Giving the SF12 Another go...

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Cucco, May 1, 2007.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Okay - so in the past, I tried a used SF12 and didn't much care for it. However, I've got a few extra thousand dollars in the budget right now, so I thought I'd give it a try again. Besides, I'm sure that with a little more experience and the right pres and the right placement, I might actually like this thing again since I've been using my Beyers with more and more success lately. I'm fairly certain that many of the "failings" of the mic in my hands in the past were more *MY* failings and not the mic's.

    So...that being said - it's on its way and I should hopefully have it by week's end (as well as a couple more Schoeps bodies and some JBL 4326 monitors for location recording - thanks to Nathat at Atlas and Craig at Sweetwater).

    Anyway - I'd love for those of you who use it or its powered bretheren (the SF24) to share with me your common uses for the mic as well as what you find to be common placements - stuff that you probably take for granted now but others may or may not be aware of. (Such as "works better when flown a *little* higher and then tilted down into the section" etc.)


  2. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    HI Cucco,
    still not really friends with my SF24 doing classical recordings. Sometimes it is fantastic, sometimes only awash with room. Lately I´ve started putting up an omni right next to the top capsule of the SF24 in MS. Adding the omni to the figure 8 at mix time changes the pattern towards more of a cardioid. Great help sometimes.

    Favourite uses are sopranos (especially amateur choirs), pianos and brass. No real success in running as main mics, mainly due the kind of places I tend to record.

    Anyway, a great mic in the hands of the right person. Starting to wonder if I have that kind of hands though.

  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Thanks Gunnar!

    My main mics for orchestra are usually Schoeps CMC6 MK21, MK4 or MK2s (usually used in that order of frequency).

    The purpose of the SF12 as I see it is:
    1 - Piano mic
    2 - Soloist mic
    3 - Chamber ensemble mic (such as string quartet or brass quintet)
    4 - WW/Brass spot mic in orchestra (I've had pretty good success with Blumlein spots tilted down into the sections with the rear lobes pointing up above the strings. I get a decent amount of rejection that way).
    5 - Choir mic
    6 - Acoustic guitar mic
    7 - Trap set overhead
    8 - Marimba overhead

    Anywhoo...that covers most of the bases.

  4. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Last time I treid the SF-12 on piano (classical) or guitar, the result was far too noisy. Now I didn't have a TRP, but I did have a Hardy M1 and a Sebatron Cygnus X-2. Still, no dice.

    Never tried an SF-24, but two R-122 in Blumlein on classical piano is just wonderful.
  5. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    I had the SF12 and now have the SF24, noise is slightly better but not much. I also have the TRP which definitely would have been enough improvement with the SF12 not to buy the SF24.

    These mics give breathtaking imaging and depth, but tonally they are tricky beasts. Positioned correctly in a room with not too much reverb, they can be magic. They are best on small sound sources, chamber music, simply the best mic for acoustic guitar, very good on piano, stunning on choral and as a spot vocal. One of the best soprano mics we have used, except for the Coles 4040 which is better still.

    I would not use them on orchestra, and certainly not as a spot within the orchestra due to the back lobe. They can be used above instruments, horizontal looking down, to great effect, as this isolates them from all surrounding sources due to the very effective nulls, and it gives a lovely stereo image of what's below the mic.
  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Interesting. Here's a clip I posted in an earlier discussion where I used two Beyer M130s in Blumlein aimed roughly 40 degrees downward into the winds. Notice, there's *some* string sound, but very little and mostly winds.

    (Dead Link Removed)

    Thanks for the information and comments guys - keep them coming.
  7. aracu

    aracu Active Member

    With my limited experience with the sf24, I recommend
    using it in ms, and to try using it close to the source (unless
    you are in an acoustically perfect venue).
  8. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I find that the royer stereo mics are great when they work and horrible when they don't. Doesn't seem to be much middle ground. They work well on Choirs, mains on an orchestra as long as you have a good supporting set of omni flanks (and position so that the reversed image of the rear lobes don't compete w/ the omnis). When I recorded a big choir/orchestra concert at the Sydney Opera House a couple years back, it worked very well. It also has worked wonders for early music orchestral stuff (ie oratorios) when I can only have a single front mic and a pair on the choir.

    It is a great single-point drum mic, especially in M-S. Good mic for brass chamber music- especially quintets. Once again, the room can get you in a lot of trouble, though...

    For a piano, it is important to make sure the instrument isn't too dark. When I use it for concertos as a spot on the piano, I'm usually quite happy, but it can get really dark on some instruments.

    Just a few thoughts...

  9. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    In my opinion/experience, the *single most important thing* with the SF12 and SF24 is to make sure the axis of the ribbons is perfectly perpendicular to the axis of the sound source. Those ribbons are relatively long (compared to a circular diaphragm) and so a few degrees off-axis and it will be all wrong. The tolerance is not very high, but when you get it just right, the results can be magic.

    On string quartet, for example, I would always start by mentally projecting a line upwards at 45 degrees from a centrepoint between all the instruments, and move the microphone along that line to get the best direct/reverberant balance and/or ensemble. Then I'd fine tune the angle of the microphone until the image 'snapped' in. When you get it, it's magic.

    Likewise for locating the centre of the stereo image. If ever there was a microphone that would benefit from an aiming laser beam mounted on its body, it would have to be an SF12 or SF24!

    In my opinion the SF12 and SF24 are demanding microphones that are capable of excellent results in the right room, but only if you have the time/patience to tweak those angles.
  10. Costy

    Costy Guest

    Hi Jeremy,

    I, actually, am curious about those JBL 4326. Did you get
    the Pak with all bells & whistels ? I'd appreciate if you post
    something on these monitors. Particularly on the Room Mode

  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Yeah, I got the "Pak" deal. I'll let you know if I like it or not and what my thoughts are on it.

    I'm generally of the mind that a good monitor is a good monitor. If I can *learn* to listen to it, it gets the job done. Of course, a bad monitor is simply a bad monitor...yuck.

  12. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    I hope you classical dudes will once again forgive my rude intrusion... but I whole heartedly agree.

    I LOVE the SF12! It's my main go to for Drum OH's... choirs and acoustic guitars.

    But it is NOT a mic for the faint of heart. You will likely always need to tweek it in... but doing an average of 125 live shows a year, I can nail it pretty well with just a tweek or two.

    I agree, getting as close as practical to the source is IMHO the real key to the SF12. The rear lobes do such a great job with ambiance, that positioning to the source is what will make or break your tracks.

    I recorded a drumkit for a session a couple of weeks ago. The entire kit can be mixed from the SF12 alone. It won't be, but the point is that it could be.
    1. The mic was placed horizontal level (parallel with the floor) and lobes exactly at a 45 degree angle. ("SF12" is engraved in the end cap and can be used for leveling!)
    2. I placed the SF12 centered above the kit L-R.
    3. I took a string and tied it to the body of the mic. I strung the line from the center of the right ribbon, to the kit.
    4. I lowered the mic until the edge of the kit was in the center of the ribbon and then checked the Left ribbon and made a slight adjustment down.
    5. I moved the mic front to back of the kit until the edge of the ribbons were clear of the back side of the kick by about two inches.

    I listened in the cans to the kit and made a test track... I left it alone.

    I would submit that this would be a valid placement technique for just about any usage... in practical terms... e.g. anything but a choir or orchestra.

    But yeah... it's an AWESOME mic!

    Happy Tweekin'!
  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Okay, so I got a chance to use it on a full orchestra last night.....


    It was a rehearsal, so there wasn't any pressure (the concert's in 5 hours...there's the pressure). I hung the SF12 and a pair of Gefell M296s as outriggers. Considering this is a church in which I record often and it is VERY live, I had planned to set up my normal spot mics. However, due to traffic delays, I only had a chance to set up the SF12 and the Gefells.

    In my intent to stay "cautious" with the mic, I forgot to turn on phantom power to the Gefells. I was getting this glorious complete sound and it was ONLY coming from the SF12.

    I'll post some clips soon (it will likely be a week though - my recording rig will be on-location for a chamber music festival all next week. It should be a cool gig though, it's a bunch of small chamber stuff - only a few instruments at a time at most. All of the musicians are principal players in major orchestras such as Boston Symphony, New York Phil, Dallas Opera and others! I plan on using the SF12 as the primary pick up for this entire series. The series will be put out on NPR in July - I'll let you all know when since I won't be able to post samples of this one...)


  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Here's a quick sample.

    This recording was done Saturday afternoon. I haven't had a chance to do anything to it except for a couple *minor* eq tweaks. (+.5dB shelf starting at 2.5 kHz and a small 1 dB wide cut at 80 Hz.)

    This recording is ONLY the SF12 and nothing else. I did put some spots (Schoeps CMC6 MK4) in place for the brass and ww's but probably will not use them on this piece. (Probably will on the Brahms Haydn Variations).

    The vocalist is being picked up by the single SF12 as well.

    In all, I tweaked the setup for about 1.5 hours on Friday night during rehearsal and prayed that they wouldn't rearrange anything on Saturday! (They didn't)

    Here's the clip:
    (Dead Link Removed)

    (Give me 5 minutes to get it uploaded to the web...)


  15. lell010

    lell010 Guest

    Amazing Sound!

    Its hard to believe that there are no spot mics on the winds.

    Was the soloist really that far left?

    Larry Elliott
  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    The soloist was at the left lobe of the microphone - basically about 2 feet left of the conductor. That's perhaps the one fault of the blumlein pair.
  17. Duckman

    Duckman Active Member

    Lovely sound Jeremy. The voice is particularly beautiful to my ears.

    May I ask what were your gain settings for the SF12?
  18. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    Wide open on the Millennia HV3D.

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