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Author Topic: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?  (Read 11454 times)

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Offline (Evan)

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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #45 on: February 18, 2015, 11:10:02 AM »
There is such a wide array of opinions here...definitely makes my decision much more difficult!

I'm leaning more and more towards the DPA 4060/4061's (which one would be best for my situation?), but I want to make sure I completely understand what you guys are saying. Would my results with the DPA's be comparable or better than using larger diaphragm Omni capsules such as Schoeps or AKG? I was unaware of the "smaller is better" rule when it comes to omnis before starting this thread.

Thanks!

Offline yates7592

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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #46 on: February 18, 2015, 11:43:34 AM »
DPA 406x are fine mics, I've used them many times with pleasing results. But they are NOT better or even anywhere near the SQ from the large omni capsule from DPA (4006 - see my earlier post), nor would I very much doubt they are better or near Schoeps MK2. I think what others have been saying is that for card/hyper mics the step up in quality from miniature to the full size mic caps is very significant, whereas for omni's it is not quite as large a gap (becasue miniature omni's tend to be better than miniature directional mics). BUT, it is still a large and significant gap IMO because I've run both extensively and know from experience that 4006 smokes 406x. And you can run 4006(C or E) with a head baffle.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2015, 11:45:25 AM by yates7592 »

Offline acidjack

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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #47 on: February 18, 2015, 12:11:32 PM »
There is such a wide array of opinions here...definitely makes my decision much more difficult!

I'm leaning more and more towards the DPA 4060/4061's (which one would be best for my situation?), but I want to make sure I completely understand what you guys are saying. Would my results with the DPA's be comparable or better than using larger diaphragm Omni capsules such as Schoeps or AKG? I was unaware of the "smaller is better" rule when it comes to omnis before starting this thread.

Thanks!

Not "smaller is better"; just that in omnis, "smaller is not as bad".  There is no miniature cardiod that will measure up to a Schoeps MK4, AKG ck61, etc. Omnis are easier to manufacture at tiny sizes without compromising sound quality; hence, the DPA 406x are pretty darn close in quality to Schoeps MK2 or DPA 400x (at least, IMHO, for "stealth" recording; agree 100% w/ yates that the larger-diaphragm mics are still better). Are they somewhat less good? Yes, they aren't as good, but the are much simpler to use, much more unobtrusive, and still sound outstanding.  Hollywood film studios put them to plenty of good use.
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Offline 2manyrocks

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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #48 on: February 18, 2015, 03:10:44 PM »
I have 4061s and have recorded a musical done in a sanctuary seating about 700 or more.  My recording from the back pew had too many reflections.  Concert recording from the second pew was pretty respectable. Mic placement affects all mics.

Only negative I see is these have tiny cables and can't be expected to be as robust as full size mics.

Offline Ultfris101

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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #49 on: February 18, 2015, 04:18:42 PM »
Speculation/opinion: I would expect the mk21s to work quite well actually and would be an excellent compromise between omnis and cards especially if you've found subcards worked well in the past. I can't imagine the head baffle would behave much differently than if you were using omnis but maybe somebody can chime in that they do something bad. Given that you probably won't be able to angle them much the baffle will probably work well.

Just opinion, and many here are far more experienced than I am, but I would think the mk21s would be good for you, especially if you are likely to be recording in rooms with decent sound treatment that reduce uglier amounts of reflection.

The detail and broad, flat response you get from any of the Schoeps will be great and if you're recording in a theater with classical music your noise floor will be lower so it's quite possible you'll benefit from the small diaphragm size vs the mini-mic size.
 
I've not looked closely at the CMR cables before but if they can run off a ~9v supply I'm thinking I might need to get a pair myself.
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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #50 on: February 18, 2015, 05:27:26 PM »
DPA 4060.

8 reasons why-

1) It fits with everything you've mentioned about what you record, the way in which you record and your seating location in the venues in which you record.
2) Large improvement over the ATs you are using now, IMO.
3) Has lower self-noise-floor the less sensitive DPA 4061, which may actually be a factor given what you are recording. 
4) Only requires a simple battery-box or low-voltage supply preamp between the microphones and your recorder (which you probably already own).
5) If you decide you want to switch to a more complicated and less compact setup, they are easy to sell here in the yard-sale.
6) Makes outstanding outdoor recordings when sufficiently spaced 3' apart or more.
7) Useful for non-stealth indoor recordings on-stage or at the stage-lip (on stalks or boundary mounted) or from the back of the room boundary mounted on the rear wall (in which case they will outperform most directional microphones used from the same distant location).

If you have not already mastered the skill, learn how to expertly manipulate your recordings with careful application of EQ, which will have a far greater influence on the quality of the resulting recording than switching to a different omni once the microphone you are using is above a certain quality level, especially if the differentiation between the two microphones you are comparing is primarily that of their frequency response curves (and it often is).
8 ) IMO, the DPA406x surpass that threshold.  Less costly small omnis I have used do not.  This places them at a sweet spot in the cost/complexity curve and they remain "plenty good enough" for everything I record, which is similar to what you are recording.
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Offline Scooter123

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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #51 on: February 19, 2015, 12:33:30 AM »
What Mr. Gutbucket said.  I've owned a pair and although I'm a Schoeps guy, there are times I really miss those DPAs   They especially shine in nice theaters in more formal concerts.  Dare I say that in those types of shows, the DPAs beat Schoeps?  I miss mine.  You actually capture the room and ambiance 

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Offline 2manyrocks

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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #52 on: February 19, 2015, 03:04:34 PM »
FWIW, I have AT853s and the DPA4061s are a clear upgrade.  I could hear the difference instantly.  Gutbucket's 8 points in favor of the 4060s make sense to me. 

Offline DSatz

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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #53 on: February 28, 2015, 02:24:03 PM »
I just want to say from the Schoeps side of things that the MK 2S or MK 2H would almost certainly be preferable to the MK 2 in this type of application, even (or perhaps especially) if what you want is flat response.

When you're using omnidirectional microphones in a reverberant space and you're not close to the sound source(s), the published frequency response curves don't apply. Or at least, they need considerable interpretation, since they only show the microphone's response to sound that arrives from directly in front of the capsule. Most studio omnidirectional microphones, because of their physical size, are only really omnidirectional up to a certain frequency, and then their pickup pattern begins to narrow. Of course the front of the capsule is the center of that narrow pickup angle, so the frequency response for the MK 2 LOOKS flat--and it really IS that flat if the sound source is close to the mike and directly in front of it.

But that isn't the situation you have when using a pair of omnis to make stereo recordings from the audience area of a performance venue. In that situation, the reflected sound predominates over the direct sound, so the angles of arrival, on average, are far more diverse than they would be if you were recording a narrow sound source close up. If you use microphones that are flat on axis in that more distant, diffuse type of situation, the recordings can tend to sound dark and maybe even muddy.

That is what the MK 2S and MK 2H (and many other omnidirectional microphones that have rising response on axis) are designed for. The average of their on- and off-axis response is flat, matching the ratio of direct to reflected sound that you're picking up. Sure, if you use them close to the sound source and/or in a dry acoustic, they'll pick up sound mostly on axis so they'll have some extra sizzle on top that you may not want. But that's what the MK 2 was designed for.

Does that make sense to people? It's not at all unique to Schoeps; it's a basic concept about recording with omnidirectional microphones that I wish more people understood.

--best regards

P.S. for extra credit: Very few professional omnidirectional condenser microphones are ultra-miniature, partly because of the obvious signal-to-noise issues but also because the usual working concept of recording with omnidirectional microphones is to WANT the microphone to have some directivity at high frequencies. You don't normally want to pick up reverberant, off-axis sound with the high frequencies at full volume; that clutters and confuses the result. So having identical high-frequency response at all angles isn't traditionally considered a virtue in an omnidirectional microphone, except by the marketing departments of certain manufacturers. In fact, the most historically highly revered omnidirectional microphones (the Neumann M 50 and its various successors and imitators) have pressure transducers embedded in 40 mm spheres specifically to increase the difference between frontal response and the response from all other directions, and to extend that directivity downward toward the midrange. That comes from many decades of practical experience in making live recordings from a distance.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2015, 04:28:11 PM by DSatz »
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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #54 on: March 02, 2015, 01:52:42 AM »
[treading carefully]
I respectfully have a couple issues with just the extra credit part, and I value your thoughts on this-
 
First, keep in mind that the original poster is mounting the microphones onto the surface of an ~8" diameter spheroidal sound-absorbent baffle.  That microphone arrangement method is the most common way sub-miniature omnis are used for music recording around here at TS, and the only way many members use them.  And that's going to create a much larger far off-axis response difference than a omni embedded in a 40mm acrylic sphere, due to significant differences in size and acoustic properties of the materials, both increasing that directionality and extending it farther down into the lower-midrange.

Second, I remain open and ready to be convinced of the value of the "usual working concept of recording with omnidirectional microphones", but I find it's not the highest-frequencies but the midrange and especially upper midrange where a directional level difference is valuable.  When I have separate control over the sound from the sides and back compared to the direct sound from in front, it almost always works best to cut the midrange and especially presence range but increase high-frequency energy significantly from all the non-front directions (and low bass).  A sort of 'loudness curve' seems to work best and sounds most natural to me. That curve doesn't resemble the difference in response between on-axis and average off-axis response of typical non-miniature sdc omnis at all, which is more like a low-pass filter with a pretty high corner frequency (the M50 gets closer).

I also like the concept of a truly omnidirectional omni which I can use that way, or change the response as I choose and make it directional in all sorts of ways to differing degrees- like including embedding in small spheres, or placing near absorbant baffles, or mounting directly onto hard boundaries. 

Am I both incorrectly interpreting my experience AND it it's a fortunate coincidence that although imposed by the physical size of their diaphrams, the difference in direct and diffuse responses of sdc omnis occurs in the correct frequency range and has the correct shape and level to achieve the acoustic response we want for recording from a distance?

Isn't similarity of frequency response on and off-axis a basic design goal for directional microphones? I'm not asking rhetorically, It might be that shaped response differences are desirable in directional mics as well, for the same reasons.
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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #55 on: March 04, 2015, 10:48:35 AM »
^^^
Just want emphasize that I'm not trying to be a contrarian here.  I'm very interested in your thoughts on this Mr. Satz.

This is what I was trying to get at in the thread titled: Cardioids which are most natural sounding off-axis? On-axis sound secondary, before the discussion died without much talk about these particular aspects. Specifically in these two posts:

http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=169175.msg2102771#msg2102771

http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=169175.msg2103095#msg2103095
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Offline voltronic

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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #56 on: March 04, 2015, 05:11:42 PM »
[treading carefully]
I respectfully have a couple issues with just the extra credit part, and I value your thoughts on this-
 
First, keep in mind that the original poster is mounting the microphones onto the surface of an ~8" diameter spheroidal sound-absorbent baffle.  That microphone arrangement method is the most common way sub-miniature omnis are used for music recording around here at TS, and the only way many members use them.  And that's going to create a much larger far off-axis response difference than a omni embedded in a 40mm acrylic sphere, due to significant differences in size and acoustic properties of the materials, both increasing that directionality and extending it farther down into the lower-midrange.

Second, I remain open and ready to be convinced of the value of the "usual working concept of recording with omnidirectional microphones", but I find it's not the highest-frequencies but the midrange and especially upper midrange where a directional level difference is valuable.  When I have separate control over the sound from the sides and back compared to the direct sound from in front, it almost always works best to cut the midrange and especially presence range but increase high-frequency energy significantly from all the non-front directions (and low bass).  A sort of 'loudness curve' seems to work best and sounds most natural to me. That curve doesn't resemble the difference in response between on-axis and average off-axis response of typical non-miniature sdc omnis at all, which is more like a low-pass filter with a pretty high corner frequency (the M50 gets closer).

I also like the concept of a truly omnidirectional omni which I can use that way, or change the response as I choose and make it directional in all sorts of ways to differing degrees- like including embedding in small spheres, or placing near absorbant baffles, or mounting directly onto hard boundaries. 

Am I both incorrectly interpreting my experience AND it it's a fortunate coincidence that although imposed by the physical size of their diaphrams, the difference in direct and diffuse responses of sdc omnis occurs in the correct frequency range and has the correct shape and level to achieve the acoustic response we want for recording from a distance?

Isn't similarity of frequency response on and off-axis a basic design goal for directional microphones? I'm not asking rhetorically, It might be that shaped response differences are desirable in directional mics as well, for the same reasons.

Earthworks QTC series are very small diaphragm and extremely uniform response on- and off-axis.  I consider them the gold standard for omnis, at least equal in quality if not in some respects superior to DPA or Schoeps.  Not trying to stir the pot, just one man's opinion.
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Offline DSatz

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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #57 on: March 04, 2015, 09:49:06 PM »
Gutbucket wrote:

> the original poster is mounting the microphones onto the surface of an ~8" diameter spheroidal sound-absorbent baffle. That microphone arrangement method is the most common way sub-miniature omnis are used for music recording around here at TS, and the only way many members use them.

Hmm, yes. I think I'm familiar with this type of spheroid--it has an uncannily similarity to that which many of us carry around on our necks, no?

My own recordings with omnis have been A/B with no solid object between the mikes, and that's the type of use for which I claim that having reduced off-axis response at high frequencies is valuable. I have no direct experience with "head-related" stereo recording, except for listening to binaural recordings over headphones, and some stereo sphere recordings made by Jerry Bruck using Schoeps microphones.

So on principle I'm not going to argue back. For that matter, people use all kinds of microphones with non-ideal characteristics, and they sometimes learn to make (or luck into making) good recordings with them nonetheless.

That said, I don't know of any professional-quality dummy head or sphere recording system that uses free-field-equalized (i.e. flat on axis) pressure transducers. They all use diffuse-field-equalized transducers, which, when measured in a free field on axis, show a rise of several dB at high frequencies depending on size. So I would be really surprised if the MK 2 were the best choice among Schoeps capsules for this application; I would still think that the MK 2 S would be distinctly preferable--for some people, maybe even the MK 3, depending on how they were oriented during recording.

--best regards
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 09:52:38 PM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #58 on: March 05, 2015, 12:28:28 PM »
Thanks.   I value your expertise, experience and contributions here highly, and figure you're my best shot at digging deeper into this!

The free-field verses diffuse-field eq aspects I totally agree with, and I noted the head-mounted technique only as clarification of how the OP is using any of the microphones mentioned in this thread, which will effect response more strongly than off-axis differences due to capsule size.

However, although off-topic to the thread, what I'm really most interested in is discussing the part quoted below, in regards to the broader issue of on-axis vs off-axis response differences in general, in which A-B omni technique falls-

DSatz wrote:

> [snip] the usual working concept of recording with omnidirectional microphones is to WANT the microphone to have some directivity at high frequencies. You don't normally want to pick up reverberant, off-axis sound with the high frequencies at full volume; that clutters and confuses the result. So having identical high-frequency response at all angles isn't traditionally considered a virtue in an omnidirectional microphone, except by the marketing departments of certain manufacturers. In fact, the most historically highly revered omnidirectional microphones (the Neumann M 50 and its various successors and imitators) have pressure transducers embedded in 40 mm spheres specifically to increase the difference between frontal response and the response from all other directions, and to extend that directivity downward toward the midrange. That comes from many decades of practical experience in making live recordings from a distance.

Below is the jist of what I'm interested in, addressing that part. Quoting from my previous post-

"I find it's not the highest-frequencies but the midrange and especially upper midrange where a directional level difference is valuable.  When I have separate control over the sound from the sides and back compared to the direct sound from in front, it almost always works best to cut the midrange and especially presence range but increase high-frequency energy significantly from all the non-front directions (and low bass).  A sort of 'loudness curve' seems to work best and sounds most natural to me. That curve doesn't resemble the difference in response between on-axis and average off-axis response of typical non-miniature sdc omnis at all, which is more like a low-pass filter with a pretty high corner frequency (the M50 gets closer)."

And this (slightly rephrased for clarity)-
"is it a fortunate coincidence that although it's a 'side-effect' imposed by the physical size of their diaphragms, the difference in on-axis verses off-axis responses of non-miniature omnis just happens to occur in the correct frequency range and has the correct shape and level to achieve the acoustic on-verses-off-axis response we'd most like to have?" 

I can understand that a shaped response off-axis verses on-axis might be desirable for both directional microphones and omnis, rather than having an identical frequency response from all angles, with only level differences when moving off axis for a directional microphone.  But I'm looking for some deeper justification for the rolled-off off-axis upper response of omnis being most appropriate response for acoustical rather than historical reasons.  Partly because it needs to counter my personal experience that it's upper midrange and not the upper high-frequency range where increased directionality is truly appropriate and useful for omnis.  It's one reason I suspect the M-50's became more highly valued over other omnis where it's use is appropriate- being closer to an optimal on-verses-off-axis response for those situations.

Here's a new way of phrasing the question: Ignoring all historical and current mechanical manufacturing constraints, what would be the most desirable polar response, allowed to vary with frequency, for an ideal microphone designed to be used in situations where a stereo array of M-50 microphones has historically been most appropriate?

The links above to my posts in the other threads here are questioning is same aspect, exploring the shape of that response difference in a bit more detail.  I've never gotten good answers or discussion of those things either here or at GS when I attempted to discuss it over there long ago.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2015, 12:41:58 PM by Gutbucket »
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Offline DSatz

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Re: Thinking about taking the Schoeps or AKG actives plunge. Best options?
« Reply #59 on: March 06, 2015, 08:26:47 PM »
I don't think that the answer to your question is likely to come from any form of theoretical analysis that I'm aware of, although the type of omni that you're describing was designed in a laboratory (NWDR's--and then Neumann got the contract to manufacture the M 50 for them). As far as I'm aware it was a completely pragmatic design, not a theoretically-based one.

So I think it's fair to say that this type of microphone is its own model or ideal, in effect.

The one thing that has varied significantly in this design has been the capsules--Neumann used numerous different types in the different versions of the M 50/M 50a/M 50b/M50 c, and yet others in their latter-day recreations. Initially the capsules were fully equalized for the diffuse sound field, but fairly soon the curves became less highly emphasized on axis.

That might be due to the capsule types that Neumann happened to be making for other purposes at any given time, and/or to the difference between mono and stereo recording practices--no one would ever record stereo from the distances that were sometimes used for pickup of large-scale performances in the pre-stereo era, and the full diffuse-field equalization gives harsh, metallic-sounding results when used at conventional A/B stereo recording distances. But German broadcasters were required to use mono-compatible stereo recording methods, so it seems that this type of microphone passed out of favor altogether for a while, until A/B stereo and "Decca Tree" recording techniques became more prominent outside of Germany.

Do you know Martin Schneider's AES paper from 2001, "Omnis and Spheres - Revisited"? It's available for download from Neumann's Web site as "lect0043.pdf".

--best regards

P.S.: As you know, any first-order pattern can be created by summing the signals from a coincident omni and figure-8 pair in various proportions. As you may also know, some years ago Jörg Wuttke at Schoeps came up with the idea of breaking this down into three frequency ranges so that the summing formulas (and thus the resulting pickup patterns) could be made frequency-dependent at will. This was implemented with digital signal processing; specific equalization could also be dialed in to the various frequency ranges. The system was unfortunately quite expensive, but it was by far the best "microphone emulator" ever made, and as with M/S, it could be used either during recording or in post-production ("choose the microphones after the session is over"). -- More recently, Schoeps has come out with a software-based version of this approach (http://www.schoeps.de/en/products/categories/polarflex) which wouldn't be too expensive for someone who already has pairs of their omni and figure-8 capsules.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2015, 08:29:38 PM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

 

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