Feel free to ask questions. I'll do my best to answer.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Using Convolution Reverb on your home recordings

A little background:  Auditory Depth Perception has been discussed on the blog in a fair amount of detail.  So, I'm just going to do a quick recap of that information.  Major factors that effect that perception in no particular order:  1) amount of reverb  2) timing of early reflections and their volume/tone 3) volume 4) amount of high frequency content.

1)  The greater the quantity of reflections, the further the object is relative to the other objects making noise.

2)  The closer the earlier reflections are to the original sound, the further the object is making the sound.  See this initial time delay gap demo for a clear picture: http://www.syntheticwave.de/ITDG.htm

3)  Softer(quieter) sounds appear more distant.

4)  High frequencies are the most easily absorbed.  A more distant object will sound more muffled.

How to implement this:

  Place the least amount of reverb on the nearest object and conversely the most on the most distant.
  Adjusting the EQ for more high frequency(or filtering less high frequency out) may make it sound closer.
  The more distant the object, the less 'pre delay' the reverb should have.  Different reverbs may have a different name for that parameter, but I think that's pretty standard.  That's just a measure, usually in milliseconds, to describe when in relation to the original sound the reverb will start.  Sound travels at roughly one foot per millisecond.
  More distant objects should be slightly quieter depending on the degree of desired effect.

I like to overdo the degree of these variations on the signal b/c the listener has no visual cues to help them out.

My best example for a window view on a pseudo recorded performance and space(Pardon the vocal):
 Everything That I Am by dantheman-10
Obviously I'm no pro and this sounds pretty rough to me right now.  None the less I think it gets my point across.  I think it's fairly realistic, but not 'real.'

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Product Review: K&M Tripod Microphone Stand with Telescopic Boom Arm

- Sound quality: N/A

- Reliability / Durability: Built very well, but I haven't used it long term. I don't have the most faith in telescopic boom arms in general. It certainly doesn't feel as strong as a one piece arm when fully extended and it only extends as far as a one piece arm.

- Would you buy this again if it were stolen?: At this point I may still go with another Tama stand, but I do really love this stand! It's sort of a toss up. I do like the machining on these better, but I am developing a preference for one piece booms. the K&M 210/2 would be on my short list to look at! Might be the best of all to me. 

- Features that stand out: Build quality, machining(best I've seen), fit and finish, and stability/boom stays in place very well.

- What I don't like: Not so sure I like the telescopic boom. It seems strong when tightened, but just doesn't give me the confidence that a one piece arm gives me. Reliability is of utmost concern to me.

- Similar products used: Several On Stage Stands, the Tama MS205, K&M 210/8.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Product Review: Dayton EMM-6 measurement microphone

- Sound quality:  Well, this is a mixed bag.  Technically this is a measurement microphone and really wasn't designed to record with.  However, the response is of course very flat and the mic sounds extremely natural.  The catch is the signal to noise ratio(I think).  There's a lot of noise in this mic and it requires you to bump the pre amp up to loud and thus it easily overloads and distorts with ease making recording very difficult.  I have a theory though that all these SDCs will have a better transients and High Frequency response d/t this little diaphragm that's lightweight.  The size is smaller than the wavelength of the highest frequency we hear and will cause less audible diffraction/reflection of the high frequency content that makes its way onto the recording.  I think this all contributes to the naturalness of small diaphragm mics.  Too bad they all seem to generate a lot of noise as well.

- Reliability / Durability:  It seems well made and sturdy.  Remarkably so for this money.

- Would you buy this again if it were stolen?:  Probably not.  All measurement microphones need calibrated anyway so I'd probably get a higher end SDC and calibrate it.  That would be more useful for recording and could measure just as well or even better.

- Features that stand out:  Price/performance.  $40 is not a lot of money to pay for this mic.  It will capture a very natural sound as well, but it's still not a very good recording mic.

- Similar products used:  Sound Professionals binaural mics.

No real complaints about this for its cost.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Product Review: Tama MS205 Microphone Stand with Boom Arm

Finally, a decent microphone stand for an affordable price. I got the chrome version of this one so maybe this won't apply to the black one, but all the moving parts on this are very smooth. The boom arm stays locked in place like no other I own--mostly junk stands and a K&M 21140 boom. It's just a one piece arm, but it's got plenty of length--approximately 1 meter which is more than you can really use with the base. You can really push down on this boom and no slippage. The tubing is all thick and heavy, and the base is weighted. It gives you the impression that it will last a lifetime. 

If you're like me and sick of cheap stands, this one is not cheap--it's inexpensive. Worth every penny.  Sorry for the brevity, but it's a mic stand(not sexy).

Product Review: K&M 210/8 Microphone Stand with Boom Arm

Well after being fed up with cheap microphone stands made in China, I decided to give Germany a chance to prove itself as a better value. No doubt it is a different class of build than those Chinese stands. The machining is awesome! Unfortunately I'm actually a bit disappointed with this stand. The base is beautiful and sturdy, all parts fit like a glove and move smoothly, but the boom arm does not stay in place nearly as well as my Tama MS205 does or even as well as my last working On Stage boom. The base is slightly more stable than the Tama, but the boom is just not as well executed. The wing nut grip is too small and I thought that might be why--I just wasn't getting enough pressure on the crank to make it hold. I'm not a big guy--5'8", 160#s, so this may be a problem for me and not some hulk. Turns out to be the case! Fortunately I have several broken Chinese stands with extra parts laying around. Put a new crank on with a longer handle--and all is well. Now the boom is very stable and I am pleased, but the Tama still has a better design in this department and a sturdier crank handle. Of course the whole assembly on the Tama is plastic and might be more prone to breaking if dropped. It feels sturdy though and it is thick. At the moment, like an initial quality assessment, I'd prefer the Tama overall by a slight margin. Only time will tell which is my favorite and which is more durable. They both feel very well made, but the Tama's boom arm assembly is better from the start. The K&M does have a little nicer base IMO due to its lower center of gravity, and all the machining is superior to the Tama's, but that difference is smaller than the boom arm difference IMO. Putting the Tama boom on the K&M base is ideal. Too bad they don't sell the Tama boom arm by itself. I'd take another.

Product Review: Samson C01 microphone

- Sound quality: This mic is not too bad sounding really. People describe as the poor man's U87, but I have my doubts! Of the 3 LDCs I've used, this is easily the worst but still a usable mic. It has the most noise of the three by quite a margin and the smallest frequency range to my ear with the raspiest treble end. It's not as bad as this review makes it sound though. Compared to my PR20, this seemed like a step towards higher fidelity.

- Reliability / Durability: It feels okay, but nothing to write home about. Not too much cheaper feeling than the NT1-A to be honest. It's cheap enough to be easily replaced.

- Would you buy this again if it were stolen?: No. Having the NT1-A and the Blue Spark make this mic useless to me.

- Features that stand out: Better fidelity than some well regarded dynamic mics at a very low cost.

- What I don't Like: Sound quality is less impressive when compared against other LDCs.

- Similar products used: Rode NT1a and Blue Spark.

Sold this mic after getting the Blue Spark/NT1-A.

Product Review: Heil PR20

- Sound quality: I like this mic. It sounds darker than the Recording Hack's graph would suggest:

Name:  Picture 5.jpg
Views: 0
Size:  21.0 KB

Compared to a LDC, you'll get less fidelity in general. It has too much handling noise for jostling around in general, but shock mounted on a stand is where this mic shines. The proximity effect seems less pronounced compared to the SM57. It allows you to get up close and personal while singing and a tight pattern compared to my LDCs seems to remove the room from the recording at a distance. However, the lowish sensitivity make recording quiet instruments from a distance difficult b/c of the generated noise of the mic and cranked preamp. This is not your HiFi recording vocal mic.

- Reliability / Durability: Built like a vault! Dropped several times, thrown in the back of a truck for months and drove off road while in its case... never a problem. It feels heavy and solid and been around for years.

- Would you buy this again if it were stolen?: Yep.

- Features that stand out: Build quality and less pronounced proximity effect than expected. Also a generally great bass response even from a distance. The case is nice and has several replacement grills with a well fitted clip.

- What I don't Like: Handling noise--for its intended use, that's its only downside as far as I can tell. It would be great if they'd fix that.

- Similar products used: Shure SM57.

Just a workhorse to keep around.

Product Review: Focusrite Saffire 6 USB

- Sound quality: The preamps in this crush my previous device's. The headphone output is also very clean, but lacks the output to drive more difficult headphones. They'll get my Shure SRH840s as loud as I'll ever need. I am still impressed by the sound of this especially for the money! I can't imagine I'll ever NEED better.

- Reliability / Durability: This little guy is built solid and tough! The case is all metal and it's heavy. The jacks also feel solid and hold cables tight.  Pots all feel like hey are high quality as well.

- Would you buy this again if it were stolen?: I use a Mac and there is no other USB interface I know of that sounds this good for anywhere near this money let alone as intelligently implemented. I would definitely replace this if it were stolen.

- Features that stand out: Build quality, driver stability, and sound quality. I have never had trouble with this thing working.

- What I don't like:  Nothing for its intended purpose.

- Similar products used: EMU USB 0404

This box still has me enthusiastic about it a year later. 

Product Review: Emu 0404 usb 2.0

- Sound quality: Well, looking at the specs you might expect great sound, but in this category it is a let down. I searched long and hard to find a USB I/O, comparing specs and reviews I had high hopes for this one. When I got it I was a bit underwhelmed and figured that it was probably just as good as it gets. I couldn't here the difference between it and my MacBook's built-in ones. I thought it was a testament to the MacBook's SQ! The pre amps have lot of gain--IF you don't mind a lot of noise! Well, that's not HiFi. I'm sure they are doing some cherry picking on their specs.  The headphone output is not the most powerful either.

- Reliability / Durability: It's all plastic, the pots feel cheap, and the jacks are all loose. It hasn't broken yet, but it's felt like it could go at any moment since I bought it.

- Would you buy this again if it were stolen?: No--I'll give it away.

- Features that stand out: It has a lot of great numbers posted on the website.

- What I don't like: The cheap feel and the poor sound quality. They also wouldn't update their drivers to work with the newer operating system. Hopefully they have by now.

- Similar products used: The Focusrite Sapphire 6 USB

I still have this hanging around. People who've heard it next to the Focusrite wouldn't take it for free. They'd rather spend $200 on the Focusrite.

Product Review: Blue Spark microphone

- Sound quality: I really like this mic. It just has a balanced tone and fairly low noise. Compared to my Rode NT1a, it doesn't go as deep in the bass range or as high in the treble. Still its tone is balance and extended enough to cover an acoustic guitar and most people's vocal with a fair degree of accuracy. Its cardioid pattern is not as tight as my PR20, but has enough rejection for studio use. Attached below is its on axis graph with the focus button on and off provided by Recording Hacks. The Focus just seems to reduce the low end which can help reduce rumble. Notice it also is a low noise mic, though it doesn't seem to be as low as the NT1a. It's still very useful and sensitive enough for quiet instruments.

Name:  Picture 2.jpg
Views: 5
Size:  22.9 KB

- Reliability / Durability: Very well made mic. It's heavy and solid with a decent shock mount and a beautiful wooden case. Seems to be a league ahead of the NT1a in this regard.

- Would you buy this again if it were stolen?: I would. In fact I have 2 just in case something happens to one in a clutch and so I can do some stereo recordings. I got them for $159 on sale. That seems to be what they are commonly available for at the time of this review.

- Features that stand out: The best part about this mic is that it seems ideal for the one person and his/her guitar. The response, sensitivity, and low noise make that its ideal use.

- What I don't Like: The pop filter looks nice, but isn't particularly useful. It certainly doesn't muffle the sound though. If you get the older version, the shock mount was poorly built. They sent me a new replacement and it is fine, but still not as nice as some spider mount style ones. I can't say it's given me any problems though.

- Similar products used: Rode NT1a and Samson C01.

This is my most used mic in my collection. That says it all.

Here's a couple 1 track recordings made with this mic:

 Just Listen Before I go by dantheman-10 

 Hat and Wife Blues by dantheman-10 

 Voodoo Chile(slight bass boost) by dantheman-10 

Voodoo Chile was done on an iPod w/ a battery powered pre.

Product Review: Røde NT1-A

- Sound quality: This mic has some outstanding features--it has a wide frequency range and extremely low noise. Recording my vocals tend to sound too bright dead on. When turned 45 degrees or more, it takes the edge off an produces a more neutral tone. I tend to hear this same brightness on other's vocal tracks as well. There are plenty of mods available for this mic and that's likely d/t the fact that the circuitry produces so little noise. Here's the Graph from Recording Hacks:
Name:  Picture 4.jpg
Views: 2
Size:  22.4 KB
To me it seems to sound brighter than the graph would indicate which has been suggested is d/t time domain response issues caused by the protective grill. 

- Reliability / Durability: This mic is definitely lighter and doesn't feel as solid as the Blue Spark. I haven't had any troubles with it however. It's build quality is closer to my old Samson C01. It comes with a very good shock mount, pop filter, and mic socks that allow you to leave it on the stand and not get dusty. It's very well thought out. The carrying bag is not a rugged way to protect these for transport however.

- Would you buy this again if it were stolen?: Maybe... I like this mic b/c it's about as quiet as a good preamp and it does sound great many times. It just isn't my go to mic. I imagine I'd miss it if it were gone at times.

- Features that stand out: The low noise and the wide frequency response!

- What I don't like: The general brightness on axis.

- Similar products used: Blue Spark and Samson C01

This mic has some nice features and is definitely useful, but the sibilant brightness needs tamed for my vocals in general.