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Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

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Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:48 am

I am aware that many people think capacitor mics used live are problematic, one comment I read said they "suck up everything" (or something similar, can't find it now). I use capacitor vocal mics for preference on most voices as they are un-coloured and detailed. The only problem I have with them is that they are more prone to high frequency feedback than a dynamic but that is easy to deal with using a little eq.

I have always though the idea to be nonsense and that it has no scientific basis but as it is one held by some sound engineers with far more experience and knowledge than me so I though I would ask for opinions and, if possible, an explanation why it might be so.
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby The Korff » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:06 am

Stage capacitor mics were a bit of a revelation to me when I first started using them — and compared to an SM58, they're almost universally more open-sounding, less congested, more detailed and, well... better! (Apart from the increased tendency to feed back, but as you say that can be worked around easily enough.)

However, some of the cheaper ones can tend to be a bit sibilant and weedy-sounding, and handling noise is often a lot worse (or perhaps just more noticeable, because of the increased HF content). Having used a lot of different capacitor and dynamic mics now, I think I'd probably be happiest with a good-quality dynamic mic — Heil, J-Z, Beyerdynamic, AKG (the D5 is a brilliant budget option; cheaper and better than a 58) — as they tend to be more versatile and require less work. I've encountered capacitor mics that sound great on one person but a bit crap on another, whereas a good dynamic mic usually just sounds absolutely fine 'out of the box', with no need to notch out nasty resonances, fricatives, sibilance, etc.

Cheers!

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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:54 am

Sam Spoons wrote:I am aware that many people think capacitor mics used live are problematic, one comment I read said they "suck up everything".

It's a common claim, but it comes mainly from a lack of understanding and the use of inappropriate mics (or using mics inappropriately) in live sound situations!

Most capacitor mics have greater sensitivity than most dynamic mics, so if a channel has the same gain the capacitor mic will inevitably appear to pick up a lot more stage spill!

Most capacitor mics are designed for a wide and flati(ish) bandwidth, whereas most dynamics have a curtailed responses at both ends of the spectrum -- wider bandwidth means more spill, particularly from cymbals and bass instruments.

Many directional and all multi-pattern capacitor mics have Braummühl-Weber capsules -- ie, a dual-diaphragm capsule. One of the critical (for stage use) side-effects of this design is that the polar pattern at low frequencies is radically different for close and distant sources (it is actually more or less omnidirectional for distant LF sources). This is very different from a typical dynamic mic which will tend to reject distant LF sources much more effectively.

So many/most capacitor mics will inherently tend to pick up more on-stage spill, and especially so at the frequency extremes, than a dynamic mic. However, the upside is that a capacitor mic will usually have a much better transient response, a smoother and more extended top end, and a generally better fidelity with less colouration (both on and off-axis) than a typical dynamic mic.

Careful band-limiting EQ, careful placement, and careful mic selection are important when using capacitor mics on stage... but many do appreciate the benefits they bring and manage to use them very effectively!

The only problem I have with them is that they are more prone to high frequency feedback than a dynamic but that is easy to deal with using a little eq.

Quite so, and that comes mainly from the extended bandwidth and greater sensitivity, although some mics do have deliberately engineered presence peaks which increase the system loop gain and make feedback more of a risk -- so choose the mic -- or rather its response -- carefully!

It's always worth remembering that feedback can only happen with the gain around the complete mic-mixer-amp-speaker-room-mic loop exceeds unity. Adjusting the EQ of the mic and/or the PA will control that loop gain at specific frequencies. Adjusting the placement of the mic and PA speakers will also affect the loop gain, as will the amount and nature of any acoustic absorption in the room (including the number and location of punters!).

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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby CS70 » Wed Sep 19, 2018 1:24 pm

There's usually less rollover (both on lows and highs), more sensitivity and the polar pattern can be larger at different frequencies than, say, a 58 (which looks like omni at 125Hz according to the published graph but is kinda consistent higher up, see https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/tab ... 0428041936)

But definitely usable, as always depending on the specific mic, stage and band.
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:46 pm

The thing is, with a single diaphragm mic like an SM58, the polar pattern might well become omni at 125Hz and below, but the sensitivity also drops like a brick. Proximity effect raises the output for very close sources so it sounds balanced while rejecting LF stage spill very efficiently.

With a dual-diaphragm mic, like a multi-pattern or cardioid studio capacitor mic, the polar response may well be cardioid for a very close source but it will be omni for distant sources, and there is also typically less proximity effect. So LF stage spill isn't rejected anything like as efficiently... Not a problem in the right circumstances, but can catch people out in others...
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby CS70 » Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:48 pm

Yes! :thumbup:
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:54 pm

I'm thinking in particular of dedicated stage vocal mics, the capacitor versions almost all have single small diameter capsule. Most of the big names do one (Shure SM86, Sennheiser e965, Neumann KMS 105 etc). For budget reasons my choice is the SE-H1 which is based on the SE2a SDC, I have 4 and they suit me very well.
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby The Korff » Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:23 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:I'm thinking in particular of dedicated stage vocal mics, the capacitor versions almost all have single small diameter capsule

A single capsule, yes — but most directional (and multi-pattern) capacitor microphones use a Braunmühl-Weber capsule, which has two diaphragms (ie. one capsule with two membranes; one front-facing and the other rear-facing). This has implications for its directionality at low frequencies, which I think is what Hugh was trying to explain: for distant sources, Braunmühl-Weber capsules are essentially omnidirectional at low frequencies, whereas for nearer sources, because the wavefront is more spherical than planar, the pressure differential between the two capsules is greater so the mic is more directional at low frequencies.

Cheers!

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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:32 pm

Interesting, which stage vocal mics are dual diaphragm?
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby blinddrew » Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:56 am

The Shure KSM8 springs to mind. I think I might recall that the Electrovox RE20 is as well? But I might be making that up.
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Wonks » Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:46 am

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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:51 am

But both are dynamics, and the EV is not a stage vocal mic anyway.

The AKG D202/222 is a dual capsule (as opposed to dual diaphragm) mic but also not suitable for stage vocals.

I'm mostly interested in handheld stage vocal mics. All the capacitor stage vocal mics I'm aware of are SDCs, the SDCs I own (SE-H1, AKG C5900 stage mics and AKG C451/CK1 and Calrec studio mics) have single diaphragm capsules.

I understand the dual diaghpram/capsule principle as a means of reducing/controling proximity effect and (in LDCs) to enable multiple polar patterns but I had not realised my SE 2200 had a dual diaphragm capsule (if indeed it does, it is an old mk1 version)

Thanks for the input everybody.
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Wonks » Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:57 am

But no, no dual diaphragms on the RE20, just a special porting arrangement to help overcome bass proximity effect.

Old mics with them were the AKG D202, D222 and D224.

http://www.muzines.co.uk/articles/akg-d ... hones/4057
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Tim Gillett » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:16 am

Sam Spoons wrote:The AKG D202/222 is a dual capsule (as opposed to dual diaphragm) mic but also not suitable for stage vocals.


Why is that Sam? I thought they were excellent for that purpose and for lots of others as well.
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:28 am

Sam Spoons wrote:Interesting, which stage vocal mics are dual diaphragm?

I believe the Shure KSM8 is currently the only one:

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/sh ... 8-dualdyne

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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Kwackman » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:30 am

Tim Gillett wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:The AKG D202/222 is a dual capsule (as opposed to dual diaphragm) mic but also not suitable for stage vocals.


Why is that Sam? I thought they were excellent for that purpose and for lots of others as well.

If handheld, there's a very good chance the singer will cover the rear vents on the 202 with their hand.
From memory (a dodgy old memory) the handling noise wasn't great on the 202.

Great (again from dubious memory!) a spoken voice mic (Radio studio or Voice over).
I think they (or the 222) were/are used in Parliament on the table where the PM and LOP stand to give their speeches.
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Wonks » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:31 am

They D202 had a low output, so needed lots of gain. They had a flat response, without the presence peaks generally found in stage mics. The dual capsule arrangement moved the bass capsule to the rear, which results in the bass end being lessened with someone speaking closely into the front of the mic. It really was a mic that sounded most balanced when positioned some way away from the sound source. So, fine for a podium mic but not for a standard stage vocal. There would also be the issue that the rear/end ports were liable to be partially covered if someone hand-held the mic, resulting in even less bass.
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:34 am

Wonks wrote:But no, no dual diaphragms on the RE20, just a special porting arrangement to help overcome bass proximity effect.

Yep, ElectroVoice's 'Variable D' system which employs a complex rear porting structure.

Old mics with them were the AKG D202, D222 and D224.

These were AKG's dual-capsule mics, in which separate (single diaphragm) capsules were used to capture the HF and LF elements independently, their outputs being summed through a cross-over filter before being sent to the output.

I've used D202s on stage many times in my former career, and they were quite popular as high-quality stage mics in the 70s... but I wouldn't want to use them on stage today for the simple reason that they were never particularly robust, which age won't have helped, and are almost impossible to repair.

My own much-loved pair of D224s are only used in the studio now, and always handled with considerable care!

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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:38 am

Just edited my last post.....

As far as I can tell the dual diaphragm capsule in the SE 2200A mk2 is new and my older SE 2200A has a single diaphragm capsule.
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Re: Capacitor vs Dynamic stage vocal mics.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:39 am

Kwackman wrote:If handheld, there's a very good chance the singer will cover the rear vents on the 202 with their hand.

You'd need either an exceptionally large hand, or very poor mic-handling skills! ;-) To be fair, though, it would perhaps be easier accidentally to cover the rear vents on the much smaller 222.

From memory (a dodgy old memory) the handling noise wasn't great on the 202.

That much is true. Back in the days when I was watching and learning, my elders never used D202s as hand-held vocal mics, but they were often used for instruments, percussion, and even as drum mics. (I always winced when the D202 was used as a kick drum mic... and not all of them survived!)

Great (again from dubious memory!) a spoken voice mic (Radio studio or Voice over). I think they (or the 222) were/are used in Parliament on the table where the PM and LOP stand to give their speeches.

Yes, they were very good studio voice mics, and widely used in the BBC and elsewhere for that purpose... and it is indeed the slightly smaller D222 which features so prominently in the Westminster debating chambers.
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