What mics pick up vs What our ears do

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Kess, May 4, 2015.

  1. Kess

    Kess Member

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    You know when you turn an amp up, the louder it is the more bottom end there is and the flatter the eq seems to sound, or say when you have the amp at a low level you need a ton of lows to get the desired low end in the room? Im just wondering if mics pick that up at all, since I very rarely get super loud, however sometimes the sound I dial in miked up has a ridiculous amount of low end compared to midrange and top end.

    I have a ribbon mic and when I first got it I miked up the cab and dialed the amp in from a different room and when I went in to the room the sound was SUPER thin haha. I pretty much ditched the ribbon for that sound and have been using a 57 and another dynamic mic and I have it pretty balanced now in terms of the amount of low end in the room vs the amount miked up but I was still wondering!
     
  2. Kess

    Kess Member

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    I did see another article not long ago basically explaining that but really what I was wondering is if it applies to microphones at all, or if the eq curve picked up from the mic would basically stay the same at low as it does at high volumes (Keeping both at the same level on playback)
     
  3. GCDEF

    GCDEF Member

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    The point was that your ears perceive relative levels of different frequencies differently depending on volume. Mics don't suffer the same phenomenon.
     
  4. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    In addition to the Fletcher Munson curves, most mics (except true pressure omnidirectional patterns) exhibit bass boost at close proximity (thus named "the proximity effect").

    When recording with close micing technique, you have to listen to how the mic sounds and adjust the amps tone controls to compensate for the mics frequency response.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2015
  5. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    No mic picks up exactly what your ears do, because no mic is constructed like your ear, or your head. Even if you got one of those old Neumann dummy heads and stuck mics in its ears, it's not exact replication of your pinnae or physiology.

    In addition, your ears process and interpret things like room reflections, spatial placement, etc, in a way that microphones cannot, because your brain interprets a myriad of signals from the ears every fraction of a second.

    This is why, for example, you can have a conversation with someone in a noisy bar, and are still able to hear and concentrate on what is said, but if you recorded the conversation with mics in the same position as your ears, it would just sound like a bunch of crazy noise.

    Recording is artifice, the art of creating something that sounds like what you think you should hear, but don't actually hear.

    Mics like ribbons also have a ton of proximity effect. Also, your ears are hearing lots and lots of reflections in addition to the direct signal. If you close mic, it's like putting your ear up against the speaker grille. If you stereo mic using a dummy head placed where your head is placed in the room, you might come a bit closer to what you hear in the room. Of course, your track will be very difficult to mix with other instruments; this technique is for solo recording. And it's not all that worthwhile.
     
  6. griggsterr

    griggsterr Supporting Member

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    LSchefman, What a great post/reply You are so correct. I have a business acquaintance with a degree in psycho acoustics. He would have said almost the same thing.
     
  7. Kess

    Kess Member

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    Thanks for the replies guys. I understood most all of this before, less of what LSchefman said which was great information. As I said I got the sound coming from the cab similar to what it is miked up (It sounds quite a bit better miked though I must say) and just wanted to confirm that mics do not react to volume in the same way our ears do :)
     
  8. Kess

    Kess Member

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    Another thing the Fletcher Munson curves made me realize is that the reason I used to like a scooped guitar tone was because I mainly played at low volumes, but I remember getting it loud and it sounding terrible haha, now having plently of midrange in my sound it isnt as good at a lower volume as it is a bit louder, really great info!
     
  9. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    Remember the "loudness" button on old hi-fi receivers? It boosted low and high frequencies (rock and roll smile curve) at low volume levels to compensate for the Fletcher Munson effect.

    The ear has non-linear frequency response at low volume and we need more bass and treble to flatten out the response. Our hearing's frequency response is most linear around 83 dB SPL. That's why film (and some audio) mixers make EQ decisions at that level.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
  10. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    GREAT post. I have also tried to explain this here so many times. Your ear is a specialized device that has been fine tuned to help you live. It has 3-D depth perception just like your eyes do. The pinnae (the little flaps) and the shape of your ear all developed to increase your hearing perception through your brain's ability to hear and interpret phase in audio waveforms as presented to the brain by the shape of your ear.

    That is one major difference between ears and mics... mics cannot hear "depth" based on phase. Everything to a mic is just a matter a loudness (energy) - but recorded sounds often reproduce what the ear hears by picking up room reflections, etc.

    But a recorded sound is not the same as hearing a sound live. Ears give you 3-D hearing, so a person can have one person screaming in one ear, but focus on a sound in front of his head. A mic can't do that. If a sound is very loud to a mic, all other quieter sounds will be masked with no directionality, just mere volume (energy).

    People with hearing aids often complain they can't hear specific things - because those are mini sound systems with mics and speakers.

    If you want to hear what a mic hears - completely block your opposite ear and put the open ear drum directly at the spot where a mic will go. Then you have some idea of how a mic actually hears. The difference is that an ear does not have as much off-axis coloration or proximity effect.

    When you add it all up - mics do not hear anything like ears do. But that does not mean you can't paint a beautiful aural picture using microphones.

    By the way - when it comes to ears and recordings - a recording is similar to what you hear if you just stick your head into a window of a room with sound. There is a flat plain where you head is, and everything you hear is on front of you. You hear room reflections and different volume levels - but it all comes from one direction. - That is closer to the way a mic hears than comparing a mic to a set of human ears.
     

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