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U47 FET or Similar for Main Orchestral Pair
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
U47 FET or Similar for Main Orchestral Pair

I feel like I’m going crazy overthinking this. I’ve spent quite a bit of time comparing microphones in small environments where I record mostly (though occasionally in a hall) and I’ve found I prefer the U47 FET over the others I’ve tried. Now, I’m no expert and my experience is limited. I’ve tried and currently own Schoeps CMC6 with various capsules, Royer R-122, AKG 414 XLS, and Neumann KM 184 with a U47 FET I rented. The U47 crushed them. It’s got a realism in the mids and a sweetness in the highs that exists in real life where the Schoeps, for instance, is quite harsh in the highs and lacks the weight in the mids that I hear with my ear in the same space. Of course I could probably EQ that, but there is just something about that U47 sound that strikes me as being the most realistic right out of the mic.

I don’t have much experience in this space but I did do a lot of comparing at home and just couldn’t get the Schoeps to sound as amazing as the (vintage) U47 FET. Should I consider other Neumanns? I will be mostly using them as a spaced pair for ORTF or AB, or 4 mic array. How about the U87ai or a vintage U87? The TLM 170r, M147 or M149? Vintage U47s would be too much for me to spent on a pair.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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Plush's Avatar
I think that you will find after more experimentation that the U47 FET is made to be used rather close up to the source. It is not a main pair use microphone.

Also as a correction to what you wrote, the Schoeps is never harsh in the treble and never lacks weight in the mid range. The Schoeps mics reflect the source exactly.

Put another way, the microphone is not making the sound. The source / instrument is making the sound.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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when i started out recording classical music in the late 70's, my mentor did use lots of tube ldc's in pretty much any position (and there's no denying that this can yield nice results).

however, i cannot imagine the u47fet mics being used as main pair and even less that results were vastly superior to results from schoeps.

may i ask how experienced you are in critical listening and in recording/mixing classical music?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
I suspect you’re right about the U47, yes. That said, I do like the Schoeps but I don’t agree about the accuracy with regard to what I hear. I’ve tried it many times and listened to countless recordings using SDCs, especially the Schoeps. I play professionally in orchestras and listen to them frequently. The sound from the conductor’s position is much richer than I can get from the Schoeps. The old Decca (M50 presumably) recordings do a much better job to my ear in recreating the experience of being close to chamber groups and orchestras. Short of using dozens of mics like most modern, well made recordings, I am looking for an alternative. The U47 is a famous spot mic in orchestras, and I can hear why. That said, I’m looking for suggestions. Maybe what I’m putting forward is a thought experiment about improving orchestral recordings that have 4 or fewer mics, but it might be decca solves this problem long who and I should just get 3 M150s.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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tourtelot's Avatar
In what scenario did you find the Schoeps "harsh"? I find that would never be a term I would use in describing the Schoeps series in general.

Now, like Plush says, these mic, at least for acoustic recordists, get used at a distance and I have never used them in a "close mic" situation (that's not the kind of work I do) so there may be a character to that mic I just haven't heard.

But my experience is that the sound of Schoeps, especially the omnis, on acoustic pickup is pretty sweet sounding. I find myself using Schoeps (instead of mics like the Josephsons and the DPAs) when I want a little glow on something that would be better served by a pickup that wasn't brutally honest. Kids especially, and some community groups the need a little help. Sort of he opposite of what you are describing.

LDC like the U47 are great mics but need to be worked close. They really shine on close vocals (duh!) and a lot of studio guys use them for things like drum OH. But they react slowly compared to SDCs and I couldn't imagine them as a main pair. I tried a tree full of TLM-170s once; hated it.

YMMV as they say.

D.

BTW, the M50 (and the M150) is not an LDC.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
when i started out recording classical music in the late 70's, my mentor did use lots of tube ldc's in pretty much any position (and there's no denying that this can yield nice results).

however, i cannot imagine the u47fet mics being used as main pair and even less that results were vastly superior to results from schoeps.

may i ask how experienced you are in critical listening and in recording/mixing classical music?
Agreed! I’m not looking to pick a fight so much as really understand how I can experiment to get closer to what I like hearing. As for experience, as I said above, I’m a professional musician (including music school) and have been playing in chamber and orchestras for 20 years. I also am an avid audiophile and have listen through everything from AirPods, to a hifi headphone setup, to my reference stereo with Boulder electronics and Wilson speakers. Not a brag, just setting a baseline. My goal is just to source ideas for experimentation. I believe my recordings, and that of all the recently made recordings using just a main array, lack the weight that I hear in person.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Btw I’m fully aware the solution may be that really, close mic’ing is the only way to recreate the experience of being close to an orchestra and heading that rich, weighty sound. It’s less about airy highs as it is about mids.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MayorAdamWest View Post
Agreed! I’m not looking to pick a fight so much as really understand how I can experiment to get closer to what I like hearing. As for experience, as I said above, I’m a professional musician (including music school) and have been playing in chamber and orchestras for 20 years. I also am an avid audiophile and have listen through everything from AirPods, to a hifi headphone setup, to my reference stereo with Boulder electronics and Wilson speakers. Not a brag, just setting a baseline. My goal is just to source ideas for experimentation. I believe my recordings, and that of all the recently made recordings using just a main array, lack the weight that I hear in person.

i wasn't trying to belittle you, i was just trying to find out where you are coming from (so to speak)...

from what you are saying, from previously decribed experience (using lots of ldc's) and from using ldc's in other genre, i guess i can a imagine what you're after...

...but i don't think this kinda soundfield (a mixture of directness, body, intimacy, hyper-realism but not necessarily 'true' in terms of the spectral balance but more on the 'impact') can get achieved by ldc's, at least not with a pair...

did you compare a stereo schoeps to mono u47? - i like using a single ldc for room pick up as well and this certainly delivers more punch!

anyway, my suggestion is to use sdc's nevertheless but then to tweak the dynamics, trying to mimick the somewhat slower transient response of ldc's; you might also use a single blm (kinda .1 mic) for a solid foundation in the lf range (or even two, again to mimick the ldc's, the less directional pickup towards the lows in this case).

but hey, if you prefer results from ldc's, go ahead!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i wasn't trying to belittle you, i was just trying to find out where you are coming from (so to speak)...

from what you are saying, from previously decribed experience (using lots of ldc's) and from using ldc's in other genre, i guess i can a imagine what you're after...

...but i don't think this kinda soundfield (a mixture of directness, body, intimacy, hyper-realism but not necessarily 'true' in terms of the spectral balance but more on the 'impact') can get achieved by ldc's, at least not with a pair...

did you compare a stereo schoeps to mono u47? - i like using a single ldc for room pick up as well and this certainly delivers more punch!

anyway, my suggestion is to use sdc's nevertheless but then to tweak the dynamics, trying to mimick the somewhat slower transient response of ldc's; you might also use a single blm (kinda .1 mic) for a solid foundation in the lf range (or even two, again to mimick the ldc's, the less directional pickup towards the lows in this case).

but hey, if you prefer results from ldc's, go ahead!
Another thought I had was combining the LDC with the SDC Schoeps in the array. For instance, running an AB pair of Schoeps for the air, and an ORTF pair of LDC is cardioid. Will that not sound good due to the drastically different response times?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
but hey, if you prefer results from ldc's, go ahead!
Listen to the Mercury Living Presence Stereo recordings, which were made from a spaced triad of U47s (in omni) suspended over the orchestra.

I personally think it is a very unrealistic sound... my goal is to make classical recordings sound like the orchestra and I think this method gives both strange imaging with an exaggerated sense of depth and weird dynamics due to the U47. But, lots of people like it. If you like it, and your customer likes it, you can do it.
--scott
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio View Post
Listen to the Mercury Living Presence Stereo recordings, which were made from a spaced triad of U47s (in omni) suspended over the orchestra.

I personally think it is a very unrealistic sound... my goal is to make classical recordings sound like the orchestra and I think this method gives both strange imaging with an exaggerated sense of depth and weird dynamics due to the U47. But, lots of people like it. If you like it, and your customer likes it, you can do it.
--scott
I have many of those recordings! On vinyl! I agree, they are no where near the RCA Living Stereo which are the by far the best I have from that era. That said, modern recordings of top tier orchestras are wonderful, though use many many mics. I haven’t looked into it much, but the Reference Recordings by Keith Johnson are very good. I did get a chance to meet him briefly and told me he built his own mics. The only real complaint is that they are mastered too quiet which makes quiet passages either inaudible or even the best systems need to introduce gain noise to make them closer to the dynamic you’d hear them live.

As for the U47 test, it was near field, yes. With the pandemic, I wasn’t able to record a group, just myself on guitar and trumpet. I expected the Royer to have a better showing. I tried various positions from 1-4 meters (above and below) and the Royer always had the sort of blanket over the instrument sort of sound. The Schoeps was nice, but really overemphasized the highs and lacked the “core” or “fundamental” in the sound.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MayorAdamWest View Post
Another thought I had was combining the LDC with the SDC Schoeps in the array. For instance, running an AB pair of Schoeps for the air, and an ORTF pair of LDC is cardioid. Will that not sound good due to the drastically different response times?
personally, i'm no fan of spaced setups and even less of spaced arrays using mulitple and much different types of microphones - for a couple of reasons:

- imo at least two mics will always be in a less than ideal position
- there can be unpleasnt amounts of phase offsets (as much as a somewhat blurry image can be very pleasing)
- i don't like the scattered timing of any spaced array, especially when recording lots of percussion instruments (or actually any instruments with strong transients)
- it's a bit scary sitting below a massive mic array
- large space bars with mic arrays are heavy: try avoiding them if i cannot fly them from a rig or on steel ropes

if using multiple mics/arrays, i much rather use double m/s or soundfield/ambisonics which offer way more options and imo are way less critical in terms of positioning than conventional 4-mic-arrays.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio View Post
Listen to the Mercury Living Presence Stereo recordings, which were made from a spaced triad of U47s (in omni) suspended over the orchestra.

I personally think it is a very unrealistic sound... my goal is to make classical recordings sound like the orchestra and I think this method gives both strange imaging with an exaggerated sense of depth and weird dynamics due to the U47. But, lots of people like it. If you like it, and your customer likes it, you can do it.
--scott
thx - i'm not much aware of these older recording: possibly 'cause i didn't like them much on initial hearing?! :-)

i do have a sweet spot for l/c/r on very large orchestras if recorded and mixed in 5.0 but it depends on the envirement/distribution (dvd, broadcast, film), playback system etc. - but for mixdown to stereo for cd? njet!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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Have a look and listen to this:

https://vimeo.com/205083170

The spots are all Schoeps; the one closeup shows a cardoid capsule. It's a lovely sound, to me anyway.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh View Post
Have a look and listen to this:

https://vimeo.com/205083170

The spots are all Schoeps; the one closeup shows a cardoid capsule. It's a lovely sound, to me anyway.
It is very nice, but that’s close, spot mic’ing, and it’s also a much lighter music than I record. A harpsichord and guitar are not really comparable to a bass trombone, timpani, upright bass, and even cello.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MayorAdamWest View Post
The Schoeps was nice, but really overemphasized the highs and lacked the “core” or “fundamental” in the sound.
Which capsules, exactly, are causing you to think the Schoeps "really overemphasized the highs"? Schoeps has many capsules with high end lift designed to be used more in the diffuse field than up close. If you use those up close, they might give you what you're describing. There's a lot of difference between a MK2, a MK2H, a MK2S and a MK3 (do they still make MK3s? IDK). Just calling it "an omni" doesn't tell you which omni it is. Other patterns have high frequency lift version also.

All CMC6 amplifiers, yes?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Which capsules, exactly, are causing you to think the Schoeps "really overemphasized the highs"? Schoeps has many capsules with high end lift designed to be used more in the diffuse field than up close. If you use those up close, they might give you what you're describing. There's a lot of difference between a MK2, a MK2H, a MK2S and a MK3 (do they still make MK3s? IDK). Just calling it "an omni" doesn't tell you which omni it is. Other patterns have high frequency lift version also.

All CMC6 amplifiers, yes?
I was using the MK4 but also tried the MK2. For larger settings I believe Schoeps recommends the M2s but I haven’t tried that one yet, which does have a bit of a lift.

Yes, all CMC6
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Still, the Schoeps sounds very good. I was just surprised how much more I liked the U47.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh View Post
Have a look and listen to this:

https://vimeo.com/205083170

The spots are all Schoeps; the one closeup shows a cardoid capsule. It's a lovely sound, to me anyway.
Very nice sound. :D

One question, what do you use to make that loop in the cable right before the plug into the microphone?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MayorAdamWest View Post
I was using the MK4 but also tried the MK2. For larger settings I believe Schoeps recommends the M2s but I haven’t tried that one yet, which does have a bit of a lift.

Yes, all CMC6
It's hard to find a capsule much flatter than the MK2. I have no idea why it would sound harsh or overemphasized in the highs. Hmmm... OTOH it's not going to lend any upper or mid-bass emphasis either, so it's not going to sound "warm". What it should do is add no sound of its own at all -- it should just give you what it hears, unadulterated.

What's interesting is that you like the "presence boost" of the U47 and "proximity boost" which gives it some warmth and "solidity". I'm just sayin' that the U47 isn't a flat mic, and it's not supposed to be. If this is the sound that you want, the MK2 isn't going to give it to you.

What I can't figure out is why the MK2's lack of a presence boost makes it sound harsh or overemphasized in the highs. It's not doing anything that should make it sound like that.

OTOH, some people just don't like the sound of SDCs. There's been some discussion of this phenomenon on this board; if you search you'll probably find a number of threads about it. Maybe you're just one of those guys who hears harsh where others hear "sparkly" or something. There's no right or wrong here, just personal preferences. You should use the tools with which you are most comfortable. Whatever they may be.

Sorry I'm not much help.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
(...) some people just don't like the sound of SDCs (...)
maybe on gearslutz...

... but no one in the (real) world can hear what gear was used upon listening to a full mix!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MayorAdamWest View Post
I feel like I’m going crazy overthinking this. I’ve spent quite a bit of time comparing microphones in small environments where I record mostly

You need to get yourself into a room eminently suited to recording before you can begin to consider judging the quality of a microphone.

There will be few, if any, engineers who would agree with your assessment of the Schoeps mics as harsh, and if you do not address the environment and your technique you will miss out on microphones which are considered to be the first choice for classical recording by many engineers.

With spheres attached Schoeps are used as a suitable modern day stand in for those who are unable to access M50s, this is something you might consider for your main pair set up, because you may already have the suitable capsules for this and would only need to aquire the spheres.

It may be the U47's transformer that attracts you.

The most important thing though, is to get out of the small room!

Last edited by Geoff Poulton; 4 weeks ago at 01:18 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
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Plush's Avatar
The small room. What a joke.

And then to have the balls to say that a flat sounding microphone is harsh.

Your room is harsh.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Poulton View Post
You need to get yourself into a room eminently suited to recording before you can begin to consider judging the quality of a microphone.
...
The most important thing though, is to get out of the small room!
Yeah, if you're trying to evaluate mics in a bad room you're not going to accomplish much. The reason is simple -- good mics just give you what they hear. The good, bad, and ugly.

Mics aren't ears, and they aren't able to mask, enhance, or focus like the human brain. So what they are telling you is the truth. Unvarnished. So if you're using a Schoeps CMC6+MK2 in a bad room, and you think the result is harsh, that's because bad rooms often sound... bad. That's why we call them bad rooms.

EDIT: Plush got there first, and said it much more succinctly than I did.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
thx - i'm not much aware of these older recording: possibly 'cause i didn't like them much on initial hearing?! :-)
I grew up listening to Mercury Living Presence stuff! Check out the Petrouchka recording with Antal Dorati conducting the Minneapolis. The recording quality isn't up to modern standards by any stretch but the performance is spectacular, very tight and with great percussion.
--scott
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Yeah, if you're trying to evaluate mics in a bad room you're not going to accomplish much. The reason is simple -- good mics just give you what they hear. The good, bad, and ugly.
I'll make a couple exceptions to this, because there are some specific things you can do with specific mikes to deal with bad rooms. For example, using blumlein pairs to deal with long skinny rooms that have flutter echoes.

I'll say also that I have found baffled omni techniques to work very well in good rooms but that they seem to exaggerate some problems in some bad rooms where near-coincident microphones will more adequately hide them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Mics aren't ears, and they aren't able to mask, enhance, or focus like the human brain. So what they are telling you is the truth. Unvarnished. So if you're using a Schoeps CMC6+MK2 in a bad room, and you think the result is harsh, that's because bad rooms often sound... bad. That's why we call them bad rooms.
Last fall I had a string quartet in an unfinished warehouse with every acoustical problem imaginable. When I complained about the room beforehand, the concert producer said that he had sent an a cappella singer in to check out the room and he had loved it. First time I had ever spotmiked a string quartet.
The end result didn't sound very good but it sounded better than the concert.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
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You can bring the horses to the river but they have to drink the water themselves.

My very first pair of microphones were well regarded cardioids. I was told they were the flattest response microphones therefore the best. The dumb advice I got in my head tried very hard to convince my ears that these microphones did not sound bad with all sorts of “reasons”. A guru with good heart pointed me to SDC omni microphones. Thank goodness, I tried using SDC omni myself, hence, I drank the water.


Stay safe out there.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
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JCBigler's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio View Post
Last fall I had a string quartet in an unfinished warehouse with every acoustical problem imaginable. When I complained about the room beforehand, the concert producer said that he had sent an a cappella singer in to check out the room and he had loved it. First time I had ever spotmiked a string quartet.
The end result didn't sound very good but it sounded better than the concert.
Last summer, before I went out on tour, I was going to join up with a small blues band side project (I'm a saxophone player). When I showed up to the rehearsal room, it was in a machine shop/where house. The singer was raving about how great the acoustics were. I had to bite my tongue because it sounded pretty f-ing awful. A lot of reverb, does not a good sounding room make.

Since I've been out on tour, I've come to realize; that even with professional theatres and performing arts halls, there's not that many actually good sounding rooms in this country. Out of the 40 or so venues we played before the conorapocalypse, I could count on one hand the number that actually sounded good.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
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JCBigler's Avatar
Also, I will add to the thread that I love the TLM170Rs as a main pair for orchestral recording. And in a previous thread, it was suggested here that a pair of TLM107s would be an acceptable budget level substitute. I haven't had a chance to pick up a pair and try them out, but I am really itching to. But my wife would kill me, considering there's no work happening right now, and we don't know when there will be.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #29
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Interesting in that I think that the TLM-170Rs are not so good as a main pair. There you go, vanilla and chocolate.

I got a nice matched pair of TLM-170Rs on the classifieds if anyone wants 'em.

D.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
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JCBigler's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Interesting in that I think that the TLM-170Rs are not so good as a main pair. There you go, vanilla and chocolate.

I got a nice matched pair of TLM-170Rs on the classifieds if anyone wants 'em.

D.
Now there's a kick in the nuts. I wish I had the money to pick them up. I don't suppose you'd be interested in trading for a 30 year old analog console?
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