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Recording onesself?

Jeremy Osner

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Originally posted by:
Michael Darnton

Small diaphrams, again... I'm seeing a trend. Why is this?

One answer from Joerg Wuttke (technical director at Schoeps):

"... why should we make larger diaphragms than necessary? A condenser microphone can have any size and still transmit even the lowest frequencies if it is a pressure transducer (omnidirectional). Small diaphragm microphones also offer faster transient response by virtue of their lower mass and are not prone to the same phase non-linearity. In general, small diaphragm capsules offer greater accuracy when compared to large diaphragm capsules."

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yes, i am recommending small-diaphragm condensers. that is the default fare for recording violisn.

what chronos put plus...

large diaphragm mics tend to be more "colored' and small diaphragms are more "accurate".

this color can be independent of their frequency response.

plus, small diaphragm capsules can be pretty smooth off-axis....so that they are more consistent in their frequency response when picking up sound from the rear, back, sides, etc.etc. whereas large diaphragm mics aren't as smooth when picking up sound off-axis.

The expense of all of this is that small-diaphragms are usually noisier than their large diaphragm counterparts.

These are vast generalizations, but that's the general idea.

Avenson STO's have a good reputation...but there's a problem.

first they are sold in pairs for $500/pr. (outside the stated budget)

second, i believe they use a commonly available panasoni- type capsule as the mic element (read:cheap). Actually the same goes for the earthworks, they use commonly-available capsueles...

and apply tweaks tho get the performance.

otoh, DPA is top-of-the-line and they manufacture their own stuff.

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Yes indeed. The Avenson's and the lower end Earthwork omnis are, I

believe, back electret. They cost less and produce more self

noise than the DPAs, higher end Josephsons, and other top of the

line mics. Wish I could afford them!


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A Wikipedia quote:

"Though electret mics were once considered low-cost and low quality, the best ones can now rival capacitor mics in every respect apart from low noise and can even have the long-term stability and ultra-flat response needed for a measuring microphone. Unlike other condenser microphones they require no polarising voltage, but normally contain an integrated preamplifier which does require power (often incorrectly called polarizing power or bias). This preamp is frequently phantom powered in sound reinforcement and studio applications. While few electret microphones rival the best DC-polarized units in terms of noise level, this is not due to any inherent limitation of the electret."

The question was not really directed at absolute top studio equipment, more about a low-cost, high-quality capture of a single instrument. The self noise of the set-up I described is really minimal i.e. much, much less than the player's breathing, shoulder rest noises etc. Saying this, a studio quality set of equipment would be very nice too.

A used "Bruel & Kjaer 4188" could always be found on e-bay.

(now know as DPA http://www.dpamicrophones.com )

It is worth a look here: Microphone University -> Microphone Technology Guide (unless already experts )

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Room noise itself is quite often the biggest source of  'non

recorded'  sound - even without A.C. or other fans going.

My Avensons are very good sounding mics when run through a good pre

and convertors.

Of course, I wouldn't mind owning some B&Ks, Schoeps, or even

some Sonodores.

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ok, i found the diy article that was the source of the avenson microphones...

http://prosoundweb.com/recordi...ic/buildmic_16_1.shtml (a reprint of it)

a "$20" mic...apply some modifications to it (to allow phantom power and to increase the maximum spl, etc.), and voila you have the avenson mic.

essentially they are using the same/similar capsule to the one found in the el-cheapo $40 behringer ecm8000...and the ones in the earthworks.

one should know that before they plunk down $500 for a pair (they used to cost roughly $250/pr i think)...for essentially a $20 DIY mic with modifications.

still, some people say they are worth it.

if one was in the market for the avenson's, also consider the earthworks tc20/sro's...find whichever

one you could get cheaper and go for it.

or just get some behringer ecm8000's to get an idea of how things could be....

know that if you go the avenson/earthworks tc20/sro route...for violins you're only getting a

recording setup as those mics are not ideal for live sound reinforcement (on violins).

here's what i use for violins...

Live setup:

1. cardioid mic: earthworks sr69/sr71/sr20 (they're all the same mic)

put the mic on a stand and go. because it's cardioid it cuts out the sound behind it for better isolation...flat frequency response. good sound and a reasonable-enough price that i won't be

crying if someone drops it.

2. omni mic: dpa 4060

ok, it's an omni mic so it picks up sound in all directions. but, it's really small (smaller than a pea), so you clip it right onto the violin...the close micing distance offsets the omni pattern.

it's just about the best (if not the best) omni lavalier mic out there...and its recording capabilities are good enough (it sounds great, and it's a bit quieter than the avensons/earthworks tc20/sro) that dpa essentially put it in a traditional mic body and released it as the dpa 4091.

i use this when i'm playing in large groups and need more sound isolation/greater freedom of movement...i plug it into a wireless unit and i'm good-to-go.

again, i recommend this mic as a good "do-it-all" mic for the violin. clip it onto the violin for live sound...use it for recording, etc.etc.

i'm thinking about using a dpa 4088 that i have ....because it's cardioid i would get a bit more sound isolation for those arena rock sound levels...but i need to figure out a way to elegantly attach it to the violin...and have to see if it sounds ok on the violin...as it's really meant for voice.


omni: schoeps mk2

expensive but worth it. in the same league as the high-end dpa's but cheaper. there better be something super-special going on for me to even considering taking them to a live event.

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I would also prefer to go with DPAs, Schoeps, and other

style=" text-decoration: underline;">high

end mics.

I didn't realize that the Avensons originally were published on Pro

Sound - I thought they came up on TapeOp board.

Brad Avenson has since altered the ingredients and tweaked various

design values significantly for all around improvement. It is not

the same mic as the DIY project. Brad is a skilled engineer with

good ears and good test equipment, ie - not a hack. Fletcher from

Mercenary does not say nice things about bad products, and he sells

these - I bought mine from him.

Of course, he also says that they aren't comparable to DPAs.

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I have made microphones specifically for recording myself on the

violin and am incredibly pleased with the results. Michael and I

have actually already emailed about this. I am going to put some

recordings up in the very near future that you can all listen to.

My microphones are based on this microphone


I cannot over emphasize what an incredible success the microphones

have been, the relative ease of making them, and the cost - under

80 dollars for a pair, labor not included.

They are cardioid pattern microphones. Very flat response, Very

accurate, very low self noise, and very fast transient response.

They don't have great high SPL capability but that is not really a

deal killer with violin recording.

Again, I will load a recording in the near future (my current

recording, while sonically good, just isn't quite public-worthy)

Though in this case, a soundfile is worth a thousand words, Here's

a picture of the microphones for those interested.



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bapiano, i absolutely agree with everything that you have written on this thread. and yes, they did come from a tapeop article...(which is why i put "reprint" next to the link)..and if you look at the article it has tapeop plastered at the beginning.

in the end, the avenson mic is the stapes mic which was originally made (still made?) with those panasonic capsules that cost ~$2.50....same as with the earthworks microphones that I use and recommend.

it's just good for people to know what they are buying before they plunk down the money.

for the same price as a pair of avensons (new), or a used pair of earthworks sro/tc20 or earthworks sr69/sr71/sr20 (darn name changes...)

one could buy a baby dpa 4060 new...or two dpa 4060's used. ...just something to consider.

on an unrelated note, i just noticed today that fletcher no longer sells earthworks...i wonder what happened there.

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Stefan introduced me to the world of home-made microphones. I didn't realize there are a whole lot of people out there doing that, and making some pretty interesting-looking things, too (aside from the functional aspects). He's got me wondering about going over to RadioShark (right across the street), buying some of those cheap electret elements, and just playing around with them. You can't beat the price to just mess around. Polishing, porting. . . . special mufflers! Fancy paint jobs!!!!!

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The Rat Shack mics have certainly gottena lot of attention on some

DIY boards. I have never built a mic but have considered it.

If you want a good mic pre and are in for a little adventure, there

are some great disigns and/or kits out there. Only one of my pres

was bought as is [DAV BG1] but that's because I have need to be a

value hunter.

Sorry about that Rit_mo, I didn't read the article or look closely.

I have also heard great things about the 4060 as a lavalier and

general purpose omni. More noise that more expensive DPAs but same

high grade cap, .

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For the capsule, I recommend the tsb-165a by Transsound. It's a very high quality capsule at an incredible price.

I did an A-B comparison of the microphones against Cad3 100, 200, sm-57's and Okctava mk12's. They hold up very well and are, with the 100, and the mk12's nearly indistinguishable.

The capsule can be purchased here:


If you back track on that url, you can see all the other stuff that's available. Currently, I'm working on some omnis ala the earthworks QTC series. Um... yeah. They will be based around a modified ts-60a capsule.

Sorry if I've strayed too far from topic.

I'm awaiting a new preamp which is due to arrive today. Hopefully I can record something worthy very soon.

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What the heck stefan1, we're already in knee deep! What pre are you


... coming back to add on... Stefan, what did you use for those mic

bodies in the pics? They look cool.

I've seen some truly marvelous mics [ribbon, tube, you name it]

built by some of the folks over at Prodigy Pro Forums but will

never be as electronically savvy or skilled with tools and design

as many of those guys.

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The M-Audio 24/96 recorder is an excellent device for just about any recording you might be interested in....I have a one GB Compact-flash Card in mine and download to my computer then burn to a disc. A little pricy at $499.00 but an excellent handheld recorder....has it's own mic which is very sensitive. Dr. R.

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Sorry I'm long winded, but at least semi-organized. You can skip

paragraphs if I bore.

You must remember that my interest in actually building!

microphones came from my extreme displeasure at the quality of

sound my Sennheiser produced when I recorded my violin playing. It

sounded like a knife. It's something I never would have thought

about doing, and didn't even consider possible, until I did some

research on the net.


I got my Preamp thingie yesterday. Basically, I was looking for a

box to replace the Tascam us-122 junk I made the mistake of buying.

I spoke with Michael here, about the M-Audio Mobile Pre, but due to

a separate issue with M-audio (a company that evidently doesn't

think phantom power has to be 48volts) I gambled on an alesis io2.

Essentially all these sub 200 dollar interfaces must basically

be the same electronics. Considering you get two channels of

balanced phantom power, XLR and 1/4 inch in's, a headphone amp,

spdif in/out midi, DA/AD converters and a USB interface, it's a

pretty amazing deal. I went with USB because I wanted the

portability with my laptop. Firewire, though better, would have

required separate power. Sonically they're okay; not going to win

any prizes, but heck $149.95. I just hope (and expect) the Alesis

unit doesn't have the serious design flaw the Tascam has -- which

is that pulling a microphone plug with the phantom power on will

precipitate the destruction of that channel. Unheard of in the

music business since Phantom power was invented, it's one heck of a

penalty for something that WILL happen at some point in time. It's

also easily rectified with 2 diodes per channel, costing roughly 11



They are made of Aluminum tubing, 1.18 inch OD. I wanted the same

diameter as the Switchcraft XLR plug that goes in one end.

Originally, out of the shop, the tubing had a mirror like

polish. I didn't want a "disco" looking Microphone, so I sanded the

tubing with three grades of Sandpaper, finishing with a 100 grit.

Then I topped it off with a steel wool polish. Being tubes, I

simply wrapped the sandpaper around them and rotated them in my

hands. Creates a nice look, I think. And easy too. If you decide to

build microphones, I wouldn't recommend a smaller diameter tube

than 1 inch. The Film Capacitors (.47uf) are quite large, and the

circuit won't fit into the microphone otherwise. I am going to try

different (electrolytic) capacitors, which are tiny, however, the

consensus among audiophiles and sound engineers is that anything

other than Film caps and resistors, the sound suffers. The Brass

grill was 14x14 wire mesh I purchased from Mcmaster.com. It cuts

and bends very nicely.


I think there is actually a fun similarity. You guys are all about

the proper materials, techniques, workmanship, to create a

sonically pleasing machine. When done properly, that machine

becomes a work of art. Rather than generating sound accurately, the

attempt with building a great microphone is to collect sound

accurately. As with violins, different microphones perform

differently. What's even better is the obvious symbiotic

relationship between microphone and violin. Also, like the sonics

of a violin, the more you know about microphones and theories, the

more you'll hear. And finally, like I said to Michael, the

difficulty in building a good microphone is sooo much less than

building a violin. The reward is also realized within hours, not


Consider it instant karma.

If you are interested, I'll put together a list of the parts I

personally used and where to get them.

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I would.... some others might as well.

Sometime soon I might have time to work on one. Currently I still

have parts and PCBs for a Green Pre that need assembling.

I have a friends M-Audio Duo w USB and S/PDIF in my room and it's

really not too bad.

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Originally posted by:

I went with USB because I wanted the portability with my laptop. Firewire, though better, would have required separate power.

Wouldn't a PCMCIA card with a 6-pin Firewire port provide enough power to use with a Firewire audio interface?

Compared to the self-contained devices described above, I think a laptop is a better choice for portable recording, especially if you could use it with a nice and cheap Firewire interface such as this one (one thing I don't like is the lack of knobs, since it's all controlled by software).

In my quest for perfect recordings at home I think I shall first replace my current preamp with something like a Firepod, then the microphone with a Shoeps MK 2 / CCM 2, then the violin with a Strad (and a Del Gesu, on weekends), and finally the violinist with one Itzhak Perlman.

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