Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby donaldcrunk » Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:54 am

man there's so many of these microphones that i've never heard of. Carvin makes microphones now, not just wooden pointy guitars? wtf?


i have nothing to add, other than i've used the full line of FMR stuff (RNC, RNP and RNLA) and love them all. this was in the 2006-7 era, i used a RNC/RNLA pair in conjunction with several older DBX comps and a Sytek 4 channel mic pre (really like that unit, 4 excellent preamps in 1 rackspace for around 800 new - very clean, very low noise floor! great for everything!). i think my favorite box for the mixdown phase was the RNLA, it was my first proper limiter and helped me understand the difference between limiters and compressors a little bit better. i had mine in the dual funklogic rack units that Mercenary sells. Fletcher sold me on that shit even back then in my columbia days.

i think you'll be happy with your purchases, you should be able to record some excellent noises without having to dingle much with plugins.



still can't get over Carvin making microphones :facepalm: . makes me wonder if Peavy will start making eurorack modules soon
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby Plink Floyd » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:14 am

Seems like I've seen Carvin mics around for some time... They've been making mixers, amps, speakers & other audio stuffs since the 70s, I think. I've seen lots of their bass amps here and there.

Come to think of it, I haz one too.
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby christianrock » Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:42 pm

Carvin has always been re-branding microphones, these have been in their catalogs as long as I remember, and the first I've seen was probably close to 20 years now.

In the 90s Shure would make them mics but they were not as nice as the Shures themselves. So I got a couple from them (the price was right) and I returned them because they sucked.

These new ones are just rebranded Chinese stuff. They are the same as the Yorkville Apex 460 and the Nady TCM1150, but the Carvins supposedly come with a 6072 tube as originally designed for Alctron (the first brand this mic came out under), so it's a bit more true to the design which was based on an AKG C12. Also, Carvin supposedly tests them here in the US before shipping them out. And they sell direct so they're the cheaper version of this mic available, while still having more extras in the box than the other versions.

That mic Plink has is also a rebranded chinese mic. Internally it's the same as the MXL 603, but Carvin chose a different casing for it.

Oh and I just looked at Sytek preamps. I'm sure they're not expensive for the quality, but they're not cheap either... there's one with 2 of the channels having Burr-Brown op-amps for 780 on Ebay.

It's funny, I do love what I've heard from Burr Brown and I've always wanted to own something that had them... so after I bought my ART I found Revive Audio. They're a non-nonsense shop that modifies stuff and right now they have stuff like a Presonus Blue Tube 2-channel preamp that they changed tubes and put Burr-Brown input and output stages. Also an ART MPA Gold they also modified. Also a modified Eureka!! That one actually has me interested, but oh man, what am I gonna have to sell to get one :lol:
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby gregwar » Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:22 pm

lol at alctron the drunk robot

congrats on teh mics
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby christianrock » Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:20 pm

Ok so being an internet information hawk has gotten me a lot better informed on the subject of microphones. Especially chinese made ones.

First, there is an entire industry made of small but I guess lucrative, shops that specialize in modifying such mics. These people are of course interested in selling their product, so their information will be tailored to achieving that. They participate in forums and you have to take their information with a grain of salt. In addition to that, there is an entire flock of gearsluts/tone snobs that can't resist the idea of "looking for a holy grail" and achieving tonal perfection - whatever that may mean to them.

So how do you know what you need with so much information going around, and so much of it being noise? It takes some investigative skills.

First, when analyzing what the modders are doing, see what they are doing and why. Because lots of people are buying these mods, and a lot of them do seem happy with them, you have to try and find out which people are talking out of gear snobbery, and which ones have an opinion that you can really rely on. I'll tell you that a lot of people that talk like they're big time producers have MAYBE recorded one or two singers in their bedroom studio.
So, we have the modders. The most famous one is Michael Joly (Oktavamod). He's a straight shooter but I am under the impression that he could misinform people when it suits him. But for the most part, he's as honest as they come in this business. He doesn't necessarily change a microphone so that it will sound better - he will change it to have the frequency response that he likes, which is that of vintage Neumanns. But Neumanns are not the only mic around. At least he does say that if someone wants a more modern, bright sound they should contact Peluso.
The JJ Audio guys on the other hand, might know a thing or two about modding a microphone, but for the most part they just come off as snake oil salesmen to me...
So there's the aforementioned Peluso. To me whatever they do is a bit overpriced so I haven't even spent much time researching them.
There's also Stellar. The guy might make a good microphone - according to his own design philosophy - but he keeps increasing his prices and he charges an indecent amount for shipping. While I got my Carvins for 8 dollars shipping each (usually it's 12 dollars), Stellar will charge you almost a hundred bucks to ship ONE microphone. He's also got a small army of fans on the internet telling people that his redesigned circuits are the only ones worth having because he uses true "old style" circuits when using a tube, which means no cathode follower circuit using the 2nd triode of the tube. I almost fell for that. More on that later.
Advance Audio has a guy with online presence that made some comments that really helped me see things for what they really are, by busting the "cathode follower sucks" myth. But as far as the modded products they sell, they are in my opinion overpriced - especially since keeping the cathode follower circuit on tube mics means they stick to the original chinese designs and they don't have to do that much modding. Of course on their site they make it sound like the cathode follower is THEIR idea.
Finally, there's Avantone. They might be the most successful ones. They seem to have found very small changes that are common sense, and a knowledgeable user would do. Things as simple as just changing a tube! Then they add some fancy packing materials, new much nicer paint jobs and a higher but not outrageous price tag. The result - people like Taylor Swift and Robert Plant have a new favorite microphone.
But the thing is, their new favorite microphone is the same as the chinese thing that Apex and Carvin sell for under 200 dollars, and all you need to do is put in a new tube and maybe cutting off two capacitors that are there for enhancing high frequencies.

Now that highs-enhancing circuit is another thing that people speculate about. Everybody I heard talking about it says it's there to cut RF interference and the higher frequency response is just a side product. I am thinking it might actually be by design. First, because Michael Joly and others say that the transformer is actually sound once used with a proper tube. Also, the mics of old didn't have such interference-reducing circuits. But also, because I think the Chinese have a different view of what a microphone should sound like and that view is a brighter sound that goes well with suggary pop music. The same reason why Mariah Carey only records with a Sony C800G microphone - something which is actually higher end than the Neumanns and AKGs that the modders try to simulate. The Sony is actually a 10K dollar microphone which a much brighter sound. Of course the 100 dollar MXLs and CADs won't be as good as the Sony but they are in that sound direction. And sometimes the Chinese will release something as an answer to criticism, just to show that they could go for that Neumann sound if they wanted to - like the MXL V67G and especially the MXL 2003a - which to my ears sounds every bit as good as a current production FET Neumann - at least in a ton of demos and songs that I've heard.

Americans want an extremely flat microphone because here we like to record everything with a mic and that's part of the american sound. But that's kind of an old school approach (one that I personally like). Newer pop-oriented music in general is made with more and more electronic sounds and in the end only the voice and maybe the guitar - less and less so - are recorded through a microphone. In other countries, it's already been that way for many years - since the 90s at least. So a bright microphone is what most people end up wanting and that's what the Chinese are delivering.

Ok so I was going to talk about the cathode follower in the tube microphones. Lots of people are badmouthing that type of circuit. But as Dave Thomas of Advance Audio pointed out, the newer chinese tube mic design (Apex 460, Alctron HST-11a, Carvin CTM100, Nady TCM1050/1150) is actually superior to a lot of the expensive older designs and that is because of the cathode follower, so it makes very little sense in taking that out. That part of the circuit is actually based on a 1961 design of the Art McIntosh HiFi Tube Preamp. It's also similar to the LA2 series tube compressors.
That is why the Avantone design, which has minimum mods basically centered around the tube choice and the paintjob, is regarded by actual real world users as the best sounding of the bunch.

Conclusion: I'm glad I got me those chinese tube Carvins. I'll change the tube for a lower gain to get less noise and more headroom out of that transformer. If I think it's too bright I can always remove the 2 capacitors that are there just to increase brightness! They are actually not needed for the circuit and removing them will give me a flat sound. But who knows, I might like bright!
The chinese-made ART preamps are another example of clever designs busting the expensive stuff's bubble.
The pattern also extends to the boutique guitar pedal industry... see how I got to see a pattern?

TLDR: Beware of the modding industry. The chinese made pro stuff is nowadays better than you think. Just find what you like.

(ok I don't know why I wrote all that. just to vent off I guess!!)
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby selfinflikted » Mon Jun 10, 2013 8:59 pm

I give it 4.5/5 stars.

:thu:
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby Plink Floyd » Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:06 am

christianrock wrote:(pontificate expound pedantify...) ok I don't know why I wrote all that.
Because we love it. I Thank You! And it reminds me that I need to mod my Oktavas some day...

Now do Jellybean vs Ice Cream Sandwich.

Really, I need to know before I buy an Android tablet for my dater.
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby ElectricPuppy » Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:33 am

so let me get this straigh: You guys actually record real sounds? With these so called "mics"? Huh.

How odd.
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby christianrock » Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:37 pm

Why yes I do :) Right now I have 7 mics. The 2 new condensers and my 5 dynamics which include some pretty interesting choices. OK 6 if I count my EV RE-20 that had the capsule turn into dust. Apparently that's not uncommon... I'm wondering if it's worth fixing.

OK so I feel vindicated after that rant.

Got my 2 CTM100s yesterday. As a side note - one's an open box with a dent in the grill - why do they do that? They should just know that I'll return that thing and they'll have to pay shipping. Hmmmph.

So for comparison purposes I kept the dented one all original, while I swapped the tube in the other one without even listening to it. I put in a broken-in Phillips 12AX7 which currently is my favorite tube in the whole world for anything. With it I ran some tests straight into my interface. The mic is clear, has lots of low end (which will have to be tamed via the high pass filter in my ART PRO MPA. Mids are nice and defined. Highs are are surgical-clear. All in all, I love it.

The other one with the original 12AX7B chinese tube had wobbly lows, no mid definition and overwhelmingly brittle and loud highs. Now I didn't let that one on for at least 24 hours but the state of the mic told me I didn't have to (dented and all, and the color of the grill tells me it was out being used a lot! probably demo unit).

So my conclusion is that there are people making money with these mics by convincing people of two things:

- they need a 12AY7 tube in there instead of the 12AX7 to make the mic MOAR BETTAR
- problem is, 12AY7 will drive the transformer in a totally different way and the circuit needs to be completely revised. The volume of the mic will drop.
- once the circuit is revised, there is not enough gain. so it needs a new transformer.
- some go a step further and do away with the CCDA output stage (look at me acting like I know what I'm talking about). The result is a grainier, less defined microphone that sounds like stuff that was out in the 50s. Moar vintage they say. I say meh, gimme a hi-fi sounding mic any day of the week.

The conclusion is that a 175 dollar tube microphone with a simple tube change will sound marvelous to my ears. Just like my chinese-made Ibanez distortion pedal went from muddy messy sound to beautiful with one simple tube change. Having looked at both circuits with my highly untrained noob eyes, I am pretty impressed with both. The CTM100/Apex460/Alctron HST-11a impresses me for the simplicity and beauty of the design. I mean, seriously, this is hand-wired with all discrete components. It really beats my Austrian-made AKG tube mic hands down (as you remember I sold that one to buy these). It's a totally-chinese design too, not a copy of someone else's, though it is based on two designs (AKG C12 for the first stage, McIntosh preamp for the CCDA output stage). The Ibanez pedal has a very complex circuit - I really didn't expect this when I opened the unit up. Japanese design, and it reminds me of my dead Korg Delay pedal which is really more complex than most of my rack units when I open it inside. But it seems like there's a similar design philosophy on these boards (and I'm saying this as a total hack just from looking at it, I have no idea what the components do or mean, LOL).

If I didn't have to return one mic I'd be a happy camper right now.
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby Plink Floyd » Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:10 am

Intradesting. Who sold the dented one?
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby christianrock » Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:55 pm

Carvin, I bought directly from them. They don't sell through stores.

So. I called Carvin about the dented mic and they are shipping another one out today. It should be here early next week. Once I get it, I'm supposed to call them so that they can arrange to have UPS come by and pick up the dented one, so I won't have any extra shipping charges.

I'm pleased.

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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby christianrock » Thu Jun 13, 2013 4:07 pm

Ok, so, question.

I'm supposed to call Carvin once I get the new mic, so that they can arrange UPS to come by my house to pick up the one I'm returning. I am totally willing to do that, if I liked the mic in its current state i would have just kept it.

But are they really expecting me to call? I mean, if they are just going to dispose of it, wouldn't it be cheaper to just leave it where it is? Of course if they suggested that I just throw it away, they would expect me to tell others about it, and then everybody would want to return something, when in fact they just want another piece of gear in addition to the one they got.
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby Plink Floyd » Fri Jun 14, 2013 4:37 am

christianrock wrote:I mean, if they are just going to dispose of it, wouldn't it be cheaper to just leave it where it is?
No. They're just going to keep trying to sell it until they find someone who doesn't notice it's busted.

:lol:
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby christianrock » Fri Jun 14, 2013 2:46 pm

I think most people buying a brand new tube condenser would return it if there are dents on it. It's like if you bought a brand new car and the one of the panels was bent inwards, who would go "ahhh that's not a problem, as long as the car runs..." ???
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby christianrock » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:44 pm

So I tested my new mic yesterday and I now have a nice stereo pair. I can return the dented one once I pack it up nicely.

An old thread at GS about the Apex 460 (same mic), was commenting on how the two sides of a mic don't necessarily sound the same (it's got two capsules, because it can work as cardioid, omni, figure 8 and 6 other settings in between those). So I did a test of my new one because even with the new Phillips tube it didn't sound as good as the other one. I found that the capsule at the back sounds nice and open, and the one at the front less so. I might be rewiring the mic as a result. And I gotta go back and test the other mic...

I might also test with different tubes. I took both JAN Phillips tubes out of my Fender Super 60 guitar amp, and put some Sovtek 12AX7LPS long plates in its place. To my shock, the amp sounds better now. tighter lows and smoother highs - there's a bit less high frequency content, but what there is, is smoother. This is all exactly what I want my mics to sound like! So I will try and put those Sovteks in the mics and see what they end up sounding like. And I might buy some JJ ECC803 long plates, or maybe Tung Sols. Why not.
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby ElectricPuppy » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:38 pm

christianrock wrote:I now have a nice stereo pair.


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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby selfinflikted » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:24 pm

CR, when do we get to hear some noises recorded with your sparkly new mics?

We impatiently await musings from your stereo pair.
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby Plink Floyd » Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:45 am

Not a stereo pair (but practically), I got a new SM 57 & 58 @ gearfestivus. All last year I kicked myself for not getting them in 2012. The price was simply non-mentally challenging: $57 & $58.
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby selfinflikted » Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:26 pm

Nice!
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Re: Microphones/Preamps/Compressors

Postby ClavAnother » Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:11 am

Plink Floyd wrote:Not a stereo pair (but practically), I got a new SM 57 & 58 @ gearfestivus. All last year I kicked myself for not getting them in 2012. The price was simply non-mentally challenging: $57 & $58.


Nice price. Are you sure (lol) they aren't chineese knock offs? I would buy them at that price pretty much anytime. Not my favourite mics, but they do a good job, and I wouldn't mind having a dozen of each :)

I did buy four chineeeese bastids that pretty well suck, but after I called the seller out on them he instantly refunded me and said to keep them for my trouble. They actually have come in handy a time or two, but they are indeed crap. No transformers, but faked epoxy with a piece of paper in it to look like one, lol
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