Microphone Supplement 2016
Microphone Supplement
V15.4 JUNE 2016
36Meet Your Maker: Rycote
39Shure’s Dualdyne designer,
Roger Grinnip
41David Royer’s signature tube
42 Sports Special
46Binaural sound for theatre
47Studio Microphones
49Location Microphones
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Rycote – tradition
and innovation
NIGEL JOPSON travels to Gloucestershire to ask Simon Davies how his
company keeps our audio to leeward even when our mics point downwind
hichever branch of audio you work in, and wherever you ply
your trade — on the shiny-floored TV studio, a drama set, news
gathering, in a combat zone or up a mountain — you will most
likely be using a Rycote windshield or shock mount.
The familiar name was born in 1969: founder John Gozzard ran the
company from his home, Rylands Cottage in Warwickshire. He had a “John
Bull” child’s printing set with only one of each letter, so he chose the RY from
Rylands, and the COTE from Cottage. John was a TV soundman who realised he
could probably make a better windshield than Sennheiser did at the time. He
wasn’t the first person to make a better windshield, but he made them in a
lightweight design that was specific to popular microphones. Gozzard made
equipment for himself and his friends, and as word spread about how great
his home-made contraptions were, he was able to turn his DIY ideas into a
business. A breakthrough came in 1985, when Gozzard’s characteristic furry
Windjammer was featured on the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World, thanks to a sound
engineer working on the TV programme, who suggested it as an example of
advanced UK design and technology. The Windjammer was A-B tested with a
standard design of the time by hovering a helicopter overhead and switching
between the two microphone output signals. This dramatic evidence of efficacy
led to a surge in sales.
Vivienne Dyer went to work as a secretary for Gozzard, and her entrepreneurial
nature and flair for sales resulted in her taking the post of general manager after
working at Rycote for a decade, leaving John free to concentrate on designs.
The company went from strength to strength, introducing the (now famous)
Softie for on-camera microphones in 1987 and the mini-Windjammer for a new
generation of portable video recorders in 1990. When Gozzard decided he wanted
to retire, Vivienne took the ambitious step of raising the finance to purchase the
business. Dyer focused on developing a dealer network, and took advantage
of Rycote’s huge user base to assemble a list of potential improvements to the
designs. The result of this research was the Modular Suspension System, with
its range of different Connbox connectors, first released in 1999. It proved so
successful that the following year the Technical Achievement Award from the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences was awarded to Vivienne Dyer and
Rycote’s Chief Designer, Chris Woolf, for this product.
Rycote remains a family enterprise, it was purchased in 2009 by Odette
and Simon Davies (Vivienne’s son), both of whom had already worked for
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the company for several years.
The InVision range of suspensions
for discreet small-diaphragm
broadcast microphones using the
“Lyre” design was developed, and the Universal Camera Kit was introduced:
an affordable combined windshield and suspension system for on-camera
Camcorder microphones. Rycote extended their co-operation with several
different microphone manufacturers, and in 2010 introduced a universal
version of the InVision microphone shock-mount with no elasticated parts.
In 2014 the result of more than a decade of research was introduced — the
Cyclone, a durable, lightweight windshield and suspension system — a dramatic
improvement on the original flagship product Gozzard had designed.
How has this small family firm in the green rolling hills of rural England
stayed at the forefront of wind protection for so long? Resolution paid MD Simon
Davies and team a visit to find out.
What makes Rycote products so popular?
‘When we talk about product development, we try to remain competitive in
the market by simplifying processes, but there’s a line in the sand where we
won’t cheapen things. Even though we’re making our products in a different
way to when I first joined the company, nearly 20 years ago — when it was
bent aluminium and hand sewn fur — we have changed our manufacturing
techniques, but we won’t compromise on quality. The numbers have increased,
so we might use a moulded plastic part rather than machining and anodising
it. We’ve improved our production processes for both commercial and
environmental reasons, but our connection with the sound recordists means
we are talking to those guys on a daily basis: yesterday I spent my whole day
with a location soundman talking to him about his challenges. You can’t look
someone who’s using your kit in the eye and tell them “we used that inferior
part because it only cost us 5p from the far East”. If it fails on them in the field,
the only person to blame will be us, nothing goes out through our loading bay
door unless we are completely happy with it.’
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TLM 107
Your decision.
True to the original
www.Discover The Freedom Of Sound.com
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How has the business changed over the
last 5 years?
The shotgun microphones of this world haven’t
changed that much in appearance since my mother
wrote her business plan in 1992: if you look at the
photographs, the transducers all look like microphones you would use today,
but they’re being held by Rycotes with wooden handles, suspended by knicker
elastic tied with little reef knots — there has been a big progression concerning
what people expect from us and what we are designing — but the shapes of
the professional broadcast microphones are roughly similar. In 2009 we decided
to approach some of the newer camera and portable recorder manufacturers.
This is a much trickier field to work in, we now provide hundreds of products
for these devices, but the manufacturers are bringing out new products almost
every quarter. We basically have just 6 months to get a product up and running
before the next one supersedes it.’
Where do the parts for Rycote’s products come from?
‘Twenty-five miles is about as far as we go for most of our materials. All the fur
is made in the UK, although some of the strands we have specifically made for
us in other parts of the world. In one piece of fur, we will have many different
types of strands, the randomness is part of the design: we’re very specific about
the types of strands and backing used by our weavers. The fur is effectively
extending the size of the diameter of the basket, the more airspace you have
around the capsule the better, we can calculate the performance depending on
the diameter, the material, it’s thickness, and how much attenuation is required.
The strange thing is, if you look at one of our fur windshields in a wind tunnel,
there is a halo effect of several centimetres around the outside of the fur where
the air movement is damped. Chris Walker, one of our test engineers and
designers, has written a paper for the AES, we are hoping this research will
eventually lead to an AES standard: I imagine something similar to the energy
efficiency ratings for house builders.’
What is so special about the Rycote fur?
‘Normal fur is woven in one direction, and then with another layer at 90 degrees
to prevent strands coming out. For optimal operation with the microphone
we do a single weave, then we lacquer it on the back. The type of lacquer
is very important: it has a certain function to prevent the strands falling out,
but it is very open, and blocks high-frequency sound far less. Any normal
fur manufacturer would probably say they could not supply a single-weave,
but we have some specialist suppliers we’ve been using for years. The way in
which the fabric is elasticated is also of great importance … it just sounds very
different! 22,500 lavalier windshields can be made from a single roll of fur, but
of course these are sold in hundreds of countries. There are certain rolls of fur
(which have to be ordered in large quantities) we need to keep in stock, but
which only have very, very special use: our Wimbledon Championships fur, for
example, which obviously has just the one customer! Of course fur comes with
it’s own challenges: it looks beautiful when it goes out of the door, but if you
look at a fur windshield after several months hard at work on production from a
rental company, the fur becomes dirty and matted, which impacts performance.
Many of our customers still like the fur because it breaks the ice and is a talking
point on shoots, apart from the well documented performance benefits. But
from the maintainability aspect, our team developed the 3D-Tex fabric, which
is very transparent, works almost identically, but can be rinsed out quickly if
dirty or dusty, or if rain sodden can be squeezed out and dried very quickly.
We purchased some sewing machines which had been used by some of the
last wetsuit manufacturers in the UK to use with our 3D-Tex, because it is so
important from an acoustic point of view to have a very narrow seam.’
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How have Rycote’s shock mounts
‘Shock mounting has always been an
important part of Rycote’s products, but until
2004, everything we did was silicone bands
or elastic. In the early 2000s we were working with a German manufacturer to
shock mount a very small pencil-type microphone on top of a camera. In the
end we did not make the product, but the research we had put into the challenge
of mounting a very lightweight microphone came in very handy. If you have
a heavy microphone with a lot of mass, it is actually easier to suspend. It’s a
little like the suspension on a pickup truck: the suspension is set to carry a load,
therefore if there’s nothing in the truck it will bounce around. It’s similar with a
mic shock-mount — if you haven’t got the mass you have to be creative with
how the suspension actually works. If you look at our patented Lyre suspension,
you will see that it works a little like a child’s swing: the mic is allowed to move
backwards and forward to “absorb” shock, rather than trying to cushion a very
lightweight object bouncing up and down. If you look at the top of the Lyre, it
is weaker than the base, so it’s a little like when you are cutting a tree down
and controlling the direction of fall. The special compounds used for the Lyre are
made for us in the UK (in Swindon) by a specialist automotive supplier. There is
an engineer from this moulding company working on our development team as
well; we often need to adjust colour or compliance, it’s been invaluable keeping
all our suppliers within 25 miles. We can take a short drive down the road —
stand in their factory and talk in the same language — we are the ultimate
control freaks when it comes to putting our names to a product!’
Who makes Rycote products?
‘We’ve got 26 people working in the factory, some of our staff have been
working here for over 30 years so they’ve known me since I was in my teens,
and then when I was in the Navy. Recently we’ve been recruiting for the next
generation and taking on several people on apprenticeships. We’ve also been
increasing the gender diversity of our staff: I came in as an engineer originally,
I remember there was only one other male member of staff, because many
of the workers in this area of the Cotswolds, working in the clothing or fabric
industry, had traditionally been female. The advantage of having long-service
employees is that when a very old product comes in for repair they can not only
immediately tell which tools were used to make it, they can also often identify
who sewed which seams! We don’t underestimate what we have here in terms
of loyalty and knowledge. If a customer comes to us and says they have a
Telinga Pro [Parabolic Dish microphone] — perhaps Julie will have made one
eight years ago — and will quickly be able to find the pattern for the correct
windshield. Those are the sort of specialist audio products which are never
going to sell more than one or two per year, but when we satisfy that individual
customer it is very important for our reputation. Each Rycote windshield is still
individually hand-made, we don’t run a production line where items are passed
from worker to worker.’ n
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Figure 1: Boundary Element (BE) simulation results for coupled internal cavities.
Colors indicate surface pressure distribution within the acoustical cavities.
As things progressed, Finite Element (FE) simulation was used
to make performance adjustments to the diaphragms (both
front and rear diaphragms, see Figure 2). The FE tool is ideally
suited for structural mechanics, particularly well bound and
small displacement (linear) domains like the molded polymer
diaphragms used in the KSM8. FE simulation was also used to
optimize the magnetic circuit design as shown in Figure 3. The
soft magnetic pole piece was optimised for the best compromise
between magnetic flux and acoustical flow for the given magnet
and overall size. Shure has a number of FE tools available, all
with interoperability with our CAD software.
Dualdyne Design
Shure Engineer ROGER GRINNIP writes exclusively for
Resolution readers about the simulation modeling used
for the ground-breaking KSM8 he designed
he KSM8 was the result of two successive stages, the first being an
exploratory project and the second being a “productisation” project.
Both stages took approximately the same amount of time (around 4
A fair amount of modeling/simulation occurred in both project stages. The
very first models were simple lumped element models to get 3D CAD started for
both part creation and for use in more advanced simulations. Lumped element
(LE) modeling is a common technique for reducing acoustical/mechanical
systems to an analogous electrical circuit. It is useful in electroacoustic design
because it allows all three domains (electrical, acoustical, and mechanical) to be
coupled and solved simultaneously. It is limited to low frequencies for acoustical
systems (depends on feature size in relation to wavelength) and to simple
mechanical systems (discrete degree of freedom systems). The lumped element
modeling was performed using Matlab scripting.
The initial brainstorm sessions produced approximately three distinct paths.
I used a combination of experiment and boundary element (BE) simulation to
vet each possibility. When used in acoustical simulations, the boundary element
method allows one to simulate coupled internal (cavity pressure distribution,
e.g. Figure 1) and external domains (scattering/diffraction). BE modeling is
similar to the finite element (FE) method, in that the physics are represented
by integral equations, however, the mathematics are further derived to express
the field variables in terms of only surface integrals. This reduces the number
of equations since only the bounding surfaces are discretized. In addition, the
BE method allows one to treat the infinite domain (anechoic space) problem
exactly (the Sommerfield Radiation Condition is applied to the boundary at
infinity), unlike an FE simulation which requires an artificial boundary to restrict
the simulation domain since the entire volume must be discretised. The Shure
BE solver is a “home-grown” tool I wrote to work with Shure’s CAD software.
Because of this interoperability, I can directly compare simulation results to
physical prototypes built using the same CAD models.
June 2016
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Figure 2: Example of Modal Simulation on KSM8 diaphragm
using shell finite elements (FE). Colors identify the displacement
Once the initial project stage produced a viable proof-of-concept
and the team transitioned to the second, “productisation”
project, the BE solver was again used to validate/tweak the
industrial design, including handle and grille concepts.
Some of the tools used to create these results have since been
updated, including our base CAD system, but this should give an
idea of the types of tools used to design our products.
The new KSM8 features a patented cartridge design with two
ultra-thin diaphragms, the objective being to deliver a large
reduction in proximity effect. The diaphragms are held in place
by a new stabilisation system, and Shure claim the patented
Dualdyne cartridge “virtually eliminates proximity effect, masters off-axis
rejection and provides signal clarity and feedback control”.
‘In order to make the Dualdyne concept a reality, we had to reinvent the
way we make dynamic microphones,’ says John Born, Shure Product Manager.
‘We hadn’t done a new dynamic transducer microphone in — well, 50 years!
We knew from our KSM9, that if we could get a second diaphragm as part of
07/06/2016 17:44
the resistance network
… we could control the
proximity effect. The
challenge on a dynamic
mic was: how to do
main benefits after all
our work: the second
diaphragm gives us a
huge sweet-spot with
a decent amount of
low-end, and we get
that because we’re
controlling the proximity
effect. We’ve actually
designed the flattest Figure 3: Example of finite element (FE) simulation
response of magnet/pole structure. Colors indicate the flux
dynamic microphone density distribution within the solid materials.
we’ve ever done. This results in minimal EQ
and processing, especially in the high frequency
range. We wanted to have a very clean cardioid
polar pattern, resulting in natural sounding stagebleed. When we said we wanted to do this, the
engineering team said: “We can’t be beholden
to an existing part or an existing process. We
need every lever at our disposal to tune to make
this microphone a reality.” We have a totally
new production line at Shure, and the Dualdyne
doesn’t share any parts with other microphones. That was required to bring
something this innovative to the market. We laser-weld the two cartridge parts
together from the inside-out. There’s these prongs that come in and weld the
tube systems, that’s how the airflow routes around inside the microphone. We
couldn’t laser-weld from the outside because of the geometry, little mirrors shine
the laser inside to seam the tubes together.’
Born explains: ‘We have a patent pending on our Diaphragm Stabilisation
System: we have the thinnest diaphragm we’ve ever used in a dynamic mic,
because we wanted the maximum amount of low end. The DSS gets glued to
the top of the front diaphragm, it reduces high frequency noise and keeps the
system moving axially in the manner we want it to. We use a new aerospace
pole piece material called Softmag, a very lightweight ferrous metal, it gives us
more saturation of the magnetic circuit, and then the second diaphragm is there
to passively control proximity effect.’
So how does the Dualdyne actually work? ‘Sound coming from behind the
down through the tube system into the pneumatic shock mount. The reversed
mic passes through that second diaphragm, the sound strike then goes up and
airflow is what we patented — the presence of that second diaphragm in that
strikes the front diaphragm — that creates the rejection — we need to re-connect
network — at high frequencies, that second diaphragm doesn’t exist, sound
everything back together, the cavities of air and resistance parts, so that’s where
passes through it; at low frequencies it starts partially blocking low frequencies
the tube system comes into play. We had to reverse the flow of a dynamic mic, it
from building up as you start getting closer to the microphone. In developing the
1 goes
Page 1 we used some really innovative simulation modeling.’ n
passes through that second diaphragm, hits the front diaphragm, then
back 13:42
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What was your thinking behind the use of a
5840 tube?
I chose the 5840 mainly from prior experience. I
have used that tube for many years in several
microphone designs and it has proven itself.
How does the double capsule work with
polar pattern — does the front remain
at a consistent voltage while the back is
Multi pattern microphones using dual diaphragm
capsules generally work as follows: the two diaphragms
of the capsule share a common backplate and the two
“halves” of the capsule are designed to each have a
cardioid pattern. If only ONE half of the capsule is used,
the result will be a cardioid pattern. The usual way of
getting multiple patterns from a tube microphone is to
have the front diaphragm at zero volts, the backplate
at about 60 volts above ground and the voltage at
the rear diaphragm variable from zero to twice the
potential on the backplate. Then, when the voltages
on the backplate and the rear diaphragm are equal,
the result is a cardioid pattern. Then the outputs of the
two “halves” of the capsule are either added to get an
omni pattern (both diaphragms at zero) or subtracted
to get a figure eight pattern (rear diaphragm at twice
the backplate voltage).
David Royer
NIGEL JOPSON finds out what it takes to
design a signature tube microphone
avid Royer’s name is indelibly linked to the popularity of boutique
microphone manufacturing. Largely responsible for the revival of
ribbon mics in music recording, David’s eponymous company was,
in fact, his second go at manufacturing. Back in the day he modified
amplifiers and made his own condenser mics, preamps and compressors in his
garage in Fullerton, California, under the Mojave (the “lone wolf”) and DVA
labels. In 1997 David designed the R-121, his first ribbon microphone, opening
Royer Labs in 1998. He’s credited with a number of ribbon firsts, including
phantom powered ribbons and tube ribbons. David recently revived the Mojave
name, and together with company President and musician/producer
Dusty Wakeman (Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams, Roy Orbison,
Michelle Shocked) quickly created an enthusiastic following for a
line of reasonably-priced condensers. Now, the Technical Grammy
Award-winning designer has created a new upmarket, large
diaphragm multi-pattern tube condenser microphone — the first
model in Mojave’s new Signature Series line of products. The
MA-1000 features an original NOS 5840 tube and a customdesigned transformer built by Coast Magnetics. Already generating
interest as a standout vocal mic, the MA-1000 includes a remotely
controlled, continuously variable polar pattern selector that is
located on the microphone’s power supply.
What was the design objective with
your Mojave MA-1000?
The idea with the MA-1000 was to build a
tube microphone that would be closer to a
Telefunken ELAM 251. The Mojave MA 200
and 300 are based on Neumann designs and the
MA-1000 is based more on an AKG design.
With famous vintage condenser mics, much has been written about
capsules and tubes. Are output transformers just as important for
the “sound” of the microphone?
My take is that the capsule, the output transformer, the casing, the tube and
the power supply influence the sound of a microphone in more-or-less the order
given. The different large diaphragm capsules, such as the Neumann M-7,
Neumann K-67 and AKG CK 12 each have distinctive quirks, particularly with
regard to their response off-axis. In addition, the casing of a microphone can
profoundly alter the frequency response of the capsule, particularly as the polar
patterns are changed.
As for the output transformer, it has a very difficult job to do and if it is
inadequate, the result will be degraded performance. I found out early that a
poor output transformer or a badly chosen one can give a level of performance
that is well short of professional standards, so I am careful to choose output
transformers which have a safety margin. For many years I have used Jensen
transformers and I have been quite satisfied with them. The transformer that I
chose for the MA-1000 is one that I worked out almost twenty years ago and
which has been waiting for a production microphone from that day to this.
It is custom built to my specifications by Coast Magnetics, here in LA.
How did you settle on the type and winding density of the
transformer? Is it an empirical choice — do you sit and listen
while swapping different transformers?
The process for choosing an output transformer is as follows: First, select
a transformer that is “in the ballpark” i.e. suitable turns ratio, suitable
frequency response, suitable distortion and so on. Next, set up a prototype
circuit including the transformer and have the circuit feed a standard
microphone preamplifier and measure the performance of the transformer
and the supporting circuitry. Finally, build several prototype microphones and
subject them to critical listening tests, both as spot mikes and as stereo pairs.
Does the type of power supply for a tube mic affect the
I have found that since the power supply for a tube microphone
is only feeding one or — at most — two microphones (say, in
a stereo microphone), as long as there isn't hum due to
inadequate filtering, the design is fairly forgiving, far more
forgiving than in a more complex device like an analogue
tape recorder where interaction between the recording and
playback amplifiers and the bias oscillator could quickly
lead to all kinds of nasty troubles. I have heard an
improvement with over-built versus scrimped power
supplies, but scrimping on an output transformer or
mis-designing the circuit would cause far more obvious
problems, which would be likely to swamp any improvement due to
improving the power supply. n
Did you design the capsule yourself, and
where is the capsule manufactured?
The capsule is from an outside supplier and
it is manufactured in China, but to very strict
standards. I was looking for a microphone
capsule that was more or less copied from an AKG
CK-12 and I tried capsules from several sources until I
found one that I was happy with.
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Sports Special
DENNIS BAXTER is to sports audio recordists
what “Q” was for James Bond.
ive audio capture for sports continues to be increasingly difficult because
of excessive venue noise levels from PA systems and mechanical racket
from generators and HVAC. When you factor in poor acoustics, the
resulting soundfield is an acoustic soup. Traditionally, sound capture for
sports has been done from less than desirable distances, making the process as
much about what sounds you are trying to reject as sounds you are trying to
directly capture. This may explain a reliance on traditional shotgun microphones.
However, with traditional microphones, unwanted background noise is
cumulative so that each open microphone adds additional background noise
along with the desired sound. Each additional open microphone dilutes the detail
of your sound quality because a part of the background noise is buildup of offaxis sound that generally lacks any full frequency fidelity. Unfortunately, with
traditional transducers this situation is impossible to avoid because microphones
are not precise in their detection and do not just stop picking up sound once they
have captured what you are trying to catch. Of course this situation is further
complicated by sound reflecting off surfaces back into the microphone, even
though much of this reflected sound may be off-axis.
Here is some fuzzy math that makes sense to me. When you open one
microphone you pickup the desired sound plus an audible amount of undesired
sound. For the sake of example, let’s say 2dB of extra noise is barely noticeable.
But when you open two, three, or four additional microphones, each adding
an additional 2dB of background noise, then you have buildup of 6 to 8 dB of
background noise which is distinctly higher.
Non-Acoustic Transducers — An acceptable solution to background
acoustic noise is non-acoustic transducers. In the early 90s, innovative sound
practitioners took a page from amplifying the acoustic
guitar and found an interest in contact microphones.
During the folk music boom, sound engineers had
a difficult time amplifying the acoustic guitar until
a transducer was applied directly to the resonating
surface of the instrument.
The contact microphone is not sensitive to air
vibrations but only detects the structure-borne sound.
This type of transducer/microphone does not add any
acoustic noise — only desired signal. Given that all
solid surfaces resonate complex sound waves, this
technique has a lot of possibilities.
I discovered the AudioTechnica Contact Microphone
in 1994 and my first successes
with this type of transducer
Gymnastics is a sport that
has up to 5 events taking
place simultaneously during
the qualification rounds. This
is complicated with the fact
that women’s floor exercise
uses high levels of music
which bleeds into everything.
I put contact microphones on
the balancing beam, pommel
horse, and vault runway as well as under the podium for floor exercise and
heard detailed sounds without music.
The contact microphone works well with sounds that have a variety of
pressure intensities — like running on a wooden ramp, the percussion of a
basketball on the backboard, or the sounds of a roller-skate on a wooden
ramp. Along with its non-acoustic characteristics, the contact microphone
gives distinct, in-sync sound with each sound source making it very useful for
separating a lot of sounds. As a creative tool, the contact microphone offers
some interesting additional possibilities. For example, the contact microphone is
used on skateboard ramps and captures a sound that is longer in duration than
what is possible with an acoustically captured sound. The stretched sound that
a contact microphone can capture is an interesting sound design concept, that
can be effectively used in simulating motion and speed by dynamically panning
the sound in the vertical or horizontal plane.
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Array Microphones — Dimensional sound capture
with microphone arrays is nothing new and gained
traction in the late 70s with the Soundfield Microphone
and Ambisonics recording. The Soundfield was an
array of three closely correlated capsules that could be
combined to form different polar pickup patterns. Since
this dimensional approach was introduced, I have not
been very excited about closely correlated microphone
arrays that use 4 or 5 capsules, because their capture
is generally focused on the horizontal plane. However,
several years ago I saw a microphone array that had
hundreds of transducer capsules — with a price tag in
the hundreds of thousands — but it clearly demonstrated
the concept of “steering”, or directing the microphone to
focus on very specific sounds.
With consideration of some familiar theories from
the Ambisonics days, it was concluded that once
you extend the concept to a much higher order of
microphone capsules, things get interesting. A transducer
redefining concepts in acoustic audio capture is the
em32 Eigenmike®. There have been several microphone
designs that use multiple capsules to achieve some
directional characteristics. Once you combine several
capsules together there is the possibility to aim the
microphone at the sound you want or away from the
sounds you do not want. This 32 capsule transducer
along with some clever and unique software delivers
next Higher Order Ambisonics, and offers some unique
possibilities to acoustic capture.
Microphone steering utilizing spatial filtering (which
is a process used in sensor
arrays) achieves directional
reception. Beam-forming or
polar pattern sculpting can be
used in order to achieve spatial
selectivity by controlling the
amplitude and phase of each
sensor and constructively (or
destructively) combining the
waves for new patterns. If my
analysis is correct, this would
eliminate the need for precise
on-axis microphone directing
because the capture pattern
can be shifted for optimum
capture or rejection.
The benefits of this
technology became very apparent during some testing at an extreme sports
competition. Over the last decade, we have seen a further integration of sports
and entertainment along with the relentless use of music. An Eigen microphone
was placed at the side of an extreme skateboard ramp with the sports action in
front and the PA speakers behind. Through beam steering, several front reaching
polar patterns were aimed at the sports sound, clearly improving sports signal
while reducing the obnoxiously loud PA noise.
Gary Elko and Jens Meyer are the developers of the Eigenmike. They told
me that currently the transducer and software could output up to 30 sculpted
beams with a minimum of around 10ms of latency — independent of how many
beams are formed. Now consider a Tennis match with an Eigenmike courtside.
A beam could be focused on the each backcourt, front court, judge and crowd.
Since Tennis is a very dynamic sounding sport — the 8 to 10 beams could be
positioned in such a way that they create an interesting immersive experience
and simply be left alone. A final thought: since this concept is computer driven
and rendered, I imagine there would be possibilities for real-time tracking of
live, dynamic sound sources and generating whatever sound a sound designer
considered interesting through the triggering of a sampler.
Sound Tracking and Sound Augmentation — Those of you who have
read my musings already know my opinions (for the good and bad) on using
samplers for sound augmentation. First, in my opinion, live sports broadcasting
is about entertainment. Even so, with the influence of the hyped-up sound of
digital games and movies, today’s viewer has different expectations of sports
sound. I found some really smart folks North of London who have developed
an interesting approach to automated mixing — one that is definitely not your
typical audio follow video. The brains behind this are Dr. Ben Shirley and Dr.
Rob Oldfield at the University of Salford.
resolution June 2016
07/06/2016 17:44
Due to their great sound and rock-solid reliability, the
Audio-Technica 40 series microphones have garnered
endorsements from industry legends, stacked up
numerous awards and become a standard in studios
and on stages around the world.
25 years after setting new industry standards, the
AT4033 is still going strong. Time and time again its
exquisite sonic signature makes for legendary
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07/06/2016 17:44
They have developed Spatial
Automated Live Sports Audio (SALSA),
a method that uses the existing 12
shotgun microphones around the pitch
to detect the ball kicks. The system not
only looks for overall level intensity,
but also the envelope across a range of
frequency bands for each sound event
type that a sound mixer might want
to capture. Additionally, Ben and Rob
have developed a number of “acoustic
feature templates” that define the range of sound types that sound mixers are
looking for and want to capture. For football, these include ball kicks/headers
and whistle blows, but there would be different templates for other sports.
When the software detects a match to a template in one microphone, it
identifies the same event in other microphones. Then the system does some
triangulation based on sound arrival at each mic to derive a line across the
pitch along which the ball kick must have occurred. Once these conditions are
met, the system can determine with confidence that there was ball kick. The
SALSA algorithm is capable of detecting ball kicks that are virtually inaudible
on the microphone feeds and is more reliable at recognizing sound events than
our ears. To make it work accurately and reliably, you keep a high detection
threshold to avoid raising faders for inaudible ball kicks.
During live production, SALSA uses one of two approaches. It can automate
a mixing console's faders to capture each on-pitch sound event or use the
frequency/envelope information of the ball kick to trigger pre-produced samples.
These sounds can be added to the on-pitch sounds or can replace the game sounds
when the on-pitch capture is poor. If you want it to sound like an EA Sports Game
or a Saturday afternoon match on SKY, it is up to you as the sound designer.
This method is already working in the domain of audio objects. Each ball
kick and each whistle blow is defined within the software as a “short-term audio
object” with metadata. Each object is tagged with metadata that says what kind
of object it is (e.g. Ball kick, whistle blow), the sound duration, and its coordinate
location on the pitch. All this is achieved completely independent of camera cuts
and the traditional audio follow video, which at the end of the day, really does
not work well in most situations. As a production tool, the SALSA system can
provide the sound mixer with separate channel feeds for ball kicks and whistle
blows that can be mixed with crowd and commentary feeds leaving the mixer
free to concentrate on making it sound awesome, instead of chasing the ball
with console faders.
Final Considerations — For sound practitioners, there is a comfort zone in
finding and using a microphone that they know works well for the application.
Microphones are personal and clearly subjective, but how do you compare a
£70 Shure to a £1,000 Schoeps microphone? They both sound good for certain
applications and it could be concluded that both sound great for the same
When evaluating a microphone price should not be a consideration,
performance should. Brand should not be a qualification because it may lead us
to over-paying for performance. Microphones should be evaluated in the context
of the mix and performance. A microphone may have a neutral and natural
sound but does that co lour and tone fit the sound design? A contact microphone
has very different tonal characteristic, but I have found that once you put your
mix together it can give an acoustic edge that makes the sound mix fit together.
Certainly in this day of low budget sound production, there are a lot of options
beyond what we have become comfortable with. My advice? Put your ears on
— a little listening can go a long way. n
TG D71c
The TG D71c boundary microphone completes beyerdynamic’s
legendary drum microphone series. With a high impulse fidelity,
quick-responding attack, and a maximum sound pressure level of
148 dB, the TG D71c is ideal for miking percussion instruments.
The microphone delivers an equally convincing performance on
cajones and pianos.
TG D71c Ad Resolution.indd 1
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resolution 25/05/2016 16:16:38
June 2016
07/06/2016 17:44
What was in your equipment
bag for the Brazilian field
I took a Sound Devices 788, a Neumann KU100 binaural head (which is
very heavy!), a Telinga parabolic microphone dish with a Rode NT5 (fitted
with an omni capsule) and a DPA5100 surround mic. I took a second rig of a
3dio binaural microphone with a Zoom H4N and a GoPro camera … and a lot
of batteries! We didn't know when we'd get access to mains power so I took
enough to be entirely battery powered for four days. It all made for a heavy
rucksack — and very complicated packing — everything needed to go into dry
bags, as we were in and out of small boats a lot. It was a bit of a leap of faith to
go out there without any of the conventional mics you might take but I simply
couldn't fit anything more in.
Gareth Fry
Audio takes centre-stage for an acclaimed theatre production, with
binaural microphones, field recordings from the Amazon jungle and an
audience wearing headphones. NIGEL JOPSON
areth Fry is an award-winning theatrical sound designer, best known
for creating work for leading theatre directors such as Katie Mitchell,
Simon McBurney, John Tiffany and Sacha Wares. He is chairman of the
Association of Sound Designers. In 2012 he was asked by Danny Boyle
to design the sound effects for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games.
He won the 2007 Olivier Award for his work on Waves at the National Theatre
and the 2009 Olivier Award for his work on the National Theatre of Scotland's
Black Watch. His work includes over 20 productions at the National Theatre,
several at the Royal Court and more at West End venues such as the Donmar
Warehouse, Old Vic and Young Vic. He has worked extensively internationally,
including in New York, Berlin, Cologne and Dublin. Gareth trained as a studio
recording engineer and spent two years working for AMS Acoustics on speech
intelligibility modelling before moving into theatre sound.
Resolution spoke to Gareth about his ground-breaking design for Complicite’s
production The Encounter. The play, which the audience watch while wearing
headphones, and which prominently features binaural dummy-head microphones
onstage, is inspired by the book Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu. In 1969
Loren McIntyre, a National Geographic photographer, found himself lost among
the people of the remote Javari Valley in Brazil. It was an encounter that was to
change his life, bringing the limits of human consciousness into startling focus.
Actor and director Simon McBurney traces McIntyre's journey into the depths
of the Amazon rainforest, incorporating the innovative soundscape created by
Fry into his performance. The production has garnered multiple rave reviews:
‘Advanced technology and storytelling are married to take a great yarn deep
into its roots’ (The Stage), ‘… contemporary theatre at its most immersive and
thought provoking’ (FT). To record the audio samples which contribute to this
shifting world of sound, Gareth himself travelled to the Amazon to gather field
recordings in the jungle with a community of the Mayorunan people. (photos:
Gareth Fry, Chloe Courtney, Simon McBurney)
June 2016
Resolution June 2016 V15.4.indd 45
Field recording is a bit like photography — the best practitioners
have a (sound) picture in their minds before plugging in their
microphones — what was yours?
I knew I wanted a solid set of ambiences at different times of day and night, for
a few different types of locations. Beyond that we went there not really knowing
what we'd find. We also wanted to meet the Mayorunan community who
feature in Amazon Beaming, the book our production is based on, to hear their
stories. Those were the most interesting recordings, even though they didn't end
up in the show. It's not often you get to sit in the hut of the community leader of
an indigenous group, listening to their amazing stories of living in the Amazon,
as chickens and children wander in and out!
Did you integrate conventional monophonic or stereo recordings
with audio from KU100?
It's very difficult to integrate stereo and even mono recordings into a
predominantly binaural soundscape — they can sound very flat in comparison.
That's part of how I ended up dragging a binaural head around the Amazon
in the first place. Early on in the development of the piece - I came on board
5 years before it eventually opened - I found myself uttering the words ‘it's all
very well us wanting to tell a story set in the Amazon using binaural sound, but
there aren't that many binaural recordings of the Amazon!’ A year later I was
on a very small boat with a very large backpack puttering down the Amazon.
Prior to this I'd experimented with re-spatialising sound: by having 4 speakers
in a ring around the binaural head, pointing in at it, we could create a sense of
3D by playing different mono sounds into each speaker. It was partly successful,
but not as good as the real thing, and depended very much on the quality of the
recordings you were using. We had more success with small wireless speakers
attached to an IEM receiver. These could be waved wildly around the head to
create a really dynamic sound. There is the compromise that the speaker is not
full-range, but in a busy soundscape it can be a very interesting effect.
The KU100 is an unusual microphone: how did you get the best from it?
I'm very keen on the KU100 binaural head as a microphone. It has a very
pleasant sound and just feels so natural over headphones. Binaural sound
benefits from as little post production as possible so it's all about getting the
recording environment as good as possible. In the Amazon this meant getting
good away from any extraneous noise. The river is quite busy with boat traffic
so you have to trek into the forest for a few hours to get away from engine noise.
10/06/2016 11:09
How are the sounds performed live?
We have two sound operators: Helen Skiera, who mixes the lapel and handheld
radio mics and the binaural head, and processes and loops them. This is a
huge task in itself, involving jumping between mics from sentence to sentence.
Simon partly improvises his text as well so Helen has to intuitively know what
he is going to say next, in which character’s voice, into which microphone
— so she can turn the correct one on before he starts speaking! We've built
a custom switch box and a custom trigger surface on a Novation Launchpad,
which interfaces with QLab software, which in turn controls the Yamaha QL1
desk and the Ableton Live software, to turn the
correct combinations of mics on, and to control all
the looping. Our other operator, Ella Wahlstrom,
is playing in all the music and effects. This is
primarily off another QLab rig, with music and
some spot effects coming off another Ableton
Live rig, again with a Launchpad and a Behringer
BCF2000 control surface to provide hands-on
control of levels. I like to think of them as a
jazz trio with Simon leading and Ella and Helen
responding to where he takes them.
What technical problems did you encounter in
Brazil, and what were the solutions?
I'd researched the kit to make sure it could cope with
the humidity, choosing the DPA rig over a Schoeps
double MS setup specifically for this reason. The
problems which I had were more basic than that: there
were a lot of mosquitos. I'd bought clothing that
is impregnated with mosquito repellant — so
I didn't use Deet chemical repellant under my
clothing — but the mosquitos bit me through my
shirt anyway, and I came away with about 500
mosquito bites, which was fun! I think I almost
got eaten by a jaguar, too. I decided I wanted to
get a night-to-day recording so woke myself up
at 4am and traipsed out from the village into the
forest, by myself. I walked for a little while as I
didn't want to get the sound of the village waking
up as dawn broke. It was completely pitch black
and the further I walked the more foolish the idea
seemed. I set up my kit so that it would run on its
own for a few hours. Just as I finished, I started
hearing the sounds of twigs and sticks breaking from further
off in the forest. Then all the dogs in the village started going
mental, barking like crazy. Of course that was the moment
my torch decided to stop working. The next day, the villagers
showed me one of the trees where the jaguars regularly sharpen
their claws.
How did you record the tiny buzz of a mosquito?
Whilst I got some mosquito recordings in the Amazon, there
were so many other sounds in the background — the mosquitos
didn't have the intensity I wanted for one of the scenes — where
a character is swarmed by them. We got in touch with the London School and
Hospital of Tropical Medicine who have some small colonies of mosquitos. They
were super helpful identifying which species would be noisiest, and they're kept
in a pretty quiet place where we could temporarily turn off the heating system.
I put a cheaper binaural head in there with some DPA 4061s into my 744, and
got some great recordings.
What was your technical workflow to create the audio narrative
for the show?
We made the show using a combination of Apple Logic Pro and Ableton Live,
either to edit and mix our recordings or to process library FX, coming out of
Soundminer software. Thereafter it would be networked onto the show playback
machines. The whole system is Dante-based which makes it very simple for us
to pick up recordings off various points in the system, as well as to connect in.
There are lots of layers to the show. We have a naturalistic layer of Amazon
atmos sounds that correspond to time and location. There're a variety of spot
effects that tie into the narrative. A lot of these are things we've recorded or
made, either from manipulating library effects or using foley techniques. There's
a musical layer of underscoring we've made from found music. There're a variety
of recorded interviews we play in, and there's the more abstract emotional
layer of sound which ties in closely with the internal journey of our protagonist
and narrator. We only have one actor onstage — director Simon McBurney —
alongside a binaural head. He uses various mics which have processing across
them to make them sound different, so he can effect various characters through
the microphones. Simon also makes sound effects live too, for example using a
tray of magnetic tape to create footsteps walking on foliage. We often loop these
voices and sound effects too.
Resolution June 2016 V15.4.indd 46
Providing headphones for every audience
member is quite ambitious, what are the
The two Yamaha QL1 mixers we use go into a Yamaha DME24 where
they get combined, processed, and sent to the various system outputs.
Most of the sound goes through the headphone system to the audience,
though we have a variety of wireless speakers, IEMs and sub-bass
speakers too. We have two splitters which send the audio to the many
headphone amps, or they can loop out to each other depending on the
auditorium configuration. As The Encounter is a touring show we have
to install the wired headphone system into each venue — some are large
one-tier auditoriums, some are multi-tier — some have space below
the seats for cabling, some don't. So I've designed a modular system
using Art Headamp headphone amps,
which can be individually distributed
around the space, or put all in one
place as required. Each amp channel
drives 6 pairs of headphones, so each
unit drives 36 pairs. This goes into a
Socapex and a bunch of 3 way and 2
way splitters, wired to series-parallel
the headphones in order to get a good
impedance across the amps. Sennheiser
very kindly provided us with HP02-140
headphones for the show — a high
quality lightweight open headphone —
which sound great for this work. One of the decisions I made early on was not
to give the audience volume controls: it makes the distribution and loading of the
headphones a nightmare. Some may find it too loud or too quiet but the same
would be true if we played it over speakers. The headphones are complemented
by some large sub-bass speakers so that you can feel the sound too.
What were the challenges in running such an ambitious audio
production night after night? One of the big challenges has been how to deal with the large variety of people
with hearing issues. We're used to having infrared systems to give out to
audience members who need them, but actually it tends to be a relatively small
number of people who take that up. When you start giving out headphones and
telling audiences it's vital that they hear the show, you start to find out how
many people have hearing issues! Many more than the small number of people
who pick up the infrared receivers for conventional shows. Hearing aids often
do not work with conventional headphones. Many people have asymmetric
hearing loss too — one ear might be fine — the other not, or somewhere
in between. We've got a wireless belt pack system and a kit of oversized
headphones, personal induction loops, left-right volume controls, stereo to mono
adaptors — and so on — we can provide a good soundtrack to everyone who
comes, regardless of their needs. It's made me think a lot more about how we
make theatrical shows accessible. It's been quite a unique process this show … having full control of the entire
signal chain, from recording the sound effects in the Amazon, to the playback
system, all the way up to the headphones people listen to the show over. Having
that control has allowed me to do so much more with sound design than I might
normally have. n
resolution June 2016
07/06/2016 17:44
Studio Microphones
AEA’s Nuvo series draws on the same
philosophy as the Heritage series,
but with a more modern look and
(relatively) compact form factor. There
are two models in the range, the N22
and the N8, and they both feature
the same ‘Big Ribbon’ technology
employed in AEAs re-imagining of the
classic RCA44. Both microphones are
active, with phantom powered J-FET
pre-amplifiers, and both also feature
a custom wound German transformer
for additional output gain, allowing
good performance with a variety of
pre-amplifiers. The two models differ
chiefly in colour — both physically
and tonally. Designed with singersongwriters
in mind,
The N22 is
f inished in
silver and is optimised and tuned for
close micing, with additional built in
protection for the ribbon element
against plosives. The N8 is finished in
black, making it more unobtrusive in TV
and orchestral recording applications.
It’s also tuned to perform optimally
in the far-field, making it eminently
suited for used on drum overheads,
room mics and orchestral recording.
Both mics are also available in a stereo
kit, which includes mounting hardware
for easy set up in both Blumlein and
near-coincident arrangements.
Royer Labs’ original R-122 can rightly
claim the be the world’s first phantom
powered ribbon microphone —
marrying active electronics for
impedance conversion with a
custom toroidal output transformer
to deliver strong performance and
signal to noise with almost any preamplifier. The new Mk 11 version
sensibly leaves the fundamentals
of the design untouched, with the
same proprietary offset ribbon
motor, ultra-low noise FET stage
and transformer. What it adds are
two recessed slide switches — one
for a pad and the other for a high
pass filter. Royer have taken care to
ensure that these additions have no
effect on the sound of the original
R-122 — so when the switches are
in the off position the signal path is
identical. The -15dB pad helps on
those occasions when loud sources (e.g guitar amps) result in
headroom issues with the electronics, and the relatively gentle
(100 Hz 6dB/octave) high pass filter is designed to help combat
proximity effect on close sources.
June 2016
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Spotlight: Beyerdynamic
Beyerdynamic’s TG (short for Touring Gear) range of microphones fills
just about any need in live sound, although with dynamic, capacitor and
ribbon designs all present they are bound to find
useful applications in a studio situation too. The
latest addition to the range is the TG D71c.
Designed primarily for micing kick drums
and cajons, the D71c is a compact,
rugged boundary microphone with a
half-cardioid polar response. It features a
back electret capsule with an integrated
pre-amplifier, and claims a maximum SPL
handling of 148dB. Intended to be simply placed inside the resonant shell of a
kick drum, the non-slip rubber base ensures that it stays put. A fairly hefty proximity boost centred around 80Hz, tougher with
a rising frequency response from 1kHz to 5kHz should help to get a decent kick sound out of the box — Beyer also recommend
it for close and unobtrusive micing of both grand and upright pianos.
Mojave Audio
A benchmark for studio microphones, Neumann are famous for
advancing microphone technology — from the first switchable
polar pattern in 1949 (the U47) — to the first digital microphone in
2003 (Solution-D). In recent years Neumann have released a range
of mics with the prefix TLM: Transformerless Microphone. Older
designs balance the mic output with a transformer, which is also
used to extract the correct voltage to power the head amplifier
from a phantom supply. While delivering a thicker sound
which can be attractive and sought after for some recordings,
transformers are weighty and expensive, and restrict the transient
performance of a mic. TLM models employ an electronic circuit
to drive the output directly, whilst a second circuit extracts
phantom power. A benefit of the TLM circuitry Is extremely low
self-noise: the equivalent SPL is quoted at just 7dB A-weighted. By
comparison the U87Ai (itself around 6dB quieter than older U87s)
has a self noise of 12dB in cardioid mode. The TLM transducer is
The Mojave MA 1000 is the first offering from
the company’s ‘Signature Range’. Intended to
provide a character of sound broadly in line
with the legendary ELAM 251, designer David
Royer has spared no expense in ensuring that
only the highest quality components have been
hand picked to build the microphone. With a an
original new old-stock 5840 valve and a custom
designed transformer, the
MA 1000 has some impressive
technical specs for such a design
— especially the quoted self
noise of 14dBA. An external PSU
allows continuously variable
polar patterns to be selected,
and a -15dB pad and low-cut
filter are also available.
At the other end of the price spectrum, the
MA 50 is distinctive for a couple of reasons. It’s
the least expensive of Mojave’s large diaphragm
capacitors, and it’s also the first of the range to
feature a transformerless output stage. A fixed
pattern cardioid, it employs the same capsule as
the MA 200 and MA 201 FET, and its inherently low
noise makes it suitable for a range of applications
including vocals, acoustic instruments, percussion and Foley
Solomon Mics
inspired by one of Neumann’s top-of-the-line microphones, the
D-01. The TLM range extends from the TLM 102 (around £480) to
the TLM67 (£1260). Neumann recently announced a recording
bundle consisting of the TLM102, a shock mount and Apogee
Duet interface would be available later this year.
Except for a limited run of U67s back in 1992, Neumann
has never done vintage reissues. In June 2015 the company
announced the U47 FET Collectors Edition. For this reissue, the
old specs are identical, right down to the point-to-point wiring
within the preamp. There were various versions of the U47 FET
but Neumann’s reissue combines the circuit layout of version No
2 from 1972, with the physical features of version No 6. (£2375)
The use of a loudspeaker
driver as a ‘sub’
microphone on a kick
drum has a long and
venerable history, and
one which is accompanied
by all manner of juryrigged and home brewed
arrangements. For those
looking for a more
compact and user-friendly
solution, the LoFReQ from
Solomon mics is worth a
look. Featuring a 6.5”
driver mounted in a Tolex
wrapped fibre-board shell, the LoFreq looks pleasingly rugged,
but is considerably smaller and only half the weight of alternatives
such as Yamaha’s SubKick. This makes it much easier to rig, and
can use standard mic stands. It’s available in black, white or twotone finishes.
07/06/2016 18:42
5:02 PM
Spotlight: Ocean Way Audio
Ocean Way’s first foray into microphones resulted in the ST6050 large diaphragm
capacitor microphone. Inspired by Ocean Way’s famously expansive mic cabinet,
the ST6050 seeks to combine classic capsule and FET design with modern
manufacturing techniques, and is voiced by Allen Sides.
The newest addition to the range is the RM1 ribbon microphone. Developed
by Cliff Henricksen, Ocean Way Audio’s Director of New Technology, the RM1 is
a classic large format ribbon with a bi-directional pattern. Utilising the latest in
neodymium magnets in the ribbon motor, together with a (phantom powered)
integral pre-amplifier designed by LR Baggs, the RM1 claims a noise and output
performance comparable with the quietest capacitor microphones. The unusual
exterior design features a case and all external hardware manufactured from hard
anodised aluminium, and is intended to optimise the physical structure around
the ribbon element. It is supplied with a fixed yoke mount, or optionally with a
sub-sonic tuned isolation mount.
Audio Technica
Audio Technica’s premium studio microphone
range continues to grow. The flagship AT5040
is unusual in combining 4 separate rectangular
diaphragms together, giving a combined
surface area that it more than double that of a
typical circular 1” diaphragm. With this comes
exceptionally high sensitivity and signal to noise
p e r f o r m an ce. T h e
rectangular diaphragm
theme is carried over
to the AT4045, a stick
t ype side-addressed
microphone. Featuring
a sin gl e re c t an gu lar
diaphragm, the form factor
allows easy placement on
instrument sources. It’s unusual in offering
large diaphragm performance and sonic
characteristics in a compact housing.
Elsewhere in the range, he low-profile
ATM350 is a cardioid condenser designed to
clip to brass, upright bass, reeds, piano, toms and
violin. It features an integral 80Hz hi-pass filter on
the in-line power module, and is supplied with a
UniMount clip and violin mount.
— five standard patterns (omni-directional, cardioid, figure-8,
wide- and super-cardioid) and four additional intermediate
patterns. The microphone features four levels of attenuation
and four switchable high-pass filters with LEDs, and push buttons
for noiseless handling on the PSU. Automatic attenuation and
clipping history round off the feature list of the LCT 940.
Microtech Gefell have added the
M320 small diaphragm condenser to
the established 300 series range. The
M320 adds the choice of an omni
pattern to the already established
M300 cardioid and M310 hypercardioid models. The M3 capsule
employed in the range is a 16mm
gold-sputtered mylar affair, and the
capsule housing is constructed from
ceramic rather than the more usual
metal. This approach, borrowed
from Gefell’s range of measurement
microphones, ensures greater consistency at a range of operating
temperatures. Internally, the range feature transformerless
electronics, with a clever opto-isolated DC/DC convertor design.
This effectively isolates the phantom supply from the capsule
bias and impedance convertor power rails, helping to achieve
very low noise floors. Their compact size (130mm x 25mm) and
discreet dark-bronze finish makes them eminently suitable for
classical recording and broadcast as well as studio applications.
Lewitt Audio is an Austrian company founded by ex-AKG
man Roman Pershon in 2009 and has a manufacturing base
in China. An extensive range of microphones includes several
innovative designs. The LCT 940 combines the characteristics
of a premium large-diaphragm FET condenser microphone and
a tube microphone in one housing. FET and Tube signal paths
have been incorporated separately and work independently
of each other, or can be mixed and merged in a continuously
variable manner, opening up creative possibilities for artists and
producers. LCT 940 also features nine different polar patterns
Resolution June 2016 V15.4.indd 48
Peluso are one of the longer
established manufacturers of
what you might term ‘re-imagined
classics’. With a range of hand
assembled products using modern
and vintage components that cover
their takes on pretty much any
classic microphone, the company
has recently turned its attention
to what is possibly the most iconic
studio microphone of the last 50
years — the U87. The Peluso P87 is styled after the 1970’s version
of the Neumann classic, and features a centre-terminated dual
diaphragm mated to a FET impedance convertor and transformer
output stage. Heavy duty toggle switches select from the three
polar patterns (omni, fig-8 and cardioid) and also provide a -10dB
pad and high pass filter. Supplied as a complete kit, the P67 ships
with a shock-mount, fixed clip and foam windshield packed in a
custom flightcase.
June 2016
07/06/2016 18:43
Telefunken’s M60 series offers a solid-state
alternative to the valve based ELA M260
small diaphragm capacitor microphones.
The M60 FET body contains a fully discrete
Class A amplifier mated to a custom
wound, American manufactured output
transformer. The M60 range uses the same
interchangeable TK6x capsules employed
by the M260, with cardioid, hyper-cardioid
and omni versions available.
Two M60s with matched
cardioid capsules are provided
as part of new drum mic packs.
The DC7 pack also includes 3 x
M81SH dynamic microphones
for toms, and M80-SHB dynamic for snare and the M82
dynamic mic for kick drum. The M82 incorporates two
switches which activate built in EQ. The first scoops out
low-mids, centred around 350Hz to remove boxiness,
and the second introduces a tilt to upper-mid and high
frequencies starting around 2kHz (6dB boost at
10kHz) to bring out more attack to the sound.
Custom M60 FETs with omni-directional
capsules can also be found in a novel
partnership with Dysonics. Their 8 capsule,
360 degree microphone array has been designed for immersive
3D audio capture, and works in conjunction with the Samsung
Gear platform to combine 360 degree motion-tracked audio
with 360 degree video.
The ND series from Electrovoice are the
successors to the NY-DYM series, and comprise
four vocal mics for live performance, and four
instrument mics suitable for both live
performance and studio applications.
The ND68 is a super-cardioid dynamic
design, with a large diaphragm and high
SPL capability. Voiced specifically to deliver
kick drum sounds with little or no additional
EQ, it’s also suitable for bass guitar cans and other
bass instruments. The ND46 is also a super-cardioid
dynamic, but with a voicing more suitable to general
instrument and percussion micing. Its unusual swiveling
head design is intended to make precise positioning on
drums and guitar cabinets easy. All of the ND series also employ
tight-mesh ‘Memraflex’ grilles, designed to remain dent free in the
face of the most determined drummer.
Aston Microphones
British newcomer Aston Microphones
has two microphone offerings at present
— with more in the pipeline. The Spirit
is a multi-pattern large diaphragm
capacitor, whilst the Origin is a fixed pattern cardioid. Both
microphones share some innovative design approaches. The
tumbled stainless steel body has an out-of the-box patinated
look that means the mics should maintain their looks for a
lifetime. And the head grille assembly features a ‘waveform
mesh head’ that helps provide physical
shock protection to the capsule,
together with mesh knit stainless steel
for plosive protection and RF shielding.
The capsules and associated
electronics (transformerless for the Origin, transformer output
for the Spirit) were developed in conjunction with a panel of over
20 leading producers and engineers. A series of blind evaluation
tests resulted in the ultimate pairings of capsules and circuit
prototypes that you find in the production models.
June 2016
Resolution June 2016 V15.4.indd 49
Location Microphones
All microphones made by Schoeps employ externally
polarised condenser transducers with small-diaphragm
capsules, and feature transformerless output circuits.
Schoeps were Resolution award winners in 2011 for their
SuperCMIT 2U shotgun (£2,799), which broke with tradition
in using a completely new operating principle with two
transducers plus digital signal processing algorithms
from ILLUSONIC to recognise sound energy arriving from
various directions, and determine whether that sound
has a discrete, persistent direction of arrival or not.
Diffuse sound is suppressed to an extraordinary
degree and there is two-channel output, with
SuperCMIT signal in channel 1 and direct, singletransducer signal in channel 2. A high-frequency boost
EQ (+5 dB at 10 kHz) allows compensation for losses due
to windscreens and a low-cut (18 dB/oct. below 80 Hz)
suppresses low-frequency wind and boom noise. Schoeps
have recently introduced shockingly-coloured Chroma
green and blue versions of this mic and its stable-mate the
CMIT 5 U (£1,720). Although in-shot objects are routinely
removed in post, there has recently been increased use of
live-keying programs such as Sparkey, so movie directors
can view a version of how their movie might look with VFX
on set, and the Chroma versions of these shotguns are ideal
for use in such real-time situations.
Apart from their well known Colette range of small diaphragms
mics, Schoeps also make a range of
Surround and 3D audio rigs using
their benchmark capsules. The
Double M/S, IRT Cross, OCT Surround
and ORTF Surround rigs are now joined
by the ORTF 3D Outdoor Set: this setup uses 8 supercardioid
studio capsules – 4 CCM 41 plus 4 CCM 41V. The ORTF-3D Outdoor
Set is a complete assembly including windshield with suspension
and fur, 8 microphones, two multicore cables, two breakout
cables, rain protection and housing for installation in-venue to
collect ambient sound.
Schoeps have been pioneers in innovative polar response
recording: in 1998 they introduced the Polarflex VST/AU plugin,
which operates together with their 2-capsule A2P CCM to offer
a tailored stereo polar pattern, enabling editing or rotation of a
stereo image in post-production.
Audio Technica
The BP40 broadcast
vocal microphone offers
a condenser-like sound
from a large-diaphragm
dynamic design. The
large diaphragm features patented floating-edge construction
that maximizes diaphragm surface area and optimizes overall
diaphragm performance, while the humbucking voice coil
prevents electromagnetic interference. The BP40 delivers
clear and articulate reproduction and is ideal for any broadcast
application. Optimized capsule placement helps maintain a
commanding vocal presence even at a distance, while the
multistage windscreen provides superior internal pop filtering
in conjunction with with a switchable 100Hz high-pass filter.
The new AT2020USBi cardioid condenser microphone adds
a new level of sound-quality to the expanding range of AudioTechnica USB microphones. Modelled on the well-known
AT2020, this digital output mic features an A/D converter with a
24-bit/96 kHz sampling rate. The AT2020USBi comes with both
USB and Lightning cables to enable digital audio capture on the
device of choice: PC, Mac or lightning equipped iOS device. The
integrated gain control adds to the convenience, allowing input
level adjustment directly on the microphone.
07/06/2016 17:44
Spotlight: Sennheiser
Sennheiser have a new Ambeo VR microphone, premiered at CES and NAB 2016
shows. It is designed with four heads to capture 360 degree sound, intended to work with a new
generation of video VR (Virtual Reality) cameras for real-time capture, with a dedicated GoPro version already planned. Audio
from the four capsules is upmixed to multiple VR audio channels. The intention is to enable audio to follow the VR
viewing-head direction in real time. According to Achim Gleissner: ‘Sennheiser is currently testing the Ambeo VR with
content producers, it will most likely be launched towards the end of 2016.’The company has also introduced a new
DSLR/Camcorder stereo microphone, the MKE 440 (£294) houses two mini-shotgun mics in a V-shape configuration
that primarily capture the sound within the camera angle while rejecting most rear and side noise. The MKE 440 is
powered by two AAA batteries and is currently available for pre-order.
Sennheiser already have the Esfera surround microphone system, which enables generation and broadcast of
5.1 surround using 2 RF condenser mics in an XY-array. All that is required is the SPM 8000 microphone (£2,348) on
location and the SBP 8000 basic unit (£3,582) at any given point within the production or post-production process.
The 19” processing unit is fitted with the circuitry to convert a normal stereo audio signal, supplied by two standard
cables, into 5.1 surround at a sampling rate of 96 kHz. For a broadcast-friendly signal a compressor can be engaged.
DPA Microphones has a new linear
version of its d:facto handheld
microphone. The vocal microphone
has been used by artists such as
Sting and Stevie Wonder, the new
d:facto capsule for it has a linear
frequency response compared to
the original vocal mic, which has a boost at 12 kHz. The new
capsule has an isolation-optimized supercardioid polar pattern
that is designed to augment the human vocal range, helping
ensure focus on the sound source with minimal bleed, delivering
natural sound, high separation, and SPL handling stated as up
to 160dB.
The new DPA d:screet Slim miniature
4060 lavalier microphone is perfect for
the broadcast and film industry and
is ideal for concealed applications.
The d:screet Slim 4060's capsule is
exactly the same as its regular 4060
counterpart, while its dimensions are
equivalent to that of the flat d:fine
capsule's construction, though with cable and cable relief instead
of a stiff boom. d:screet Slim mics come with a unique new
Button-hole Mount included, allowing better performance when
concealed under the seam of a shirt. This cap is to be mounted
on the mic head and has a small side entry pipe (diameter 2mm)
making it possible to have the sound enter through a button
hole or the like directly to the diaphragm. At the same time, the
Resolution June 2016 V15.4.indd 50
cable runs perpendicular to this tube, making it easy to secure the
slim mic head on the rear side of the clothes. The DPA d:screet is
available in four colours: black, brown, beige and white and two
sensitivities (60 – high sens and 61 — low sens) at the same prices
as equivalent d:screet 4060 series miniature mics.
Australian manufacturers RØDE have found a niche
for themselves atop DSLR and video cameras, and as
a viable competitively priced shotgun for the location
bag. The Shotgun range extends from the 55cm
long RF8 – featuring low self-noise, natural sound
without colouration both on and off-axis, and RF bias
technology to ensure it’s resistance to high humidity
environments – through to the 21cm lightweight
(105gm) NTG1 with 2-step high pass. The 28cm NTG2
is also incredibly lightweight (161gm), and offers P48
or AA battery powering. The similar length NTG4+
features an in-built battery that provides 150+ hours
of operation, with the convenience of USB charging,
and all the NTG range come with a 10 year guarantee.
For on-camera use, Rode have two directional
mics, the VideoMic at around £85 and the budget-priced
VideoMic Go at £55, both of which come with an integrated
Rycote Lyre shock mouting. The Go gets its juice via plug-in power
(min 2.5v) while the VideoMic provides over 100 hours of service
on one 9-volt battery. There’s also a very small (8cm)
VideoMicro Compact with Lyre mount (£48) and a tiny VideoMic
Me for smartphones.
resolution For X/Y stereo capture, there’s the original Stereo Videomic,
the more bulbous-shaped VideoMic Pro, and the professional
VideoMic X (£570) as reviewed in Resolution v14.1: Rycote lyre
mount, Dead Cat windshield, high frequency boost switch and
XLR outputs.
A big benefit of buying from RØDE is the large range of purpose
built accessories – boom poles, blimps, clips, interfaces and
clamps – all purpose made for the individual microphones.
Sanken, Japan’s very first microphone maker, recently
introduced the new CSS-50 short stereo shotgun
microphone. The CSS-50’s 3-diaphragm electret
condenser mic offers innovative technology
in a short, practical form to clearly capture
stereo centre-targeted sound with moderate
ambience. To achieve this, Sanken developed
the three-capsule CSS-50 to capture the centre
sound like a normal shotgun with the addition of two
mic capsules for variable stereo imaging. The CSS-50 offers three
operation modes: Mono mode offers sharp shotgun directivity,
normal (stereo) mode provides precise stereo localization, and wide
(stereo) mode allows for expanded 140° stereo, ideal for cinematic
ambience and sound effects. Sanken claim the CSS-50 is especially
effective in the 400Hz to 3kHz range for optimum stereophonic
perception, and that the high-performance electret condenser
capsules are equivalent in response to DC-biased capsules. Sanken
produce a wide range of mics suitable for music recording, lavalier,
speech and surround work.
The CUW-180 has a single microphone body with two cardioid
condenser capsules which can be rotated
(as the name suggests) through 180° in
15° detents. Thanks to precise
diaphragm layout of two
capsules, the perfect phase coherence
between Ch1 and Ch2 is kept even in
any angle of two capsules. For Surround
applications, two CUW-180 are ideal for true
four-channel recording, providing a conceptually
simple method of recording both Front L/R and Rear L/R signals.
The Sanken WMS-5, an exclusive Sanken design based on
the well known M-S method of recording, provides 5 surround
outputs signals from a mic body resembling a mid-sized shotgun.
The front Mid capsule is used for both Centre and front L, R. The
Side signal is for both front L, R and rear LS, RS. The rear Mid
capsule is used for LS and RS. In order to keep precise phase
coherence, capsules are set vertically on the same axis. The front
Centre capsule has shotgun directivity.
June 2016
07/06/2016 17:44
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