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Know your patterns

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by Davedog, Jun 2, 2009.

  1. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    You have started a quest to build your mic locker. You have purchased a few, maybe even several different mics as well as having a network of friends who have mics you can use. So when you're testing the mic, do you have any clue as to the effect that the polar pattern has on your sound?

    All chime in here about their findings. Voice an opinion or an observation about the patterns and what they bring to the sound replication table. All you true mic sluts also talk about the various mics and their effects surrounding their polar patterns and how you implement these in your style of work.
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Good topic.

    Here's a little exercise on polar patterns:

    The DVD of Alison Krauss A Hundred Miles or More recorded "live" (i.e. not tracked) at The Tracking Room in Nashville should be required study for all budding studio recording engineers. All the performers were in the one studio with no gobos or separate acoustic spaces. They were carefully positioned according to their instruments and the pickup patterns of the microphones chosen.

    Q1: Draw a floor plan of the performers for each of the songs (many do not change).

    Q2: Identify the types of microphones used for each performer (make and model not necessary).

    Q3: Overlay the microphone polar patterns on the floor plans from Q1.

    Q4: What else makes it sound so good?

    Here's a link to one song (Whiskey Lullaby).
  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    For what it's worth...
    I just (FINALLY) acquired a High-Def camcorder (Canon Vixia HF20). Along with more "shootouts," I'll be doing some YouTube-esque (maybe even posted to YouTube) videos on proper recording techniques focusing on not just how to record instruments but also what each mic and type of mic does for the sound.

    I know there are a few of these out there already, but let's face it - many of them SUCK!

  4. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that link Boswell, enjoyed the vid!

    Yes please do Cucco, most of what’s on Youtube is weak at best.

    Here’s what I have learned so far:

    Omni mics are great for not only capturing room tone if you want it, but also for close mic’ing without the proximity affect. Earthworks QTC50 1-3 inchs from the body of the guitar can really allow you to dial in the part the body that you want to focus on. Really cool if add two or more specific sections of the body.

    Figure 8 mic’s have great null spots that can help isolate a guitar from a vocal track. Here I often use U87 in Figure 8 on the voice and a modded Apex 460 in figure on a acoustic guitar. I angled the nulls such that the U87 null is directed towards the guitar and the Apex 460 null is directed to the voice.

    Cardioid mics are great when you want to utilize the proximity effect for more bottom. They are good for there rear rejection in a live recording set up. Also essential in coincident and near-coincident set ups. I typically go for a cardioid pattern first for vocals.

    Hyper Cardioids I use sometimes on drums to improve the isolation.
  5. Imaginaryday

    Imaginaryday Active Member

    cucco, that is a fantastic idea! Link555 is absolutely right "most of what’s on Youtube is weak at best".

    let me know if you need an assistant. i am not very far from you. i can work the camera or do other stuff.

  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Cool...just don't call me cocco.
  7. Imaginaryday

    Imaginaryday Active Member

    sorry about that.
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Don't take things personally. I was just busting your nads.
  9. Imaginaryday

    Imaginaryday Active Member

    none taken. it takes a lot to get me stirred up.
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Ha...my friggin iPhone helped me mistype another one. That's supposed to be "I" don't take things personally.

    Cheers -
  11. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Hey J-man...

    Excellent idea bro! Looking forward to viewing your work. I know they'll be excellent vids!

    When (or IF :-? ) I ever get this place done, we're gonna be exploring just about every square (and cubic) inch of space here.

    I'd like to extend an invite to ya' to grab your camera and a coupla' your mic's to add to the fray, and come on down to play.

    While it's certainly a great thing to post the vids in the environment you're familiar with, I think it could be fun to formulate a plan for an unknown venue, and then see how that compares to real world experience.

    I'm expecting about half a dozen AE's to come in and abuse a similar number of muso's for the learning curve on the facility, and would love to have you here as part of it.
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Sounds like a plan. Let me know a date and I'll be there.
  13. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Thanks for posting the Allison Krauss link...she's sooooo good it gives me chills.

    What's that on the back of her microphone?
  14. Imaginaryday

    Imaginaryday Active Member

    that's the heat sink for the 6AU6 vacuum tube inside SonyC800G.
  15. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Very interesting. Thank you.
  16. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    OK, what the heck.... back on topic...

    Since I'm a drummer, of sorts, (see the drool coming out of both sides of my mouth... the riser must be level) I'll start with general kit experiences.

    Kik - I prefer a cardioid pattern in the hole. The rejection pattern of a cardioid seems to reduce the sound of the front head, and I get more of the sound of what's being produced inside the drum.

    Snare, Hats and Toms - Cardioids again, for the same reasons... good off axis rejection. Sometimes I'll step up to a hyper cardioid.

    OH's - I tend to like Figure 8's. I feel like I get a better sense of space and more realistic representation of what the kit sounds like.

    Room Mic's - Omni's. It's a room mic, and IMHO, no better way to capture what the room sounds like than to capture the whole room.

    Of course, these are generalities and particular circumstances will dictate using different mic's and different polar patterns.

    Is this kinda' what you were getting at DD??
  17. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Okay...I'll chime in "on-topic" too...

    Kick drum -
    I too prefer a cardioid pattern, but I do prefer it to be outside of the drum. My long favorite kick drum mic has been the Soundelux u195 (now Bock Audio u195). Some kick drum mics do sound better inside, but I've had a booger of a time finding one that I like in that role.

    Snare -
    IMO, there are exactly 2 mics on this planet that sound "right" on snare - SM57 and an i5. Sure a 421 works...so does a 604, but nothing ever sounds as right as a 57.

    Toms/Hi-hats -
    Also cardioid or hyper card. The 421 rocks for toms and cymbals, as does a 441, but many other hypercards work quite well too. Of course, I'd rather not mic each piece of the kit individually and if tuned well, those toms project just fine without the aid of individual mics.

    Overheads -
    First choice - M/S in front of the kit - about eye level and aiming down between the cymbals and the toms.
    Second choice - Blumlein over the kit - vary the angle to get exactly the sound you want. (Warning - do not try with 8 foot or lower ceilings. It just won't sound good. Unless of course you've damped the heck out of the ceiling and there are no reflections at all!)
    Third choice - spaced cardioids. Move them along an invisible plane. Where you position each one can determine how much snare, tom and cymbal you get.

    Room mic -
    Omni does work well if the room sounds good. If it doesn't....not so good. My favorite all-time room mic is the Beyer M160. If you want to get creative, a pair of them works great too.

    Now...onto vocals -

    Obviously, cardioids work very well for vocalists, but if I'm having a hard time with too much boominess in the sound, I'll definitely use an omni. The problem is, many switchable pattern omnis have a presence boost as well.

    Guitar -

    One of my favorite instruments to record. Some guitars sound fantastic going to tape, others sound horrible. Often it's very hard to tell which is going to be which until you get the cans on.

    I LOVE the Royer SF12 in Blumlein for acoustic guitar (nylon or steel string). When that doesn't work or isn't practical, I like to use a true omni on the bottom portion of the instrument (minimizing boom) and a cardioid over the fret board and pointed towards the sound hole.

    One pattern that works well but requires some practice is M/S on guitar. If you place it too close, you'll get a very "left heavy" image that doesn't work well at all. Too far away and you get a very distant sound.

    So much to discuss...so little time - gotta go for now.

  18. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Jeremy. Just FYI....Inside kick mic= ATM25. There is no other. Good luck finding one as they quit making this unbelievable mic in favor of another series that works....ok. BTW theres three of em on our Portland craiglist right now at a decent price...I'm thinking I need one more. This, with your U195 will be THE kick drum sound for any drum that walks in the door.

    Also, a D4 Audix works well in this capacity but a bit towards the heavier foot styles than not. ie: more klik.

    And yeah guys, this is the spirit of this post!

    I totally agree on the 57/Audix i5 on snare. I would throw in the Beyer 201 as another that works quite well on many different snares. And I also agree on all the 'other' choices....but for me, and I'm not alone, these two give me what I want to hear every time without futzing around with placement too much or having to add stuff to the chain just to get it right.

    Lets talk close micing toms. Tight patterns without a lot of rear spill will get you a better close mic response. While leaving these out in some cases will be what is needed for the track, when you need that particular type of presence in the toms, close mic'n is the right call.

    I love the 421 on toms. They have that great musical tonality that seems to bring the wood out of these instruments. Of COURSE they still need to be well tuned and have heads that match the style of music.
    You really good drummers know just how important the heads are for the toms and how much certain types of heads can effect the sound of certain styles of music.
    But I digress... I have found the Audix 'D' series mics to be almost as good as the 421's for toms and to actually have a tighter pattern and though maybe a touch less sweet, certainly a much easier placement due to physical size, and also a better rear rejection of the pattern which to me cuts down on the need for gates.
  19. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Second thumbs up for the ATM25 great mic...

    I also like a figure 8 on the high hat to reduce snare bleed.
  20. studio33

    studio33 Active Member

    I once put a 414 between the snare and 1st tom in figure 8 sounded amazing

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