20/12/2011 Bookmark and Share

Mic test at Sphere Studios

SE, Rode, AKG & Neumann in shoot-out

Sonic Distribution recently set up a blind listening test at Sphere studios in London, where the following mics were used to record the same set of vocal and acoustic guitar examples: SE Electronics X1, Rode NT1A, AKG Perception P220 and Neumann TLM102. Along with other members of the music press, I was asked to go along to ensure there was no cheating, and I also sat in on the listening tests so that I could form my own opinion. The complete list of those taking part was: producers/engineers Chris Porter, Dean Ross, Ofer Shabi (Soho Sonic Studios), Arie Van Der Poel, Charlie Thomas, Dave Bascombe. Media: Paul White (Sound on Sound), Zenon Schoepe (Resolution), Mike Hillier (Music Tech Magazine), Jules Standen (Gearslutz). Performers/Artists: Roachie (male vocals), Roxy Yarnold (female vocals), Chris Sheehan, Ofer Shabi (acoustic guitar). The two singers and the acoustic guitar were recorded to Pro Tools with no processing or EQ, and then the four mic signals were fed to four faders on the studio's Neve 88R console so the listeners could adjust the levels while listening. The engineer operating the system moved the fader allocation between each test so nobody knew which mics were assigned to which faders until the votes were added up.<strong>Paul White at Sphere Studios' Neve 88R</strong>Paul White at Sphere Studios' Neve 88R

Since four mics can’t all be in the sweet spot at the same time the performers recorded four different takes, all via the same Prism ADA8-XR preamp and converter, and were extremely consistent. Each participant in the listening tests then spent several minutes listening critically to the recorded pieces via a pair of Barefoot MicroMain MM27s, switching between channels themselves, making notes on the ‘sound’ of each track, and ranking the sonic performance in order or preference. Paul White

The results of the test can be seen at the link below.