condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

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sadko4u
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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby sadko4u » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:31 pm

Actually you're not completely right. When you show an analysis diagram, it shows STFT (short-time fourier transform) weighted and approximated for some period of time (energy). It's like calculating the average temperature of patients in a hospital because the dynamics of amplitude and phase makes the sense, too.
Very cheap 'home' microphones can not capture all frequencies that we need for recording correctly. So these kinds of microphones should be thrown away as soon as possible because the first rule of sound engineer is "not to hurt the original sounding".
Cheap but branded studio microphones work with frequencies much better than 'home' microphones. They already are tuned to capture specific instruments. So for some applications they are usable, for some - not. That's why microphones that capture all audible frequencies are preferred for their universality.
Expensive microphones are the microphones that are specially tuned for the specific application. Most of them are tuned for capturing vocals. In most cases the captured signal requires minimal post-processing for these mics. That's why they are beloved by sound engineers.

If the wider sound indeed isn't there.

Wrong. Even it isn't seen on spectrogram, two microphones differ a lot one from another.

If the wider sound is there, but is mastered out.

Wrong. The first sound engineer's rule is broken if it wasn't the special case.

It's cut off/lowered for/by the youtube vid.

Wrong. Cutting off/lowering is the feature of lossy audio compression. Even, if the sound is damaged, there are different ways to distribute recordings keeping the better quality. That's why considering that the original sound will be seriously distorted is a bad practice.

A condensor is more sensitive.

True. It's the direct consequence from the constructive features of both types of microphones. It's much harder to sway an electrical contour bounded to a thick diaphragm in a magnetic field rather than sway a very thin metal plate. That's why you should better prepare your room for using condenser microphone.

Am i missing something?

I think you should watch this video first. There is a huge number of microphones and all of them are perfect on a paper. But all of them are sounding differently.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04vdECGx-8k

So the only one conclusion can be made: listen the microphone and do not rely on it's characteristics.
My sound engineering mentor said so: with an expensive microphone you'll get result immediately. With cheap one you'll get result but will spend much more time for it.
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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby lykwydchykyn » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:37 pm

sadko4u wrote:So the only one conclusion can be made: listen the microphone and do not rely on it's characteristics.
My sound engineering mentor said so: with an expensive microphone you'll get result immediately. With cheap one you'll get result but will spend much more time for it.


Totally agree. There are so many variables that make a mic what it is, not just frequency response.

There's polar pattern (which varies over frequency range), transient response (also variable over frequency range), impedence, quality of the electronics, etc.

And of course no spec will tell you how it sounds with any given voice or instrument.

A condenser isn't a magic wand that will make your recordings amazing, but all the same if you're on some kind of mission to prove that they're no different from dynamics, or unnecessary, or not worth the cost -- you're shooting yourself in the foot.

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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby ufug » Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:55 pm

What these guys said.

I don't pretend to be an expert on mics or an effective analyst of these things (disclaimer). I've only been trying to take engineering/recording more seriously for a year or two but like a bunch of the geezers here I've had many decades on the other side of a mic both performing and recording.

Mic choice is really about 1) application and 2) tonal character of the mic in relation to the source. It's completely impossible to consider any mic brand/model or mic type better than another in isolation or with a spectrogram or chart.

Re: #1, it's a gross oversimplification but in functional terms I've always considered a dynamic best suited for capturing the source up close in a focused way (notwithstanding the pattern) and a condenser best suited for getting the sound of the entire sound of the situation.

So dynamic would be my initial go-to for pretty much anything in a loud live scenario, or guitar amps, or singing in a bad sounding room (as I was suggesting in the other thread), while a condenser would be something I would use to capture the overall sound of the experience, like a bunch of singers sharing a mic, overheads in a room where there is a natural reverb you want to capture, anything where there is a desirable nuance in the space. If you have a mic closet with a dozen options, by all means break these suggestions and try everything!

Re: #2, that's an art, fitting a specific sound source to the most appropriate mic. Voodoo to me, but I can relate in the way certain strings will fit certain instruments better. Strings themselves are not inherently good or bad, it all depends on what instrument they are paired with.

For a sub-optimal home project studio (i.e. what most of us here are working in) with a small (or no) budget, you are probably going to have just one or two mics, and my intent in the other thread was to suggest that anyone would be best served with a 57 or 58 being one of those, because you know they will work well enough on almost anything (heh, like Linux). Getting a <$100 condenser mic is simply not going to be the best use of a limited budget unless you have a great sounding room and have the good luck to find not only a miraculous bargain but a good fit on the very first try!

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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby CrocoDuck » Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:28 pm

I would also add that measuring the spectrum of the signal as measured by a microphone is a bad idea to try to characterize its frequency response. I am assuming that that's what you did above.

ALERT: this is a boring and long summary of mic measurement thingies.

First of all, microphones are transducers. This means that they translates physical quantities between different domains. The microphone job is to translate pressure waves in air at one point in space into electric waves (signals). An ideal microphone would do this without boosting or attenuating any frequency: it would have a flat response, at least in the audible range. Then, sensitivity is a number that translates the input pressure amplitude into output voltage amplitude. Also speakers have sensitivity, but it goes the other way: from electric domain to pressure domain.

Now, microphones not only have one frequency response. They have infinite (!). I know it sounds weird, but every transducer have a certain directivity which depends on its construction. Without getting into details, at low frequency every transducer is pretty omnidirectional, so the response will be the same independently of ideal source position. As the frequency rises the traducers become more and more "directional", but side lobes develop. This picture is about pistonic speakers, but it gives you an idea about what I am talking.

So, think about it: even just changing the test signal source position will alter the output spectrum you measure. Which is why microphone frequency responses are assessed only for normal incidence (source in front of the mic) and then the directivity is assessed by other methods.

Now, you are probably inside a room. Which has reflections. It does not matter whether the reverberation time is short: the shape of the room and acoustic impedance of the walls characterize completely the sound transmission law between 2 points within the room. Let's pick 2 points S and M anywhere in the room. Let's put a speaker in S and a microphone in M. Both speaker and microphone have a frequency response and directivity. This means that the signal at the microphone output will be the result of: response governing transduction from electric domain to acoustic domain in the speaker, response governing sound transmission from speaker to microphone position, response governing transduction to acoustic domain to electric domain. All of this passing through the combined effect of the speaker and microphone directivities, which might or might not attenuate or even completely remove room reflections coming from certain directions just depending on the microphone shape.

That is why measuring and calibrating microphones is very very hard, and done in special rooms (anechoic rooms). This goes as showing that your test is actually struggling in providing any actual properties of the mic under test. None of the curves are very realistic. Low end roll off is often found around 10 Hz, high end doesn't even roll off. It is made to roll off in electronics actually, as the high end of the transducer itself might have modes due to mic construction and membrane shape and material. These tend to be better to manage for condenser mics.

The only measure that it is reasonably easy to do at home (or normal rooms) is microphone response comparison. Pick two microphones you want to compare, and place them head to head, as close as possible but making sure they don't touch. Then, turn on a broad band noise source in the same room (white noise or pink noise are good). Then, collect the signal output from the microphones. Let's call the outputs x1 and x2. Go frequency domain with a Fourier transform, obtaining the frequency domain signals X1 X2. Then, divide to have the result: R = X2 / X1. The curve you obtain, R, is the difference in response between microphone 2 and microphone 1, which is usually called reference. Usually, what it is done is to pick a reference which is dead flat in frequency, so that the measurement above is very similar as measuring the actual response of the microphone under study.

Now, there is one thing that was not mentioned: linearity. A system is linear if its output is the result of only changing phase and amplitude of its input, even if differently depending on frequency. Nonlinear systems will also change the shape of the input signal. Condenser microphones are usually more linear, because the modes of their membranes can be made to happen easily outside the audible range (due to their usual geometry and mechanical properties). This means less distortion.
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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby sysrqer » Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:39 pm

Not sure what why you keep talking about dynamic response...there is a big difference in the dynamic response between the two but what you've talked about is frequency response. Condenser mics do tend to pick up more detail but it's not to do with high frequency content. Have you tried both? There is clearly a difference but one is better for certain applications and the other better for others.

If you don't believe it then buy a cheap ass dynamic. No one is saying "why you should do" anything, use what suits your needs and tastes.
Last edited by sysrqer on Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby sysrqer » Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:43 pm

Personally if you're recording instruments in isolation I would say a condenser is always better but it picks up more of the room so if you have a lot of reverb or standing waves then a dynamic would be much better. Dynamics really shine when you have to eliminate bleed.

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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby sadko4u » Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:16 pm

42low wrote:I'm sure you can't say else than that it is strange that for instance the beringer and the shure give the same result.

They're NOT the same. If you want to compare microphones, let's do blind test. Record audio samples and provide them here.

When we've recorded vocals with female vocalist, before recording we've tested 5 (five) microphones: two dynamics, two condensers and ribbon one. All sounded different. And the best sounding result we've got with the ribbon microphone.
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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby CrocoDuck » Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:45 pm

Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to be arrogant.

42low wrote:Please test the vid i tested yourself. I quess you expect higher highs too on the condensor mics? But it isn't, believe me. Test yourself.


I am an acoustic engineer. Testing microphone is part of my job. Now, usually I say "trust me, I am an acoustic engineer" after having said something pretty dumb... but here some points:

42low wrote:Don't you all agree that if the condensor gives clearer sound that it should have to be seen in the higher freqs?
It must be impossible that the beringer gives the same spectrogram as the shure.


No. Sound clarity isn't correlated to how much high end it is present, unless we talk about narrow band filtering. Clarity in transducers is mostly correlated to distortion, as most microphones (either dynamic or condenser) actually have a very flat frequency response, which does not look at all like your peaky plots. Low distortion means higher clarity. Your plots are affected by many other confounding factors, few of which I listed above. Spectrum is not a reliable estimate of frequency response also due to its high susceptibility to noise. In my boring explanation above I also mentioned that your method is not accurate in assessing the actual shape of the response, and it might be overly penalizing (or favouring) some of your results due to the conditions not being exactly matched in the tests (as I said, the different shape of the mic is enough to skew the assessment). To do that you need to use more sophisticated methods. If you want we can try, just record some noise in the "head to head" setup I mentioned. I can give more details if you are interested, then I can try to whip some Octave code to do the analysis. I would bet that all 3 mics end up having similar responses.

Please, be aware that the frequency response is not all that defines a microphone. It would be if all microhpones in the world were:

1) Omnidirectional or with same directivity
2) Ideally linear
3) Had the same sensitivity
4) Had the same dynamic range (here: I think you might be using the word "dynamics" improperly. Dynamics usually refer to the accuracy in capturing amplitude, rather than frequency)

A good example are cheap ECM mics. These are found in portable electronics, for example laptops or telephony mics for headsets. We test the response relative to G.R.A.S. measurement microphones, which have extremely flat frequency response. Well, any of these cheap nasty 5p ECMs will have a very decent flat response too. They are not sure as good as a proper mic though...
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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby lykwydchykyn » Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:02 pm

ufug wrote:Getting a <$100 condenser mic is simply not going to be the best use of a limited budget unless you have a great sounding room and have the good luck to find not only a miraculous bargain but a good fit on the very first try!


See maybe it's just me, but I really don't have a lot of trouble with my room using a condenser; and it's not acoustically treated in any way, it's just a standard rectangular bedroom (other than the carpet and furniture, not really dampened in any way). The clarity and detail is worth it. Granted, my mic was not <$100 when I bought it, but I can't agree in general that a great room is a prerequisite for using a condenser.

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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby CrocoDuck » Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:08 pm

42low wrote:And i'm looking for an answer that it's correct if i say that a condensor isn't always the best choice.


I don't think you will find such an answer. Every microphone type and implementation is different and it has pros and cons. So, it really depends on the application. Given the application, you can test few mics and select the best for the task at hand.
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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby lykwydchykyn » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:43 am

42low wrote:@lykwydchykyn
My dynamics deliver good quality too, and they either give any problem. No one ever said my recordings are not clear enough. Some here heard some more parts of which vocals i've recorded so they can confirm that.
No extra pro there for the common advice "condensor mic is the only best choice".


I'm not arguing that "condenser mic is the only best choice". I'd happily say it's often a good choice, if you get a decent one. If your vocals sound fine through a dynamic mic, awesome. I recorded mine on a dynamic for probably 10 years before I could afford a decent condenser (they weren't so cheap in the 90's), and the sound I got was a breath of fresh air. I hardly EQ anything any more.

But that's the sound I like, maybe it's not the sound you're going for.

I also disagree that you need a good room to use a condenser. It has not been a problem for me unless I'm intentionally distance-miking.

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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby sysrqer » Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:49 am

For the depressed song question - yes absolutely the more detail the better.
Just because no one has told you that your recordings lack detail does not mean that it's not true or that your recordings couldn't be improved. Not sure why you often seem to start a thread for discussion but have such a fixed view on the subject (without your own experience in the subject matter) and refuse to believe anything else.

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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby sysrqer » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:40 am

Well dark doesn't mean lack of detail. The more detail you can hear the more expressive and potentially emotional it will be.

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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby sysrqer » Thu Sep 28, 2017 1:32 pm

I don't think that is the standard advice really, any one who knows a little about them would generally say it depends what you need to do...and no one has said always buy a condenser in this thread.

I think you need to stop thinking in terms of frequency. Dynamics can be very bright and I dare say there are condensers that sound dark, this isn't really a defining characteristic of them. Your observations about the frequency plots support this.

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Re: condensor vs. dynamic (analysis+confusion)

Postby sysrqer » Thu Sep 28, 2017 1:34 pm

I will add that for home recording of single instruments a condenser often is the best choice. Unless you're multimiking drums or like the sound of something else.


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