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Microphones

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Jacob Bartfield, Mar 1, 2002.


  1. I've already found a little bit of information by searching the forum. People mentioned AMT, Audio Technica, and Sennheiser. I was wondering what you guys thought was the best microphone out there. My understanding, is that although mics may cause feedback problems, they give a better amplified sound.
     
  2. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Jacob

    Just to let you in on some of my experiences. I have recently been through the whole microphone thing. I have an AKG C4000B and I recently tried the Schertler Stat-B and now I am trying the Schertler Dyn-B.

    I did a lot of research on this whole topic (some of what I learned is detailed on my bass page at http://www.diadic.com/Adrian/Bass.html). Basically what I found is that the microphone certainly is wonderful but feedback and bleed from sticks on the drums (in tight situations where you are not too far from the drums) is a problem.

    The Dyn-B which is basically a contact microphone, is damn impressive and the sound I am getting is very, very close to the mic. It is not as feedback resistant as some pickups but more so than a mic, and bleed is non-existent. I am very impressed by it and will likely purchase one. I would perhaps still use a microphone in places where I could but the Dyn-B comes so close that I don't feel I am sacrificing much.

    I have tried the Dyn-B going straight into the XLR input on my Coda and also through an Audio-Technica inline Lo-Z to Hi-Z transformer to the 1/4" input on the same amp. Sounds the same either way. The Dyn-B will probably sound crappy on an amp that doesn't have the Coda's full range and flat response but then a mic probably will too.

    Adrian
     
  3. Thanks. The Dyn-B sounds very cool. It's really expensive though, isn't it?
     
  4. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Yes it is expensive - USD 565. I am VERY picky about sound and I absolutely love the sound I get from my unamplified bass so I was not willing at all to compromise. Especially with the Animas I am using, the sound is very warm and it is very obvious when it is "electrified" through amplification devices.

    There are additional benefits to the Dyn-B that are not readily apparent. For one thing, it is absolutely dead easy to install and remove. You just put the putty on and stick it on the bass. To remove it you just pull it off. There's no lifting the bridge, cutting into your bridge or using cork to jam it into the bridge or any other crap. It is also far less fiddly than most pickups and the positioning process is very reproducable. I particular like being able to move the transducer around to change the tone instead of screwing with the EQ. I like flat response devices and I never touch the EQ controls so this is great for me. Moving the transducer position on the bass is akin to moving the position of a microphone relative to the bass.

    It is a lot of money and that's why I got it on trial first but I am prepared to pay the $$$ after having used it for a while. I don't see anything else out there that compares to it so for me it is either this or the mic and so far I have found that there are situations where the mic simply does not work for me.

    Adrian
     
  5. Don't you need a preamp for it? (or at least to make it sound good). The whole pickup/mic/amp thing is very complicated and confusing to me. I think I'm leaning toward getting a realist pickup. It's not that expensive, it doesn't need a preamp, and I really like the idea of attaching a pickup to the body. Do you have any thoughts on this pickup? What should I do? :(
     
  6. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Read my web page. Yes you definintely need a preamp for it but the Coda has an onboard preamp (as does the Contra) so it is fine. A lot of people use the ART Tube series of preamps and they are cheap. I have never used them but I am wary of anything that is tubey. I'm a bit of a purist I admit. Monte Butts (somewhere on this forum) uses a Dyn-B through a Tube MP Studio into his Contra. Although I am not sure why he needs it since the Contra and the Coda are pretty much the same and the Dyn-B works fine for me into the Coda's 1/4" input using the Audio-Technica CP8201 inline transformer.

    If you have the money and are looking at the long term, another way to go is to get a small Mackie mixing board like a 1202-VLZ Pro. It's overkill for one person but if you end up being the sound guy for an ensemble then it works out well and considering the cost of good external mic preamps, the Mackie is a bargain considering the quality of the mic preamps.

    I have never used a Realist. Some people swear by them and some hate them. From what I have read, the performance is not always consistent between various instances of the product or perhaps the spec has changed numerous times over the years. What I have heard is that it doesn't take much to get it to feedback or that it gets harsh and brittle at high volumes. I have never tried one but my guess is that like bridge-mounted pickup, it also excessively amplifies any string-handling/finger noise, especially at high volumes. From what I read, piezos vary a lot in performance depending on how they are used. It is not clear to me what the impedance of the Realist is. Some people tell me it is buffered and others say it is not.

    What I did when I started on this journey was to get a mic first so that I could use it as a reference point and with the plan being that I would use the mic wherever I could (and something else in other cases). I can use the mic for vocal stuff too so it's not a waste. I've found that the Dyn-B is close enough to the mic that you really have to know what you are looking for to tell the difference.

    What amp/speaker setup are you going to use?

    Adrian
     
  7. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Alright,

    There are so many factors on selection that is difficult for any one person to tell you what to get or not to get. For example, both Adrian and I have had very positive experiences with the Dyn-B. However, Don Higdon's experience with the same thing was not.

    That being said, I'll put in my .02 for what it's worth. I have tried nearly everything, and am currently using a Dyn-B with a Contra or on my current gig I'm using an AKG C3000 mic into the house PA (good sound, less to carry:) )

    I would recommend against the Realist. I have issues with the sound; natural at low volumes and close up, but really turns mushy and indistinct further away and at higher volumes. Also, search the archives for a thread called "Realist failure" and you'll see another reason to think twice about it.

    For a really, really good pickup, the Schertler Stat-B seems to work well in about every situation, and is like $260 with the preamp (you nust use the preamp with this one). The upper register is much cleaner than the Realist, and it won't put divots in the top of the bass.

    The Dyn-B is great, but it's a lot of bread and if you don't have a good full-range amp, you won't get a great result. It doesn't need a preamp, though. Also, some of the same issues about being a beginner with a mic will apply. The Dyn-B won't help your sound; if you don't sound good acoustically or project, it ain't gonna help.

    If the Stat-B is too much bread for you, the K & K Bass Max is better than anything in it's price range, IMHO. It's not quite as natural as the Schertler's, but it is very serviceable and gives a suprisingly good tone through a decent amp.

    Feel free to take what I say with a grain of salt, but I've tried enough things to know what I like.

    And yet after all that, I'm using a mic on a stand, Mingus style:rolleyes: Actually, that has more to do with the lousy PA @ Maker's not having enough headroom to deal with the Dyn-B well (lots of farting noises), and I'm too lazy to haul my Contra to use with it and then do the direct out to the house, which is what I was doing in December.

    Monte
     
  8. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    One of the hardest things about sound on the bass (both unamplified and amplified) is that although there are some rules of thumb, there are always exceptions. Monte is right that we have both had good experiences with the Dyn-B but it doesn't mean it will be to everyone else's liking. Although, Don's experience with it was so bad that I personally have to wonder if there was something wrong with the transducer. I also can't remember what equipment he used it with.

    There are lots of variables in the sound chain including you, the bass, the setup, the strings, the transducer, the audio connections, preamp, amp, speakers, etc. It's a matter of getting a lot of pieces together and matching them.

    I'm not sure I agree with Monte that the Dyn-B doesn't need a preamp though. In my experience it does. If I bypass the preamp on my Coda with the Dyn-B by plugging into the effects return, I can only just hear it if I put both the master and the effects return at 100%. Now the output impedance of the transformer is 50 KOhms and the input impedance of the effects return is "low". I don't know how low but if they were really low like 1000 ohms then that would be the problem.

    Adrian
     
    splitune likes this.
  9. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Actually, I meant an external preamp. Every bass amp would have its own pramp. I meant that you didn't need an additional preamp unless you are bypassing the amp completely by going into the effects loop.

    I hope Jacob isn't really confused now.......

    Don can speak to his experiences, but I remember that he used it with the Pub speaker, the whole 9 yards as well as going to the music store to try it with other things. It didn't work out for him

    Monte
     
  10. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    To echo Monte's comments about the Stat-B. It was certainly good in the short time I tried it out. The Dyn-B is better if positioned correctly and worse if positioned incorrectly. Better and worse referring here to the ability to accurately reproduce the sound of my bass. The major thing for me is that the Dyn-B doesn't have the excessive finger noise at high volumes and I find it less fiddly than the Stat-B.

    Back to microphones, it's a big subject and you will get lots of opinions. If you are looking at large diaphragm condenser mics, then the AKC C3000 (not the C3000B) and C4000B are worth looking at. Different microphones do different things. If you are looking for a mic then you need something that has a frequency response that can handle the bass, good rejection of off-axis sound to avoid bleed and feedback, ability to handle high SPLs, and a good flat response that doesn't colour the sound (if you want to accurately reproduce the bass sound). Many vocal mics will colour the sound and that's great for vocals but may not be what you want for the bass. It goes without saying that you also want a mic with a low noise floor.

    Read as much as you can on the subject, talk to people and go to shops to try things out or get them on a trial basis. Unfortunately there are no "right" answers. It's very much a personal thing and depends on the sound you want, the music you are playing, and a zillion other factors.

    Adrian
     
  11. Adrian,

    I have an old Ampeg SB-12, and an Ampeg SVT-2 Pro. I'll probobly end up using the SB-12. You're probobly wondering why I'd use such an amp for URB, but I'm actually an electric bass player (the truth comes out). I've never been into the whole hi-fi SWR/GK/EA/Eden thing, but for upright I guess that's what everyone uses. I'm just hoping that my Ampeg will be acceptable. I'm curious why you're wary of tubes. (As an electric bassist, I don't think I'll ever go back to solid state). The other thing I'm wondering about is what you think of a bridge pickup verse a body pickup, and whether you know of any other pickups besides the realist that attaches in the same way. By the way, I glanced over your website just briefly, and it looks very informative. I've been looking all over the internet for information on pickups and mics. I think I'll read it right now.
     
  12. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I've argued with people about tube stuff before so I'm sure I'll get flamed. It's just that in my experience, many people use tubes or some tube emulation just to make something s!@# sound half decent or more pleasing to the ear. I am not against tube mics or good tube preamps for vocals but at least for my bass, I certainly don't think I need it. I have plenty of warmth in the sound of my bass and I only want to hear the sound of me playing my bass except louder.

    People using equipment amps like the Contra and Coda often make comments like "It sounded just like my bass only louder" or "It sounded like there were two basses in the room" or "It sounded so natural that I had to switch if off to be sure it was actually working". To me, that's the holy grail of amplifying such a unique and wonderful sound as the double bass. Of course if the sound is not to your liking to begin with, then you may be tempted to mess with it through tubes, EQ, whatever. I would personally rather ensure that I have the sound I want to begin with.

    I agree that there are some purely solid-state systems that sound rather flat and dead but I don't think that's the case with better quality systems. At least not in my experience. I don't actually have much experience with amplifying the double bass, I've just applied my knowledge and experience from stereo systems and other musical activities like singing and piano.

    A solid body electric bass or guitar is a completely different beast to a double bass or archtop guitar, so you can't make comparisons. They have different requirements. The sound from a double bass, especially with the bow, is very different to the sound from an electric bass. Many double bassists also tend to play pretty high sometimes too.

    I use my Coda for so many other things besides just bass. At a recent jam, we had my bass, an archtop guitar, and vocals all plugged into the Coda with flat EQ for everyone and it sounded great.

    I only know what has worked for me and I'm pretty happy with my setup now.

    The only other pickup that I know that goes under the bridge foot like the Realist, is the B-Band Statement. Instead of a piezo it uses some type of film with gas bubbles in it (from memory). It was written up well in a recent Bass Player issue but the actually experience from someone that I have of, was not very positive.

    To me, it's logical that the Dyn-B is as good as it is, amplifying the top of the bass instead of the bridge.

    Adrian
     
  13. Yeah, I read that article in Bass Player about the B-Band. They seemed to like it quite a bit. It is expensive, but I guess you'd be getting two pickups in one package. One of you guys mentioned going to music stores and trying stuff out. I totally thing that's a great idea, but I've called up almost all of the local music stores and they don't have anything to try. :mad: Actually, most of the stores carry the Fishman pickup, but I've already tried one of those and don't care to try another one. It looks like I may just end up having to order something and hope it's good.
     
  14. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    From memory, the B-Band is almost the same price as the Dyn-B. As for two pickups in one package, well personally I think it is more junk to put on your bass and more stuff to go wrong. Personally I like simple solutions and I don't want to have wires and stuff hanging everywhere off my bass. If I remember correctly, with the B-Band, one pickup was for arco and the other for pizzicato. I haven't tried the Dyn-B extensively with arco but enough that again it sounded pretty close to what the mic put out.

    As far as trying stuff out well the thing is that most places (at least where I live) don't carry this stuff out. I got the Schertler equipment by first contacting Lou Roten at Schertler US who then suggested I first try the local distributor (here in Canada). They are a pro audio place and not a bass shop. They put me onto a local reseller who again are not a bass shop but a pro audio reseller and installer. Since Schertler make a lot of transducers for other equipment, the pro audio channels are a better match for them. Of course you can still get the Schertler pickups from a few select bass specialists like Hammond-Ashley.

    Adrian
     
  15. From what I've heard from you and a few others, since I have an old tube amp, the Dyn-B wouldn't really work. It's just too much money for me to spend anyhow. You mentioned before that you did a lot of research on this topic. Do you think you can tell me where you found some of your information? I already read you website, and found it quite helpful.
     
  16. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    As far as research goes, I mostly just exchanged mail and posts with a lot of people on the 2xbasslist and my teacher and searched the web end-to-end (using good old Google). Although there's no substitute for trying stuff out, I don't have the time to be going around and playing with lots of different things so I researched mostly before actually getting stuff.

    The thing is that nobody can really recommend the right solution to you since it matter so much on your own requirements and your bass, etc. but you can get some good guidance. That doesn't mean that you won't get steered wrong but just remember that what works for someone else won't necessarily work for you and what didn't work for someone else might work for you.

    Some people for example are happy with the Realist even though it apparently doesn't handle high levels too well but some people never play at those volumes anyway so it doesn't matter to them. Some folks can't make a mic work without excessive bleed from the drums but it doesn't matter because they either don't play with drums or play only softer music where the drums use brushes only.

    A lot of people especially on this forum, are fans of the K&K equipment that Bob Gollihur sells. I've never tried any of it but there are a lot of happy users (as well as someone that tried it and moved on). Certainly for the price, they look like good value. I think the K&K Bass Max with the Golden Trinity mic upgrade is the most well-endorsed setup. If you want to try a mic first, you could get the Golden Trinity mic to start with and add a pickup later. Or you could also just get a good studio/stage mic like an AKC C3000 or C4000B and see how you go with that.

    The trick is to experiment without it costing you an arm and a leg.

    Adrian
     
  17. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    I have to disagree with this here, and I'm sure that David K. would as well. I played a total of 16 hours worth of gigs with just my AKG C3000 into my ART Tube mic preamp into the house PA, with a very aggressive drummer who mostly played with sticks, not brushes.

    I set it about 12-18" in front of my G side F-hole, set to hypercardiod with the bass roll off on. I was almost even but a little behind the drums, which were on my right hand side. The high hat was about 2 feet away directly to the side of the mic. I had no problems being heard by everyone, and the drums weren't really presenting any bleed problems. I do play pretty loud and have a loud bass, but that doesn't change the fact that I didn't really encounter any bleed problems. Maybe there is a difference in th C3000 and C4000b hypercard mode?

    Monte
     
  18. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I need to experiment more but let me ask you this:

    When the drummer plays with the stick on the snare, are you telling me that you can't hear it coming through your amp at all?

    The last time I tried this, before we played, I setup in my usual position next to the drummer and asked him to play at his usual level. I leaned down and I could hear it coming through the Coda. At that point I decided it was a problem and just played without the mic. Another time we used the mic for the vocalist so I used the Stat-B.

    Perhaps you are getting bleed (and it unavoidable) but it just doesn't really matter if there's a little bit since you hear the drums anyway and the bass comes through the amp as well. I just said "oh there's bleed so forget it" because I didn't have any more time to muck around with it.

    The long and short of my situation is that I need to go back and do some more experimenting. Unfortunately it's hard to simulate the real environment at home where (for example) I get feedback more easily than I would in a hall.

    Adrian
     
  19. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Well, I set the mic and moved it around while the drummer played, and I couldn't hear it after I moved it to the present location.

    Actually, this was the second night. The first night after I bought it off of E-bay, my technical expertise was brought to light:rolleyes: Not having the manual, I didn't know which was the front side. I tapped on the screen on both sides and decided. Long story short; I guessed wrong and wondered why I had very little volume. Then my friend Ken told me the side with logo was the front side. Apparently the diaphragm is closer to the back side, explaining why tapping the screen on that side was louder. Works better now:D

    Monte