Samson | VR88 | Owner`s manual | Samson VR88 Owner`s manual

Samson VR88 Owner`s manual
Active Velocity Ribbon Microphone
Copyright 2013
Samson Technologies Corp.
45 Gilpin Avenue
Hauppauge, New York 11788-8816
Phone: 1-800-3-SAMSON (1-800-372-6766)
Fax: 631-784-2201
Table of Contents
Proper Care and Handling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
VR88 Features . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Operating the VR88 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
VR88 Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Using the Shockmount . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Technical Specifications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Proper Care and Handling
Your new VR88 ribbon microphone is a sophisticated audio instrument and with
proper care and handling it will provide years of enjoyable and reliable performance. Follow each point below to ensure a your microphone remains in good
Handle the VR88 carefully and avoid dropping the microphone.
Always store the VR88 in its case. It’s a good idea to keep the case upright
so that the microphone is at a ninety-degree angle with the floor or storage
Be mindful of, and protect the microphone’s ribbon element from direct
blasts of air.
Whenever possible, use a pop filter on vocals and other plosive sounds to
avoid excessive blasting on the ribbon element.
Be sure to lower the mixer’s channel and master faders when connecting or
disconnecting the microphone, and when switching the phantom power supply on and off.
Be sure to use good working, high quality cables.
Keep the microphone clean and free from contact with any foreign particles.
Don’t use the VR88 in close proximity of an AC motor.
While traveling on an aircraft, never transport the VR88 in a nonpressurized
luggage compartment. If possible, hand carry it on to the plane.
VR88 Active Velocity Ribbon Microphone
Congratulations on your purchase of the VR88 velocity ribbon microphone from
Samson Technologies! The VR88 features a fine, pure aluminum corrugated ribbon suspended within an intense neodymium field producing a warm and natural
response that’s silky smooth from bottom to top. The VR88 combines the sweetness of traditional classic ribbon technology with the precision and versatility of
advanced condenser microphone head-amplifier electronics. Like a modern condenser microphone, the VR88 operates on standard 48-volt phantom power. This
provides the VR88 with a high output that’s compatible with any microphone pre
amplifier. Unlike old ribbon microphones, you don’t have to worry about impedance mismatches and the VR88 has no problems with long cable runs. The VR88
is capable of handling high sound pressure levels (137 dB), making it an excellent choice for miking vocals, as well as acoustic instruments and even percussion
or loud guitar amplifier stacks.
In these pages, you’ll find a detailed description of the features of the VR88
microphone, as well as step-by-step instructions for its setup and use, and full
specifications. You’ll also find a warranty card enclosed—don’t forget to fill it out
and mail it in so that you can receive online technical support and so we can send
you updated information about these and other Samson products in the future.
Also, be sure to check out our website ( for complete information about our full product line.
We recommend you keep the following records for reference, as well as a copy of
your sales receipt.
Serial number: ____________________________________________
Date of purchase: __________________________________________
Dealer name: _____________________________________________
With proper care and maintenance, your VR88 microphone will operate troublefree for many years. Should your speakers ever require servicing, a Return
Authorization (RA) number must be obtained before shipping your unit to
Samson. Without this number, the unit will not be accepted. Please call Samson
at 1-800-3SAMSON (1-800-372-6766) for an RA number prior to shipping your
unit. Please retain the original packing materials and, if possible, return the unit
in its original carton. If your Expedition Express was purchased outside of the
United States, contact your local distributor for warranty details and service information.
VR88 Features
Low mass, 2.5-micron thick, aluminum ribbon provides extremely detailed
transient response
Strong neodymium magnets and precision electronics provide increased sensitivity and low self-noise perfect for miking soft, delicate sounds.
Active FET amplifier and high quality transformer increases the output signal
and stabilizes the microphone’s source impedance, enabling the VR88 to
work with any microphone preamps
Smooth, open frequency response provides natural audio reproduction
Extremely low distortion at high frequencies makes the VR88 a perfect solution for warming up digital recordings
Bidirectional, figure-of-eight, pick-up pattern provides excellent off-axis rejection
Solid zinc die-cast construction
Includes shockmount and carry case
VR88 Active Velocity Ribbon Microphone
Operating the VR88
Powering the VR88
The VR88 features an active head amplifier and therefore needs to be operated by
connecting a phantom power supply. Phantom power is standard on most quality
mixers, outboard mic preamps and hard disk recorders. If necessary, an external
phantom supply can also be used. The VR88 receives the phantom power directly
from a mic cable when connected to a mixer or other microphone input that
includes a phantom supply. Most mixers have a switch to engage the phantom
power so be sure to check that the phantom power is on.
Polar Pattern
The most important characteristic of any microphone is its directionality or “pickup pattern”. There are three basic categories of pick up patterns; omnidirectional,
unidirectional and bidirectional. Omnidirectional mics pick up sound from all
directions while unidirectional, or cardioid, mics pick up the sound from the front
and reject the sound from the rear. Bidirectional, or figure-8, mics pick up the
sound directly in front and back of the microphone while rejecting the sound on
the left and right sides.
While omni and unidirectional microphones are very useful for a variety of applications, the VR88’s bidirectional pick up pattern is very desirable and performs
well in many recording situations. You can use the bidirectional pattern to capture
room ambiance by carefully placing the microphone between the sound source
and studio walls. You can also capture the simultaneous performance of two
instruments or vocalists by positioning the microphone directly between them, so
one is addressing the front of the microphone and the other the rear.
Microphone Placement
In order to maximize the sound quality, you must pay careful attention to the
placement of your VR88 and how it is positioned for the instrument or vocalist that you are miking. The VR88 is a side address microphone employing a
bidirectional pick up pattern, so it picks up sound from the front and rear. All
microphones, especially unidirectional and bidirectional microphones, exhibit a
phenomenon known as “proximity effect.” Very simply put, proximity effect is a
resulting change in the microphone’s frequency response based on the distance
of the mic capsule relative to the sound source. Generally, you will get a bass
boost when miking in close. It is also important to pay attention to the direction
of the microphone’s element. When you point a unidirectional or bidirectional mic
directly at the sound source (on axis) you will get the best frequency response,
however when you start pointing the microphone slightly away (off axis) you will
notice the high frequency response dropping off and the microphone will start to
sound like it has more bass.
Operating the VR88
For most vocal applications you’ll want to position the microphone directly in
front of the artist. The same may be true for miking instruments, however, you
can make some pretty amazing equalization adjustments by slightly changing the
angle of the capsule to the sound source. This can be a very useful technique in
capturing the optimum sound of a drum set, acoustic guitar, piano or other instruments in a live room or sound stage. Experimentation and experience are the best
teachers in getting good sounds, so plug in! For more information on microphone
placement, see the section, “VR88 Applications” later in this manual.
Setting Up the Signal Level
When connecting the VR88 to a mixer or recorder input, be sure that the input
is of microphone level. Also, be sure that the phantom power is engaged (as
explained the previous section “Powering the VR88”). Most mixers and recorders
of reasonable quality will offer a microphone input with mic trim (usual called
Trim or Gain) control. The purpose of the mic trim control is to optimize the
amount of good signal to any noise associated with the mixers electronics. A good
mic pre with trim also will have a PEAK or CLIP LED. To set a good level on the
mic, set the VR88 up in front of the desired sound source and slowly raise the mic
trim control until you see the PEAK LED light up. Then, turn the mix trim control
down until the LED does not light any more. On most mixers, the ideal setting is
that the trim control is turned up as much as possible without lighting the PEAK
P-Popping is that annoying pop that you can get when the microphone diaphragm
gets a blast of air from a vocalist pronouncing words with the letter “P” included.
There are a few ways to deal with the problem including using an external pop
filter. Some famous engineers have relied on an old nylon stocking stretched over
a bent clothes hanger, which actually works very well, but can be a little smelly.
You can also try placing the microphone slightly off axis (on a slight angle) from
the vocalist. This can often solve the problem without using an external pop filter.
However, on the VR88 or any ribbon microphone, use of an external pop filter like
the Samson PS01 is strongly recommended.
VR88 Active Velocity Ribbon Microphone
VR88 Applications
The VR88 is an excellent choice for miking a variety of sound sources including
vocals, piano, reed and brass instruments, electric and acoustic guitars and choirs
and orchestras to name just a few.
When using the VR88 on vocals, use of an external pop filter is strongly recommended. Position the microphone in front of the artist so that the microphone grill
is approximating 4 to 10 inches away. You can record a group of vocalist by positioning them around the front and rear of the microphone. Just remember that the
extreme sides of the microphone picks up nothing due to the VR88’s bidirectional
pick up pattern. Since the VR88’s frequency response remains flat off axis, you
don’t have to be concerned about the microphone sounding different from center
to sides.
Reed Instruments
When recording saxophone or clarinet, place the VR88 one to two feet from the
instrument. When placing the microphone closer to the source, you will capture more of the direct sound and less of the reflected sound. Be aware of the
reflected sound when positioning the artist and microphone near the studio walls.
Often you can use the wall to capture some natural echo. Ever notice that saxophonists like to warm up in some
Two Feet
corner somewhere? They’re telling
you something. You can change the
delay time by adjusting the distance
Figure 1
between the microphone, performer
and the wall. Experiment around and
you can get some amazing recordings.
Recording brass instruments is handled very nicely by the VR88. The
VR88 should be positioned approximately two feet away when recording
brass instruments. (Figure 1) If you
are recording a group of brass and
reed instruments increase the distance of the microphone. (Figure 2)
Four to Six Feet
Figure 2
VR88 Applications
There are many great techniques for recording piano, regardless of what microphone you use. Often piano tracks are recorded in stereo so using two VR88’s is
a great solution. The VR88’s are an excellent choice on piano since their active
ribbon technology does not exhibit the comb filtering normally associated with
condenser microphones. When recording piano, you first need to decide what kind
of sound is required for the project. For an ensemble performance a more direct
or up front sound will be captured with the microphones positioned closer to the
strings. So if you want the track to lie in the mix position move the mics closer
(favoring the mid and upper strings). For a solo performance, position the microphones further back from the piano to capture more of the room ambiance.
When recording a solo string instrument like a violin, place the VR88 one to
three feet from the instrument. When recording a string section, try to position
one or more VR88’s several feet from the players. If the size of the room permits,
raise the microphones three or four feet above the section and position them at a
45-degree angle, facing down.
The VR88 is an excellent overhead microphone to record drums. For stereo overheads, use two VR88’s approximately four feet above the kit. You can set the
spread depending on how large the kit is, however, generally you position one over
the hi-hat and the other over the floor tom.
Recording Sounds With High SPL
The VR88 can handle very high SPL’s however blasts of wind can be very damaging to the microphone’s ribbon. Therefore, you need to be certain that the microphone is not receiving harmful blasts of air. Kick drum, electric guitar and bass
amplifiers are all examples of common sound sources that can produce blasts
of air that can be damaging to your VR88. A simply way to check if there is too
much wind blast, is to position your hand where you want to place the mic, if you
can feel the air blast, don’t place the microphone there. Another way to protect
the ribbon from air blast is to ensure that the microphone is positioned at a slight
angle, either vertical or horizontal. It is important that the microphone element
does not take a direct blast of air, so a little bit of tilt will help prevent harm to
the ribbon.
VR88 Active Velocity Ribbon Microphone
VR88 Applications
Guitar amp
On guitar amplifiers, the VR88 will capture the
nuance of the performance along with some serious
low frequency response. The round bottom end is well
suited for reproducing the warm tone of a jazz guitarist’s hollow body and also for delivering the serious
chunk desired by today’s modern, drop down guitarists. As with other high SLP sounds, you’ll want to
position the microphone at an angle off-axis to the
sound source. Position the microphone two to ten
inches from the speaker and angle the microphone 7
to 15 degrees off-axis. The side view shows a vertical
positioning technique. Figure 3
Figure 3
Kick Drum
The VR88 is an excellent kick drum microphone, but due to the powerful wind
blast they produce you must be extremely careful on how you position the microphone. For direct miking, position the microphone at least 18 inches from the
For closer miking, place the
microphone 10 to 18 inches,
but be sure to position the
microphone at a 45 degree
angle to avoid excessive wear
to the ribbon. Figure 4
18” to 24”
45° Angle
Kick Drum Side View
Figure 4
The top view shows a horizontal positioning technique with
the microphone tilted 7 to 15
degrees off-axis. Figure 5
7° to 15° Off Axis
Percussive Wave
Kick Drum Top View
Figure 5
Using the Shockmount
Follow the steps below for mounting the VR88 to a mic
stand you can use the included “Spider” shockmount.
First, screw the shockmount onto your mic stand or
boom arm. If you’re using a US 5/8” mic stand or
boom, remove the Euro adapter.
Install the VR88 into the shockmount by fitting the
microphone into the center of the holder, positioning
the VR88 all the way to the bottom mounting plate.
Secure the shockmount by tightening the threaded
collar, rotating clockwise until tight.
Now, loosen the thumb screw to adjust the angle
of the microphone and position the VR88 to the
desired location. Once set, tighten the thumbscrew
to secure the microphone in place.
Note: Be careful not to cross thread or over tighten
the threaded collar or thumb screw.
VR88 Active Velocity Ribbon Microphone
Technical Specifications
Frequency Response . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 ~ 16000 Hz
Polar pattern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Bi-directional (Figure 8)
Element type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Velocity Ribbon
Ribbon thickness . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2 microns
Sensitivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -40 dB/Pa
Max SPL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
137 dB
Equivalent Noise Level . . . . . . . . . . . 17dB
Impedance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
250 ohms
Minimum Load Impedance . . . . . . . . . 1000 ohms
Power supply voltage . . . . . . . . . . . . 48V +/-3V
Weight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.2 lb
535 g
Dimensions (h x w x d) . . . . . . . . . . . 7” x 2.125” x 1.1”
175 mm x 54 mm x 28 mm
Frequency Response
Polar Response
At Samson, we are continually improving our products, therefore specifications
and images are subject to change without notice.
Samson Technologies Corp.
45 Gilpin Avenue
Hauppauge, New York 11788-8816
Phone: 1-800-3-SAMSON (1-800-372-6766)
Fax: 631-784-2201
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