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Old 19th May 2017
Lives for gear
esldude's Avatar

Originally Posted by DistortingJack View Post
I genuinely think flat-frequency mics are great. But it's difficult to know what that is.
Most brands, including Neumann will smooth out their charts a great deal, and many others, in particular cheaper or smaller manufacturers, will have quite a bit of variation between individual mics. Lots of small resonances and dips in frequency response fail to show up in their marketing blurb.

Many things like distortion can have very different textures – as any guitarist knows, there is nice and nasty distortion, and intermodulation of high-frequency, high-amplitude content is going to sound a lot rattier than a nice few even harmonics.

The most annoying characteristic of most large-diaphragm, side-address mics, to me, is the often mushy treble, very apparent in acoustic guitar transients and in sibilants. Most pop and rock nowadays has crunchy, crusty esses and other sibilants and I absolutely hate it.

I have been using a DPA Linear vocal mic for recording, and it has a ****-ton of proximity effect, well up until the midrange. But once it's EQ'ed out, it sounds more natural than most LDCs.

Then again, it really is a matter of taste. The current flavour-of-the month is the hipster, harsh vocal with weird digital reverb so to an extent I refuse to say fidelity matters that much in the end. The worst is I like a lot of new music – I just wish I could peel off the crusty top-end off!
I used to believe what you are saying about the published response curves and the distortion. I don't think so anymore.

I had a thread not too long ago where I measured quite a few mics to see if pairs of the same mic matched or not. I was surprised how well they did. I was using an inexpensive UMIK1 measuring mic. Not a reference grade B&K by any means.

Not only did the mics match in pairs, when I corrected response using the goofy advertised overly smooth looking response curves well, most mics above 200 hz came close enough to overlapping each other and the measuring mic it makes me think the curves must be for real. Yes there are numerous small peaks and dips in room with a speaker as a source, but those curves must be generally for real to match that measuring mic which also must be reasonably good in basic response.

Distortion? Well the speaker I used as a source was measured by a publication in an NRC anechoic chamber including distortion measures. Generally it is around .3 % THD at 95 db sound level. All the mics I measured also showed such levels and the general trend very, very similar to the NRC measured curve. Whatever the distortion level of the mics used it was far enough below .3% it didn't effect the basic results.

So surprise, surprise those ad curves aren't big fat lies, and lots of condenser mics are pretty good in terms of distortion.