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RCA 77D? Are there other options?
Old 29th November 2015 | Show parent
  #61
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier ➑️
77 is my all time fave, but didn't Bing use the 44 ?
I don't know if Bing had a preference, but now I wonder if he did... On at least one record, he is pictured singing into a 77D. The photo might have been staged. but it appears to be a candid studio shot. Among the images that come up in a google search, Bing is pictured with both 44s and 77s, as well as what appears to be a U48 in his later years.

I'd love to get my hands on a 44 and compare the two, but it'll be a while before my budget allows for another huge purchase. I'm in love with the 77D though.
Attached Thumbnails
RCA 77D? Are there other options?-img_0995.jpg   RCA 77D? Are there other options?-bingcbs.jpg  
Old 29th November 2015 | Show parent
  #62
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier ➑️
77 is my all time fave, but didn't Bing use the 44 ?
Google "bing crosby microphone" and click "images" and you'll see both 44s and 77s. Not likely that any of these photos were candids, but there you go. Scroll down a ways and you'll even see an early bottle-type condenser. Hardly surprising, given that Bing was so involved in bringing German tape technology to the US.
Old 29th November 2015 | Show parent
  #63
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➑️
Google "bing crosby microphone" and click "images" and you'll see both 44s and 77s. Not likely that any of these photos were candids, but there you go. Scroll down a ways and you'll even see an early bottle-type condenser. Hardly surprising, given that Bing was so involved in bringing German tape technology to the US.
And... given the timeline, what was popular in U.S. studios at the time, and the major studios he recorded at. I would say it's safe to say that most of his noted "hits" were probably recorded with a 44. My $.02

I'm right in the middle of reading 'Sessions With Sinatra'. It's technical about the mics and the use of. From the pages of the 44 was pretty much the vocal mic of the big band era in major U.S. studios and shortly there after moving into the 50's.

I did that search and look what also came up! Now you can get that Bing/Bowie Little Drummer Boy tone going. LOL
Attached Thumbnails
RCA 77D? Are there other options?-108017439.jpg  
Old 29th November 2015
  #64
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
From everything I've heard and read the 44 was the gold standard of recording and broadcast well into the '50s. The 77 was more of a problem solver for tight quarters like an announce booth. I have both a 77D and a 77DX that I bought brand new around 1970. The D has less midrange coloration but also a lower output level.

Let me add that most photo-shoots were staged with a photographer choosing the mike. No producer wanted 20-30 union musicians with the taximeter running being distracted by a photographer.
Old 29th November 2015 | Show parent
  #65
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1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson
Let me add that most photo-shoots were staged with a photographer choosing the mike.
In the early days of MTV you'd see lots of AKG 414s for the same reason. Then I started having singers ask for a 414. Life imitates art.
Old 30th November 2015 | Show parent
  #66
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emrr's Avatar
 
24 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson ➑️
Let me add that I was always told to use the 250 Ohm tap on an RCA mike.

The RCA mikes never really sounded "right" on transistorized preamps.
I've heard 150 versus 250 make a big difference in the low mids on male vocal with a 77-DX, into an RCA tube preamp. 250 sounded very thin, 150 sounded more correct.

I wonder how they do with RCA transistor amps, I haven't tried that combo together. The RCA transistor preamps are good for dirty rock records for sure.
Old 12th December 2015
  #67
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Hot Vibrato's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Clip in unidirectional mode

Man, this mic sounds fantastic!

The thing that originally appealed to me about this mic is its multidirectional characteristics. It's not only a typical figure eight ribbon, but it can also be set to a somewhat cardioid polar pattern (unidirectional), and a relatively omnidirectional pattern (non-directional).

These settings also yield different frequency responses. Upon experimenting with the different settings, I've concluded that it sounds absolutely wonderful in "unidirectional" mode - much brighter than in bidirectional mode due to the slight bump at around 7khz. In fact, the frequency response chart in unidirectional mode looks similar to that of a 58 or SM7.

I was experimenting with the different settings Thursday night, and on Friday morning (yesterday), my friend Tom came over to do some guitar work (my real job). I proudly showed him my recently-acquired 77D. He said, "Cool! Can I try it?" The mic just happened to be in unidirectional mode (in the V1 position) when I plugged it into an old Gates tube preamp. He grabbed my guitar (Framus archtop that I've done restoration and repairs to). I slapped the headphones over his ears, and he started playing Dylan's "Boots of Spanish Leather" in my untreated living room. I said, "Wait, start over. I want to record this." The clip I've posted was done in one take with no editing. It's just the 77D. I added some reverb and EQ (high shelf and a slight boost around 100 Hz). There's no compression.

The 77D sounds like a completely different mic to me in unidirectional mode. The clips I posted of myself (Post #52 ) were done in bidirectional mode, and the result was a much darker overall timbre.

I'm still loving this mic, and it's turned out to be way more usable and versatile than I could have dreamed.
Attached Files

Boots of Spanish Leather-001.mp3 (4.33 MB, 1594 views)


Last edited by Hot Vibrato; 12th December 2015 at 06:53 PM..
Old 13th December 2015 | Show parent
  #68
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Santiago's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato ➑️
Man, this mic sounds fantastic!

The thing that originally appealed to me about this mic is its multidirectional characteristics. It's not only a typical figure eight ribbon, but it can also be set to a somewhat cardioid polar pattern (unidirectional), and a relatively omnidirectional pattern (non-directional).

These settings also yield different frequency responses. Upon experimenting with the different settings, I've concluded that it sounds absolutely wonderful in "unidirectional" mode - much brighter than in bidirectional mode due to the slight bump at around 7khz. In fact, the frequency response chart in unidirectional mode looks similar to that of a 58 or SM7.

I was experimenting with the different settings Thursday night, and on Friday morning (yesterday), my friend Tom came over to do some guitar work (my real job). I proudly showed him my recently-acquired 77D. He said, "Cool! Can I try it?" The mic just happened to be in unidirectional mode (in the V1 position) when I plugged it into an old Gates tube preamp. He grabbed my guitar (Framus archtop that I've done restoration and repairs to). I slapped the headphones over his ears, and he started playing Dylan's "Boots of Spanish Leather" in my untreated living room. I said, "Wait, start over. I want to record this." The clip I've posted was done in one take with no editing. It's just the 77D. I added some reverb and EQ (high shelf and a slight boost around 100 Hz). There's no compression.

The 77D sounds like a completely different mic to me in unidirectional mode. The clips I posted of myself (Post #52 ) were done in bidirectional mode, and the result was a much darker overall timbre.

I'm still loving this mic, and it's turned out to be way more usable and versatile than I could have dreamed.
Nice! People often disparage the non figure-8 directional settings of this mic, but your use of the unidirectional pattern here's really cool. I would treat it like a different mic indeed, it's a very different sound.
Old 13th December 2015 | Show parent
  #69
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Santiago ➑️
Nice! People often disparage the non figure-8 directional settings of this mic, but your use of the unidirectional pattern here's really cool. I would treat it like a different mic indeed, it's a very different sound.
Thanks! I wish I could say I intentionally set the mic to unidirectional mode, but it was just a fortunate coincidence that it happened to most likely be the best setting for that situation. I don't think the guitar would have been picked up as well, and I don't think Tom's vocals would have shined as nicely if I had it set to bidirectional mode. To be honest, if it were a real recording session, I would have used a separate guitar mic (or two), and set the 77 to bidirectional. As it stands, I've never made a nicer sounding recording using only one mic, and the result is arguably better than it would have been if I had gone to the trouble of setting up more mics. I'm still learning this craft, and I love having these "eureka" moments, even if I do learn something new by mistake!

To my ears, the 77D in unidirectional mode actually sounds less "lo-fi" than in bidirectional mode. This is the opposite of what many of the remarks on this thread led me to believe, so I was unconsciously predisposed to assume that the non figure-8 settings would only be useful for "sound effect" or "color" sounds. But, as I mentioned, the frequency curve of the unidirectional mode actually looks similar to that of a more modern vocal dynamic - compare it to the SM58 frequency graph, and you'll see what I mean. Thankfully, it sounds much different than a 58.

Santiago, I believe you said you have a Varacoustic. This one's on my wish list. Despite it having the same motor assembly, it's obviously a different sounding mic, due to the different casing and different acoustic labyrinth. Do you use it in the non figure-8 settings? If so, in what applications?
Old 13th December 2015 | Show parent
  #70
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Santiago's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato ➑️

Santiago, I believe you said you have a Varacoustic. This one's on my wish list. Despite it having the same motor assembly, it's obviously a different sounding mic, due to the different casing and different acoustic labyrinth. Do you use it in the non figure-8 settings? If so, in what applications?
Hi, I tend to use it on electric guitar amp on bi-directional setting, and on that it's really great. Your thread has made me want to use it in its other settings and on a greater variety of sources. I was always afraid to use it on vocals, but now I'll give it a try and report back here! It may take a while, as I'm leaving on holiday next week, but I will do it.

It's true that the labyrinth is completely different, so the non-figure 8 settings could potentially be quite different from those of the 77 - it will be interesting to try it out. I would expect the figure 8 setting to be the most similar, but of course the metallic case will halso impact on the sound.

I should also add that I had the transformer of mine changed to a contemporary one with greater bandwidth, which is another piece of the puzzle. I think that's necessary more often for Varacoustics than for 77s, as the former had worse-performing transformers.
Old 13th December 2015
  #71
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
FWIW I always preferred the L3 setting.
Old 13th December 2015
  #72
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🎧 5 years
On amp duties @ RCA studios Hollywood (Aftermath sessions)

Old 14th December 2015 | Show parent
  #73
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Hot Vibrato's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Santiago ➑️
Hi, I tend to use it on electric guitar amp on bi-directional setting, and on that it's really great. Your thread has made me want to use it in its other settings and on a greater variety of sources. I was always afraid to use it on vocals, but now I'll give it a try and report back here! It may take a while, as I'm leaving on holiday next week, but I will do it.
Please do. I'd love to hear it. The songs you've posted on Soundcloud sound beautiful. It's not common in this day and age to hear dynamics in modern recordings, and it seems that subtlety in music is a lost art. There's plenty of both in your music, which is a rare thing indeed. Nice work!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santiago ➑️
...I should also add that I had the transformer of mine changed to a contemporary one with greater bandwidth, which is another piece of the puzzle. I think that's necessary more often for Varacoustics than for 77s, as the former had worse-performing transformers.
Do you recall which transformer replaced the original? I asked Darren (Big D) if replacing the transformer in the 77 with a modern one is a good idea. He said the original transformers are superior to anything you can buy today. But of course the high frequency response of a 77D is greater than that of a Varacoustic, so I believe you made the right choice.

If the Varacoustic sounds anything like the 77D, I think it will be quite capable as a vocal mic. I've yet to try the 77D on female vocals, but sometime soon I will be tracking a rockabilly band with a female vocalist. When I do, I'll revive this thread and post some clips.
Old 14th December 2015 | Show parent
  #74
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Hot Vibrato's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson ➑️
FWIW I always preferred the L3 setting.
Interesting. I haven't experimented with the L-1, L-2, and L-3 settings much. Maybe I'm missing out. In the manual, there's no frequency response chart for those settings, but the L-3 position's directional pattern somewhat resembles that of the unidirectional setting, so I assume the frequency response might be similar as well.

What duties are you most likely to use your 77's for? Have you used them much for vocals? Did Motown use ribbon mics? If so, which ones, and in what applications? I'm very interested in learning as much as I can about how the classic analog recordings were made, and the Motown records are among my favorites, so any insight you care to offer would be much appreciated.
Old 14th December 2015 | Show parent
  #75
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Hot Vibrato's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Mulcahy ➑️
On amp duties @ RCA studios Hollywood (Aftermath sessions)
Cool! I love old studio pics, because it gives insight into how classic records were made. As was mentioned previously in this thread, you never know for sure if the photos were staged or not, but the context clues in the above pic indicate that it's probably a candid shot of an actual session.

Makes me want to try my 77D on a guitar amp. I haven't done that yet. Looks like they've got that one about a foot away from the grill. I reckon that's a good place to to start...
Old 14th December 2015 | Show parent
  #76
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato ➑️
Makes me want to try my 77D on a guitar amp. I haven't done that yet. Looks like they've got that one about a foot away from the grill. I reckon that's a good place to to start...
There's another one on Brian's amp just out of view to the right. Better seen in this photo below. They cut Under My Thumb, Mother's Little Helper, Out of Time during those sessions fwiw.

Old 14th December 2015 | Show parent
  #77
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Santiago's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato ➑️
Please do. I'd love to hear it. The songs you've posted on Soundcloud sound beautiful. It's not common in this day and age to hear dynamics in modern recordings, and it seems that subtlety in music is a lost art. There's plenty of both in your music, which is a rare thing indeed. Nice work!

Do you recall which transformer replaced the original? I asked Darren (Big D) if replacing the transformer in the 77 with a modern one is a good idea. He said the original transformers are superior to anything you can buy today. But of course the high frequency response of a 77D is greater than that of a Varacoustic, so I believe you made the right choice.

If the Varacoustic sounds anything like the 77D, I think it will be quite capable as a vocal mic. I've yet to try the 77D on female vocals, but sometime soon I will be tracking a rockabilly band with a female vocalist. When I do, I'll revive this thread and post some clips.
It was an Xaudia 800 series 1:34 transformer, giving an output impedance of 600 ohms. Stewart from Xaudia in the UK re-ribboned it for me and fixed it up, he's great. I agree I would not change the transformer in your 77D, as it's part of the mojo of the mic and its frequency response is better than the one in the Varacoustic.

It did sound good when I tried it on vocals, but I was always afraid to use it as it could damage the ribbon. However, hearing your examples I realise I must!. I

In the Varacoustic it was very limited, so I changed it.
Old 14th December 2015 | Show parent
  #78
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Hot Vibrato's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Santiago ➑️
It did sound good when I tried it on vocals, but I was always afraid to use it as it could damage the ribbon...
These mics were made with vocals and speech as their primary function, so in that regard, I think they are more robust than you're giving them credit for. I'm under the impression that as long as you protect it from air blasts, moisture, and dust, the ribbon should last indefinitely.

I should mention that for most vocal applications, the 77D seems to sound best if the vocalist is at least a foot or two away. My friend Tom was at least two feet away when he sang "Boots of Spanish Leather". I was probably about a foot or so away when singing "Sweet Lorraine", and maybe 18 inches away when singing "You Are My Flower" (sorry, we don't use the metric system much in the US). Also, I find it beneficial to angle the mic as much as 45 degrees, as it helps minimize plosives. However, it doesn't seem necessary if you're more than a couple feet away. These generalizations are of course coming from a guy who's had the mic for less than a month - so take it for what it's worth.
Old 14th December 2015 | Show parent
  #79
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato ➑️
I wish I could ask those RCA engineers a few questions about that session.
I'll bet you can dig up a few books from the period on standard recording practices and find out from there - and I'd be willing to bet you dollars to doughnoughts that the guys making those recordings followed those standard practices too...
Old 14th December 2015 | Show parent
  #80
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson ➑️
FWIW I always preferred the L3 setting.
Interesting! this contributes to further demolish the former Gearslutz consensus that the bi-directional setting was the only one worth using....
Old 14th December 2015 | Show parent
  #81
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Hot Vibrato's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bitsmith ➑️
I'll bet you can dig up a few books from the period on standard recording practices and find out from there - and I'd be willing to bet you dollars to doughnoughts that the guys making those recordings followed those standard practices too...
I wish I could! I've done some searching on the internet, and thus far have found nothing at all on the subject from that era. So if anyone knows of any good vintage books on recording techniques, please let me know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Mulcahy ➑️
There's another one on Brian's amp just out of view to the right. Better seen in this photo below. They cut Under My Thumb, Mother's Little Helper, Out of Time during those sessions fwiw.
Something I noticed about those Stones studio shots is that if you look closely, the mic is not square with the amp but at an angle. If you look at the Bing Crosby photo on the left on post #62 , the 77 in that shot is also angled. This was also an RCA session. So it seems that this was standard practice back in the day. And as I mentioned above, my experiments with close micing vocals confirm that angling the mic helps minimize plosives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santiago ➑️
Interesting! this contributes to further demolish the former Gearslutz consensus that the bi-directional setting was the only one worth using....
Some of the remarks on this thread merely indicate that the bi-directional setting is better for live settings because the figure eight nulls provide more rejection than the other settings. Although I haven't done a band session yet with this mic, I suspect this is true. That said, I'm tempted to try it in uni-directional (or perhaps the L-3 setting) on a vocalist in a band setting just to see how it performs. Sometimes a little leakage isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Old 14th December 2015
  #82
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Speaking across a mike was a common way to avoid sibilance. HF limiters didn't show up until the late '60s. Remember that these were all union sessions so photographers were not generally allowed while people were actually recording. Most were staged photo shoots with a photographer choosing and placing the microphones.
Old 14th December 2015 | Show parent
  #83
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato ➑️
Something I noticed about those Stones studio shots is that if you look closely, the mic is not square with the amp but at an angle. If you look at the Bing Crosby photo on the left on post #62 , the 77 in that shot is also angled. This was also an RCA session. So it seems that this was standard practice back in the day. And as I mentioned above, my experiments with close micing vocals confirm that angling the mic helps minimize plosives.
For the sake of mind expansion it could be a number of things. Say figure eight to pick up the amp and whatever is in line with the camera, room bleed. Cardioid to pick up the amp and block whatever is out front in line with the camera. Speaker could have been pushing a lot of air = paranoid engineer. Or it was placed there by the photographer not knowing which end was up so to speak?

But... if you look closely at the enlarged photo below you can see it's pretty straight in line with the speaker like Keef's. Notice the shutter switch.

Old 14th December 2015 | Show parent
  #84
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson ➑️
Speaking across a mike was a common way to avoid sibilance. HF limiters didn't show up until the late '60s. Remember that these were all union sessions so photographers were not generally allowed while people were actually recording. Most were staged photo shoots with a photographer choosing and placing the microphones.
Bob, did you work a lot with the 44-bx back in the day? I noticed that quite a few were modified to have a music/voice switch on the bottom kinda like the 77 (but only two options). Was that used a lot back in the day?

Last edited by Mr. Mulcahy; 16th December 2015 at 08:41 AM.. Reason: spelling
Old 14th December 2015
  #85
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I never worked with a 44 until I got to Nashville in 2001. I think the 44BX has the voice switch and the 44A doesn't. I never saw anybody use it and I never did on my 77D and 77DX.

L3 is the most even which makes placement easier and faster.
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