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What can you tell me about condenser microphones?

Trell

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Or use a better suited mic. With the begin of the pandemic I went into home office, and after 2 days of many video meetings I began to hate the wireless headset supplied by my employer. I switched to my private equipment: a hypercardioid Beyer Dynamic MCE 86 S2 connected to a Mackie 1402 VLZ PRO mixer (which supplies phantom power) connected to an RME ADI-2PRO fs which also feeds 2 Genelec 8020a for listening. The mic is located below the left screen at about 50 cm distance which means I can move my head freely without major impact on loudness of the recorded voice. The room is very small but heavily furnitured so no problem with reflections.

I know this looks like total overkill just for video meetings, OTOH people told me that my voice had the quality of a professional news speaker ...

Funny. I did the same :)
DPA 4066, the same Mackie 1402 VLZ pro, connected to RME ADI2-Pro fs BE.
I listen through Focal Elegia, though ;-)

For work video I'm using an Earthworks Audio SR314, front addressed, and it's pretty enough to show in the camera if I want to :) Connected to a MOTU M2 while listening with Beyerdynamic headphones powered by my RME ADI-2 DAC FS. My "webcamera" is a Fujifilm X-T2 with a XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR lens.

Overkill, but with the pandemic is forcing me to work so much from home it did me give an excellent excuse for indulging myself.

Edit: Fix typos.
 
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thefsb

thefsb

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I'd look into a Warm WA47 Jr. Very nice sounding mic. The top end isn't hyper-exaggerated like a lot of cheap condensers are
I got one of those on Monday. I'm very impressed but I have comparable experience using only crummy mics.

It is so clean and sensitive that recording voice with 6" distance or guitar with 12" picks up enough room color that I can no longer put off installing absorbers. I asked a question about building them here.
 

Trell

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I got one of those on Monday. I'm very impressed but I have comparable experience using only crummy mics.

It is so clean and sensitive that recording voice with 6" distance or guitar with 12" picks up enough room color that I can no longer put off installing absorbers. I asked a question about building them here.

I see that on the mic there is a tiny switch for changing the polar pattern. Perhaps check that you use the one you want.
 
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thefsb

thefsb

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I see that on the mic there is a tiny switch for changing the polar pattern. Perhaps check that you use the one you want.
It's on the cardiod pattern which is all I expect to ever use in this room.
 

Cbdb2

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If its got a figure 8 pattern try it, they are more directional than a cardiod.
 
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thefsb

thefsb

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If its got a figure 8 pattern try it, they are more directional than a cardiod.
Narrower field means I'll have to move it even farther from the instrument to have a reasonably balanced sound. I didn't choose a hypercardiod or shotgun for that reason. And set to 8 the rear of the mic will be as sensitive as the front. I don't see how 8 will reduce the ratio of reflected to direct sound.
 

Pluto

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The great thing about figure-8 microphones in general – in certain situations – is that their off-axis rejection (i.e. the dead ring at 90° off-axis) is rather better than most other patterns*. For instance, I have used a spaced pair of figure-8 mics over a big band drum kit with the second live zone (i.e. the back of the figure-8) pointing up into ‘nothing’ but the all-important dead ring around the mic. (you have to think in three dimensions here) minimizing pickup of the band around the drum kit.

* The reason for this is that most figure-8 mics. obtain their directional pattern by relying on the pressure-gradient effect. Sound arriving at 90° impacts both sides of the ribbon (or electrostatic capsule) with equal amplitude but out of phase, thereby cancelling – nice and simple. Other directivity patterns tend to be obtained by odd bits of cancellation and time-delay here and there (‘acoustic labyrinth’), resulting in a less precise, shallower pattern. The absence of such ‘fudges’ is why omnidirectional mics tend to be thought of as less colored than their cardioid cousins.
 
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Cbdb2

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Narrower field means I'll have to move it even farther from the instrument to have a reasonably balanced sound. I didn't choose a hypercardiod or shotgun for that reason. And set to 8 the rear of the mic will be as sensitive as the front. I don't see how 8 will reduce the ratio of reflected to direct sound.
Its more directional so it reduces off axis sound. Is it that hard to try?
 

BoredErica

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The main difference in sound quality or "character" with different mics is frequency response (and flat mics are generally not considered desirable). Some people go overboard trying to find the "perfect mic" for every situation and if you own a pro studio you can to that. Otherwise you can just use EQ, ord there is software so one mic can "model" another.
I wonder what the 'most accurate' microphones are for speech. I don't want my voice to have boosted bass or rolled off highs. Ideally I want to speak to a microphone and have it sound like I'm in the room with them, 3 feet away having a normal conversation with them.

It's frustrating because it feels like everyone is trying to get colored mics. Perhaps with enough EQ skill one can make an inaccurate mic more accurate? Sounds painful if the mic is screwed to start with.
 

Rja4000

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I wonder what the 'most accurate' microphones are for speech. I don't want my voice to have boosted bass or rolled off highs. Ideally I want to speak to a microphone and have it sound like I'm in the room with them, 3 feet away having a normal conversation with them.

It's frustrating because it feels like everyone is trying to get colored mics. Perhaps with enough EQ skill one can make an inaccurate mic more accurate? Sounds painful if the mic is screwed to start with.
Take any omni mic, that will be as accurate as possible.
I use DPA 4066 headset for speech, as an example. They have some boost in high frequencies, that you may want to tamper, but otherwise they are pretty flat.
Give it a try.
 
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thefsb

thefsb

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I wonder what the 'most accurate' microphones are for speech. I don't want my voice to have boosted bass or rolled off highs. Ideally I want to speak to a microphone and have it sound like I'm in the room with them, 3 feet away having a normal conversation with them.

It's frustrating because it feels like everyone is trying to get colored mics. Perhaps with enough EQ skill one can make an inaccurate mic more accurate? Sounds painful if the mic is screwed to start with.
You mean a flat frequency response? I have a UMIK-1 with calibration from Cross-Spectrum Labs. Its corrected response is perfectly flat for all my purposes. But I don't use it for recording voice since flatness isn't a goal of my voice recordings. Maximizing intelligibility and minimizing distractions are usually my top priorities. Other applications and people naturally have other purposes and priorities. How audiences perceive and what they expect are a big deal and indeed should be since we serve as technicians facilitating human communication.

The frustrating part is that there is no simple guide to tell you want to do. In playback we can use principles of fidelity and neutrality to guild the engineering of systems. In production that really doesn't work. Even purist acoustic recordings require selection of performers, instruments, works, recording locations, positioning of mics and so on. Recorded sound is artifice.

The bewildering range of opinion, techniques, and eqipment reflects the complexity of the tasks and the variety of the purposes being served. Life's like that sometimes. Dog behavior and training is similar. There are many experts who really know their stuff but what they know and say might not be useful to you.
 
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thefsb

thefsb

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The great thing about figure-8 microphones in general – in certain situations – is that their off-axis rejection (i.e. the dead ring at 90° off-axis) is rather better than most other patterns*. For instance, I have used a spaced pair of figure-8 mics over a big band drum kit with the second live zone (i.e. the back of the figure-8) pointing up into ‘nothing’ but the all-important dead ring around the mic. (you have to think in three dimensions here) minimizing pickup of the band around the drum kit.

* The reason for this is that most figure-8 mics. obtain their directional pattern by relying on the pressure-gradient effect. Sound arriving at 90° impacts both sides of the ribbon (or electrostatic capsule) with equal amplitude but out of phase, thereby cancelling – nice and simple. Other directivity patterns tend to be obtained by odd bits of cancellation and time-delay here and there (‘acoustic labyrinth’), resulting in a less precise, shallower pattern. The absence of such ‘fudges’ is why omnidirectional mics tend to be thought of as less colored than their cardioid cousins.
Its more directional so it reduces off axis sound. Is it that hard to try?
I superimposed the cardioid and f8 polar response charts that Warm Audio displays on its web page for the 47jr. They are clearly standard theoretical curves rather than measurements of the product but I think they help inform the discussion.

cardiod v 8.png


The front 60° (from 330 to 30) is basically no different. The front 90° is slightly different so the mic distance may need to be a bit bigger with f8 to maintain the same direct signal. But it doesn't look like that would be a big difference.

Clearly the big difference is what to reject. Are reflections incident from the sides a bigger problem than those from behind or visa versa? That's going to depend on the setup. I think that's the way to think about it.
 

adama99

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I'd suggest sticking with cardioid pattern and moving the mic about 50% closer. Once you bring the gain down to compensate, you can try small tweaks of the mic angle to see what does the best job of cutting out reflections.

Assuming a small number of total mics, you could also consider portable vocal booths instead of conventional acoustic panels.


(Not intended as a specific brand/model recommendation - it was just an easily referenced example.)
 

BoredErica

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Take any omni mic, that will be as accurate as possible.
I use DPA 4066 headset for speech, as an example. They have some boost in high frequencies, that you may want to tamper, but otherwise they are pretty flat.
Give it a try.
Okay, I can try setting my Blue Yeti to omni.
You mean a flat frequency response? I have a UMIK-1 with calibration from Cross-Spectrum Labs. Its corrected response is perfectly flat for all my purposes. But I don't use it for recording voice since flatness isn't a goal of my voice recordings. Maximizing intelligibility and minimizing distractions are usually my top priorities. Other applications and people naturally have other purposes and priorities. How audiences perceive and what they expect are a big deal and indeed should be since we serve as technicians facilitating human communication.

The frustrating part is that there is no simple guide to tell you want to do. In playback we can use principles of fidelity and neutrality to guild the engineering of systems. In production that really doesn't work. Even purist acoustic recordings require selection of performers, instruments, works, recording locations, positioning of mics and so on. Recorded sound is artifice.

The bewildering range of opinion, techniques, and eqipment reflects the complexity of the tasks and the variety of the purposes being served. Life's like that sometimes. Dog behavior and training is similar. There are many experts who really know their stuff but what they know and say might not be useful to you.
I agree... For speakers/amps/headphones we can have measurements and try to quantify performance. For microphones it feels like the wild west.

For me, it's only natural to want my speakers to play back music as accurately as possible. I also want my voice to sound as close to talking to me IRL as possible. I definitely don't want my voice to be deeper because it makes me sound 'professional' or something. I don't want to sound better than I actually sound, I want to sound like how I actually sound.
 

adama99

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For speakers/amps/headphones we can have measurements and try to quantify performance. For microphones it feels like the wild west.

How so? Unlike with headphones, microphone manufacturers are usually quite forthcoming with measurement data.

For instance, here is Shure's frequency response graph for the SM58 (a popular vocal mic).
f_7e014e2c-0e64-4316-9359-a69f034adcd0-ENG.png

And here is the chart for the Warm Audio WA-47jr (in cardioid mode).
WA-47jr-Cardioid-Microphone-Frequecy-Chart.png

I don't want to sound better than I actually sound, I want to sound like how I actually sound.

While that might be true of you, others might not like the nasal, harsh, or sibilant aspects (to name a few) of their respective voices. This is something the right mic and some EQ work can clean up - not to make them sound like someone else, but rather like the best version of themselves.

It's similar to dressing well for an interview, business meeting, or social function.
 
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BoredErica

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How so? Unlike with headphones, microphone manufacturers are usually quite forthcoming with measurement data.

For instance, here is Shure's frequency response graph for the SM58 (a popular vocal mic).

While that might be true of you, others might not like the nasal, harsh, or sibilant aspects (to name a few) of their respective voices. This is something the right mic and some EQ work can clean up - not to make them sound like someone else, but rather like the best version of themselves.

It's similar to dressing well for an interview, business meeting, or social function.
Maybe you're right on the first point. I don't know. I'd be cool if 3rd parties fact checked their specs though. I personally haven't seen people do that, but maybe I missed them?

As for the second point, I can understand why most people want the things they want. But maybe you can understand why it's frustrating when it feels like most people don't share my view (and so it's not a priority for mic makers). Accuracy, avoiding noise, making one sound a certain way, they are all valid points of view.
 

AnalogSteph

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Not a huge fan of the Blue Yeti, which uses a bunch of SDC capsules and sounds the part, but you could flatten out its response by applying EQ (Equalizer-APO can do this on Windows, not sure about other platforms - CamillaDSP perhaps?). The response curves printed in the manual are no doubt heavily smoothed but should get you a lot closer to flat when inverted (PEACE can load a graph to overlay so as to help with EQ design). The omni response is printed with a considerable vertical offset so I would use maybe +6 or +7 dB as the baseline, and try to flatten things out from maybe 100 Hz to 10 kHz. Looks like 4-5 PEQ bands should easily do.
 

BoredErica

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Not a huge fan of the Blue Yeti, which uses a bunch of SDC capsules and sounds the part, but you could flatten out its response by applying EQ (Equalizer-APO can do this on Windows, not sure about other platforms - CamillaDSP perhaps?). The response curves printed in the manual are no doubt heavily smoothed but should get you a lot closer to flat when inverted (PEACE can load a graph to overlay so as to help with EQ design). The omni response is printed with a considerable vertical offset so I would use maybe +6 or +7 dB as the baseline, and try to flatten things out from maybe 100 Hz to 10 kHz. Looks like 4-5 PEQ bands should easily do.
Thanks for the input. What is bad about sdc capsules?
The Yeti is just a large microphone and its shock mount is even larger. Makes me want to get something new, and in a better color. Maybe AT2035, but it lacks omnidirectional mode. Lower self noise, but is the self noise on a Yeti audible? Now I want to check...
 
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