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Mic choice, placement, preamp #2997949 07/10/19 03:09 AM
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Dave Bryce Offline OP
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If you had to rate mic choice, mic placement and preamp selection first to last in terms of achieving overall sound, what would it be for you?

I probably spend too much time moving mics around and not enough time choosing the right mic for the job. As far as preamps, I dont really own enough to be able to select that by flavor.

dB

Re: Mic choice, placement, preamp [Re: Dave Bryce] #2998059 07/10/19 06:53 PM
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While I certainly have much less recording experience than you, I would have to say that the answer would depend on WHAT you're mic'ing. Intuitively, I would have a different answer for vocals, vs a guitar cabinet vs a piano vs a drum set.


Dan

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Re: Mic choice, placement, preamp [Re: Dave Bryce] #2998111 07/11/19 02:36 AM
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For recording a real drum kit, or a guitarist who really know how to use his amp as an instrument, I consider mic placement as most important. For vocals, I rate mic choice as the top factor followed by the preamp.

Re: Mic choice, placement, preamp [Re: Dave Bryce] #2999859 07/23/19 01:25 AM
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Mic choice, then placement (pre-amp is a non-factor as I only use transparent ones vs. coloured ones: True Precision 8, augmented by the ones on RME Fireface series and Audient ADAT expander).

There are always exceptions. Close miking a guitar amp, I care deeply about the mic choice, but that isn't worth a hill of beans if I don't place the mic correctly. Similarly with some of the drum mics.

I moved away from modern condenser mics a few years ago, then bought some vintage tube mic tributes, which I use alongside ribbon mics, and for certain instruments some specialized dynamic mics.

Last edited by Mark Schmieder; 07/25/19 10:23 PM.

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Re: Mic choice, placement, preamp [Re: Dave Bryce] #3000046 07/24/19 06:58 AM
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matthew mcglynn Offline
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Dave, great question. I have a bit of a bias, given that I've spent the better part of the last 10 years designing and building microphones. But the reality is that the reason I chose mics rather than preamps is that I believe they are often the most important part of the signal chain in terms of determining what the track sounds like.

I'm assuming that the source and the room do not vary in this scenario. That is, given a single singer or guitar rig or drum kit in a single room, if you had to choose between mic, pre, converter, my ranking would be mic, then pre, then converter.

Placement IS critical, although in most cases, I'd rank that behind mic choice. Just to illustrate: a lot of home recording people have a closet full of "stupid deal of the day" condensers that tend to be bright and harsh sounding. There are not many placement tricks that would make those mics NOT sound bright and harsh. But you can put a better mic in just about ANY position and it will sound better than the harsh mic. Maybe that's less true on guitar cabs (to address Mark's point); I'm thinking of drums, vocals, acoustic guitars.

Needless to say, lousy placement can make a great mic sound awful. I have seen inexperienced artists "eat" a large-diaphragm condenser in a studio setting, and then wonder why the track doesn't sound good. "That's what works for me on stage!" Umm, your tongue shouldn't actually make contact with the mic's capsule during the take. #protip


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Re: Mic choice, placement, preamp [Re: matthew mcglynn] #3000445 07/26/19 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by matthew mcglynn
Umm, your tongue shouldn't actually make contact with the mic's capsule during the take. #protip

laugh thu


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Re: Mic choice, placement, preamp [Re: Dave Bryce] #3009428 09/24/19 04:23 PM
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I'll take a pretty OK mic properly placed over a great mic poorly placed every time.

So, placement comes first. Then the mic.
Without a preamp of some sort, we can't use the convertor. This is simple logic.

So - placement, mic, preamp, convertor.

The variations are infinite. Use what you have!!!!


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Re: Mic choice, placement, preamp [Re: Dave Bryce] #3009598 09/25/19 03:15 PM
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Dr Mike Metlay Offline
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Interestingly, Bruce Kaphan, a musician and engineer/producer I highly respect, takes the strong position of putting the preamp first in priority. He believes that a great preamp can get the most out of any mic in any placement, but that a mediocre preamp cripples the entire signal chain irreparably.

I am not sure I agree, but this does raise the interesting issue of information theory and how it relates to audio signal chains. Some folks posit that any noise or other unwanted content introduced in the chain by a single device, all other things being equal, turns into a worse end result the earlier it is in the chain. In other words, a less than perfect A/D converter recording a pristine signal chain does less damage than a world-class converter recording a signal chain that starts with a lame preamp.

(Of course, following this argument to the end, then a bad mic trumps everything else, but hey, these kind of discussions are why we read this forum, right?)


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Re: Mic choice, placement, preamp [Re: Dr Mike Metlay] #3009731 09/26/19 01:19 AM
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Mike Rivers Offline
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Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
Interestingly, Bruce Kaphan, a musician and engineer/producer I highly respect, takes the strong position of putting the preamp first in priority. He believes that a great preamp can get the most out of any mic in any placement, but that a mediocre preamp cripples the entire signal chain irreparably.


There's something to be said for that belief, if you accept that a "great" preamp isn't necessarily the greatest preamp for every mic. What you really need up front (well, really it's the talent first) is the right combination of mic and preamp for the sound you're looking for. Some top quality transformerless condenser mics sound more like what's going into them when connected to a mic preamp with a transformeless input than when going into a transformer. And some mics (with or without a transformer) get the edge taken off them when going in to a preamp with a transformer input. So you can't generalize.

On the other hand, there's something to be said for using the same "great" mic preamp with any mic, and working with the sound you get, or switching the mic if you need to. Having some consistency, like back in the day when all the mics went into the console's mic inputs, can help keep your sanity and your project within budget, both dollars and time.

Re: Mic choice, placement, preamp [Re: Dr Mike Metlay] #3009752 09/26/19 04:43 AM
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matthew mcglynn Offline
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Quote
... a mediocre preamp cripples the entire signal chain irreparably...


That statement is true on its face, but the value of that truth is diminished by the reality of the marketplate: namely that it is pretty difficult to get a truly mediocre preamp these days.

IMO, it's not hard at all to get a _mic_ that sounds bad on most sources, which is why I always counsel people to spend more on the transducer than the amp. In contrast, consumer-grade preamps are pretty damn transparent, so long as you don't crank the gain up to 11.

Here's a fun thought experiment: If you could have a $500 mic and a $100 preamp, or a $100 mic and a $500 pre, which would you take?

I'd take the expensive mic in a heartbeat and not feel like my session was held back. YMMV. (Maybe you own some truly awful cheap pre's that I don't know about...? ;-)


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Re: Mic choice, placement, preamp [Re: matthew mcglynn] #3009757 09/26/19 05:55 AM
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Or, an insane "kludge pile" like the one I am considering - serenditiptous thrift store finds have me wondering what is possible.

To start, I have owned an FMR RNC for quite a while. I added the FMR RNP and it is a nice combination if you work with it. Add in the Cloudlifter CL-1 and there are lots of options for gain staging and dynamic control.

Recently I found a mint Henry Engineering "The Matchbox HD for $10 and an Audio Control Model 520 ($20 if anybody is counting).

Plan is to chain up Cloudlifter, RNP, RNC into AC mdl 520 and finally into the Matchbox then to the interface.

This gives me a variety of gains, compression and EQ. The AC 520 is home Hi-Fi stuff but the EQ is set up so nice I want to try it. There is a Bypass, a Subsonic (18db octave) filter, two channels with boost and cut for 36hz 60hz 120 hz, 1khz and 15.5khz.

Lots of control for voicing the bottom end (Bass and kick), and more or less a "silk" sort of control with very high frequencies. The curves are not tight and small, more gradual. So it should sound pretty natural. I am usually pretty subtle on tweaking my inputs. Vocals, basses, guitars and electtonic drums (Roland Handsonic and Korg Wavedrum) will all be tested. I like having a central place to tweak stuff and send it to the DAW.

I will report back once I solder some cables and hook the entire abomination up. If I can keep the noise level low it should be pretty nifty.

Sort of DYI channel strip with 5 separate components. I iknow it is completely wrong in theory, I've learned to see for myself in these cases.


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