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condensor mics.

 
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robert(original)
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:02 pm    Post subject: condensor mics. Reply with quote

i generaly just use vocal/live mics when i do shitty garage style recordings for micci finn(its punk rock, you can't over produce it, you know?)
but with sirens we are trying to a cleaner more pronounced sound and someone started speaking the praises of condenser mics all over the room.
do you think this would be effective?
or would we be better off doing straight line ins and stuff?
the way they recorded it before was done in a studio, and it sounds good but there is much to be desired on the dynamic end of things.
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Mike
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depends on the instrument.

Condensors have a brighter and more airy 3-D effect on things like acoustic instruments and vocals.
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Ninja Mike 808
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No one really records electric guitars or basses with condenser mics, but when I did, it sounded kinda cool. You have to be careful, since most condenser mics are rather sensitive...

So, there's this thing called a mic shoot out (or gear shoot out). What you do is, you mic up a guitar cabinet with a few options, such as an SM57, a Sennheiser 421 and a MXL somethin' or other. You have to keep in mind that dif. positions of the speaker will change tone, but if you have a 4x12 then you have 4 positions above the cone, and endless positions above the woofer or crooked... After you've positioned your mics, turn that hoe on and click record. See what you like, then move em around and see what you like again...

I recorded a Ibanez S series to a Marshall head to a Ampeg cab not too long ago. I set up a 57 on Axis, a 421 off axis and a TLM 103 at about 7 feet away. It was fuuuuuuuuuuun. The TLM ($1000) gave this really odd sound. I wanted ti to get all this reverb and room noise, but it's so nasty... The 57 got a lotta this high end crunch, while the 421 got this low end boom. When I finish wit this project, I'll let ya'll see it...

btw, definitions...
On Axis - over the cone
Off axis - over a part of the woofer (but technically anywhere)
45 degrees off axis - Pointed at an angle towards the cone but over the woofer, where as on axis would be over the cone pointed at the woofer...

I should take pics. Lemme know if you need anything else.
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Sloan
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If your putting mics around the room, then they're generally gonna be used as room/ambient mics. These will capture the natural reverb of the room and stuff. Used alone they can sound ok or bad, but when mixed in with a close mic, you can get really good sonds.

If you have enough channels, try micing up things the way you usually do, but put like one condesnor up in the room where it gets a good balance of everything. When you mix, do a good mix of the close mics you normally use and thing bring in the extra condensor room mic until it sounds "good". You can also do this with a stereo pair and pan them both left and right accordingly.

On those recordings I did recently, for my electric guitar sound I used a Sennheiser e609 (dynamic mic) up close next to the guitar speaker and an MXL v69 tube condensor further back. The condensor sounded way better in that context so it was most of the guitar sound with the e609 adding a little more bite.

If you already have a condensor and enough channels, just go ahead and put them up and see what happens.



CHEAP CONDENSOR MICS:
If you don't have one, a really cheap one is the Studio Projects B1. It never sounds good to me by itself, but always works good in a mix. I've used it for vocals a lot in the past.
B1 on vocals here: http://www.myspace.com/layzerblayde (not the best sounding recordings, but hey, they were quick and dirrrty!)

Also, I never stop talking about the MXL 603s mics. They're awesome for the price. I've been using them as my drum overheads for a few years and they always get the job done. I think they sound really awesome on acoustic guitar as well. As far as vocals go, I've used one before on vocals and it worked well, but I've always had a dedicated vocal mic so I haven't had much experience with it beside that one time. Check eBay for these mics, I got a matched pair used for only $75. I boner'd.

Mike has some of those Rode NT-5's for overheads, they sound really good and smooth, but are a bit more expensive.

I like this MXL v69 we have here, but it's a bit on the noisy side.

I used to own an MXL v77 tube mic that was pretty good, but sold it because I need the monies and it had this strange sound in the upper mids that always bugged me. Worth a shot though, on some voices, it was perfect.
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James
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Epic post warning.

What you call vocal and live mics are 'dynamic' mics. They aren't used for vocals in the studio very often, although it is of course not unheard of.

Both condenser and dynamic mics operate on the same basic principle. They have a diaphragm which is vibrated by the moving air that hits it (you need to think of sound in the movement of air particles sense when thinking about how microphones work) and this vibration is turned into an electrical signal. How they turn it into an electrical signal is where they differ, and why condenser mics require an external power source (phantom power) and dynamics do not.

The different process allows the condenser diaphragm to be much lighter (although not necessarily smaller) which means that it is more easily vibrated by high frequency signals. This is the reason that they are said to be frequency sensitive, and more accurate. The same light diaphragm gives lower inertia, and allows vibration from quieter sounds, and greater vibration from louder sounds. This gives it a greater dynamic range, and with it greater transient response. You have to keep in mind that accuracy is not always desired. Sometimes the 'extra' content is unwanted. When singing live, a dynamic is far more forgiving than a condenser if you like to go from loud to quiet. The lower dynamic range acts as a mild form of natural compression.

Condenser mics are generally divided into two categories, small and large diaphragm. Large are the most common for vocals in the studio, small are more common for things like orchestra recording. That said, the difference isn't actually that great. One reason large is used for vocals is its more comfortable for the singer to sing in to than a small. Here's a picture of a large diaphragm mic, the Neumann U87. You can see the diaphragm behind the grill.



Here is a standard looking small diaphragm condenser. A small diaphragm lends itself well to even more accuracy than a large, but ultimately the principles behind them are the same and the sounds will be fairly similar. People tend to think that you get a better bass response from a large diaphragm than a small, but with condensers this is not the case (it can be true, somewhat, with dynamics, but there are other factors involved having a much bigger impact).



To summarise all that:

Condenser microphones generally have a better frequency and dynamic response than dynamic microphones. This means a more accurately reproduced sound. They also require phantom power.

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To get to how all this matters to you; condenser mics will make a difference when you want a higher level of detail, particularly when recording acoustic instruments (acoustic guitar, anything violin like, vocals etc). It'll take a bit more care with the placement because having a greater dynamic and frequency response it will react more to being moved, and require a bit more care with the input level and any compression you use on it (dynamic range again), but will ultimately be worth it. If you're recording electric guitar, especially distorted, you won't get much more frequency detail just because the amp doesn't put it out there. As far as the dynamic response goes, a distorted signal will be compressed through the distortion, so you won't get a lot more out of that either, you will get a better dynamic response with a cleaner electric guitar though.

One area where it will really matter, is natural reverb. It will pick this up with a hell of a lot more accuracy than a dynamic mic. This is why you'll often see people put a dynamic mic close to the guitar cab, and a condenser a little further back. It also allows that extra dynamic range to come into play a bit more. If it's too close to the amp, the amp signal will be too loud compared to the reverb and you won't get much of it.

The best way to think about recording is to think about capturing sound. What is in the room that you want to capture? Sometimes a dynamic mic will be the best precisely because it wont pick up some annoying high end hiss in the room, or a bit of ringing reverb in the back ground. If while walking around the room the reverb suddenly hits you as really nice, stick a condenser there and use it as a natural reverb track.

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I'm waffling I'm sure, so I'll cut to one last section; what to buy. You'll need a phantom power source of some sort. A lot of computer interfaces will come with a couple of phantom power mic pre-amps, and some cassette four tracks too. You can get mics with batteries but the only one I can think of is the AKG C1000 and its a pile of shite. You can also get external power supplies, but the price they go for, you may as well buy an interface.

As far as mics go, there are a lot of cheap ones that are good. Since about 2004 the Chinese manufacturing really kicked in and the market is a bit flooded in the low end. A lot of them will be passable, a lot shite, and probably a few gems here and there. I don't know much about them or the US market so I'll stay clear of recommendations for the most part. As a general guide, the Rode NT series are quite decent for the money(I think Ive used NT1 NT2 and NT5) and the Joe Meek JM27s are a bargain and a half.

You could easily pick up some very cheap condensers on ebay, try them out, then sell what you don't like on ebay again. You'll need the phantom power source of course.

I haven't proof read this very much, and I've wrote it in sections so it will go a little all over the place, but I've tried to cover all of the basics that you should know before venturing out to purchase. It'll be easier to give any extra detail after you ask any questions (if you have any).
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James
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ninja Mike 808 wrote:
No one really records electric guitars or basses with condenser mics, but when I did, it sounded kinda cool. You have to be careful, since most condenser mics are rather sensitive...


Lots of people record electric guitar and bass with condenser mics. A lot of people instantly think of the SM57, but there are plenty of engineers who will reach for a condensor instead.
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Ninja Mike 808
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

James wrote:
Ninja Mike 808 wrote:
No one really records electric guitars or basses with condenser mics, but when I did, it sounded kinda cool. You have to be careful, since most condenser mics are rather sensitive...


Lots of people record electric guitar and bass with condenser mics. A lot of people instantly think of the SM57, but there are plenty of engineers who will reach for a condensor instead.


I would expect that in there are plenty, but the standard is not to reach for a Condenser. I was reaching for enough info to inform and not overwhelm. Epic post indeed, my friend. I guess I should've said that it happens but not as often as a 57...



I would also add that a SDC (or a stereo pair) is generally a thinner mic, so you can move it around easier, for example, it could get cluttered stereo micing an acoustic guitar with 2 LDCs, but 2 SDCs are very slender...

But, there are standards in professional recordings, and then there's lies coupled with exaggerations. Truthfully, in recording a record, I would expect that they try every mic in the closet out before they settle... What James said was made knowledge, tho...
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vivadeluxxe
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

James wrote:
Ninja Mike 808 wrote:
No one really records electric guitars or basses with condenser mics, but when I did, it sounded kinda cool. You have to be careful, since most condenser mics are rather sensitive...


Lots of people record electric guitar and bass with condenser mics. A lot of people instantly think of the SM57, but there are plenty of engineers who will reach for a condensor instead.

Tis true, I did a recording session a few weeks ago and recorded the guitars using a 414 and an SE Z5600a II, as close micing wasn't really getting the desired sound...
For the record, the SE Z5600a II is the best condenser I've used for the price... I'd recommend to anyone looking for a mid priced mic...
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Mike
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use condensors for guitar amp micing a lot too. I don't have a wide range of mics (SM58, SM57, AKGC3000B, JM27x2, Stagg BassDrumMic) but they get the job done.

I am oddly enough using a dynamic for vocals on my stuff a lot more these days for some reason.
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More Cowbell
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Stipe of R.E.M. uses a sm57 on his voice. Cake recorded all the vocals on the album "pressure chief" w/ a sm57. If you pay attention the next time you see a live band on tv, look at the mic on the amps. I've seen tons of condensor mic's and ribbons being used, especially the blue brand of mics. You can use any mic anywhere if it gets you a sound you like, that is all that really matters.
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Ninja Mike 808
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the new Radiohead videos he aparently uses an EV RE20, which is a dynamic mic. It's fuckin' huge and heavy as balls, but it's awesome... Any kick drum mic would probly sound great if you record a bass cab.
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Jesse
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apparently, one of the reasons that condenser mics became so common in studio recording is to make up for the general loss of high-end when recording to analog tape. Nowadays, due to the use of computers and their ability to capture a larger dynamic range and more of the frequency spectrum, you don't necessarily use condensers. In fact, I know a few producers and engineers here in Vancouver that pretty much refuse to use condenser mics when recording to Protools. Seems to make sense to me.
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Jesse
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ninja Mike 808 wrote:
In the new Radiohead videos he aparently uses an EV RE20, which is a dynamic mic. It's fuckin' huge and heavy as balls, but it's awesome... Any kick drum mic would probly sound great if you record a bass cab.


When recording an acoustic guitar, try using a small diaphragm condenser (KM 84 would be lovely) on the neck (around the 12th fret) and an RE20 on the body of the guitar. It's quite delightful.
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Ninja Mike 808
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jesse wrote:
Ninja Mike 808 wrote:
In the new Radiohead videos he aparently uses an EV RE20, which is a dynamic mic. It's fuckin' huge and heavy as balls, but it's awesome... Any kick drum mic would probly sound great if you record a bass cab.


When recording an acoustic guitar, try using a small diaphragm condenser (KM 84 would be lovely) on the neck (around the 12th fret) and an RE20 on the body of the guitar. It's quite delightful.


Dude, I would love to if I had an RE 20. Honestly, that mic is one of my favs... Also, I failed to mention where he had it. Vocals.

I would stay away from producers that refuse to use condenser mics, I mean, a mic is a mic and to limit yourself by not using a huge variety of mics is rather disturbing.
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Jesse
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh no, these producers are good, I assure you. But, that's part of their "sound" that they achieve with the artists that they use. Much like how Steve Albini's studio doesn't have any computers, nor Protools in it. Just because an engineer/producer doesn't want to use a piece of technology doesn't mean that they can't do exactly what you want.

One of my instructors had a line that he lived by, that he had learned from his teacher years ago:

Options enslave. Limitations liberate.

If you know what you want, and you know how to get it with a limited amount of technology/equipment/mics/whatever, then all the better. Trim away the fat and get straight to the heart of the thing.
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Ninja Mike 808
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jesse wrote:
Oh no, these producers are good, I assure you. But, that's part of their "sound" that they achieve with the artists that they use. Much like how Steve Albini's studio doesn't have any computers, nor Protools in it. Just because an engineer/producer doesn't want to use a piece of technology doesn't mean that they can't do exactly what you want.

One of my instructors had a line that he lived by, that he had learned from his teacher years ago:

Options enslave. Limitations liberate.

If you know what you want, and you know how to get it with a limited amount of technology/equipment/mics/whatever, then all the better. Trim away the fat and get straight to the heart of the thing.


There's a lotta local producers that seem to live by that rule around here, but everything they do sounds the same. Not to mention, it wasn't that great in the first place... Too many producers find what works for them and stop looking. Me, though, I don't want a "sound" as long as everything I do sounds good.
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