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What can you tell me about condenser microphones?

dfuller

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Shure SM 58s get used as a vocal microphone on lots of commercial recordings.
Not really, no. Bono's about the only vocalist I know of that uses one. Its big brother the SM7 (and SM7B) does, though. Large diaphragm condensers are the standard here, and most are tuned such that a vocal sounds "right" on them on the way in (i.e. presence boost).

it's due to the fact that condensers pick up "everything".
that's why you can't use them at live shows, for example (causes feedback; EVEN if directional)
It's not because condensers pick up more, it's because they're way more sensitive. An SM57, which isn't even particularly low for a moving coil dynamic, has a sensitivity of about 1.6mV/Pa (or, -56dBV/Pa) and an average condenser (say, a Neumann TLM102) has a sensitivity of about 11mV/Pa (a whopping 16dB higher sensitivity).

What that means here is that even though the 57 will pick up a similar amount of reflections as the 102 as it has a similar polar pattern, the sensitivity is so low that anything that isn't right up on it basically has no impact on the recorded sound.

Part of the reason people recommend an SM7B for recording in reflection heavy rooms is because its sensitivity is a whole 3dB below an SM57.

I recently acquired some Warm Audio WA84's. Clones of the KM84. I've not had hands on an actual KM84, but these WA84s are very good, very good for the price especially. It has a very flat response, and apparently goes a little deeper into the bass on the low end vs the real KM84.

You know I've been curious about those. Have you by chance recorded any electric guitar cab with one?
 

Pluto

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the sensitivity is so low that anything that isn't right up on it basically has no impact on the recorded sound.
In this context I have to ask, is it no longer considered good working practice to adjust the gain on the mic amps. appropriate to i) the microphone in use and ii) the nature of the source that you want to capture?

All this talk attributing fundamental differences to mics of different technologies only makes sense if you are choosing the mic to match the gain you have (and are stuck with) rather than adjusting the amp. gain appropriate to the task in hand.
 

dfuller

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In this context I have to ask, is it no longer considered good working practice to adjust the gain on the mic amps. appropriate to i) the microphone in use and ii) the nature of the source that you want to capture?
No, it's still something one does. Even with plenty of preamp gain, that's still the case. At least in my experience.
 

Robin L

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I recently acquired some Warm Audio WA84's. Clones of the KM84. I've not had hands on an actual KM84, but these WA84s are very good, very good for the price especially. It has a very flat response, and apparently goes a little deeper into the bass on the low end vs the real KM84.
Peter Nothnagle had KM 84s and 83s, I borrowed them on several occasions. This is a very old subjective impression, but the Klaus Heyne modified pair I rented had lower noise, sounded more open on top than the standard version. I like the stock KM 84 more than my KM 140s and 130s, those were a touch dull. I suspect the upper registers were toned down on account of digital recording becoming the norm when they were introduced.in 1988.

MIicrophone of the month December 2020 - Neumann KM 140 (vintagemicworld.com)
 

Trell

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What that means here is that even though the 57 will pick up a similar amount of reflections as the 102 as it has a similar polar pattern, the sensitivity is so low that anything that isn't right up on it basically has no impact on the recorded sound.

Part of the reason people recommend an SM7B for recording in reflection heavy rooms is because its sensitivity is a whole 3dB below an SM57.

But YouTubers flocks to dynamic mics like fleas to poop so that all we see is the mic that they are eating along with some enormous pop filter. If they only positioned the mic to the side pointing to their mouth they can avoid the pop filter (with some practice) and I can actually see what they look like. /rant

Edit: Spelling
 
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Blumlein 88

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Not really, no. Bono's about the only vocalist I know of that uses one. Its big brother the SM7 (and SM7B) does, though. Large diaphragm condensers are the standard here, and most are tuned such that a vocal sounds "right" on them on the way in (i.e. presence boost).


It's not because condensers pick up more, it's because they're way more sensitive. An SM57, which isn't even particularly low for a moving coil dynamic, has a sensitivity of about 1.6mV/Pa (or, -56dBV/Pa) and an average condenser (say, a Neumann TLM102) has a sensitivity of about 11mV/Pa (a whopping 16dB higher sensitivity).

What that means here is that even though the 57 will pick up a similar amount of reflections as the 102 as it has a similar polar pattern, the sensitivity is so low that anything that isn't right up on it basically has no impact on the recorded sound.

Part of the reason people recommend an SM7B for recording in reflection heavy rooms is because its sensitivity is a whole 3dB below an SM57.



You know I've been curious about those. Have you by chance recorded any electric guitar cab with one?
No I haven't yet.
 

Pluto

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Shure SM 58s get used as a vocal microphone on lots of commercial recordings
While the SM58 is frequently the mic of choice in the presence of loud PA or stage monitoring (and has been for many years), I certainly wouldn't choose it (or anything similar) when the extraneous sound is under proper control within a studio environment.

If budgets permit, something like the Shure KSM9 or even the Beta 87 will demonstrate just how old a design the SM58 really is, though it does have its fans, deservedly so.
 

Pluto

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Even with plenty of preamp gain,
Listening to a lot of modern recordings, a core difficulty seems to be an excess of gain in the system, which ends up getting “dumped” into the limiter at the end of the chain.

You used to get sacked if limiter pumping was audible on your work :cool:
 

dfuller

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Listening to a lot of modern recordings, a core difficulty seems to be an excess of gain in the system, which ends up getting “dumped” into the limiter at the end of the chain.

You used to get sacked if limiter pumping was audible on your work :cool:
Not really. That pumping is 90% of the time done via sidechaining a compressor at mix level, not on the mix bus.
 

Pluto

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It's still an awful sound, no matter where or how it's done.
 

Cbdb2

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Sm57 and 58s are hypercards that why people use them live (less feedback) that and you can pound in a nail with them and then put them back in the the mic stand. Also the reason they pick up less reflections. Sensitivity has nothing to do with that, nor does dynamic vs condenser.
 

dasdoing

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It's not because condensers pick up more, it's because they're way more sensitive. An SM57, which isn't even particularly low for a moving coil dynamic, has a sensitivity of about 1.6mV/Pa (or, -56dBV/Pa) and an average condenser (say, a Neumann TLM102) has a sensitivity of about 11mV/Pa (a whopping 16dB higher sensitivity).

What that means here is that even though the 57 will pick up a similar amount of reflections as the 102 as it has a similar polar pattern, the sensitivity is so low that anything that isn't right up on it basically has no impact on the recorded sound.

Part of the reason people recommend an SM7B for recording in reflection heavy rooms is because its sensitivity is a whole 3dB below an SM57.

thanks for the tecnical explanation. I wondered how the "rejection" happened

Its big brother the SM7 (and SM7B) does, though

Swedien used the SM7 for most of M. Jackson's recordings for example


Please present some pertinent facts above the standard of a sales brochure and I'd be delighted to maintain a healthy dialog.

dfuller explained it allready
 

dfuller

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thanks for the tecnical explanation. I wondered how the "rejection" happened
The rejection happens generally by some designed in phase discrepancy between front and back so the signal entering the back of the mic is out of phase - the exception is ribbon mics where they just all work as figure 8 (or hypercardioid) by virtue of how the pickup actually works mechanically.

Sm57 and 58s are hypercards that why people use them live (less feedback) that and you can pound in a nail with them and then put them back in the the mic stand. Also the reason they pick up less reflections. Sensitivity has nothing to do with that, nor does dynamic vs condenser.

They are not hypercardioid, they are cardioid.
 

Pluto

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Keep in mind that condensers will pickup more room noise
There is nothing about condenser mics per se that magically pick up more room noise. Small capsule condenser mics tend, on average, to have wider pickup patterns than their dynamic cousins hence more pick-up of off-axis ‘noise’. In this instance, room noise is merely the unwanted room sound. Were the same microphone(s) used for recording a singer in a nice acoustic environment, you may well want the room contribution, especially in stereo.

The other area where many people appear to be confused here is the fact that condenser mics have, on average, 10dB or more output for a given sound level compared to moving coil mics (NB ribbons tend to be even lower). As is emphasized here on ASR time and time again, it is vital when comparing mics (or anything else) to ensure that the amplifier gains are adjusted so as to create equal outputs from mics under test. If there is any kind of dynamic range control in the signal path it is horrendously easy to convince yourself that the levels are the same when you are, in fact, hearing the output as adjusted by whatever dynamic range control is present*.

If you do the math of sound pickup within a 360° sphere around the mic capsule, it can be shown that the maximum overall rejection of off-axis sound happens when the polar pattern is a pure hyper-cardioid (cottage loaf), despite its rear lobe, compared to a mathematically correct cardioid.

* I feel positive that this is the explanation for a lot of internet so-called reviews that claim to demonstrate unexpectedly large differences in "room pickup" between different microphones
 

Mountain Goat

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While the SM58 is frequently the mic of choice in the presence of loud PA or stage monitoring (and has been for many years), I certainly wouldn't choose it (or anything similar) when the extraneous sound is under proper control within a studio environment.

If budgets permit, something like the Shure KSM9 or even the Beta 87 will demonstrate just how old a design the SM58 really is, though it does have its fans, deservedly so.

Yeah, I'm thinking of picking up a Shure KSM32. Everybody needs at least one.

https://www.shure.com/en-US/products/microphones/ksm32
 

Blumlein 88

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kschmit2

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from Neumann:
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CONDENSER AND A DYNAMIC MICROPHONE?
Due to its extremely low mass, the diaphragm of a condenser microphone can follow the sound waves more accurately than that of a dynamic microphone with a (relatively) heavy moving coil attached. Condenser microphones, therefore, offer superior sound quality and have always been the preferred type for studio use. Many dynamic microphones were designed for stage use and are therefore very robust.

Details here:
https://www.neumann.com/homestudio/en/what-is-a-dynamic-microphone

https://www.neumann.com/homestudio/en/what-is-a-condenser-microphone
 

mononoaware

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I kept hold of a USB Condenser microphone expecting to find a use for it one day.
The model is: Beyerdynamic Fox Professional USB microphone.
Believing "condenser" meant it was more sensitive I thought it was a flexible type and could find a use for it.

I decided to test it recently by plugging it into the iPad and hit record.

To my disappointment even with the gain switch on the microphone in the "High-gain" position, the levels were extremely low.
So low that even shouting into the microphone directly I could not cause it to clip. . .
I maxed out all the "dials" and still, just an extremely low level recording.
Playing back the recording I had to turn the volume up considerably on the iPad only to hear a "normal conversation level" recording resulted in a whisper quite recording with a high noise-floor.

The microphone is so damn simple I cannot believe I have done anything wrong.
Is this performance just due to being a "USB" condenser microphone?

I mean the gain level switch must be there for function, they just did not give it enough gain to start with?

Any thoughts?
 

dasdoing

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I kept hold of a USB Condenser microphone expecting to find a use for it one day.
The model is: Beyerdynamic Fox Professional USB microphone.
Believing "condenser" meant it was more sensitive I thought it was a flexible type and could find a use for it.

I decided to test it recently by plugging it into the iPad and hit record.

To my disappointment even with the gain switch on the microphone in the "High-gain" position, the levels were extremely low.
So low that even shouting into the microphone directly I could not cause it to clip. . .
I maxed out all the "dials" and still, just an extremely low level recording.
Playing back the recording I had to turn the volume up considerably on the iPad only to hear a "normal conversation level" recording resulted in a whisper quite recording with a high noise-floor.

The microphone is so damn simple I cannot believe I have done anything wrong.
Is this performance just due to being a "USB" condenser microphone?

I mean the gain level switch must be there for function, they just did not give it enough gain to start with?

Any thoughts?

you probably need a powered USB hub. normaly a condenser needs 48v
 
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