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Post Posted:: June 14th, 2009, 8:53 pm 

Joined: August 28th, 2006, 8:47 pm
Posts: 2147
Location: Poictesme
A couple of weeks ago I attended a one-night class on home recording at a studio in San Francisco. One of the features was the chance to do test recordings on five professional microphones. They emailed us our recordings a couple of days later.

As an experiment, I recorded the same sample text on my two mics and then had the spousal unit listen to all seven and rate her preferences. She did not know which mics she was listening to, and in fact doesn't know which ones are mine. The contestants, along with their typical street price:

AKG 220 ($179)
AKG 414 ($999)
Neumann TLM103 ($999)
AKG 3000 ($429)
Audio Technica 4040 ($300)
Rode Nt1 ($229)
JZ Black Hole ($2,295)

Her top three based on purely subjective opinion:

1. AKG 220
2. Neumann TLM 103
3. AT 4040

First, she was amazed at how different they all sounded. She thought she'd have to strain to hear subtle differences, but in fact they were dramatic. Second, this only applies to my voice on audiobooks; this doesn't translate to other voices for other purposes (singing, commercials, etc.).

Nonetheless, I am gratified to say that the AKG 220 and AT 4040 are my two mics. Yes the least expensive (which I got on eBay for $129 by the way) beat out mics costing nearly 20 times as much. And you can get the less expensive AKG 120 for as little as $79 if you shop around. Bottom line: Expensive doesn't necessarily mean better.

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Post Posted:: June 15th, 2009, 12:19 am 

Joined: March 8th, 2009, 9:44 am
Posts: 50
Location: Australia
How facinating! I have a rode nt 1 and am very happy with it but to road test them all like that would be very interesting. Did they have much to say about "technique" ?

I find the rode sounds terrible if you are off mic even a bit.

I never was shown how to do any of this stuff properly just learned it out of books and trial and error. One of the blokes at work is a pro and I hope to visit his studio to get some pointers.


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Post Posted:: June 15th, 2009, 6:51 am 

Joined: August 28th, 2006, 8:47 pm
Posts: 2147
Location: Poictesme
Mark Bolton wrote:
How facinating! I have a rode nt 1 and am very happy with it but to road test them all like that would be very interesting. Did they have much to say about "technique" ?

I find the rode sounds terrible if you are off mic even a bit.

I never was shown how to do any of this stuff properly just learned it out of books and trial and error. One of the blokes at work is a pro and I hope to visit his studio to get some pointers.

Of course, there's no such thing as the "best" mic. Otherwise everybody would buy the same one. Lots of people - and lots of studios - use the Rode NT1. This was strictly one person's opinion of which mic she prefers to hear me on.

This class was focused on the technical end of recording - software, hardware, editing, adding music beds, compression, noise removal, etc., mainly to help VO artists make better audition clips at home for internet delivery (most were far less sophisticated than your average LV'er, IMO). Other classes dealt with the actually in-front-of-the-mic technique, if that's what you are referring to?

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Post Posted:: June 22nd, 2009, 8:03 pm 

Joined: June 30th, 2006, 8:42 pm
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Location: Jersey Shore, N.
The AT 4050's a beauty at nearly $600, but the Shure SM7B dynamic mike at $350 is much worth looking at.

Preamps?

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Post Posted:: June 23rd, 2009, 5:43 am 

Joined: June 12th, 2006, 6:00 pm
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Location: British expat in Waco, TX
Cloud Mountain wrote:
The AT 4050's a beauty at nearly $600, but the Shure SM7B dynamic mike at $350 is much worth looking at.

Preamps?


I was told in a voice over class I took that dynamic mics aren't the best for spoken word, that the industry prefers condenser mics.

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Post Posted:: June 23rd, 2009, 6:58 am 

Joined: August 28th, 2006, 8:47 pm
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Location: Poictesme
Well, it's not quite correct to say that condensers are always preferred. The SM7 is a high-quality dynamic that will stand up to most condensers, as will the Heil PR40. Most dynamics are intended for live/stage use, and for those I would agree.

But being unpowered, they almost always require a pre-amp - most common A/D converters don't provide enough boost for the weaker signal.

The AT4050, has multiple pickup patterns, so if you don't need them you're paying extra for unnecessary features. I've used this one extensively in class - it is a nice mic.

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Post Posted:: June 23rd, 2009, 12:23 pm 

Joined: June 30th, 2006, 8:42 pm
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Location: Jersey Shore, N.
with a pre-amp, would the SM7B be a worthy investment? A condenser mike would require phantom power.

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Post Posted:: June 23rd, 2009, 12:32 pm 

Joined: April 22nd, 2008, 4:48 pm
Posts: 173
Location: South Wales, UK
This is excellent.
Can you give us links to hear the difference in recordings as I'd be really interested. What would be really good - is do you have any female voice recordings on these mics?

I have an expensive mic, an MXL that isn't available in the UK. I had it shipped over from the US, as it sounded wonderful in recordings. But my voice sounds dreadful using it. This MXL mic seems spec'd for a mans voice, but doesn't respond well to a higher female voice.

So I'm back to my beloved Samsung CO3U - which I can highly recommend for female vocal. :D :D

I have to say, I remember seeing the AKG and AT in reviews and they sounded good.
The other mic, that sounded good, but again, no UK distributors is Avant CV 28.
That was the mic I'd really set my heart on, but couldn't source it for love nor money. Avant were kind, and were trying to set up a UK distributor...
“Occasionally a piece of equipment shows up that brings real quality to the marketplace at an affordable price. Avant Electronics has done exactly that with the CV12 and CV 28 microphones. In fact, I can't remember something so good being so affordable. These mics sound terrific, are robustly built, and look great to boot. These are wonderful mics, affordable within any budget. They hold their own with my U48, C24, and other high end microphones which are twenty times more expensive!"
http://www.avantelectronics.com/CV-28.htm


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Post Posted:: June 23rd, 2009, 12:42 pm 

Joined: August 28th, 2006, 8:47 pm
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Location: Poictesme
Cloud Mountain wrote:
with a pre-amp, would the SM7B be a worthy investment? A condenser mike would require phantom power.


Well, it depends. You would still need an A/D converter, which also include a pre-amp as well as provide phantom power for a condenser. The problem is that many of these don't have ENOUGH pre-amp for a dynamic. I know that M-Audio and MXL devices won't work with a dynamic (because I tried them), but MBOX will - although it's rather expensive.

I guess if you feel that the SM7B is a good mic for you and are willing to add a pre-amp (typically $100 - $150 for one good enough not to be noisy) it's an excellent mic.

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Post Posted:: June 23rd, 2009, 12:50 pm 

Joined: August 28th, 2006, 8:47 pm
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Location: Poictesme
Secrets wrote:
This is excellent.
Can you give us links to hear the difference in recordings as I'd be really interested. What would be really good - is do you have any female voice recordings on these mics?

I have an expensive mic, an MXL that isn't available in the UK. I had it shipped over from the US, as it sounded wonderful in recordings. But my voice sounds dreadful using it. This MXL mic seems spec'd for a mans voice, but doesn't respond well to a higher female voice.

So I'm back to my beloved Samsung CO3U - which I can highly recommend for female vocal. :D :D

I have to say, I remember seeing the AKG and AT in reviews and they sounded good.
[/url]


One factor may be the capsule size. The engineer running the class told us that male voices should seek out mics with a larger, one-inch diaphragm, since they tend to pull out more bass. A smaller 2/3 inch diaphragm might be better for female voices. The AKG 120 has a 2/3" capsule, and you can get them for well under $100US if you shop eBay. The basic difference between the 120 and the 220 is the capsule size.

Several women participated in the shoot-out, but I don't have access to their samples. Sorry.

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Post Posted:: June 23rd, 2009, 2:08 pm 

Joined: June 1st, 2006, 10:47 am
Posts: 4622
Location: Des Moines
Secrets wrote:
I have an expensive mic, an MXL that isn't available in the UK.


Which MXL do you have? (Just curious) I ended up getting an MXL v69 me and am quite happy with the sound, which is something I hadn't been with other condensers I'd tried. I was lucky to find a local store with really nice people who let me take home a number of mics to test. (It is listed as having a 1.26 in. capsule, fwiw.)

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Post Posted:: June 24th, 2009, 2:07 pm 

Joined: February 18th, 2009, 7:04 pm
Posts: 23
Location: Los Angeles
. . .after 16 hours of me unhooking and re hooking cords, moving the mic, closing and reopening my GarageBand software, reinitializing my mic back and forth from internal mic and back to USB Codec, and on the phone with MXL techs, and 2 Apple techs, no one can solve the problem of why my Brand New MXL .008 USB mic gets intermittent interference when I record. No pattern, it comes at will and once it is there it does not go away, it only gets louder.

I'll be recording great and then of it's own accord the recording gets the crackly noise. Only I don't know it is happening because the graph doesn't register any visual change in the read out. I find out the hard way when I play back my recording that the last half of it is all jacked up with interference!

i use GarageBand on a iMac Intel Core Duo Two 10.4.1 desktop. However, the USB MXL mic works for hours trouble free with Audacity, which is not a stable program on my Mac. . .I tried all 4 versions including the latest and it has lots of problems when I need to edit mistakes, etc.

So, about that mic, anyone smarter than a fifth grader? What other USB mics does everyone like. Not the Snowball, I prefer a rich warm sound, like my MXL .008 when it is working!
Thanks for listening, AstroGirl :mrgreen:

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Post Posted:: June 24th, 2009, 3:31 pm 

Joined: April 22nd, 2008, 4:48 pm
Posts: 173
Location: South Wales, UK
Astrogirl wrote:
. . .after 16 hours of me unhooking and re hooking cords, moving the mic, closing and reopening my GarageBand software, reinitializing my mic back and forth from internal mic and back to USB Codec, and on the phone with MXL techs, and 2 Apple techs, no one can solve the problem of why my Brand New MXL .008 USB mic gets intermittent interference when I record. No pattern, it comes at will and once it is there it does not go away, it only gets louder.


Astrogirl,
I run the Samsung CO3U from a dedicated USB port on the pc.

I DID however once attempt to use it plugged into my USB hub.
The mic was not a happy bunny, and the interference was ear shattering.

The mic is perfect in a dedicated internal USB port, so the mic is fine. But it won't work in my dinky hub.

My guess is that as power is bring drawn to power the mic, either the power is too low (slightly off what it should be) or the magnetic field triggers Noise and distortion in the recording. There could also be a magnetic field causing a form of crosstalk within the hub... and this is finding it's way in.

The only solution was to run the mic on it's own dedicated internal usb port. To possibly ensure it gets enough power??

~~
Kristen & SJ,
Off to find my MXL case I'm pretty sure it was the MXL 88 though.

So the LARGE condenser could be the problem then? For a female voice. Thanks for that. I'll definitely remember that tip! Thank you!!

~~

Classic tube mic quality.

The MXL V88 studio condenser microphone captures the rich, beautiful harmonics produced by the human voice and fine musical instruments with a quality that is usually found only in classic tube microphones. The MXL V88 gives vocalists added warmth, and gives radio DJ's and Podcasters a fuller, deeper sound. This makes the V88 perfect for studio and broadcast recording alike.

Requires 48V phantom power.

MXL MXL V88 Large Diaphragm Condenser Mic Specifications:

* Type: Condenser pressure gradient mic with large 32mm capsule
* Diaphragm: Gold-sputtered, 6 micron diaphragm
* Frequency Range: 20Hz-20kHz


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Post Posted:: June 24th, 2009, 3:57 pm 

Joined: April 22nd, 2008, 4:48 pm
Posts: 173
Location: South Wales, UK
Astrogirl,

Found this.


I have removed the mic from the box and tested it on a Macbook Pro. I have also replaced the USB cable provided by Avantone with a better-shielded cable, to minimize the noise interference prevalent in USB microphone converters.


http://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst/msg/1235573371.html

So maybe shielding on the USB cable is the issue?
I've made the mic stand alone, so nothing else is next to it to generate interference or cross talk. This would explain the intermittent effect. It's dependent on what's plugged in at the same time.

In electronics, the term crosstalk (XT) refers to any phenomenon by which a signal transmitted on one circuit or channel of a transmission system creates an undesired effect in another circuit or channel. ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crosstalk_(electronics)




In fact, the one time I did have interference issues was actually using a USB audio interface. I was receiving a buzz through it by way of the computer. You see, even though that USB cable is only supposed to be transmitting digital signals, in reality there is still a conduction between the computer itself all the way to the mic. I no longer remember how I resolved the buzz, but there was some analog buzz coming from somewhere inside the computer creating the buzz which traveled all the way up the (supposedly pure digital) USB cable, out the headphones & audio out, into my stereo. I don't know if it would have shown up in recoding, but that analog interference (buzz) definitely came through into my interface, and others experienced a similar thing. I realized then that USB audio devices aren't so "separated" from the noisy environment of the computer as is normally assumed. It's still connected to the computer through metal/conduction, no matter if someone says it's theoretically impossible.


http://club.cdfreaks.com/f57/need-microphone-119019/

Hope that helps. :D :D


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Post Posted:: June 24th, 2009, 9:09 pm 

Joined: June 30th, 2006, 8:42 pm
Posts: 4112
Location: Jersey Shore, N.
kristin wrote:
I was lucky to find a local store with really nice people who let me take home a number of mics to test.

Lucky you are! The dealers around me approach mics with the intimacy of underwear, citing health concerns, transmission of air borne diseases and etc!

_______________________________________________
Sorry sjmarky for originally making it look like you wrote
this comment, when I did. Sometimes an admin just
presses the wrong button. Thanks for pointing out the error.
Have deleted the two posts and am posting this correctly.
Thanks for your excellent comments in this thread.—Alan

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