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

Microphone Testing

June 10th, 2012
experiment, sound, contra, 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.)


Mandolin Chords
Jeff: good
Rick: fine; good fidelity
Danner: good
Jeff: muted, ok
Rick: ok not great; too sharp; very real; not ideal for chords
Danner: fine
Jeff: muted, bad
Rick: muddy
Danner: wider range; sounds feedback prone
Jeff: good
Rick: maybe too bright; find for chords
Danner: not as good on percussion, slight dislike
Jeff: all good; d707e, i58, sm57, bg41
Rick: all good except the bg41
Danner: all good; slight dislike of i58
Mandolin Melody
Jeff: ok
Rick: more alive, high fidelity, clear
Danner: meh
Jeff: ok
Rick: quite nice
Danner: less meh
Jeff: ok
Rick: ok, not that good
Danner: noisy; clear which note is playing
Jeff: brighter
Rick: better in the high register
Danner: best of the four for studio recording; favorite
Jeff: d707e, sm57, i58, bg41
Rick: d707e, sm57, i58, bg41
Danner: i58, bg41 or sm57, d707e
Jeff: eh
Rick: muddy, bad for calling
Danner: clear, bassy
Jeff: nice
Rick: better than the others
Danner: best
Jeff: breath ugh, too variable
Rick: not great
Danner: bad, don't like it at all
Jeff: ok
Rick: ok; still not great
Danner: higher, might be better with bass eq'd off
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:

The Private Sector’s Role in Transit Innovation

The United States has long had private success and public failure – not just the sense of private affluence and public squalor, in which household income is high but the state of public services lags, but also in that the private sector is more productive…

via Pedestrian Observations June 17, 2019

Unintended pregnancy in folk songs

I’ve been listening to a lot of the Watersons and Waterson:Carthy this week. It’s reminded me how absolutely full British folk music is of songs about unintended pregnancy. Most commonly the result is unhappy motherhood: “But if I had kent that I now ken …

via The whole sky June 1, 2019

Programmer migration patterns

I made a little flow chart of mainstream programming languages and how programmers seem to move from one to another. There's a more common kind of chart, which shows how the languages themselves evolved. I didn't want to show the point of view of …

via apenwarr March 18, 2019

more     (via openring)

More Posts:

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