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Pros and cons of Royer SF12 - your experiences?
Old 7th May 2017
  #1
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jnorman's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Pros and cons of Royer SF12 - your experiences?

In the recent $30k mic test session, my particular favorite was the Royer sf12, even over my own Schoeps mk4s and mk2s. I am considering purchasing one for an upcoming flute/piano cd project, so I have read a number of previous threads here discussing that mic.

Some of the more experienced engineers here seem to have tried it and liked it over the years. A few seem to have moved back to condensers in general for one reason or another, while others like Michael bishop seem to still use them to good effect (Grammy 2015).

I would be interested in hearing your experiences if you own, or have owned his mic, why you love it, or why you eventually stopped using it - and your opinion on should I buy a stereo ribbon mic as opposed to just sticking with my favorite Schoeps? I.e., I see Schoeps everywhere and almost never see ribbons on location. Thanks for your thoughts.
Old 7th May 2017
  #2
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I really love the sound of the SF12 but I found it way too fragile for location work. I was putting two and sometimes three sets of ribbons in it a year, and I was really careful with the mic (except when I accidentally set it up directly under the exhaust port for an organ blower :( ) Putting ribbons in an SF12 is almost $300. So I went back to condensers; got a Blumlein mount for my Mk8s and tried the TLM107s stacked up on a bar. Okay, but not as nice as the Royer.

I ask the guys at Royer if I just had a lemon, and they said no, FWIW.

I bought the Samar VL373A and after the first use, I think it sounds good. I still need to A-B it with the SF12, but it seemed to compare well with an A-B pair of DPAs. They did not sound the same, of course, but they both sounded good.

I was bummed about the SF12 'cause I really liked the sound but it was costing me more than it was making me.

D.
Old 7th May 2017
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Most ribbons are not a good choice for location work just because they can be broken.

There are exceptions. Roswell ribbons or an RU4 are capable of being put inside a kick drum, and will not break as easy like most other ribbons.

There are also some short ribbons design to be vocal mic's that are robust, but they are not designed to be a room mic.
Old 7th May 2017
  #4
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
FWIW, I have been told that the Samar is extremely rugged.

D.
Old 7th May 2017
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➑️
In the recent $30k mic test session, my particular favorite was the Royer sf12, even over my own Schoeps mk4s and mk2s. I am considering purchasing one for an upcoming flute/piano cd project, so I have read a number of previous threads here discussing that mic.

Some of the more experienced engineers here seem to have tried it and liked it over the years. A few seem to have moved back to condensers in general for one reason or another, while others like Michael bishop seem to still use them to good effect (Grammy 2015).

I would be interested in hearing your experiences if you own, or have owned his mic, why you love it, or why you eventually stopped using it - and your opinion on should I buy a stereo ribbon mic as opposed to just sticking with my favorite Schoeps? I.e., I see Schoeps everywhere and almost never see ribbons on location. Thanks for your thoughts.
The SF1 series mics (SF1, SF12, SF24) have a particular, subjectively beautiful character sound, with the high and low frequencies rolled off and the lower mids exaggerated, which can work very well in some situations. I like using an SF1 mid with CCM8 side on older, non-dissonant classical music, or two closely spaced SF1 in situations which require a narrow stereo image with the ensemble isolated from it's surroundings.
Old 7th May 2017
  #6
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Earcatcher's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I've been using SF24 for some years now and there are some samples on GS here:
https://gearspace.com/board/7965448-post1.html
https://gearspace.com/board/7986229-post17.html
https://gearspace.com/board/9441399-post3.html
These are all in churches and so far I've never had to replace the ribbons. You could always use a Rycote Softie Windshield 033043 when you are afraid of wind gusts, but I would not use it outdoors anyway.

The sound of the SF24 is wonderful, a little veiled in a very pleasant way, but I find noise can be a problem, which is often reason to use other mics. Also, it's Blumlein or M/S Blumlein only and I prefer the depth and plasticity of another array for a main pair. I still use the SF24 a lot for spotting solo singers or semi-solo sections, where it excels in my setup, although recently I put it on a drum kit too. Haven't checked yet if it survived that excersize...
Old 7th May 2017
  #7
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
I routinely use an SF 24 on drum kits. I set it about 1 meter off the ground, directly in front of the kit. Combine this with a DPA4006 + nose-cone a few inches from the drummer's right knee, and you get a great, lively sound with plenty of snare & kick.
Old 8th May 2017
  #8
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Rolled off highs

I have used the SF-12 to record small ensembles for about 9 years now. The sound, while beautiful, has always felt HF restricted to my ears. Then, about 2 years ago, I got a pair of the Samar 65s, which imo have a much better, almost condenser like frequency response without the tizz.

On this US trip, I have just acquired a Samar 373a - so over the next six months I will be experimenting with both of them side by side - one of these will be up for sale after :-) that.

For new location work, I have switched to the Soundfield mic - much more flexibility in post and I don't have to worry about blown ribbons.

Baithak
Old 9th May 2017
  #9
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boojum's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
From what I have read you can be more sure of the ribbons in the Samar mics. Have you had a ribbon blow on the ones you have??
Old 9th May 2017
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baithak ➑️
I have used the SF-12 to record small ensembles for about 9 years now. The sound, while beautiful, has always felt HF restricted to my ears. Then, about 2 years ago, I got a pair of the Samar 65s, which imo have a much better, almost condenser like frequency response without the tizz.
The SF-1 series mics have a unique, idiosyncratic sound, not to be used on every recording. Ribbon-like velvet veiled licorice, refined, suggestive, even slightly
otherwordly, in a good reverberant acoustic.
Old 9th May 2017
  #11
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
@ boojum - never had a blown ribbon between the SF-12 and R-122 pair in all these years. Nor on the Samars.

My point was that in unknown acoustics conditions (and with limited setup time), I find that the Soundfield a lot more forgiving in terms of placement and flexible if I need to adjust things in post.

As others have mentioned, the Royers sound sensational with the right kind of acoustic ... I just prefer the sound of the Samar 65s pair. In comparison the SF-12 sounds clearly HF restricted.

Baithak
Old 9th May 2017 | Show parent
  #12
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boojum's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baithak ➑️
@ boojum - never had a blown ribbon between the SF-12 and R-122 pair in all these years. Nor on the Samars.

My point was that in unknown acoustics conditions (and with limited setup time), I find that the Soundfield a lot more forgiving in terms of placement and flexible if I need to adjust things in post.

As others have mentioned, the Royers sound sensational with the right kind of acoustic ... I just prefer the sound of the Samar 65s pair. In comparison the SF-12 sounds clearly HF restricted.

Baithak
I was just curious about the fragility you might have experienced with ribbon mics. Soundfield is a fun mic and a definite chameleon.

I just did a recording with the VL373A and am impressed. This local chorale has never sounded this good nor has the venue.
Old 9th May 2017
  #13
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I had a Soundfield SPSA200 for a few days. I know it's the "cheap" one and maybe the really expensive Soundfields sound good. The SPS200 sounded like poo and I got rid of it FAST! Didn't matter that it did all the dog-tricks.

D.
Old 9th May 2017
  #14
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
SoundField vs Royer is a case of apples and oranges really. As others have said, the Royer is a lovely-sounding mic, but is noticeably 'middly' or warm-sounding compared with most condenser mics, or with fancy new ribbons like the Samar and the Rode NTR. Great if you have to tame a slightly edgy or harsh sound, probably not ideal in a muddy acoustic. The SoundField on the other hand is a pretty analytical mic that does not flatter the source at all, but it has some unique advantages, such as the ability to adjust the polar pattern and directionality after the fact, and phase coherence up to 16kHz. (I've not tried the SPS200, only the MkIII and the ST450.)
Old 9th May 2017
  #15
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baithak ➑️
As others have mentioned, the Royers sound sensational with the right kind of acoustic ... I just prefer the sound of the Samar 65s pair. In comparison the SF-12 sounds clearly HF restricted.
Why prefer one over the other without a specific recording context? Neither is going to always work better.
Old 10th May 2017 | Show parent
  #16
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➑️
I had a Soundfield SPSA200 for a few days. I know it's the "cheap" one and maybe the really expensive Soundfields sound good. The SPS200 sounded like poo and I got rid of it FAST! Didn't matter that it did all the dog-tricks.

D.
No experience with the SPS200 but Soundfield does make some good and great sounding mics and I find the options for decoding in post very useful.
I own a Soundfield ST450 (original version) which sounds good ( the newer MKII version reportedly has a quieter preamp/processor and improved phase accuracy).
I also own a Soundfield DSF-1 which has a digital preamp/processor and is the quietest Soundfield and has the best phase accuracy of all the Soundfields. To my ear the DSF-1 is equal in sound quality to my Josephson C617 omni's and Sennheiser MKH8040/8050's through Gordon preamps.
Old 10th May 2017
  #17
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peller ➑️
SoundField vs Royer is a case of apples and oranges really.
Especially if comparing to SF-12 or SF-24 on it's own, limited to Blumlein or Blumlein MS arrays. There are numerous situations where Blumlein imaging will not work. It is not an array which can be used very close to an ensemble. The outer edges of the ensemble gradually switch positions as the array is brought closer. An SF-1 can be used as part of a native b-format array, similar to a Soundfield mic but with a different character sound. SF-12 or SF-24 can be used as native b-format arrays by adding an omni.

Last edited by aracu; 10th May 2017 at 02:26 PM..
Old 17th May 2017
  #18
Gear Maniac
When recording a choir, I often use an SF12 to capture a distant ambient room sound in combination with a closer pair of DPA 4006 omni's in spaced AB. The 4006s are usually 7-10' above the conductor's head and the SF12s are often as much as 30' into the audience area. I use Cloudlifters on the SF12...not sure if they are adding any noise to the chain. Analytical minds have disagreed on the inherent noise introduced by the Cloudlifter so I'm not sure if it is adding or reducing the original ribbon sound.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #19
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I am considering adding an SF-12 to my remote locker over the next year or so.

I can't afford a brand new one at the moment so I would probably be looking to buy used.

Obviously evidence of the SF-12's reliability – specifically from one experienced member here (Douglas) – is pretty alarming.

He writes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➑️
I found the SF-12 way too fragile for location work.

I was putting two and sometimes three sets of ribbons in it a year

Putting ribbons in an SF-12 is almost $300.

I asked the guys at Royer if I just had a lemon, and they said no
This is such damning evidence that it makes me wonder how any SF-12 even survives shipping anywhere in there world without immediately needing re-ribboning on arrival!

And being located in Europe, that $300 will quickly translate into $500 what with shipping etc, not to mention the expected trans-Atlantic delays, customs hold-ups etc.

Douglas' last sentence is the real deal-breaker - he seems to be suggesting that Royer themselves are admitting that their mic is fragile beyond belief and will probably need re-ribonning 3 times a year anywhere outside of (or possibly including in) a fixed studio context.

I'm aware there are a whole ton over other stereo and paired ribbon mic routes I could go for my intended applications (so I don't need a list of those, thanks), so sticking to the SF-12 itself as that's the main topic of this thread... is this particular mic really totally impractical for a remotester to own at all due to its seemingly fatal fragility?

Anyone with anything to add on the SF-12 since 2017?

Thanks a lot!
Old 6 days ago
  #20
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Earcatcher's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Despite of years and years of location use my SF-24 is still working fine. Of course I am always careful, as one has to be with ribbons, but how Doug managed to break his all the time is really a mystery to me. Maybe he had a certain routine in moving them that was disastrous without him realizing it? I always keep the sock on with every change of position, or carefully wrap my hands around the heads. However, I have transported the mic in the back of cars for thousands of kilometres and it didn't change anything to its functionality. And I bought the thing from someone who was tracking drums with it previously and sent it to me in the mail all across Europe, so I still can't conclude it is an overly sensitive design.
Old 4 days ago | Show parent
  #21
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➑️
I had a Soundfield SPSA200 for a few days. I know it's the "cheap" one and maybe the really expensive Soundfields sound good. The SPS200 sounded like poo and I got rid of it FAST! Didn't matter that it did all the dog-tricks.

D.
Hi Doug, it CAN sound quite good, but it took quite some effort... I had it calibrated in the USA and I use Harpex. That makes it usable for music.
Old 4 days ago | Show parent
  #22
Gear Addict
 
audibell's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Lehmann ➑️
I am considering adding an SF-12 to my remote locker over the next year or so.

I can't afford a brand new one at the moment so I would probably be looking to buy used.

Obviously evidence of the SF-12's reliability – specifically from one experienced member here (Douglas) – is pretty alarming.

He writes:

This is such damning evidence that it makes me wonder how any SF-12 even survives shipping anywhere in there world without immediately needing re-ribboning on arrival!

And being located in Europe, that $300 will quickly translate into $500 what with shipping etc, not to mention the expected trans-Atlantic delays, customs hold-ups etc.

Douglas' last sentence is the real deal-breaker - he seems to be suggesting that Royer themselves are admitting that their mic is fragile beyond belief and will probably need re-ribonning 3 times a year anywhere outside of (or possibly including in) a fixed studio context.

I'm aware there are a whole ton over other stereo and paired ribbon mic routes I could go for my intended applications (so I don't need a list of those, thanks), so sticking to the SF-12 itself as that's the main topic of this thread... is this particular mic really totally impractical for a remotester to own at all due to its seemingly fatal fragility?

Anyone with anything to add on the SF-12 since 2017?

Thanks a lot!
Hiya, had my sf12 about 15yrs - mostly 12’ above the woodwinds row, angled down; sometimes one channel only on viola, through millennias. I keep the sock on it until soundcheck, then drop the mast, slide it off, reset and record all. Aea is more robust. SF12 travels with schoeps, neumanns, gefels & aea in the hurricane pelican case. Stored inside upright. Sounds lovely, esp on choral and quartets. Replaced ribbon once soon after purchase, no trouble since.
Good luck - WalterT

Last edited by audibell; 4 days ago at 06:27 AM.. Reason: Sign
Old 4 days ago
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I suspect there is a multiplicity of reasons for ribbon breakage (and/or stretching): prolonged horizontal storage which promotes ribbon sag and fatigue on its longest dimension, poorly damped vibration when transporting, particularly intense jarring bumps (this perhaps dependent on ribbon length and thickness/mass, as well as in which dimension the corrugations run). Accidents on site, like a boom arm falling down, a too fast stand movement (allowing air to stretch and break the ribbon like an umbrella in the strong wind).
Ironically, I suspect it's these 'environmental and transport factors' which account for many ribbon fatalities...they are rarely injured in the actual recording process (maybe inside a kick drum is tempting fate tho' ?)

Ultimately there seems to be huge variability in a ribbon mic's susceptibility to damage...between constructional, storage and usage factors.
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