Tube Mics & Preamps; Who Needs 'Em?

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Kolstad
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Re: Tube Mics & Preamps; Who Needs 'Em?

Post by Kolstad » Tue Jun 26, 2018 2:13 am

Lots of great infos and experience, Mojo. Great read!

Id also throw in that the genre and styles you are recording, and the expression you want in context of that, also can matter a great deal when selecting recording gear. Gear provides a color palette, that you can use mindfully to get the results you want, when you do it creatively. There are endless ways to do that, and many are not in the facit sheets nor the youtube videos, because it is relative to each project and artistic vision, and spectacular results are often achieved through experimenting with gear and sound. Either between projects (when setting up shop), or as a process in the project itself.

Choosing and finding the tools for the job really is an art, and in conjunction with great music and performance, that’s where (the) mojo operates 8-)

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Tube Mics Preamps Who Needs Em

Post by MichaelMitle » Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:49 pm

Boogie is one of the very few companies that have made fine, feature rich tube preamps for said task. Id be lost without my Formula Pre. Built in DI, nice tube buffered effects parallel effects loop, 3 channels, with 5 band EQ, in a one rack mount high unit.

Will soon be adorning my Formula with a new set of GT 12AX7-Ms, and perhaps an NOS 5751 or 12AY7. Should be fun.

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Re: Tube Mics & Preamps; Who Needs 'Em?

Post by Kolstad » Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:38 pm

Sometimes we get too hung up with tubes because of the sound, but another reason to like’em is the way tubes react to the player. With a guitar amp, you can get a lot of dynamics and auditive response from a good tube amp, and that may help you to get a better feel and performance as a player (especially if you are a “feel” player). In that case, tube feedback is influencing both the musician, the way the instrument reacts and the performance. So tubes can help making the most of the most important aspects of recording - the player, the instrument and the performance.

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Re: Tube Mics & Preamps; Who Needs 'Em?

Post by Len911 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:47 am

we went from tube mics and tube mic preamps to guitar amps,lol! fwiw, I've never heard anyone using tube mics and/or tube mic preamps to record a guitar amp, mainly dynamics and ribbons. 8-)
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Re: Tube Mics & Preamps; Who Needs 'Em?

Post by Wizofozland » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:12 am

Len911 wrote:we went from tube mics and tube mic preamps to guitar amps,lol! fwiw, I've never heard anyone using tube mics and/or tube mic preamps to record a guitar amp, mainly dynamics and ribbons. 8-)
U67 on guitar amps is quite popular....eg Stones

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Re: Tube Mics & Preamps; Who Needs 'Em?

Post by Kolstad » Thu Aug 09, 2018 12:24 pm

A guitaramp is preamp+poweramp+speaker, so the same principles apply, I would think. But yeah I missed the point of the thread hehe. Sorry.

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Re: Tube Mics & Preamps; Who Needs 'Em?

Post by Joya2islam » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:39 am

mojobone wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:01 pm
Yeah, microphones might be the larger worm container, and that's why I wanted to continue the convo here on the forum; there's so much more to know than 'find a good singer and put them in front of a good mic', though at the most basic level, that's all we try to do.

Mics come in two basic flavors, dynamic and condenser with subsets of large diaphragm and small, either side of about an inch, abbreviated LDC, SDC, LDD, and SDD. The diaphragm is a membrane that's part of a motor that translates air vibrations into an electrical signal. Dynamic mics have permanent magnets and condensers require an external power source from a battery, phantom power or a dedicated power supply. As far as I'm aware, only condenser mics are available with tubes and tube mics in particular tend to have external supplies.

Beyond that there are some specialty mics that are useful, if not essential to recording music. It's difficult to make generalizations about mic types, because there's a range of voicings for every type; for instance, my Gauge ECM87 condenser is based on the vintage studio staple Neumann U87 fet, (the current version is the U87AI) a famous studio condenser, but it sounds nearly identical to my Audix OM5 stage mic which is a dynamic mic also voiced to sound like the vintage Neumann. Today, there may be as many as a thousand microphones available for purchase, so maybe we should approach from a different angle; which mic is best suited to your application. You asked which tube mic to buy and I believe you probably should have one in your arsenal, if you're a professional or a serious hobbyist, but it maybe shouldn't be your first mic, depending on what you're gonna put in front of it and the space you're in.

That space and its reflections are as critical as the singer or instrument because the first consideration is distance; you're balancing a source with its room reflections, and as Jimmy Page pointed out, distance makes depth. If the source sounds amazing in the room, by all means include the room, unless your intent is for the sound to burst forth from the rear surround speakers, in which case you'll want to get in close. But as you get in close, the low end starts to swell and bulge with proximity effect, which is exhibited by all directional microphones, and soon, in the case of a vocalist, P-pops, fricatives and mouth noises can start tearing your head off, there's a ripping sound whenever the singer parts her lips; with a sensitive condenser and a powerful preamp, you can hear the singer blink, you can hear a semi change gears on the interstate six miles away. Conversely, if you're too far from the source, you'll play hell getting rid of the room, and if you apply compression, you'll be compressing the room and exaggerating its natural reverberation, possibly further washing out the source. If you don't get the distance right, you're going to spend lots of time editing out a lot of stuff you never intended to capture in the first place. There are tools to deal with all that, but at the dawn of the era of recorded music, distance was all there was to work with.

The next consideration is the style or genre of the music you'll be recording; in most pop, rock and country, vocals are generally miked pretty close, but there are exceptions; one singer I worked with had power, dynamics and soul on an Aretha level, but was so loud she collapsed the capsule of every mic I put in front of her and she had a horrible habit of eating the mic; coming from a musical theater background, she wasn't really conscious of the fact that she was distorting the preamp, the limiter, the mic capsule and possibly the very air itself. I ended up giving her a dynamic mike to smear her lipstick on, while the mike that was active was a good six feet away. I've had similar experiences with opera singers who tend to have tremendous control over pitch and timbre but seem unable to give an intimate performance; a great natural singer may have no concept of mic technique. When they asked Elvis if there were any young singers on the horizon that put a scare into him, The King did not hesitate, the answer was "That'd be Roy Orbison, ma'am." Take a minute or a week to go check out Roy's singing; he sounds tremendously powerful, soaring dynamics, incredible range and technique, but it turns out technique was critical in his case, cuz he had no power whatsoever; they brought in clothing racks to surround him, isolating Roy and the mic from the band, just so they could get enough signal. But that was the 50's; they were using low-output ribbon mics, and the preamps of the day were neither as loud nor as clean as today's.

Vocal timbre is another important consideration; some voices are scratchy, hoarse or sibilant. Buddy Guy's late brother Phil had an enormous natural presence peak that could cut through the smoke and din of the gnarliest blues joint; that worked great on the gig, but might have been a problem in the studio, where he could sound really harsh; many condenser mics have a lift in that part of the frequency spectrum that can only make the problem worse, so if you sound like Joe Cocker or your singer does, a condenser mic might be the last thing you'd want. If you can find some isolated Michael Jackson vocal tracks on Youtube, you'll note that there are lots of rhythmic interjections in his delivery, so much so, he appears to be beatboxing between sung phrases. The prescription for these situations is a large diaphragm dynamic mic, like the Shure SM7B, Electro-Voice RE20 AKG D112, Audix D6 or similar. Ask around and folks will tell you those first two are broadcast mics and the last two are for kick drum, but here's a good spot to dispel some myths; there's no such thing as a 'drum', 'vocal' or 'instrument mic. There's no perfect mic, there's only what works for a given source.
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