Cheap old mic’s still useful?

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Rybow

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Hello all!
A friend of mine gave me a few old mic’s he bought randomly off Kijiji. I was wondering if anyone here has used or still uses these, and what you like them on.

Sony ECM-250
He actually gave me 2, but one is kaput. So far I’ve just done a little “check one two”. Pops like crazy, and has high handling noise. There’s a YouTube video comparing this to an SM57 on a guitar amp that I haven’t properly listened to yet.

Sony ECM-21
Have yet to plug it in. No connector on it

Sansui SDM-1
Sounds great on an amp. I found it a little smoother than a 57 with less proximity effect. Very cool little mic.

Any thoughts on these? Or any other cheap old gems that you adore to this day?
 

Whoops

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Those look to be cheaper mics targeted towards the consumer market and not the Pro market.
But try them out, if you like them on some sources than use them and have fun.

I've tried many different mics over the years, fortunately I had the chance to use already all the well known expensive mics but also some cheap mics.
Experience wise I found all of them pretty useful, so as an Engineer I'm not a "Mic Snob" I made great recordings with $20000 mics and also with $100 mics
, it's more what fits the instrument, the sound, the song, the aesthetic of the music.

Try them out and share with us your opinions on those ones
 

Rybow

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Those look to be cheaper mics targeted towards the consumer market and not the Pro market.
But try them out, if you like them on some sources than use them and have fun.

I've tried many different mics over the years, fortunately I had the chance to use already all the well known expensive mics but also some cheap mics.
Experience wise I found all of them pretty useful, so as an Engineer I'm not a "Mic Snob" I made great recordings with $20000 mics and also with $100 mics
, it's more what fits the instrument, the sound, the song, the aesthetic of the music.

Try them out and share with us your opinions on those ones
Just another tool in the toolbox. I’m lucky to be able to work with some nice mics myself (not $20000 though! That’s more than my damn car!). These just sort of fell into my lap. More creative tools than critical I think. I’m often inspired by the way something sounds to the point where I’ve re written entire songs.
Except that SDM-1. That mic slays on distorted amps. Well, my distorted amp. From the manual it was designed to plug into their sd-7000 tape deck. I used my 312 pre amp. I’ll try to post some samples with maybe a comparison to a 57 or 58. Frequency response attached

I have an old D104 (CB / HAM radio mic) hanging around that I plan to rewire for studio use.
Dude that sounds so cool! Bet that would sound very interesting. You’ll have to share some sound samples when you get it up and running
 

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Tubetec

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Dont forget the Phil Collins vocal sound was an eagle electret mic plugged into the SSL talkback module.
Years ago I made a mic from a carbon telephone mouthpiece , I cant remember precisely how I did it ,but I managed to apply phantom power from the centre tap of a transformer across the carbon mic , it took a little time for the carbon granules to settle down after power up , there was tons of level out of it though and it had that telephone quality without the need for any eqing .
 

Tubetec

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At a studio I worked years back they had a huge collection of magazines , Sound engineer and Producer/ Studio sound and other publications . Every evening I'd take away a pile of magazines and dig through all the interesting articles . The one where I read about Phil Collins was when he had Hugh Padgham producing , so during his solo phase in the mid to late 80's , I cant remember which publication at this stage .

Heres a link to a site originally posted here by PRR , theres a huge collection of great stuff here , if fact theres so much good stuff its hard to find the wood from the trees .



Theres link to Sound engineer /producer articles here

Artists & Interviews

The actual mic they used I believe was cardioid pencil mic , battery powered with xrl output , and had a light gold chrome finish . I did actually have a similar model of eagle electret mic in a junk box , but I think thats long gone now .


heres a link to a modern eagle mic of similar design , but theres lots of other stuff out there by other manufacturers , many are destined for domestic usage , but you do find certain models with xlr out which would be more appropriate for studio usage.

There lots of good links to Hugh Padgham interviews out there both in text and youtube link etc , he's bound to mention some of his favoured techniques .

Happy hunting .
 

Tubetec

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Phil was a fairly hard hitter on the drums , not sure how well a battery powered electret mic would hold up ,
I guess the original point made is that sometimes even a narrow band lo-fi signal chain can be just the effect you want .
 

Whoops

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I think he meant the drum sound on Coming in the Air. I may be wrong.

The Drum sound for the "In the Air Tonight" is pretty well known and documented, the Listen Mic Compressor on the SSL talkback module was used.

But Tubetec talked about "Vocal Sound"...

Dont forget the Phil Collins vocal sound was an eagle electret mic plugged into the SSL talkback module.
 

Rybow

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Dont forget the Phil Collins vocal sound was an eagle electret mic plugged into the SSL talkback module.
Years ago I made a mic from a carbon telephone mouthpiece , I cant remember precisely how I did it ,but I managed to apply phantom power from the centre tap of a transformer across the carbon mic , it took a little time for the carbon granules to settle down after power up , there was tons of level out of it though and it had that telephone quality without the need for any eqing .
That sounds like a pretty cool mic you made! Do you still have it?

I do remember reading about the use of the listen mic compressor. There was a plug-in at one time, but I don’t recall who made it
 

Ricardus

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The Drum sound for the "In the Air Tonight" is pretty well known and documented, the Listen Mic Compressor on the SSL talkback module was used.

I actually call BS on that. It just reeks of urban myth to me. It's smelled of BS to me for years. DECADES even.

Like seriously. The ALL BUTTONS IN smash mode on the 1176 was well known by then, and people had been crushing drums with 1176s for years. Why would they use the SSL talk back module when the studio probably already had half a dozen 1176s in their racks?
 

Tubetec

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The telephone mic I dont have anymore , Id made it up during a session and the producer liked it so much he ran off with it in the end . I mounted it in an old Philips light fitting I found lying around which had a parabolic reflector made out of polished aluminium ,it had a very retro Sc-fi look to it .
It consisted of a 2 inch carbon granual mic insert from an older style telephone , a sowter input transformer with multiple primary taps and secondary with centre tap . I was able to apply 48 volts from the mic input on the desk and through the centre tap apply the voltage across the capsule which fed the transformer primary .
I fairly sure with all the expertise on hand here we can recreate the circuit on paper for anyone who'd like to try it out .
Ill do a sketch tomorrow and we can allow the buzzards peck at it until we get to the bones of something useable.
It had that unmistakeble telephone sound quality ,but better S/N and without all the distortion youd expect on the dog n bone(phone) . In fact they even used it as an ambient mic in front of the drum kit and it put out huge voltage , what it allowed them to do was go from hi-fi(regular mic set up) to lo-fi(telephone mic) drums at the press of a couple of buttons on mix down .

....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Suck on this Ric , and at least do a cursory fact check before indulging in personal attacks , absolutely no need whatsover for that level of contempt towards other contributors .


I have to admit I may not have been 100% correct about the Phil Collins vocal sound , but in any case it has a very pinched bandwidth and dynamic range yet it works .
 

Whoops

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I actually call BS on that. It just reeks of urban myth to me. It's smelled of BS to me for years. DECADES even.

Like seriously. The ALL BUTTONS IN smash mode on the 1176 was well known by then, and people had been crushing drums with 1176s for years. Why would they use the SSL talk back module when the studio probably already had half a dozen 1176s in their racks?

I know the 1176 All buttons in sound and also the sound of the Compressor/Limiter in the Listen Mic circuitry in an SSL. Worked for many years with an SSL 4K G Series.
The 2 sounds although "crushed" are not similar, someone that knows them can distinguish them easily, I guess that's not your case.
The Drum Sound in "In the Air Tonight" is definitely the Compressor/Limiter on the Listen Mic SSL amp module, it's what it does.

The Console Hugh Padgham used was actually modified for the sessions after to have the output of the Listen Mic amp and compressor easily accessible in the patchbay, because stock there was no provision for it.
This was changed in later 4K consoles and then SSL started to have Listen Mic Amp output in the patchbay, that's the case with the G Series consoles.
 
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Whoops

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I do remember reading about the use of the listen mic compressor. There was a plug-in at one time, but I don’t recall who made it

It was a VST plugin done by SSL and released for Free, maybe 15 years ago.


Screen Shot 2021-10-27 at 01.01.05.png



It seems SSL released this year a new version of the Plugin:

 

Tubetec

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I found a few threads about carbon mics lying around , contributions from the usual suspects .



Below is a sketch which to the best of my recollection is how I did it , its more than 25 years ago now . Any suggestions for or against or ways to improve it are of course welcome.
The reflector was similar to what you see below but had a longer tube at the back ,where I housed the transformer and attached a flying lead with xlr at the far end . It also had an angleable mounting bracket to which I added the usual mic stand thread adapter.
 

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Whoops

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Adding more info on the Carbon Mics circuits,
Here you can find a nice circuit from PRR:

 

Tubetec

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PRR's suggested circuit isnt far off what I did ,only I had the centre tap available .

I was thinking though instead of having the DC flowing in the primary unbalanced ,cap couple it to the microphone. Imagine the carbon mic as the active element in the circuit , instead of a grid or gate you have an aluminium cone coupled to some carbon particles which respond to the vibration and vary the current .
Its the most elementary amplifier there is , the first amplifier invented before valves came into existance .

The resistor value is only a suggestion as I dont have a carbon capsule to hand to test it .
The only worry would be overloading the phantom circuit , 10mA seems to be the maximum allowable in the modern day .

Shure's recomendation for one of its handheld carbon mics in the pdf. It states minimum resistance is 500 ohms for 24v systems , telephone type carbon mics are designed to handle 48volts or more , I was getting over 50volts the last time I checked my phone line. Maybe we could dump the phantom power idea and energise our carbon mic directly from the phone line instead ;-)
 

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