Old 07-14-2017, 10:49 AM   #1
4140
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Default Cheap mics, modeling, eq....

I've always used cheap mics. I've been intrigued with mic modeling software (antress /Ik multimedia). Some people say it basically eq and stuff and it sounds fake. Others say it's a good way to make a cheap mic sound better. I'm not really looking for yet another plug in to put in my live chain, I'm just wondering, couldn't the same thing be achieved thru eq and maybe tube modeling vst (which I already have set up in my chain), or even physical mods, what would u suggest to make a cheap condenser mic sound a little better?
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:52 AM   #2
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what would u suggest to make a cheap condenser mic sound a little better?
Move it.

If that doesn't work, find something else.
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:20 AM   #3
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I've always used cheap mics. I've been intrigued with mic modeling software (antress /Ik multimedia). Some people say it basically eq and stuff and it sounds fake. Others say it's a good way to make a cheap mic sound better. I'm not really looking for yet another plug in to put in my live chain, I'm just wondering, couldn't the same thing be achieved thru eq and maybe tube modeling vst (which I already have set up in my chain), or even physical mods, what would u suggest to make a cheap condenser mic sound a little better?
I hated to hear this before I started building my "mic" closet back in the day...BUT a Sure SM58 (and possibly a SM57 for drums)for like $65 bucks is all you'll ever need for a low budget studio, especially for live stuff IMHO...And since you have a good solid sound coming in in the first place you should be able to get some decent sounds through modeling or eqing or whatever....

cheers, jeff
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:48 AM   #4
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I've always used cheap mics.
How cheap? You're not going to make a "computer mic" sound like a good stage/studio mic, and computer mics are simply the "wrong interface".

There are a few characteristics that define the sound of a mic. (Mostly the same characteristics that define "sound quality" in general.)

Frequency Response - This is usually what we hear as the "sound" of the mic, and it's the main thing that makes a condenser sound different from a dynamic or cheap condenser sound different from an expensive or "classic" Neumann.

You can change or correct frequency response with EQ, and it's a LOT cheaper & easier to EQ than to find the "perfect mic" for every situation.

And if you've got the right test equipment, you can EQ one mic to sound like another. Of course, for modeling to work you have to measure both mics... You can't use any-cheap mic, you have to use a mic that's "on the list".

If you boost the highs from a dynamic to make it more "condenser like", you're going to boost the preamp hiss and that can be a potential issue.

Directionality - Some mics are more-directional than others and off-axis frequency response can vary quite a bit.

If you are in a "dead" studio with a single source the off-axis response doesn't matter much. But, if you are in a room with reflections or multiple on & off-axis sound sources it will make a difference. And, you can't EQ on-axis and off-axis sounds differently, so you can't model off-axis sound.

And obviously, you can't model a figure-8 with a cardioid, etc.

Noise - All active electronics generate noise and that includes the head-amp in a condenser mic. Some mics are quieter than others, and there are no active electronics in a dynamic mic. Usually, acoustic & preamp noise will dominate, but there may be cases where a cheap mic is noisier than a higher-end mic.

Distortion - Under "normal conditions" you won't hear distortion from a mic. But with loud sources (kick drums or guitar amps), the electronics in a condenser can clip (distort). That's why some mics have a pad switch to knock-down the signal.

Most dynamics won't overload/distort under any "reasonable" conditions. (An SM57/58 can handle up to somewhere around 140dB SPL while putting-out an undistorted signal at nearly line-level.) But, some preamps might overload with a hot signal from the mic so a condenser with a pad in front of a kick drum may give you a cleaner sound than a dynamic without a pad (depending on your preamp).

Last edited by DVDdoug; 07-14-2017 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:06 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by DVDdoug View Post
How cheap? You're not going to make a "computer mic" sound like a good stage/studio mic, and computer mics are simply the "wrong interface".

There are a few characteristics that define the sound of a mic. (Mostly the same characteristics that define "sound quality" in general.)

Frequency Response - This is usually what we hear as the "sound" of the mic, and it's the main thing that makes a condenser sound different from a dynamic or cheap condenser sound different from an expensive or "classic" Neumann.

You can change or correct frequency response with EQ, and it's a LOT cheaper & easier to EQ than to find the "perfect mic" for every situation.

And if you've got the right test equipment, you can EQ one mic to sound like another. Of course, for modeling to work you have to measure both mics... You can't use any-cheap mic, you have to use a mic that's "on the list".

If you boost the highs from a dynamic to make it more "condenser like", you're going to boost the preamp hiss and that can be a potential issue.

Directionality - Some mics are more-directional than others and off-axis frequency response can vary quite a bit.

If you are in a "dead" studio with a single source the off-axis response doesn't matter much. But, if you are in a room with reflections or multiple on & off-axis sound sources it will make a difference. And, you can't EQ on-axis and off-axis sounds differently, so you can't model off-axis sound.

And obviously, you can't model a figure-8 with a cardioid, etc.

Noise - All active electronics generate noise and that includes the head-amp in a condenser mic. Some mics are quieter than others, and there are no active electronics in a dynamic mic. Usually, acoustic & preamp noise will dominate, but there may be cases where a cheap mic is noisier than a higher-end mic.

Distortion - Under "normal conditions" you won't hear distortion from a mic. But with loud sources (kick drums or guitar amps), the electronics in a condenser can clip (distort). That's why some mics have a pad switch to knock-down the signal.

Most dynamics won't overload/distort under any "reasonable" conditions. (An SM57/58 can handle up to somewhere around 140dB SPL while putting-out an undistorted signal at nearly line-level.) But, some preamps might overload with a hot signal from the mic so a condenser with a pad in front of a kick drum may give you a cleaner sound than a dynamic without a pad (depending on your preamp).
I use an SM58 for most things and I get by, as far as condenser, I've got a mxl (can't think of the model off hand, the short fat brushed silver one) and a Chinese nw 700. That's the one I'm mainly concerned with, it's got a decent response, not much noise, it just sounds a little tiny and bright, I think maybe eq and tube amp might make it more acceptable?
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:44 PM   #6
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There's so many zillions of mods for the MXL it will make your head spin, most of them cheap as hell too

With so many cheaper mics, they copied certain parts of classic mics extremely accurately, but because they don't actually use them or understand what they are used for (ask me about the plethora of factory offered drum mic sets and their rim mount clips sometime for instance!), they often didn't copy the deemphasis circuit in the electronics of these mics
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:53 PM   #7
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...BUT a Sure SM58 (and possibly a SM57 for drums)for like $65 bucks...
An EV Co7 is half the price and sounds a bit better for most things and is a lot more sensitive so needs a lot less gain, and therefor usually does better on S/N.
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Old 07-15-2017, 02:17 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by DVDdoug View Post
Frequency Response -

Directionality -

Noise -

Distortion -
one thing is missing in the list, a very important thing:

Resonance. Many, many microphones are pretty resonant, some in the highs only and some even down into the mids.
This is caused by either poor membrane design (resonance inside the membrane) or subpar housing design. Sound can bounce around inside some mic bodies and is reflected back into the capsule.

Frequency response is one thing you can counteract so a certain extent. Resonance is much worse
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Old 07-17-2017, 01:10 PM   #9
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one thing is missing in the list, a very important thing:

Resonance. Many, many microphones are pretty resonant, some in the highs only and some even down into the mids.
This is caused by either poor membrane design (resonance inside the membrane) or subpar housing design. Sound can bounce around inside some mic bodies and is reflected back into the capsule.

Frequency response is one thing you can counteract so a certain extent. Resonance is much worse
Wow, never thought of that... How would I tell if that's a problem, what exactly would I be listening for?
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