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Old 07-29-2017, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Ty Ford View Post
"Highly Usable" is subjective. Don't get me wrong, I'm a believer in Neumann. I'd like to hear some raw tracks (no EQ) that you like with the KM184.


Ty Ford
My emphasis. Treading lightly here because I understand that there are still some engineers who hold to the "straight-wire"* engineering philosophy:

I have to say that the raw tracks as the defining criterion isn't one used by many engineers I know. Most engineers I know listen to a mic and gauge its value based upon its potential. Yes, they prefer minimal processing, but virtually any mic that is at its best in an application without any processing is virtually a one-trick dog for that one application if you go without any processing. There are reasons why top-of-the-line recording consoles feature comprehensive processing on each channel: there are no perfect mics. They all have warts. There are no perfect recording situations: they all have challenges that need to be corrected.

There are also reasons why most recording engineers use EQ, including the fact that most are required to face a variety of recording challenges with a limited choice of mics and a limited amount of time to set up. In many ways, the job of recording engineer is like that of a doctor: people bring you their problems to be solved. You take a look, diagnose, and prescribe a solution. After the initial recording session you may (or more probably will) need to alter the prescription to fine-tune the outcome. Abuses and bad applications happen but that is the way of things in free society.

The mic is a tool, an instrument, something like a guitar. With the guitar, the raw instrument as discovered in a guitar store may not perfectly fit the application so there may be a setup, a change of strings, a change of nut and saddle material, things required to make the player more comfortable and the outcome better. The mic is an instrument as well. There may be application changes or EQ needed to make it fit the application better. The larger the ensemble to be recorded, the more this is true. It is a fact of life.

And finally, the question of pre-emphasis is a battle that will probably never be won. At the dawn of the digital age the cry went out that pre-emphasis was no longer needed or desirable so GET IT OFF THE MICS. Same with transformers and the awful, ringing, impure Neve EQs.** Mic manufacturers complied and issued new transformerless versions of their mics with pre-emphasis removed such as the AKG C460B comb. Studios ditched their transformered mics and Neve consoles. Guess what? A few years later everyone was crowing for the old mics, EQs, and transformers. Why? Because there is a desirable sound they offer that the others don't. It's horses for courses and it caused an industry-wide swing back to the older technology and design philosophy. Wait, don't tell me: there are fashion trends in recording. It isn't just science, it is an art. Wherever there is art there is fashion.


* The straight-wire philosophy of recording arose in the 1980s and was a recording philosophy exemplified by the idea that the most minimal path between microphone and reproduction speaker was always the best. One of the key specifications of this group was no "heavy iron," ie. transformers, in the reproduction chain. By the way, this philosophy was highly influential in the design of the transformerless MK184 which was released in 1993 to replace the KM84. By the way, the KM184 is a bit of an anomaly: the design features both a transformerless circuit and a pre-emphasis curve. Wowser. That sort of makes it a period piece. By its release in 1993, analog recording had already been eclipsed by digital as the numerically-favored technology for music. We bought our last analog multitrack recorder in 1990 and still have it. It was literally the last design amongst the analog multitrack recorders that were built, also a period piece.

** I kid you not. That is exactly what leading edge engineers and manufacturers said of Neve EQs. Came back to bite 'em, too.
"It is said, 'Go not to the elves for counsel for they will say both no and yes.' "
Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion, The Fellowship of the Ring

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