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How many tube mics make sense?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
How many tube mics make sense?

For any given circumstance - you choose it - what is the max number of concurrently tracked tube [e.g., big 5] mics that makes any sense - and continues to contribute to the art?


Any examples you can recommend?

Ray H.

I've got the impression that I might use any number of Schoeps [e.g. one spot per instrument/vocal - perhaps more - and then the mains, and a few for ambient] and still benefit from the quality and timbre of each capsule/amp.

With respect to tube mics, I'm guessing [for me] the max is presently somewhere between two and four. Seems like a too-small number.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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mbvoxx's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
well, let's see...these are the tube mics I have in the studio mic locker, in the order that I acquired them. But to answer the original question, I would be fine with 5.

Soundelux E47
Telefunken AK47
Manley Reference C (w Telefunken 12AT 7tube swap - tamed the high end)
Brauner Valvet
Flea 47
Flea 49
Pearlman TM250
Flea 12

I use the E47, Pearlman, and Fleas the most. The 49 and AK47 are great on acoustic guitars and the 12, 47's, and TM250 and Valvet are fantastic on vocals.

The album project I just finished saw the Flea 12 used on the male vocals for one singer, and the C414-U BLS on the other male singer. When I replaced the scratch vocal tracks, which were done on an SM7 (original model) with the final takes, we tried all the Fleas, Manley, Pearlman, Valvet, and E47, and the 12 was the one that sounded right and sat in the mix perfectly for one voice and, after none of the tube mics worked for the other voice, I set up the AKG and it was the one that worked. As usual, it just depends on the voice,

To my ears, the 12 sounds like a nice coating of sonic velvet has been added to the vocal. And BTW, it was a near-tie between the 12 and the TM250 on the baritone voice being recorded, but the 12 had the more 'finished' sound on the voice being recorded. The other voice was a high tenor, nasal sounding singer with tonal similarities to Ricky Skaggs and the 414 just brought the magic.

I should probably trim the collection one day soon, just based on regularity of use for my specific needs.
And FWIW: There are some fantastic non-tube mics that get a lot of use in my room. High honors go to the Shoeps V4U- it's just stellar, Blue Kiwi - always works, and AKG C414-B ULS - a real studio workhorse mic...it can handle anything and everything.

Plus, my old SM7, which is from the early 80's, that stays on a boom ready to go 24/7.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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Progger's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I know things aren't what they used to be, but some of my very favorite recordings were made almost entirely with tube mics (with a ribbon or two here or there). Like this one.



If money were no object and I magically had my pick of M49s and u67s, I'd use them everywhere. On just about everything except maybe kick and snare, I suppose.

Not that I don't love great solid state mics, too... like Ray, I love the sound of Schoeps, and I think we could probably make great-sounding records with nothing but those.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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Oldone's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Money no object, and if I had a drum tracking room I would opt for maybe 5 although I actually I own 2. Wish list would be for:

U47
KM54 x 2
U67 x 2

I own a Telefunken U47and a Neumann M149 and these cover a lot of ground. The only thing I would like to have are the KM54s for acoustic guitar and overheads. I could get by without KM54s with a nice pair of U67s however.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Guru
Use a great tube mic preamp and all of them are tube mics.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
The OP’s interests seem to be orchestral recording. That is not the niche most of us inhabit.
In a home studio, and for very occasional live performance recording, I have only had a max of four tube mics on hand at any time. I sold a pair of mid-priced tube mics that were too much hassle for remotes and not special enough for the studio. I currently own three tube mics. They are most often used on vocals, although I think they work on almost anything. I bought a Mojave 200, and was almost completely happy with it. Based on that like, I bought the Mojave 1000, which SHOULD have been my last tube buy. It is what I want a tube mic to be.
But then I bought a Warm 47 and had it modified. That isn’t a mic I really needed, but it probably fills some back-brain itch common to the Abbey Road generation. It’s a very good all-rounder, but many good mics could be described that way.
So, the 200 is largely superseded by the 1000, and the Warm 47 is an indulgence. I have ONE tube mic that is a keeper, but given set up and warmup, it isn’t often the first choice other than on some male vocals.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman ➡️
The OP’s interests seem to be orchestral recording. That is not the niche most of us inhabit.
Ah, I left not the best impression with my secondary comments. I didn't mean to focus application toward orchestral recording - but I didn't want to exclude it. [1]

Still the query is for any given circumstance - you choose it.


Thanks, @ Bushman .

Ray H.

[1] I imagine a number of classical orchestral & opera recordings - even after 8+ tracks became available - have leveraged all tube mics. But I don't know what the effective max [where it made a positive contribution] would be there? Same for Jazz orchestras? I don't know.


@ Progger - Great example. I'll put you down for a baker's dozen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams ➡️
Use a great tube mic preamp and all of them are tube mics.
Thanks, Jim. Should I put you down for a gross - 144 tracks - then?
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #8
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Progger's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️

@ Progger - Great example. I'll put you down for a baker's dozen.
Sounds like a plan! I'll take seven M49s and six u67s, if you please, and hell, through a couple C12s on top for grins. One of those custom Columbia Records rotary-fader tube consoles too, if you please!

(On a side note: I recently recorded in a studio with a Tree Audio "Roots" console for the first time, and that's one incredibly sweet unit. Thinking I'll probably get a "Branch" at some point and realize my rotary-fader tube dreams...)
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️
For any given circumstance - you choose it - what is the max number of currently tracked tube [e.g., big 5] mics that makes any sense - and continues to contribute to the art?


Any examples you can recommend?

Ray H.

I've got the impression that I might use any number of Schoeps [e.g. one spot per instrument/vocal - perhaps more - and then the mains, and a few for ambient] and still benefit from the quality and timbre of each capsule/amp.

With respect to tube mics, I'm guessing [for me] the max is presently somewhere between two and four. Seems like a too-small number.
One or two tube mics aren't gonna do much imo. But ! ! if you record using a 100% vintage tube chain ..the results are on all records recorded before transistors became the craze.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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MandoBastardo's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The answer is 42.

21 stereo pairs of tube mics might be overkill for solo ukulele performance... but why take the chance.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier ➡️
One or two tube mics aren't gonna do much imo. [. . .]
Thanks, @ vernier .

I was initially thinking of tube mics - before opening the thread - as particularly valuable in two or three situations:
  1. Money mics for lead or duet vocals and instrumental solos. . .where one or two might just do it?
  2. A Decca Tree-ish scenario. . .ok, so now we are at three or more. But for Decca, maybe limited to the M50?
  3. Used as drum overheads in certain circumstances. . .but I don't have sufficient experience?

My thinking is yet limited, I know.


Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier ➡️
[. . .] But ! ! if you record using a 100% vintage tube chain ..the results are on all records recorded before transistors became the craze.
Hmm, I'm trying to turn this into a number? Surely, it won't be a large prime appropriate in modern asymmetric public/private key cryptography.

I was mostly playing dive bars along the beach - or already recording to a Tascam Series 70 8 track during the mid '70s. . .which is as far back as I go, professionally.

I'm guessing a vintage tube real to reel tape machine maxed out pretty low. Did they make it to 24 channels before the Studer A800 in 1978? I just don't know the history.


So, somewhere between 8 and 16 max concurrent tube mics?

Ray H
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Guru
 
The 3 vocal microphones I've (literally) dreamt about are...
U47/C37a/44 Ribbon, over the years.
Chris
P.S. IMHO FLEA 12 w/Tim Campbell capsule. deserves
more attention at GS.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #13
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️
Thanks, @ vernier .

I was initially thinking of tube mics - before opening the thread - as particularly valuable in a two or three situations:
  1. Money mics for lead or duet vocals and instrumental solos. . .where one or two might just do it?
  2. A Decca Tree-ish scenario. . .ok, so now we are at three or more. But for Decca, maybe limited to the M50?
  3. Used as drum overheads in certain circumstances. . .but I don't have sufficient experience?

My thinking is yet limited, I know.




Hmm, I'm trying to turn this into a number? Surly, it won't be a large prime employed by modern asymmetric public/private key cryptography.

I was mostly playing dive bars along the beach - or already recording to a Tascam Series 70 8 track during the mid '70s. . .which is as far back as I go, professionally.

I'm guessing a vintage tube real to reel tape machine maxed out pretty low. Did they make it to 24 channels before the Studer A800 in 1978? I just don't know the history.


So, somewhere between 8 and 16 max concurrent tube mics?

Ray H
Nah ..just one good tube mic and compatible preamp goes along way imo.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Guru
 
Maybe at Shabbey Road.

Chris
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Btw, "geartBa" is sorta growing on me. How's everyone liking it so far?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
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gravyface's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Feeling terribly inadequate right now. I have zero tube mics in the stable.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface ➡️
Feeling terribly inadequate right now. I have zero tube mics in the stable.
I'm only one step up with a cheapy mccheap one!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Guru
 
Guess it's safe to confess...
Lowly MXL V69 here.
And a U195 with a FAT switch.

But all I need to to do is run them, through my SP VTB-1 (like Jim says)
Voila!
Instant 47/67/251 Killer.

Chris
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 ➡️
Guess it's safe to confess...
Lowly MXL V69 here.
And a U195 with a FAT switch.

But all I need to to do is run them, through my SP VTB-1 (like Jim says)
Voila!
Instant 47/67/251 Killer.

Chris
Yep which is why I got my TC Rooster for some tube magic.
My current (mainly cheapskate) mic locker (off the top of my head - will probably forget a few)
An early version of what now called a Fame VT-67 (the cheapo tube mic)
Austrian Audio OC18
R0de NT2A, NT1, MT5 pair
Coles 4038
Lewett LCT140 air pair
Vanguard V4
Fame VRM-24 (excellent - convinced it is an Avantone CR-14 in disguised!)
SE S1R, SE 2200A
Samar AL95
Heil Audio PR20s and 22s (several), PR30
SM57x2
Behringer XM8500s, XM1800s and ECM8000
Some stereo in-ears (can't remember brand!)
Old 2 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Guru
 
Nice collection!

IMHO if you have a singer with strong low mids/in the "right key(s)", a FET can sound quite "tube-ish".

But for peace of mind, going direct into a quality LDC tube mic (like Heiserman/Bock/Soyuz/Chandler/Tonelux/Manley (for the "kids" Ref C /etc.), makes life simpler,
and more reliable.
Chris
Old 2 weeks ago
  #21
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bkbirge's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I've been enjoying a pair of Stam u47 clones lately, very nice loaded with the M7 style capsules. Love tube mics, have a pair of Altec cardioid lipsticks that live on the piano. Several more of the Altec lipsticks in omni get used for acoustics, upright (one of the best mics for this), orchestral section spots, etc. A pair of Chameleon TS-1 stay on drum overheads.

Used to have a pair of U67 and CMV563 that I liked. In the middle of building a pair of U67 clones because I miss the originals so much.

A Stanford Omega omni nuvistor that can be cool on amps but I wouldn't use it in an orchestral session, very bandlimited sound. A pair of Oktava 2500 often work well on the room though my current favorite in that role is a B&O BM5 stereo ribbon (kills on strings too). Also have a Chameleon TS2 out on loan to an Americana artist that fits his voice extremely well, a very interesting mic that when it fits the source is magic.

A constant favorite is a Groove Tubes Velo 8t which was their tube boosted ribbon mic, so nice on sax and trumpet. Would love to find another one to make it a pair.

Miss using a C37a and a pair of KM56 mics from a studio I used to freelance at but otherwise I'm pretty good on the mic locker right now. I don't actually have any solid state condenser mics at all, only tube, dynamic, or ribbon. Suits me fine.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 ➡️
Nice collection!

IMHO if you have a singer with strong low mids/in the "right key(s)", a FET can sound quite "tube-ish".

Chris
Yes, my Vangaurd V4 (FET) kills it in this sort of application - by far the best of my mics for decent forward mids with character.

My cheapo tube does a good job in certain applications, in Omni mode it sounds surprisingly nice. It has the usual Chinese bumps up top but takes EQ well.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #23
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️
I was initially thinking of tube mics - before opening the thread - as particularly valuable in two or three situations:
[*]Money mics for lead or duet vocals and instrumental solos. . .where one or two might just do it?[*]A Decca Tree-ish scenario. . .ok, so now we are at three or more. But for Decca, maybe limited to the M50?[*]Used as drum overheads in certain circumstances. . .but I don't have sufficient experience?
i do claim to have quite a bit of experience in terms of recording/mixing drums...

i do not consider tube mics to be especially valuable as drum overheads, although i like them in one particular setup which i call a 'modified glyn johns equidistant l/C/r+kick setup' - but no one in the world could tell from listening to the tracks whether i've used ldc's with or without tubes, sdc's (with or without tubes) so it's clearly out of nostalgia and not a technical necessity.


___



[as with any other large and loud instrument, i consider the room to be way more important than the type of mics, besides of course the musician, the instrument, the heads, the tuning, the mic positions, the preamps, the settings, the converters, the use of dynamic processing, the blend between close, more distant and ambient mics, the balance between real and artificificial reverb etc.]

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 2 weeks ago at 04:19 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 2 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Yes, "The Room" is my bugaboo. I can do soft vocals, my fave/local Coffeeshop's small Conference Room.
Moderate volume vocals, at work afterhours. Up to medium/typical db level vocals, at my Buddy's Project Studio.
Can get away with a little more, by using good dynamic microphones.

But have to book time at a Pro studio, to ever be loud. Not as technically adept, as some of the more advanced singers around town...
But definitely can be the loudest!

On the cheap the Lauten LA-320, along with a NOS 5751 tube upgrade, is a nice setup.

I also like the sound of the Advanced Audio CM48T, that Vincent Ricciardi (Shadow V) demonstrated on his YouTube video.
Not that near a Heiserman/Tonelux/Soundelux U99/FLEA/etc... But still very good.
Chris
Old 2 weeks ago
  #25
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DougS's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
For tube mics I have..
-Chandler REDD
-Manley Silver
-Pearlman TM47
-Avantone CV12
...and I just pulled the trigger on a Tonelux JC35
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #26
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️
(...)[*]A Decca Tree-ish scenario. . .ok, so now we are at three or more. But for Decca, maybe limited to the M50?[*]Used as drum overheads in certain circumstances. . .but I don't have sufficient experience?

(...)

So, somewhere between 8 and 16 max concurrent tube mics?
i forgot to mention four things, relating to the use of tube(s)/tube mics for recording of drums:

- my favourite setup of m50's is not as a decca tree (as main system for recording of orchestras) but as a widely spaced pair in a large room at quite some distance to drums (as ambis).
- although i mostly don't like mono room mics (as it sounds 'wrong' in terms of colouration compared to pretty much any stereo system), i do occasionally use an additional mono ambi mic (u67 in my case) and send it to the drum 'smash group'.
- even in the latter application, i mostly favour using a tube preamp over a tube mic which i then can overdrive to taste so i recommend using any high output ldc (but not necessarily a tube ldc).
- i do occasionally like adding some 'grit' to the snare drum and specifically to piccolo snares (as they often lack some 'body'): either using tubes or any other device which adds 2nd and 3rd harmonics for me does the trick.

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 2 weeks ago at 08:48 PM.. Reason: wording
Old 2 weeks ago
  #27
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
The perfect mic locker for voice: Could handle any voice in max details with this.
U49
U47
U269
C37A
C800
ELAM251
C700S
U99S
----
44
RU4
4038
-----
RE20
ND38
MD409
MD441
KSM140
MD431
Old 2 weeks ago
  #28
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I always prefer tube mics on vocals so atleast 1, the rest can be fets, ribbons etc.

So basically 1 main tube mic
2 ribbons Coles 4038
2 SDC km84


Pairs are always nice but you can really get close with some Eq.


I have two of the "famous 5" but I've been trying out a few nice mics on my channel the last couple of months ranging from 1500-8000$ and no microphones has really been an disappointed. Options are plenty these days so you don't have to overspend for quality today.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #29
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum ➡️
The perfect mic locker for voice: Could handle any voice in max details with this.
U49
U47
U269
C37A
C800
ELAM251
C700S
U99S
----
44
RU4
4038
-----
RE20
ND38
MD409
MD441
KSM140
MD431
That will be $200,000, now how do we cut corners. I have five of those, and copies/clones of 5 more. I have not use a real U49, U47, 269. What are the duplicates on that list. How would others trim it down?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #30
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GreenNeedle's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
It seems like a strange inquiry to me.
I tend to think of the relationship of the source and the mic as a couple, if the sound is hard or bright i can soften it with mic choice and then preamp choice and then compressor choice. But do i want to soften it everytime??
Nothing sounds like a pair of 47s over a kit, but its not my first choice, some projects call for ribbons up there or for me 414’s are a fav.
Many vocals are better on a 44 then a 47. You can get them to a similar place with eq but they are different animals and the 44 is more natural....artist, style, feeling of tune??
The u67 is great if you know what it creates. You can end up with a pretty fuzzy vocal if you hit it hot into a tube preamp. Or it can go a long way to smoothing out a hard harsh voice, but so can the Royer 122.
I think the idea of thinking ‘ok we should have a taste of tube condenser here and some ribbon there and dynamic over there‘ is cool, it comes with experience to able to plan that but it cant really be done until you own the mic and know it really well, where it shines and fails. 47s are a horrible choice for some sources. A 4038 can destroy a 47 on an acoustic gtr depending on the gtrs roll in the mix and its my opinion that nothing sounds better on an acoustic in isolation than a 47.

So babble babble babble, let the source tell you what it needs, then find the solution through you intimate knowledge of your present signal chains.
Again the right compressor in the 3rd position can make or break a signal chain.
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