Royer SF-12 with Fetheads vs. Royer SF-24

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by rojarosguitar, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. rojarosguitar

    rojarosguitar Active Member

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    I wonder how the Royer SF-24 active stereo ribbon would compare to the passive Royer SF-12 run through FetHead or Cloudlifter impedance matching preamps?

    Does anybody have experience of comparing first hand? Is SF24 quieter? Better sounding? Or maybe not?

    Comments very much appreciated!
     
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    I've not used either, but it's a great topic/thread to follow.
    How does the active Royer mic become "active"? Is there a power supply for it, or is it using phantom voltage?
    I know that the Cloudlifter - and other inline preamps such as the Cathedral Pipes Durham - uses the phantom power on the main mic pre and converts that voltage to additional gain (is it 20db?, I think?).
    I've only ever used the CL on low output dynamics (SM7 at a studio other than my own) and it worked great. For Ribbon mics, at my studio, I've had the luck to have mic preamps that are beefy enough in gain to start with, so no additional preamping was needed.
    I have read some people's concerns here and there that inline pres "can" alter the sonics. I didn't notice that happening when I used it on the SM7... I'm not saying it's not possible, just saying I personally didn't hear any noticeable alteration while using it - other than the noticeable increased gain, of course.
    I'm following this thread. Good topic!
    :)
     
  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    This is the text from Royer's website :

    The SF-24 stereo ribbon microphone is a phantom powered version of our popular SF-12 stereo ribbon microphone. It combines the SF-12’s high quality audio performance, outstanding stereo separation and imaging with our exclusive active electronics system for ribbon microphones. The SF-24’s output of -38 dB is a full 14 dB more sensitive than our non-powered SF-12, putting its sensitivity on par with that of phantom powered condenser microphones. The unique electronics and custom designed FET’s used in the SF-24 allow for ultra-quiet operation, with self-noise of lower than 18 dB.

    What gets my attention is this : The SF-24’s output of -38 dB is a full 14 dB more sensitive than our non-powered SF-12
    The fethead is said to give : 27dB's of clean gain
    So it seems, we can't compare both at the same output level.
     
  4. ronmac

    ronmac Active Member

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    Using either the SF12 or 24 is a wonderful experience best realized with the appropriate signal chain. A budget preamp connected to a less than ideal “booster” will not reveal all that the mic captures.

    If you have a chance to compare the budget pre setup to a more fitting one (Grace, Millenia, RME, AEA, etc) you will understand the phrase “only as good as the weakest link”.
     
  5. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    There is no doubt that any mic won't be captured to its full potentiel with budget preamps and converters. We got the evident exemple with a 100$ mic like the sm57.
    I see Antelope in the gear details of the OP.. if it's the interface/preamp, it's not so low budget gear but may not have a lot of gain available off the bat. I can see where the OP's question comes from.
    With the SF 12 at 2700$ and the SF24 at 4 300$ it would be rediculus to use one of them on a 99$ interface.
    In my opinion and experience, it would be better to buy the SF12 and a good preamps, like an ISA Two (+80db), Vintech 273(+70db) or better instead of a 4300$ SF24 on a budget interface.
    All that said if of course the claim of Royer is accurate (which says same mic but active)
     
  6. rojarosguitar

    rojarosguitar Active Member

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    Many thanks for the ideas. Obviously any mic can be compared on the same pre (the issue of not having the optimum performance on a low level pre is another one). For my Royer SF-12 I was using different pres, but somehow never really thrilled by the results. Actually more with the passive path than using FetHead or Cloudlifter.

    So if Royer claims the accoustic part is the same for SF-12 and SF-24, my question boils down to: how do the inbuilt pres of Royer SF-24 compare to Fetheads or Cloudlifters in terms of transparency and noise?
     
  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    It's not a preamp yet. just a fet transistor circuit who boost the signal but not to a line level...

    Honestly I'd love to have both to compare them.. but if you already have the SF12, the fethead, cloudlifter or THE DURHAM RIBBON/DYNAMIC MIC BUFFER AMP are the best choice.
    So in the end your true question is how those cloudlifter and others sound ? right ? ;)
     
  8. rojarosguitar

    rojarosguitar Active Member

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    Well, that's obvious, like in any other phantom powered mic; it's a kind of impedance matching buffer amp. I have Fetheads and Cloudlifters. Fetheads seem to have more clarity but also a bit more noise than Cloudlifters.
    My original question could be reformulated: Did Royer manage to do something in terms of the inbuilt buffer amp that does it better than FetHead or Cloudlifter. I might try Durham.

     
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  9. rojarosguitar

    rojarosguitar Active Member

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    It's a pity nobody can directly compare it. I mean, SF-12 plus two inline buffer amps with 100$ per channel is different than twice the SF-12 for SF-24. Until somebody comes and confirms it from his own experience I just can't imagine the electronics built into the SF-24 is worth 2000$...
     
  10. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    I've not used an SF24, but I have tried the SF12. I jumped at the opportunity to try one a couple of years ago because I own a B+O BM5, the original stereo ribbon that inspired the SF12.

    I use the BM5 with a pair of Neumann V476B pre-amps (80 dB gain) that I racked and powered. The combo is great for certain sound sources in a favourable acoustic.

    It was a shame that I had no pro live material to try the two mics on, only me playing on a selection of instruments in a studio. There was an obvious similar family sound, but we agreed the Royer had a stronger top end, and I thought the B+O was cleaner in the low mids.

    Regarding the SF24, Royer have done a lot of design work on the signal boosters, not least to get the noise figure, and also to cram all the electronics in the available space. I can't comment on how they would justify the price differential, but these things don't come cheap.
     
  11. rojarosguitar

    rojarosguitar Active Member

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    Well, I'm not expecting getting substantial improvements for free; I just wonder whether we run here into the 'diminishing returns' sitation, already having the SF-12...
     
  12. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    My guess would be that an SF12 followed by a pair of signal boosters (any of the half-dozen available types) would not sound as good overall as an SF24. Whether you heard a big difference or a little difference could well depend on source material, room acoustics and, crucially, the pre-amp used.
     
  13. rojarosguitar

    rojarosguitar Active Member

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    Many thanks for participation so far.

    I'd still love above all guessing a contribution of somebody with first hand experience with both situations on the same musical material. I'd suspect anybody using this kind of mics will have very decent preamps at hand, so that shouldn't be the issue. Of course every preamp will handle mics differently, but one should be able to compare different mics on the same preamp; otherwise the number of parameters becomes too large.

    And there are some parameters that are not so much a matter of taste: noise (or quietness), transparency and fastness of a mic/buffer pre combination should be possible to be judged independently of liking or not liking, isn't that so?
     
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  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    I think it's possible. But there's that pesky little gremlin that pops his head up from time to time...his name is "perception". Lol. He and his twin brother - who's name is "Subjective" - have been known to throw their wrenches into the gears of that theory. ;)
    So much of it depends on the source material, as well as what we find as individuals to be sonically pleasing. That perception part is usually the hardest facet to nail down. Often, our ears like (or dislike) things in different ways.
    This has been a really cool thread to follow...although, I'm of no real help, because I don't have any experience with either mic.
    :)
    -d.
     
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    The SF-24 is an amazing mic. I’ve not compared it to the SF-12 but I’d be happy with either. The SF-24 (condenser) takes pretty much any pre you give it.
    I’ve ran 100 runs to the SF24, connect to Lavry Backs and a variety Prism AD’s and it produced beautiful tracks. The SF series are wonderful .

    The SF-24 is ultra quiet. Using good preamps and cable, all Royer mics are quiet.

    https://recording.org/threads/royer-sf-24-orpheus-spl-neos-choirs.54195/#post-401546
     
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Below is a list of Royer related threads, some I've posted some examples of the SF-24. Also search for threads with @TheJackAttack. He's used cloud lifters done many wonderful recordings using the SF-12 and posted some examples here.
    Both mics are wonderful. I believe John (TheJackAttack) preferred a few pre's for the SF12 where the SF-24 is more versatile. Every studio imo needs at least one R-121 and at least one SF-12 0r SF-24. https://recording.org/search/2318986/?q=sf24&o=date
     
  17. rojarosguitar

    rojarosguitar Active Member

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  18. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Yes they both are stereo, but if I recall the 24 has a transformer built in and the 12 doesn't.. Am I right ?
     
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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  20. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    They are both stereo ribbon microphones with transformers. The SF12 is passive, and the SF24 has an active signal booster that makes it approach a condenser microphone in output signal level and ability to drive long cables.

    It's the AT5047 and AT5040 that are 4-element condenser mics with and without a transformer respectively. We had a recent thread about those (and others).
     
    audiokid likes this.
  • Royer ribbon microphones - Why?

    Simply put, when you put a quality ribbon mic on an instrument, voice, or other sound source, what you hear on playback is closer to real sound in nature than with any other kind of microphone.

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