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transducer comparison recordings

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by jonas, Sep 16, 2011.


  1. jonas

    jonas

    Dec 9, 2003
    Frankfurt am Main/Germany
    Kontrabass-Atelier, Lando Music (Germany)
    I just uploaded to Soundcloud a couple of recordings I recently made of my pickup testing bass. The testing bass has not less than seven pickups mounted, which can be used at the same time.

    dpa 4099 (condenser microphone)
    Ehrlund Pickup + Preamp
    Bassbalsereit Studio
    Realist Wood
    APTflex
    Fishman Full Circle
    Wilson K1


    The files were recorded simultaneously (multi track), with no processing or effects at all. The dpa 4099 microphone and the Bassbalsereit Studio (with built-in preamp) went directly into the mixing console. The Ehrlund EAP was recorded with the Ehrlund preamp, for the other pickups I used the Lehle XLR Sunday Driver for buffering (impedance matching). The Lehle SD has no EQ, just a gain control, so the effect should be the same for all pickups.

    Some general thoughts about these recordings: Unlike when you record a CD, I didn’t try to get the best out of each pickup. After installing and adjusting each pickup for best results, I just plugged in (taking care of impedance matching and gain), and that’s it. That’s not what you usually do on stage: you have an amp, which colours the sound, a cab, which also colours the sound, and after all, you have the room acoustics which change the results pretty much, too. These recordings show the basic characters of the pickups – the sound you’ll get from them on stage is a another cup of tea!

    (The bass is an old German fatback of average quality, strung up with Spirocore Weich, which probably every Jazz bassist knows.)

    Links: Pickup comparison recordings | Double Bass Guide
    Lando Music's sets on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free
     
  2. GrowlerBox

    GrowlerBox

    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    What a great resource! -- thanks for your trouble.

    And now I want an Ehrlund :(.
     
  3. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Jonas,
    Thanks for taking the time to produce a useful pickup comparison. I'm very pleased with the DPA 4099 and the Ehrlund and now everyone else can hear how good they sound.

    Ric
     
  4. jonas

    jonas

    Dec 9, 2003
    Frankfurt am Main/Germany
    Kontrabass-Atelier, Lando Music (Germany)
    indeed, they both sound good at the recording. But keep in mind that on stage, it's the whole chain (pickup, preamp, amp, cab) which counts. A microphone (always?) sounds great on a studio recording, but may sound crappy amplified with a electric bass amp.
    On the other hand, some bass amps seem to compensate the shortcomings (=non-linearity) of a piezo pickups perfectly, and lead to a very natural, easy to handle on-stage-sound.
     
  5. Don Sibley

    Don Sibley

    Jun 27, 2005
    Fort Worth, TX
    @jonas

    So you feel that the Ehrlund doesn't provide much if any advantage as far as feedback is concerned?

    Also, have you tried the AMT microphone?
     
  6. jonas

    jonas

    Dec 9, 2003
    Frankfurt am Main/Germany
    Kontrabass-Atelier, Lando Music (Germany)
    Well … it's also a matter of taste. The piezos still have their market, of good reasons.
    At first, you need amp+cab which reproduce the signal properly.
    As you can hear, piezos direct to mixing console doesn't sound as good as microphone … but a microphone may sound much worse than a piezo when plugged into a bass amp. For example, I get a much better sound when I plug a Realist into a GK than when I plug a microphone into a GK.

    No.
     
  7. geoffbassist

    geoffbassist UK Double Bassist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 17, 2006
    UK
    Founder - Discover Double Bass
    Hi Jonas,
    thanks for all your hard work! its a great resource!
    For me the best piezos are the bass Bassbalsereit Studio and the Full Circle. To me they sound very similar, with the BB studio having a bit more top end than the FC. Its great to be able to compare them so easily.
    As you say its giging experience that counts and its a never ending quest!
    Thanks again,
    Geoff
     
  8. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    IME with my bass and two very different Walter Woods amps the Ehrlund has more than ample volume to handle concerts and clubs. Jonas is correct, sending a mic to a bass amp isn't very easy to accomplish. When I use the DPA, it's going into the mains. I used both the Underwood and Realist ,each for 10 years. At the time they worked the best, but I never really cared for the sound of a piezo. Just my opinion.

    Ric
     
  9. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    To the extent this is true, it's an interaction among the frequency response of the piezo, any "voicing" of the pre-amp, and the frequency response of the cab. It need not be this way at all. A mic should sound wonderful through a "bass amp."

    Given the frequency anomalies inherent in piezos, once a rig is adjusted to sound as preferred with a piezo, it wouldn't surprise me at all that when a good mic is plugged in, it won't sound as good. You have to start all over with the mic. Once the necessary adjustments are made, swapping back the piezo isn't likely to yield what you like.

    While none of the better cabs we all use can be described as having a flat response, a mic not sounding good through a typical rig is, I believe, more about lower-midrange and midrange response than anything else. Once again, this is where really good tone-shaping circuitry (e.g., parametric) can be a lifesaver.

    IMO, there is nothing sacred about setting the controls "flat" when amplifying a DB in a real room. Given the huge changes in response that occur between a cab and just about any room, unless some miracle occurs, leaving the controls set that way isn't likely to yield the sound you'd most prefer. Even if setting controls flat meant truly flat response through the electronics (and, given some manufacturers "voicing," that often isn't the case), all bets are off once that cab is placed in a real room.

    Use your tone controls. :)

    All that said, I'll take the sound of a mic any day!
     
  10. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Chicago
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    Here, here, Les.
    When I was giving my input on the development of the Doubler, EA was asking what a perfect amp would have. I said, along with a general shelving bass and treble control, 5 bands of fully parametric eq. They of course laughed and said that no one would buy it. With a DB, with piezos there are many anomalies that need to be addressed before one even begins general tone shaping. And then room resonances. The Realist for instance has (to me) some nasty resonances that would require me to use both bands of my Fishman Dual Parametric before I start boosting bass cutting mids and treble---whatever. Mics are even worse. They are glorious if you tame the weird stuff (resonances, feedback), but that requires a lot of eq power.
    Now as far as you were saying about the weak link in DB amplification for mics as the speakers, I have to agree. Until the Thunderchild cab came along. It really is a balanced full range cab. It would sound fine as a good PA cab. But it DOES bass. I've kindof bailed on the mic thing for a while for reasons stated above. (this might change if I acquire-- and get working--- the Mini Dsp. 18 bands of fully parametric in a pedal sized box---but you have to program it with a computer. Not at all good for on-the-fly live stuff, but very good at dealing with the known anomalies).
    These days I'm playing a lot of electric bass. So simple to get a good sound by comparison.
     
  11. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Chicago
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    Oh, and thanks so much Jonas. What a valuable resource.
     
  12. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I read a bunch about the TC. Where do you order one? If Duke would like to send me one to trial, I'd be happy to review it. ;)
     
  13. engedi1

    engedi1

    Sep 16, 2005
    Nashville
    Thanks for the soundclips Jonas. It makes me SO happy that I went with the Erhlund and not a piezo pickup. For what it's worth, I did a jazz gig today at an outside gig, on a tiny stage, with my amp about 2 ft behind me and my bass, and it didn't offer to feedback once-not one tiny little bit.
    Many wise comments about amps and pickups and mics. Growler, I know that you use TC stuff, but I couldn't find my happy spot with my rig. It was better than any amps sound I have ever had before, but it is really hard to find the right eq with this amp. I started out with the optimally flat settings per the BG review article, but this didn't work. What was needed was to to adjust the Q of the low and high mid up a few notches, and I got a less nuanced sound that seemed to work pretty well. I actually dialed some of the mids back in as I wanted to hear myself better when it got loud.
    By contrast, it is SO easy to make the TC stuff sound great on a bass guitar. Just about plug it in and play IMHO. I don't think these amps are ideal for upright bass, even if Esperanza Spalding is using them! I wish I could afford a really great powered PA speaker...
     
  14. thudfromafar

    thudfromafar Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2007
    Chicago
    You PM Duke and say you want to order one. ;)

    It is a great cab indeed.
     
  15. GrowlerBox

    GrowlerBox

    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    I bought the RH450 without being able to audition it directly, on the basis of its feature set and some clips posted by Ken Jung. At the time, I was playing EUB and not getting quite what I wanted from my Markbass F1. When I switched to double bass almost exclusively, it was a matter of using what I had rather than what was ideal.

    I've been experimenting with it more, and can just about get it to reproduce my acoustic sound with the Realist Soundclip plugged directly into the amp, albeit at relatively low volume. The Markbass alone does not do it so well -- I think it reproduces the tone of the pickup rather too well, where the TCE amp colours the tone in such a way as to "put back" what the pickup takes out. I suspect it would not work as well with the Ehrlund (and the Markbass would do significantly better) precisely because the Ehrlund is more transparent. The Markbass is significantly improved by the addition of the Fishman Plat-Pro, likely due both to the better impedance matching, and the way the EQ points "mesh", each filling in gaps left by the other. However this raises the noise floor somewhat, and in this respect, the RH450 is king -- I have never (not) heard a quieter amp.

    Starting to ramble a bit, now, but that's my take on the RH.
     
  16. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Thanks, for the info. I'd have to have one in-hand first. Buy sound-unheard? Not my style, especially given that I'm happy with what I have.
     
  17. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I'm not picking on you. I'm using your post as an occasion to clarify. "Impedance matching" is a term that gets bandied about here often and is used incorrectly the vast majority of the time. So, I thought I'd take the time to try and help.

    Impedance matching refers to the adjustment of impedances of two stages (output and input) such that the maximum power is transferred between the two. It's something that's quite relevant for power amps and speaker cabs (although true matching almost never occurs-- rather intentionally, but that's another chapter). Here's a link.

    With regard to pickups and pre-amp inputs, the input impedance of the pre-amp is chosen such that the load "seen" by the pickup results in a desirable frequency response. What's being optimized in this case is the load impedance (load optimization, if you will) with no regard for maximizing power transfer from the pickup. The output impedance of the pickup is not even close to "matched" by the input impedance of the pre-amp. That would be quite undesirable. I posted about this in more detail here.
     
  18. GrowlerBox

    GrowlerBox

    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    Thanks for the clarification. :)
     

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