Incredible Mic Comparison

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The folks that make the SD Systems STM99 mic (small diaphragm condensor mic
tailored for brass/reed instuments) have a comparison of their mic vs the
Neumann M-147. They basically recorded a sax with both mics simultaneously.
The result is a stereo recording, the STM99 on the left channel and the
M-147 on the right.

I imported the stereo file into Sonar and then bounced it to two separate
mono tracks, panned dead center. I set one track to solo, and then grouped
the solo buttons on each track so that one click would reverse the solo,
effectively giving me a one-click A/B comparison. I monitored via a Delta
1010 audio card to a headphone amp to a pair of mid-range AKG cans.

At first, I thought that possibly the STM99 sounded a little fuller, and a
little truer, whereas the M-147 seemed to meld the sound into a smoother,
more velvety palet. However, every so often, the true nature and sweetness
that makes the sax so nice to listen to would exhibit itself on the M-147
track, yet when A/B-ing it with the STM99, that sweet sax character was
totally missing from it's track.

At times, I was absolutely amazed at how differently the mics performed
dynamically. The Neumann was "hearing" a dynamic fluctuation that the STM99
was not. Indeed, I could have believed that some of the phrases were
recorded separately, even though the timing proved beyond doubt that this
really was a stereo recording.

The next experiment was to add the exact same reverb to each track at
exactly the same level. I did this by adding an Aux bus and inserting a
Sonitus reverb (one of the best sounding plugin reverbs IMHO) into the bus.
A send was then inserted into each of the tracks to feed the bus with the
send levels carefully set to match. Listening to individual phrases by
A/B-ing with the reverb online revealed even more differences between the
characters of the two mics. Many intricate phrases were, to use a cliché,
just "more musical" on the M-147. In fact, the Neumann came to life with
the reverb, where the STM99 turned to mud.

The interesting thing here is that the site is trying to show off the STM99.
I came across the site because I saw the STM99 for sale on a local internet
auction site. I was really hoping that the STM99 was going to sound great.

I'm a passionate, but novice home recordist with around 10 years experience.
I own the likes of Rode, Audio Technica, Studio Projects mics - I've never
owned a Neumann. I come away from this feeling like I just learned
something.

If you want to play, the link to the recording is here:
http://www.sdsystems.com/Soundtest/soundSTM99_1.htm

Hope I didn't bore to many of you,
Bill Ruys.
 
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"Bill Ruys" <bill.ruys@nospam.siliconaudio.co.nz> wrote in message
news:vZngd.677$op3.29586@news.xtra.co.nz
> The folks that make the SD Systems STM99 mic (small diaphragm
> condensor mic tailored for brass/reed instuments) have a comparison
> of their mic vs the Neumann M-147. They basically recorded a sax
> with both mics simultaneously. The result is a stereo recording, the
> STM99 on the left channel and the M-147 on the right.
>
> I imported the stereo file into Sonar and then bounced it to two
> separate mono tracks, panned dead center. I set one track to solo,
> and then grouped the solo buttons on each track so that one click
> would reverse the solo, effectively giving me a one-click A/B
> comparison. I monitored via a Delta 1010 audio card to a headphone
> amp to a pair of mid-range AKG cans.
> At first, I thought that possibly the STM99 sounded a little fuller,
> and a little truer, whereas the M-147 seemed to meld the sound into a
> smoother, more velvety palet. However, every so often, the true
> nature and sweetness that makes the sax so nice to listen to would
> exhibit itself on the M-147 track, yet when A/B-ing it with the
> STM99, that sweet sax character was totally missing from it's track.
>
> At times, I was absolutely amazed at how differently the mics
> performed dynamically. The Neumann was "hearing" a dynamic
> fluctuation that the STM99 was not. Indeed, I could have believed
> that some of the phrases were recorded separately, even though the
> timing proved beyond doubt that this really was a stereo recording.
>
> The next experiment was to add the exact same reverb to each track at
> exactly the same level. I did this by adding an Aux bus and
> inserting a Sonitus reverb (one of the best sounding plugin reverbs
> IMHO) into the bus. A send was then inserted into each of the tracks
> to feed the bus with the send levels carefully set to match. Listening to
> individual phrases by A/B-ing with the reverb online
> revealed even more differences between the characters of the two
> mics. Many intricate phrases were, to use a cliché, just "more
> musical" on the M-147. In fact, the Neumann came to life with the
> reverb, where the STM99 turned to mud.
> The interesting thing here is that the site is trying to show off the
> STM99. I came across the site because I saw the STM99 for sale on a
> local internet auction site. I was really hoping that the STM99 was
> going to sound great.
> I'm a passionate, but novice home recordist with around 10 years
> experience. I own the likes of Rode, Audio Technica, Studio Projects
> mics - I've never owned a Neumann. I come away from this feeling
> like I just learned something.

Given the obvious flaws in the test recording, I'm not sure what can be
learned from it.

> If you want to play, the link to the recording is here:
> http://www.sdsystems.com/Soundtest/soundSTM99_1.htm

It's an interesting comparison but it has an obvious flaw that leads to
questions about how it was made.

It appears that the comparison was made by micing the same instrument with
two different mics, recording each mic on a separate channel. If this was a
high quality digital recorder, so far so good.

If you examine the MP3 file carefully, the channels are not in synch. The
right channel leads by about 14 milliseconds at the beginning of the file.
If you look at the end of the file, where the sound fades out, there is a
very clear echo in the right channel that follows the main sound by about
133 milliseconds.

If you translate these delays into distances using the speed of sound, you
come up with acoustical differences that have no place in a reasonable mic
comparison.

Is one mic about 15 feet closer to the source than the other?

Is one mic oreiented with its tail pointed into a room with a reflective
back wall that is about 72 feet away, while the other mic has its tail
pointed at a fairly dead area?
 
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On Fri, 29 Oct 2004 05:22:34 -0400, Bill Ruys wrote
(in article <vZngd.677$op3.29586@news.xtra.co.nz>):

> The folks that make the SD Systems STM99 mic (small diaphragm condensor mic
> tailored for brass/reed instuments) have a comparison of their mic vs the
> Neumann M-147. They basically recorded a sax with both mics simultaneously.
> The result is a stereo recording, the STM99 on the left channel and the
> M-147 on the right.
>
> I imported the stereo file into Sonar and then bounced it to two separate
> mono tracks, panned dead center. I set one track to solo, and then grouped
> the solo buttons on each track so that one click would reverse the solo,
> effectively giving me a one-click A/B comparison. I monitored via a Delta
> 1010 audio card to a headphone amp to a pair of mid-range AKG cans.
>
> At first, I thought that possibly the STM99 sounded a little fuller, and a
> little truer, whereas the M-147 seemed to meld the sound into a smoother,
> more velvety palet. However, every so often, the true nature and sweetness
> that makes the sax so nice to listen to would exhibit itself on the M-147
> track, yet when A/B-ing it with the STM99, that sweet sax character was
> totally missing from it's track.
>
> At times, I was absolutely amazed at how differently the mics performed
> dynamically. The Neumann was "hearing" a dynamic fluctuation that the STM99
> was not. Indeed, I could have believed that some of the phrases were
> recorded separately, even though the timing proved beyond doubt that this
> really was a stereo recording.
>
> The next experiment was to add the exact same reverb to each track at
> exactly the same level. I did this by adding an Aux bus and inserting a
> Sonitus reverb (one of the best sounding plugin reverbs IMHO) into the bus.
> A send was then inserted into each of the tracks to feed the bus with the
> send levels carefully set to match. Listening to individual phrases by
> A/B-ing with the reverb online revealed even more differences between the
> characters of the two mics. Many intricate phrases were, to use a cliché,
> just "more musical" on the M-147. In fact, the Neumann came to life with
> the reverb, where the STM99 turned to mud.
>
> The interesting thing here is that the site is trying to show off the STM99.
> I came across the site because I saw the STM99 for sale on a local internet
> auction site. I was really hoping that the STM99 was going to sound great.
>
> I'm a passionate, but novice home recordist with around 10 years experience.
> I own the likes of Rode, Audio Technica, Studio Projects mics - I've never
> owned a Neumann. I come away from this feeling like I just learned
> something.
>
> If you want to play, the link to the recording is here:
> http://www.sdsystems.com/Soundtest/soundSTM99_1.htm
>
> Hope I didn't bore to many of you,
> Bill Ruys.
>
>

And you didn't even mention the selfnoise differences! :)

Regards,

Ty Ford



-- Ty Ford's equipment reviews, audio samples, rates and other audiocentric
stuff are at www.tyford.com
 
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"Bill Ruys" <bill.ruys@nospam.siliconaudio.co.nz> wrote in message news:<vZngd.677$op3.29586@news.xtra.co.nz>...
> The folks that make the SD Systems STM99 mic (small diaphragm condensor mic
> tailored for brass/reed instuments) have a comparison of their mic vs the
> Neumann M-147. They basically recorded a sax with both mics simultaneously.
> The result is a stereo recording, the STM99 on the left channel and the
> M-147 on the right.

Bill,
I have Studio Projects C-1 that I use in my home studio for vocals and
such.
For the money, it's pretty decent. I've also done some vocals in
local studios
using a TLM-103 and a U87 with various pres. The Neuman tracks always
sound better, mix easier, reverb better, everything! Sure, critics
pick on the Germans for their old technology and expensive mics. But,
in my "real world" experience, they always come out on top.

DaveT
 
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Hmm, interesting. What could be the reason for doing this? Were they
loading the results in a attempt to make their mic sound better?

Bill.

"Arny Krueger" <arnyk@hotpop.com> wrote in message
news:0cednVEJMr4Lih_cRVn-2w@comcast.com...
> "Bill Ruys" <bill.ruys@nospam.siliconaudio.co.nz> wrote in message
> news:vZngd.677$op3.29586@news.xtra.co.nz
>> The folks that make the SD Systems STM99 mic (small diaphragm
>> condensor mic tailored for brass/reed instuments) have a comparison
>> of their mic vs the Neumann M-147. They basically recorded a sax
>> with both mics simultaneously. The result is a stereo recording, the
>> STM99 on the left channel and the M-147 on the right.
>>
>> I imported the stereo file into Sonar and then bounced it to two
>> separate mono tracks, panned dead center. I set one track to solo,
>> and then grouped the solo buttons on each track so that one click
>> would reverse the solo, effectively giving me a one-click A/B
>> comparison. I monitored via a Delta 1010 audio card to a headphone
>> amp to a pair of mid-range AKG cans.
>> At first, I thought that possibly the STM99 sounded a little fuller,
>> and a little truer, whereas the M-147 seemed to meld the sound into a
>> smoother, more velvety palet. However, every so often, the true
>> nature and sweetness that makes the sax so nice to listen to would
>> exhibit itself on the M-147 track, yet when A/B-ing it with the
>> STM99, that sweet sax character was totally missing from it's track.
>>
>> At times, I was absolutely amazed at how differently the mics
>> performed dynamically. The Neumann was "hearing" a dynamic
>> fluctuation that the STM99 was not. Indeed, I could have believed
>> that some of the phrases were recorded separately, even though the
>> timing proved beyond doubt that this really was a stereo recording.
>>
>> The next experiment was to add the exact same reverb to each track at
>> exactly the same level. I did this by adding an Aux bus and
>> inserting a Sonitus reverb (one of the best sounding plugin reverbs
>> IMHO) into the bus. A send was then inserted into each of the tracks
>> to feed the bus with the send levels carefully set to match. Listening to
>> individual phrases by A/B-ing with the reverb online
>> revealed even more differences between the characters of the two
>> mics. Many intricate phrases were, to use a cliché, just "more
>> musical" on the M-147. In fact, the Neumann came to life with the
>> reverb, where the STM99 turned to mud.
>> The interesting thing here is that the site is trying to show off the
>> STM99. I came across the site because I saw the STM99 for sale on a
>> local internet auction site. I was really hoping that the STM99 was
>> going to sound great.
>> I'm a passionate, but novice home recordist with around 10 years
>> experience. I own the likes of Rode, Audio Technica, Studio Projects
>> mics - I've never owned a Neumann. I come away from this feeling
>> like I just learned something.
>
> Given the obvious flaws in the test recording, I'm not sure what can be
> learned from it.
>
>> If you want to play, the link to the recording is here:
>> http://www.sdsystems.com/Soundtest/soundSTM99_1.htm
>
> It's an interesting comparison but it has an obvious flaw that leads to
> questions about how it was made.
>
> It appears that the comparison was made by micing the same instrument with
> two different mics, recording each mic on a separate channel. If this was
> a high quality digital recorder, so far so good.
>
> If you examine the MP3 file carefully, the channels are not in synch. The
> right channel leads by about 14 milliseconds at the beginning of the file.
> If you look at the end of the file, where the sound fades out, there is a
> very clear echo in the right channel that follows the main sound by about
> 133 milliseconds.
>
> If you translate these delays into distances using the speed of sound, you
> come up with acoustical differences that have no place in a reasonable mic
> comparison.
>
> Is one mic about 15 feet closer to the source than the other?
>
> Is one mic oreiented with its tail pointed into a room with a reflective
> back wall that is about 72 feet away, while the other mic has its tail
> pointed at a fairly dead area?
>
>
>
 
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Actually, Arny, looking more closely, in some places the right channel is
early and in others it's late - very strange...

Bill Ruys.

"Arny Krueger" <arnyk@hotpop.com> wrote in message
news:0cednVEJMr4Lih_cRVn-2w@comcast.com...
> "Bill Ruys" <bill.ruys@nospam.siliconaudio.co.nz> wrote in message
> news:vZngd.677$op3.29586@news.xtra.co.nz
>
> It's an interesting comparison but it has an obvious flaw that leads to
> questions about how it was made.
>
> It appears that the comparison was made by micing the same instrument with
> two different mics, recording each mic on a separate channel. If this was
> a high quality digital recorder, so far so good.
>
> If you examine the MP3 file carefully, the channels are not in synch. The
> right channel leads by about 14 milliseconds at the beginning of the file.
> If you look at the end of the file, where the sound fades out, there is a
> very clear echo in the right channel that follows the main sound by about
> 133 milliseconds.
>
> If you translate these delays into distances using the speed of sound, you
> come up with acoustical differences that have no place in a reasonable mic
> comparison.
>
> Is one mic about 15 feet closer to the source than the other?
>
> Is one mic oreiented with its tail pointed into a room with a reflective
> back wall that is about 72 feet away, while the other mic has its tail
> pointed at a fairly dead area?
>
>
>
 
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"Bill Ruys" <bill.ruys@nospam.siliconaudio.co.nz> wrote in message
news:Oipgd.722$op3.31081@news.xtra.co.nz
> Actually, Arny, looking more closely, in some places the right
> channel is early and in others it's late - very strange...

The instrumentalist was walking around?
 
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"Arny Krueger" <arnyk@hotpop.com> wrote in news:JtmdndYhkYnzuR_cRVn-
gA@comcast.com:

> "Bill Ruys" <bill.ruys@nospam.siliconaudio.co.nz> wrote in message
> news:Oipgd.722$op3.31081@news.xtra.co.nz
>> Actually, Arny, looking more closely, in some places the right
>> channel is early and in others it's late - very strange...
>
> The instrumentalist was walking around?
>
>
>

Look at (listen to) the file between 22 & 25 seconds (for a very obvious
difference) and at many other points in the file. The two channels are
*NOT* recordings of the same 'performance' as it were. Seems extremely
bogus to me.
 
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"Forty Winks" <Yawn@bedtime.com> wrote in message
news:Xns9591831F3BF43Yawnbedtime@212.159.2.88...
> "Arny Krueger" <arnyk@hotpop.com> wrote in news:JtmdndYhkYnzuR_cRVn-
> gA@comcast.com:
>
> > "Bill Ruys" <bill.ruys@nospam.siliconaudio.co.nz> wrote in message
> > news:Oipgd.722$op3.31081@news.xtra.co.nz
> >> Actually, Arny, looking more closely, in some places the right
> >> channel is early and in others it's late - very strange...
> >
> > The instrumentalist was walking around?
> >
> >
> >
>
> Look at (listen to) the file between 22 & 25 seconds (for a very obvious
> difference) and at many other points in the file. The two channels are
> *NOT* recordings of the same 'performance' as it were. Seems extremely
> bogus to me.

The spectrograph view shows that there are three clear sections with breaks
at 43 and 1:24. It also shows that the two channels don't break at the same
time. If you line up the tracks in each section to compensate for the basic
delay you get a drift of a couple of milliseconds, which I think could be
the player shifting around as he plays.

I figure it was the same performance but there were some recording
conditions that really screwed up the comparison, in addition to the two
channels being edited in separate processes and combined later. "Amateurish"
is the best description to me.

Sean
 
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"Sean Conolly" <sjconolly_98@yaaho.com> wrote in news:hfrgd.232858
$as2.196521@bignews3.bellsouth.net:

> figure it was the same performance but there were some recording
> conditions that really screwed up the comparison,

Absolutely no way. there's a note that begins at 22.5 seconds that decays
to nothing on the right channel but sustains at roughly the same level on
the left channel. It's just not the same performance. Strange because some
bits (bar the timeshift and perhaps mic tonal differnences) look the same.
 
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"Forty Winks" <Yawn@bedtime.com> wrote in message
news:Xns959192C505281Yawnbedtime@212.159.2.88
> "Sean Conolly" <sjconolly_98@yaaho.com> wrote in news:hfrgd.232858
> $as2.196521@bignews3.bellsouth.net:
>
>> figure it was the same performance but there were some recording
>> conditions that really screwed up the comparison,
>
> Absolutely no way. there's a note that begins at 22.5 seconds that
> decays to nothing on the right channel but sustains at roughly the
> same level on the left channel. It's just not the same performance.
> Strange because some bits (bar the timeshift and perhaps mic tonal
> differnences) look the same.

Bottom line, the comparison is far from clean. We can't esactly agree about
why or how it is dirty, but we do agree that it is trash.
 
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> > The folks that make the SD Systems STM99 mic (small diaphragm condensor
mic
> > tailored for brass/reed instuments) have a comparison of their mic vs
the
> > Neumann M-147. They basically recorded a sax with both mics
simultaneously.
> > The result is a stereo recording, the STM99 on the left channel and the
> > M-147 on the right.
>
> Bill,
> I have Studio Projects C-1 that I use in my home studio for vocals and
> such.
> For the money, it's pretty decent. I've also done some vocals in
> local studios
> using a TLM-103 and a U87 with various pres. The Neuman tracks always
> sound better, mix easier, reverb better, everything! Sure, critics
> pick on the Germans for their old technology and expensive mics. But,
> in my "real world" experience, they always come out on top.

There's plenty of daylight between a C1 and a U87 though. The C1 uses a
SoundKing Chinese-made diaphram, like most budget condensers -
cost-effective, but easily out-classed. People pick on the Germans because
in several cases they charge 4x what Rode does for comparable quality.
 

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May 21, 2004
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On Fri, 29 Oct 2004 06:10:58 -0400, "Arny Krueger" <arnyk@hotpop.com>
wrote:

>"Bill Ruys" <bill.ruys@nospam.siliconaudio.co.nz> wrote in message
>news:vZngd.677$op3.29586@news.xtra.co.nz
>> The folks that make the SD Systems STM99 mic (small diaphragm
>> condensor mic tailored for brass/reed instuments) have a comparison
>> of their mic vs the Neumann M-147. They basically recorded a sax
>> with both mics simultaneously. The result is a stereo recording, the
>> STM99 on the left channel and the M-147 on the right.
>>
>> I imported the stereo file into Sonar and then bounced it to two
>> separate mono tracks, panned dead center. I set one track to solo,
>> and then grouped the solo buttons on each track so that one click
>> would reverse the solo, effectively giving me a one-click A/B
>> comparison. I monitored via a Delta 1010 audio card to a headphone
>> amp to a pair of mid-range AKG cans.
>> At first, I thought that possibly the STM99 sounded a little fuller,
>> and a little truer, whereas the M-147 seemed to meld the sound into a
>> smoother, more velvety palet. However, every so often, the true
>> nature and sweetness that makes the sax so nice to listen to would
>> exhibit itself on the M-147 track, yet when A/B-ing it with the
>> STM99, that sweet sax character was totally missing from it's track.
>>
>> At times, I was absolutely amazed at how differently the mics
>> performed dynamically. The Neumann was "hearing" a dynamic
>> fluctuation that the STM99 was not. Indeed, I could have believed
>> that some of the phrases were recorded separately, even though the
>> timing proved beyond doubt that this really was a stereo recording.
>>
>> The next experiment was to add the exact same reverb to each track at
>> exactly the same level. I did this by adding an Aux bus and
>> inserting a Sonitus reverb (one of the best sounding plugin reverbs
>> IMHO) into the bus. A send was then inserted into each of the tracks
>> to feed the bus with the send levels carefully set to match. Listening to
>> individual phrases by A/B-ing with the reverb online
>> revealed even more differences between the characters of the two
>> mics. Many intricate phrases were, to use a cliché, just "more
>> musical" on the M-147. In fact, the Neumann came to life with the
>> reverb, where the STM99 turned to mud.
>> The interesting thing here is that the site is trying to show off the
>> STM99. I came across the site because I saw the STM99 for sale on a
>> local internet auction site. I was really hoping that the STM99 was
>> going to sound great.
>> I'm a passionate, but novice home recordist with around 10 years
>> experience. I own the likes of Rode, Audio Technica, Studio Projects
>> mics - I've never owned a Neumann. I come away from this feeling
>> like I just learned something.
>
>Given the obvious flaws in the test recording, I'm not sure what can be
>learned from it.
>
>> If you want to play, the link to the recording is here:
>> http://www.sdsystems.com/Soundtest/soundSTM99_1.htm
>
>It's an interesting comparison but it has an obvious flaw that leads to
>questions about how it was made.
>
>It appears that the comparison was made by micing the same instrument with
>two different mics, recording each mic on a separate channel. If this was a
>high quality digital recorder, so far so good.
>
>If you examine the MP3 file carefully, the channels are not in synch. The
>right channel leads by about 14 milliseconds at the beginning of the file.
>If you look at the end of the file, where the sound fades out, there is a
>very clear echo in the right channel that follows the main sound by about
>133 milliseconds.
>
>If you translate these delays into distances using the speed of sound, you
>come up with acoustical differences that have no place in a reasonable mic
>comparison.
>
>Is one mic about 15 feet closer to the source than the other?
>
>Is one mic oreiented with its tail pointed into a room with a reflective
>back wall that is about 72 feet away, while the other mic has its tail
>pointed at a fairly dead area?

Where are good web pages to explain different mic types?
 
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On Sat, 30 Oct 2004 16:19:26 -0500, Ben Bradley wrote
(in article <la18o0p6cvr18rlaj0sc0f7rhi3i0obh2f@4ax.com>):

> On Sat, 30 Oct 2004 18:58:43 +0100, support@mistral.net wrote:
>
>>
>> Where are good web pages to explain different mic types?
>
> http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=microphone+cardioid+glossary
> -----
> http://mindspring.com/~benbradley

I have a library of mic reviews on my site. Help yourself.

Regards,

Ty Ford



-- Ty Ford's equipment reviews, audio samples, rates and other audiocentric
stuff are at www.tyford.com
 

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