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So why do you buy a stereo pair/matched mics?

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by sshack, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Really...for what kind(s) of applications? I'm new, so I don't know.
    Furthermore, why would you NOT buy them?

  2. fourone3

    fourone3 Active Member

    I think it's because they're sequential on the production side, so there's a better chance they're identical. I've been told it doesn't actually matter with some manufacturer's as they have excellent QC - but some also charge an extra $40, $50, etc. to have a matched pair.

    But I wonder, if people are so concerned about matched mic pairs, why haven't I heard anyone ask about matched monitors? Nearly every monitor I've come across, including the KRK's I have, don't have sequential serial numbers. Is there a different process/idea to monitors as opposed to mics?

    Hmmm ... someone learn us right.
  3. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Matched pairs are tested in the factory and sold based on their similar test results. In most musical arenas a matched pair is not on the top of the list of necessities - on a drum kit for instance, two decent mics of the same make and model are more than sufficient.

    That's not to say that the same make and models of mics are created equal, even on the same production line. I have two Oktava MK219's that sound nothing alike, therefore I shy away from throwing them up as a stereo pair.
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    If you record in any symmetric stereo pair configuration like XY, ORTF, or Bleumlein it is nice to have mics that are close to identical in response. If not, the stereo image will shift to the side of the hotter mic. So if one mic is hotter than the other you have to turn down its gain a bit to get an even image. If there really was an uneven frequency response it would really be a pretty unrealistic image unless your hearing is damaged in one ear. The only of a matched pair drawback is the cost. Not a big difference if you are buying new. Much smaller supply (hence higher price) used.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I wouldn't consider the KRKs to be the litmus test of this.

    Many high-end monitors are matched. Though you'd never know it as they don't really advertise it this way. Many quality speaker/monitor manufacturers don't sell single speakers, they sell pairs. Wilson Audio comes to mind. Of course, you can buy a single speaker for center channel use, but otherwise, they're sold as pairs.

    I'd shutter to think of using a speaker (even the same model # and everything) that was 5 years old on the left and brand new on the right...yikes.
  6. I would say that any two mics (or any product infact) of the same make and model should be built to the same spec regardless of when and where you purchase them?

    Fair enough that both of them won't sound exactly the same but the difference shouldn't be that great.

    If their is a huge difference between the two then surely this would be down to poor manufacturing?

    A company selling 2 identical mics as a "matched pair" is only an a ploy to get you to purchase 2 of their products at once in my opinion.

    I could be way of the mark here but thought i'd give my view.
  7. mwacoustic

    mwacoustic Guest

    Theoretically, yes. In reality, no. First of all, manufacturing specs generally are a range of values, to allow for some natural variability in processes. The question is - how wide are the allowed ranges? (And another question - how stable is a product after it has been sold, used, abused, etc, compared to a brand new one?)
    A "huge difference" is a relative term... what might be invisible (inaudible) to the casual listener could be significant to critical ears or critical applications. How accurately can you measure the thickness of the plastic wrap in your kitchen? If you tear off two sheet of it, are they the same thickness? Close enough? Depends on your needs... Imagine that plastic coated with even thinner layers of gold to make a microphone membrane. Now is your gold thickness exactly the same everywhere? Microns matter here... And the behavior of the device needs to be the "same" over frequencies spanning three orders of magnitude! There's the same, and then there's the same, and nothing is every really the <u>same</u>.

    Some companies might just grab any two devices and sell them as a matched pair, but I doubt that any of the pro gear recommended by experienced folks here gets bundled that way.
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Yup, you're off the mark.

    As far as age is concerned...

    1 - Air + metal = chemical reaction. This means that the diaphragm on your microphone changes over time even if not used.

    2 - metal + vibration = physical reaction. As your microphone sees action, it will alter its shape - albeit very little over time. However, even a few years and a mic will behave differently

    3 - Different metals from different lots vary ever so slightly in composition. What this means is that the gold used by AKG 5 years ago to plate their membranes is not from the same "lot" of gold that they use now. While the tolerances on this kind of stuff are pretty high, even minute adjustments can make a difference.

    4 - Even the highest tolerance CNC, cutting machines, etc. will have minor variances over time. Think about it, if you intend to capture the entire frequency range (0Hz/DC to >20kHz) with a single 1" or 1/2" diaphragm, don't you think even a minute adjustment is significant? (Hint: it is.)

    I wouldn't chalk any of this up to poor manufacturing. Some of the best manufacturers in the world (Schoeps, Neumann, Gefell, and others) offer matched pairs and they take this very seriously. They measure the mics' responses to input and even slight variances get pulled from the matching stock. Most companies will take a benchmark mic (one that best represents their product line in quality and specification) and use this as their matching basis.

    They'll take a single mic and make sure that its entire range varies no more than a prescribed amount (usually +/- 1dB over the entire range, which is actually a very tight tolerance) and then find another which meets the same criteria.

    In many cases, the mics will be sequentially serialized, but this is due more to the fact that the dies and tools are similar enough at that phase in manufacturing to produce little to no variance in product.

    For most newer and higher-quality mics (such as Schoeps, Gefell, Sennheiser, etc.) I will feel quite comfortable buying sequential serials over spending the extra money on matching. However, for lesser brands, if I'd even consider buying them, I would definitely opt for a matched pair and I would demand to see the documentation of such matching.
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I see that MWAcoustic posted at the same time I did.

    My "off the mark" comment was aimed at Tobacco_Slammers.

    MW is firmly on on the mark.

  10. Yes but surely each mic has went through quality control and thus making them the same spec?

    Lets put it this way:

    You purchase "mic AB" from a manufacturer then decide later that you want to purchase another "micAB" from that manufacturer to use as a matched pair.

    At the same time they also offer a matched pair of "micAB".

    Surely the mics in the matched pair should be to the same spec as the first one you purchased?

    If not then these would be a different product and should be named differently.
  11. mwacoustic

    mwacoustic Guest

    lol - as are you, Cucco
  12. mwacoustic

    mwacoustic Guest

    I'll sell you 2 sheets of plastic wrap for a penny a piece. But if you want them to be the same thickness +/- 1 micron, they are now $1000 a piece, becuase now I need fancy processes and equipment, etc. They are all still "the same" plastic wrap. Depends on what you need as the customer, and are willing to pay for. If you just need to cover your leftover lasagna, you don't need a matched pair.

    Speaking of quality control, do you know how they make 1% tolerance resistors vs 5% or 10% tolerance?
  13. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Sure, and if you buy 2 mics from a manufacturer with tight specs with serial numbers that are fairly close you will probably get mics that match pretty well. I have a pair of 414s that I bought this way and they are pretty close. But if you get one mic that spent a year in a warehouse in Iceland and one the spent a year in Borneo they will probably be significantly different. So you buy a third mic and see which one that matches and then sell the odd one out and so on...or you and just buy a pair that has been in the same box since they were made. Not a huge deal but not just hype.
  14. I was merely stating my opinion on the subject but as I mentioned "I could be way of the mark".

    I'm only giving my ameteur opinion on the subject but rip me if you wish! lol

    p.s. I've no idea how the make 1% tolerance resistors!
  15. mwacoustic

    mwacoustic Guest

    you're not being ripped, as far as I can tell. I hope I didn't come off that way - it wasn't my intention. You're just getting answers to your question - which is a legitimate question, by the way.

    To make 1% tolerance resistors (they're better than 10% tolerance, right?), just make a whole bunch of them with the same recipe, then measure them all. Take the ones that ended up within 1% of the target, and call them 1% (sell 'em for more if you can). Take the ones that measured 2%-5% and call them 5% tolerance (sell those for a little cheaper), and take those that measured more than 5% off the target and call them 10% resistors (even cheaper). The point is, one might think that a "1% tolerance" must be harder to build than "10% tolerance", with better "Quality Control" and all - but they are really built the same, and just sorted out later! :lol: (not everything is made this way, of course, but it is an interesting example)
  16. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Well, this has proved to be interesting.
    For a noob doing at home recording (like me), it doesn't seem like a matched set is all that big of a deal.

    Right now I just need to get the most out of and the best sound with ANY single mic that I own, much less a pair.

    Thanks for the responses though.
  17. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Yeah, I agree with MW - no ripping.

    However, stating opinion about something in which there is already fact (based on empirical and physical evidence) is akin to stating:
    "I think the sky is blue because Pixie dust mixes with the gas from puppy farts and turns blue..."

    Yes, I'm afraid we kinda overlooked the original question.

    If you're not doing stereo recording of precise orientation (classical orchestra, chorus, etc.), a matched pair really isn't necessarily worth it. However, as your skills improve, you may very well find that a pair is in your future. By then, you will definitely know if you need it to be matched or not.


  18. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    That's what I was looking for...thanks Jeremy!
  19. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    In the home studio the things I record with a stereo pair are almost always solo acoustic instruments; e.g. acoustic guitar. Since I seldom want to leave that dead center in the mix, I'll be tweaking the relative volumes and pans of the two sides anyway. So as you say, a matched set of mics is much less important in that situation.

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