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If I were to be hypothetically setting up a mic shootout, which initial setup would you see as most relevant?

Specifically, if I were to set up using one methodology and never change preamp levels for ensuing tests which would include

  • voice recording
  • foley
  • ambiances and room tones
  • off axis rejection

which set up would allow you to most directly assess the quality of each mic?

*edit-*To address the issue of removing variables like mic cables and preamps - I'd like to test more than just what comes out of my speakers, meaning that I'd like to test these mics recording real things in the real world, which means that I have to make a call as to whether I feel like I'll get more undue influence from things like preamps and cables than I will from things like different performances of the same thing - specifically voice performances in a room and room tones. I'll add this setup as setup C here, but my argument against this setup is that I think different performances will add more variables to the equation than multiple cables into a mixer that is built to the tolerances of the 552.


setup A:

  • 4 mics are setup with diaphragms as close to one another as possible
  • all pads and filters are switched out
  • calibration consists of recording pink noise in a controlled environment, and setting preamps so that input levels match
  • calibration set to 80dbspl of speaker pink noise = -20dbfs
  • differences in preamp levels required to achive calibration are noted

setup B:

  • 4 mics are setup with diaphragms as close to one another as possible
  • all pads and filters are switched out
  • calibration consists of setting all preamps to the same level
  • differences in mic output are measured

setup C:

  • 4 mics tested separately - each using the same cable and preamp channel.
  • each test will require a re-iteration of the performance in front of the mic
  • calibration via setup A

setup D:

  • 4 mics tested separately - each using the same cable and preamp channel.
  • each test will require a re-iteration of the performance in front of the mic
  • calibration via setup B

Also, do you see any value in doing things like switching in an 80hz hipass at the mixer acros all mics? I'm planning on running into a 552 for portability and consistency wrt mixer and preamp setup.

I think setup A will put on display the tonal characteristics of the mics, while setup B will showcase the output level and maybe the dynamic handling a little better, though I'm not positive on that.

Also, setups A and B will both allow for the recording of the exact same performances for evaluation purposes, while setups C and D will require multiple iterations of the performances in order to use the same cables and preamp channels.

thx!

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Personally, when I A/B microphones, I try to eliminate as many variables as possible. I want the microphones in question to be the only.

I ran a test with some shotgun microphones at work. I mounted a stand on the client desk in my control room, and played back a piece of classical music that had a reasonably broad spectral frequency. Pink noise is a perfectly valid test, and I had considered using that as well. Ultimately I decided that that was more abstract than what I was concerned with testing at that particular moment.

I used the same cable, the same preamp, the same recorder and the same gain settings (because mic sensitivity is something that's good to know as well) for each mic. I ran through the tests with each mic in turn, making sure that the diaphragm of each mic matched the placement of the previous ones.

It's a bit more tedious than what you've suggested, but it eliminates nearly every other variable that could have affected the results.

  • Hi Shaun, I'll edit my post to address this. – Rene Jan 17 '11 at 16:57
  • also, which mics did you test? what did you find? thx! – Rene Jan 17 '11 at 17:10
  • @Rene - dynamicinterference.com/2010/08/04/shotgun-shootout. if you can find some mechanical/easily replicated sounds, that might not be a bad thing to add into your testing (i.e. itmes like an electrical drill or sirens from a bull horn, perhaps some musical instruments like a xylophone or chimes that operate in the same ranges as human vocals would give you some clear ideas of what the mics do). As far as actual voice, as long as you have someone who can perform multiple sentences closely in delivery from one take to another, you should be able to get a decent representation. – Shaun Farley Jan 17 '11 at 19:05
  • interesting test! While the -differences- between mics are apparent, I'm still a little in the dark as to how much of what I'm hearing is speakers vs mic WRT how they individually record sounds in the world. With that said, I liked the CMIT5U. :) – Rene Jan 17 '11 at 21:46
  • yeah, the speakers probably added some coloration, but overall they're very flat and provide a nice reproduction of whatever you pump through them. that schoeps is awesome, and that off axis is only about 30 degrees. i just panned the audio from the center to the left speaker. great off axis rejection. – Shaun Farley Jan 17 '11 at 21:55

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