Gus

why do you build a microphone?
« on: October 04, 2020, 07:55:56 AM »
I find it interesting that people spend good money to build a microphone(s).
I do it for fun and learning.

I do understand if it is a cost no object build and you understand what you are doing circuit and acoustical wise and it is somewhat different than what you buy.

How many people compare their "clone" build to what it is trying to copy?

Why not buy an AT or a Shure or a Neumann or an AKG and other microphone companies(the ones that have specs like polar graphs) that costs less than the parts for some builds.

You can fool yourself when you build something because you built it.

What really works better in a mix?


Khron

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2020, 08:35:25 AM »
Being a "heathen" (ie. a non-believer in "magical mojo" components), it's a cost thing for me. I mean, if something like a Roswell Mini-K47 is $300, but making my own WITH pad, high-pass and 3 patterns costs me well under a third of that, it's a no-brainer :D

Haven't dabbled much with tube mics yet though, but running some tests on transformers scavenged from TV CCFL inverters has been on my to-do list for a while now. Yes, they might saturate easier on the low-end, but hey - isn't that (ahem) "warmth"? And anyway, you don't know until you know... ::)
Khron's Cave - Electronics - Audio - Teardowns - Mods - Repairs - Projects - Music - Rants - Shenanigans

gyraf

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2020, 09:37:22 AM »
I did it primarily because people I trusted told me "..pro tip: you can't.."

Which made me need to know where it got impossible

and off course it didn't, but consensus in the 90'es was that you couldn't do this - this was before chinese began copying condenser mics, so your cheapest option was still really expensive, and the high prices were rationalized by believing only a few enlightened companies could do this..

/Jakob E.
..note to self: don't let Harman run your company..

Gus

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2020, 10:20:02 AM »
I did it primarily because people I trusted told me "..pro tip: you can't.."

Which made me need to know where it got impossible

and off course it didn't, but consensus in the 90'es was that you couldn't do this - this was before chinese began copying condenser mics, so your cheapest option was still really expensive, and the high prices were rationalized by believing only a few enlightened companies could do this..

/Jakob E.

The G7 article was/is still important.

In the early 2000s a friend told me about the Royer SD follower countryman? microphone schematic that was at the Jensen site. I believe this was before the Tape Op MXL 2001 mod.
That is what got me started thinking about and searching for information that was harder to find back then.
I found the G7 article sometime after that.

It is a big change in what you can find about microphones on the web now from back then.

I bought a number of microphones, transformers and capsules to learn from.
Funny thing is I quickly learned not to believe reviews of microphones after I bought or tried some that had good reviews.

My first post in this thread is to get a discussion started. What do you gain when you DIY?

I think some of the microphones you can purchase for a few hundred dollars are better than some of the clone stuff.

Frequency response is one thing that you can EQ for, polar patterns vs frequency is another thing.

Spencerleehorton

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2020, 10:31:28 AM »
For me working along side a transformer winding company and comparing specs on carnhills, sowters and other transformers and then making my own which to my ears sounded better in many ways.
Having started recording with a cheap ish akg tube mic, my late father having such admiration for top end microphones but we never got the pleasure of sharing making a build of a microphone,  just pa stuff and leads.
Since his been gone I thought I'd try and make a mic in his memory and its grown into an obsession since then!
I may not own a real Neumann but have had a few on loan and tested my stuff against then, and I'm much happier with the sound of mine.
But I still know very little, but learning all the time and love making and designing  my own pcbs, mic bodies, transformers.
The only thing I havent done yet it capsules!!!, next project!!!!
website: www.mohawkstudios.co.uk
email: [email protected]

If it hisses its probably the wrong impedance!!!
Or a snake!!!

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2020, 10:35:21 AM »
I started just for something to do during the lockdown. I already had many great condenser microphones, so I don’t really need any new ones, but after replacing capsules in my abandoned starter mics, I got the bug and just keep making them. I have made over a dozen so far, and modded almost as many.

I make them point-to-point now, which is much more fun and challenging. It is a great feeling when some bags of components suddenly come to life as a pretty decent microphone. I try to improve my builds each time, making them cleaner and efficiently laid out.

My next project is a tube, based on one of the Bulldog mods that Oliver helped design a decade ago.

rogs

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2020, 11:31:33 AM »
I did my RF bias mic project simply because I thought it might be interesting to try something that virtually no one else had tried and finished in the hobby world.  (Uwe Beis' 2014 project hasn't been developed any further, and the inductor details seem to have been lost?)

Only Sennheiser and Rode do Lo-Z RF mics commercially, and they all use SD capsules. (and they tend to be expensive!)...
I thought it might be fun to try and build a cheap 34mm 'end address' condenser mic, that could be used outdoors!
The project seems to have worked out quite well for such a simple idea ... (My thanks to those on this board who helped along the way of course!!   :) )

www.amx.jp137.com - A DIY RF condenser mic project

analogguru

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2020, 11:40:01 AM »
I haven't built one, I only trace them and mod some.  To build one is to expensive for me.  Some of the last microphones I bought for playing around:

....
Karma - K 55:   € 5,--
t.bone - SC140:  € 2,--
t.bone - SC450:  € 5,--
.....

For this money its impossible for me to build one.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2020, 03:57:51 AM by analogguru »

Ricardus

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2020, 11:50:50 AM »
The first mics I built were a pair of Dany's D87s. I built them as my way of getting back into DIY. I used to do a lot of it a decade or more ago, and way back with my dad, but I had been eyeing his web page for a while and figured I'd start there.

Reasons:

1) To get 2 high quality condensers
2) Fun
3) To save money

We have a U87i at the anaog studio where I work but I have yet to do a side-by-side. I will one day. Probably in spring.
Audio mastering for hire..

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2020, 02:19:41 PM »
I started for fun, and i was trying to find and quantize those magic elements that make certain mics cost 10.000$...

Along the way i found ways to make and mod mics in order to get something not found in commercially available mics.

I made some super quiet mics that operate at 120v polarisation voltage. Not suitable for high SPL, but again i use them on super quiet sources where noise is important.

I learned how to mod cheap capsules to get something much more expensive, or unavailable. Like when i made m50 capsule out of 10$ mxl capsule.

I also learned to appreciate commercially available inexpensive mics, and some out of the box designs. I learned how much it takes, and how hard it is to develop a new mic from scratch, including the capsule, and do it right.

At the end mojo i can't control and grasp yet comes mostly from proximity effect, phase, and off axis response. Everything else can be easily controlled/modified.


Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2020, 03:28:50 PM »
I've built a few D87's and a D67. Extremely fun and interesting but also I never had access to such nice mics. There isn't a mic I've used I like better than my hand-built mics. I've had lots of Chinese condensers in the past and nothing has compared. I have shot them out with the real deals owned by friends and they were extremely close. The 87's weren't very expensive to make and the 67 I built with the fund I acquired selling my Rode NTK. Really not too crazy.

TillM

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2020, 04:25:31 PM »
I started building my first mic (Dany's D87) because my band made a record.
We just had a cheap Rode NT1 and a U87 was as a student too pricey.
That was my entering in DIY.
In the meantime I learned a lot about audio electronics.
My second mic was a M49 clone, cause I want a tube mic and I fell in love with the M49.
The last mics I build was only tube mics.
What I really like about the mics I build, is the feeling when you record with them.
And they make my working process much easier.
But I also now understand, that by example Neumann are so pricey, cause they are really well made.
I never compared them to the original ones, but a lot of friends with big studios "rent" my mics and are always happy.

Gus

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2020, 07:46:05 AM »
How many people are thinking about or building transformerless solid state circuits?

I find circuits like the TLM170 to be very interesting.
I have been working on a few transformerless circuits.
I have also built a few tube voltage solid state and solid state and tube circuits.
There might be a run of boards for some of the designs

EDIT I forgot to add the RF microphone thread was very interesting

« Last Edit: October 06, 2020, 08:33:35 AM by Gus »

gyraf

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2020, 08:19:20 AM »
I've been following Rog's RF-bias microphone VERY interested from the side line. There's something special in the way small-signal translates in a RF condenser, I think..

I'm pretty sure I'm going to build this at some time - right now I'm still pushing Tim towards recreating the KK56 capsule needed..

/Jakob E.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2020, 09:33:52 AM by gyraf »
..note to self: don't let Harman run your company..

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2020, 09:11:55 AM »
The first microphone I built was also using Dany's D87 PCB, mic body from Aurycle and K87 capsule from microphone parts. It was for a friend who has a recording studio and was thinking about selling a kidney to buy an original U87...   :D just kidding... but he badly wanted a U87, and DIY was seen as a good alternative.

I built it and I was amazed how I could build something that works so great, and don't know anything about how it really works. That sparked my curiosity.

After that, more friends and people who learned about the D87 build, asked me to build mics for them, but now cheaper options. This time and with the help from the MicBuilders group folks, I went with Scott Helmke's Alice and TSB2555B capsules with BM700/BM800 bodies. To my surprise, these cheap mics also had great sound. Some of these cheap DIY mics started to be used on a daily basis, instead of the usual big brands mics. Again, I was amazed!

So, to me it was because friends asked me to built mics for them. I don't have a recording studio, but always wanted to learn about electronics and mics brought the perfect motivation to dive on the field.

Regards!


« Last Edit: October 06, 2020, 09:29:30 AM by homero.leal »

shot

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2020, 09:30:41 PM »
For me, I was always into compressors! I've built many different designs and always wanted more. But in my mind mics were something where you really have to invest money into few expensive components and risk if it will work as it should.
But when a friend of mine gave me Studio Projects mic with broken capsule for free (he wanted to throw it away since it was broken) it was that moment that pushed me to try my first mic. I did Dany's D87 and I was blown away. Went to test it against genuine U87AI and it was very very close. In some aspects I even liked it more.
That got me started. Second mic was G7 in RuudNL's pipe body... than I did FET47... then I modified Poctop/Matador pcb and did ELAM... next was FET847... two RF mics... another ELAM for a friend... and last one was D-EF47 that got to be a king of all the mics I own. This mic is litteraly a workhorse in my studio.
I bought some aluminium foil and a couple of cheap bodies to do my first couple of ribbons but I haven't got time to do them yet. But winter is comming  ;D
This is highly addictive game!

:)

Luka

Delta Sigma

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2020, 07:01:00 PM »
I only got into DIY mics to learn. I sold some mics (including a Beesneez Arabella which I loved) just to be able to build more. I built a U67 first, then 251, M49b, EF-U47.

I learned the most from building the M49 but it was also the most frustrating.

I hear where you're coming from Gus; from an electronics point of view, transformerless mics are much more interesting. The problem, is that I don't like transformerless mics. I like colour and I don't mind noise. I need transformers!

People may have much different experiences where they are but in my town, good tube mics are rare and only the high end studios have them. My goal is to rent mics out to small studios and friends just to get some more colour in our local music.

chefducuisine

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2020, 03:18:42 PM »
How many people are thinking about or building transformerless solid state circuits?

I find circuits like the TLM170 to be very interesting.
I have been working on a few transformerless circuits.
I have also built a few tube voltage solid state and solid state and tube circuits.
There might be a run of boards for some of the designs

EDIT I forgot to add the RF microphone thread was very interesting




I started DIYing mics with a G7 (thanks Jakob) in a SP C1 body and a Lundahl tranny.
This got me into classic tube mics and I built clones of the known classics... in the end this often resulted in a lot of original or close to original components. I compare my clones to well maintained originals whenever I can and details count. You maybe remember some of the classical guitar recording demos I posted some time ago with DIY U47 and DIY U87...

There are 4x U87 clones I built for myself. The only thing that remained DIY are Danys PCBs including the Cinemag trannies. The rest - and especially the mechanical parts - are all original parts I mostly bought used here and there over time. (The original capsule and basket did the trick on the U87.)


I am interested in building transformerless solid-state mics.
Of the 3 TLM170 (old version) I own, two are getting used regularly. On the third I managed to damage the fine wires coming out of the transformer of the DC/DC converter because I tried to remove the gluey stuff on the PCB out of curiosity. Silly me... I tried to find schematics on the net but they are of bad quality and none of them carried sufficient info of the inductor. I tried to fix the transformer by counting turns and rewinding but the attempt failed. I assume this is because I mixed up the wires going to the different locations of the PCB.
I also bought a replacement board from Neumann, but you only get the new (lacquered/potted) Versions. These do not fit to the connector inside the old version TLM170... schematics are not available of the new DC/DC boards. Neumann recommends to replace all PCBs inside the TLM170 if this happens. This is were I stopped and put the defective mic onto the shelf. Maybe I'll try to fix it again when time allows...

The TLM170 is one of the most used mics in my collection and I am always surprised of the level of meat and versatility I get from a mic that sounds really boring the first time you hear it but discloses it's power during mixdown.

Looking to my Neumann parts box there are two K89 and a complete TLM170 body that should see some use... I would be highly interested in your design ideas  ;)

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2020, 05:19:39 PM »
I'll just add to the love for the TLM170.  I owned a first issue for some time and it was also my most used  Neumann.  Some may consider it overkill for this, but I thought there was nothing better for kick drum. 
Of course, it was also regularly used it for vox, bass guitar cab, acoustic gtr., cello etc., etc...

Jeffrey Toobin: "This is the most embarrassing week ever."

Rudy Giuliani: "Hold my pants..."

rockinrob86

Re: why do you build a microphone?
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2020, 10:16:38 AM »
What are these magical mics you can buy with transformers and not a chinese K67 capsule?

My DU87 builds with cinemag transformers and maiku capsules come in at around $500.  The maiku is far better than the chinese capsules, period (I know they use chinese backplates, but the sound is there).

My voice is very sibilant, and I like to play acoustic guitar and sing.  I can tell how I'm going to like any mic if I put it in front of me and see how it handles me, and also how the acoustic guitar leakage sounds.

The chinese capsules sound fine with up front sounds, but the bleed sounds strange. 

In my first DU67 build I used a used neumann, and in my 2nd one I have a chinese capsule while I'm trying to decide which K67 to go with, and the difference is really interesting.  You put the chinese one up, and do a vocal, and it sounds good.  You do the same vocal with the neumann capsule one and it gets noticeably smoother on the high end.  Now the chinese one sounds grainy and smeared.  Off axis sounds on the neumann one are clear and unobtrusive, whereas the chinese is annoying and doesn't seem to blend as well with the acoustic guitar mic, for example.


Anyways, what commercial offerings are out there for the prices you can DIY?  an AKG c414 used for $700 or whatever?  I have an AKG C414 eb P48, and it is probably my 7th or 8th most useful condenser, and my most expensive non tube model.  New they are even more than that!

I also like with DIY I can buy a transformer when I get a good deal, or a capsule or body, put it on the shelf and slowly spend $100 or $200 a time over a year or so, rather than having to spend $1K+ in one go.

I don't particularly care about having non transformer, clean sounds.  I'm looking for fat color for pretty much everything I do.


Finally, I just finished recording this over the weekend for a charity tribute show we do here at a club every year with original artists doing tribute sets on Halloween to raise money to get instruments for kid's music programs.  This year it will be streaming, so I did a "quarantined" set with me playing all the instruments, with a few guest spots.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0QyvxTS6wc

This recording is basically all my U47 and U67 build mics, with a few others I built and a handful of commercial dynamic mics.  All going into tube preamps I built or modified (peavey VMP-2's, Ian's (Ruffrecords) classic tube mic pre, and an RCA BA2C clone), recording amps I built (mostly a vox-ish clone with aspects of AC-15, AC30 top boost and matchless mixed together) even with guitars I built (partscaster tele, Les Paul Jr. build)

If I'm recording, mixing, mastering, playing all the instruments, usually writing the songs, building the guitars, amps, pedals and cables, building the preamps and recording gear, why would I stop at the mics?! :)



 

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