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Want to hear Sontronics Mics? Enter...
Old 23rd March 2007
  #1
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supaheef's Avatar
 

Want to hear Sontronics Mics? Enter...

Okay, let's kick this off with a disclaimer: I am the Queensland Accounts Manager (read: Sales Rep - ugh, I hate that title) for Major Music, a distributor in Australia. Major Music is the National distributor for MOTU, Native Instruments, Fostex, EastWest, Auralex, and others. Basically, I get to pimp good products that pretty much sell themselves, so I get paid to be a good guy and help out my stores. It's a pretty cool gig! Our newest line is Sontronics Microphones, which people keep asking about around here, but no one seems to have had much first hand experience with. I have had a Sontronics Helios (multi-pattern valve condensor) and a Sigma (phantom powered ribbon) in my home recording space (read: spare bedroom packed with semi-rigid fibreglass) for the last few days, and this afternoon I decided to put something down for y'all to hear.

Signal path.
Both the Helios and the Sigma went into an SCA N72 channel, then into my Fireface 800, into Logic. 24bit, 44.1khz. Now, I know the N72's are a pretty colourful pre, thankfully it only gets really colourful at high gain settings. Both thse mics kick out some pretty serious output, so the Helios had only 5 gain clicks (about 30db) and the Sigma had 6 clicks (@36db). In comparison, I usually run my AT4047 at 10clicks (albeit with the mic's 10db pad in). For further comparison, an SM57 needs about 8 clicks for good singing level into the Fireface. Even for these gain settings, the levels into Logic were quite low, so the effect of the N72's topology should be fairly negligent. Basically, the transformers weren't working hard. Next time I'll run the mics into my Mini-Me for a cleaner amplification source. There will be more files to come.

Processing.
The really scary thing for me is; there is no processing! As a self-recording artist (SRA - look it up, it's an affliction these days), I am used to pulling every EQ, compression, and plugin trick in the book to improve the sound of my music. This is the rawest thing I have ever put up for mass consumption. I think I'm going to throw up. However, I am bouyed by the well-meaning GS members who will hear through any lack of talent, and focus purely on the sonics. In short, there is no EQ on any track, and no compression on any individual track. I used a plate reverb setting (Logic's Space Designer) on a send, and the master had a tiny bit of AdLimiter just in case. When bypassed, you couldn't even hear it working, it was there to catch any random vocal jumps or tambourine peaks.

Arrangement and Engineering.
The vocals were recorded with the Sigma ribbon, as was the little pair of ethnic tambourines. The Helios was used for both rhythm guitars, and the leads at the end are recorded with the Sigma. Right guitar is my Yamaha LL6, with the continously variable polar patter knob set halfway between cardioid and omni. This gave the extra low end of my Yamaha (quite a good Martin copy) a bit more "room". Left guitar is my 1978 Maton BG808 (think 000 size), with the polar pattern set halfway between cardioid and figure-8. This gave the Maton's smaller body a bit more low-end reinforcement. Both of these guitars are unfortunately in need of some serious maintenance, but tuned up okay for the task at hand. Guitars were mic'd at a distance equal to the length of the guitar body, on the 12th fret, pointed slightly toward the neck join. Vocals were recorded at about 12inches from the Sigma, with a good solid head-turn on the "hey"s to keep everything in check, level wise. Tambourines were recorded about 18"-24" from the Sigma. Everything is 1 whole take, the gouitars are each first takes, the vocal is the fourth take, and the tambourines took two because the phone rang. Grrrrr. I know most people would think "um, ribbons on the guitars, condensor on the voice". Well I tried that, it just sounded better this way. The leads at the end were recorded with the Sigma, just to get a different colour, and hopefully show the difference in tone. Rhythm guitars are panned hard right and left, the lead guitars at the end are panned +/-14. Again, the Yamaha is panned right, the Maton left.

So, what do you think? I'm trying to get some discussion happening about these mics, because apart from UK magazine reviews, no one seems to be talking about these. I'm happy with their performance so far, not to mention the impressive looks and great packaging. I have pictures to come, but it's late and I'm off to bed after I upload this file. Please mention what you are listening on if you post, and if you have any sound sources you'd like to hear, specifically. Any Brisbane-based 'Slutz with a piano, or a decent drum recording room drop me a PM. I'd love to try the ribbon on some drums and keys, for sure.

And finally, please be kind! Listening to the tune again, I feel so naked. Like those recurring dreams I have...

heath.

PS. 192kbps Mp3 file. .wav's are available if your inbox can cope.
Attached Files

HYLA NRMLZD Mix.mp3 (3.48 MB, 5299 views)

Old 23rd March 2007
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Crash's Avatar
Awesome. I actually prefer the naked rawness of it so I can hear the mics in all their glory. Thanks for putting this up. I really like the Sigma from what I can hear. I thought it would be darker being a ribbon. How far were you from the mic?
Old 23rd March 2007
  #3
Gear Addict
 
Graham Tobias's Avatar
 

sounds good. The vox sound like they're clipping a bit on the"hey"'s. I've seen those mics before online and I've always wanted to hear them so thanks for going about doing that. Makes me want to grab some and mess around with them. Right now I'm listening on some AKG K240's but when I get home I'm going to listen on my JBL LSR's.
Old 23rd March 2007
  #4
C/G
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Thanks for that. The Sigma sounds nice. I've been curious about it for a while as I am having a hard time trying to give up $1400 CDN for a Royer.

The Sigma does not sound as dark as I expected either.

Have you or anyone compared the Sigma to a Royer R121 or R122? Or a C&T Naked Eye?
Old 23rd March 2007
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
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Thanks for the early responses, guys!

Yes, the Sigma sounds nowhere near as dark as I expected, even though it's my first time using a ribbon with my own rig. I "may" be able to secure further comparisons, hopefully to a Royer, but I can't promise anything. It all depends on how friendly I can get with one of my new stores. It's true, I think a couple of the "hey"s may have clipped, I'm a naturally loud singer. I'll try the other side of the mic next time, and see if it sounds different, though it doesn't mention it in the manual or anything.

Distance from the Sigma was about 1 foot/30cms. I tried a few takes further back, but it sounded more balanced at the closer distance. Bear in mind this is my first time recording through a ribbon (my usual vocal mic is an SM7B), so if anyone has any tips (especially for acoustic guitar) just post them up.

Have y'all seen the Apollo stereo ribbon? This is the on I want to put on piano and out front of a drumkit. http://sontronics.com/apollo.htm In Australia this will retail for a third of the price of a Royer SF24, and if it sounds 1/3 as good, I'll be pretty happy!

heath.
Old 24th March 2007
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
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Written, recorded, mixed, inside of three hours!

Alright, new tune.

I feel a bit silly having tried to cop a "John Lennon" trip, so this time I wrote my own song. I had a chord progression kicking around for a while, so I finished it off this afternoon, just as raw as the last one.

Firstly, all tracks are through my Mini-Me this time, for a cleaner signal path. No soft limiting used, just mic gain only. Left rhythm guitar is my Yamaha through the Helios, right rhythm guitar is the Maton through the Sigma. Lead guitars are the Yamaha through the Sigma. lead vocal is the Helios, with the pattern knob halfway between cardioid and figure-8. All the doubles in the chorus are through the Sigma, at about 18" off the mic. Just a little bit of 2.6s plate reverb courtesy of Space Designer, and a tiny bit of AdLimiter, set so low you can't really hear the difference when bypassed. It just catches the occasional peak. Otherwise, no EQ, compression, effects, nuthin'!

Next step is to use the mics in a more complex mix, with drums, bass, and whatever else I feel like throwing in the mix (pardon the pun).

Have at it, folks!

heath.
Attached Files

My Failure.mp3 (3.13 MB, 3991 views)

Old 25th March 2007
  #7
Lives for gear
 

www.myspace.com/ollenyman

"Don't let those Bastards" recorded with a stereo pair sigma live, shaker and vocals OD using a single sigma. Became the most used microphone on that album, OH, perc on every song. Lead vocals on some. Pretty dark microphone but cool vintagevibe. Mine are rather noisy but maybe all ribbons are? I have used r121's a few times and they were great to.
Old 26th March 2007
  #8
C/G
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steffo View Post
www.myspace.com/ollenyman

"Don't let those Bastards" recorded with a stereo pair sigma live, shaker and vocals OD using a single sigma. Became the most used microphone on that album, OH, perc on every song. Lead vocals on some. Pretty dark microphone but cool vintagevibe. Mine are rather noisy but maybe all ribbons are? I have used r121's a few times and they were great to.
How would you compare the Sigma to the R121? Are they pretty interchangeable? Is one darker than the other?
Old 27th March 2007
  #9
Lives for gear
 

I'm not sure since It was two years since I used the royers. I think that the r121's are a little bit more detailed and not quite as dark (more midrangy). I never got the r121 to work on vocals. The sigma's can be great if you step back 1/2 meter but if the vocals are to quiet noise becomes an obvious problem. I never got the sigma's to work on heavy electric guitar..r121 on the other hand..

I bought my par in order to use them as room mics on that perticular album. The band didn't like the modern sound the old U87's provided (OH, vocals, perc..) so we used the sigmas everywhere. Great vintage/lofi microphone!
Old 27th March 2007
  #10
Gear Nut
 

I really like the sound of both songs. I feel like I'm right there in the room with you. There's space. It's really natural sounding. And I like your singing.

How much are these mics selling for in the U.S. and where can I find them?

By the way, which plate reverb are you using in Space Designer?

Antaren
Old 27th March 2007
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antaren View Post
I really like the sound of both songs. I feel like I'm right there in the room with you. There's space. It's really natural sounding. And I like your singing.

How much are these mics selling for in the U.S. and where can I find them?

By the way, which plate reverb are you using in Space Designer?

Antaren
Hi Antaren,

The reverb is the Big And Warm preset, in the plate reverbs folder of the Space Designer Preset list. Didn't the old EMT's have a 2.6s setting? I don't know if it's based on an EMT, but it's a great patch for sitting very deep in the mix, so you only hear it on the louder notes.

It's funny you mention "space". I have a "dead" wall in my studio, which is an open cupboard filled with all the semi-rigid fibreglass (OC703-type stuff) I have yet to build frames for. I have covered the front of this cupboard with an old sheet to keep the fibres in, and it makes a great substitute for an endless room. I stood both the mic stands about 3 feet from the front of the sheet, and recorded facing the dead wall. My floor is polished hardwood, and may be contributing to the room sound with a little early reflection.

Thanks also for the singing props. I'm not 100% confortable with my singing at the best of times (jack of very few trades...), let alone when it's completely raw on a website made for cynical and/or self-important engineers. Kidding, my friends, I'm kidding, you aren't cynical at all...

I don't know how much the mics are in the US, but there is a guy from the North American distributor posting in another thread on Sontronics around here... Here's the thread! https://www.gearslutz.com/board/low-end-theory/76682-sontronics-mics.html The guy's name is Dave MM. Now if you are in Australia, then I can be of some help in that regard.

heath.
Old 28th March 2007
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
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Helios Pics

Some pics of the Helios just after it arrived. It is much larger than I expected, the last photo compares the size of the capsule basket to a compact disc. While the briefcase has an air of "off-shore manufacturing" about it, the entire package is very impressive, especially the velvet lined wooden case for the mic itself.

heath.
Attached Thumbnails
Want to hear Sontronics Mics?  Enter...-helios-1.jpg   Want to hear Sontronics Mics?  Enter...-helios-back.jpg   Want to hear Sontronics Mics?  Enter...-helios-kit.jpg   Want to hear Sontronics Mics?  Enter...-helios-psu.jpg   Want to hear Sontronics Mics?  Enter...-helios-size-comparo.jpg  

Old 28th March 2007
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
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Sigma Pics

A few pics of the Sigma, after my tracking session the other day. It's a pretty impressive thing sitting on the stand, and the mount is an excellent shape for getting close to a sound source. Though being a ribbon, you most probably don't want to get that close to a sound source.

The second photo shows the mount from behind, and makes obvious two of the the good points of it's design, and one of the bad. The good points? The rubber inserts in the joints of the mount (basically, where ever you see gold, there is rubber under that) work very well as a shock-reducing device. Also, the screw-in section at the bottom holds the mic very securely, and it is extremely easy to get the mic in there, and it can also be rotated once in place. I have yet to determine whether the back side is different to the front, sonically. Bad point? The knob which tightens the angle adjustment, next to where the mount screws onto the stand. For whatever reason, there is no way to tighten this up enough to hold the mount at a chosen angle. Inside the angle adjustment, there is no grip or friction designed into aluminium parts, so precise positioning is very difficult. Quite often the mic will "sag" after tightening the angle adjustment knob as tight as it will go.

Having just pulled apart this joint, it's obvious the two parts need some sort of friction between them to make a stonger connection. Stay tuned for the Sigma Shockmount Renovation Rescue!

heath.
Attached Thumbnails
Want to hear Sontronics Mics?  Enter...-sigma-1.jpg   Want to hear Sontronics Mics?  Enter...-sigma-mount.jpg   Want to hear Sontronics Mics?  Enter...-sigma-top.jpg   Want to hear Sontronics Mics?  Enter...-sigma-kit.jpg  
Old 29th October 2008
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks for this thread. Very useful in hearing the mic's. The tracks sound great too, awesome job!
Old 7th December 2009
  #15
Old 7th December 2009
  #16
Vum
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I use my Sontronics Sigma on everything. Great mic.
Old 7th December 2009
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vum View Post
I use my Sontronics Sigma on everything. Great mic.
+1 (first time I've got to say that on GS, huzzah!)

Absolutely love the sigmas on just about everything, although I haven't found a vocal that really benefits from it.

Sigma + SM57 on guitar amp = yum
Sigma pair in Glyn Johns setup on drums = oh dear Lord, heavenly

Only files I have to hand that are listenable are some bop drumming samples:
Kit = 16" kick, 10" 12" toms, 14" Ludwig 400 snare, various cymbals
Mics = 1 Sigma overhead positioned centrally over kick, not too high + 1 Sigma about 18" in front of the kick, slightly angled towards the floor. A touch of Fairchild-esque compression, a smidge of eq, and a lil' bit of verb.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/336056/BOPKIT.mp3
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/336056/BOPKIT_BRUSHES.mp3
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/336056/BOPKIT_FUNKY.mp3

recorded @ 44.1/24 into Sonar 7. Sorry for mp3's, but they're decent(ish) quality I hope. Enjoy, and kudos to the poster for drawing further attention to these glorious mics. I've always been too scared to, on account of my relatively cloth-eared noobishness.
Old 7th December 2009
  #18
Vum
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those samples sound great!
Old 7th December 2009
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vum View Post
those samples sound great!
If that's aimed at me, then I say thank you kind sir. If not, please ignore me.
Old 7th December 2009
  #20
Gear Addict
 
Seb RIOU's Avatar
 

yep, I use my Helios quite often. Works on some male voices, mainly on guitar cabs, and a recently fave for snare drum.


but construction wise ..
I had to replace the tube after 6 months (no audio passed whatsoever), and that was actually one thing I should have done right away (russian Electro Harmonix do just fine)

The connector on the cable has to be handed really carefully (if not replaced) and the leds on the PSU are all dead.

But I love the vibe. It has a vibe
Old 7th December 2009
  #21
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by steffo View Post
Olle Nyman on MySpace Music - Free Streaming MP3s, Pictures & Music Videos

"Don't let those Bastards" recorded with a stereo pair sigma live, shaker and vocals OD using a single sigma. Became the most used microphone on that album, OH, perc on every song. Lead vocals on some. Pretty dark microphone but cool vintagevibe. Mine are rather noisy but maybe all ribbons are? I have used r121's a few times and they were great to.
Lovely song, and I love the tones you captured.

RE the noise thing, I actually went for the Sigma over a Shinybox after an engineering acquaintance (a proper one, heh) told me he found the Shinybox very noisy by comparison.
Old 7th December 2009
  #22
Vum
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that's for you talkshowman!
Old 7th December 2009
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by supaheef View Post
Thanks for the early responses, guys!
heath.
I'd just like to respond to your recordings too; They sound pretty much exactly what I was expecting (tone wise (in a good way)), but nice job on the songwriting and the recording. And kudos again on the thread.
Old 20th May 2010
  #24
Sontronics Apollo in m/s on a student-run madrigal group:



You can also here samples of the microphone here:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/new-p...tronics+apollo (Choral sample)
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remot...-piano.html#27 (Piano sample, compared to Schoeps)
Old 28th September 2012
  #25
Gear Head
 

Hey, nice clips. I prefer your voice through the Sigma ribbon over the Helios condenser (though both sounded good). I may buy an Apollo stereo ribbon. Sontronics seems to do a nice job with ribbons.
Old 29th January 2014
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by C/G View Post
Thanks for that. The Sigma sounds nice. I've been curious about it for a while as I am having a hard time trying to give up $1400 CDN for a Royer.

The Sigma does not sound as dark as I expected either.

Have you or anyone compared the Sigma to a Royer R121 or R122? Or a C&T Naked Eye?
I have a Royer 121 and a Sigma. The Sigma desperate in comparison. Nasally, Noisy, hard sound. Nothing like I've heard it described. I thought mine was broken so I borrowed another from my dealer and set them up side by side. Was equally bad! I dont know what the deal is with this mic or why it gets kudos.

The Royer is great except thats its currently on its second trip back to london in 7 months with a buzzy sounding stretched ribbon even though I treated it like a baby!

Not meant to be a rant...just my finding from owning both mics
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