Adventures In Audio

Readers' Letters: Three microphones tested on female vocals - was it a case of bad engineering?, and more...

by David Mellor

NOTE: This page is now quite old. Some of the links may not work.

In response to Three microphones tested on female vocals - was it a case of bad engineering?, Dennis Zasnicoff writes...

This is a very interesting series of articles, thank you for sharing.

I wonder if you have found the source of the little click at mic 3. Looking at the waveform and analyzing the DC offset (which is the highest of all 3 mics) it seems that the pre's power supply may be a candidate. I understand you have used the same piece of equipment for all 3 channels, but maybe this particular channel has a defective component causing voltage variations. Also, I assume mic 3 was the only one NOT using phantom power. Was the phamtom power turned on for that channel? 48V balanced cables should not be a problem for dynamic mics, but it may have something to do with the click. If it was indeed turned off, then again, it might be interesting to test some recordings swapping phantom on and off with the dynamic mic.

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RP response: DC offsets certainly can cause clicks. If you are operating analog equipment and you hear a click when a switch is pressed, then a DC offset on the signal is likely to be the culprit. A faulty component or bad solder joint could conceivably cause the same effect. Unfortunately this was a one-off and, as any maintenance technician will confirm, intermittent faults are the hardest to trace.

In response to Three microphone tested on female vocal - the results!, Fred Korkosz writes...

You are causing major problems! I am staying up reading Record Producer rather than going to sleep, as I should be. You need to take some responsbility for the addictive quality of your articles:-)

Your A-B tests are blowing my mind, and destroying some preconcieved notions. On the preamp test, I immediately noted that the Behringer sounded much worse than the others, but Preamp 2 (the homemade one!) sounded the best with the 57, and tied with the UA on the condensor. Also, on the mic shootout, I liked the 58 best!! I could not specifically identify it, but ironically, on some female vocals I have preferred it to my condensors, when conventional wisdom would have said I was crazy! Thank you for the eye (actually ear) openers!

-Fred Korkosz

In response to Why do Macs suck?, Read Your 'Why Do Macs Suck' Letter writes...

Dear Record Producer.

A gentleman named Steve said he delights in telling people he runs Windows on his Applemac. Er-why? Why buy an Applemac and put Windows on it? Why not buy a Windows computer if you want to use Windows, they're cheap enough. Sure, use a Mac, but why not use a Mac to do Mac stuff and a Windows PC to do Windows stuff?

I mean, when was the last time you heard a Windows user boasting about being able to run OSX on an IBM? Exactly. Now I'm not advising using either one in preference, I just can't understand wanting to run Windows on a computer that was never designed for the task.

Yours puzzledly

Christopher Burke

In response to Guitar stacks - is bigger always better?, McGuire Irvine writes...

One of the major sticking points in creating a small amplifier that sounds like a big amplifier is one of perception. as you play an amp louder, the fletcher-munson curves show their effects. the bottom end starts to become more present, the mids get compressed, and your ears distort trying to receive the high end. This is something that is very difficult to convey on a recorded track, because what is in the room is NOT what you are hearing, and a microphone can only capture what is in the room (plus whatever coloration it offers). this has to be compensated at the board. if it isn't, the guitar isn't going to sound right to the guitarist.

Another point: when a guitar amp reaches the point on the volume where it is clipping the power tubes, it is not going to put out any more wattage, it is just going to get more distorted (and subjectively sound louder).

If the amp in question is focused on preamp distortion ('metal' amps : mesa, krank, ect.) the output level doesn't contribute significantly to the sound of the amplifier. if you were to record it at a whisper and record it at full tilt and normalize the levels, often the whisper track will sound subjectively better. but, if the amp relies on power tube distortion(marshall jtm-45, fender deluxe, champ, other small tube combos) the amp will sound markedly better recorded in its 'sweet spot.' contrary to common practice, this is usually NOT full tilt. at full tilt, most small tube amplifiers can drive the power tubes hard enough to cause things like blocking distortion, bias shift, and crossover notch distortion.

Additionally, the perceptual volume difference between 75 and 100w is much smaller than the difference between 22.5 and 30w. but, even then, this is not a huge difference.

Regarding tube amplifiers, they are like any other piece of gear, each has a sweet spot. each has a particular speaker and cabinet it will work best with. similar to mic placement, what everyone else is doing is a good place to start, but that should not limit what you are willing to try.

McGuire Irvine

In response to Why would you ever want to place a microphone behind the instrument?, Warren Goold writes...

I feel your statement was half hearted at best, you left out the rear micing of guitar cabs out of phase, bottoms of snare drums etc. The dynamics of mic placements are not so limited as you woul lead your readers to beleive, please elaborate.

Maybe Bruce Sweden might have a bit to add hear.

RP response: Thank you for your input. With respect, the article is about miking the French horn.

In response to Why delay is good for you (and how to set delay times) , Leon Gaer writes...

Simple, to the point and very helpful. Well done.

In response to What is the difference between audio and MIDI?, Long Time Reader First Time Comment writes...

The greatest invention since the wheel is... "THE KNOB" so great in fact most of my digital audio programs still feature it on their skins. Biggest mouse IS NOT A KNOB!.. taking all the life from my favorite twistable little friend.

Yes we do have MIDI many my desk becomes cluttered with totally programmable unused garbage. Causing me quite a headache as the the hands spin on my watch while trying to set up every softsynth and VST plugin and forgetting assignments to what does what.. so the problem has been stated..I hope you can relate.. now..SOLUTION!.. one sits under my left hand.. and where ever i click with the mouse is now controllable from my one and only KNOB.

For example: threshold on my compressor, the knob now controls it..then I quickly now click on the ratio on the plugin..same single knob under my left hand.. but the knob is now controlling the ratio or where ever I choose.. has this been invented yet..will it ever.. because I would buy it immediately.

Sincerely B.J. Starbie

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In response to The most outrageous audio pornography ever. And you can buy it on eBay! (With pictures!), Kanarek writes...

Well you're almost right. This directly from the STUDER/REVOX Company History Website.

"1967-The "Beatles" choose the Studer J37 4-track for their album "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

It wasn't the "C" series, it was the "J" series that was "straight out of the Beatles era"

Nonetheless, the one featured here is a beauty....

RP response: The Studer C37 was discontinued in 1963, which puts the peak population of C37s in operational use right in the early Beatles era and the years immediately following. The J37 is a multitrack recorder based on the C37 chassis. The C37 was superseded by the transistor A62, which is a decent machine but there is nothing special about it. The later B62 is quite nice though.

In response to Why good spelling is vital for a recording engineer, Zell writes...

Q. When are you guys going to start using spell-check when you write your articles? The mistakes in spelling and bad sentence construction drive me crazy. It does nothing to promote the idea that you guys are savy smart professionals.

RP response: Thank you for your input. Audio Masterclass is published in the United Kingdom to an international audience. As you may know, spelling, grammar and sentence construction are different in UK English and US English. Those who speak English as a second language have additional requirements. Thus it is not possible to produce one single version of an article that will please everyone. All feature articles in Audio Masterclass are spelling checked. News articles are generally republished verbatim from press releases that we receive. Submissions from visitors are generally tidied to improve clarity where necessary, but are not fully corrected. Responses to letters, such as this, are not spelling checked at present. We hope this answers your query. [This query arrived without a link to any page on Audio Masterclass, so one has been added that we hope will be relevant.]

In response to Karlheinz Stockhausen is dead, Chris, Liverpool writes...

I too was saddened to read on Audio Masterclass about the passing of Stockhausen. Hopefully he will be given the respect he deserves in the not too distant future.

It reminds me of how the older composers and styles were rediscovered and became fashionable again during the Romantic period. His time will come.

Thursday November 30, 2006

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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