cathedral a year ago using MS Schoeps pair (hired) and it really worked.

Ivo, I was thinking that maybe another pre feeding my Amek ADC through the Line Ins on the Amek might be an option? or is this madness? Amek pride their line-ins on that unit as being bomb proof and flat.
Old 11th May 2007
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
I would say that MK4 and especially MK41 are not at all the most musical and full sounding of all the Schoeps capsules.
Thanks, could be why I have always perfered the Gefells and puzzeled about praise for Schoeps - apparently I should invest in some 21 capsules. Especially if I start recording acoustic performances.

I had thought the difference was because of the large diaphram.

[/ end hijack ]
Old 11th May 2007
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue View Post
Combine that with the progressive decrease in LF performance and increase in off axis coloration, well, you can see where I'm going with this.
How about the Senneheiser MKH40 as a counter to the loss of LF reponse? I know it doesn't have many friends around here but it must have something going for it right? Of course I would have to ask myself if there was ever a time that I would use it over the MK21's (which gets back to some of your other points about directionality).
Old 11th May 2007
  #19
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MK4 are not bad. I think they are amongst the best cardioids money can buy, actually. Not a lot of off-axis coloration, so one can use them in angled setups.
But for most classical music, I still prefer omni main pairs.
If you're not too close to the source, the Neumann 184 is also quite good. You need to re-think positioning though, as they will only shine when placed a few feet farther away than you'd place any other cardioid main pair. In a typical main pair position, they'll sound too bright.

As to spots: If I place a main pair in a way the strings (or whatever is in the front) have enough presence, often the woodwinds (or whatever is farther away) will be outside the "free field" (I know that's not precisely right but being technically precise would take way too much space in a thread called "no more spot mic deliberations") and thus way too reverberant and distant. My spot mics usually are there to get as much depth as I want, but not too much more. I don't primarily use them to mess with the orchestra's balance. Some German broadcasters do that, and I don't really like their results.
Old 11th May 2007
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twotracker View Post
I have a MK 41 set
MK 4 - MK 8 M/S (I've used MK 41 - MK 8 too)
Gefell 940 set
Royer SF12

My favorite by far are the Gefells, much more fuller and musical than the Schoeps, but kinda distracting on stage.

Greetings.

My two favorite mics are the Gefell M-930 and the Gefell M-295. The 295 is so detailed that you can just about tell what color of shirt the performer is wearing. If you can try both or either, you could be in for a treat. I love them, but this is of course just one person's opinion and ears and the usual disclaimers.

Best of luck, and keep us posted on your search!
-0.9
Old 11th May 2007
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
How about the Senneheiser MKH40 as a counter to the loss of LF reponse? I know it doesn't have many friends around here but it must have something going for it right? Of course I would have to ask myself if there was ever a time that I would use it over the MK21's (which gets back to some of your other points about directionality).
There is an interesting discussion about these microphones by Bernhard Vollmer of Schoeps in the thread on Prosoundweb here.
Tale a look.
All the best,
mark
Old 11th May 2007
  #22
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Quote:
My two favorite mics are the Gefell M-930 and the Gefell M-295. The 295 is so detailed that you can just about tell what color of shirt the performer is wearing. If you can try both or either, you could be in for a treat. I love them, but this is of course just one person's opinion and ears and the usual disclaimers.
I have tried the M930 and M300 before and, to be honest with you, always found them a bit thin and lacking in depth or something. I also have tried the Josephson C617 with Gefell M222 omni cap and, while it had a serious clarity, sounded a little bright to my ears. The Schoeps MK2 I was comparing it to at the time sounded deeper and more natural. Not to say that there isn't a Gefell out there for me but I might take a bit of convincing. With Schoeps I did kind of feel like I had arrived...
Old 11th May 2007
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
I have tried the M930 and M300 before and, to be honest with you, always found them a bit thin and lacking in depth or something. I also have tried the Josephson C617 with Gefell M222 omni cap and, while it had a serious clarity, sounded a little bright to my ears. The Schoeps MK2 I was comparing it to at the time sounded deeper and more natural. Not to say that there isn't a Gefell out there for me but I might take a bit of convincing. With Schoeps I did kind of feel like I had arrived...
Hi mosrite,

I used to have a Gefell M-300, and I never bonded with it. Great mic, but not for me. If you can have a listen to an M-295, that might be worth pursuing.

Regards,
-0.9
Old 11th May 2007
  #24
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ISedlacek's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
I have tried the M930 and M300 before and, to be honest with you, always found them a bit thin and lacking in depth or something. I also have tried the Josephson C617 with Gefell M222 omni cap and, while it had a serious clarity, sounded a little bright to my ears. The Schoeps MK2 I was comparing it to at the time sounded deeper and more natural. Not to say that there isn't a Gefell out there for me but I might take a bit of convincing. With Schoeps I did kind of feel like I had arrived...
I have directly ABed Schoeps against DPA (4006, 4011 etc.) and even if already own DPAs, I would think of changing them for Schoeps ... They sounded more pleasant, more musical to me. I have not tried Gefells. Maybe we have everything what we need ... :-) Pair of MK2 would maybe do you good (or maybe 3 capsules for Decca Tree ?)
As for Amek AD and sending another preamp there ... why not ? But I cannot say for sure ...
Old 12th May 2007
  #25
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Aside from Schoeps I really like the Gefell 296, personally... but my favorite, hands-down best non-Schoeps recording I've recorded & mixed was done with DPA 4041SPs- though for 'euphoric' you might want to look at the 4041T. I'd give them a listen, I think it is light years above the critically flat 4011/4007s I keep in my kit. If I had the dough, I'd keep 5-8 4041s around just for fun...though I've got plenty of wonderful mics not being used enough as it is.

Hope these thoughts help!
Old 12th May 2007
  #26
Gear Head
 

I agree with Jim about the DPA 4041. I use them all the time is addition to my 4003, 4006, 4011, and MK2/CMC6 mics. I have not used the 4041SP, but I have both the 4041T and 4041S mics and they both sound great. I must add that I do NOT use the DPA HM4000/5000 preamp/power supply. I have my own preamp/power supply that handles the 4041 mics (7 pin XLR), and the high voltage 4003/4012 mics (4 pin XLR). With proper positioning the mics really sound great, imo. I don't know how they sound with the HMA4000/5000 preamps though, so as always.... YMMV.

Cheers,
Old 12th May 2007
  #27
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Don S's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
I would say that MK4 and especially MK41 are not at all the most musical and full sounding of all the Schoeps capsules.
Right with you on that one. I thought the 2H and the 21 were the best of the bunch, and just got tired of the sound. I always found myself wanting more detail.
How about DPA? They do make a sub cardioid.
Old 12th May 2007
  #28
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 

Pimping Josephson omnis

Schoeps MK21s are on my wishlist. The only other SDC cardis I have are KM184s and some Rodes that just aren't in the same league.

At the risk of pimping Josephson, their C617set is just phenomenal on a disc. I use a Schneider disc that's working great for main-micing orchestral, chamber, and choral music.

Last edited by MichaelPatrick; 12th May 2007 at 04:51 AM.. Reason: remove an extraneous word
Old 12th May 2007
  #29
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Plush's Avatar
Bust a move, Mosrite!

This thread has been good with Ivo grousing about a dirty dirty sound, others afraid that they will miss a bottom, and some reticent to experiment like a real tonmeister.
Since we are, in my mind, fully involved in aural fantasy creation when recording orchestra ( we are not taking a realistic picture of the sound,) I reject hidebound rules and go fully into the realm of sound steerage and balls out impact.

This does require some omni's (hopefully with a tube) somewhere in the equation, but not necessarily as a main pair.

I was taught by a dutch master in Germany and he taught the artful technique of spaced cardioids and cardioid mains. Besides spot mics he worked the room heavy.
It was not the only technique he used or endorsed, but he was and is a master of it. When hearing a playback of a good day with him, you'll hear evenness, richness and a lot of dimension. All from cardioid mics. This would be on piano, orchestra, choral and a lot of famous and top notch stuff. His sound is mindblowing.

I'm a huge fan of the Pearl CC22 big ass rectangular capsules. I have used them for 10 years. The response is out to nearly 30K on the top without the compromises of an RF mic and the diaphragm is unique and soulful sounding. One interesting factor that adds to the good recorded result with Pearl is that the rear rejection is less than many other cardioids. You can use the CC22 and still get some room tone in your main pick-up.

Pearl are artisans and their best mics deserve an in person listen.

If you're working with a stuffy Englishman on a bair-ok music recording, the sound is sparkley and delicate. If you're stranded for a 3 day session with a heavy Yugo-slave-ian sound and a greasy klopshicki, then all that heaviness and greasy worn out shoes eastern bloc sound will be there.

In short the Pearls are an endorsed brand new sound.
Old 12th May 2007
  #30
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Roland's Avatar
Comenting on your original post mosrite, I would I would agree with Mark, there are very few purist recordings made since the 50's with a few exceptions. Often many of the purist recordings have either musical or balance issues that really get in the way of the recording, I would go so far as too say it is very rare that these recordings are truly satisfactory. Recordings with spots (tastefully done) can and often do sound wonderful, for me personally I am of the "as few as possible, but as many as required" school, it works for me. It's interesting to see the variations of choice being expressed for main microphones, I confess these days I am much more experimental and don't have a hard favourite.

Regards



Roland
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