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  #16  
Old 09-14-2011, 02:41 PM
Scott Whigham Scott Whigham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moon View Post
The Royer would have to be a AEA TRP or RNQ. Ribbons really need high impedance, right?

I could dream up lots of expensive gear but on a practical level I'm on a limited budget. At the moment my chain is pretty basic: A6, ART MP, M-Audio 2496 which sounds like this. I think the next step up for me will be some DIY pres from JLM Audio or FiveFish. Maybe a second hand Focusrite ISA One if I'm lucky.
No, ribbons don't need high impedance. Some may benefit from it but it isn't required. My Great River has 300 or 1200 impedance. The ribbons are going to sound a tad bit different when using the 1200ohm. It's not massive but it will sound different. I like the Royer with the 1200 in - it's adds a bit more top end in the sound and a little more sizzle to it.

I'm not familiar with JLM but I know Five Fish well. Have you checked out SCA? http://www.seventhcircleaudio.com/
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  #17  
Old 09-14-2011, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Scott Whigham View Post
No, ribbons don't need high impedance.
Right, what ribbons need is lots of clean gain, and that's what the RPQ and TRP are designed to provide. Those preamps are also optimized for not having phantom power, (tho the RPQ has it on an alternate input), so the ribbons don't suffer from any DC blocking circuitry typically needed for phantom power. They're nice preamps, but not strictly required.
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  #18  
Old 09-14-2011, 03:24 PM
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Thanks for explaining more about ribbons.

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Have you checked out SCA? http://www.seventhcircleaudio.com/
Thanks yeah I'll just be getting one or two pres. SCA kits are more expensive per channel unless you start to fill up the rack.
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  #19  
Old 09-14-2011, 03:35 PM
Scott Whigham Scott Whigham is offline
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Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
Right, what ribbons need is lots of clean gain, and that's what the RPQ and TRP are designed to provide. Those preamps are also optimized for not having phantom power, (tho the RPQ has it on an alternate input), so the ribbons don't suffer from any DC blocking circuitry typically needed for phantom power. They're nice preamps, but not strictly required.
Exactly. The AEA pres (and others) are great but it is highly subjective whether they are better for you. If you will be doing really intimate playing and you want the mic to be four feet away from you, then you'll need to crank up the mic gain, right? If so, I think you'd have a huge benefit from them. If though you are doing singer songwriter or strumming stuff where you are placing the Royer less than 3 feet away, you might be better off using a more "universal" pre (one that is made for all sorts of uses rather than mostly ribbons).

This reminds me of the "My Shure Sm7b says I need a pre with at least 70db of gain - which pre should I use?" question that pops up month after month on various forums. It's sort of the same thing: the answer is always "It depends on how loud the source is as to whether you need x."
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  #20  
Old 09-14-2011, 03:42 PM
Scott Whigham Scott Whigham is offline
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Originally Posted by moon View Post
Thanks yeah I'll just be getting one or two pres. SCA kits are more expensive per channel unless you start to fill up the rack.
I like to DIY as much as the next guy but I'm not sure DIY is the best option in this area. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't - I haven't tried them all so I don't know - but there's one area that I'd ask you to consider: resale.

If you like recording, you'll consider this to be taking just the first of many steps. You'll start with this pre and that mic but, after a few years, you'll find you've worked yourself through 5-10 pres and 5-10 mics.

You can do what Chris suggested - have the manufacturers mail you the mics/pres and try them out - which is fantastic. Like he said, it's a great way to try lots of things. Or you can do what I've done - become obsessed, buy the best used gear you can, and work your way through 20+ pres and 20+ mics in 18 months by buying/selling. Either way you will know what works in what situation - that's a huge thing too.

So are you that type of guy? Are you going to always be chasing that great recorded sound? If so, resale is of primary importance to you. Ideally you want to stick with gear that:
  • Resells for within 5% of what you paid
  • Resells quickly
This is sort of what Doug was talking about when he talked about sticking with quality gear that has a reputation. How hard is it to find a used Royer 121 for sale for $900? Not that hard really. How hard is it to sell your used Royer 121 for $900 when you've decided you don't need it? Not hard at all.

Now let's come back to DIY gear. Let's say you invest $500 in buying/building two channels of pres. After a few months you decide you want to upgrade - will you even be able to sell them? Maybe, maybe not. If you can sell them, how much can you sell them for? The SCA stuff sells for pretty close to what it retails for - there is definite value in having someone else do the work - but I don't know about all the DIY stuff. People have a tendency to really not value DIY as much as branded, of course, so there's a bias going into it. How many people know of Chandler or BAE or Neve yet have never heard of Five Fish? A lot.

Anyway, it's worth considering at least!
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  #21  
Old 09-14-2011, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Scott Whigham View Post
This is sort of what Doug was talking about when he talked about sticking with quality gear that has a reputation.
Well, I was really meaning, there's a reason popular gear is popular, and also that it's best to not go off the beaten path unless you really know what you're doing. But you're right. I've taken a beating when some oddball gear I've fallen for didn't work out and there was no demand for it used. On the other hand, I could sell my KM184s or my Schoeps for more than I paid for them, and they'd probably sell the day I posted them, making them, in the long run, cheaper than supposed "budget" mics. I would not only have been able to use them for years, but make money on the deal. Of course I'll probably never get rid of either...
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  #22  
Old 09-14-2011, 04:25 PM
Fran Guidry Fran Guidry is offline
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Originally Posted by moon View Post
Your mic tests are.. challenging.. Fran You even had an SM57 sounding not too bad on acoustic guitar not so long ago. They do make me rethink some of my assumptions.

Still, I don't think clipalator is totally useless. I think you can hear the character of different mics. There's a clear difference between the hypercardioid and cardioid Oktava capsules for example (the hyper sounds a lot better to me).

What would be your picks? Would you really just take home any five at random because they all sound the same anyway..?
I do think the clipalator is totally useless.

My mic comparisons demonstrate to me how audibly similar mics really are when you listen to the mics and not the test setup, so if I hear a mic comparison that demonstrates immediate obvious differences between two of the same general class of mic I know I'm being given bad information.

Why would I (or anyone) want to make a selection based on bad information?

Doug answered the question the way I would. I'd say that he and I have followed similar paths - ex-rocker computer geeks who fell in love with fingerstyle and set out to try to learn about recording. We both researched and read and asked and bought and tried and we've made hundreds of recordings each.

Like Doug says, if I were to choose a mic (or any piece of gear) it would be on specs and features and how they matched my requirements ...

or it would be sheer whimsy. Mics are fascinating technical objects so of course I want one of every kind ever made. Old mics are cool and vibey so I want KM84s and U47s and ELAM 251s and AKG C12s lining my shelves. Ribbons are classic and European dynamics are hip and cool (and maybe EVs are too) so I want plenty of those. And having heard that somebody famous made some very positive remarks about a Sanken double diaphragm mic I would definitely want a pair of those (right, Doug?)

But if someone asked me how to make their recording better I'd explain the simple formula for an excellent recording:

1. Make an excellent sound
2. In a space that doesn't mess it up
3. then locate a decent mic (or two or three) where the excellent sound appears in the room
4. and don't wreck the result with the rest of your chain or with your settings.

I (and you) have heard fantastic recordings made with uncounted different mics and recording chains. I (and maybe you) have made garbage recordings using excellent gear. To me, if the gear doesn't get in the way, if it has the functions I need, the rest is all on me.

Fran
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  #23  
Old 09-14-2011, 04:26 PM
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The whole gear chain interacts so it gets pretty difficult to predict what a particular preamp will do with a particular mike and the outcome recorded in a particular room.

In my own little journey I started with a pair of AKG C1000 mikes and an older MAudio OMNI preamp and a noisey computer and I then recorded most of my first CD.

Some significant steps (sound wise and monetary wise) along the way was Gefell M300 mikes and a REM ADI-2 (preamp and AD converter) followed by a Great River MP-2H preamp.

The next step was a RME Fireface 800 - no more internal computer soundcard needed.

A significant improvement (at least to my ears) was bypassing RMEs AD conversion using a Mytek Stereo96 ADC (really like this little bugger (highly recommended - if I feel rich again I might go for the Mytek 8X96 for more channels).

Then I got the urge for a pair of Gefell M295 mikes followed by a NPNG DMP-2NW preamp.

A year or two ago I put up acoustic pads all over the room.

All these changes made a difference. I just have to go back and listen to my earlier recordings to remind myself of that fact. It is difficult to say exactly what particular change did what and to what degree however.
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  #24  
Old 09-14-2011, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fran Guidry View Post
And having heard that somebody famous made some very positive remarks about a Sanken double diaphragm mic I would definitely want a pair of those (right, Doug?)
Those Sanken's were very nice mics :-) Just didn't add anything I didn't already have. Still, they sure would have looked nice in the mic locker beside your Elam 251 :-)

Quote:
1. Make an excellent sound
That's the *really* hard part!
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  #25  
Old 09-14-2011, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
All these changes made a difference. I just have to go back and listen to my earlier recordings to remind myself of that fact. It is difficult to say exactly what particular change did what and to what degree however.
yeah, it's also hard to separate out what you have learned. For example, I'd say that I *believe* that the higher quality mics I have these days are far more forgiving of placement. I started with a Shure SM81 and it always seemed that just moving a fraction of an inch made a difference between good and terrible. When I got the pair of KM184s, suddenly it seemed like I got a pretty nice sound wherever I put them, so it was just a choice between good or better. Now, is that true, or have I just learned more about mic placement, or playing, or guitars, or acoustics, or the rest of the gear? I have no idea. Maybe if I still had those SM81s, they'd be forgiving of placement now, too.
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  #26  
Old 09-14-2011, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
yeah, it's also hard to separate out what you have learned. For example, I'd say that I *believe* that the higher quality mics I have these days are far more forgiving of placement. I started with a Shure SM81 and it always seemed that just moving a fraction of an inch made a difference between good and terrible. When I got the pair of KM184s, suddenly it seemed like I got a pretty nice sound wherever I put them, so it was just a choice between good or better. Now, is that true, or have I just learned more about mic placement, or playing, or guitars, or acoustics, or the rest of the gear? I have no idea. Maybe if I still had those SM81s, they'd be forgiving of placement now, too.
Yes, we had this discussion with Fran a while back. To me setup time is important, not just the final sound you get out
of a mike - how user friendly and versatile is the mike? For example my Gefell M295s are less sensitive to proximity
effects then my Gefell M300s and I can get a good sound from them from a variety of mike positions with less placement
issues.
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  #27  
Old 09-14-2011, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Scott Whigham View Post
I like to DIY as much as the next guy but I'm not sure DIY is the best option in this area. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't - I haven't tried them all so I don't know - but there's one area that I'd ask you to consider: resale.
That's a very good point. However, the maximum I can afford to spend on a pre will be about 200 ($300). DIY looks like the only way in to a mid-range unit. I keep an eye on ebay etc but there don't seem to be a lot of preamps for sale.

Quote:
So are you that type of guy? Are you going to always be chasing that great recorded sound?
Up to a point. The plan at the moment is to pick up something second-hand from RME like a Multiface, one or two modest but decent pres, and get my room treated. Maybe a mic here or there to supplement my ADK A6. Nothing fancy just some solid performers. I think I'd be pretty happy with that. OK maybe just a little Royer/AEA lust...

After that, anything else would go towards a really good guitar. That's the main thing. No point having lots of expensive gear if you don't have a good instrument. I'll call that Moon's law: if the cost of your studio is more than your instruments, you've stopped being a musician and turned into a recording engineer.
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  #28  
Old 09-14-2011, 07:14 PM
Scott Whigham Scott Whigham is offline
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I'll call that Moon's law: if the cost of your studio is more than your instruments, you've stopped being a musician and turned into a recording engineer.
hehe - I wish! A lot of real "recording engineer" folks are working with six figures worth of equipment!
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  #29  
Old 09-14-2011, 08:10 PM
Steve Berger Steve Berger is offline
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Unless I just missed seeing any, I'm wondering why there aren't any Rode microphones on the list. I have an NT4 and an NT2A that I believe are pretty good mics for the money.
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  #30  
Old 09-15-2011, 12:00 AM
Paultergeist Paultergeist is offline
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I kept reading about this "Royer 121" microphone, and I wondered why I had never heard of it.........so I Googled it.........$1295.00. More than most of my guitars cost.......wow......I am surprised that one can spend so much on a mic (I'm sure it is great and everything......but that is sticker shock big time!)
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