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What other parameters are important to consider when choosing a mic?
Old 4th May 2017
  #1
What other parameters are important to consider when choosing a mic?

Maybe it's just me (or if not just me, then a pretty eccentric few) that really heavily utilize polar patterns on mics.

There's one mic in this group that has an incredibly tight polar pattern above 4kHz. If you're in a space where you need to minimize reflections (small booth or windowed ISO), it's incredible for accomplishing that. If you want to use it for three people singing BGVs around it, you're out of luck. You'll hear the one in the middle.

I've recorded vocals where I wanted the singer right up on the mic but couldn't abide the proximity effect and if that mic that sounded perfect on her voice but didn't have the option of switching to omni, I'd have been out of luck. (That time it was Amy Grant singing into a Brauner VMA.)

What other parameters, in addition to the "sound," are big influencers when you're selecting a vocal mic?
Old 4th May 2017
  #2
it has to be well built and reliable, with a good signal to noise ratio and accurate in reproducing sound. Shure mics are basically bulletproof. that's a great mic. others may sound better, and the tone of Shure isn't my favorite, but none are as reliable in any environment with ANY voice.
Old 4th May 2017
  #3
Godson reminded me of another situation where sonic considerations were important but didn't take precedence.

When I flew to Ghana in 2007, I was reluctant to take my 251 because of several reasons.

1) It might get lost on the flight.
2) I didn't want to haul it halfway round the world, much less check it.
3) I didn't know if we'd even have 120VAC to power it.

In that case, I chose solid reliable mics that would stand up to wind (we were recording outdoors in the courtyard of a castle right on the coast), were compact to pack, absolutely reliable, would handle outdoor temperatures and 80% humidity, small and dark enough to not be obtrusive in a video shoot, and were light on a mic stand (since I didn't know what kind of stands we would be provided). In that situation, the sound was important, but there were many other factors to consider.

http://www.3daudioinc.com/images/ghana/audiogear.jpg
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Old 4th May 2017
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
... singing into a Brauner ...
Lynn, since you mentioned the Brauner, it's really inconceivable to do a mic shootout in 2017 & not include a Brauner (VM1, VMA, etc.) or a Sony (C800G).
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Old 4th May 2017
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
Godson reminded me of another situation where sonic considerations were important but didn't take precedence.

When I flew to Ghana in 2007, I was reluctant to take my 251 because of several reasons.

1) It might get lost on the flight.
2) I didn't want to haul it halfway round the world, much less check it.
3) I didn't know if we'd even have 120VAC to power it.

In that case, I chose solid reliable mics that would stand up to wind (we were recording outdoors in the courtyard of a castle right on the coast), were compact to pack, absolutely reliable, would handle outdoor temperatures and 80% humidity, small and dark enough to not be obtrusive in a video shoot, and were light on a mic stand (since I didn't know what kind of stands we would be provided). In that situation, the sound was important, but there were many other factors to consider.

http://www.3daudioinc.com/images/ghana/audiogear.jpg
awesome
Old 5th May 2017
  #6
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What advice do you have for a novice who never recorded in a studio who wants to choose my first mic. Vocals will be female solo Rap vocals. Budget is under $1000 and I am looking at AT2020, AT2035, AT2050, etc.
Old 5th May 2017
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by boombapdame View Post
What advice do you have for a novice who never recorded in a studio who wants to choose my first mic. Vocals will be female solo Rap vocals. Budget is under $1000 and I am looking at AT2020, AT2035, AT2050, etc.
What a timely question. I just wrote an article about mics for rap vocal recording, based on interviews with some pros and some SW guys, that was posted last month.

It was a "What's your favorite?" article with no price restrictions but there's a sub-$1000 entry in there. Take a look here:

https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/be...ng-rap-vocals/

Back when I was doing records with dc Talk (I worked on Nu Thang, Free At Last, and Jesus Freak), we'd typically use a C12 for the lead vocals, both singing and rapping. Except for the rap on The Hard Way, when Toby wanted to record the rap sitting on the couch in the control room so I handed him my 1950s-vintage EV 630 through a Buzz Audio MA2.2 preamp. You can hear it in the Youtube video linked above in the song title. And if you're ever at Sweetwater, look me up. I've got that mic sitting here on my desk.

(I was looking for a way to embed the video player here but can't figure that out.)
Old 5th May 2017
  #8
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by boombapdame View Post
What advice do you have for a novice who never recorded in a studio who wants to choose my first mic. Vocals will be female solo Rap vocals. Budget is under $1000 and I am looking at AT2020, AT2035, AT2050, etc.
Against the AT2020, the AT2035 has a way better noise floor and dynamic range, it also has a bass roll off, if you have the cash go for the AT2035.

Against the AT2035, the AT2050 also added figure of 8 pickup and omnidirectional pickup. For recording vocals it is not worth the extra cash but would be useful if you are recording room sound etc. instruments.

I work at Audio-technica in the UK and have used all 3 mics, the AT2035 is a real gem for the money.
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Old 7th May 2017
  #9
Lives for gear
I think about mic's this way.

Condenser, Moving coil, Ribbon. Less common but still used are electret condensers and Boundry mic's. Only condensers tend to come in tube flavor, but I also happen to have a tube ribbon. I'm not aware of any tube moving coil mics.

Condensers get divided into small, medium. and Large
Moving coils are small or large
Ribbons are short or long.

If they have a transformer, the preamps will not have much effect on the sound. If they don't have a transformer, then they interact with the preamp significantly and the the preamp effects the sound tons.

Dynamic's tend to be Omni, Supper-cart, or cart pattern.
Small condensers tend to have switch out caps for patterns.
LDC tube mic's tend to offer the most patterns
Must ribbon mic's are figure 8 pattern

The frequency response of each mic is different, and varies along it's pattern and distance to the mic (proximity effect)

Off axis color (the quality of bleed outside it's pattern) is one of the measures of the mic's quality

Transient response is another measure of a mic's quality. How we it handles large fast transitions in the sound.

Good mic's also tend to take the transients it can't handle and dump that energy into a frequency range in a way that is pleasing to the ear.

Every mic's has a different throw, or distance focus. An SM57 is a poor choice for a room mic. Some mic's are a poor choice for being close to sources, typically SDC's like to be further from sources than other mic's.

High SPL without distortion is another mark of a good mic. How the sound craps out as it overloads is another quality to look for.

No one mic does everything well. Neumann's are fairly good at everything except high SPL. High end Sony mic's are better at high SPL than Neumann, but don't have the same frequency response and are not as well supported.

Tube LDC are generally the top of the food chain. The tubes help the overloads and make it practical to have remote pattern control. They also do not break down that often.

SDC's are typically the most accurate, but don't bring the closeness and rich low frequencies as other kinds of mic's. The KM84 solved this by using a circuit that rolled off the high's as the signal became stronger. the AA 1084 also uses that.

My favorite mic of all is the Coles 4038. Things sound closer and larger than they are. But it's not the best choice for many sources. Definitely not a modern pop vocal mic
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Old 7th May 2017
  #10
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
Maybe it's just me (or if not just me, then a pretty eccentric few) that really heavily utilize polar patterns on mics.

There's one mic in this group that has an incredibly tight polar pattern above 4kHz. If you're in a space where you need to minimize reflections (small booth or windowed ISO), it's incredible for accomplishing that. If you want to use it for three people singing BGVs around it, you're out of luck. You'll hear the one in the middle.

I've recorded vocals where I wanted the singer right up on the mic but couldn't abide the proximity effect and if that mic that sounded perfect on her voice but didn't have the option of switching to omni, I'd have been out of luck. (That time it was Amy Grant singing into a Brauner VMA.)

What other parameters, in addition to the "sound," are big influencers when you're selecting a vocal mic?
This is a great point, and like such much in this industry, it's part of an art that is vanishing due to the massive shift from commercial studies to home project studios.

I've got some very expensive high end hand made boutique mics that all have omni patterns but I cannot use them effectively because sadly I don't posses a room large enough/suitable enough to properly use omni the pattern when I want/need to.

So a big influence on me in selecting vocal mics is the imperative they sound great in cardioid pattern - even though at times I'd love to use them in omni.

So many younger audio people I come into contact with have never experienced a great mic, in omni pattern, in a great room - they don't know what they're missing!
Old 7th May 2017
  #11
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
There's one mic in this group that has an incredibly tight polar pattern above 4kHz. If you're in a space where you need to minimize reflections (small booth or windowed ISO), it's incredible for accomplishing that. If you want to use it for three people singing BGVs around it, you're out of luck. You'll hear the one in the middle.
What mic is that, if I may ask?

Also, how do you feel about current advances in microphone modelling, like the Slate or Townsend stuff?
Old 7th May 2017
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
... There's one mic in this group that has an incredibly tight polar pattern above 4kHz. If you're in a space where you need to minimize reflections (small booth or windowed ISO), it's incredible for accomplishing that. If you want to use it for three people singing BGVs around it, you're out of luck. You'll hear the one in the middle. ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJlo View Post
What mic is that, if I may ask? ...
U47Fet?
Old 7th May 2017
  #13
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
What other parameters, in addition to the "sound," are big influencers when you're selecting a vocal mic?
Multiple patterns and minimal bulk. My next "big deal" mic purchase will be a KM86 or something similar.
Old 7th May 2017
  #14
Cable and mic preamp. This is why these sort of comparisons are always flawed, too many variables to equal it all out. Mic input impedance can change the sound of everything. The same mic through a dozen different mic preamps and cables will change everything.
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Old 8th May 2017
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJlo View Post
What mic is that, if I may ask?
The A-T 5040. And I misspoke. The chart shows it is very directional at 8kHz and less so at 5kHz. I was speaking from personal experience, which revealed it to be very directional at even lower frequencies like 4kHz.

Here's the polar pattern that is published by Audio-Technica.

AT5040 Polar Pattern
Old 8th May 2017
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJlo View Post
Also, how do you feel about current advances in microphone modelling, like the Slate or Townsend stuff?
I have no personal experience in the studio with either.

The amount of control that the Townsend offers is staggering. Really amazing.

Plus the ability to change the sound to a different mic model like the Slate VMS offers is really cool.

I've seen both demoed. The technology is very promising.
Old 15th May 2017
  #17
dzb
Gear Nut
 
dzb's Avatar
Specifically talking vocals: Extra patterns can be very worthwhile on mics for vocals. Many times in our studio a vocal was tracked on something other than the 'standard' cardiod. Figure 8 for certain is a trick that can bring out dimension with a vocal. For a couple vocalists I know hypercardioid has won over cardiod - thinking of a couple deeper (lower mid-range) male vocals, and omni has even been used on a rare occasion - that's just with one vocalist. Enter in a couple vocalists in one room to the equation and it's a no brainer. Want a backing vocal of the same singer as the lead to sit slightly differently in a mix: different pattern. I can think of 3 mics off the top of my head that having the flexibility brought the mic out as a runner-up contender or was selected for the vocal track over what others might call a 'better' mic that had only one pattern. Let ears always be your guide.

No offense, but I think this statement is short-sighted regarding 'for vocals':
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clearline View Post
Against the AT2035, the AT2050 also added figure of 8 pickup and omnidirectional pickup. For recording vocals it is not worth the extra cash but would be useful if you are recording room sound etc. instruments.

Last edited by dzb; 15th May 2017 at 09:20 PM.. Reason: Typo
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