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Sweetwater's Virtual Mic Shootout
Old 4th December 2018
  #151
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudflux View Post
With all due respect, you must be insane. I work for a dealer that sells Antelope and almost ALL the units come back faulty or the customers have unresolvable issues with the software not working with their mac or PC. Antelope support is renowned for being dreadful, slow and incompetent. We try to steer people away from these products and the people who go against our advice soon come back to say we were right, then buy something from a brand that takes their customers seriously.
I'm not sure what you are talking about, I have an Orion Studio 2017 interface working perfectly on my 2017 iMac. No issues at all. Also every time I've contacted live support or by phone they have gotten back to me very quickly. Setup is simple. Again, I really cant believe that every unit antelope makes comes back to your friend. Many pro level people are using Antelope with great things to say about them (time to start thinking out of the box and stop listen to your friends). To be honest, every brand has their issues . Antelope is offering the best converters and preamps for the $$$ with free plugins that sound great with excellent clocking. And they just dropped their price for Black Friday to $1995.00 for 12 mic inputs with 124db dynamic range a/d converters. Not going to beat that. The guitar effects have a killer sound.
Old 10th December 2018
  #152
Someone asked me last week if having a $10,000+ microphone really makes "any difference." I thought about it and had to admit that yes, it does. Could the questioner actually *hear* the difference between a $100 mic and a $10K mic? That's debatable. He was not an engineer. But it definitely makes a difference. In terms of the "value" that a singer feels when singing into a mic. But it's not all psychological.

If I asked you as an artist if you'd like to sing into the $7000 mic that Amy Grant sang into or use a $200 clone, which would YOU pick?

(Honestly, as an engineer, I'd insist on using the mic that sounded best on the artist in the studio at the moment, regardless of price or heritage. I've done it — picked the SM7B over the Telefunken U47.)

If there was no difference, then old microphones would be just that — old. But instead they continue to increase in value. There's a reason. And it's not just greed.
Old 11th December 2018
  #153
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WunderBro Flo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
Someone asked me last week if having a $10,000+ microphone really makes "any difference." I thought about it and had to admit that yes, it does. Could the questioner actually *hear* the difference between a $100 mic and a $10K mic? That's debatable. He was not an engineer. But it definitely makes a difference. In terms of the "value" that a singer feels when singing into a mic. But it's not all psychological.

If I asked you as an artist if you'd like to sing into the $7000 mic that Amy Grant sang into or use a $200 clone, which would YOU pick?

(Honestly, as an engineer, I'd insist on using the mic that sounded best on the artist in the studio at the moment, regardless of price or heritage. I've done it — picked the SM7B over the Telefunken U47.)

If there was no difference, then old microphones would be just that — old. But instead they continue to increase in value. There's a reason. And it's not just greed.
I agree. And I add something on top of that: Knowing that you are now singing into the $7000 mic that Amy Grant/Rihanna/Dr Dre/Ed Sheeran performed into will make most singers feel amazing as opposed to singing in a $500.- clone, because using a clone, a software emulation, a cheaper alternative etc always carries the side effect of doubt with it. Doubt about the mic, the acoustics, the rest of the gear chain, the skills of the people involved ("hey why must they use cheap alternatives if they are as good as the others?" etc etc). Doubt pulls performances down, amazement pushes performances up, which is easily heard on the recording afterwards. Yes, there are super confident people out there who are totally unimpressed (for example because they are already superstars) but the vast majority of talent will be amazed or doubtful depending on the mic/gear/location situation.
I always like to think of it as a car analogy: Take ten photos of a guy while driving from A to B in a Mitsubishi and then ten photos of the same guy driving the same route in a shiny Lamborghini. Both cars took the guy from A to B but his face will look drastically different on the photos depending which car he was driving. His facial expression on the photo is our vocal recording in the DAW.
Old 27th December 2018
  #154
Lives for gear
Nice work. However I miss one microphone on all tests. The one that is not to be emulated. Now we compare things that are supposed to be the same, but how far are something that is not trying to be that. A AT4050 or a baby bottle would have been nice as reference.
Old 31st December 2018
  #155
Quote:
Originally Posted by bace View Post
Nice work. However I miss one microphone on all tests. The one that is not to be emulated. Now we compare things that are supposed to be the same, but how far are something that is not trying to be that. A AT4050 or a baby bottle would have been nice as reference.
I'd agree with you, if I understand what you're saying.

Just because a virtual mic can sound "like" a U47 or C12 doesn't make it the best choice for that voice. Sometimes a $300 mic is absolutely right for that voice on that song.
Old 19th January 2019
  #156
Gear Maniac
 

Any chance to have a mic shootout with small condensers (Slate and Antelope) vs Originals?
Old 20th January 2019
  #157
I owned the Slate VMS for about a year. I found its functionality really interesting and useful, but when compared to other clones in a similar price point it was always a give and take with some emulations being better than others, but compared to higher end microphones it was never really great. On its own you can get a nice sound with it. In case anyone here is interested I filmed a shootout featuring the VMS, some budget clones, and a high end clone. You can hear for yourself and make your own judgements.

Old 21st January 2019
  #158
The Townsend Labs was the most convincing to me.
Old 2nd May 2019
  #159
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Big_Bang's Avatar
 

People who nitpick constantly about the minute differences between the emulations have clearly never worked with an extensive high end mic locker regularly.

All the products are simply fantastic (except Antares of course), and I would have given an arm and a leg to have this tool 20 years ago.

To me, Townsend is my choice. Thinking of getting it over the others for the simple reason it doubles as a great LDC stereo, and I love the polar pattern manipulation options. Really smart product.
Old 6th May 2019
  #160
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Piedpiper's Avatar
Thanks for the revealing opportunity! Minor logistical issue: I think it would have been more effective to use that sign wave at a lower volume and not match the peaks but RMS. The volume differences were not subtle and required me to match the tracks significantly before I could make any useful judgement. It would give a better picture of the compression of the mics as well as more effective matching.

Re: the test results, like others, I found the contenders at times remarkably similar, and other times obviously different, usually in the direction of some emulations being brighter and cleaner than the originals, though not always. I don't remember any showing up in the opposite direction, though. A side benefit of the test was to highlight the differences between the original models, even if, in that context, the performances weren't the same.
Old 22nd July 2019
  #161
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nukmusic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Thanks again. I was impressed with this one as well.

One question, (maybe I overlooked it but) how did you get the mono audio files from the Townsend mic?
Old 22nd July 2019
  #162
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Matti's Avatar
It is not a stereo mic as such, your say U87 has 2 diagrams to form polar patterns that¨s what Townsend emulates by having 2 capsules

Matti
Old 22nd July 2019
  #163
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nukmusic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matti View Post
It is not a stereo mic as such, your say U87 has 2 diagrams to form polar patterns that¨s what Townsend emulates by having 2 capsules

Matti
Thanks,

I understand the mic design and how it functions (recording on a stereo track). I just needed more clarification on what was done in this particular shootout to get the Townsend mono tracks inside the Protools session.

I assume you could just record the output of the front capsule or record on a stereo track, split it, and delete the rear capsule's track. But I wasn't sure how it would affect the overall sound of the emulation.
Old 22nd July 2019
  #164
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Matti's Avatar
Not wanting to be a pain...
But I would do it as intended, with the plugin in cardiod for compatibility to others tested and you get the modeled cardiod mono signal

Matti
Old 25th July 2019
  #165
Here for the gear
 

@ Lynn Fuston , Sir what about a page on Sweetwater website which includes Audio Interfaces's on board preamps + conversion just as you had microphone ones, with male and female voices. For Clarett, Scarlett, apogee, UAD, Slate VRS 8, RME, Audient etc..

And also comparing them with standalone A/D converters.



https://www.sweetwater.com/feature/vocal-mic-shootout/

This test trust me, will help a lot of serious guys, to hear and decide for microphones. It helped me.

Similarly will help about hearing preamp+conversions of budget, mid, high, and supreme preamp+ converters.
e.g. i have a decent saving to spend on gears particularity on A/D, D/A converters,higher end interfaces.

But i get a feeling, beyond a range, will spending extra money return any actual audibly significant return ?
Second thought immediately comes, but why Pros use them ??

There is not a single place where you can go and hear by own and decide.. Its just reading specs, reading posts on forums and an imaginative guessing.

(Your vocal mic shootout page is the way !)

It hasn't been done on internet anywhere..
Old 1st October 2019
  #166
_gl
Gear Maniac
 
_gl's Avatar
 

Great test, thanks everyone involved.

I listened a few days ago, but I was less interested in how accurate the models matched the original mic samples, due the unknown variations between the instances of the mics modelled by each maker.

So the real question seems to be, do they capture the vibe of the original, and the presence/depth/smoothness etc, in a useful way? And then, as I'm considering it mainly as a vocal mic for myself (ie. not so much as a multi-purpose/voice studio asset), I asked myself which virtual mic's sound I preferred subjectively - ie. presumably the character of the raw mic, shining through each model. Or perhaps the 'sound' of each modelling technology.

No confirmation bias, because I like the look and price of the Slate best - but I actually ended up preferring the overall vibe of the Townsend! I wonder if the multi-pattern emulation has something to do with it, or maybe I just like the vibe of the raw mic? Purely subjective of course - but also sucks for me, as it's so much more expensive (and I was already looking at a used Slate to keep cost manageable).

I also like that you can get the Townsend software without dongles, so it's easier to pass mixes around and/or remix old projects even if you do sell on the mic. But the cost is well out of my reach, damnit …

And yes I agree that the original mics do still sound slightly more natural, more smooth. Which makes me wonder how digital algorithms can improve to nail that last bit of 'analogueness'. After all, even the modelling mics are real mics digitally captured. So theoretically (I'm a programmer so it's an educated guess) the modelling processing may improve in the future to take off that slight digital signature.
Old 10th October 2019
  #167
Comparing preamps, converters, etc.? Why didn't I think of that? ;-)

Thanks for the compliments. I've been doing shootouts for 20 years now. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to do an interface shootout. I did an ADC shootout back in 2004 and it almost killed me. It was WAY harder than it seemed.

I agree that they are very valuable for those who don't have access to the gear. In the past year, I've done over a dozen and I'm not done yet. Stay tuned.

https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/gu...-mic-shootout/
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/pu...sound-samples/
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/ki...sound-samples/
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/di...n-bass-guitar/
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/ho...sound-samples/
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/7-...anos-shootout/
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/vi...sound-samples/
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/us...sound-samples/
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/ri...sound-samples/

And the runaway hit of all shootouts - the Acoustic Guitar Bridge Pin Shootout:
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/3-...-sound-better/


Quote:
Originally Posted by Vishnu Verma View Post
@ Lynn Fuston , Sir what about a page on Sweetwater website which includes Audio Interfaces's on board preamps + conversion just as you had microphone ones, with male and female voices. For Clarett, Scarlett, apogee, UAD, Slate VRS 8, RME, Audient etc..

And also comparing them with standalone A/D converters.

https://www.sweetwater.com/feature/vocal-mic-shootout/

This test trust me, will help a lot of serious guys, to hear and decide for microphones. It helped me.

Similarly will help about hearing preamp+conversions of budget, mid, high, and supreme preamp+ converters.
e.g. i have a decent saving to spend on gears particularity on A/D, D/A converters,higher end interfaces.

But i get a feeling, beyond a range, will spending extra money return any actual audibly significant return ?
Second thought immediately comes, but why Pros use them ??

There is not a single place where you can go and hear by own and decide.. Its just reading specs, reading posts on forums and an imaginative guessing.

(Your vocal mic shootout page is the way !)

It hasn't been done on internet anywhere..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #168
Gear Nut
The end user is what that matters as he/she is the customer which buys and consumes the product (the music).
Basing on the fact that the highest percentage of the composition of the music market ranges from 14 to 25 y.o. people and the listening medium of that market is an average in ear headphones, the point of paying 3 to 15k$ for a difference that the main customer will never appreciate nor discern is an absolute nonsense.
Even here in GS with its mixing engineers users almost 50% of them (myself included) weren’t able to distinguish the difference in a blind test.
The best product is the good product which fulfills the customers needs. This is a time where good music can be made with 1% of the money that was required 40/30 years ago. What really makes the difference is:
a good song & a good producer/engineer

Conversion got to a point where is indistinguishable for 99% of people including mixing and mastering engineers. Channels strip emulations: same discourse as for the microphones. I own 2 neve 1073 and 2 Api 512c which I’m about to sell and going to UAD x8p.
Instead of spending 10k for 3/4 high end mics I’d suggest to buy a virtual mic (you choose what you prefer) and invest the rest of the money in the most important instrument in the studio: the acoustic of the room (and a good pair of monitors)
My 2 cents
Old 2 weeks ago
  #169
_gl
Gear Maniac
 
_gl's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by _gl View Post
No confirmation bias, because I like the look and price of the Slate best - but I actually ended up preferring the overall vibe of the Townsend! I wonder if the multi-pattern emulation has something to do with it, or maybe I just like the vibe of the raw mic? Purely subjective of course - but also sucks for me, as it's so much more expensive (and I was already looking at a used Slate to keep cost manageable).
Well, after listening and researching more, I believe the Townsend raw mic is just higher quality than the Slate. To my ears, the Slate sounds slightly thinner, and brittle/harsh - I hear this on almost all the emulations in the shootout. The Townsend sounds smoother and more emotionally present to me on every emulation.

So I caved and just bought one (pending delivery).

Of course we may all listen out for different things. Some people like brightness, much like some people like strong sharpening on digital images. To me, smoothness and presence are a sign of quality and refinement, and that's what I hear in the Townsend over the Slate and Antelope.

Of course, maybe they just chose smoother sounding mic instances to model. And of course that's the other variable - the ear of the person choosing the mic instances to model also factors in. Equally interesting is that there are practically zero used Spheres for sale, and relentless high-mark reviews. Of course it's also much more expensive, but that's OK if it's a 'final' purchase that's a joy to use every time.

Thoughts?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #170
_gl
Gear Maniac
 
_gl's Avatar
 

Also @ Chris Townsend , are there plans to offer mic emulation on the Sphere for the front (cardoid) capsule only?

I'm thinking of interfaces with only (say) 2 pres, when you might need to record another simulaneous mic (or DI input on combo inputs). So then you can only record the Sphere's front capsule.

Being able to apply cardoid-only emulations (loosing all the polar patter manipulation), like the Slate, would be super-useful for those limited-input scenarios.

I trust this is technically possible, and would be handy.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #171
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TS-12's Avatar
Would be interesting if they also compared IK Multimedia studio hd irig mic in this test
Yes I know I know.. $99, entry level, etc etc.. but still would of been interesting to hear how it compares.
It’s a virtual mic system after all
Old 2 weeks ago
  #172
Quote:
Originally Posted by TS-12 View Post
Would be interesting if they also compared IK Multimedia studio hd irig mic in this test
Yes I know I know.. $99, entry level, etc etc.. but still would of been interesting to hear how it compares.
It’s a virtual mic system after all
Check out my video above. I used some IK Mic Room and Mic Mod EFX samples. Both are very dependent on the source mic. None of the mic systems including Slate is perfect. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a good recording with them though.
Old 1 week ago
  #173
While it’s a different shootout entirely here is my new YouTube video conclusion to our Emulations vs Clones series.

Old 1 week ago
  #174
_gl
Gear Maniac
 
_gl's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by _gl View Post
So I caved and just bought one (pending delivery).
.. OK, I'm a convert. I'd never really looked at/used high-end mics (I've been using an AT4050 for like ever), so before I bought the Sphere I did a ton of research, listening to the shootouts, learning the models and their flavours, and wondering what would work for my voice.

It became clear that all the pattern manipulation stuff would be super handy. Oh yeah it is! Just slightly changing the polar pattern can really affect the sound in super useful ways - eg. narrowing or opening up a vocal. Or the other use, reducing off-axis spill. Ditto being able to sing slightly off-axis after the fact - that again changes the sound character (eg. backs off some high-end)! And being able to tweak the proximity effect.

I'm doing all 3 on my first track with it, and now I understand why nobody is selling used Spheres! It may sound like nerd tweaking, but you can take an OK vocal to exactly how you hear it without trying to massage it there with traditional hit-and-miss processing (and I'm sure it's not completely possible that way).

So I figured that the 251 would probably work on me. Turns out on this track I like the C12 best - but then I ended up mixing a little 251 in, with a little phase adjustment, all from the Sphere plug. So now I have a custom, physically impossible (you probably couldn't get both real mics that close to each other), pre-manipulated sound as if it was recorded with all those tweaks - all done after the recording.

Superb.

I am looking forward to a few more specimens of each mic model. Chris said that was planned in a podcast, so I hope that's still the case. I'm sure the variance between each instance will come in real useful down the line, especially when you know which mic models work, but you just need a little variety within that sonic fingerprint.

Last edited by _gl; 1 week ago at 06:24 AM..
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