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Author Topic: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?  (Read 3509 times)

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Offline (Evan)

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Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« on: January 05, 2011, 04:09:10 PM »
Sorry if this has been asked before. I'm just wondering if using an Nbox vs the actual Schoeps bodies has much effect on the quality/characteristics of the microphones? Do they suffer at all from the lower voltage supplied (how many volts is it, I forgot?) vs the normal 48v?

Thanks

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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2011, 04:20:11 PM »
Nbox provides 60v to the capsules which is the same spec as using bodies. 
I've never comp'd the two....  but I'm guessing that I personally couldn't tell the difference between an Nbox and CMC4/5/6 bodies.
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Offline (Evan)

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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2011, 04:21:20 PM »
Nbox provides 60v to the capsules which is the same spec as using bodies. 

Didn't realize that! Must have misread something somewhere. Thanks!

Offline johnw

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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2011, 04:38:15 PM »
I don't think that question has an easy answer.

The Nbox is a preamplifier that adds gain (20dB). A CMC4/5/6 body would require phantom power at a minimum but most people use a preamplifier to add gain as well before sending the signal through the A/D converter. Most preamplifiers distort the signal somewhat (add color). I think the best way to figure it out would be to find an Nbox>722 (no gain added) source and a CMC6>722 (no gain added until post) source made with the same capsule in the same configuration and on the same stand. Even a small amount of gain from the 722 will color the result and it would be hard to say if the difference is from the 722 or the CMC6.
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Offline DSatz

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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2011, 09:43:06 PM »
> Most preamplifiers distort the signal somewhat (add color).

Let's not lower our expectations too far! I think it's completely reasonable to expect a preamp not to "add color." It's not so hard to make a preamp that's neutral sonically, apart from the tiny smidgen of noise that can never be entirely avoided in the real world.

A little care in one's choice of equipment and in the way it's connected together should essentially eliminate preamps as a sonic factor--and to me and a lot of other people, that's the goal. A preamp is there to serve a simple, practical purpose that everyone understands: to raise the voltage of the signals from the microphones in a linear fashion.

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music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline johnw

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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2011, 10:31:22 AM »
> Most preamplifiers distort the signal somewhat (add color).

Let's not lower our expectations too far! I think it's completely reasonable to expect a preamp not to "add color." It's not so hard to make a preamp that's neutral sonically, apart from the tiny smidgen of noise that can never be entirely avoided in the real world.

A little care in one's choice of equipment and in the way it's connected together should essentially eliminate preamps as a sonic factor--and to me and a lot of other people, that's the goal. A preamp is there to serve a simple, practical purpose that everyone understands: to raise the voltage of the signals from the microphones in a linear fashion.

--best regards

Maybe that was a bit overstated to say "most"and I didn't mean to come off as saying that color or distortion is a bad thing. My understanding was that warmth is generally due to some distortion. Lots of people intentionally select warm sounding equipment to pair with neutral or bright sounding equipment depending on the situation.

Off the top of my head I would say that many users regard the following preamps as warm:

Apogee Mini-Me
Sound Devices MP2/Shure FP-24
Neve 5012
Sonosax SX-M2
Oade 148
Aeta PSP-2
Aerco MP-2
Apogee Mini-MP

Not warm:
Grave V2/V3

I had always assumed that the reason people regard those preamps as warm is because they have some inherent distortion - again generally regarded as favorable. If it isn't distortion, what causes this warmth? Isn't it generally distortion that causes tube equipment to sound warm?

I don't know if warm is even a very good description for a sound, but it's commonly used so I'll use it. To me a MK41>CMC6>SX-M2>722 just sounds different than a MK41>CMC6>V3>722. And I don't always prefer one over the other, I guess because the location/environment changes how they capture sound. Obviously playback equipment/environment changes how they sound as well.

I guess my point is that its hard to accurately describe how a CMC6 or an Nbox sounds because there are so many other variables. The key for me is to pick equipment that produces a result that is pleasant in most situations in a form factor that makes recording stress-free and enjoyable.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2011, 03:07:32 PM by johnw »
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Offline johnw

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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2011, 10:42:34 AM »
To help answer the question though, here are 2 recordings that offer some comparison. One source is MK41>Nbox>722, the other is MK41>kc5>CMC6xt>722. One problem is that the CMC6 stand was about 40 feet behind me and I don't know if the mics were arranged DINA or what.

http://www.archive.org/details/moe2010-07-07.mk41.flac16
http://www.archive.org/details/moe2010-07-07

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Offline it-goes-to-eleven

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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2011, 11:23:15 AM »
I agree with John - most add color and character.  All that I have worked with do in some way.

Another consideration...  For loud rock, you may only need to add 15-25dB of gain.  For purely acoustic, maybe more like 40-55dB.  I'd expect the amount of gain to influence the sound character, but I don't think it has been discussed much here over the years.  There is also the question of how hot the pre-amp is being driven on the inputs and outputs.  Since certain harmonic distortion can sound subjectively good, there is the question of whether a particular pre-amp must be run in the 'sweet spot' to get those effects.

Recorders also have 'sweet spots' in regard to dB input levels and gain settings.  We also know that some recorders distort at certain input gain settings.  Some of that distortion is very obvious, yet quite a few folks here argued for a long wihle that it didn't happen.  So if obvious distortion is a point of contention, where does that leave more subtle impacts on sound character? I don't think we've ever really answerd the question of whether the 7xx sounds better with the line in run at 0db or -6. I always ran at 0, some run at -6.

I think the v3 is the most transparent portable that I own, but it rolls off the low frequencies a bit.  Either that, or everything else is bloated on the low frequencies.  It'd be interesting to hear what Grace has to say about that.  I've done quite a few comps with my Rmod, the predecessor of the nbox.  It is very transparent.  The DAV BG1 is comparable in detail to the v3, and does not roll off the lows.  But it requires 110ac, so it is more of a chore to run in the field.

In my testing, the sonosax "smears" detail.  The behavior of the aerco probably depends on which transformers you have.   Mine do not add gain.  It is somewhat warm, very detailed but not as detailed as the v3.  I greatly prefer the aerco over the sonosax.  Though I don't record from the section at phish shows, where some people love the sonosax.

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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2011, 02:25:14 PM »
Not a biggie, but in a general discussion about preamp warmth, the mini-mp tends to be warmer even than the mini-me, contrary to its current position in the list a couple of posts earlier.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2011, 02:27:16 PM by tonedeaf »

Offline schoepsnbox

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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2011, 02:55:05 PM »


They sound the best this way to me...but some would argue that I have skin in this game ;D :P

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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2011, 02:58:14 PM »


They sound the best this way to me...but some would argue that I have skin in this game ;D :P

ya fluffer...   ;) ;)
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Offline schoepsnbox

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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2011, 03:00:47 PM »


They sound the best this way to me...but some would argue that I have skin in this game ;D :P

ya fluffer...   ;) ;)


I know, right ;)  Shameless plug here- There is an Nbox in the ys right now!

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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2011, 03:08:16 PM »
Not a biggie, but in a general discussion about preamp warmth, the mini-mp tends to be warmer even than the mini-me, contrary to its current position in the list a couple of posts earlier.

I couldn't remember that one so that's why I had the question mark. Got it moved into the warm pile.
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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2011, 03:47:57 PM »
I agree with John - most add color and character.  All that I have worked with do in some way.

Another consideration...  For loud rock, you may only need to add 15-25dB of gain.  For purely acoustic, maybe more like 40-55dB.  I'd expect the amount of gain to influence the sound character, but I don't think it has been discussed much here over the years.  There is also the question of how hot the pre-amp is being driven on the inputs and outputs.  Since certain harmonic distortion can sound subjectively good, there is the question of whether a particular pre-amp must be run in the 'sweet spot' to get those effects.

I agree with both points (gain utilized correlates to noted effect, and how hot a pre-amp is driven to desired effect range).

Recorders also have 'sweet spots' in regard to dB input levels and gain settings.  We also know that some recorders distort at certain input gain settings.  Some of that distortion is very obvious, yet quite a few folks here argued for a long wihle that it didn't happen.  So if obvious distortion is a point of contention, where does that leave more subtle impacts on sound character? I don't think we've ever really answerd the question of whether the 7xx sounds better with the line in run at 0db or -6. I always ran at 0, some run at -6.

In abstract theory, I agree, there is a sweat spot. In reality, I think for top end recorders it doesn't matter if it is truly the order of influence being location > mics > amp > A/D (and I think this is very true).

I think the v3 is the most transparent portable that I own, but it rolls off the low frequencies a bit.  Either that, or everything else is bloated on the low frequencies.  It'd be interesting to hear what Grace has to say about that.  I've done quite a few comps with my Rmod, the predecessor of the nbox.  It is very transparent.  The DAV BG1 is comparable in detail to the v3, and does not roll off the lows.  But it requires 110ac, so it is more of a chore to run in the field.

Ah, reference points, "what is normal."

I'll go out of a limb and say that the V series does it's job of wire with gain. Someone would have to sit down with one and do a very controlled experiment with some form of a spectrometer to see in measurable terms, but determining if there is roll off should be measurable.

In my testing, the sonosax "smears" detail.  The behavior of the aerco probably depends on which transformers you have.   Mine do not add gain.  It is somewhat warm, very detailed but not as detailed as the v3.  I greatly prefer the aerco over the sonosax.  Though I don't record from the section at phish shows, where some people love the sonosax.

I agree, the sax smears HF detail, that's the easiest characteristic I can find. It also adds a certain punch (not bloat, but surrounding frequency emphasis/distortion only upon a spike in voltage/signal) in the mid/sub bass region. In addition, There is something in the interchannel play that goes on that I can't put a finger on, but it's ultimately some form of distortion to the stereo image. Some may call this it's "musicality", but I think there is just a slight trade off of stereo image solidarity for virbancy but I can never pinpoint an example to look for later so it may just be other things playing tricks on me. Whether that's bad or good is largely dependent on a series of other conditions and ultimately user preference.
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Re: Do Schoeps caps sound different with Nbox?
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2011, 04:43:43 PM »


They sound the best this way to me...but some would argue that I have skin in this game ;D :P

ya fluffer...   ;) ;)


I know, right ;)  Shameless plug here- There is an Nbox in the ys right now!

Low-profile sweetness!!!  And the extension cable that's included with the sale opens up numerous possibilities!
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