Should a Neumann TLM 193 be this dark?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Hugo Drax, Nov 1, 2016.

  1. Hugo Drax

    Hugo Drax Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    I owned this mic in 1998 for a while and bought one again in 2014. I always thought it was good, plus it allowed investment in Neumann technology, which was otherwise well outside my budget - and still is. However, I find it extremely dark on vox (and instruments) and am certain a mic of this accuracy and calibre shouldn't be. A quick look round shows I'm not the only one but wanted to gauge if there's a potential fault in the signal chain.

    I record flat with it, and monitor through ADAM A5Xs. Their HF units extend well outside my hearing range, and the mic's response, so there should be no issue there. Yet, I have to routinely introduce 6-12dB of shelf lift from 2K to bring back the HFs of our singer - and I know her voice inside out, with it's hugely dynamic, raspy, reedy quality. What I hear from playback sounds hugely rolled-off by comparison to standing next to her.

    There's one other factor, a Steinberg UR22 pre-amp. If it was a piece-of-$*^t, I'd understand it, but it's not. Even as budget equipment, I don't believe it's rolling off that much top end. All I can conclude is the 193 is dark.

    Appreciate any help, and would love to be proved wrong, so I can stop having to fix everything I record!
     
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Location:
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    I've never considered the 193 to be "dark".. certainly not to the degree that you are talking about, with having to add 6-12db of HF shelf from 2k as your corner frequency... that's pretty extreme... .

    My first reaction was to think that maybe your preamp was to blame? But you're saying it's okay... although, have you tried other mics through the UR22 to make sure? Or, have you tried the 193 through another pre?

    Did you buy the Neumann new or used?
     
    audiokid likes this.
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    Home Page:
    I agree with Donny: the TLM193 is not "dark" in my experience. The frequency response shows a couple of dB broad dip around 4K and a slight lift around 12K, but nothing that would cause it to sound dark.

    Not long ago I recorded a girl singer with a very strident voice, and ended up using a Beyer M500 ribbon to tame her stridency. I thought it preserved a natural balance to her voice, but she said it made her sound dark. It turned out that the only other recordings she had were done with low-end condenser mics, and it was simply that she was used to her penetrating voice being captured in a home studio using a shrieking condenser microphone. When she played my session to other people she trusted they responded with phrases like "at last - a proper recording". She had to re-learn what a recording of her voice should sound like.

    One thing I did spot about the TLM193 feeding the UR22 is that the UR22's input impedance is not optimal for the TLM193. The mic is slightly unusual in needing a 1K Ohm input load to achieve the specified frequency response, and the UR22's input is 4K Ohm. I can't say whether this mis-match is responsible for your perceiving the sound to be "dark", but it would be worth trying a 1300 Ohm resistor across pins 2 and 3 of the XLR input to see if it makes any sonic colour difference. Be aware that the level will drop about 5dB when you do this.

    Other than that, try the TLM into a different pre-amp and also a different microphone into your UR22 to see what differences you notice.
     
    audiokid and DonnyThompson like this.
  4. Hugo Drax

    Hugo Drax Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    I appreciate a decent pre would improve the quality, although I wouldn't imagine the UR is so poor it's attenuating the HF to that extent.

    Not tried the mic through any other pre - not got access but might get it looked at, depending on a consensus.

    Mic was a Thomann customer return, so used once, repackaged (as new) 20% off, or something.

    Cheers.
     
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Location:
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    A great perception... I hadn't thought of it - and we certainly aren't doubting your ability to hear with a trained ear so please don't take offense at this suggestion - but Bos's thoughts are valid... if you're accustomed to hearing cheaper condensers - which so often have a built-in and seriously-hyped top end, then after awhile you could grow used to "that" sound, and when hearing a nicer quality microphone after not working with one for awhile, your perception could be skewed by past experience with those mics that have that pronounced top end.

    But we're not ruling out that there is perhaps something wrong with your mic, either.

    When you have the 193 connected, phantom power engaged, and you crank the input gain... are you hearing anything "wizzly"? I'm not referring so much to the typical noise you might here when a channel is gained-up to wide open, some noise is to be expected in cheaper preamps... I'm referring to hum, buzz, crackling... anything that might suggest that there's something amiss, on either the mic end, or with the preamp.

    Can you post a sample? One with no processing or added EQ... ( don't use a sample where you've engaged that Hi-Shelf boost from 2k/up that you mentioned).

    Uploading a sample will give us a better indication as to what you are hearing.
    (you can also be assured that RO members have similar hi-quality monitoring as you do with your Adam's).

    How to upload:

    At the bottom right-hand side of your screen, just to the right of the "post reply" button, is the "upload a file" button. Select this, and a menu will open, allowing you to browse your system and choose a file for upload.
    Give it a few minutes, as file sizes and local connection speeds will determine the amount of time it takes to upload.
    The max file size allowed is 12 meg, and RO's player will support MP3's up to 320kpbs in resolution, as long as it doesn't exceed that 12 meg limit.

    :)
     
  6. Hugo Drax

    Hugo Drax Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    Thanks. That's interesting - my electrical knowledge is long turned to rust, so would this mismatch carry any physical risk for mic or pre, and am I right in assuming I'd need to be soldering the resistor?

     
  7. Hugo Drax

    Hugo Drax Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    Thanks - no offence taken! I've not used the mic for a while as I was out the game, and am only bedrooming now, so it's always been my main mic. I've experience with 414s (which I know are brighter) and C1000s, but my weapon-of-choice has always been the 193, if only through lack of choice! Ultimately, I've not used cheap mics since 1995. My comparator is her real voice and repro from pro CDs artists across various genres. I realise I'm not going to achieve the latter, but I'd like some semblance of the former.

    I certainly think the UR is weak, as I have to crank it into the noise zone for a luke-warm/hot level (3-4 o'clock, 5 being max), so am aware of that short fall. There's shitloads of proximity bass lift, which I would expect from this mic, but I can still tell that all the presence and sparkle is gone from her voice.

    Thanks for the tip. I'll edit together a short example of different, flat performances (quiet/loud, spoken/sung, plus noise floor/room tone at max gain) and upload. Hope it's not just me - I'm sure I can hear up to 15KHz ;)

    Ta.

     
  8. Hugo Drax

    Hugo Drax Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    I've got a RODE NT1 but I can't imagine it'll be a fair comparison. Worth the effort?

     
  9. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    Home Page:
    Yes, definitely - it's differences you are looking for, not playing one mic off against the other.

    Not necessarily, but to avoid soldering, it does take a bit of practice and nerve to hold the resistor up to two pins that have 48V on them. I would try the NT1 first.
     
  10. Hugo Drax

    Hugo Drax Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    Doesn't sound dangerous at all! Regarding Ohms, I noticed the ART TPS II pre-amp has variable impedance on the i/p. Worth looking into changing the pre for that function alone?

     
  11. Hugo Drax

    Hugo Drax Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    [I've put in a verbal cue where the volume jumps up - please watch your levels]

    OK, here's a thorough sample file (I hope!) It comprises:

    1) Vox at track level - solo - no processing
    2) Vox at track level - mix - no processing [vox get lost]
    3) Vox at track level - solo - processing [for comparison]
    4) Vox at track level - mix - processing [vox as they should be]

    5) Silence - pre-amp at full gain
    6) Spoken vox (2) - on axis/6"/pop shield/95% pre-amp gain | -9.65bB peak [any more gain, signal clips]
    7) Spoken vox (2) - on axis/6"/pop shield/95% pre-amp gain | NORMALISED [required to get anywhere near a hot signal]

    Let me know if it makes sense or anyone wants to hear anything else.

    Thanks again.

     

    Attached Files:

  12. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Location:
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    First of all, you've done a marvelous job of organizing these, Hugo. Well done. :)

    I'm hearing a bit of what you are talking about on her voice... and in my opinion, it's likely a case of the wrong mic for the singer. There is no "end all be all" mic that will suite everyone, regardless of how much a mic costs.
    She's got a low mid-heavy character in her voice... but your mic is not attenuating the top end because I can still hear those crisp "S's" and a 3k "edge".... It's just focusing on her dominant frequencies, because they are strong in those mid range areas. Have you tried her through a different mic, like perhaps a dynamic of some kind ( to keep the room sound as much at bay as possible) ? Even an SM57/58?

    (Also, you may want to try setting an HPF @ 200 to see if this makes a difference).
     
  13. Hugo Drax

    Hugo Drax Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    Cheers for the assessment. Tried to make the samples as useful as possible!

    While I appreciate different mics have different characteristics and work better with different sources, I was under the impression the 193 was supposed to be as flat as can be, no colouration, no tonal shift or character. This being the case, should not it reproduce any source faithfully? Isn't that true accuracy?

    To be honest, I don't like the raw recording. I think it sounds harsh, muffled and sibilant. Not what I thought the mic was capable of. She doesn't sound like in real life. Maybe the UR is crap after all? As you might have seen, there's a wafer of travel on pot between 10B under zero and clipping, which isn't helpful.

    I've got a NT1 and NTG-3 but I'll try to get my hands on a 57. I hope it doesn't sound better, otherwise I may as well bin the Neumann!

    I always roll off the bottom of the 193, as it always produces too much bass, which makes everything sound muddy.

    Did my voice sound natural? Sounded boomy to me. I obviously can't accurately judge but I always take the bottom out for the same reasons as above.

    Thanks again.

     
  14. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    Location:
    Quebec, Canada
    Home Page:
    Know that there is no shame of using a 57 over a 3k mic. Some voice will work better with different mics, it's just the way it is.

    I've been listening to your samples. I don't find the clean track to be unusable. Althought I'm wondering if your room is not too damped with thin material. You see if you put something like 1 or 2 inches of foam, it will such all the high frequencies of the room leaving what we can hear in your track. Too much treatment isn't a good Idea.. It might not be your case, but I felt it needed to be said.
     
  15. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Location:
    77 Sunset Lane.
    sounds to me like a little lo cut narrow notch around 300 3dB and another 3 dB boost @ 6k will make everything right. a little compression may make it poke through but be sure to use a slower attack than you used in the sample to let the "leading edge" through.

    nice work.
     
  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Location:
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    Marco has a good point. It's not the amount of treatment that counts, it's the type of treatment. For example, if you are have 1" auralex (or equivalent) tiles on your walls, those will not attenuate low-mids ( or lows, or mids), because that material isn't the right thickness, or density, to handle frequencies in those ranges. It will, however, attenuate the upper ranges, (above 1k or so) that you are having to compensate for by using the hi-shelf lift you mentioned...and if you've got your walls covered with it, and your room also happens to naturally accentuate lower frequencies, this would absolutely effect the top end (by attenuating it), but it wouldn't do anything to tame the "boomy" frequencies that the room may have inherently.

    Good suggestion*. Personally, I'd go easy on the gain reduction at first. I wouldn't start out by setting your compressor at a 5:1 ratio @ a -15db thresh. Start out sparingly, just reduce by a few db to start. You can always add more reduction. Also, consider using Parallel Compression... this might be helpful in this situation. You can learn more about Parallel Compression here: http://recording.org/threads/parallel-compression.59296/

    I think it's also important to mention that you shouldn't feel as though you're doing something "wrong" by using EQ if you feel it's needed. Certainly, having to boost or cut by extreme amounts is a pretty good indicator that you've got sonic issues somewhere, either in the mic, preamp, or in the room itself, and those should be addressed if you want to get serious about the craft... but don't feel guilty about using EQ, especially in a home studio environment, where you are dealing with issues that pro studios don't have to deal with... There have been more than just a few times over the span of my career where I've used all kinds of dramatic EQ settings...
    (I've also seen videos where cats like Chris Lord Alge and Andrew Scheps have used all kinds of EQ - sometimes dramatic - to get the sound they want within the context of the mix they are working on).

    * Not that I need to validate Kurt's statement, he's a veteran pro, and certainly doesn't need me to back him up. I just wanted to agree with him because I thought his suggestion was a great place for you to start.

    ;)

    -d.
     
  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Location:
    77 Sunset Lane.
    not just home studios. sh*T, i used all kinds of eq all the time. no sin in that. if you're pushing more than 6 dB boost it can be an issue. some say you should never need that much but i always said if it sounds good, do it! as far as compression, try to not go than more than 6 dB of gain reduction and keep your ratios as low as you can unless you're compressing for effect. that will keep things sounding natural. also, compressing a little on the way in and then a little more at mix is a great way to reduce dynamic range without things getting too squished sounding.

    tracking real drums i used to gate and eq the crap out of the kick and toms ... lots of mid cuts and 6 k boost (for attack) while tracking and and then gate the whole kit on every channel except the o/h's at playback. (never when tracking). you don't need gates now .... you can just draw out all the parts you don't want to bleed. but i swear if you do it that way with a good console, you can make a great drum set sound as good as any drum machine or vst sample set.
     
  18. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Location:
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    LOL... I guess I kinda look at it the other way around... I'm always listening for samples to sound as good as a real drum kit; a really nice-sounding kit, played by a good drummer, using good mics, and in a good-sounding room.

    I still have my Yamaha Recording Customs, but currently, I don't have the room to set them up for tracking - actually it's a hybrid kit; the kick is a Power Stage II series, the toms are RC's, and I have a variety of snares; a Ludwig BB, a Ludwig Suprasonic, a brass Pearl, and an 7 1/2" Wood snare (Birch and maple ply) that was made by a small company in Ohio named Cannon. I think they switched tac a few years ago, though, maybe they were even bought out by someone else... and are now pretty much exclusive to making marching snares and tenors now, along with orchestral percussion pieces... which is too bad, because they made really nice drums for kits, particularly snares.
     
  19. Hugo Drax

    Hugo Drax Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    I'm in a totally untreated loft conversion, about 15' x 8', and maybe 8' high. There's plastered brick at the gable ends, and painted ply board on the slanted ceilings, with a carpeted floor and some soft furnishings. So, no treatment but sounds dry-ish (surprisingly) and has the 'luxury' of some non-parallel surfaces.

     
    pcrecord likes this.
  20. Hugo Drax

    Hugo Drax Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    I try that out, cheers.

    EDIT: what's your 'safety' attack? I've been using 0.1s on the API 2500 plug-in. Wanted to keep her voice as flat as I can - it's so incredibly dynamic, I've yet to control it properly.

     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice