View Single Post
Old 2nd November 2017
Lives for gear
DistortingJack's Avatar

Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
? Because? It depends on the specifics, but generally speaking, I disagree. There's a reason LDCs are far more popular for vocals.
To be honest, the reasons they are more popular aren't about sound, or relevant today.

First, old small-diaphragm condensers were noisy. The circuitry to make them quiet just didn't exist. If you wanted to record a full-size orchestra and didn't want to have both inherent noise and preamp noise (since old SDCs were noisy and less sensitive) was to use a LDC.

This isn't the case anymore. Yes, all in all they will be 2-4 dB noisier, but it's further down than on most old LDCs, and anyway in a mix nobody is ever going to hear that.

Also, there is a difference between single and dual diaphragm's proximity effect. Single-diaphragm mics have more of it, which can be a bit disconcerting to the singer if they move about and emphasises pops, and a bit annoying to deal with at mixdown. But it can just be fixed through EQ. And many LDCs are single-diaphragm anyway.

For a highly-technical treaty on the differences, here is a Shure tech paper on that subject:

Another thing is that some people like the distortion that LDCs add to the sound. Let's be completely honest here: LDCs are less accurate, on both bass and treble frequencies. A larger diaphragm causes all sorts of problems; from an acoustic shadow and mic body reflections causing weird off-axis responses, to the inherent distortion of a diaphragm moving diagonally, which happens with LDCs exponentially more. This shows up as a pleasing sort of "hair" or "weight" to the recording, but it's something we're just used to, not a natural aspect of the original sound.

I actually absolutely hate the "eshy", artificial-sounding sibilants most LDCs give you, even expensive Neumanns and Telefunkens. There are exceptions, but they are rare. Listen back very carefully at many, if not most albums you know and love, and pay attention to the esses. Most sound slushy and nothing like a real person saying one. It drives me nuts.

But I think the main reason why they are definitely less used in studio environments, is just the look. SDCs just look a bit funny in front of a singer behind a pop shield, compared to the imposing, expensive-looking side-address LDCs. It just doesn't look as cool. And that matters a lot in a commercial environment. In your bedroom, less so.

Don't be afraid of SDCs for vocals. They are used in classical music almost exclusively, including for spot mics for opera singers, at even the highest level of recording.

Last edited by DistortingJack; 2nd November 2017 at 05:42 PM..