Thursday, December 28, 2006

Naked Eye Matched Pair Deal with Goodies!

This promotion ended on Feb 15,2007.We sold out!

We have a great deal for those who want a pair of Naked Eyes for use around the studio and in venues to record in stereo. Have you read the reviews? You should!


Here's what the deal consists of:

2 Matched Sequentially Numbered Naked Eye Ribbon Microphones
2 Low diffraction rotary mounts
1 two-piece Array Mast for use on a boom or in stereo array. This consists of two strong aluminum mast sections that screw together and holds two Naked Eyes.
2 wood storage cases
All US made
Other small but cool and/or useful goodies
Price $1495 - cash, paypal, Visa or Mastercard (no Amex)
No shipping charge anywhere in the US!
No matching charge (of course)
Order by calling the lab direct at 508 231 4515 during business hours EST.

As you probably know, Naked Eye has become a phenomenon and a best seller at the introductory price of $745 each. Get in on this deal because 2007 is coming!

The Myth of the Ribbon Microphone - Exposed! part one

"Faceless ancestors who dance about the fire of knowledge, their long shadows cast close behind them."


Be sure to read PART TWO, also. Link HERE

Before objective knowledge there was dancing, fire, and superstition.

"The Knowledge" of a London cabbie consists of a complete mental map and image of the the city roads and byways and those with The Knowledge are then qualified to transport via black cab any passenger to any location within London.

The Knowledge of Ribbon Microphones - A Codex inscribed herein for posterity - consists of the true facts and explanations about the mysterious and sometimes ancient mythology of the revered and sometimes reviled ribbon microphone.

The Myths are many and the tales told are handed down over the generations of recording aficionados and repeated almost as prayers in the scripture of the ubiquitous message boards, where no false word is ever erased, and lore is mixed with fact, fiction, lies, myths, heresy, pure falsities, and half-truths.

And then there is the phenomenon of repetition, whereby the truth is manufactured, where errors are repeated, often over and over, until they become accepted facts, despite the lack of supporting evidence. Like parrots, the falsehood is recanted, passed down through generations, and finally accepted without question.

Here are a few myths to get us started:

Vintage Myths - those myths based on lore, history, and New Old Stock

Myth: "Nothing sounds like/as good/mellow like an old RCA 44, 77, (insert an old mic here)"
Fact: These mics were good and produced excellent sound, but have low output and relatively high noise levels, and are highly variable. Most of the vintage ribbon mics have a steep roll off beginning at 10 KC. If you can put up with unpredictable performance, they may be for you. I have three RCA 77DXs here in the lab at the moment. You can bet they sound good, but different.

Myth: "Such and such has New Old Stock ribbon material (magnets/grille cloth/blueprints/uncle/DNA) which is the best"
Fact: Old ribbon material is likely to be inferior to modern materials. Aluminum oxidizes slowly but corrosion can produce pinholes, while precipitation (age/heat) hardening causes embrittlement, and fracture. Present day aluminum is produced in precise thickness and with better purity than was available even 20 years ago. This is due to demand for thin foils in other parts of the electronics industry, such as capacitors.

The Saggy Baggy Ribbon Myths - Things may droop over time, also with ribbons?

Myth: "Ribbon mics should be stored vertically".
Fact: No. The weight of a typical "large ribbon" is around 0.0018 grams, and a thin ribbon is about 1/4 that. If that is enough to cause sagging, then something is very wrong. Ribbon microphones of any vintage can be used and stored in any position.

Myth: "Just closing the case will blow the ribbon"
Fact: This is quite doubtful. Once again, if the air pressure is enough to damage the ribbon then most of ribbon microphones out there today are already blown. Several manufacturers including us supply ribbon microphones in horizontal cases with top lids. I think you would have to try to slam it very hard, over and over, to show any change to the ribbon tension.

Myth: "Crowley and Tripp uses a vertical storage box to prevent ribbon sagging."
Fact: We did this so you can see it and because we thought it looked better and was more convenient, and that it might cause the user to grab it from the mic locker more often rather than laying flat in the dark recesses of the cabinet. You can lay the box down on its side, turn it upside down - it doesn't matter at all because gravity has only the most minute influence on the ribbon.

Myth: "All ribbon microphones are fragile"
Fact: Modern ribbon microphones are not at all fragile.

Myth: "Move the ribbon mic slowly"
Fact: Nonsense. I saw an intern walking across the studio holding the microphone like it was a lit candle. This was very amusing.

Myth: "Loud sounds will shatter the ribbon"
Fact: Loud? Not loud like loud music loud, at least. No. Detonation of high explosives, maybe. Do not try this.

Phantastic Phantom Myths - Images of smoke, fire and destruction.

Myth: "Phantom power will destroy a ribbon microphone"
Fact: Not usually. Phantom power correctly applied does so evenly, so there is no net force on the ribbon.

Myth "Phantom power will not destroy a ribbon microphone"
Fact: Usually. Phantom power can stretch an aluminum foil ribbon. Any signal that is applied unevenly, such as 1. through a patchbay which is a bad idea anyway, or 2. by hot swapping cables, WILL boink the aluminum foil ribbon in passive ribbon mics.

Myth: "Phantom power will demagnetize the magnets"
Fact: I had to include this one since it was so interesting, and impossible.

Oft-Repeated Mythicisms - merely annoying, or insidiously harmful?

Myth" "Ribbon mics are dark sounding"
Fact: Some are, more modern ones are less so, and a couple are neutral to bright sounding. You choose.

Figure Eight Type Myths - fundamental things about sound in general actually...

Myth: "The back of a ribbon mic is usually brighter than the front"
Fact: This is definitely not so. Most good quality ribbon mics, ours included, are perfectly symmetric in response. The only difference from front to back, of course, is the phase. We think it's slightly embarassing at times to have to explain why this sounds different to people wearing headphones. No offense! Avoid uncomfortable social gaffes and use your phase reverse switch.

Exceptions: Naked Eye is intentionally asymmetrical in response with a 3dB average 8-12 KC presence rise off the back, with no dips. (recall the embarassing phase cancellation phenomenon causes some people to misunderstand). The so-called "offset ribbon designs" are unintentionally different in tone color from front to back, I suppose because the distance from the mic body and screen to the ribbon varies from side to side. Intentional or not, it can be useful. The RCA 77DX is rather asymmetrical even in the figure eight position. This is a problem inherent in the 77C, 77D and 77DX because the local field around the ribbon motor isn't quite symmetrical to begin with, which is intentional because it is a multipattern mic.

Myth: "Ribbon mics have low output"
Fact: Modern ribbon mics have a HIGHER output than most stage dynamics. Remember that a condenser capsule has NO output and depends on the internal active electronics which are essentially a high gain voltage amplifier.

Myth: "You need a preamp with tons of gain"
Fact: No. Not only is the answer "no" but you can use your preamp wide open and unrestricted because ribbon microphones have extremely low self noise.

January 10 2007 note

Aha! I see we have stimulated a little debate about sensitivity. This is good and an opportunity to spread some numbers around.

A modern ribbon mic might be represented by a Studio Vocalist which has its stated sensitivity as -50db. This is from the standard that uses a 1 Pascal SPL at the source where 1 Pa = 94 dB, which is a little bit loud, and by measuring the actual open circuit voltage measured right at the XLR connector. You can do this measurement yourself very easily with a good multimeter, and perhaps I will take pictures of the setup and write a how-to soon.

Anyway, compare these two:

Studio Vocalist -50 db which is equal to 3.1 mV/Pa
SM57 -56 db which is equal to 1.6 mV/Pa

The Studio Vocalist appears to be more efficient at converting sound energy into an electrical voltage. What does this mean as far as "knob" gain? perhaps just a little. Can you use an SM57 with your preamp? Let me know, because if you can then you should have plenty of gain for a modern ribbon mic. If not, please let me know that, too.

In all fairness I am comparing a figure eight patterned mic with a rather big aperture to a cardioid dynamic with perhaps a little bit smaller aperture, so the two may actually be closer than the numbers. Still, here is one example of a ribbon mic with an output higher than something that you may have already used, so use your own judgement.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

MORE: "Matched Pair" of Ribbon Mics Ready to Ship



People always ask us about "matched pairs". Above you see a pair of Studio Vocalist Ribbon Microphones in the box ready to ship out to some distant location. Notice that each box is separated by foam and that the box is thick and heavy material. The last thing you want to worry about is if your mic is going to arrive in one piece. This type of packing makes it very unlikely that a mic will be damaged during transit. A cardboard box can be made very strong and consistent. Wood is strong too, but the natural grain of the wood box, which we supply gratis with most microphones, never matches perfectly and sometimes varies in color and even slightly in dimension.

But this post is about "matched pairs" of microphones. As a manufacturer of precision products, we wondered about the common "extra charge" some microphone makers levy for two mics of the same exact model. "No way!" we said. "They all should match". You can take any two (or four or more) of the same model of any Crowley and Tripp mics and they will already match in tone, frequency response, sensitivity, appearance and dimensions. Very closely. In most industries where precision affects performance, like in medical devices, parts are usually designed so they come out virtually the same each time, so wouldn't you think a mic could do that?

Imagine if a maker of replacement hips charged extra to patients who wanted their new hip implants to "match".

Now some people want "sequential, matched pairs" which means that the serial numbers are sequential. No problem, we can do that. Just ask. That's easy!

But what about the matching charge?

There isn't any. We don't think you should pay extra for buying two of our mics or be penalized because you need them to sound the same. We never add a "matching charge".

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Make Your Own Triode


Here is a film from Holland showing the making of a simple Deforest type triode vacuum tube capable of rectification and amplification. Notice the vintage Philips refrigerator in the background and the use of Philips lab. I visited Philips a while back and saw their facilities in Best and Eindhoven, Holland.

Here is the video!

Baking elements helps remove residual volatiles and also eliminates the need for a getter. Most tubes you will use have a separate structure in them called a getter. The getter is an element used to accelerate and deposit the trace gases still in the envelope onto the inside surface of the glass. You can see it as a silvery shiny area in many tubes. Often the getter is a small ring shaped object near the top or side of the tube. Halogen lamps get so hot they generate tungsten vapor which clouds the envlope, but the filament and the heat recombine the vapor as long as the envelope is hot enough. This is "self getting" (not gettering!) and is what the Philips people did here to some extent with this the filament in their little triode.

The 12AX7 consists of a pair of very similar triodes in one envelope.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Haddon Sundblom's Santa at the Shure 55S



Haddon Sundblom was a very well known American artist who did a lot of advertising illustrations of rosy cheeked people including his famous Coca Cola Santa Claus, which completely redefined the look of the merry yuletide elf.

Here is a lesser-known example sans cola but with a Shure mic instead! The date could be from the 50s up until the 60s. Sundblom was also known for his remarkable skill at depicting leggy models and did quite a few pinups that took great advantage of his ability to render skin surfaces with a vitality rarely seen today.

I have two paintings by Sundblom, who posed himself as the model for Santa Claus. Sundblom was quite the jolly guy!

Monday, December 18, 2006

P5

Does anyone else still like Pizzicato Five?

I have several of their CDs, some of the rare P5 credit cards, and various paraphenalia. Happy End of the World and The Fifth Release on Matador are a couple of my favorites, though there are more.

That Japanese pop style appeals to my 1960's sensibilities and is still being played on Japanese internet radio even though they stopped recording long ago.

People are either amazed, amused or aghast when they hear it playing in the lab.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

More on the Martian Sinkhole


Aha!

I'm not (totally) crazy.

Check out this site and scroll to the third image down, showing the same crater I have been talking about. It turns out that Keith Laney spotted the very same feature on Mars that

I said had changed recently.

I believed it was a sinkhole since it is close to and above the area of a recent outflow of liquid. Laney suggested - six years ago - that it was filled with ice. Indeed!

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Serious Thank-you from Naked Eye and Crowley and Tripp Production

Just a note of thanks to all customers who bought Soundstage Image, Proscenium, Studio Vocalist, Recordist Stereo Ensemble and Naked Eye ribbon microphones this year.

A HUGE thanks to the many independent musicians who chose Naked Eye and our other mics over competing choices.


2006 saw a big increase in the number of ribbon microphones, and Naked Eye seems to be the right mic at the right time. Naked Eye is the ribbon mic for those who want a beautiful quality and highly versatile ribbon mic that will last a career. Naked Eye's wallet-friendly pricing has advanced the Crowley and Tripp mission to get serious tools to serious musicians, at realistic prices.

Here is a link to all the pictures on our website.

Stu Personick's Ribbon Microphone

Stu Personick is an EE and experimenter in several of the physical and electrical disciplines, fellow IEEE member, and is also one of the ham types who are allowed to access free spectrum and transmit signals with high powered equipment capable of sending signals halfway across the world.

Here is a shot of his home made ribbon microphone. It has that physics department look. I have spoken with Stu and heard his wooden-framed mic on the air! Check out Stu's website here.

A Homebrew Ham Ribbon


Now I've seen it all. Here is N1NKM's home made amplified ribbon microphone.

What more can I say?

Click on the image to see his other creations.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lafayette Dynamic with acoustic load circa 1964

I recall seeing this mic in several old catalogs, including the Lafayette Radio Electronics catalog, and one from Allied and another from Radio Shack.

Back in the day there were numerous interesing Japanese manufacturers providing lowest-cost branded products in much the same way that Chinese manufacturers do today, with similar emphasis on looks, and economy class innards.

What is interesting about this particular piece, which has a style reminiscent of a cross between a Shure 330 and 55 Chevy grille, is the use of a stepped acoustic loading chamber, like an acoustic suspension system, to house the small and otherwise anemic dynamic element. The chamber is designed to fit into the mic body and is held in place with two screws off the back, and is made of a cast potmetal, very nicely done, and well finished. Just air inside and a little tube connected to a teeny hole at the top, which doesn't seem to do much at all. The sound from this microphone in stock form is predominantly telephonic, and capable of producing a vocal tone similar to The Black Keys.

We converted this neat looking mic body to accept a custom ribbon motor which we built and tuned for the enclosure. If you look very closely you might be able to spot the two gold plated motor mounting screws protruding slightly from the bottm. It's quite a nice sounding item now, with a fairly symmetric pattern and a lot of bass. Sharp-eyed viewers will note that the nameplate presently on this unit is a Realistic brand label. I swapped the nicer Lafayette label that was on it for another converted mic that I use on the air, at home.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another mic that mightn't be

Rounding out this week's small assemblage of rare-to-nonexistent microphones is this totally unauthorized Choppers US version of an old Fen Tone dynamic or crystal microphone. That deep-drawn perforated cap must have been quite the resonant chamber, I'd suspect.

Here it is embellished with what could be a frame headbadge from a motorcycle, the iron cross or perhaps Maltese cross motif artfully integrated with wings and Civil War era "US" font. But it is not! Choppers US makes bicycles.

I've run across several of these bullet shaped mics but never one in working condition. The body is made of nicely done investment cast potmetal, and the gray paint job reminds me of something from the 1960s Lafayette Radio catalogue.

Zoom in to see what deep-drawing will do to perforated metal.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Prairie Home Companion - the movie


One interesting film of the last year was based on the popular NPR radio show and and in one very interesting segment, Lilly Tomlin with Meryl Streep does a live song together with Garrison Keillor. Lilly and Meryl are on RE20s (microphones shown here, in position, but from another scene) and Garrison on the 77DX. The take is pretty clearly done without an audio overdub, very well performed, and you get to really appreciate the vast difference between these two microphones on voice. Garrison's open sound contrasts with the ladies' blockier, compressed and even slightly nasal tone.

The film is a bit uneven but well worth watching, and hearing.

Seguerra Ribbon Microphone - where is it?

I do like the artsy postmodern design of this Sequerra ribbon microphone prototype which I have posted from Seguerra's site and with what I hope would be his permission had I asked. The long ribbon can be seen front and center, placed squarely between two uplifted stanchions that look like little arms. Two curved pole pieces appear to define a gap and I can only assume that in the center is something of an acoustic chamber.

Here it is to gaze at, at least for now. I do not know Sequerra but understand the brand to be mostly very high quality audiophile gear. It is my understanding that this microphone has not been released, and don't know how many, if any, were built.

Peter Costa, Prominent "Man of the Microphone" releases new collection of humor

Say hello to Peter Costa

fellow microphone user and author of his new book entitled CostaLiving: Laughing through life
which can be seen on the table between Peter and a vintage red and pink clock radio.

The book is a collection of 65 unusually funny, sardonic, witty and/or weird observations of domestic, urban and suburban phenomena, some based on the trivial, yet arguably profound frustration Costa experiences, for instance, when faced with family members who just refuse to muster adequate sympathy for his horrible head cold, (Chapter one: On suffering colds, almost in silence) or the the curiously familiar but inevitable dread when the author is faced with replacing the CV joints in his front-wheel-drive station wagon. And it is funny! Funny in a way that can make you chuckle hours and even weeks later. Short story fans will appreciate Costa's Thurber-esque form of present-day Americana flavored with an occasional ad lib in Latin, or brief nod to the classics.

Pick up CostaLiving: Laughing through life (get the pun?) at bookstores, (if you can call them that anymore), like Barnes & Noble, or online, at Amazon.com. Or here on his website.

from the back cover:

About the author: Peter Costa is a veteran journalist who has worked for weekly and daily newspapers, national magazines, and an international wire service. He covered the United Nations and interviewed four US presidents and has the stolen stationery and ashtray to prove it.

additional info:

Costa is licensed as W1ZZZ by the Federal Communications Commission and operates his personal radio station from his home in Massachusetts. Peter is often heard on the frequency of 3885 KHz shortwave, where he talks with others about many of the subjects in his new book, often at great length.

Interesting Homebrew Ribbon Microphones

Here is a shot of a home made ribbon microphone and frame that is built out of six pieces of iron and a couple of flat magnets. You can't see the ribbon which is well in the middle of the magnets which are quite wide and not very long.

This motor unit was made to measure the flux density of the gap with and without back iron. The advantage of back iron is that it increases the magnetic field strength, and the disadvantage is that it represents an acoustic obstacle and therefore limits the high frequency response.

There have been a couple of licensed public spectrum users (what I once referred to as "ham" radio) who I have spoken with who have recently built similar home constructed ribbon mics and put them on the air recently. The public has access to spectrum for this type of on-the-air experimentation in most countries of the world. Generally referred to as "amateur radio", the resource is gradually being accessed by a new generation of experimenters and others who want to have free access to some usable spectrum for personal communications and for scientific, engineering and educational purposes. To access spectrum in your country, you may or may not need a license, depending upon the portion of spectrum you wish to use. Generally if you want to get good distance you must use fairly high power, which requires a simple license indicating you know how to use it safely and without making a lot of interference or noise which would disrupt others.

There are a lot of people doing long-haul Wifi, for example, and getting free internet access as a result.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Another PAR Award for Naked Eye



Naked Eye by Crowley and Tripp won a second PAR award for the company at 2006 AES in San Francisco. Here it is in Coke bottle green this time, a departure in color and with updated artwork. Pro Audio Review, sticklers for correct copy, have now spelled "Crowley and Tripp" in the proper way, too.

It is an honor to recieve this second consecutive award and we thank Pro Audio Review and their roving selection committee for picking the Naked Eye ribbon microphone as a top choice in innovative pro audio gear The customers seem to agree that once you compare the Naked Eye ribbon mic against its peers, some costing much more, Naked Eye's high output, low noise performance, super build quality and great sound make the choice an easy one. And the price is the most wallet friendly of all the current pro quality ribbon mics too.

This is a good time to say thanks to everyone including dealers and customers who have amazed us with their tales of success with Naked Eye, which appears to represent a new standard of ribbon mic quality and value. Each Naked Eye ribbon microphone is hand made in the USA by people who know the art and science of sound.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Possible Source of Martian Outflow Identified by Researchers

Ashland MA USA: Researchers at a Massachusetts laboratory reported today that they have spotted a possible source of the recent Martian outflow that has excited scientists and opened up the possibility of finding life on Mars. According to the researchers, the possible source is a sinkhole located North of outflow location. NASA images were used to identify and compare time lapse changes on the Red Planet's surface. "The direction of the outflow corresponds almost exactly with a change on the other side of the crater's ridge" remarked laboratory researchers. "This may be the first time we have been able to observe a sudden change in Martian geology and a susequent release of liquid water. It could mean that there is a lot of underground water on Mars" said Robert J Crowley, who works at the laboratory.

The new sinkhole can be seen to the North of the crater's rim, and appears as a roughly circular feature that appears to have darkened and become larger and deeper when compared to earlier images of the same location.




You might recognize these recent NASA images of the surface of Mars, the left image shot in 1999, the right image more recently. The obvious white feature is presumed to be evidence of a flowing liquid, perhaps water.

What many people might not appreciate is that this is a stereo pair that can be viewed in crosseyed stereo, a technique that is easy to learn and use to view full dimension stereo images without special glasses. In a nutshell: Sit with you head level to the two images at a comfortable reading distance. Slowly and gently cross your eyes until two images combine to form a third, fuzzy image in the center. Relax! In a minute or less the fuzzy image will fuse into one incredible stereo image.

Give it a try. You can do it.


This is one great stereo image and it has a surprise in it for those who view it in stereo.

Here is a hint. Notice the location, orientation and elevation of the flow relative to the steep ridge. Imagine the origin of the flow. Now look at the other side of the ridge, in stereo.

Interesting!!

Of course there is a direct analogue to stereo recording here. The human brain, plus eyes and/or ears, is great at detecting differences in position, and differences in time. Once you get a good look at what I am talking about you will recognize how sensitive this comparative ability of our binocular visual sensor systems really is. The stereo pair above contains brightness (amplitude) spatial, (position) and time domain information - in this case time over several years. Your pair of brain-controlled ears are equally sensitive to very fine nuances of loudness, time (phase) and position.

It appears that in addition to a new "river" there may be a new sinkhole on Mars. The surprise (for those who tried and succeeded in getting a good stereo view) is an apparent depression North of the ridge, directly in line with the origin of the newly observed flow marks on the surface. This is an exciting observation first reported here! (But sinkholes on Mars are well documented - see here)

And there is an interesting discussion group about Mars images here.

Early Theory of the Mars Sinkhole and River: I will hazard a guess that subsurface ice has melted at the North ridge, and the liquid found its way downhill through fissures or perhaps a sand bed below the ridge, and exited at the crater wall, forming the gully. If this is the case, there may be widespread subsurface ice which could be comprised of either carbon dioxide or water ice. I think that carbon dioxide is the more likely material since the average surface temperature on Mars is too low for water to remain liquid, however a South facing escarpment, as is the case here, exposed to generous sunshine, could be a relative hot spot. Maybe this is the best place to catch some rays on Mars!

It should be worthwhile to look for other sunken areas with similar temperature and geologic locations to se if there are any corresponding flow-like features radiating away from the sunken area.
Robert J Crowley


Here are MORE OF OUR REPORTS ABOUT MARS

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Federal Communications Commission and Ribbon Microphones

In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the primary regulatory body empowered to develop and enforce rules and regulations pertaining to the use of electronic equipment that interacts with radio wave energy. The FCC also regulates cable TV and even the content of radio and TV broadcasts, and levies fines on broadcasters who violate the rules as they are interpreted at the time. The US is an odd place where allowed TV content consists of obscene amounts of violence and depictions of hatred, destruction, murder and gore that are well-tolerated by the FCC, yet virtually any depictions of sex, naked human bodies, lovemaking or natural human processes are forbidden, unless they are images of nude saints or classical paintings of nymphs or other Fine Art forms. Even these are usually masked in such a way so the essential bits are missing.

But we like the FCC anyway, because they are the regulatory body that sets the standards for RF emission and immunity in electronic equipment. For instance, the FCC requires that most consumer electronics meet what are referred to as the Part 15 rules. This means that a preamp, for instance, or an amplified microphone such as a condenser or even a ribbon microphone with an amplifier in it, must be tested and certified by the manufacturer that it won't exceed certain limits of RF radiation. This helps everyone because it keeps the level of noise down and reduces the propensity of various electronic devices such as PCs and mixing boards to interfere with each other.

You can look on the label of any active electronics to see if it has the FCC symbol on it. You will often see the CE mark, which is essentially the same rule for Europe, and TUV and other symbols that variously indicate that the device conforms to the particular country or regional rules. Manufacturers who do not do this with their active electronic devices are taking a chance. In one case, a prominent audio manufacturer was fined for faking the FCC Part 15 certification on its equipment.

All Crowley and Tripp Ribbon Microphones are passive devices and have no amplifiers or active electronics in them. Yet we do conform to RF immunity testing according to the Electromagnetic Compatabilty Regulation 2005 - (S.I. 2005/281), The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations of 1994 (S.I. 1994/3260), CONSLEG:1989L0336-02/08/1993, FCC Part 15 CE. We test our microphones for RF susceptibility to various RF sources and also low frequency electromagnetic fields, and we design the microphones so they will be as immune as we can make them to those sources of interference. A low noise floor is important! We also compare our RFI immunity against competitors, and we believe we have better RF and magnetic shielding than others we have measured.

That FCC logo is somewhat odd one but one that I like: It shows an eagle carrying some radio waves (or destructive lightning) over to an antenna installation. It even show a pair of towers, a wire strung between them, ham radio style, and a transmission line.keyword fcc royer Robert J Crowley Bob Crowley behringer

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Monocle

Around here, a lot of small improvements are frequently made to products so they will be easier to use, more effective, or just better. Such is the case with Chris Regan's newest insert that goes into the Monocle Mount supplied with every Naked Eye Ribbon Microphone. Chris realized that the old school green cloth that reminded Bob and Hugh of a billiard table was eventually going to wear out, which is unacceptable. So, Chris came up with a design for a wear-resistant compliant polymer bottom pad, and had it embossed with cream-colored lettering in the Albertus font. Very English we think. And he kept that pool table green we liked.

By the way, you can view the Monocle Mount, and the Naked Eye Ribbon Microphone it fits, at more locations now: Long & McQuade in Canada has them in their stores - and, fortunately for us, they don't stay there very long.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Larry Killip's Classic Mics

Readers of this blog may already know that Larry Killip is a friend of ours who has contributed much to the development of Crowley and Tripp ribbon microphones.

If you have not done so already, visit Larry's website and you will find more about his interesting collection of old microphones, his wonderfully restored old Jaguar, and even a tribute page to Naked Eye.

While there, watch his latest music vid, "Waterfall".
killip site royer neumann RCA

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The RCA Broadcast Magnifier

I forgot I had this cool magnifier. Today I was searching around for a small jar of carbon nanotubes and instead came across this very nice leather-cased RCA Broadcast magnifying glass. I suppose this could be used to examing minute details of a subject 77DX, or perhaps even for the preparation of some RCA ribbons, in order to be perfectly equipped.

In the background is possibly the last of the Nottingham Raleigh rod brake pads still in their original box. I bought them for the Raleigh 28" wheeled roadster, model DL-1, that I'm working on.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Naked Eye gets PAR 2006 Award

We got an award for Naked Eye.

Pro Audio Review, a magazine that we believe has a good grasp of the newsworthy innovations in the pro audio world, gave Crowley and Tripp ribbon microphones its second consecutive award. Last year in New York, PAR awarded the Crowley and Tripp Studio Vocalist with its Excellence Award, now this year in San Francisco, another award was given to Naked Eye.

See here
for the list of recipients, among which are some very innovative friends, Latch Lake, True Systems, and Little Labs.

compared to royer rca aea neumann microphones telefunken akg sony sennheiser

Saturday, November 18, 2006



SACD is simply great


OK I know that the vinyl RCA Living Stereo versions of Charles Munch and the BSO's performance of Daphnis et Chloe, now 50 years old, represent the pinnacle of stereo recording to some. This two channel representation of the incredibly dramatic work by Ravel has withstood a half a century of critical listening, and it still amazes listeners with its startling realism. Keeping the complex phase of a performance intact can often do that. The human ear/brain knows quality when it hears it.

Perhaps that's why Blumlein recording has had such a resurgence. The magic of the live performance, the sense of being there, the realism and unadorned, unmolested character of the mix, a "less is more" representation but done very well, is quite refreshing.

You can now listen to these historic recordings on SACD, otherwise known as DSD or Direct Stream Digital.

SACD as a format is not exactly thriving despite its advantage of being playable as an ordinary CD in addition to DSD, so you can still listen to it in your car CD payer. DVD audio, which is not as good in my opinion, is winning in some cases. Of course DVD audio is the place for movie and television audio, which is perhaps the more important corner of the music biz today.

In any case, if you happen to go into Best Buy, Circuit City, or other big box mass retailers, you will see SACD capable multiformat players for not much money. Naturally, you can also spend much more. But at least get one, and do plug in your headphones, sit in a comfortable listening position, and experience the excellent and open sound of this format. Warning: You might not care for those MP3s anymore. robert j crowley

Friday, November 17, 2006

MWOW the Cat says mwow to the 77DX

An odd critter, MWOW the Cat is a disturbing papier mache creation from a Biddeford Maine consignment shop, a kind of MOBA-inspired pet suitable for evoking certain anthropomorphic comparisons.

Here he is, oddly regarding the 77DX.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Even more 77DX pictures


We have loads of pictures of the various RCA 77DX mics that we probably won't ever need. Here is a shot of the Studio Vocalist against an old series brass label RCA 77DX and a new series foil label RCA 77DX. Our goal was to have a higher output, lower noise, more useful sound, and greater durability than the best current and past microphones, and the 77DX was one of our benchmarks early on. Each of our mics has some predecessor, for example, the Proscenium was judged against the RCA 44 sound, the Studio Vocalist against very premium vocal condensers, the Soundstage Image against the Fisher ribbon and the Naked Eye against the current US ribbons in the $1000+ range.

Zoom in and check out our Dual 1019 turntable and Sony 250 tape deck, also the JVC Videosphere hanging TV. If you look very closely you can spot our excellent Ethel Smith LP, and on the far right another famous (or infamous) LP from long past.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Studio Bopnique Musique


Now is a good time to visit Studio Bopnique Musique (via myspace) and listen to "She Throws Things". Go for it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Help for Failing Hearts

Here's an interesting new technology that we like: It's a heart assist device that is like a squeeze cup that helps out a damaged heart that's too weak to beat on its own.

The device from Myotech is a revolutionary way to keep hearts going while people wait for transplants, but is also is a way to give the heart some needed rest, so it can recover after a heart attack.

Air is injected through a tube that goes into the chest wall, and this inflates and deflates the heart cup.

Some other schemes to assist hearts, like VADs, use pumps and require the surgeon to cut into the heart muscle. Not so with the Myotech device.

There is an acoustics connection, of course. The sound of a heart beating can be used to track its health. Soundwave Research Laboratories makes ribbon microphones and all kinds of sensors that can be used to listen to the sounds of the human body, look at blood vessels in the heart for blockages, and someday used for diagnosing or locating other diseases too, like cancer, and also for therapy.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Coles 4038 STC ribbon replacement - how to replace the ribbon

Coles 4038

STC ribbon microphone

ribbon replacement

price to replace the ribbon

.6 micron leaf

thin aluminum

coles 4038 ribbon microphone is an older microphone design with a very thin and delicate ribbon. Moving air will destroy it

blown ribbon

how much does it cost to replace the ribbon in a ribbon microphone?

coles electroacoustics

buy price $150-200

high noise microphones

draft


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Findings: RCA 77DX Ribbon Microphone


The RCA 77DX that we took apart, documented, put in Solidworks files and generally examined in minute detail is now back together.

We learned a lot from the investigation of this incredibly historic and iconic microphone. Here are a few of the things we learned:

1. The local field geometry and acoustics around the ribbon determine the character of the sound.The ribbon material makes virtually no difference in sound character, but does affect signal level and noise. The ribbon geometry plays a significant role in output level.

2. RCA's transformers are adequate and are well shielded, but we thought they were a little lossy so we did some more work and came up with this..

3, The shunt reactance method used to tailor bass response is very reliable but is not well understood by users. The method (screwdriver) used to select shunt reactance leads to microphone damage.

4. The rear acoustic loading scheme which is also known as the acoustic labyrinth is effective, but not well understood or utilized in practice. The phenolic used for the labyrinth is brittle and easily damaged. The change in pattern from figure 8 to a "hypercardioid" is effective but drastically changes the overall sound character of the mic, from an open sound to one more blocked. The frequency response changes significantly with changes in the shutter position. The method (screwdriver) used to select patterns leads to microphone damage. An acoustic tube was built and tested which resulted in a somewhat flatter response when the rear lobe is presented with a linear attenuative load.

5. The grille pattern and acoustic properties of the grille are at least partly responsible for the aggressive sound of the 77DX. The "gravel" sound in bass frequencies, noticed on male voice, is possibly also due to some nonlinear movement of the ribbon, which is small and narrow within a relatively large, undamped space.

6. Too many parts are used for a reproduction model to be economically viable product if made in the US. It is also a relatively fragile device compared to what we regard today as a current, professional quality ribbon mic. One very dedicated person has reproduced the 77DX shell and has done a fine job, but it is very labor intensive and expensive.

7. There seem to be significant factory variations between early style and later style 77DX mics.

8. The overall design violates the so-called rule of thirds, yet is nonetheless pleasing and emblematic of all microphones.

9. The 77DX is a favorite of ours, signifying the apex of RCA's efforts in the field of ribbon microphones, and a culmination of many years of evolution. It is an important historic microphone as much for its style which has become an icon for anything having to do with microphones, as it is for the engineering that went into it. Many studios seem to have a 77DX on hand, though a number tell us that it doesn't get used very much. Plenty of 77DX microphones were made so the supply of these mics seems assured for the time being. A cottage industry of people providing restoration parts and services exists today

Still need a couple of more links in

Copy and paste

http://microphonium.blogspot.com

to the public forums you participate in. That way we will have enough readers to keep it going.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tell Your Friends and Colleagues

If you enjoy reading this blog, help keep it going by telling others.

This applies to the locals, also those from places like Oslo.

Put this link into your online posts when you talk about what you read here on the message boards, so people will know what you are referring to. Copy and paste this:

http://microphonium.blogspot.com

Thanks!

Bob Crowley

Pop filters, screens and pantyhose


I have to admit that I dislike pop screens.

A pop screen is a filter that is placed between a sound source, usually a person's mouth, and a microphone.

The purpose of a pop screen or filter is to prevent or reduce plosive sounds produced during speech, which can ruin an otherwise decent vocal recording.

If you listen to college radio (and some pro stations too) and have a subwoofer, you are already too familiar with the unpleasantness of Ps popping. It's just bad mic technique, plain and simple. Most FM stations use RE20 dynamics that incorporate a very agressive pop filter in the housing. They are everwhere. Notice the "blocky" sound you get from that as you drive home today. It's not all the awful sound of the Optimod.

Stage performances and popular culture have made "close micing" the accepted practice. Close mic technique does have its advantages, such as less need for a lot of amplifier gain, and therefore reduced feedback. Close mic technique on voice brings up the bass which is often absent in the sound emanating from the mouth. Bass in a professional singer's voice tends to radiate from the chest.

So the stage performer eventually makes it over to the recording studio, and the sound she is used to is from a stage vocal mic, like some dynamic with a ball on it containing a lot of plosive filtering. In the studio, things are different. Open up any C12 and look at all the dried saliva spattered on the capsule. Gross. I am talking about the usual singer here, not the trained opera voice. So a spit screen is probably a better name for a pop filter.

The studio engineer sets up a pop filter, the usual thing to do. Like I said, it has its advantages. It creates an acoustic resistance which is frequency dependent. This cuts the bass. Some people say it stops the wind. What's the difference? Another advantage of the pop filter is that it provides a target for the singer, and helps maintain the singer's position as a result. This is important, as a microphone, depending on its characteristics, usually has a sweet spot where the balance of tone and articulation sound best.

But pop filters have a downside. Regardless of the material, the geometry and its placement, the pop filter imparts its own sound on the vocal, which may be subtle, or not so subtle.

Microphones are sometimes thought of as being analogous the the ear. While this is not accurate, let's let the analogy stand and imagine listening to someone singing into your ear at a distance of only three inches. If you like the sounds of tonsils rattling, then go for it. Because of this long lasting cultural presentation of the human singing voice, almost everyone has become accustomed to that sound.

I don't like it and I suspect others also do not. This is driving the sale of a lot of vocal mics which is good for business. But I prefer to hear you speak or sing from a safe distance where I can appreciate the natural bass in your voice as it radiates from your face and chest, while avoiding a shower.

P - popping is simply bad technique. Singers should demand recording situations that don't exacerbate plosives. The use of a close mic technique has to be done carefully to avoid plosives and excessive palate and tonsil action. Young female singers in particular often have a lot of noise coming from the vocal chords that sounds like a kazoo, possibly due to the suppleness of their larynx tissue, and the efficiency of their voices, which need little air. Microphone Tizz makes it even worse. You hear that buzz saw voice all the time and it seems to go away as the female voice matures, which is a relief by itself.

Using a microphone that has a pleasant balance of tonal characteristics without needing to be so close to the singer's lips is a big help in all this.

Ribbon mics have a bigger sweet spot that extends a greater distance from the mic. This "reach" is also prized for hall and ambient recordings too. Professional singers, I mean the real pros, and the opera singers and stage vocalists who have to project their voices well already know this and you can find plenty of pictures of these artists at work, often with the mic a foot away.

A pop filter will not cure bad vocal technique. It will get the singer to back off, at least, but at the expense of bass, which is why the mouth was so close to the mic to begin with. A better way is to educate singers, have them learn good recording technique and how it is different from stage technique, listen to their voices at a bit of a distance to hear if there is any worthwhile chest in there. This will reduce plosives, palate clicks, gurgles, get rid of that "blocky" character, and keep your mics dry too.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Catheter Extravaganza and Drug Coated Stents

So last week I was in the audience at TCT 2006 - a large interventional cardiology meeting held every year in DC where people in the audience watch live cases from hospitals around the world in an interactive session.

Here we see a case from England being performed by Martin Rothman MD, on the right. Martin is a fine fellow, an avid motorcyclist and inventive, pioneering cardiologist. The audience got to see all this as it happened in England, and also in Italy, Israel, Tokyo and Rio, and a moderator talked with the remote cases and took questions from the panel who you can barely see at the bottom of the image.

An interventional cardiologist is one who intervenes, using a technique where wires and catheters are snaked up from the groin to the heart where there may be blockages in the arteries that feed the heart muscle.

If the arteries get blocked slowly, you become short of breath, gradually lose your strength, and eventually expire. If the artery blocks suddenly, you probably don't have to wait.

Well, the makers of drug coated stents found a way to prop open clogged arteries and keep them open for years without having to crack the chest open, which can be a pain. Instead they use a wire mesh tube that expands and props the artery open, and keeps it open. The drug prevents the artery from growing cells that would block the stent if left alone. The human body tries to heal and cover up foreign objects, like stents, which is what you don't want in this case.

So now 95% of the stents are staying open for a long time. This allows for 1% to clog up in a hurry - a condition caused by an acute coronary thrombosis - we know it as a blood clot. ABC News picked up on this and concluded that drug coated stents are killing people by causing blood clots. This has people scared and it even scares the doctors who put in the stents - negative news is hard to deal with, even if it is wrong.

ABC News failed to mention the other 99% who avoided open surgery and are out and about living their lives. That's not news.

Soundwave Research was there because we develop transducers used for 3VUStm, which is 3rd generation Vascular UltraSound, which is an improvement to IVUS, which we also developed. These transducers are like tiny microphones that travel into the heart and take pictures of blockages, so that the stents can be put into the right places.

This is post number 150

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Naked Eye Classic Takes Off

1. Great reviews including two page spread in Sound on Sound
2. Two distinct, useful voices for loudest guitar or for vocals, horns and percussion
3. Conservatively stated SPL handling
4. A mount that lets you dial in the tone in front of the speaker cabinet
5. A three year no questions asked warranty on Naked Eye Classic
6. High output, low noise, well shielded
7. MADE IN USA
8. Open and clear sound that isn't covered by thick cloth like the others. The front sounds very much like a 121 or Fathead, but with a lower noise floor and a larger more efficient transformer, and the back has a rising response similar to the more expensive Studio Vocalist. The two sides are very different!
9. A FULL SIZE transformer made by us and firmly attached. Not a weenie transformer hanging by its wires. Massive SOLID SILVER contact blocks connect the ribbon at both ends and assures an extremely low resistance connection that will last for many years.
10. Low price but higher quality
11. Use any preamp, not just exotic high gain preamps.
12. Designed for everyday use
13. Blue-green muted sparkle finish is durable, and very nice
14. Comes in a very useful case that also holds the Monocle Mount.
15. The one I used for the shakuhachi sessions
16. A great value in a conventional "foil" ribbon microphone today
17. Beats the pants off the nearest competition at about two-thirds of the price, plus you get two mounts and True Dual Voicing.
neumann royer aea akg audio technica sony comparisons

Lung mic array

Looking something akin to a Klingon inspired warrior vest, this microphone array from Deep Breeze listens to lung sounds from 42 separate locations to produce a map of chest wheezing, "cracklies" and sounds that obstructive deseases create during respiration.

This is one of many new developments in medical technology aided by the use of specialized microphonic sensors.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Drum, a capsule, and a banjo - a multipart tale of Tizz - Part Four

Well this isn't exactly a banjo. Actually it's a banjo-uke that I picked up at a garage sale many years ago and did some work to. Several of the hooks were missing so I made some to match the originals. Also the thing came with those useless tapered pegs so I filled them in and put four tuners that I took off the Hofner Verithin. I still have the other two in case I ever want to restore the Verithin to original, nonfunctional condition.

Here is our friend the tympanic membrane coupled to some strings. Notice the position of the bridge, which is not in the center. Chladni you think, here he goes again about Chladni. You are right.

The point here is that the position of the excitation matters a lot. What difference does that make in a microphone? Doesn't the whole surface get excited at once? The answer is not in the case of the off axis sound: an off axis wavefront reaches the nearest portion of the membrane first. A sound wave is long until you get to the higher frequencies where the waves can be less than an inch (2.54 cm), which means that the crest of the wave can hit one part of the membrane while the trough reaches the other. This isn't very good because it can get one portion of the membrane to move away from the backplate while the other portion moves toward it, cancelling the sound, and creating a notch function. A couple of posts ago there is a link to Olsen's depiction of exactly that. Here it is again.

Here is a link to a frequency to wavelength converter.

I like the banjo sound up to a point. It certainly has a honky character. That honky character may be in part due to the standing waves on the head. If course guitars, violins etc. all have standing waves too, so why don't they sound like banjos?

A Drum, a capsule, and a banjo - a multipart tale of Tizz - Part Three

Before I get started on the inevitable discussion of the construction and operation of the condenser capsule, a tympanic membrane, let me soften the blow a bit by letting you know that there are still many great pieces of recorded music that I love that were nonetheless made with condenser microphones. Back in the dark ages of the 70's there were many sonic shortcomings in music not the least of which were other sources of noise such as the surface noise of vinyl records, some which I still have and occasionally listen to on my Empire Troubador turntable. I have one particularly crackly copy of "Stand Up", which is a precious treasure.

This is a shot of a typical condenser capsule from an inexpensive microphone. It is well made actually, and certainly a reliable device, capable of detecting sound and converting into an electrical signal for an extended time.

A quick tutorial on how it works: The membrane represents an acoustic impedance mismatch to air. Soundwaves carried through the air impart a force onto the membrane, a varying pressure, which causes it to move. Part of the membrane (not shown here) is coated with a conductive material and one lead is brought to it forming one-half of a variable capacitor. Another lead is bright to the backplate making the other half. A charge is placed across the two halves: either a battery or a DC supply, perhaps 48 Volts or more is present across the two halves. The result is a charged capacitor, that can move.

Now the magic happens: As the membrane moves, its ability to couple electrons, or charge, from one section to another is modulated, and a varying voltage can be detected at the terminals that corresponds with the motion of the membrane. This voltage is then applied to the grid of a tube or the gate of a FET and amplified. It is important to note that the moving membrane does not generate any signal by itself, it only modulates a static, or DC charge. This creates a very sensitive device as the membrane is thin and it takes only the tiniest of movement for it to vary the charge and be heard. In fact it can be made so sensitive that random air molecules can be heard!

Obvious comparisons to the drum can be made, and there are differences, too. The drum is struck by a drumstick, the membrane of a condenser is moved by air. Sometimes that can be a very sharp wavefront with a lot of "kick" like from a kick drum, not surprisingly.

Remember the snare? Those air particles can become agitated and in some instances will produce a noise that rides under the signal. It won't show up in a spectrogram, and it's not harmonic distortion, so it doesn't reveal itself there, either. What it does is create a kind of noise floor that varies with the amplitude. It can be a problem when, for instance, multiple tracks of a vocal are used, as that noise accumulates, and mud and a certain haze or veiled effect can be noticed.

But the number one noise effect has to do with lateral modes, the energy that does not move in and out, but ricochets left and right, and takes time to die down. That's the source of the hissy sound you hear on badly recorded vocals that rides along with the natural breath and throat sounds heard in close mic recording and makes it sound harsh. When it's bad, we refer to it as tizz. Tizz can be subtle, pernicious, and contribute to edgy sounds in horns and violins too.

Tape used to mitigate that effect, but no more, as most music production has gone digital, like it or not. I think the need to overcome what has been revealed - an undesired inherency - is what is driving the continued efforts to make LDCs sound better, and why some cost more than $10,000.

A Drum, a capsule, and a banjo - a multipart tale of Tizz - Part Two

This snare drum is an example of what you can do with a Tympanic Membrane. Tympanic membranes are found in drums, your own eardrum, banjos, dynamic and condenser microphones, and of course, loudpeakers.

Here the randomly picked snare is observed by the Naked Eye microphone, same as used in the shakuhachi sessions.

Tympanic membranes are found singly, or as shown here, as a parallel pair offset and acoustically coupled, aided by a surrounding, fairly air tight seal at the periphery.

The drum, when struck, produces a note, but it is not a single, narrowband note. Instead, it is a very broadband emission with a sharp attack and a lengthy (compared to the excitation of the stick) decay. That decay almost always flattens, notewise, over its period. That's due to a phenomenon known as frequency dependent attenuation, which simply means that the higher frequencies decay, or die out, faster than the lower frequencies.

Tuning the drum by tightening the skin raises the average note, which we can readily hear and appreciate, (or not when badly tuned) but has little effect on the lateral modes, decay, and broadening. I've mentioned the work of Chladni over and over and now would be an appropriate time to revisit him to get further insight into this important acoustic phenomenon.

Not only did Chladni show how the shape of an object affects the propagation of sound across it, but he also seems to have discovered the connection between standing waves, those lateral modes that appear to be still and sometimes bear his name, and what we know today as quantum theory. Chladni also showed that meteorites are of extraterrestrial origin. Quite a guy. Harry Olsen, that famous designer of the RCA ribbon (and other) mics, knew and wrote about Chladni, and did his own diagram of Chladni waves that is quite pertinent here.

Many people imagine the drum and its tympanic cousins as a thing that moves up and down, or in and out, more or less in a uniform fashion. This is not the case at all. In fact, it is the lateral modes, the energy that propagates across the skin, then gets reflected back from the rim, and back and forth again and again until it is radiated or turned into heat, that produce the characteristic sound of the drum.


The snare drum is especially important to music. The snare is a nonlinear coupled mechanical load that generates noise when driven by the drum. That produces a very characteristic and generally high pitched, broad spectrum tshhhhh!! sound that we the children of the late 20th Century love about the snare.

Noise is sometimes hard to define, though it is often thought of as any sound energy that is undesired. The tshhhh!! of the snare is similar sounding to white noise, but it isn't noise (except in muzak) as we think of it.

Still it is important to remember:

1. The drum has a tympanic membrane that produces lateral modes subject to reflection, lengthy decay, and frequency dependent attenuation.

2. The snare drum produces a characteristic, added tshhhh!! as a result of interaction of the tympanic membrane and an adjacent structure.

You can probably see where all this is going. Don't get alarmed. Yet.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hugh Tripp and a Tizz demonstration you can do yourself

Hugh Tripp shows how you can do your own investigation of Tizz.

Cut a strip from one sheet of inkjet paper and fold it into a zig-zag like you see in Hugh's left hand.

Cut the remaining piece into a circle.

Listen to the sounds of these objects in a quiet, dry environment. Gently excite the round sheet by wiggling it. What do you hear?

Gently excite the zig-zag by wiggling it and compare the sound against the circle.

You will find one structure will generate more noise than the other one.

A Drum, a capsule, and a banjo - a multipart tale of Tizz

Around the lab we are constantly looking at the how and why of sound. Why does this device sound the way it does? How does the sound propagate and interact with it and how can we modify it to do what we want? These and other questions invade our minds and guide some of our investgations into things acoustic.

Of primary interest is the sound of ribbon microphones. We listen and listen and have convinced ourselves that ribbon microphones are objectively better sounding, with less noise, "tizz" and artifact than the "Large Diaphragm Condenser". We've also learned that acoustic transducers impart a sound quality that is similar to they way the moving element sounds when it is excited by a pulse source, in other words, the color of a microphone inherent to its overall internal timbre, and in many respects this is governed by the same phenomena that makes a good guitar, for example, sound good.

So here now over the course of the following week or so we take a tour into the sounds of Tympanic, Membranous Devices, or Drums, Capsules, and a Banjo, illustrated of course.

But first, we need to answer a common question:

What is "Tizz"?

Tizz is a noise phenomenon that sounds like its name - a ZZZZZZZZ sound that can be hissy, tinny or even boxy, that can be heard on a lot of recordings, and is most notably present in newer digital recordings of the human voice. We humans are good at hearing and identifying voices, and our perceptions are most acute when listening to the voice of someone we know. But this isn't so much about perception as it is about an artifact that occurs when a transducer is moved and lateral modes are generated. Tizz isn't caused by digital recording, but it sure is easier to hear nowadays. Remember our friend Chladni? Lateral modes are found in all transducers to a greater or lesser degree, and they can contribute to Tizz. Tizz rides under the signal and isn't very noticable on tape and at lower frequencies, but digital recording has unmasked tizz and set off a storm of people seeking vocal mics without it. Tizz is so common that it has becme accepted. People expect tizz which is sometimes referred to as "shimmer" and even as "air". But it's noise, and it muddies things up as it accumulates in multiple tracks, and it has become an affectation.

Listen for tizz and you will hear it. copyright robert j crowley


Monday, October 16, 2006

Telefunken Spaceball Surprise

Sometimes, here in microphonium land, things are just too awesome for words. This is one of those things.

It glows in the dark.

Click on the image to enlarge it.