Another Nice, Not Expensive, LD Tube Condenser!

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by LSchefman, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Regulars here know I have a weakness for mics that don't cost an arm and a leg (I have several that DO cost, well, a leg anyway, and one only has so many arms and legs!).

    Soooo....

    Recently I was offered a good deal on a Groove Tubes GT67 tube mic, large diaphragm (LD) condenser, with shock mount, etc. I already have, and very much like, a GT33 small diaphragm condenser which I use on some acoustic guitars, and I liked it so much I got my son one. This mic lists for $900, but you can get them for around $700-750. So I figured based on the 33, this can't be too bad, and it got some good reviews from guys like Russ Long (Carport Studios, Nashville).

    So I bought it.

    Yesterday I had a vocal session in my studio, and after trying a few mics the day before, the vocalist had sounded best with an AKG 414BULS. Anyway, I put up the GT67, just to try it out. I had heard it was a great mic for stringed instruments and percussion, but I really didn't expect all that much on vox.

    To my utter astonishment, I liked it better with this male vocalist. It was less "boxy" sounding than the 414, seemed to have a more transparent, less pinched high end, and otherwise sounded as good as the 414 in every respect. And it was simply more "dynamic" which always makes a mic sound more 3 dimensional IMHO.

    Now I have to say, any time you can get a multipattern tube condenser with a nice power supply, shockmount and cable for under a grand, you have to take a good look at it, and I have had a few in this price range that were very good. Before this, my favorite inexpensive tube condenser was a Rode NTK, which is a nice fat sounding mic, but maybe a little too fat on some voices; it tends to get a little wooly if you're not careful.

    Not so this GT67, at least so far. It seems a bit more transparent.

    Granted, it has this weird whizzer cone technology to augment the high end, etc, but truthfully it's surprisingly good. It also seems well made, with excellent fit/finish/metalwork.

    Seems like a good addition to the LSchefman mic locker.
     
  2. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    I have the old Model 6 and if the newer version (GT67) sounds anything like mine, I totally agree that it's an overlooked mic. It's hears way deep though so be careful. I put mine up late one night for some vocals and upon playback, we heard tree frogs getting down in the background.
     
  3. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Frogs, eh?

    When you get down to the locusts, boils, and flies, be sure to tell Pharoah to Let My People Go!

    ;)
     
  4. Chevelle

    Chevelle Member

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    Those frogs are an important part of that track.
     
  5. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    We have an a capella demo with cicadas in the background. I wouldn't re-cut it 'cause it sounds so cool. My wife hated it for a while, but what the hell. It's a great track!
     
  6. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    By the way, a thought...

    A couple of months ago I was engineering vocals for someone in his home studio using a 414, which was the best mic he had while mine were 1,000 miles away.

    I felt that the mic made the vocals sound pretty damned "boxy" no matter where we put him, like he was... well, in a cardboard box. Just flat and dull. The room had a pretty good sound, so I switched to hypercardiod to open up the back a little bit and it helped tremendously. Huge difference.

    Not to take anything away from this other mic, but just something I remembered that may be relevant.
     
  7. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    >>Not to take anything away from this other mic, but just something I remembered that may be relevant.<<

    Definitely relevant. The 414 here is a good 12-15 years old, and I'm kinda used to calling the sound "boxy". However, it works really well on three sources: the right vocalist, a woody-sounding drum kit on overheads, and most acoustic guitars. The particular vocalist who recorded here the other day happened to sound best with the 414 (this, after putting up mics that were "better" for most vocalists). Still, 12-15 years of session work probably calls for an inspection of the mic to see if it's still up to spec, and I'm comparing it to a brand-new mic, so it's probably not a truly fair comparison.

    So this is one of those unusual situations; the vocalist liked the 414, as did I. When I put up the GT67, we both liked it better immediately. It seemed to have the reach of the 414 (one of its better qualities) without the pinched high end (something that probably causes that boxy sound). The GT mic was absolutely more three dimensional.

    I haven't tried the mic on female vocals, or other instruments yet. So I guess we shall see.

    Still, I got it for a steal of a price, so I'm not going to look over my shoulder. It's clearly an excellent mic. Whether it will replace the 414 remains to be seen; mine's probably in need of some refurb. I do take my hat off in the case of a microphone that is made in China that competes favorably with a classic mic, however.

    Les, do you wear hats? Um...not really.

    I'm thinking you meant omni or figure 8 and not hypercardioid if you opened up the back of the mic...hypercardioid being evenmore concentrated on the very front of the mic...(or did you mean you got more of the back of the room)??
     
  8. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I meant hypercardioid, which picks up some of the back of the capsule and has two null points, about 135º and 225º &#8211; somewhere in there &#8211; whereas a cardioid's one null point is 180º.

    But now that you mention it, I'm wondering if we did use figure-of-8. We tried both and liked them both better than cardioid, but I forget which we ended up using. I know we didn't use omni.

    Old age is a terrible thing; one day you'll see.
     
  9. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    P.S. - Even in my dotage, I remember: it was hypercardioid.

    I was in the same room and I remember setting the mic so that my position by the computer was at the left side null point, to minimize any sounds I might make adjusting knobs, shifting in the chair, smacking my dentures, farting, etc.
     
  10. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    FWIW, dual null points or no, hypercardioid mics still have far less sound coming from the rear, and most is out of phase.

    I never want to see down the throat of a singer as far as a hypercardioid goes, so I don't use that setting for vocals, but my vocal booth is a separate room and I don't worry about farting in the control room...

    Not that my farts are anything less than musical.
     
  11. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    More rejection at 180º than cardioid? Not so. Cardioid has 100% rejection at 180º while hypercardioid has a spot right at the back where it picks up sound. It's got a tighter pattern at the front and more rejection at the sides, but in some situations it sounds less closed. Depends on what's happening behind it. If the room is dead behind it, then there's nothing to pick up. If there are reflections, it picks them up to some degree.

    I'll try to find a diagram. Hypercardioid is basically in between cardioid and figure-of-8. It's not the ideal pattern for vocals under the best circumstances, but in some rooms opening up the back a little opens up the overall sound, even though it loses some at the front and sides. I'm not making this **** up, it's what happens.
     
  12. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    By the way, FWIW, I record vocals in my living room with the mic set in-between figure of 8 and hypercardioid, facing the corner of the room about 10' away, slightly skewed. It sounds 10 times more open than cardioid in that same spot (or any other spot, and we tried them all) precisely because there's so much coming back at it. When you hear it, you don't know what's coming from which direction, it just sounds good. On the other hand, straight figure-of-8 picks up too much reflection and it sounds too "live."

    Also, the vocalist can "work" the mic with less proximity effect in that pattern.
     
  13. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    OK, here are some pics from the Crown site...

    Cardioid:

    [​IMG]

    Super:

    [​IMG]

    Hyper:

    [​IMG]

    Figure-of-8:

    [​IMG]

    Here's a snippet from ProSoundWeb that they apparently swiped from Sweetwater. Bold type is mine.

    "In a nutshell a cardioid microphone picks up sound from the "front" only. A figure-eight microphone picks up sound from the front and rear of the microphone.

    "An omnidirectional microphone picks up sound from all around. There are also a few polar patterns that fall between cardioid and figure eight that are supercardioid and hypercardioid. The supercardoid pattern has more side rejection than cardioid...in other words, it's even more directional...but there's a little more pickup from the rear.

    "The hypercardioid pattern offers even more side rejection, but there's even more pickup from the rear. If you look at the patterns side by side you'll see a "progression" from cardioid to supercardioid to hypercardioid to figure-eight where the side rejection gets better but the lobe in the back grows until pickup from the front and back is equal and the rejection on the sides is almost complete.

    "So now that we know what they are, what are they good for? Well, first of all there are the obvious advantages that apply to certain situations. The cardioid pattern is by far the most used, especially in the studio; as for the most part people point a microphone at a source and record it.

    "However, if you want to pick up, say, a group of background singers, the omnidirectional pattern would be the most appropriate as it picks up sound from all around. It's also useful if you want to pick up the sound of the room you're recording in, such as when you're using a microphone as room microphone for drums or when you're recording an orchestra in a nice-sounding hall.

    "Likewise, a figure-eight microphone may be useful when you're recording two people singing together who want to face each other as they do so. They're also good for picking up the sound of a room as they pick up more of the sound in the room than a cardioid microphone, although not as much as an omni."

    In the last paragraph he's talking about figure-of-8, but it's true of hypercardioid as well, only less so.
     
  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Michael, those response graphs agree with my point about the sound coming from the rear of the mic being less loud than from the front in hypercardioid (I was not saying that they have no sound from the rear, I was talking about their relative balance). What they don't reveal much about is why.

    A hypercardioid (or for that matter to a lesser degree a cardioid mic) uses internal cavities to provide front-back delay. More directional mics simply have more coloration than less-directional mics. The reasons for this have a lot to do with phase anomalies caused by the internal cavities.

    It is true that if a mic designer is good, and knows what he or she is doing, these anomalies can be minimized. However, if you could cut off the sound in front of the mic when you're in hypercardioid, and hear only the rear sound, you'd hear a much more trebly sound that is simply less accurate.

    In the case of the 414 you were working with, this probably was a good thing; the mic "opened up" because its tendency towards midrage emphasis, which causes the sound to appear to be boxy, was counterbalanced by the admission of more of a high frequency tilted signal from the rear of the mic. Switching to omni does pretty much the same thing with a 414, only you get a little more accuracy and less tendency toward trebly-ness (there ya go, a brand new word I just made up ;) ).

    I suspect that you weren't hearing true room sound, you were hearing a kind of EQ'd room sound as a result of the natural limitations of hypercardioid mics being what they are.

    All of this is, however, irrelevant, since you got a good recording.
     
  15. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    >> Michael, those response graphs agree with my point about the sound coming from the rear of the mic being less loud than from the front in hypercardioid (I was not saying that they have no sound from the rear, I was talking about their relative balance).

    Uh... OK, but it sure looked to me like that's exactly what you were saying. Which, admittedly, seemed odd coming from you.

    >> I suspect that you weren't hearing true room sound, you were hearing a kind of EQ'd room sound as a result of the natural limitations of hypercardioid mics being what they are.

    No, there was clearly more of the sound of the room in the mic.

    I'm aware that the acoustic labyrinth changes the sound somewhat, but you know as well as I do that the cardioid pattern uses it too. As to whether the cardioid pattern on this particular mic was closer to "pristine and pure" is (a) debatable, (b) unlikely, and (c) not the point.

    As I explained, results with this pattern depend on the direction, proximity, strength and desirability of the reflections. One way to look at it is a way of tricking the mic into making a room sound better than it should. If it works, it can yield a more open sound than a cardioid. Not "bad tone disguised as more open," but more open as in, "more open."

    Did I mention, "more open?"

    Of course, placement is everything. "Location, location, location."
     
  16. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    >>you know as well as I do that the cardioid pattern uses it too. <<

    Yes, but it sounds different.

    >>No, there was clearly more of the sound of the room in the mic.<<

    Of course there was. The question is whether the sound of the room coming from the back of the mic was tilted toward the treble, which of course it was. Naturally, the rear room sound was blended with what was in front of the mic.

    >>Uh... OK, but it sure looked to me like that's exactly what you were saying.<<

    Here is what I said: "FWIW, dual null points or no, hypercardioid mics still have far less sound coming from the rear, and most is out of phase." If I'd meant there was no sound coming from the rear, I'd have said "no sound" instead of "less sound." And yes, the reason that there is far less low end from the rear is due to phase problems inherent in the pattern.

    My initial earlier post's comment was: "I'm thinking you meant omni or figure 8 and not hypercardioid if you opened up the back of the mic...hypercardioid being evenmore concentrated on the very front of the mic...(or did you mean you got more of the back of the room)??"

    I meant "more concentrated on the front of the mic" in relation to the figure 8 and omni patterns, which of course, hypercardioid is. I think I was being pretty clear. I even asked if you meant you simply got more of the back of the room, because I was aware that hypercardioid was going to do that.


    But for reference, here are Les' Lazy Engineering Mic Rules (If I worked for my studio, I'd fire myself. This is why I am a composer/producer, and not an engineer):


    1. If there is a mic already mounted to the mic stand, try that one first.

    2. If it sounds good, stop. Never look for something that might sound even better unless the talent bitches. And if the talent bitches, try to talk the talent into using the one that's already there with such phrases as, "Hey, I know my mic collection, this one is the best for you in this room, so shut the #$% up and sing." Shutting up and singing at the same time requires a special talent.

    3. If you haven't worked with the talent before, and IF the talent is paying you (and only if the talent is paying you instead of the other way around; for example, I pay the talent on commercial sessions) set up a few mics in advance, and give the talent a few seconds with each one in order to confirm that you were probably right in the first place.

    4. Use the polar patterns only in circumstances you know beforehand will work, such as "figure 8 for a pair of backup vocalists." Never experiment just to get a better sound. Always have hard and fixed rules.

    5. If someone tells you there is a better way to do it, ignore them. You know what you're doing. Be immune to suggestions.

    6. Always argue with Michael Kates whenever possible. Your brain needs the exercise.
     
  17. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    >> I meant "more concentrated on the front of the mic" in relation to the figure 8 and omni patterns, which of course, hypercardioid is. I think I was being pretty clear.

    I think I was pretty clear that THAT'S NOT WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE YOU SAID but at this point I F*CKING GET IT, ALREADY.

    >> Always argue with Michael Kates whenever possible. Your brain needs the exercise.

    My brain feels like the new boy in San Quentin after a particularly stressful morning in the shower.

    By the way, you're fired. See Joanne for your check on the way out.

    (Note to outside observers: I love and respect this guy much more than you'd ever guess)
     
  18. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    What, you didn't like my Les' Lazy Mic Rules?

    ;)

    PS, I love you too. How about a date, San Quentin Boy?
     
  19. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Wouldn't you know it, a ****** clinger.

    Look, I had fun, it was great, the omelet was terrific, thanks for the coffee, yadda yadda. Now here's yer cab fare, see you around.
     
  20. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    What, no flowers, no phone calls, no candy...?
     

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