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Will TRP help?

I wonder if anyone could comment... I've recently purchased the Royer SF12 at a decent second-hand price. I've only had the chance to try it out once on the application for which I bought it - for small ensenble choral recording. I really liked the tone and the imaging, even though the mic placement was not ideal (too close). However, the noise generated between mic and pre at 60db was to my ears an annoyance - not terribly loud, but still a nuisance. I was using Metric Halo ULN2 pres, which are very quiet and have plenty of gain, so I'm thinking that the SF12, while excellent for some applications, may not be ideal for this type of recording. For the life of me, I can't find anywhere on the net the specs on the SF12's self noise.

My questions are two: has anyone here had success using the AEA TRP with the SF12 on quiet applications like choral recording? I guess I'm wondering if the TRP will be a magic fix. I'm pretty sure it won't be curing a mic's own self-noise though - so it's probably a silly question.

Secondly - and this question is only asked because I don't know the noise specs of the SF12: would a pair of Coles 4040s be a quieter alternative?

Any comments would be welcome.

Dave

Comments

aracu Sun, 10/15/2006 - 11:53
By making it wider or narrower, you can adjust the angle
relative to the distance in front of the source, being determined
by the acoustics of the room and other factors. The 90 degrees
may be correct according to a rigid theory...but not ideal for every
situation. A slight adjustment is not going to automatically
produce a black hole.

Simmosonic Tue, 09/12/2006 - 15:30
Duckman wrote: Can a ribbon get noisier with age?

I can't imagine any mechanism there for it to do so in any significant way, but I'm not an expert on noise. Also, when it comes to ribbons, I tend to agree with Remy - noise is part of the deal.

If the ribbon was stretched or otherwise damaged or impeded in its movement it might require more gain to get the same output, which could be interpreted as being noisy. But if that happened, you'd probably hear more than just noise. Or, perhaps the magnet has suffered some damage or wasn't fully magnetised, and therefore the current induced into the ribbon is lower.

I think you need to compare your SF12 with another one, through the same preamp and so on, as a point of reference. You could use a two channel preamp, with one side of each SF12 on the same sound source at the same time. Match the gains, then remove the sound source and check out the noise.

Member Sun, 10/15/2006 - 12:07
I am not talking about a "black hole"-- but you cannot escape the laws of physics. What good is picking up 20 degrees on the sides when it messes with the center balance? There is more to the equation than ideal accpetance angle-- look carefully at the polar plot.

I have never had a problem with acceptance angle with my SF12. Have you had such problems? IMO it would be better (and much easier) to pull the SF12 back a few feet.

Rich

DavidSpearritt Sun, 10/15/2006 - 13:42
Rich is spot on. The 90 degrees of Blumlein is essential to keep the linear distribution of phantom source location across the stereo image between the loudspeakers. If its less or more than 90 degrees then there will be compression or stretching distortion of source position, which is quite undesirable.

The correct localisation of sound sources with Blumlein is its number one characteristic, if you don't want that, then a pair of omnis or cardioids is a better bet.

Duckman Sun, 10/15/2006 - 17:38
Just a slightly tangendental question... when using MS technique on a choir, is it important to have the sound source confined within the range of the Mid microphone, or can some elements of the choir be singing directly into the Side microphone, off axis to the Mid. I'm thinking in terms of a micing a choir in a fairly confined space, kind of, but not quite, in a semi-circle around an MS setup. Would that work in theory?

Duckman Sun, 10/15/2006 - 17:48
PS Dave and Rich, have you found that the TRP has added anything to your ribbon sound not already present with the top-notch preamps you already use?

Also, how do you plan on using the TRP on location conveniently... is it rack-mountable... or is there any special casing you use to carry around portable equipment like the TRP?

Member Sun, 10/15/2006 - 17:57
So far I think the TRP gives the SF12 a little more body and focus. It is subtle but definitely there. I did not think my pres were lacking until the TRP.

As for travel-- I am sure it will stand alone because of ribbon inductance tendencies. Get the TRP too near significant AC and it picks it up. Ergo the separate PS.

Rich

Duckman Tue, 09/12/2006 - 20:00
Simmosonic wrote: I think you need to compare your SF12 with another one, through the same preamp and so on

Yes indeed... but pretty well impossible for me, unfortunately.

I'll probably end up with the Coles. Seems like they're quieter and have more sonic extension.

Would love an SF24, but the price ... I'm not in this professionally and can't really justify it. The Royer design is so bloody convenient!

Strangely, Schoeps have become an option for me now...

FifthCircle Sun, 10/15/2006 - 21:32
Sonarerec wrote: By definition a ribbon mic is fig-8, so I really can't imagine any benefit to adjusting the bodies (in the case of two SF1s) to be wider than 90 degrees. Then you'd have a hole in the middle of the front image.

Rich

I've been doing this for years with my 426. There have been situations where I like a given position and either pattern manipulation or angle manipulation makes the recording work perfectly. I will never go wider than 90 degrees, but I have gone as narrow as 75 degrees- usually for closer mic'd chamber music.

I'm of the opinion that I don't care if it is "correct" acording to the book. If it sounds good, it is good, and I break the "rules" to make my recordings work.

That being said, there is a mic with an angle adjustment. I'm blanking on the exact one, but it is either the B&O stereo ribbon or the Speiden stereo ribbon. I'm pretty sure it is the B&O, but I'm not 100% sure.

--Ben

mdemeyer Tue, 09/12/2006 - 20:11
Actually, on a stereo mic like this, a good 'first level' check is to do a test comparing the two channels (for noise level). Then swap the channels (to make sure the two channels of your pre have the same noise level. If there was something wrong with the mic, which is really two independent mics in one housing, it is unlikely that both channels of the mic would have exactly the same problem. So, if they are both the same, I'd say 95+% chance this is just the noise floor of your system.

You might also want to look carefully at the noise floor of your system. Short the mic input with 150 ohms and then measure the noise floor with the max gain (assuming you are using that with the Royer) on the preamp. Carefull attention to grounding and stray magnetic fields from racked gear can really pay off. (I'm working down the noise in my portable rack as we speak...)

Michael

Duckman Tue, 09/12/2006 - 23:03
Thanks Michael. I will try testing each mic.

Have already tested the preamp noise - and hope I did it correctly - wired pin 2 and 3 of an xlr plug together for a terminal, and recorded the sound of each channel. They were very quiet at 60db gain, and quite in line with the impressive specs of the unit (Metric Halo ULN 2). Plug the Sf12 in however... :-)

Duckman Wed, 09/13/2006 - 03:28
Simmosonic wrote: That *is* strange. If you can't afford an SF24, how can you afford a pair of Schoeps?!?!

There's an ebay listing for a mk2 pair of caps. Adding two new CMC6 bodies would make it around $3300, depending on the bidding. A brand new a pair of schoeps caps and bodies would cost around $4600 - according to one Melbourne dealer. If you know of a cheaper deal, please let me in on it. I'm pretty green about all this and am still finding my feet as to where to look for the best deals.

Re the SF24, my local dealer could get me one for around $5400 - and that's the cheapest I've seen it. Frontend Audio has them listed for $6805
http://www.frontendaudio.com.au/catalog/FEA%20RETAIL%20PRICING.pdf

Both prices are beyond me - I'm prepared to spend around $4000

Problem with the second hand schoeps deal is that the Mk2 would probably be a bit dark for micing a choir from a few meters away.

I'm open to any further ideas about a better deal on the SF24.

Cheers,

Dave

DavidSpearritt Mon, 10/16/2006 - 04:35
Duckman wrote: Just a slightly tangendental question... when using MS technique on a choir, is it important to have the sound source confined within the range of the Mid microphone, or can some elements of the choir be singing directly into the Side microphone, off axis to the Mid. I'm thinking in terms of a micing a choir in a fairly confined space, kind of, but not quite, in a semi-circle around an MS setup. Would that work in theory?

MS can take a very wide distributed source without the limitations of view angle, as there is no out of phase quadrants or regions to avoid, as there is in Blumlein. There is a spreadsheet somewhere or a Java beanlet or something that shows the patterns after matrixing, you can satisfy yourself of the coverage. It works in practice as well. :)

DavidSpearritt Mon, 10/16/2006 - 04:39
Duckman wrote: PS Dave and Rich, have you found that the TRP has added anything to your ribbon sound not already present with the top-notch preamps you already use?

Also, how do you plan on using the TRP on location conveniently... is it rack-mountable... or is there any special casing you use to carry around portable equipment like the TRP?

I still haven't yet used the Coles or TRP in a decent space with a decent source yet. In a couple of days, I have a wonderful baritone to record in our best theatre, am going to use the Coles and the AEATRP. Will post something if possible.

I have a Pelican case setup with the Coles and the AEATRP in it, along with the Coles Blumlein mount. It is self contained and will largely not be mixed up with other gear, ie phantom powered stuff.

Duckman Wed, 09/13/2006 - 03:41
A pair of Coles 4040s on the other hand can be had for around $3840 - which is within range... and perhaps the best option sonically for the application for which I want them.

Since however, this is a once only, 'desert Island' kind of purchase (ie, I won't be buying any other mics for a long time - budget restrictions etc), I am a little confused as to whether I might best be served by omni condensers as 'all round' microphones. I would also be recording guitar/folk music, and hopefully some early music instrumental stuff - lutes, viola da gamba etc. Problem is, I can't get rid of the idea that ribbons just sound better :-)

Member Thu, 10/05/2006 - 10:34
If I remember far into the past, I think this thread started about the SF12/TRP combo.

I auditioned the TRP last weekend with a non-powerful bass-baritone and subtle piano. The main mic was the SF12. No hiss audible (on headphones) that could barely be identified as such, much less an objectionable amount. I think your problem is (was) somehwere else, such as channel trim that is set above 0 on the ULN.

Rich

DavidSpearritt Wed, 09/13/2006 - 05:29
There is no question that a pair of omnis is a better all round purchase, much more versatile than a pair of Coles. The Coles are huge, heavy, difficult to mount in Blumlein, you could never use them in a live concert as a main pair. Blumlein is one of the trickiest techniques to setup and get in the right position, omnis are much less critical on placement.

Blumlein with ribbons is just another flavour that you should try and it succeeds with many instruments and voices.

But your first pair of mikes should defintely be a pair of omnis.

Duckman Wed, 09/13/2006 - 06:05
Dave, thank you for the tip - the saving represented there on Schoeps is pretty stunning (around $1000), bringing them well within range.

[I know this is a Ribbon thread BUT: would you say that the Mk2S capsule is more appropriate for choral - I see you own a pair. I'm hearing from other friends on this site that Gefell M296 is a very nice alternative too.]

Choosing 'desert island' is impossible!

Back to ribbons: are there any comparable 'factory outlet' type sites that include Royer?

*** just noticed your latest post: thank you Dave for the advice... I need such words of wisdom at the moment ***

DavidSpearritt Thu, 10/05/2006 - 14:10
I am not as down on the KM130 as Rich is. I think they are excellent mics for some things. They are bright, (as is the MK2S) but when used correctly, ie at a distance from the ensemble, they work well. They have a richness in the lower mids that the Schoeps and DPA 4003's do not have. For choral music in a large cathedral they are very suited, because you do not want the mics close, and a large church is somewhat dark.

In smaller rooms and closer micing, we prefer the MK21's or the SF12/24, much more suited. You need lots of mics in the collection ideally to draw on for flavour. The KM130's were selected by the main classical ABC producer for one of our early chamber music CD's in a darkish room, he even brought his own Sennheisers MKH20's and also tried the Schoeps MK2s's. I used the KM130's for quite a few years as my main pair when I started out.

I don't think they deserve the criticism they get, and the 183 version is very good value for money. In a DAW, EQ can be used to tame the top end.

ghellquist Wed, 09/13/2006 - 08:29
Actually I think the problem may be the preamp.

The ULN is probably very good (I have to admit I have not used them), but running a ribbon mic on quiet sources will be a bit above what it can handle. The micpres are targeted mainly at running condensor mics. Used with a ribbon you are not at the optimal impedance, the mic pres has extra stuff for handling phantom power and is tuned for something like 40dB. One extra stage of amplification might be what is needed to get the ULN up to the task.

As for the SF24 which I have used I think the noise level is around 18dBA, a little more than many mics used for recording quiet perfomances but well below the ambiance noise in most rooms. With correct gainstagin you should be able to reach about the same performance from an SF. But the output is very much below what you get from a condensor and hence the topology of the mic pre should be different (mark, not better, only more suited for this specific application).

Regardless, the SF24 is a difficult mic to use. In the right circumstances it gives the best sounds you can ever get in a recording, really lovely. Very often though the Blumlein pattern simply does not work with the acoustics of the room. It would take a brave person to have an SF12 (same goes for SF24) as the single tool used for recording. There is definitely a reason why most of the world moved to cardioid mics once they where perfected.

So in a tangent to this posting, my "single-tool" mic setup would be two cardioids in ORTF, and then why not the Schoeps MK4 then. My favourite setup (recently tested) is the MSTC64, where the capsules are fixed in an ORTF setup.

Gunnar

Member Mon, 10/16/2006 - 11:54
DavidSpearritt wrote: [quote=Duckman]when using MS technique on a choir, is it important to have the sound source confined within the range of the Mid microphone, or can some elements of the choir be singing directly into the Side microphone, off axis to the Mid.

MS can take a very wide distributed source without the limitations of view angle, as there is no out of phase quadrants or regions to avoid, as there is in Blumlein.
Well, it depends on what you consider is a MS pickup. We can certainly agree that the S is always a fig-8 mic. As for the M, certain people will limit it to being a cardioid. I say it can be anything you want from omni to fig-8, and even to shotgun mic as promoted by Sennheiser when they introduced MKH series.

If you use a fig-8 as M, the resulting LR will be equivalent to Blumlein (as long as the MS ratio is 1:1). If you want a MS pickup without any reversed polarity (or out of phase) quadrants, the M should be omni.

- Kewl

Duckman Thu, 10/05/2006 - 20:02
Sonarerec wrote: If I remember far into the past, I think this thread started about the SF12/TRP combo.

I auditioned the TRP last weekend with a non-powerful bass-baritone and subtle piano. The main mic was the SF12. No hiss audible (on headphones) that could barely be identified as such, much less an objectionable amount. I think your problem is (was) somehwere else, such as channel trim that is set above 0 on the ULN.

Rich

Yes, it could be that I mucked up the gain settings.... I'm fairly new to the recording thing (don't know how much longer that excuse will last!) but I'm fairly certain I didn't.

I tested the SF12 on both the ULN and the TRP and, at 60db, the noise was to my ears the same on both... obvious, not overwhelming, but enough to make me desire something quieter.

I believe Dave mentioned earlier in the thread that his experience with the SF12 was, if not the same, similar; i.e. at high gain you can definitely hear hiss.

What gain settings did you have with your bass-barritone/piano combo? I'm guessing that at less than 50db, the hiss would be negligible.

I'm still trying to find a mic solution within my spending range, hence the question about the KM130, which I noticed Dave was fond of. I'm also looking seriously at the AEA R88. Have heard great reports about it, and the price is perfect. However, I'm still held back by you more experienced heads who say condensers should be a first purchase. But, like I said earlier, 95% of my recording will be with a small choir (4-16 singers), where I think blumlein imaging and ribbon naturalness would shine, given reasonable room conditions).

Thinking out loud.

Rode NT45-O omni is a cheaper mic I'd be interested in hearing too. If it were any good, I could manage Ribbon and Condenser, financially. It's got a gigantic 8db HF boost though.

Member Thu, 10/05/2006 - 20:27
Duckman wrote: What gain settings did you have with your bass-barritone/piano combo? I'm guessing that at less than 50db, the hiss would be negligible.

However, I'm still held back by you more experienced heads who say condensers should be a first purchase. But, like I said earlier, 95% of my recording will be with a small choir (4-16 singers), where I think blumlein imaging and ribbon naturalness would shine, given reasonable room conditions).

Rode NT45-O omni is a cheaper mic I'd be interested in hearing too. If it were any good, I could manage Ribbon and Condenser, financially. It's got a gigantic 8db HF boost though.

I used the TRP at 60dB of gain.

I hope this does not offend you, but this post illustrates the essential dilemma-- you really do not know what you want, so you are likely to keep bouncing from one mic to another.

There is a world of difference between the mics you have mentioned. I could simply say to get a pair of XXXX but it's YOUR group and YOUR ears.

I think that given your threshold of hiss awareness, condensers are your only option. The question now becomes whether you want an expensive sound or an inexpensive sound? All the hubris in the world will not change the fact that you will get what you pay for. I wish it were otherwise!

Rich

Duckman Thu, 10/05/2006 - 21:49
No offence taken. I know I'm indecisive. The post did start out as a ribbon post, but turned to condensers when the more experienced posters advised strongly for them as a starting point. Hence my question about the KM130 as a possible competitor to more expensive options.

If I could hear them for myself, I would. But most of the mics mentioned I cannot test for myself. So I have to ask about them.

I know there is a world of difference between the KM130 and the R88. Still, both are options, and I'm interested to hear about how they sound.

Member Wed, 09/13/2006 - 10:58
I own and use an SF12 alot, either through Millennia or Broadhurst Gardens, and either on choral or brass.

Perhaps I am not listening correctly, but the micamp noise (which is really what we are talking about as the SF12 is a passive device) simply is not distracting to me or my clients for either application.

Having said that, would an SF24 be quiter? Yes, definitely. Is the difference worth the money? For me, no.

You wondered about the Schoeps MK2S for choral-- if you are after a crunchy, pop vocal sound, then go for it. Otherwise, you would have to get so far back that it would be more wash than anything, amd only in rooms that had significant reverb.

Schoeps MK21 is a much better all-around choice. If that is not financially possible then the MK2 in conjunction with a Jecklin and LPEQ would also be viable. Note: I am not advising the use of Jecklin on everything, but for chamber and bigger the imaging is just superb.

Life is full of tradeoffs!

Rich

DavidSpearritt Mon, 10/16/2006 - 13:54
Yes, Kewl, you are correct of course, I should have been clearer.

The question arose about wide sound stages in choral recording, where you would assume that all the singers are "in front" of the array. I tend to define MS as a cardioid M, and with "normal" relative gains of M and S, there are negligable out of phase sections in front of the mic, where the singers are, even out wide the coverage is in phase.

I think this was the answer to the question.

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