Show 180 – Odd Acoustic Mics shootout and more.

This week Jon tries out a few mics you don’t usually hear on acoustic guitar. The mics in the shootout are: M-Audio Pulsar II (small diaphragm cardioid condenser), IK Multimedia ARC Mic (small diaphragm omni electret for measurement), Shure SM7B (large cardioid dynamic), Rode NTG-2 (Shotgun), and Audio-Technica PRO-70 (wired cardioid lavalier).
No guest this week.

In other news, our site and feed are working right again after being hacked twice in as many months. We are keeping the Wiki offline for a bit as that seems to have been the cause of the trouble.

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22 thoughts on “Show 180 – Odd Acoustic Mics shootout and more.

  1. Cool show! It’s interesting to hear acoustics recorded in home studios. I guess it’s because I’m so used to the generic, full, sparkly radio pop sounding acoustic. Hearing it stripped down is a good reminder of how dynamic it truly is. It’s also one of those instruments that’s pretty difficult to get a nice sound out of in my room, which leads me to my first question.

    I’ve come to the point (yet again) where I battle whether I want more gear or acoustic treatment. Part of me says yes to the treatment because my room is deplorable for any sort of mixing/acoustic instrument recording, but I argue against it because I’ll be going to college next year. A lot of music can happen in a year, but I don’t know if it’s enough to spend $439.99 on the Auralex Alpha-DST Roominators Kit when I can use that money for other gear. What do you think?


  2. Hey Eric, there are more options for room acoustics. Look up ATS Acoustics and see if they have options that are more suited to your budget. I bought a few panels from them and I dig them.

    Ride that funky chicken, white boy!

    • Thanks Kris! I’m still battling whether I should do the treatment thing or just wait it out until I’m in a bigger space than my bedroom. It’s 11.5′ x 9′ and its arrangement is pretty much the best it can be for mixing purposes- that is without taking anything out and throwing it in the attic for eternity. I can definitely use a better bass, a new guitar, or even a Pod HD (I know, don’t hate me. I’ve heard good results from them by people like Chimp Spanner and Cloudkicker, and I’m using free amp sims at the moment anyway.) I go through cycles of wanting different things now that the possibilities are open. I already have a guitar and a bass, but I do not have a Pod HD or treatment. So far I think I’ve been getting decent mixes switching between my BX5as and my ATH-M20 headphones. Sigh, it’s hard not being rich. Hahaha

      • If you check the Master Handbook of Acoustics, volume 5, you can find some excellent solutions for treating smaller rooms. One thing that is mentioned for small rooms is a combination of asorbtive and reflective treatments. In fact, they say sometimes just reflective treatments are better in a small room as they can actually make the room sound smaller. And if you are really into it and want to get real specific, they include tests and formulas for measuring and determining the reflective decay (essential reverb) of the room so you can make specific adjustments. Remember though, reflective treatments don’t have to be the $600 2D type panels. I made several of my own by simply cutting up some old pieces of 2″ thick styrofoam into various sized cubes and rectangles and then glued them in a reletively random placing on a flat piece of the styrofoam. I mounted mine on the ceiling above the bass traps and they seem to work quite well. I also have alternating, non-treated (well, there is a fleece blanket covering them) reflective spaces alternating with absorption treated spaces and my very small (10′ x 12′ x 7′) actually sounds rather live and incredibly natural, especially when recording acoustic instruments and voices.

  3. Recording via the Internet collabouratively is already possible.
    Check out Virtual Glass & Source Connect.

    The latter was demonstrated on Alan Parsons Arts & Science of Sound Recording series. On this he recorded a vocalist live realtime on one side of the USA (Michigan) from his LA studio live. The application managed the delay (Latency) so that both heard it all in sync etc.

      • The example I gave used a performer in one location (singing into a mic) but the tracking etc was captured etc LIVE by the engineer at the other location right across USA in realtime. The recording engineer was providing the click/cue mix to the performer realitime so that he could sing with the backing etc. Was pretty cool.

        Yep Ohm Force is an option for collaboration but I don’t think it handles LIVE tracking across the “world”

  4. Hey! I discovered the show a few weeks ago and am working my way through the back catalog, while keeping up on the current show. Great stuff! I have three mic questions for you. I have a small home studio based on Logic Pro (9.) I’m recording my own music and not other musicians (at this point in my life.) I’m currently using a Rode NT1-A vocal mic. Years ago I borrowed a AKG 414 and it sounded absolutely killer on my voice. Now, the questions:
    1. What do you guys think of the AKG 214 for vocals – is it close to the 414?
    2. What do you guys honestly think about the Rode NT1-A?
    3. The 214 is around $400-ish. Is there another mic in the same price range that I ought to think about?

    My budget is around $400 and an AKG 414 is twice that, sadly. Thanks in advance and keep up the great work! Ride the chicken for 100,000 miles and then trade it in.

    • You can get an AT 4040 for about $300 and it sounds far better than the AKG 214 in my opinion. In fact, it is probably one of the best vocal mics you can by for that price.

  5. In Ep. 179 you guys touched on a subject that I think the Recording world needs to be watching very closely and that is, Where is Apple going with this pro line? and where are hardware computer manufactures going with hardware?

    You were correct in pointing out the dumbing down of all the Apple pro apps, changing hardware and everything moving to cloud based devices. I think Apple and other manufactures, as well as software makers, see more money in smaller devices. These devices are attached to the cloud and have all the functionality that a general user would use on a daily basis.

    Their software delivery (app store) system is great for developers because those apps are easy to get to and wont be pirated and put back on these smaller devices. They can also keep hackers at bay as well as regulate usage. Its a great model for joe blow but not for power users like us. Not to mention those D112s have me paying for home internet AND mobile internet… hmmm

    So, where does that model leave the home recording market? Maybe out of luck? Even the bigger studios that rely on digital recording could be out luck as well, (unless Tape makes a come back, unlikely) So, i guess its, hold on to what you got and dont sell it. Lots of money being made on really powerful iPad / iPhone type devices and not on desktops (im guessing)

    Conspiracy theory: I can see where the big companies (may) want to shut out the home recording market and move everything to the big studios again. This whole model above would benefit them and their content providers as well as stream line a PAID for delivery system. Take the content creating devices off the market and their profits go up.. things that make you go WTF

    • Unfortunately, Apple has become as corporate as it gets, what with using child labor in China to build IPhones and IPads, there 30% cut on everything sold at ITunes and the App Store, and now, they are in a huge lawsuit with Samsung trying to say they have a patent on the “shape” of the IPhone, a rectangle with rounded edges. As a reporter on an NPR discussion brought up, he has a kitchen counter that looks like an IPhone, would it qualify? Others made mention of the fact it is like trying to claim a patent on the circle.

      As to cloud based software and such, that is great as long as you have a working internet connection. Hate to be doing a session during a thunder and lightening storm. The power in my area goes off quite frequently during storms. Also, there is an exponentially greater chance that a cloud server site is going to get hacked, resulting in damaged, destroyed, or otherwise compromised files than there is a chance your home computer is going to get hacked. While I appreciate the functionality of Mac and Apple products, I can no longer support their rank corprorate structure and greed.

      • Well I am still a huge Apple fan, its better then the alternative. As for child labor in their factories. Im not sure I believe that considering the guy that started the rumor had to retract his story. But, while in China, I did meet several people who were VERY pissed off that Apple cut their over time hours because of news reports that they were overworked. One lady told me she relied on the extra hours and now they are gone. Media Sucks.. Anyway lets just hope that they wake up and realize they are loosing their base..

        • e.scarab, you’re inaccurate on both counts. Apple was accused of using child labor and the whole thing was a fraud invented by a writer. This American Life did a full episode retraction story on it. You also are missing numerous key facts in the Samsung quote. It’s not just the shape. Samsung copied a laundry list of Apple ideas, right down the almost identical packaging, the almost identical looking adaptors, the almost identical looking icons, the almost identical looking apps in numerous cases, and the list goes on and on.

          • I listened to the American Life story. Only part of the child labor wasn’t true. They corrected that but confirmed there were some rather bad working practices. As to the lawsuit, you are confusing the issue and my point. Yes, there are many aspects to the lawsuit, but they are claiming several different patent infringements. The primary component of the lawsuit that matters to everyone and that is also completely ridiculous is Apple in fact IS trying to claim a patent on the basic shape, that being a rectangle with rounded squares. That is simply ridiculous because the shape appears in nature! So your comment really only serves to try and cloud the issue. I should take a moment to mention Apple is also in BIG trouble for price fixing with amazon book downloads to undercut the Kindle and others. That too is a very real and non-debatable fact about Apple. Either way, Apple is a controlling, corporate monster that introduces neat products but products that are overpriced and frankly somewhat frivolous, especially considering their Chinese heritage. I mean seriously, what has the IPhone/IPad really don e for the world? It has made a whole bunch of people spend far too much time reading emails, texting, twittering, blogging, essentially sharing the most inane, meaningless and blase’ activities as if they were world shattering news. Most of the apps really are either redundant or simply toys. Yes, there are a few and the IPad as touch controller is nice. But soon you will have a variety of choices that are not MAC based to choose from. By the way, anyone that has audio stuff, all the major players are saying DO NOT upgrade to Mountain Lion. There are a lot of problems and like is true with most new Apple OS updates, is not backwards compatible for a lot of software and hardware.

  6. GSAA

    I’ve been toying with the idea of recording a couple other stringed instruments like dulcimers, ukuleles, mandolins and a few others. Would you approach these instruments similar to the acoustic guitar?

    Chickens think crickets taste yummy. You might want to consider getting your own studio chicken.

    ride the cricket eating chicken.

  7. This is not about Apple vs. PC, but I did want to [point out that those worried and/or thinking that major studios are going to exclusively use Macs and Pro Tools, several producers and studios are using other DAWs, and, considering Pro Tools has “gone native”, MOTU’s Digital Performer is now PC compatible, and a host of other formerly apple based software is now also PC compatible, I look for Apple/Pro Tools to actually lose share in the near future. Not everyone can afford to spend several thousands of dollars every few years to upgrade/update their software and hardware as is the norm with Macs/Pro Tools due to the non-backwards compatibility of a lot of their products and updates/upgrades. Ask anybody that has an HD system how much they are going to have to pay to convert to the AAX format since it is not compatible with TDM is not compatible

  8. Hey fellas, I was wondering if you could give me some advice on using the sure sm7b. Ryan, I know you’re a big fan of this mic so I’m sure you’ll be able to help me. Specifically, I’d like to know what situations you’d use the included foam windscreen on the mic and what situations you’d prefer to have it removed; especially for recording guitar and bass cabs I’m not sure which way to go. Also; if your tracking vocals with the windscreen on, would you use a pop filter in front of it?
    Thanks for the great work,
    Ride the rainbow

  9. cool segment on the offbeat acoustic mics. I was surprised to hear a usable sound out of the NTG-2, as I’d never really considered a shotgun in that application. I think you could get a hundred different sounds with just that one mic by moving it around a bit on the instrument because its so directional.

    nice work as always.

  10. So in a drum mix, I want to eq & compress the overheads alone I have two matching pairs of microphones, mono left and right.. each has it’s own channel. So I’m sending them to their own buss that way I can use one plug-in. Let me explain also that the overheads are already in a drum buss along with all of the other drums. what I want to do here is spice up the overheads first and then spicing up the drum track as a whole in the original drum bus. I make another track out side of the drum bus, I then send the two overheads to this new track where I give a little bit of compression and some subtractive equalizing. Jon, my question is when the drum track plays I only want this track to play as my Overheads and not the original ones inside the drum buss. The only way I can do this is by soloing the kick, all Toms & snare, and this overhead track im speaking of.  when I do this, the drums sound great, but when I Un-solo these tracks the original overheads are inteoduced and it just makes everything too loud and start peeking the buss. I just have a feeling that I could not be doing this in a more retarded fashion.
    I know the answer is somewhere on the web, but this is more examples and information for my fellow THRS minions who might one day have the same question and can now find it here on this fine program. 

    PS: your last guest (who was really awesome) mentioned  the lack of women listening to the show. and I’m sure he was just joking but he is right….. yeah we might not have many women out there listening to this show (it is a true penis party) but we have better chances of seeing vagina in our podcast then all of the billions of  podcast devoted to a fucking video game where the listeners would rather ass fuck their “Avatars” then experience real people. You know a lot of people don’t realize but you have to be a real  people person for what we do, especially if working with clients! One also needs skill into turning people’s shitty attitudes around for the better at times! I however do not work with clients. As I’m sure the question I posted gave that away! But have recorded in a band many of times at professional establishments, so I am familiar with the environment and what goes on… 
    did we not also have a girl as a guest once from the UK? Booyaaa bitches!!! My wife does listen with me but I’m no idiot, iI know she is listening because I am…. Or because she thinks Jon is hot BAZZZING!!! 
    Jon is there something you want to tell me buddy? Lol take care guys as always much love and please don’t ever stop doing what you do!
    Ride the avatar chicken, then ass fuck it!

  11. Ok, yea I know I’m a little behind on the HRS episodes. If you guys weren’t cranking them out like mindless podcast monkeys I wouldn’t be so behind! It’s admirable how many shows you guys have released.

    In regards to THIS old-ass dusty show. I was surprised to find that I highly preferred the IK ARC mic over all the others. None of them were amazing by any means but the IK was certainly the most usable to my ears. Very cool shootout. And I love the mad recording scientist mic stand contraption you concocted (Insert Ryan’s butthead voice here “Uhhh heh heh. He said cock…then ted.”).

    Ride the….ehhh fuck it. Too much work.

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