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A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

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A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby jayzed » Sat Oct 18, 2008 8:29 am

As discovered indirectly through another thread.

Has anyone here had any experience with these microphones? My BS detector is going wild but I don't wish to pre-judge what could be the next great thing in sound transduction.

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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby IvanSC » Sat Oct 18, 2008 8:38 am

yeah I just posted this in Microphones.
Also went to see the stuff on GS about this.
Seems we are collectively suspicious.

£17k+ a pair???

maybe he is aiming for the Guinness record on high dollar hifi gear.

P.S. Since the photo you posted is an artist`s representation, it makes you wonder if he actully has more than 2 already made.
High cost of materials like the wooden blocks must make stockholding tough.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby jayzed » Sat Oct 18, 2008 9:01 am

Oops, I was thinking technology but I should have been thinking microphones.
I'll move over there now.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Oct 18, 2008 2:12 pm

Anyone noticed how the character of a voice changes when talking through a funnel... ?

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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby John Willett » Sat Oct 18, 2008 2:49 pm

Andy Simpson, based in Poland - he posts on Gearslutz.

Know about the mics. haven't seen or used them at all.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby jayzed » Sat Oct 18, 2008 3:34 pm

Taking a wild guess, I would imagine the theory is that the funneling of the sound waves down the horn would boost the SPL somewhat and that this increased pressure of the wavefront would go someway to the claimed impedance matching, a diaphram obviously having a different impedance to any air at or near sea level PSI.
Remember also, impedance matching is one of the terms that has managed to move across to the audiophile area from electronics and audio engineering so might be seen as a good thing in and of itself.
I would also think that unless the insides of the funnels are damped (which doesn't seem to be the case) then there would be all sorts of reflections with differing phase issues. As stated previously, have a listen to a sound through a tube (or funnel). The tube or funnel effectively become the business end of a trombone or tuba, with the air column excited in the way physical modelling simulates the effect of a column/cone of air (only in reverse, more like an ear trumpet). If Mr Simpson has managed to get any sort of flat response from those mics, I would be impressed. But then, my theory could possibly be way off about the reflections and phase issues.
The wood also concerns me. Although it may be made of wood for the ease of working etc there are some pretty out there claims made in the hi-fi world for the qualities of wood, as opposed to MDF or any other, potentially LESS resonant material that I understand actually make for a better, if cheaper, solution to monitor cabinets etc. Again, I am no expert but I read that plywood is better for guitar and bass cabinets exactly because the crossed plys reduce resonances.

The web site does not answer any of my questions but I am intrigued - hence my request for any clarification from some of the expert acousticians, speaker designers or microphone buffs that may see this.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Oct 18, 2008 4:55 pm

JohnnyT wrote: The web site does not answer any of my questions but I am intrigued - hence my request for any clarification from some of the expert acousticians, speaker designers or microphone buffs that may see this.

We (SOS) were approached to review this mic, and I was involved in some discussions with the designer/promoter to try to decide whether such an astonishingly expensive mic warranted the space in the magazine. An aspirational product is one thing, but something as off-the wall as this requires further investigation!

Sadly, none of the technical claims made could be verified, and none of the technical arguments appeared to have credibility -- and that wasn't just my perception, but that of two very respected and knowledgable independent consultants experienced in microphone design and acoustics.

So we declined... and I'm yet to come across anyone who has used these things and whose experience and ears I trust to provide an unbiased opion either.

As far as I'm concerned, these things remains an amusing novelty until proven otherwise, and there are far more relevant things to be filling the pages of SOS.

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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Steve Hill » Sat Oct 18, 2008 9:06 pm

Hugh, a small bit of devil's advocacy if I might - not that it's my role to determine editorial policy.

Suppose you had reviewed this mic. And suppose that, say, the learned conclusion was that it was no better or worse than say a chinese LDC for £150? Would that not be useful information to get into the market - and maybe mark the cards of other snake-oil pedlars that if it's junk, somebody is going to publish that fact?

If on the other hand it's a major breakthrough, that would be news too. Possibly there might then be a discussion as to why it's worth £10,000 - if it is - and how seriously high-end rivals at a "mere" £5,000-odd compare.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Oct 18, 2008 10:52 pm

Steve Hill wrote:Suppose you had reviewed this mic. And suppose that, say, the learned conclusion was that it was no better or worse than say a chinese LDC for £150? Would that not be useful information to get into the market - and maybe mark the cards of other snake-oil pedlars that if it's junk, somebody is going to publish that fact?

I see where you're going, and to a degree I share the sentiment. But personally I'd rather say positive things about a cheap mic that SOS readers might buy, than negative things about a ludicrously expensive mic that no one will.

Had I been convinced that there was serious science behind it that would have made it more worthy of SOS attention, too, but sadly, it doesn't appear to be the case. The information provided to me was confused, contradictory, inaccurate and had no supportive evidence.

Obviously, I (and those I consulted) may be wrong about the science, and if that can be demonstrated then we'll take another look sometime, but it seems that no one else is yet convinced either.

My personal take on snake oil products, by the way, is to not honour them with the slightest attention. Any publicity feeds the machine, and I want no part of that.

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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby hollowsun » Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:59 am

I've just listened to some of the audio demos there...

They're alright I s'ppose but seem terribly unbalanced, especially in the orchestral ones ... well, in most of them. In the orchestral ones, the brass is very prominent as are the woodwinds - sounds like these expensive mics (£17k????! - he does another bundle for £42k!!!) were placed BEHIND the orchestra rather than in front as the strings seem very subdued. For the jazz recordings, the piano is muffled and poorly balanced.

If I didn't know any better, I'd say these things don't really sound subjectively THAT much better than any of the hand-held recorders such as the Zoom H-Series or Olympus gadgets that are doing the rounds - they certainly don't sound £16,750-worth of an improvement.

Mind you, the orchestra he has recorded doesn't help. Competent but not excellent.

I am kinda with Steve, Hugh....

If not a review of these particular mics in question but an article on snake-oil products like this (and the £1,500 mains lead from that company whose name I forget ... or the £2,800 power conditioner ... or the £80 'interconnects' Comet foist upon people to hook their £20 DVD up to their TV, etc.). Someone needs to blow the whistle on these charlatans that prey on the gullible and uninformed.

That said, I understand that this is maybe beyond the remit of your esteemed organ (ooo-er no missus!)
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Steve Hill » Sun Oct 19, 2008 8:18 am

This thing seems to be made of beechwood or something. I'm strongly tempted to put some $20 Chinese capsules in say a Brazilian rosewood horn and claim superior sound quality owing to denser wood. And sell them for a trifling £3,000 each, say.

I know a decent wood turner who knocks out hardwood fruitbowls and things for a living...
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby hifistud2 » Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:38 am

+1

Steve Hill wrote:Hugh, a small bit of devil's advocacy if I might - not that it's my role to determine editorial policy.

Suppose you had reviewed this mic. And suppose that, say, the learned conclusion was that it was no better or worse than say a chinese LDC for £150? Would that not be useful information to get into the market - and maybe mark the cards of other snake-oil pedlars that if it's junk, somebody is going to publish that fact?

If on the other hand it's a major breakthrough, that would be news too. Possibly there might then be a discussion as to why it's worth £10,000 - if it is - and how seriously high-end rivals at a "mere" £5,000-odd compare.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby hollowsun » Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:32 pm

Steve Hill wrote:This thing seems to be made of beechwood or something. I'm strongly tempted to put some This thing seems to be made of beechwood or something. I'm strongly tempted to put some 0 Chinese capsules in say a Brazilian rosewood horn and claim superior sound quality owing to denser wood. And sell them for a trifling £3,000 each, say.

I know a decent wood turner who knocks out hardwood fruitbowls and things for a living... 0 Chinese capsules in say a Brazilian rosewood horn and claim superior sound quality owing to denser wood. And sell them for a trifling £3,000 each, say.

I know a decent wood turner who knocks out hardwood fruitbowls and things for a living...
Sounds like a plan Steve. You do realise though, that you will need a course on bullsh!t in order to effectively promote, market and monetize your invention...

But I am sure you have contacts in the city looking for a job right now that could help you out on that one
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Done to death.

Postby Jeraldo » Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:07 pm

I wouldn't even know where to begin.

There are plenty of examples to hear recorded by the microphone's maker, and there are plenty of comments to read (all saying the same thing) along with the maker's responses, which, curiously enough, all say the same thing.

Really, this has all been done to death.

Briefly-very briefly:

1. Microphone maker states mic's are not only the best in the world, but, in fact are perfect and that listening to recordings made with them are indistinguishable from being at the event. And, everyone should come to this conclusion. If they don't something is wrong with them. Really, I am not exaggerating.

The maker clearly states in his writings that people's varied responses (read: non positive) are due to subjective factors. BUT, he then goes on to explain subjectivity, then quantifying it (see 2A and B below) and removing subjectivity from the listening experience. And once that is done, of course, everyone will reach the same conclusion, because when subjectivity is removed, and it is very possible to do so, everyone will have the same judgement.

Again, I am not joking. Just read the guy's writing.

2. Listeners who do not reach the same qualitative conclusion as the maker are told (always!)) it is a result of one or both of the following (and only the following-there are no other factors involved in the "diverse patterns of responses"):

A. Inferrior monitoring chain (In fact, he wants to know at the outset what you will be using to listen to his clips. He then tells you there's a problem with your gear.)

B. Your (the listener's) conditioning. The conditioning consists of (1) having spent time with inferior microphones (!), and (2) listening to inferior monitoring equipment (!!!).

Again, I am not joking.

3. This is followed by an invitation to come to Poland for a "blind listening test"-and you are assured that you will not be able to distinguish the recording from the source. The recording is to be played back in the same room as the source. The proposed methodology of the test is absurd.

4. The inventor likes to use both psycho-babble and audio-babble, and unfortunately he invents all the terms.

Done to death, really, really, really done to death.

Despite the absurd nature of the ideology, the microphones, and the methodology; I believe the maker is absolutely sincere, and IMO, there is no attempt whatsoever of taking advantage of people. He is someone who passionately committed to his invention and his thought process. And despite thinking this is all crazy for so many reasons, I do wish him success.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby IvanSC » Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:31 pm

Success at the cost of his customer`s gullible wallet waving?

If he was just a crackpot inventor peddling his theories sure, let him do it - he will cause no harm.
But there again I suppose there would be some who would invoke caveat emptor.

Unfortunately in my admittedly limited exposure to the worst aspects of Hi FI snake oil, there will be plenty of people out there who will take his word as law without ever thinking to question his statements and conclusions elsewhere.

I am beginning to think the uneducated hi fi extremists are not ulike members of some strange religious cult.

Please let me differentiate here between the guys who DO know their onions and are merely obsessive in their search for the ultimate in audio perfection, or as close as they can get, and the sheep who lap up the latest new (and usually outlandishly expensive) hi fi toy.
Mind you by reading the various threads I have found so far it does seem like he has taken it a bridge too far, especially the price.
Love to see how many he has sold so far.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby ken long » Sun Oct 19, 2008 5:25 pm

Hi Hugh.

Hugh Robjohns wrote:

We (SOS) were approached to review this mic, and I was involved in some discussions with the designer/promoter to try to decide whether such an astonishingly expensive mic warranted the space in the magazine. An aspirational product is one thing, but something as off-the wall as this requires further investigation!

Perhaps I am reading this wrong but wouldn't a review allow you to investigate further?


Sadly, none of the technical claims made could be verified, and none of the technical arguments appeared to have credibility -- and that wasn't just my perception, but that of two very respected and knowledgable independent consultants experienced in microphone design and acoustics.

Were you sent a sample or look did you look over the maths?

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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Oct 19, 2008 6:19 pm

Ken Long wrote:Perhaps I am reading this wrong but wouldn't a review allow you to investigate further?

Of course it would... but it would also have prevented me from doing something more constructive and productive with my time.

Were you sent a sample or look did you look over the maths?

Neither. We were offered a sample but with unacceptable conditions. There was no maths proffered, and the technical explantions to my questions given didn't stand up to even basic scrutiny.

The bottom line is that although we do cover some 'aspirational' products in SOS from time to time, this mic is so stratopherically expensive as to be utterly irrelevant to the core readership, and the claimed technological advances didn't appear to hold water.

I think SOS readers buy the mag to find out what might be good to spend their money on, not what not to spend their money on -- especially when they wouldn't have bought it anway.

I guess if Sennheiser and Rode start producing wooden horn microphones I'll have to kick myself for being an idiot! But I'm not anticipating getting bruised in the near future...

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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Jeraldo » Sun Oct 19, 2008 7:15 pm

IvanSC wrote:

I am beginning to think the uneducated hi fi extremists are not ulike members of some strange religious cult.


How did this vaguely defined and unfairly and consistently maligned group enter the picture? And who are they? Oh yeah, the guys who sold tangential turntables and B&W and Rogers speakers in their "hi fi extremists" shop and were always mumbling about the British sound, whatever that is. And, um, the guys who pay for lots of recordings so they can take your nicely done recording home and enjoy it on their primo system.

I don't think Mr. Andy would self identify as a "hi fi extremist," and he is certainly not marketing to the "hi fi community."

Remember, he's selling to people who produce recordings.

What Mr. Simpson might demonstrate, is that there is a growing group of "pro audio extremists," and sitting on the highest priced mountain, he's just gotten the attention of the SOS readership-at least the forum readership. Ah, those pro audio extremists. You know, those guys with the Sennheiser, Schoeps, and Sanken40 and 50 kHz and 100 kHz a/symmetrical capsule microphones. (Despite what you think, those manufacturers have assured us that we can at least "feel" something up there-the range of your converter be damned.) Now, I thought wooden horns belonged on hi fi extremists turntables. You know, no power ripple or anything like that, no tubes to age, no transistors in the path.

BTW, don't any of those things come with headphones jacks? Passive, of course. Any decent monitor controller is passive......I think is what we're supposed to think.....and tone controls....they're supposed to be passive now, also, right, I think that's the current pro audio extremists think.......I think we're supposed to be buying the boxes with the fewest and lowest cost components for the highest price. Help me here, I can't keep up with these extremists! You know, just like those new fangled Simpson microphones-simple, cheap, and very expensive.

I do think there's a hi fi extremists market right now for the old mechanical gramaphone-it could be made for a little and sold for a lot.

Just like those wood microphones and 50 and 100 kHz microphones, the ones that promise to retrieve the nutty harmonics.

Unity: pro audio extremists and hi fi extremists. Perfection.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby A Non O Miss » Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:02 pm

Maybe Simpson should employ Tad Donley as this mics exclusive representative! That seems like a perfect fit. Then we could hear some real detail
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Andy Simpson » Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:48 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
We (SOS) were approached to review this mic, and I was involved in some discussions with the designer/promoter to try to decide whether such an astonishingly expensive mic warranted the space in the magazine. An aspirational product is one thing, but something as off-the wall as this requires further investigation!

Sadly, none of the technical claims made could be verified, and none of the technical arguments appeared to have credibility -- and that wasn't just my perception, but that of two very respected and knowledgable independent consultants experienced in microphone design and acoustics.

Hi Hugh,

I just came across this thread by chance and thought I might clarify a few things.

Firstly, I did not approach SOS for a review.

I was contacted by Matt Houghton, who asked if SOS could review a Model A microphone - to which I agreed.

That the claims could not be verified by the chosen consultants hardly makes them fraudulent, but I do understand your position.

In any case, I finally had the time to put together some technical writing & repeatable measurements, which might put the design in perspective (papers available on my site) and clarify the concept.

For a perspective on the technical achievements of the impedance matching design, nonlinear distortion from the Model A is more than 30dB lower @2k than the well known MKH symmetrical capsule.

I think you would agree that this is a huge reduction in nonlinear distortion, distortion which Sennheiser has correctly stated (for many years) is responsible for muddy & unmusical sound quality in microphones (as justification of their symmetrical capsule design).

Actually, in the case of the Model A, the significance of the reduction of nonlinear distortion achieved makes most microphones sound like compressors by comparison.

Also, you might be interested in the spectral masking concepts, which are also unique to the Model A.

In any case, whether such a specialist microphone belongs on the pages of SOS I have no idea. Perhaps not.

Best regards,

Andy
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Syncratic » Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:50 pm

I find PDFs a rather odd way to display information on a web page. Also when you are using supposedly tens of thousands of pounds worth of mics on a recording, surely you don't want to show it off in mp3?
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Mar 01, 2009 9:33 pm

Andy Simpson wrote:Firstly, I did not approach SOS for a review. I was contacted by Matt Houghton, who asked if SOS could review a Model A microphone - to which I agreed.

Apologies -- my mistake.

In any case, I finally had the time to put together some technical writing & repeatable measurements, which might put the design in perspective (papers available on my site) and clarify the concept.

Thanks, Andy. I'll take a look when I get a moment.

regards

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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Steve Hill » Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:03 am

As a happy owner os some Sennheiser MKH mics, amongst many others, I'm intrigued by the claim "For a perspective on the technical achievements of the impedance matching design, nonlinear distortion from the Model A is more than 30dB lower @2k than the well known MKH symmetrical capsule."

If the MKH's distortion, used as part of a well set-up recording path, is below negligible on any reasonable blind listening test, which it is, why should I or anyone else want to spend £10,000 getting something even less negligible?

The difference must be inaudible, even if it is measurable with instruments.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby John Willett » Mon Mar 02, 2009 11:20 am

I have just looked at Andy Simpson's improved site HERE.

I have read the "Nonlinearity in Microphones" paper - I was honoured to note that he quotes me as a reference! But he spells my name incorrectly.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Andy Simpson » Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:07 pm

John Willett wrote:I have just looked at Andy Simpson's improved site HERE.

I have read the "Nonlinearity in Microphones" paper - I was honoured to note that he quotes me as a reference! But he spells my name incorrectly.

Hi John,

Please accept my apologies for spelling your name wrong! I'll fix it ASAP.

Andy
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Andy Simpson » Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:25 pm

Steve Hill wrote:As a happy owner os some Sennheiser MKH mics, amongst many others, I'm intrigued by the claim "For a perspective on the technical achievements of the impedance matching design, nonlinear distortion from the Model A is more than 30dB lower @2k than the well known MKH symmetrical capsule."

If the MKH's distortion, used as part of a well set-up recording path, is below negligible on any reasonable blind listening test, which it is, why should I or anyone else want to spend £10,000 getting something even less negligible?

The difference must be inaudible, even if it is measurable with instruments.

Hi Steve,

The question of audibility is a very interesting one certainly.

I'm not sure where you get the idea that the nonlinear distortion of this level is inaudible.

Do you have any references with regards to audibility in mind? That would be very interesting.

In my view, the issue of nonlinear distortion is often dubiously presented as 'isolated intermodulation distortion which appears very low below the main signal'.

If we looked at the nonlinear distortion products of a compressor this way it would not tell us much about how we perceive compression.

Regarding audibility, in the case of Sennheiser, there are numerous claims as to the audibility of the reduction achieved in the symmetrical capsule, which we can get into if you would be interested.

I would agree that these claims are valid but if we do accept this, the implications are very interesting.

Andy
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby IvanSC » Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:23 pm

And even bearing in mind the limitations of an mp3, I still find little to enjoy in the sample recordings.

Audio isn`t all about measurements on a graph, Andy.
It is about what sounds good.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Steve Hill » Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:27 pm

Andy, I spent 22 years as a partner in the world's largest accounting firm so I understand numbers.

Why is your mic £10,000? Rather than, say, £500?

If, improbably, it's the result of half a million in R&D investment, and you rightly recognise that you can't sell all that many in a global market to recoup, then I can understand. Even if I doubt your business strategy.

Why stick it in a funnel - even a handsomely turned wooden funnel? I can stick a decent measurement mic like a B&K in a megaphone but it ain't pretty.

Where, if anywhere, are dispassionate reviews by third parties with a respectable name in the industry, saying this is a useful development?

Why should I assume for even a nano-second you are not just hoping there's a handful of idiots out there - the sorts of people who are impressed by £7,250 cables who might help you make a quick (quack?) buck?

There's a million decent, and many classic, records that have been made without this stuff. Many without any individual mic costing over £500. So tell me why we need it.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Groutfinger » Wed Mar 04, 2009 12:43 am

It would be lovely if we could view the quality of TIMBRE.
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Re: A wonderous thing - the £10K mic made of wood.

Postby Andy Simpson » Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:17 am

Steve Hill wrote:...

Why is your mic £10,000? Rather than, say, £500?

If, improbably, it's the result of half a million in R&D investment, and you rightly recognise that you can't sell all that many in a global market to recoup, then I can understand.

Hi Steve,

You are close enough to the truth.

Such a project requires a rather enormous investment of both R&D man-hours & material and yes we are talking about a very limited market.


Why stick it in a funnel - even a handsomely turned wooden funnel? I can stick a decent measurement mic like a B&K in a megaphone but it ain't pretty.

Did you read the papers on my site? The function of the acoustic geometry is quite well explained there.

If you put a B&K measurement mic in a funnel you will not do very well.


Why should I assume for even a nano-second you are not just hoping there's a handful of idiots out there....

The fact there are highly significant, repeatable measurement results should tell you that I am not interested in any kind of fraudulent behaviour.


There's a million decent, and many classic, records that have been made without this stuff. Many without any individual mic costing over £500....


So tell me why we need it.


First, you tell me why we need the MKH symmetrical capsule design.

Then I will tell you why we need a >30dB improvement upon it.

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