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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 6:04 pm 
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A few years back I was looking to get rid of my Sony Condenser mic and came across a website run by a guy who was making his own cheap mics. I think the guy might have been in Canada, and was selling a mic that he directly tested against the Sony condenser mic. He and numerous others claimed it had a better sound quality.

I am trying to find that site or the mics he used to sell, but cannot remember the name of them or of the site. I think he made one that was a Hammerhead, but unlike the Sony Hammerhead, it had a longer body. He also made other types of mic too.

It's entirely possible that he has gone commercial or stopped making them as it is some years since I was on his site, but I'd be grateful if anyone else knows of the site or could give me some info about the mics. I have a Sony mic, the ECM-MS907, but have never really been happy with it for recording the flute or whistle at home. I am looking for something not too expensive that might do a better job.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 3:22 pm 
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Yes, there were quite a few of such mics in past years. You might be correct that they have packed it in and moved on. What you describe was popular when minidiscs were high tech. Look here and you may see something familiar.

Recording technology has made leaps in recent years with the proliferation of Iphones/pads and android devices with built in recording and video capabilities. And of course there have been huge gains and lower prices in the hand-held digital recorder field - Tascam,Zoom, Sony, etc.. Many of those devices have really effective built-in mics and do a great job. And there are a host of USB mics available now which greatly improve recording directly to the PC. Things have changed, and mostly for the better.

By the way I wouldn't think that the ECM-MS907 is entirely to blame. What are you recording on,, what is the mic plugged into? How do you position the mic?

Feadoggie

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:01 pm 
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Thanks for the reply. I will check that site when I have more time, but the mic I am looking for does not seem to be on there. I am recording onto a Sharp Mdms702h minidisc recorder. I have used the same model over the years to record live gigs and other players so I know that isn't the issue. However, amplification / reverb might be something for me to look at.

I have tried positioning the mic in different ways. UP high, far away, close, down low. You are right that it does make some difference, but overall I just don't think this setup gives me a life like sound. There is just something distant about it. The quality is never like you are there, even when the recording is very clear. I find that is more of a problem with the low whistle as there is a certain dynamic of the sound that doesn't come across.

Either that, or my ear is the problem and the instrument and me sound worse in reality than I hear it to be when playing. I am pretty sure the recording quality, and possibly the room I play in is part of it. I guess recording somewhere else and adding reverb is another way to check.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 12:01 pm 
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franco wrote:
There is just something distant about it.

There were a lot of DIY sites for making minidisc microphones. As I said things have changed. There is nothing inherently wrong with recording to minidisc. It is as accurate as what you would get with most moderm digital recorders. So that is not the issue. But the modern mechanisms are completely noiseless - no motors, no moving parts.

I do think I can understand what you are describing. A recording will never sound like what you hear when you are playing because some of what you hear is transmitted through your own head. It's similar to why your voice sounds different when recorded. So hear's ( :D ) something you can try. It's an old studio trick.. Place the mic alongside of your ear. Make sense? But I believe that you will still find that it sounds distant.

The reason for that is that the mic is picking up reflections of the sound. They arrive at the mic element(s) a little later than the initial sound. That gives the perception of space. The more live the room (hard surfaces, greater volume) the more reflections will be produced and the more distant the sound will be. It is in essence reverb.

Your Sony mic is a single point stereo mic. It is meant to pick up two sound images and the elements will hear the sound at different times. That adds to the space, distance. That mic has a switchable pickup angle. The 90 degree setting is suggested for single source recordings. 120 degrees for broader fields like a stage of players. Are you using the 90 degree setting?

A mono mic could help. It's ironic that most vocals are recorded dry on a mono mic and then processed as a stereo image and given space by adding reverb.

Isolating the mic from reflections would be another method to try. You probably know that professional recording spaces are engineered to create a particular sound. Vocals are frequently recorded in and isolation booth - basically a closet with non-reflecting walls. You can making an isolation booth just for your mic. Here is a photo of a professional isolation shield.
Image
They are expensive to buy but you can make one yourself with a little cardboard and foam, basically an insulated box.

Go to Youtube and take a look at what others have done to solve the problem. Here's a video you can start with. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlefeUtSpbc That's a complex one. There are simpler ones that you can search for. Like I said, a box with a foam lining.

Hope that helps

Feadoggie

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:16 pm 
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I haven't recorded myself for a while since I haven't been playing for a while, but I think I was using the 90 degree setting and placing the mic far away from myself. That seemed to be the best way in my apartment. I guess it is difficult to know how bad the quality of the room and mic can be unless you have different mics and places to play around with.

I remember recording myself in a room with loads of echo about 12 years back. The recording was actually decent in that I was happy with the sound, but I was only recording onto a cassette dictaphone. It's strange how you pay more and it does not necessarily give you a more life like quality. Well, it does and it doesn't. :-?

I also wonder if metal instruments are worse than wooden instruments for the amount of echo or how the microphone picks them up. The last time I remember being happy with myself playing I had a wooden flute. The times I have been unhappy I was mostly playing low whistles and a silver flute. Well, that's a bit of a lie - I also played a bamboo flute, but I had never really played it a lot so the tone would never have represented my best standard of playing. I'll check out the links. Thanks for the advice.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:45 am 
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Feadoggie wrote:
As I said things have changed. There is nothing inherently wrong with recording to minidisc. It is as accurate as what you would get with most moderm digital recorders.


Even better, if you include all those voice recorders, but my best MD recorder isn't as good as my zoom H2, and it's easy to hear that the H4n is superior to the H2. The difference is in the microphone input stage, and none of the portables were great. Not terrible, for the most part if you avoided Sony, but not great.

I agree with what you're saying mostly though. Another reason for the difference between what you hear live is that the ears hear directionality. Your brain can sort out the difference between what is coming from in front and what is behind, or from above. With a microphone, or even a pair, you just can't.

To the OP, you might want to check out SoundProfessionals.com. Chris, the proprietor, still makes mics, but I don't know if his site is what you were thinking of. He'll do custom things, too.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:48 pm 
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highland-piper wrote:
To the OP, you might want to check out SoundProfessionals.com. Chris, the proprietor, still makes mics, but I don't know if his site is what you were thinking of. He'll do custom things, too.
Yeah, SoundProfessionals are on the list in the link I gave in my first post above. Their "T" mic was the first one I thught of too.

highland-piper wrote:
Even better, if you include all those voice recorders, but my best MD recorder isn't as good as my zoom H2, and it's easy to hear that the H4n is superior to the H2. The difference is in the microphone input stage,
The curious thing here is still the set-up and space where the recording is done. I have an H2 and it does a good job. I like it a lot. It's what I use for session and workshop recording. Like the OP's Sony mic, the H2 has both 90 degree and 120 degree stereo mic patterns. The Sony ECM-MS907 mic is not a radically diifferent input stage, IMO. I would bet that and H2 and the Sony/MD setup would give similar "distant" results when used in the same recording space and with the same placement. Granted the H2 has some options for dynamics processing. The H4(n) and some others do have better mics and built in processors but if the Sony mic is picking up a lot of reflections any better mic will pick them up too. So I'd think that trying to address the "live space" or "large space" issue might be a sensible way to proceed. Of course, new toys are always fun, right?

highland-piper wrote:
I agree with what you're saying mostly though. Another reason for the difference between what you hear live is that the ears hear directionality. Your brain can sort out the difference between what is coming from in front and what is behind, or from above. With a microphone, or even a pair, you just can't.
That's a most salient point. The human brain is the most sophisticated signal processor available. That may be a large part of what's going on here too.

Feadoggie

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:28 pm 
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Feadoggie wrote:

The Sony ECM-MS907 mic is not a radically diifferent input stage, IMO. I would bet that and H2 and the Sony/MD setup would give similar "distant" results when used in the same recording space and with the same placement.


It's not the microphone, but the mic-pre amp inside the recorders. The H2 is better than all the MD gear I have. Just newer technology -- better components. Sony MD recorders were particularly bad for live recording. Sharp targeted that market and produced MD recorders with better mic-pre circuits. But audio stuff has gotten better and cheaper since then. You get clearer and cleaner recordings. To me, it's just amazing how much better the H4n sounds compared to the H2, although that /is/ a function of microphones as well.

Unfortunately Sharp USA stopped selling in the USA so my newest MD unit is a gray market import. I have a few boxes of MDs that I keep wanting to transfer over to the computer. 50 or 100 maybe. It's not hard of course, just takes time. ;-)


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