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Thread: Dynamic, condenser or even ribbon: can you tell ?

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    I can't tell the difference between microphones when listening to somebody else's finished product, but when I'm recording I can definitely tell a different in the raw audio tracks recorded with one mic versus being recorded with another one. I have a condenser and a ribbon and the ribbon picks up a lot more mid-range detail when I'm recording guitars. Bass guitars sound a lot better with a ribbon at relatively low recording volumes too, because it gives a "punch" that I don't get with my condenser, but I've read that too much bass volume going into a ribbon cable can make the ribbon move around too much and start making popping and crackling noises, or even damage it. But if you're recording at a relatively low volume then I think a ribbon sounds great on an electric bass.

    After the raw audio gets mixed I doubt you could tell what the hell it was recorded on, because the whole thing about different mic sounds is that they're leaving different frequency responses in the EQ.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    ...but as everybody has EQ at their command, it's extremely rare to find any microphone that is unusable.
    Well..."unusable" is a pretty extreme quality rating. There's a long way between the "perfect" mic for a given situation and one that is "unusable".
    You can make a lot of mics "useable"...or you simply accept what they have to offer, and you make that your "perfect" choice (because you have nothing better)...but it's not the same as using a mic that fits the situation perfectly, even if it is not the perfect mic for everything.

    I also don't think it's just a matter of "EQ" that lets you make any mic suitable. Lots of folks have spent hours trying to "EQ" something into an acceptable sound, and it simply didn't work out well, or they were forced to accept it to be "as good as it gets".

    With the right mic for a given situation...EQ becomes some icing on the cake, not a fix. So I wouldn't use say...a ribbon...and then try to EQ it so that I'm getting something that sounds like it was recorded with the LDC...or vice-versa.

    Like I said earlier...I don't think it's really important that you or anyone can tell what mics were used on some recordings...there's no value in that information from a listener's perspective...but from an engineering perspective, you want to select the best mic for whatever sound you are after or that works best with the source.
    Many of the old-school recordings (and a lot of new stuff too that follows that mindset) just have that cohesive sound quality, and there was little signal manipulation done after the fact to achieve it...again, more like just adding some icing to a cake...because it had a lot to do with mic selection and positioning, and balancing things during tracking. I know modern Pop doesn't use that approach, and you can still get stuff that sounds pretty good...but often, IMO...it's a more "fabricated" sound...and mostly done ITB without much tracking, so mic selection was minimal...probably mostly to do with the lead vocal, and then even that got manipulated heavily.

    I was just reading the article in the latest Mix issue where they have Lady Gaga on the cover...and the article is about her new album.
    I'm not much of a Lady Gaga fan...I could hardly name 3 of her songs...but I like to read about the studio process even for music I don't really listen to.
    So they were talking about her vocal treatment (she has an engineer who only does her vocals...someone else does the rest)...and they talked about "capturing that unique voice" (TBH, I don't think her voice is all that unique)...and then they go on to say that her vocals guy has an "extensive vocal production/mix template of 60-plus tracks"...that's just the vocal!

    When you think about that...you could almost say it's not important what mic she used...they're going to beat the piss out of those vocal tracks with processing anyway...plus they have like differently processed vocals that are changed from verses to chorus, phrase to phrase...and maybe even word to word...which is the thing with Pop productions these days. It's all about "sound design", and less about tracking live performances.
    That said...when it comes to more old-school, organic kind of vocal (and instrument) tracking and mixing...much of it is set during the initial takes, so the mics really have to deliver what you want/need...which means there has to be some deliberate selection...rather than trying to make stuff useable through manipulation afterwards.

    Anyway, that's my interest these days...getting like 80% of the sound during tracking...well, at least that's what it will be when I get this studio finished.

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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    Anyway, that's my interest these days...getting like 80% of the sound during tracking
    Same here. The overwhelming majority of most of the sounds I utilize come in the recording process. I'm not beyond using some EQ or effects for sound shaping but the staple is the recorded sound. That's partly why I'm interested in peoples' takes on the different kinds of mics. That and curiosity. I was fascinated by Gtoboy's 3 identical mics that he can hear differences in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grimtraveller View Post
    Same here. The overwhelming majority of most of the sounds I utilize come in the recording process. I'm not beyond using some EQ or effects for sound shaping but the staple is the recorded sound. That's partly why I'm interested in peoples' takes on the different kinds of mics. That and curiosity. I was fascinated by Gtoboy's 3 identical mics that he can hear differences in.
    I was surprised by that comment as well. If I bought 3 of the same mics and they sound that much different from each other, I would consider them defective, or the results of poor quality control. Properly made mics should sound pretty consistent. If new mics vary that much, then buying any mic is nothing but a crapshoot!

    Vintage mics may change sound simply because of the aging of the component.

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    It's possible that there were some slight changes in components from mic to mic...or in the capsule construction.
    Not to suggest that they are cheap/bad mics...but with less expensive, mass-produced mics, there a good chance you might hear some differences.

    I mean...if any of you have ever done basic tube rolling with an amp...it's enough to cause a difference. I've even seen on "identical" channel strips of a console, differences in the components sometimes...maybe they run out of a particular brand, or sometimes they put something with a different value, that still meets the design specs, but isn't identical...etc.

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    I understand the variables that tolerance can introduce, +/- 10% variation is pretty common for resistors and capacitors. Still, in my experience, the variations have been pretty minor between multiple samples of the same mic, even when they aren't a matched pair. My matched pairs of Rode, Lauten and Studio Projects mics are close enough that I can't distinguish between them. Even the 3 MXL 992s that I have are extremely close to each other. Two are Mogami editions, one is a normal one, and there is a difference in the circuit board between the two types.

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    I can hear the differences in my mic collection on sources tracked in my room...I can almost tell which preamp these sources might be pumped through on occasion. Its much easier when the source is solo'd........When the whole mix is applied its a guess. Sometimes , when I get projects to mix, I can hear a 57 as compared to a LD condenser but usually this "hearing" is accompanied by the name of the source itself......ie: on a guitar track I'm not generally expecting a big condenser sound unless the tracks were done in a huge pro room...........but then why would I be mixing them??!!
    Chord with this, Teddy......

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    Quote Originally Posted by TalismanRich View Post
    I was surprised by that comment as well. If I bought 3 of the same mics and they sound that much different from each other, I would consider them defective, or the results of poor quality control. Properly made mics should sound pretty consistent. If new mics vary that much, then buying any mic is nothing but a crapshoot!

    Vintage mics may change sound simply because of the aging of the component.
    I agree, the Vintage thing could be all over the place....who used the Mic? the Ramones or a String Quartet...decades of spittle and coughs and "P" pops...I was never a Relic-Vintage obsessed museum type... the antique vibe isnt for me.... Id rather have a new boutique piece, top line parts and new..etc..

    QC..
    I was in a product integration group that eventually used a foundry to do the mass production. The foundry gets paid on "more parts out the door".
    Enough said...

    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-H.Gerst

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