Vocal microphone testing i did. (Blue, studio projects)

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by red_muze, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. red_muze

    red_muze Guest


    Id like to share some phenomenal results of an a/b testing i have had today with several microphones:

    we were looking for a deacent vocal microphone, and started to preform tests between some blue and studio projects microphones.

    we recorded a very good male singer (for which the microphone is intended) through the chosen mic, into an API 512 (mounted in a lunch box), to an RME fireface at 96khz / 24bit. and that was recorded to nuendo (im a logic man myself but what can you do...).

    these tests were preformed using our ears, listening through the ADAM S2a monitors. it is a subjective test. and is about taste.

    here are the results:

    Blue Blueberry - This mic sounded quite natural, with soft and pleasant mids. the high end was also nice and natural but lacked a bit detail, and the low range did not sound as solid as the rest of the mics. it had a more modern feel to the sound.

    Blue Baby Bottle - This mic sounded more colored. with a nice round low end and pleasant sweet mids, but the top end had something phasy that colored the sound, and made the sibilances sound a bit unnatural. this microphone sounded warmer an more "vintage".

    Studio Projects C1 - This mic sounded Natural yet it gave an extra "Larger than life" sound that the other mics could not deliver.
    The high end was a bit enhanced but sounded very natural and much more detailed than the other mics. the low end was solid and big. and the mid range sounded very detailed and expressive. it was not as sweet as the blue, yet it gave a much larger sound, even tho it was brighter, with more details.

    Studio Projects T3 - This mic sounded a bit similar to the C1 in nature, but had more charecter to it, and thus sounded less natural. its low end was fatter and very pleasant on the ears, but the mid range and hi range suffered in some way and did not sound as good as the C1.

    All in all, the Studio projects C1 microphone sounded better to our ears. from a previouse test i made the C1 sounded much better than the C3 (which is the same only has 2 capsules and thus is multipatern), my theory is that a single capsule microphone sounds better (in cardioid mode ofcourse). which explains alot about why the C1 won.

    it is still strange to us that this mic that costs about 1/4th of the blue mics sounded 4 times better than them.

    we are going to continue testing microphones with this setup to choose our perfect vocal microphone. money is not an issue (top end would be 3000$) so if you have suggestions wed like to hear them.

    we shoudl be getting a Neumann 87, and 149, and some violet design later this week.

    im also trying to find access to brauner mics...

    What do you think?
  2. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    May 25, 2004
    If you like the C1 you might want to try the B1 as well. It is not the same capsule and the sounds are different.

  3. jahme

    jahme Guest

    studioprojects c1 is a really good mic. Neumann mics are the high end type of mics. i mean if u really need it then dont hesitate.
  4. red_muze

    red_muze Guest

    i heard all of the Studio projects mics in a nother situation. and i realy think that the C1 outpreforms them all. i didnt like the B serries very much...
  5. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    My advice is that if your going to judge a mic on it's own merits, then you need to test just them as best as you can. The tests results you did are skewed. The API colors the true sound of the mic. In addition, the API 512 is one of those mic pre's that can have a big difference in the impeadance match/mismatch from one mic to another that also affects the final tone/sound of the mic. Now if your intent was to use the 512 because that's what you own or plan on using with your new mic, then proceed. But don't go away thinking that you are, or were, hearing just the sound of the mic.

    The other thing is that the results you got were only really valid for that specific set up. A slight change in any one of dozens of varibles could give drasticly different results. Many times you will find that you can use a mic the same way as you usually do and then sometimes it just will not work out right and you really need to use another mic.

    Listen to those mics on a more natural pre amp, even a cheap one and you'll likely find that the mid you like so much in the SP mics is now gone because those smile face eq hyped type mics have no mids/low mids, but he API does.
  6. red_muze

    red_muze Guest

    hmm you have a point there...

    we are also buying a vocal preamp.

    after testing the mics, we proceeded to test the C1 with Toft audio preamp, and my own reference was the fireface preamps.
    i felt that the toft sounded very clean and had a very nice tone to it (rather modern) but the API realy beat it with its warmth smoothness and 3d.

    i admit we did not check the blue mics with the other preamps when we found out we liked the c1 best we stuck to it.

    ill do the test again.
    should my green mic pre (diy) do the job for this testing?
    it sounds considerably better than my fireface preamps..

    but then, if the blue will sound better on the green pre, it becomes a matter of signal chain vs. signal chain.

    beyond that, i still find it hard to belive that a quality preamp like API would make an expensive mic sound worse than a cheap one.
    i presume that a neve preamp would act pretty simmilar with the same mics. so whats the real point of using a cheap preamp to test a vocal channel? which leads me to the basic question. what would be the best way to test recording channels for a specific singer (very good one i might add)?

    we are looking for a good vocal chain that will sound warm and lush, yet detailed and not very hyped. with a bigger than life sound. something that will cause some major ear addiction.

    we already bought a pair of C1's just becouse they sounded so good and were so cheap.

    but we still have enough budget for a nice chain and a more expensive microphone so we continue the test reguardlessly.
  7. I don't think the suggestion was to seek out a "cheap preamp" for comparison sake. The API just may not play "nice" with a particular mic and a particular singer, etc.
  8. red_muze

    red_muze Guest

    in that sence will a neve complement more microphones than the API?
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Thanks for your efforts. I personally know how difficult a test like this is to perform.

    As to which pres would be best for a mic comparison like this ... I recommend something without transformers, so that knocks the Neves and APIs out of the consideration ... and forget about the Toft pre ... it's a piece of mid level gear that just is not up to pro standards IMO (it's fine for what it is but not a reference piece).

    I think a Millennia HV-3, a Grace 201, True Systems, Earthworks, things like that would be the ticket. Even at that, the results can be dubious. I admit, even in my own comparisons I have posted, this is the case. As Gaff points out the results are only what they are ... the results for that particular situation. Things could be completely different with a different singer, on another day or in a different room. Also you did not mention what kind of "vocals" you recorded ... was it RAP? If so, fugeddaboudit!

    I personally prefer to post sound clips and let others make up there own minds what sounds best rather than to simply relate which I thought was best.

    BTW ... who are you? I would like to know who it is that is recommeding gear for me to purchase and it would be nice to know what your record credits are or what your qualifications are that make you a person I should take advice from. Especially advice regarding mic purchases.
  10. red_muze

    red_muze Guest

    We are definetaly going twards transformer sound for the preamps for this singer. its balad rock that is very well made and preformed.
    the singer has a warm baritone voice, im afraid i cant put their soundclips online since they are signed here in Helicon (Israel's biggest record company) maybe if you pm me with your email...

    I think i was perfectly honest about the "scientific validity" of the test and truethfully, i see no point in recording the singer witha quality preamp like grace design, nor with a low budget berbraun based toft when i realy want transformer sound in this chain... i cant report anything else than what has happened. trying to find "faults" in such subjective tests is very easy. and things were written as they were. you can gather your own conclusions from that. there are countless options for vocal chains and ofcourse each monitor will probably sound diferent on each mic aswell. so its an endless chase.

    i presented the test, in order to hear about other experiences with those, or other mics.

    Im definetaly not trying to adv. my favorite mics, on the contrary i would like suggestions and i like to have input especialy befor i spend so much money.

    and since you asked, im an israeli producer, cellist and arranger. ive produced about 8 albums for major artists here. and arranged dozzens. i have worked in an in-house producer in Zaza which is israelis biggest music studios complex. so i have alot of experience in recording (i usualy record and mix myself but it all comes from the arrangement realy..)
    you can read my full bio here:

    and check out some of my DSP developments here:
  11. voicemeister

    voicemeister Guest

    Thanks for Sharing

    Thanks for sharing the results of your testing. I love reading this kind of stuff.

    As you say, it is subjective testing but it is impossible to test every mic and preamp in every situation. This kind of subjective testing is important, in my eyes and the results are fairly reliable, I think. After all, if subjective testing was not valid, why would there be any agreement that certain mics and preamps are great... API, Neve's, Neumann's, etc.

    This is really the difference between consumers and professionals. Consumers buy on advertising, cosmetics and popularity. Professionals are not immune to these aspects but generally pros have trained their ears by hearing many different pieces of equipment so that they can hear a difference and put it into words. Just like wine, everyone is not going to agree that any one wine is THE best wine but many will agree which ones are AMONG the best. So it is with audio equipment.

    BTW, you must try a Neumann!

  12. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    I suggest a cheap mic pre over the API for several reasons. Like Kurt mentions, a cheap mic pre won't have transformers and is likley to be designed to be as natural as the price point allows it to be. They are also much more common so it is easier to relate to many people. The cheap mic pre with have an impact on the overall tone, but would be a better tool to more fairly compare mic's.

    When it comes to colored mic pre's that also have transformers, you'll find that the sound of a mic to another can vary drasticly which is why the mic and mic pre should be matched for the tone your trying to capture or create.

    That doesn't meant that one is worse than another as much as it does that they are different and one combo will likely work better than another combo on a specific source.
  13. red_muze

    red_muze Guest

    I did the same test again, with my Green pre.

    tis time it came with diferent results.

    the Baby bottle came out very warm and had a nice saturated sound with the green. while the C1 was now sounding very clean and almost sterile. never-the-less the C1's high end was more detailed.

    the baby bottle had less proximity effect than the C1 and had more low end content at 30 cm from the mic than the C1, however in close proximity the c1 sounded more solid.

    all and all it was a much tighter competition with this pre between the baby bottle and the C1. and in the end the baby bottle won.

    the blue berry was sounding as befor nothing much has changed. it was smooth and natural but without enough presance and didnt have that bigger than life flare i was looking for.

    we have repeated the same test with teh fireface preamps, and got pretty much the same results , just with less detailed and 3d sound than the green.

    saying all that, we still feel that the C1 with the API sounds much better than the mouse with the green. they are two completely diferent worlds. but i have lesrned some very valuable lessons.

    indeed the preamps do treat each mic diferently.

  14. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    I second the notion that API + SP C1 = good sound. Actually it was an API clone, but the sound was very nice when I recorded some rock vocals with the combo. I don't know if detailed is quite the word, but it makes the vocal shine in a non-irritating way. Probably won't need any EQ to add air/polish/etc. However, not a subtle sound; so classical or country stuff might not be so hot.

    I have no credentials. :lol:
  15. griz

    griz Active Member

    Mar 16, 2007
    May I suggest that posting MP3s might be useful.

    I'd also suggest that when testing mics, you test them dry because anything in the audio chain colors your results.
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Griz, I dont know where you found that particular thread but it is almost four and a half years old.

    While your suggestion is sound, I hope you're not expecting any of those folks(save one) to repost an answer. They arent around here anymore.
  17. griz

    griz Active Member

    Mar 16, 2007
    I found it in a search, but never noticed the date... Maybe there needs to be a flashing light RECORDING on active threads for old V/O guys like me *hehehe*
  18. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    Mar 3, 2006
    oh bummer, i was going to ask about some mics too!
  19. Tom Fodor

    Tom Fodor Active Member

    Jun 25, 2003
    Queensland Australia
    Mp3's are pointless

    Posting Mp3's will just confuse the issue because of the way they are encoded. It's like chewing Aluminum foil, only with your ears......
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