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Thread: How does diaphragm size/polar pattern relate to mic applications?

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    Chris F's Avatar
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    I won't bore anybody again with another "best mic for under $200" thread, but I'm curious to find out how you go about deciding which mic to use for which particular application... I understand that large diaphragm mics are often better for vocals, but what about other acoustic instruments? Most of the stuff I've read so far has pointed to small d. condensers for instrument applications, and yet most acoustic bassists I know seem to prefer LD mics in the studio. Is there a reason you would prefer a SD condenser over a LD for piano or double bass?

    Also, I've done enough reading to understand (I think) what the different polar patterns are, but how do you make that choice when it comes time to record? Is there a FAQ on this subject that I could read up on, or some links to some other sources to study? Any/all opinions welcome.


    Thanks,
    Chris Fitzgerald


    P.S. - I'm not trying to be a pest...I have actually been scouring the archives for the past few days on this subject, but would like personal opinions as well.

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    Whoa, that's a lot to ask for. Are you sure you really wanna know? That could get pretty lengthy - almost book size. There's some information at http://www.phys.tue.nl/people/etimme...ordingFAQ.html in the FAQ, some good stuff on David Josephson's web site, as well as at Shure and other mic manufacturer's sites, but it would take a long, detailed post here to discuss everything you asked about. Be careful what you wish for....
    Last edited by Recording Engineer; 03-01-2003 at 13:00.

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    Chris F's Avatar
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    Am I sure I wanna know? Umm, yes. Can I digest it all at once? Probably not...but I make about half of my living as a teacher (college music classes), so I'm okay with the idea of slow absorption mixed with a good deal of trial and error. I'll definitely check into the sources you mentioned (I'll get started this evening), and supplement with whatever I can find here and at any other audio sites I can dig up. If you know of any good books on the subject, I'd be happy to order those as well - I give my final exams this week, and then there's gonna be some free time to be had!

    Am I sure you want to go into all of that detail to reply to a post on an internet forum from someone you've never heard of? Well, no....and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't want to deal with it. But I'd be glad to listen to anything you might have to say, since I've read most of your posts while researching microphones and you seems to make a good deal of sense - the kind that even a recording newbie like me can understand - almost every time you post. The idea of being able to pick the brain of a professional recording engineer on this subject is too good to pass up, so if you have the notion, do your worst!

    I can promise you that it won't fall on deaf ears, and that I have no inclination to start flaming anyone who says something that I don't agree with/didn't want to hear. I'm here to learn, and anything on the topic you might have to offer would be more than I know right now, and as such would also be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Chris

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    Originally posted by Chris F
    Am I sure I wanna know? Umm, yes.
    Am I sure you want to go into all of that detail to reply to a post on an internet forum from someone you've never heard of? Well, no....and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't want to deal with it. But I'd be glad to listen to anything you might have to say, so if you have the notion, do your worst!
    Thanks,
    Chris
    Ok, you're on. At 64, maybe the best thing I can do with my life is to pass on what I've learned from great people that taught me when I was starting out. I think that's why Al Schmitt, George Massenburg, Ed Cherney, and some of the other really big guns spend so much time on the net. We all owe the guys that came before us a lot, and this is our way of paying them back. And that's the only thing I have in common with all those guys I just mentioned - we all kinda drank from the same well back in the 50s and 60s.

    I've got a band in the studio right now that's taking up most of my time till Wednesday, but after that I'm pretty free. I'll start off with some basic concepts till we're all up to speed, and then I'll try to fill in some holes.

    I'll try to cover as much ground as I can, to give everybody a good basic understanding of the different mic designs, advantages and disadvantages of each design, how mic polar patterns are created, advantages and disadvantages of each polar pattern, and finally where each type might be used, along with advantages and disadvantages of each usage. How's that for a course outline?

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    ametth's Avatar
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    I'm definetly looking forward to this!! There's alwasy something new to learn. Thanks Harvey.
    yep.

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    Originally posted by ametth
    I'm definetly looking forward to this!! There's alwasy something new to learn. Thanks Harvey.
    OK, now I have a question:

    Is there an easy way to put images into a posting other than as an attachment? I'm thinking some hand drawn thingys (with circles and arrows) might be easier to follow than a jillion words.

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    ametth's Avatar
    ametth is offline Sir Cool of Coronado
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    I would be glad to host some pictures on my server. Email me.
    yep.

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    Originally posted by ametth
    I would be glad to host some pictures on my server. Email me.
    Putting them on my server is no problem. I was hoping I could actually show the pics in the body of the post so you could read the text while you looked at the pictures. Lemme see if this works:



    This is the frequency response curve of a Neumann TLM-103. Not very flat, is it? Does that mean it's a bad mic? Before we can answer that we hafta know how to read one of these curves and how to interprete it.

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    Ok, that didn't work. I'm open to suggestions at this point. Is it possible to directly show that picture in the body of my post?

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    Chris F's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Harvey Gerst
    Ok, that didn't work. I'm open to suggestions at this point. Is it possible to directly show that picture in the body of my post?
    I can't help on that too much, being a music theory geek/cyber dummy, but on another forum I frequent for acoustic bass (which has exactly the same format as this one, BTW) people do it all the time. I'll email one of the guys who posts that way a lot and see if he can give me some clues. If he can, then I'll forward it to you, since I think both forums are running from the same software.

    I'm looking forward to this. Thanks.

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