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cardioid mics

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cardioid mics

Postby intermittent hummer » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:17 am

having listened to paul white and hugh robjohns' discussion in answer to the question 'when should i use an omnidirectional mic?' i find myself wondering "when would i use a cardioid mic" (live use onstage being the obvious example). but in the studio?
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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:58 am

A lot of great recordings were made in the past without cardioid mics! Of course, they have their uses, but it's certainly well worth considering the options as most cardioid mics do have some inherent disadvantages and an Omni or fig-eight might offer more useful advantages.

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Re: cardioid mics

Postby twotoedsloth » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:42 pm

Well.... you can also make the argument that a lot of great recordings were made with cardioid microphones. ORTF, and XY near coincident patterns require cardioid mics. You can also use a cardioid as the M in a M/S array.

I have a pair of TLM 193 (Neumann) mics that I would not hesitate to use on almost any source, and they are fixed cardioid. I also like my KM 184s (Neumann), C451bs (AKG) C414 ULS (AKG), C480s (AKG), 4011s (DPA), 4041s (AT), 4033s (AT) and NT5s (Rode).

That being said, I use omnis to record most of the time, as a wise old engineer at the national broadcast centre here in Toronto once told me: (Use omnis) anything less and you're short changing the bottom end.
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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:53 pm

twotoedsloth wrote:Well.... you can also make the argument that a lot of great recordings were made with cardioid microphones.


True enough. As I said, they have their uses... The point I was making originally was that most people buy and use cardioid pattern mics without thinking of or considering the alternatives. Sometimes that's because they are unaware of the other options and sometimes its because they are frightened to try the alternatives. I'm just trying to encourage folk to give omnis and fig-8s a fair crack of the whip because often if sued skilfully they will deliver better end results.

ORTF, and XY near coincident patterns require cardioid mics.


XY is, by definition, coincident not near-coincident, and fig-8s can be used to good effect in the appropriate circumstances (as well as hypercardioids)

You can also use a cardioid as the M in a M/S array.


Yep... Or omni or fig-8, or hypercardioid...

(Use omnis) anything less and you're short changing the bottom end.


The extra bottom octave can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on the situation,, but for me, it's the absence of LF phase shift that makes the omni (and arguably the fig-8) an option well worth considering against the default cardioid.
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Re: cardioid mics

Postby grab » Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:54 pm

I've got supercardioid drum mics. I sometimes regret that, bcos the rear lobe picks up cymbals. Cardioid would have been more useful - and if I ever get the money for some 421s...
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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Jeraldo » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:29 pm

intermittent hummer wrote:having listened to paul white and hugh robjohns' discussion in answer to the question 'when should i use an omnidirectional mic?' i find myself wondering "when would i use a cardioid mic" (live use onstage being the obvious example). but in the studio?


With a coincident 8 and omni, you can have all sorts of patterns, including cardioid. The ease of mounting depends on the physical design of the mic/bodies.

To carry this idea to the extreme, see the Schoeps plugins which synthesize different patterns at different freq bands with either a single set (2 mic's) or a stereo set (4 mic's). Some very interesting effects possible, with a user interactive demo on their site.

I just use coincident mic's and mix in post, without plugins. You do have to take into account the HF characteristics of the omni and make sure it is oriented as desired.

I wouldn't find this necessary for a small project, but a stereo array of this sort can be very helpful with large performing forces.

OTH, you could mount 2 8's and an omni for many single point stereo possibilities.
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Re: cardioid mics

Postby The Elf » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:43 pm

grab wrote:and if I ever get the money for some 421s...

Between you, me and Ron Snijders we should arrange a group buy!!
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Re: cardioid mics

Postby mjfe2 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:54 am

twotoedsloth wrote:You can also use a cardioid as the M in a M/S array.

I always think the beauty of M/S is that you can use omni, with all the benefits of extended bottom end and a less coloured sound, and still get good imaging! You also get options in post production. If you're using a cardioid I can't really see the advantages of M/S over X/Y, and in fact don't fig-8s inherently pick less top end if the front and back lobes have been 'matched'?
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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Sam Inglis » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:18 am

I often prefer MS with a cardioid mid to conventional XY with crossed cardioids, at least for stereo pickup of a single source. The main attraction for me is that you can position the M mic so as to get the best possible mono capture of the source and treat the S component as optional. With XY, neither mic is on axis to a central source, and although it's supposed to be mono compatible, the mono reduction often doesn't sound as good as miking in mono in the first place.
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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:55 am

mjfe2 wrote:I always think the beauty of M/S is that you can use omni, with all the benefits of extended bottom end and a less coloured sound, and still get good imaging!

The 'good imaging' aspects is arguable as this array translates to back-to-back cardioids, which is rarely ideal in terms of stereo recording angle!

If you're using a cardioid I can't really see the advantages of M/S over X/Y

You said it yourself: You also get options in post production.

don't fig-8s inherently pick less top end if the front and back lobes have been 'matched'?

Not sure what you mean by that.

In the XY configuration with any polar pattern -- fig-8s, cardioid, hypercardioid etc -- centre sources will arrive at the mics off-axis to some degree and, especially large diaphragm mics, that means less top-end than there should be. So switching to an MS array when the source is centre-heavy makes a lot of sense, as the primary sound source is then on-axis to the mid mic and captured with maximum fidelity.

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Re: cardioid mics

Postby mjfe2 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:12 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
don't fig-8s inherently pick less top end if the front and back lobes have been 'matched'?

Not sure what you mean by that.

In the XY configuration with any polar pattern -- fig-8s, cardioid, hypercardioid etc -- centre sources will arrive at the mics off-axis to some degree and, especially large diaphragm mics, that means less top-end than there should be. So switching to an MS array when the source is centre-heavy makes a lot of sense, as the primary sound source is then on-axis to the mid mic and captured with maximum fidelity.

H

Aren't cheaper fig-8 mics (especially multi-pattern LDCs) often criticised in reviews for the front being brighter than the back? I also noticed that high-end SDCs like Schoeps have a HF roll-off so I assumed this was the compensation for matching front and back?
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Re: cardioid mics

Postby John Willett » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:38 am

mjfe2 wrote:
Aren't cheaper fig-8 mics (especially multi-pattern LDCs) often criticised in reviews for the front being brighter than the back? I also noticed that high-end SDCs like Schoeps have a HF roll-off so I assumed this was the compensation for matching front and back?

There are two ways of making a fig-8 microphone.

1) Having a single diaphragm open both sides
2) Having back-to-back cardioids with the rear capsule polarity-reversed

If you use method 1 (single diaphragm) you need to keep the acoustic properties identical both sides of the diaphragm. The Sennheiser MKH 30 is a symmetrical capsule microphone with the front plate being identical to the back plate both electrically and acoustically. The Neumann 120 microphones (KM120, KM120-A, KM120-D) also have a symmetrical capsule, but in the Neumann case the front plate is for acoustic purposes only. Both these have the rear lobe identical to the front lobe. The Schoeps (and MBHO and Ambient) use a single backplate with no front plate; this means that the acoustic properties are different front and back and means that you get the HF roll-off at the rear (though this does only show up on the 16kHz plot on the Schoeps and not lower down).

Method 2 is used by switchable-pattern mics and the lower cost fig-8s. These do normally have polar-patterns identical front and rear; but the compromise is shown up in the funny shaped polar-patterns at higher frequencies.

I hope this helps.
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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:16 am

mjfe2 wrote:Aren't cheaper fig-8 mics (especially multi-pattern LDCs) often criticised in reviews for the front being brighter than the back?


I'd have thought 'identified' rather than 'criticised' Certainly some ribbons are designed quite deliberately with different sounding front and rear lobes -- a brighter side and a darker side -- and that can often be a very useful feature when employed as a single mic. Not so useful for stereo applications, and completely hopeless or MS arrays, of course.

I can't think of any multi-pattern LDC I've used that has different tonality front and back, nor can I think of a mechanism for how that would come about. All multi-pattern LDCs are symmetrical in construction (essentially with back-to-back cardioid capsules), and so any mismatch can only be as the result of very poor manufacturing tolerances. Perhaps that does happen on very cheap mics, but I've not come across it personally.

I also noticed that high-end SDCs like Schoeps have a HF roll-off so I assumed this was the compensation for matching front and back?


If you're talking about the fixed fig-8 pattern SDCs, they are often compromised in their design because of the difficulty of making single-diaphragm capacitor mics where the electrical and acoustic environment around the diaphragm is symmetrical front and back. The Sennheiser MKH30 manages it, but few others.

EDITED : Damn! that JW bloke has got there first again!

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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:56 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote: All multi-pattern LDCs are symmetrical in construction (essentially with back-to-back cardioid capsules), and so any mismatch can only be as the result of very poor manufacturing tolerances. Perhaps that does happen on very cheap mics, but I've not come across it personally.



Hugh, how does this square with your previous comments about manufacturing tolerances even between identical models of vocal mics from quality manufacturers being so unreliable that even a listening test on separate vocal takes can reveal these differences?

Are you saying that manufacturers of multipattern mics custom match the back-to-back capsules before assembly? If so, what evidence do you have for that assertion?

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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:43 pm

Tim Gillett wrote: Hugh, how does this square with your previous comments about manufacturing tolerances even between identical models of vocal mics from quality manufacturers being so unreliable that even a listening test on separate vocal takes can reveal these differences?


I don't recall saying that, or anything even remotely like it... perhaps you have misunderstood some aspect of something I said related to the topic.

Are you saying that manufacturers of multipattern mics custom match the back-to-back capsules before assembly?


No... because that's not how they generally make multipattern mic capsules.

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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Dan B » Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:39 pm

I often prefer the sound of omnis, but due to unwanted background noise (cars, birds, etc) often end up going with cardioid. I wonder if I shouldn't be sticking with omni, but putting some treatment (4-6 inches of rockwool) behind the mic to achieve a similar rejection effect? Any thoughts on how effective that'd be?
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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:42 pm

It's not just the back. An Omni would be 3-6dB more sensitive around all four sides as well.

Certainly, you could put in absorbers all round, and control the external noise more effectively... and then you'll have what's popularly known as a 'recording studio'

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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:00 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote: Hugh, how does this square with your previous comments about manufacturing tolerances even between identical models of vocal mics from quality manufacturers being so unreliable that even a listening test on separate vocal takes can reveal these differences?

I don't recall saying that, or anything even remotely like it... perhaps you have misunderstood some aspect of something I said related to the topic.

Are you saying that manufacturers of multipattern mics custom match the back-to-back capsules before assembly?

No... because that's not how they generally make multipattern mic capsules.

H

So can we assume that identical model mic capsules, in as new condition, from reputable mic makers, are for all intents and purposes acoustically interchangeable?

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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:44 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:So can we assume that identical model mic capsules, in as new condition, from reputable mic makers, are for all intents and purposes acoustically interchangeable?

You appear to have an agenda here, Tim. I don't play those games.

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Re: cardioid mics

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:47 pm

My questions relate to an earlier thread entitled, from memory, "Do I need a better LDC?". They are only tangentially related to this thread and so it seems right I raise them formally in a new, separate thread.

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