::  Posts  ::  RSS  ::  ◂◂RSS  ::  Contact

Microphone Testing

June 10th, 2012
contra, sound, experiment, music  [html]
What microphones sound good for what purposes? I have four different ones, but I didn't have a good sense of what the differences in their sound quality are or which ones I should use for which instruments. So I did a set of blind [1] tests to learn more about them.

The mics in question were, from left to right, AKG d707e, Shure sm57, Shure bg4.1, and Griffin i58:

The bg4.1 is a condenser microphone while the other three are dynamic. I believe all four are cardioid pattern, but I'm not sure about the d707e. Left three are low end professional mics while the i58 is a cheap sm58 clone.

The main things I find myself micing are mandolin and voice (caller) because the other two people in my band don't need mics (fiddle with pickup, keyboard). So I decided to test three setups: mandolin chords, mandolin melody, and calling. [2] I recorded them, then before listening to any of them scrambled their names automatically so I wouldn't know which was which. I level-matched them with sox [4] and then listened to them, rating them and figuring out which ones I liked. I also got two other people [5] to rate them.

I'd encourage you to listen for yourself and rate; these are the samples in random order:

Mandolin Melody 1320 1469 1902 1920
Mandolin Chords 1149 1415 1505 1774
Caller 1085 1191 1734 1861
(The key.)

Impressions:

Mandolin Chords
d707e
Jeff: good
Rick: fine; good fidelity
Danner: good
sm57
Jeff: muted, ok
Rick: ok not great; too sharp; very real; not ideal for chords
Danner: fine
bg41
Jeff: muted, bad
Rick: muddy
Danner: wider range; sounds feedback prone
i58
Jeff: good
Rick: maybe too bright; find for chords
Danner: not as good on percussion, slight dislike
Preference
Jeff: all good; d707e, i58, sm57, bg41
Rick: all good except the bg41
Danner: all good; slight dislike of i58
Mandolin Melody
d707e
Jeff: ok
Rick: more alive, high fidelity, clear
Danner: meh
sm57
Jeff: ok
Rick: quite nice
Danner: less meh
bg41
Jeff: ok
Rick: ok, not that good
Danner: noisy; clear which note is playing
i58
Jeff: brighter
Rick: better in the high register
Danner: best of the four for studio recording; favorite
Preference
Jeff: d707e, sm57, i58, bg41
Rick: d707e, sm57, i58, bg41
Danner: i58, bg41 or sm57, d707e
Caller
d707e
Jeff: eh
Rick: muddy, bad for calling
Danner: clear, bassy
sm57
Jeff: nice
Rick: better than the others
Danner: best
bg41
Jeff: breath ugh, too variable
Rick: not great
Danner: bad, don't like it at all
i58
Jeff: ok
Rick: ok; still not great
Danner: higher, might be better with bass eq'd off
Preference
Jeff: none ideal; sm57, i58, d707e, bg41
Rick: none great; sm57, i58, bg41, d707e
Danner: sm57, i58, d707e, bg41
In retrospect this would have been a better test if I had eq'd each mic-instrument combination some: proximity effect is strong for some and the vocals especially could have done with less bass. I'm inclined to look for another mic to use for callers. I might start using the d707e for my mandolin instead of the sm57. I was surprised how well the i58 did: I had gotten it as a cheap spare.


[1] Really mostly blind. I did know which mic I was using when I recorded each sample, but everything after that is blind. (I could conceivably remembered which mic I was using when I recorded each track, but I left enough time between recording and listening that I completely forgot.)

[2] Recording: mic to phantom power box [3] to mixer to usb audio input to computer. Playback: computer to QSC K10. For calling the mic was very close (1/4") from my mouth, for mandolin it was pointed at around the 15th fret (the best spot in my earlier test, though this favors them sm57 because that's what I did that test with.). No eq on anything.

[3] Only the bg4.1 needed power but I wanted to keep this constant for all the tests because I was afraid its small amount of hum would unblind me otherwise.

[4] sox --norm=-6 foo.wav foo-normalized.wav

[5] Thanks Rick and Danner!

Comment via: google plus, facebook, r/audioengineering

Recent posts on blogs I like:

Incoming Gantz-Led Government to Invest in Israel’s Infrastructure

Israel’s incoming prime minister Benny Gantz unveiled an emergency government, to take power following an upcoming confidence vote in the Knesset. The last two MKs required to give Gantz a 61-59 majority, two members of Gantz’s own Blue and White Party wh…

via Pedestrian Observations April 1, 2020

Finding home in the time of coronavirus

Disclaimer: I’m going to say this once. Obviously, I am not happy about the coronavirus’s threat to public health or the economic toll it’s taking. I do not think the existence of this pandemic is good. Just so happens that social distancing and remote wo…

via Holly Elmore March 31, 2020

Massachusetts should shut down immediately

We’ve been running 30x fewer tests than other states, and have been extremely tardy in responding to the Biogen outbreak.

via benkuhn.net March 15, 2020

more     (via openring)

More Posts:


  ::  Posts  ::  RSS  ::  ◂◂RSS  ::  Contact