Hack Chat Transcript, Part 2

A event log for Vintage Pro Audio Hack Chat

Is that a Telefunken U47?

Dan MaloneyDan Maloney 05/25/2022 at 20:180 Comments

Mark12:41 PM
here's a conundrum.... I have a SAMSON C03 studio condenser mic set to super cardoid and phantom power, with the -10dB switch on, with a pop filter. This is fed into my Behringer Mixer and into my Line in on my computer. Then, I bought a Chinese condesner mic with brand name "Andowl" which costs like maybe a tenth of the price. I have a nice smooth bassy tone of voice and for the life of me I am trying to wrap my head around the fact that everyone says I sound better using the el Cheapo chinese knockoff. It does capture the upper frequencies a bit better off the bat, whereas my C03 needed a bit of tweaking. @Dan Maloney please educate me :)

Frank Olson12:41 PM
@Richard Tretzel Honestly, the internet makes manufacturing things somewhat tricky in my opinion. On one hand, you have this unlimited market place. On the other hand, if you're trying to build pro audio gear, that community is extremely picky. If they have a bad experience, you will get thrashed on the forums!

Joe Stavitsky12:42 PM
@Mark I will be straight with you, all of the brands you mentioned are of such ill repute that I wouldn't even want to hazard a guess what's at fault

Richard Tretzel12:42 PM
@Joe Stavitsky Nice! I'm actually from Germany, but moved to Austria in 2003. Where does your friend live?

Frank Olson12:42 PM
I generally don't sell my mics or anything online, only to friends or studio owners who have used them and found value in them. Otherwise, it's a tough sell in my book

Mark12:42 PM
welll that's a back handed way of avoiding a technical discussion

Joe Stavitsky12:43 PM
@Richard Tretzel I don't recall, a very small village.

Mark12:44 PM
Thanks for the advice @Joseph Stavitsky I'll certainly take your considered tech analysis to heart

Joe Stavitsky12:44 PM
@Mark the best suggestion I can make is compare specified mic frequency range and noise floor/max gain to console rated channel frequency range and noise floor/max gain.

Mark12:44 PM
I didn't mention a fault. It was merely a difference in sound

Mark12:44 PM
ok will do.

Joe Stavitsky12:45 PM
@Mark but again with those brands I have zero confidence that the ratings are honest.

Joe Stavitsky12:46 PM
@Mark If you're feeling extra frisky by all means stick a dmm and/or frequency counter between the mic and the console, and then on the console outputs.

Richard Tretzel12:47 PM
@Frank Olson I think it depends on the community. Andy usually builds for people he knows, and his builds are extremely good and "tidy" in my opinion. Anything I did was usually sounding good, but looked like crap inside 😂

Joe Stavitsky12:47 PM
@Richard Tretzel I think near Munich?

Richard Tretzel12:47 PM
ah ok!

Frank Olson12:47 PM
@Mark Well, we're all in that same boat in a lot of ways! In the studio setting, microphones are commonly swapped out to find which one works best on a given source. The Samson and the other mic might well be manufactured by the same company. The headbasket, circuit, element could all have different properties, as well as the room you're recording in..

Richard Tretzel12:47 PM
I'm from bavaria, too

Joe Stavitsky12:48 PM
@Mark exactly right, I should have mentioned room acoustics as well.

Frank Olson12:48 PM
@Richard Tretzel You're making microphones?

Dan Maloney12:49 PM
Hey Frank -- anytime we run one of your wooden mic builds, we always seem to get a comment on how they can't perform well WRT EMI, because the magnetic circuit isn't closed. Do you find that to be true?

Mark12:49 PM
yeah, it wasn't so much a question of a problem.... more a question of Frequency response. So the Andowl gathers the upper frequencies much better than the Samson, so I have to bring in the bass on the sliders to get that natural bass to my voice to be perceived. When recording, do you rather Boost a frequency or reduce the surrounding frequencies

Richard Tretzel12:49 PM
@mark do shootouts! Use your ears, try over different preamps, positions etc... And then it depends on the whole production context. Style, instruments, the song...

Mark12:50 PM
I literally don't have the budget you have... I

Joe Stavitsky12:50 PM
@Mark you don't need budget, just time

Richard Tretzel12:51 PM
@Frank Olson no. but I did preamps, and some classical compressor clones. Andy is specialized on outboard and guitar gear. But we both don't have the skills to try mics

Joe Stavitsky12:52 PM
@Mark think of every possible position and angle you could use, and try them all. Try connecting both mics at the same time and mixing them together.

Frank Olson12:52 PM
@Dan Maloney Haha, oh yeah! This is a hot topic on my mic builds!

So there are actually many reasons I make the wood mics they way I do. One reason is simply to inspire people to make gear out of the things they have access to. I currently have access to a vinyl plotter which can offer CNC Precision by cutting wood veneer. So I moved forward with that, knowing that magnets are so much more powerful than they used to be

Mark12:52 PM
@Richard Tretzel I use the mic for voice chat and gaming.... So the mic feed into the pc needs to have minimal echo and hiss. I have much time.but, I only have the one Mixer that I plug the mic into.

Joe Stavitsky12:53 PM
@Mark Until you get a masters degree in physics mic positioning and room acoustics is trial and error no matter how much money you have.

Frank Olson12:53 PM
@Dan Maloney It turns out, that closing the magnetic "circuit" isn't absolutely necessary, however it will give you more level if you need it.

Richard Tretzel12:53 PM
agree-dual mics on vocals, I do that actually ALWAYS

Mark12:53 PM
The mic position is pretty much constrained to being in front of my face

Joe Stavitsky12:54 PM
@Mark if you're trying to eliminate noise there is software for that. I don't know what will work for a gaming setup, it depends on what your PC specs are.

electrocontinuo12:55 PM
maybe unrelated but this book is pretty good and along lines of topic here:

Frank Olson12:55 PM
@Dan Maloney So, to make prototypes and kind of prove that you can make great sounding microphones without owning a $50k mill/lathe, I kept designing and making microphones from just wood and magnets. I do think I'm hitting the limits of the magnet/aluminum ribbon size/ ratio though

Mark12:55 PM
@Joseph Stavitsky Trial and error is my middle name. You're talking to the guy who could only afford the handle of a hot air rework station and so bought that and made the power circuit to run it. What a Solder job. plus.... Imagine having to juggle 5v, 24V and Mains 240VAC on one PCB to run the rework station. It works like a charm

Dan Maloney12:57 PM
Well, they sound great, and I think that's the point -- the naysayers are like "That can't work" and I'm saying, "Did you just listen to the narration and how good it sounded?"

Mark12:57 PM
One Software Product I can't sing the praises more for is called Nvidia Broadcast. It is absolutely brilliant.

Mark12:57 PM
especially for gaming

Joe Stavitsky12:57 PM
@Mark so I think in addition to rethinking the mic position constraints you might consider a headset. The most reliable way to eliminate noise is to reduce distance from mic to mouth :).

Frank Olson12:57 PM
@Dan Maloney what I've noticed is that, if you have a decently sized ribbon and magnets (about 2" long and about .2" wide) you just don't need the steel to close the gap. However, getting into these fragile ribbons, I'm seeing why some manufacturers use 2 ribbon elements in some microphones

Joe Stavitsky12:58 PM
@Frank Olson do you do 3d models? Like I said, I would love to try a 3d printer eventually

Mark12:58 PM
@Joseph Stavitsky Just to reiterate... the mic is right in front of my face. It goes Lips, 1 cm air gap, pop filter, 1 cm air gap .... suspended mic for audio capture

Joe Stavitsky1:00 PM
@Mark but you see, the thing is that I'm almost certain that the mic is omnidirectional, which by definition captures stuff that you don't want captured.

Frank Olson1:00 PM
@Dan Maloney Right! I've had that conversation. People are like, what's the catch? Well, there's not really a catch. Put the mic up, record you work and it sounds good!

Mark1:00 PM
I use an analog Roccat Kave 5.1 Surround headset for the sound. the positional audio on this headset is incredibly precise.... I don't like virttualized audio.

Joe Stavitsky1:00 PM
@Mark does the headset have a mic? If so I would use that.

Mark1:00 PM
no.... remember... Super cardoid.... both of them are running in that mode

Frank Olson1:00 PM
@Joe Stavitsky I'm on the fence about getting a 3d printer. I should just get on already, and move into the 3D realm!

Richard Tretzel1:00 PM
@Frank Olson Is there a way to listen to your mics, like an online shootout or something? I'm very interested in unusual gear, tbh. It's always good to make a point and not sound like everyone else ime

Mark1:01 PM
that mic pales in comaprison.... @Joseph Stavitsky What I'll do is hop onto a discord call and listen to the difference between my mic and the headset mic.... you will be surprised

Joe Stavitsky1:01 PM
@Mark even so. I can almost guarantee the super cardiod pattern is picking up things you don't want. You're better off with something with lower gain and more directionality (headset) if you have noise problems.

Dan Maloney1:02 PM
We're up at the top of the hour, and while I don't want to spoil the flow, I want to make sure Frank has the opportunity to bail if he needs to. So I'll say my official "Thanks!" to Frank for his time today, and to everyone for the lively discussion. Feel free to carry on the chat, of course -- the channel is always open.

Frank Olson1:02 PM
@Richard Tretzel Currently The best example I have is this one:

There's a drum sample at the end of that which features a stereo pair and a Wood 44 ribbon mic that I made.

Joe Stavitsky1:02 PM
@Mark I would google for a better headset. That would be my starting point.

Mark1:03 PM
That's where Nvidia Broadcast is absolutely incredible. it uses my RTX video card to traina neural net to learn.... It makes the audio feed so clean

Frank Olson1:03 PM
Sure, If anyone has any other questions I'm happy to answer!

Joe Stavitsky1:03 PM
@Frank Olson is there a way to contact you? I'd love to buy you an adult beverage.

Frank Olson1:04 PM
@Dan Maloney Thanks for having me! This was fun, It went quick!

Richard Tretzel1:04 PM
@Frank Olson I'm listening!

Mark1:04 PM
@Joseph Stavitsky You have been coming from the angle this entire time that there is something wrong with my microphones..... I was just perplexed by the cheap mic outperformning the expensive mic

Joe Stavitsky1:04 PM
@Frank Olson and for the love of God don't buy a premade 3d printer, there are many wonderful open source kits. I recommend Voron.

Frank Olson1:04 PM
@Joe Stavitsky Sure!

Joe Stavitsky1:05 PM
@Frank Olson will email in a fewmin

Dan Maloney1:05 PM
Great stuff, Frank, thanks for coming on. Looking forward to more cool projects to write up for the blog, too ;-)

Frank Olson1:05 PM
@richard, I have a few other samples of longer ribbons i can post on Youtube at some point, but no video attached currently

Joe Stavitsky1:06 PM
@Mark while I definitely think you did not make the best choice of brands, I would argue that anything but a headset is unsuitable for your purposes if you have noise issues.

Richard Tretzel1:06 PM
@Frank Olson the speaker mic was the same, wasn't it?

Joe Stavitsky1:06 PM
@Mark but you have many options if you don't like my advice. Simplest is to play with the gain on the console.

Richard Tretzel1:07 PM
interesting and unusual how bright they appear to be, for ribbons...

Dan Maloney1:07 PM
Chat transcript coming up, in case anyone missed anything.

Mark1:07 PM
No noise issues. Just an interesting discussion about the differentFrequency responses of different microphones.

Frank Olson1:07 PM
@Richard Tretzel for Narration? I believe it was of the short ribbons, I don't quite remember now!

Richard Tretzel1:08 PM
cool! voice does sound good... the drum recording I don't know... sounds like non ideal position and room, tbh

Frank Olson1:09 PM
@Richard Tretzel Yes, those were recorded on a sweet recording console that had a nice EQ. I think we were up in the +10 db range above 5K. Ribbons generally take eq and sound as good as the Hardware eq you're throwing at them.

Richard Tretzel1:10 PM
I've been using bumblebee ribbons with great success on a variety of sources. they are hey good for anything bass, but hf rolls off at 5khz approximately. nonetheless very good mics, and not expensive

Mark1:11 PM
@Joseph Stavitsky I like your advice but it was travelling down a particular trajectory which I didn't quite intend initially.

It's actually funny, having a chat about microphones and audio, but not using the internet and mics and audio to do the communicating

Frank Olson1:11 PM
@Richard Tretzel Yeah, and these small ribbon mics are really at the limit of frequency response vs size. Longer ribbons almost always sound fuller.

Richard Tretzel1:12 PM
ok I see

Richard Tretzel1:13 PM
what transformers do you use, do you also"roll yer own"?

Frank Olson1:13 PM
@Richard Tretzel I've started experimenting with "Double ribbons" which has one ribbon stacked above the other inside the ribbon gap. It does basically double the output- and the work involved! :)

Frank Olson1:15 PM
I use cinemag for the important ones. All of the prototypes use some b-stock transformers that I bought a few years back. Basically when I get a mic sounding good with those, I'll just swap in the cinemag. I'd like to try some other brands, though- edcor for example makes nice transformers.

Richard Tretzel1:15 PM
a good trafo design, followed by an active high Z input/impedance converter might work very well to increase output