How much about mic matching is just hype?

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Ryan Silva
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How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by Ryan Silva » Tue Dec 07, 2004 1:28 pm

I always thought that matching a stereo pair of mics would be crucial to and accurate field, but in recent months I have had more than on Sales Rep tell me that manufacturing has gotten to point where it has become unnecessary. For instance a shure rep that sells to my place of work, told me that there '141' line of small condensers just don't need to be matched. Is this true, could it be?
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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by Kevin Kitchel » Tue Dec 07, 2004 1:33 pm

In my opinion, for X/Y or ORTF stuff, matched is preferred. If they don't offer matching on the mics that you want to buy, then it is not an issue. I personally don't think it is critical to have a tight matched pair when using M/S, but for X/Y if there is a lot of difference, then yes, you need them matched. Let your ears be the judge though, as you know.

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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by blabgoo » Tue Dec 07, 2004 4:25 pm

Hi
I thought about this too. While I wondered if it might mess up the sound stage especially in X/Y I wondered if perhaps some differences might actually help improve the perceived "stereo image"

Last night I was testing an Oktava 219 against a MXL 990 (or 991, the big one) and found that the image from the two, with one slightly left and one slightly right was kinda cool.

I had used dual mics before to get that faux stereo (or perhaps real stereo) effect but having the two mismatched actually seemed like it could have some interesting applications as well.

Now I suppose if your using 2 for L/R for a large sound stage or accoustic setup / whole drumset, etc. it could cause problems if they were too different.

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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by peachfart2000 » Tue Dec 07, 2004 5:50 pm

now all's i need is a pair of "percision tuned factory matched ears"!!

get it?!

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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by wayne kerr » Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:49 pm

'Matched pairs' are quite possibly the biggest load ever to be foisted upon the recording public.
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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by Slider » Tue Dec 07, 2004 8:18 pm

I did a session once where we used two completly different mics for stereo overheads.
No one even noticed. It sounded great.

My mic pairs sound good in stereo to me. That's all that matters.

People get way serious about stuff being perfect.
They're usually the ones making Kenny G records.

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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by rhythm ranch » Tue Dec 07, 2004 8:41 pm

I guess if you were recording classical music with a stereo pair as your only mics it might make sense to get a matched pair. Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it.

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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by i am monster face » Tue Dec 07, 2004 10:25 pm

Do you know what we do when people ask for "Matched Pairs" of any given microphone at my work?

Grab two of the same microphone and give them to them.

Nobody has ever said anything.

Ian

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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by Professor » Tue Dec 07, 2004 10:46 pm

Next time the sales guy tells you that the manufacturing has gotten beyond the need to match, just ask him why the mic doesn't ship with a frequency sweep to prove it.
Sure they write out nice specs like "20Hz-20kHz +/-3dB", but if you really consider that it means that one mic might swing as much as 3dB high while another swings as much as 3dB low. Maybe their testing and QC is good enough to detect and reject those differences, but I doubt it. And even if they are within 1.5dB, that could still be as much as a 3dB difference between two mics at a particular frequency band. Will you notice that on drum overheads? No, probably not. Will you notice that in a stereo choir recording - not as something you would identify as the mics, but you might hear a particular vocal range bumped a little on one side. If you're using a volume dependent stereo pattern like XY, what would a 3dB difference mean in terms of stereo imaging at that frequency?

Don't get me wrong, I certainly use plenty of mics in pairs that are not matched pairs - and nope I can't say I notice anything weird straight away. But boy, when the matched pairs go up, it is kind of amazing. I have a set of Gefell M-930s that are so well matched that when holding the frequency sweeps up to a light together, the on-axis line is just one perfectly matched sweep, while the 180? lines have one little blip where they are about 1/2 dB off. If I put them up in ORTF to record a concert, I have to listen very carefully and tweak the preamp just right to get them balanced because having it just a little off yields a pretty noticeable tilt.

I don't really believe it when manufacturers tell me "our tolerances are too tight", but then from a business perspective I can't understand why they wouldn't sell in matched pairs.
Think about it. If their tolerances are so close then why not charge $50 more for a matched pair and take it as pure profit? Hell, then you sell 2 mics instead of 1, and actually charge more for a pair than for 2 individual mics! That makes great business sense, doesn't it? And if the mics are so close, they could just throw two in a box (or just bundle them together) and be done!
Maybe they don't want to double SKU numbers in their catalog. Maybe the dealers don't want to double stock and have to carry individuals and pairs. But they do that with Neumann! Sure, you could buy a single TLM-103, or buy the 'matched pair' in a single case with shock mounts, wind screens, and a significantly higher price tag.

So when I consider where the real load of crap is piled, I have to say it must be on the guys who tell me their mics are so close that they don't need to match pairs. Especially when they're pulling capsules from a Chinese factory. If they are so close, then give me frequency sweeps so I can tell for myself. And if they don't sweep test them at the factory, then how do they know they are within tolerance?

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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by i am monster face » Tue Dec 07, 2004 11:01 pm

Once again, Professor is right. But in matching pairs of C-1000s's? Or behringer B-5's? We sell too little Neumann's to be concerned with matching pairs of them. When requested to sell matched Neumann's, we take time to get assurances from the company and have our own tests run on them to assure it. But if someone comes in looking for a "matched pair of SM-81's..." is it worth it? Will they really notice the difference. For every 100 b-5's that go out the door there is one Neumann. One. Maybe. Will the people buying the b-5's notice? At that point it's bad business on our part and we will do everything in our power to rectify the problem. If not, it's win win. Right?

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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by Professor » Tue Dec 07, 2004 11:15 pm

Oh, I mean that completely at the manufacturer level, not at the dealer level.
Certainly I don't expect dealers to try and match Behringer products, but if a Shure Rep. is going to tell someone that the mics are so close that matching doesn't matter, I'd think he's shoveling with both hands. (And if a Behringer Rep told me that, I'd slap him.)
And I know that the dealers don't want to have to carry double inventory any more than they want to try and upsell a musician to pay more than double the price for two mics.
I just think it is ironic that the manufacturer's don't take advantage of the 'perceived value' of the matched pair and use it to make more profits. Either they are terrible businessmen, or they really can't get matched pairs that easily. Of course, perceived value means nothing to a guitarist who would gladly spend $20 in gas to save $5 on a guitar.

-J

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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by dubold » Wed Dec 08, 2004 6:35 am

i am monster face wrote:Do you know what we do when people ask for "Matched Pairs" of any given microphone at my work?

Grab two of the same microphone and give them to them.
hey monster face:

Where do you work?

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I think this is unethical. I'm curious to know what your rationale is for telling someone a set of mics is "matched" when they aren't, despite the fact that they're shopping for "budget" gear that might not offer factory matching.

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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by nestle » Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:49 am

i am monster face wrote:Once again, Professor is right. But in matching pairs of C-1000s's? Or behringer B-5's? We sell too little Neumann's to be concerned with matching pairs of them. When requested to sell matched Neumann's, we take time to get assurances from the company and have our own tests run on them to assure it. But if someone comes in looking for a "matched pair of SM-81's..." is it worth it? Will they really notice the difference. For every 100 b-5's that go out the door there is one Neumann. One. Maybe. Will the people buying the b-5's notice? At that point it's bad business on our part and we will do everything in our power to rectify the problem. If not, it's win win. Right?

Ian
speaking of the B5, how do you like this mic?
I have one and have 3 KM184's, I kind of like the B5 for a few things so far I thinks it's kinda cool for the price point, neat omni cap-

oh. and on matched pairs, I think that as long as they mics were bought at the same time and are the same age I don't fret about it-

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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by i am monster face » Wed Dec 08, 2004 11:10 am

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I think this is unethical. I'm curious to know what your rationale is for telling someone a set of mics is "matched" when they aren't, despite the fact that they're shopping for "budget" gear that might not offer factory matching.
But if we took the time to individually match them, set them up to the rta, run the tests, and plot out the necessary graphs and such, it takes a $110 microphone and puts it to a $149.99 microphone. Then we're more expensive than musicians friend. Then they don't buy them from us.

It's not that I'm lying to them, it's that there are certain standards which cannot be held when dealing with such sporatic equiptment. Behringer sends us these microphones and tells us that they are held to such high standards that any two microphones will sound and respond exactly the same. We have to go off of this information. If not, we would be forced to compete against an already impossibly huge competitor with higher prices and trivial information.
speaking of the B5, how do you like this mic?
I have one and have 3 KM184's, I kind of like the B5 for a few things so far I thinks it's kinda cool for the price point, neat omni cap-
i have never had an issue with this mic. I don't use them, but they are a little better than I thought they would be actually. Not too brittle, but kinda harsh at times. I have had people return them for Crib Death, but they always wanted another one instead of buying up, so no reason to say they're bad mics.

Ian

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Re: How much about mic matching is just hype?

Post by jajjguy » Wed Dec 08, 2004 3:45 pm

it's a fine line between "perfectly matched"
and "close enough"

for most of us "close enough" is close enough
but i don't doubt that "perfectly matched" is sometimes necessary

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