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Sandhill 6011a ribbon microphones - unexpected discovery Ribbon Microphones
Old 25th January 2015
  #1
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Sandhill 6011a ribbon microphones - unexpected discovery

For years I have been quite obsessed by the most appealing way of capturing various acoustic instruments, vocals and ensembles. As for preamps, I ended with Forssell SMP-2 (with Thermionic Earlybird). And since the moment I got Schoeps microphones about 12 years ago, there was nothing much that could be improved (+ Horch on vocals).

I have tried so many microphones in between, in hope to find some other (not speaking of better) alternatives to Schoeps. I had all the DPAs here, all the Gefells, Sennheisers, Beyer etc. But when I compared any of them to Schoeps, I aways felt like “back home” - Schoeps always sounded kind of more natural, fuller and “musical”, whatever I tried.

I also had many renowned ribbons here (AEA R88, R84, Royers, Coles etc.). They sounded nice in the beginning but then again, comparing to Schoeps, everything sounded fuller, more real and detailed and these ribbons sounded mostly a bit “wooly” or vintage sometimes … So it seemed that there is simply nothing that can be in pair with Schoeps or even to surpass them.

When I recently got an email from a friend, a famous English Shakuhachi player, who also has a similar studio like me (with Schoeps, Forssell etc.) and is also quite passionate about the sound, I spent few rather restless nights

“I got Sandhill ribbon microphones. They are amazing. A revelation. On the shakuhachi. I have been using them on everything. Like cream. So smooth yet still with all the detail. Incredibly musical way of capturing recorded sound. Amazing on koto (japanese harp). And percussion.
The sound of shak with Schoeps i get all the clarity and depth i came to expect of Gefell, but with a new warmth that I can only describe as 'musical'. But the Sandhills are a different dimension…not just more or less of something, but actually a different category of experience. Recording the shakuhachi is always very difficult because of the sibilance and very high partials which are very crucial to the nature of the sound, but can easily be overemphasised with condenser mics. These high sounds would normally not be so apparent to a listener in a concert, but the mics need to be close enough to capture the detail of the sound, and it creates an unnatural sound that is a constant battle to overcome and find the sweet spot. The Sandhills just bypass this problem altogether, giving a sweet and rich sound with all the detail, but somehow resolving the problem of the sibilant high partials…I am very happy. Similarly amazing results on the koto which is very hard to mic with warmth and detail…Sandhill just smashes it!”


Of course, there was no other possibility than to try these mics After some time I managed to get them here for demo and it has been already few days I have been trying them here on many sources …
Well, to sum it quickly, I feel that after those many years, the moment finally came when there is something that can stand straight face to face to Schoeps … and not only that - even to surpass them in certain cases.

I tried these mics on many solo acoustic instruments: violin, viola, flutes, string instruments, percussions, metal instruments etc. The point was not to AB compare two different mics (that are, of course, of slightly different nature), but to try for the most appealing way to capture the individual instruments.

These microphones are active, so there is no problem with lower gain of the usual passive ribbon mics (while Schoeps have, of course, reasonably higher gain anyway). I always compared recording with my usual Schoeps MK2 or MK22 to Sandhills (on the same instrument). I slowly found the sound differences to be quite constant on most of sources: Schoeps sounded very nice, of course, as I am used to … But now, when I recorded the same instrument with Sandhills, to my surprise, I heard the same clarity and details, but somehow with more natural , relaxed and fuller body, more 3D and less of that slightly “chemical” condenser flavour. Schoeps sounded little bit more “hard” as if, the result placed more in the middle (2D) and sometimes emphasising slightly sibilant nature of some instruments. Turned back to Sandhills, I heard more lively, smooth, natural, full sound … After two days after of trying, it was clear to me that my friend Adrian did not make any overstatements . My impressions were very similar …

These do not seem to be a similar category of ribbons like Royers or AEA (that sound “like ribbons”), but something quite different - I am not a technical expert, but probably there is another type of technology used there ?

It of course does not mean that Schoeps are outdated for me now But for certain sources, Sandhills sound simply more appealing to me … a very new experience … I am very happy about it, so I just wanted to share it … I may add more impressions later, will continue to test them …





Old 25th January 2015
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
I am not a technical expert, but probably there is another type of technology used there ?
They do use some exotic material for the ribbon. Nano-something something.
Old 26th January 2015
  #3
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Looking at a price in Great Briton of $3750 ex VAT, so on par with other excellent microphones price-wise.

D.
Old 26th January 2015
  #4
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Hi Ivo,

How's the noise floor. I notice the specs say 22dBA which is quite high, particularly for soft acoustic instruments like classical guitar, lute etc.

Also I notice they are not symmetrical. WHAT A DISASTER!
Old 26th January 2015
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post

<snip>

Also I notice they are not symmetrical. WHAT A DISASTER!

The Schoeps Mk8 is also asymmetrical and it is a fine mic to most people.
Attached Thumbnails
Sandhill 6011a ribbon microphones - unexpected discovery-sandhill.jpg   Sandhill 6011a ribbon microphones - unexpected discovery-schoeps-mk8.png  
Old 26th January 2015
  #6
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Thread Starter
I am not a technician, but almost every ribbon has slightly different response from front and rear side ?
Old 26th January 2015
  #7
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Sorry, I was being sarcastic.
Old 26th January 2015
  #8
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Heard these at the AES show and they sounded special and outstanding. Met the minds behind this Finnish product. They were searching for USA distribution which now has the price sky high. Maybe we all get the GS price from Ivo.
Old 26th January 2015
  #9
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Thread Starter
I am just trying these mics (borrowed a demo pair). If they still keep the sound as they show, I fear I will have to buy them myself from somewhere
Old 26th January 2015
  #10
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I have them from the last Frankfurt show, and these are my favourite mics now almost for everything. The best things from ribbons with details from condensers.Yummy!I almost stopped to use small condenser mics.( I have 2x KM84 , KM54, KM56 and C28- they are sad

Last edited by carloff; 26th January 2015 at 08:19 PM..
Old 26th January 2015
  #11
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Just few minutes ago I tried one nice xylophone with resonators - recorded few tones on Schoeps and on Sandhills ... it maybe illustrates a bit what I mean. In reality, that xylophone sounds almost exactly as captured by Sandhill (I have my ears in the mics position when playing) - the fullness, liveliness, sound colour etc. Schoeps sound nice too, but the sound is already a tiny bit "scooped" as if and maybe less "spacey" too ?

Xylophone Sandhill: www.savitamusic.com/links/vzorky/xylsan.wav

Xylophone Schoeps MK2: www.savitamusic.com/links/vzorky/xylsch.wav

Xylophone Schoeps MK22 www.savitamusic.com/links/vzorky/xylsch22.wav

(just naked dry sound, no EQ, no adjustments)

Yesterday I tried how it would sound if I play in my usual , slightly "ethereal" style on my special viola d'amore captured by Sandhills ... Since I did that many times before on my usual Schoeps, I again feel the sound of this instrument is now maybe captured more fully, is very smooth and slightly more 3D .. I added just reverb to it, nothing else .. Nothing too fancy (just quickly played on an existing background), but should you be interested:

www.savitamusic.com/links/vzorky/viola.wav

I hope to make more samples soon ...

Last edited by ISedlacek; 26th January 2015 at 03:41 PM..
Old 26th January 2015
  #12
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boojum's Avatar
Hard to believe that the Schoeps Mk2 would sound scooped. The Sandhill does sound better. Now if Sandhill would just cut its price by 90%.
Old 26th January 2015
  #13
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It sounds very good on all instruments but the vocal examples just didn't sound right to me.
Old 26th January 2015
  #14
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Would they work for overhead room mics, or is distance a problem?
Old 26th January 2015
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
In reality, that xylophone sounds almost exactly as captured by Sandhill (I have my ears in the mics position when playing) - the fullness, liveliness, sound colour etc. Schoeps sound nice too, but the sound is already a tiny bit "scooped" as if and maybe less "spacey" too?
Evidently it's just me, but I like the sound of the Schoeps MK2 pair better. The stereo image is better, smoother, more even across the soundstage. The Sandhills sound like they handle impacts better, but it really sounds to me like they are just louder. Perhaps they exaggerate the impacts? IDK.

I suspect that the difference here is that I don't play xylophones, but I've listened to them. The Schoeps gives what the audience hears. Maybe the Sandhills give what the player hears? IDK.
Old 26th January 2015
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surflounge View Post
Would they work for overhead room mics, or is distance a problem?
I use them for OH. Stopped to use Royers122 because of them.
Old 27th January 2015
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
For years I have been quite obsessed by the most appealing way of capturing various acoustic instruments, vocals and ensembles. As for preamps, I ended with Forssell SMP-2 (with Thermionic Earlybird). And since the moment I got Schoeps microphones about 12 years ago, there was nothing much that could be improved (+ Horch on vocals).

I have tried so many microphones in between, in hope to find some other (not speaking of better) alternatives to Schoeps. I had all the DPAs here, all the Gefells, Sennheisers, Beyer etc. But when I compared any of them to Schoeps, I aways felt like “back home” - Schoeps always sounded kind of more natural, fuller and “musical”, whatever I tried.

I also had many renowned ribbons here (AEA R88, R84, Royers, Coles etc.). They sounded nice in the beginning but then again, comparing to Schoeps, everything sounded fuller, more real and detailed and these ribbons sounded mostly a bit “wooly” or vintage sometimes … So it seemed that there is simply nothing that can be in pair with Schoeps or even to surpass them.

When I recently got an email from a friend, a famous English Shakuhachi player, who also has a similar studio like me (with Schoeps, Forssell etc.) and is also quite passionate about the sound, I spent few rather restless nights

“I got Sandhill ribbon microphones. They are amazing. A revelation. On the shakuhachi. I have been using them on everything. Like cream. So smooth yet still with all the detail. Incredibly musical way of capturing recorded sound. Amazing on koto (japanese harp). And percussion.
The sound of shak with Schoeps i get all the clarity and depth i came to expect of Gefell, but with a new warmth that I can only describe as 'musical'. But the Sandhills are a different dimension…not just more or less of something, but actually a different category of experience. Recording the shakuhachi is always very difficult because of the sibilance and very high partials which are very crucial to the nature of the sound, but can easily be overemphasised with condenser mics. These high sounds would normally not be so apparent to a listener in a concert, but the mics need to be close enough to capture the detail of the sound, and it creates an unnatural sound that is a constant battle to overcome and find the sweet spot. The Sandhills just bypass this problem altogether, giving a sweet and rich sound with all the detail, but somehow resolving the problem of the sibilant high partials…I am very happy. Similarly amazing results on the koto which is very hard to mic with warmth and detail…Sandhill just smashes it!”


Of course, there was no other possibility than to try these mics After some time I managed to get them here for demo and it has been already few days I have been trying them here on many sources …
Well, to sum it quickly, I feel that after those many years, the moment finally came when there is something that can stand straight face to face to Schoeps … and not only that - even to surpass them in certain cases.

I tried these mics on many solo acoustic instruments: violin, viola, flutes, string instruments, percussions, metal instruments etc. The point was not to AB compare two different mics (that are, of course, of slightly different nature), but to try for the most appealing way to capture the individual instruments.

These microphones are active, so there is no problem with lower gain of the usual passive ribbon mics (while Schoeps have, of course, reasonably higher gain anyway). I always compared recording with my usual Schoeps MK2 or MK22 to Sandhills (on the same instrument). I slowly found the sound differences to be quite constant on most of sources: Schoeps sounded very nice, of course, as I am used to … But now, when I recorded the same instrument with Sandhills, to my surprise, I heard the same clarity and details, but somehow with more natural , relaxed and fuller body, more 3D and less of that slightly “chemical” condenser flavour. Schoeps sounded little bit more “hard” as if, the result placed more in the middle (2D) and sometimes emphasising slightly sibilant nature of some instruments. Turned back to Sandhills, I heard more lively, smooth, natural, full sound … After two days after of trying, it was clear to me that my friend Adrian did not make any overstatements . My impressions were very similar …

These do not seem to be a similar category of ribbons like Royers or AEA (that sound “like ribbons”), but something quite different - I am not a technical expert, but probably there is another type of technology used there ?

It of course does not mean that Schoeps are outdated for me now But for certain sources, Sandhills sound simply more appealing to me … a very new experience … I am very happy about it, so I just wanted to share it … I may add more impressions later, will continue to test them …






Salesmen who work for free... one or two super products miraculously solve every dillema.
Old 27th January 2015
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aracu View Post
Salesmen who work for free... one or two super products miraculously solve every dillema.
Ivo has a pair and is working with them. Carloff likewise. The current users are not neophytes and Ivo's comparison against the industry standard Mk2 shows the mic to be pretty darned good.

Until I hear them myself I will have to withhold judgement and rely on other user's to guide me.

IIRC, Ivo was also quite impressed with the LineAudio CM3. He does a lot of listening and is quite serious about how he records.
Old 27th January 2015
  #19
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Thread Starter
Referring to the above link with viola sample that I recorded 2 days ago, I realised I borrowed the background from a piece that I spontaneously recorded on New Years Eve, as "new year musical greeting". For me it is interesting now to compare similar music, the same instrument, the same room, same background, just the viola was recorded by Schoeps MK2 before. So now I am pondering which viola sounds more appealing (I am actually not sure The freshly recorded viola with Sandhills may sound a bit louder in the mix with background)

http://www.savitamusic.com/mastering/pf2015.mp3 (last cca 3 minutes - recorded on MK2 on 31.12.)


Old 29th January 2015
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
I always compared recording with my usual Schoeps MK2 or MK22 to Sandhills (on the same instrument). I slowly found the sound differences to be quite constant on most of sources: Schoeps sounded very nice, of course, as I am used to … But now, when I recorded the same instrument with Sandhills, to my surprise, I heard the same clarity and details, but somehow with more natural , relaxed and fuller body, more 3D and less of that slightly “chemical” condenser flavour. Schoeps sounded little bit more “hard” as if, the result placed more in the middle (2D) and sometimes emphasising slightly sibilant nature of some instruments. Turned back to Sandhills, I heard more lively, smooth, natural, full sound …
I think a certain amount of this can be attributed to the differences in the broad characteristics of the published frequency responses. The MK2 is slightly rising at the high end. The Sandhills is slightly falling. I would expect the former to sound harder, the latter fuller. In these sorts of comparisons, I try and EQ at least one of the mics to the other using the published response as a basis, to reduce that most obvious source of subjective differences. Comparisons then become more equal, but may be no less revealing.
Old 30th January 2015
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyper.real View Post
I think a certain amount of this can be attributed to the differences in the broad characteristics of the published frequency responses. The MK2 is slightly rising at the high end. The Sandhills is slightly falling. I would expect the former to sound harder, the latter fuller. In these sorts of comparisons, I try and EQ at least one of the mics to the other using the published response as a basis, to reduce that most obvious source of subjective differences. Comparisons then become more equal, but may be no less revealing.
When you do this are you really comparing the mics as they are? You see this confuses me as I would think that the sound of the mics as they are would be what needed to be compared and examined. What am I missing?
Old 31st January 2015
  #22
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Thread Starter
Should someone be interested, here are few tones on big concert monochord played on quite interested sequence changing Schoeps MK2, MK22 and MK21 + Sandhill ... (for the second take with Sandhills - monsand2.wav - I put them more apart and I think that one sounds great )

www.savitamusic.com/links/vzorky/mon.zip


And here few tones on simple bamboo flute (with drum) played on MK21 and Sandhill

www.savitamusic.com/links/vzorky/fl.zip

Last edited by ISedlacek; 31st January 2015 at 10:13 PM..
Old 31st January 2015
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
I am not a technician, but almost every ribbon has slightly different response from front and rear side ?
Hi Ivo!

If the design is physically symmetric the acoustic pick-up will be symmetric as well.

Congratulations to your newfound love. :-)
Old 31st January 2015
  #24
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Thread Starter
I have been playing with Schoeps and Sandhills for few days now ... As I already mentioned, I feel that it is the first time I try microphones that for me sound in a similar level as Schoeps - although the sound is of course by nature slightly different.
This difference sounds rather constant for me on various sources. Sandhills seem to preserve slightly better the natural, organic sound of the instruments, that sound slightly fuller, more "immediate" and more tangible. They also do not over emphasise sharp frequencies of some instruments ... In general the sound seems to be a bit more "3D" as if.

Schoeps have more vivid highs and the sound is little bit more "abstract" as if (comparing to the live sound of the instruments). On the other hand, ribbons have, of course, slightly higher self noise, so not ideal for music meditations oscillating between sound and silence

I have yet to try some more complex live instrumental duets to compare.

Here are interesting short quick samples (I played just few minutes ago), comparing soft moody playing on viola + small hand pan: mk2 vs sandhills ... I am not sure which I prefer for example with the above monochord samples - although I think I tend towards those more spread apart Sandhills. But here I think I quite prefer Sandhills for their slightly fuller, more mellow sound of viola ...

www.savitamusic.com/links/vzorky/vio.zip

Last edited by ISedlacek; 31st January 2015 at 10:15 PM..
Old 31st January 2015
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
Should someone be interested, here are few tones on big concert monochord played on quite interested sequence changing Schoeps MK2, MK22 and MK21 + Sandhill

www.savitamusic.com/links/vzorky/mon.zip
Interesting to be sure. I stepped through these in order, mk2, mk21, mk22, then Sandhill.

What I heard mostly was the change in polar pattern. Each one sounds like the mics are closer to the source than the last. Because the more directional the mic is, the more "reach" it has. There's a formula around for that, but it doesn't come readily to hand for me.

So the Sandhills sound way too close for my comfort. That and the exaggerated bottom end bothers me; I would have to EQ that down. But I see why you like the mids, very nice.
Old 31st January 2015
  #26
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Thread Starter
I kept everything untreated - no EQ. For an obvious reason, to hear the mics as they are ... and they were all at the same position as well. Of course, this is not any "scientific" mic comparison ... nothing like this ... Even the performances are not identical. The point is to hear variations of capturing one instrument in several ways ...the mood ... and looking for the one that appeals and feels the most ... (ethereal

For me the most impressive rendering of the monochord so far is probably this: http://savitamusic.com/links/vzorky/monsand2.wav Sandhills spread even more apart. Of course, when really recording, an optimal mics distance from the instrument can be further searched for.
And yes, I like very much the mids ... Schoeps seem a tiny bit scooped in that area ...

This instrument is actually very huge (I myself can easily fit in its case and does have that overwhelming monumental (sub)bass .. so capturing it fully is nothing untrue ...


Last edited by ISedlacek; 31st January 2015 at 11:01 PM..
Old 7th February 2015
  #27
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WinnyP's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
Should someone be interested, here are few tones on big concert monochord played on quite interested sequence changing Schoeps MK2, MK22 and MK21 + Sandhill ... (for the second take with Sandhills - monsand2.wav - I put them more apart and I think that one sounds great )

www.savitamusic.com/links/vzorky/mon.zip


And here few tones on simple bamboo flute (with drum) played on MK21 and Sandhill

www.savitamusic.com/links/vzorky/fl.zip
Very nice
Old 7th February 2015
  #28
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Hi Ivo,

Many thanks for these carefully prepared samples again. With the monochord, to my ear, the Sandhill appears to exhibit more bass response than the MK2. Is this possible? There is certainly an increase in noise level too. Very nice.

The MK2 still sounds wonderful to me. The other Schoeps patterns are not as convincing.
Old 7th February 2015
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
...the Sandhill appears to exhibit more bass response than the MK2. Is this possible?
The Sandhill published frequency response curve for the 6011A shows a rising bottom end. With a ringing characteristic below 200 Hz. Unusual, but certainly possible.
Old 15th February 2015
  #30
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Thread Starter
Yes, Sandhills show higher self-noise level than Schoeps, that in case of very subtle playing, oscillating between sound and silence can be a bit audible ... I experimented with few de-noise plugins and found that if set well, to my ears there is quite less of noise, but the original sound of the instrument does not change much (remains almost the same), that is good news. There are certain instruments where I really prefer the sound of Sandhills over Schoeps. Sandhills sound more "real", full and 3D as if .. especially viola or bamboo flute, also percussive instruments and drums ... I tried to reduce highs for Schoeps, add more mids etc., but still , the sound was quite different, it did not come close to Sandhills ...

Now I am going to compare Schoeps and Sandhills in capturing a small ensemble (mostly various duets). Apart from the basic sound timbre, a space allocation and feeling of live players in interaction will come into play ... quite curious
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