Royer SF12 placements

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Cucco, Jul 23, 2006.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Okay - so it's no secret that I had a Royer SF 12 not too long ago and sold it because I ultimately didn't like it.

    However, I am quickly beginning to think that it was my failures which caused me to dislike the mic and not the mic's failures. In truth, the tone I got from the mic was beautiful, the biggest problem was the balance.

    I'm curious - all of you ribbon users out there -

    The main problem I had was exemplified by a specific instance in which I was recording the Richmond Philharmonic. The hall they were in was decent - not great but not bad either (a tad on the bright/closed-in side.)

    The problem I was having was that, I initially tried the placement roughly where a pair of omnis would go. I found that the balance of hall to orchestra was too hall-heavy.

    I began to move it inwards. Much to my dismay, it got worse.

    Should I in fact have done the counterintuitive and moved it back a bit??

    Am I just dumb?



  2. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    I don't get to use my SF-12 for acoustice work... toooooo busy doing other stuff.

    But what I've found is that yes, the further back, the better the balance... obviously up to a point. Again, this is not classical acoustic work... but primarily drum kits and choirs.

    If you want, gimme a shout and you're more than welcome to try it out (again) on a session.

    I'm really amazed by the SF-12. I'd pretty much be willing to shill for em', I'm so impressed by it.

    audiokid likes this.
  3. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member


    Welcome to the club. I made a few bad cockups of recordings when I first used the SF12, almost identical to your situation. There is no question the Blumlein pair needs much more careful placement than a pair of omnis, which are quite insensitive to position in a good hall.

    Firstly, though, for a physically large sound source like an orchestra, I don't think the SF12/24 works, the angle of view is simply too small, consequently putting you too far back. Secondly, you need a fabulous room for it to work, as the back lobes are active. "Fabulous" does not mean revebrerent, it means controlled diffuse reverb and no nasty reflections anywhere, especially from the sides. However, try it on chamber music or as a solo vocal or piano mic or other smaller sources including choral stuff. This is where it gives really beautiful results.

    Also the top end of these mics is somewhat dull when compared to fizzy condensers, a very good preamp is required. The new AEA ribbon pre is almost mandatory I reckon, after puzzling and experimenting with this myself, and measuring input impedances, which have to be high. Simmo got some stunning results with a very esoteric custom made pre and I believe Scott Sedillo has made a new ribbon preamp as well, which I am sure will be superior to a conventional pre for the same reasons.

    You also discovered the moving back sounds better trick, which I confirmed early on with string quartets. I always start with the thing as close as possible, fitting all the musicians just inside the 90 deg, then I move out from there until it sounds great.

    When you get the right position in the right hall, it is the most stunning of all mic techniques bar none, IMHO.
    audiokid likes this.
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Thanks MadMax - that's a very generous offer. I genuinely appreciate it.

    I'll likely be purchasing one though in the near future (I have a friend who is looking to sell.)

    David -

    Thanks for the insight. I'll likely be using the mic as a main mic with flanked omnis. Do you think that would help fill out the width of the orchestra.

    I'll also be using it for choral work (lots!), chamber music (7 or 8 a year) and then soloists (violin, cello, vocal, etc.)

  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Oh, I should mention - it will be going through the Millennia HV3D 8 channel. I just got one from Nathan at Atlas.

    I was digging the sound of the DAV, but I really needed something with more channels and I couldn't wait for the 8 channel version of the DAV to get here.

    So, the millennia is here to stay.

  6. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    The Royer will be great on choral music...

    I find the Royer stereo mics to be a mixed bag. When they work well, nothing will touch it. However, as David mentioned, you need a great situation for it to work (between preamp and mic and room).

    I find that the "reach" of the Royer is not what condensers will get you. That results in a harder search to find the sweet spot where it sounds great. With some groups, I find that it is close, others, far... It is strongly room dependent. In general, when I use less directional mics, I place them closer to the ensemble. Sometimes with the Royer, I'll place it closer to the ensemble (paying attention to exactly where the two elements are aimed), but then I raise it up higher to get the air in the sound that I otherwise need.

    I think with some practice when you have time to move it around, you'd probably like it a great deal, but it is a somewhat difficult beast to tame.

  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Thanks Ben!

    I was also thinking that it would be a good spot microphone too - woodwinds or percussion. In those situations where it's not too great as a main array, I could raise it above the flutes and clarinets around 6 to 8 feet aimed down into the sections.

    Do you think this would work with the SF12??

    Thanks again!

  8. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Not fond of ribbons as Percussion spots... I usually like a faster, brighter sound for that (at least not a dark sound) to get the sparkle- especially on snare drums, cymbals, etc...

    Used it with a colleague on the brass section at the Ojai festival on the Atlanta Symphony brass section this summer. Placed it about 6-8 feet up looking down at the section as a whole. Seemed to work pretty well for that. I'd imagine that you'd get similar results on woodwinds.

    My only issue (and thing to be careful of) is the reversed image from the rear lobes. As a spot, you need to be very careful as to what is going in there and how you treat the nulls above and below the microphone.

    I'll also add that when I use my SF-24 on a large ensemble, I almost always have a pair of omni flanks as well. I find that my B&K 4006's work much better than my schoeps as the top end contrasts/compliments the ribbon a bit better.

  9. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    I also found this to be true of the SF12, and, after getting used to it in the same venue over a few years, it was quite a surprise for me when I switched to the SF24. Same venue, same music (string quartets), but suddenly, with the SF24 in the same spot I would normally put the SF12, I had waaaay too much reverberation. I had to move it a lot *closer* than I would've with the SF12 to get the same direct/reverberant balance. I remember a feeling of disbelief, and wondering if perhaps I had done something wrong - like, putting the mic sideways!

    I am not sure why this is so, I can only assume it has something to do with the SF12 not capturing reverberation as well and therefore needing to be further away than the SF24. Mr Spearritt (or anyone else who moved from the SF12 to the SF24), did you have a similar experience?
  10. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    No. I didn't notice it as you observed. Maybe I didn't think about it or analyse it sufficiently, but the SF12 seemed just as atmospheric. The SF24 seems to have slightly more solid lower midrange, and its a tiny bit quieter when using conventional preamps. But I am very keen to hear the SF12 with a pre designed for ribbons ala Fred Forssell's or Zilla's, then all should be revealed.
  11. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    In my opinion, your dissatisfaction with the SF-12 has more to do with its predetermined stereo configuration (Blumlien) rather than its "ribbon-ness". I have never enjoyed blumlien on large ensembles because its fixed recording angle tends to dictate where the mic is to be placed for capturing correct ensemble width. However, it is rare that this "correct" mic position agrees with desired recording depth, ensemble balance and direct-to-ambience ratios.

    I find Blumlien to be more successful with small ensembles. When using ribbons in that configuration, I am usually going for a very intimate sound. This is very contrary to capturing something size-able like an orchestra in a concert hall.

    I have liked the sf-12 for small ensemble and soloist recordings.
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I can definitely accept that. That's actually really what I kinda meant.

    I mean, I really did like the sound of the mic on some things. This was VERY preamp dependent though. I tried it through one of my favorite tube pre's and the sound I got was just god-dang ugly with loads of noise.

    I tried it through my Langevin though, and the same signal was lovely.

    I find this to be true, though to a lesser degree, with my Beyers too. Through the right pre, everything is great. Through the wrong pre, poop. Utter poop.

    The most common reaction I get when using my Beyers is -
    "It sounds dull" (Assuming that the client is used to the crispness of the modern condensers).
    However, I can easily tweak an EQ at somewhere between 8 and 12 k and the mics take it so beautifully. They cease to be "dull" and come alive, but with none of that "crispness" associated with my condensers.

    I suppose the same would be true when using the Royers on ensembles.

    Scott -

    How do you feel about using it as the main array with outriggers for the full orchestra? I have read and understand fully Ben's thoughts on the subject I'm just also curious about yours.

    If nothing else, I may just get it for the choral projects and chamber projects that I do. I also lay down a lot of drum tracks for folks (not me personally - I have session drummers), I'm willing to bet it would be great as an overhead pair.

  13. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    Coincident main pair summed with spaced omni's? Ribbon flavor mixed with condenser width? Hmmmm..., it doesn't really work for my approach to orchestra recording. Too many contrary characteristics. This does not mean it is not a valid approach. It just depends on how an individual engineer hears things and can draw out the best elements of the performer(s)+acoustic.

    I have used Royers on drums with good results. Ribbons are very fast, meaning they have excellent reaction to transients. However, they don't have extended high frequency response. This can equate to a nice leading edge without a lot of extra sizzle or brashness. Depending on the texture within which the drum track sits, this can be a benificial perspective.
  14. BRH

    BRH Active Member

    Zilla, I think the last time I talked to you on the phone was almost a year ago. You said the only mics you kept were your Schoeps. What happened.
    Just burnt out on that sizzling condenser sound...... off axis audience applause just a might too tinny for ya? Soprano blowing the lid right off your levels? I'm guessing those ribbons have a bit sweeter "backside" to 'em.
    Never used one, except an old RCA which was a beater from LA City College.

    Have used an AKG426>preamp> AEA MS38 line level matrix with varying results. Always with a wide angle cardiod on the Mid. Room played a big part of it. Better luck with spaced omni in rooms that were not so good.
    Most important!!!!! Arrive early enough to setup and move mics around during the rehearsal before showtime. I haven't done this for awhile because people kept burning me....... "This chapel sounds so good, it's incedible!!!" When I get there this building is right on the corner of Route 66-Truckers compression braking with the JakeBrake! I never figure out why people built churches right on the corner and put the parking lot in back where it is quiet!

    This may be a plus for the SF12/122...... You need to work in closer. As I said in an earlier post, as I get older I find myself wanting a drier more focused sound.
  15. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    Don't let all the recent focus and attention on ribbon and ribbon pre's give the wrong impression. I still like condensers and find them generally more useful then ribbons. My recent mic purging was targeted at phantom power schoeps. Tube schoeps and the 130v dpa mics are now my preference for modern condensers.

    True. It's pretty rare to find a venue which sounds good *AND* is noise free. Especially in LA.
  16. aracu

    aracu Active Member

    There's a sample on the Royer site of Prokoviev's
    Romeo and Juliet recorded with an SF12 in a nice hall.
    What a rich sound! Incredible! It somehow highlights
    the snare and high violin crescendos with a slightly
    surreal beauty and clarity.

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