Vintage mojo... What is it exactly?

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SamuelPepys

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Hi! Sorry if this isn't the right forum for this question... it's my first post here.

Sorry, but this is going to be a sort of long read, but I'll put this here for background so you can understand why I'm asking, and then phrase the question at the very end if you want to jump to that. I'll post a line of dashes where my question begins.

Alright. I've got a background working at one of the large recording studio complexes in Scandinavia, and we had several well kept Neumann m49's, a couple of nice original u47's, a C12 and most of the other classic mics (except the ELAM for some reason, never knew why).
I was new to the recording world and had no idea how old any of that stuff was, and honestly thought the old m49's etc were cheap, old, crummy microphones that ruined our sessions from suddenly developing weird sounds or lots of self noise etc. I much preferred the new ones, as they looked more expensive and seemed to always work (this was before I started actually learning about the gear I was using every day).
Then, I was recording our upright one day, and the pair of m49's was already up in a wide stereo configuration. I wanted to get rid of them to make room for the reissue C12 VR's I so often used, but was lazy and said fudge it and decided to just use the old Neumann's so I didn't have to do a lot of prep.
When I started listening to that piano that I was so very familiar with through modern microphones played on the m49's, I was asolutely mind blown.

How could something sound that ALIVE, and not detailed or bright, but just musically alive! It was like the microphones stretched out and got right into the keys being played so you could not just hear the fingers on the keys, but sort of feel it in a weird way. I'd never heard this before, so I started using them almost every day, and discovered the same thing on other instruments, and voice... holy shit. I heard the same in various intensity in the other old microphones, but not in any of the modern ones.

Fast forward to 10 years later, today. I am not living in the same country that the studio is in, so I have no access to that stuff, but I am slowly building an audiophile studio to record expensive, old and historical instruments (for example ridiculously sweet sounding and original baroque violin from the 1700's etc).
My sound ideal is somewhere between Gary Paczosa, Decca and old jazz records from the 50's, and after researching heavily and buying a pair of near mint Gefell m582's, I came up with the plan of recreating some of the magic I remembered by buying a pair of expensive m49 clones.
So after listening to a few, I decided on the Flea 49. I bought one first to get used to it and see if I wanted to buy another one, and to be honest I'm not sure. There is some family resemblance sound wise from the m49's and the Flea 49, but none of the magic.

It is a very bright microphone, and not just in the very top end, it seems to go down all the way to the high mids, and it does lack quite a bit in the lower mids as well. The lower mid magic in the originals was (I think) what created the feeling of almost putting my ears on the piano keys from the above mentioned example. I've listened to all shootouts I could find with old m49's, and while it is safe to say that no m49 sounds exactly the same, there is still some magic there in the mid range that just doesn't happen in the clones, and I've NEVER heard it happen in any modern microphone I've heard.
And also, the top seems smoother and more elegant on the old ones in general, something that doesn't happen in the clones, and in general is also something I have yet to hear in that way in a modern mic.

----------------

So, you incredibly knowlegable people - experts at repairing, maintaining, modding and even building audio gear - here follows two phenomena I've noticed with older tube microphones that I want to understand what is, and what is causing it, and also if this can be replicated authentically today.

The first is the "magic" I mentioned that happens in the mid range. When you sing into old m49, u47 and u67 microphones, I've noticed there is often a threshold where if the vocalist sings louder than that threshold, the volume doesn't increase, but the signal instead gets compressed a bit and thickens instead of getting louder. I hear this often in the mids or lower mids, and it really gives some serious weight and body to even thinner female voices. It already feels like there is a vintage LA-2A, but it is happening in the microphone. I've tried to do this countless times with EQ, but it always seems to get muddy, while with the m49 for example, it still felt clear, even with this happening.
Also, that threshold is often not very difficult to reach, and it almost feels like it is close to where the microphone starts to distort. Once you hit that threshold, it sounds like you are sort of pushing the microphone and the components, but you don't have to scream to reach it. With my Flea 49, I don't get this effect. The microphone seems a lot more open, and that just sounds weird and off to me, especially since I'm not recording an orchestra and need that open sounded headroom.

The second is the incredibly kind, elegant and classy, mellow top end on a lot of these older microphones. They aren't dark or muffled, but they don't have that top end hype that I hear on almost every single expensive boutique clone out there, and even more so on the cheaper, sub 4k microphones. So what the hell is up with this extended, sparkly top end on microphones today?

So my last question is this: Could the internal compression effect on the old microphones be due to their low SPL limit? If so, is there anyone out there making nice tube mics with a really low maximum SPL or otherwise lower specs that could help acchieve this effect? I don't want a technically superior microphone with better specs and measurements, I want a thick sounding and musical microphone with lots of mojo and classy, elegant sounding top end that really brings life to the music, not a technological feat of wonder with incredibly low self noise and with a frequency response range of 2-700,000,000,000 hz or anything like that. Where should I look if I want that?
So, I'm guessing the ultimate question is this: What EXACTLY is it in old microphones that make them seem more musical to our ears than modern "perfect" microphones, and can we achieve that same sound today? Because this far, I haven't heard anyone succeeding. I've heard people make really technically impressive and clean sounding microphones, but nothing like an old m49.

I'm no expert. In fact, the most technically complicated thing I ever did was change a hard drive in my computer to an SSD, seriously... So that's why I came here. I brought this up on another more production-centered gear forum (not the one full of children arguing, the more grown up one), and people there just guessed and pulled stuff from out of their behinds, so I figured to get a more straight answer, I needed to find the people who actually knows how the gear works and can build it themselves. Thanks for reading this far :)
 
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abbey road d enfer

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Ask 10 engineers what mojo is, you'll get 11 answers...
Seriously, an original M49 is bound to be what, 60 years of age. The diaphragm has aged, has probably accumulated some dirt, even if it's been cleaned, the tube has also aged, so tehre is no way a new mic built along the same lines would sound the same.
One of the problems is that many mic mfgrs have followed the trend of sibillant mics, because it's what many people like when they test a mic. But I think a new M149 or even TLM49 retains a good amount of what you like in these M49's. Even one of the MTG with a PVC diaphragm.
And I don't think it's related to the low SPL capability.
 

Bo Deadly

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Generally we don't talk about "mojo" and how things have a certain "sound" around here. Surprisingly even technically knowledgeable people usually believe in some kind of inexplicable acoustic phenomenon (aka "mojo"). But usually these sorts of topics tend to get knocked down. Mostly because there's really no way to answer these sorts of questions without falling into audiophoolery and pontification. You assume the "open" and "classy" sound is the microphone. But the room is going to have a much greater influence on the sound of the recording. And then you have everything in between the mic and recording medium. To truly understand what's happening would require analyzing each part in isolation to determine it's noise, eq and distortion. But even after doing all of that, is very possible that you would find nothing particularly interesting about any one component. In that case, my conclusion would have to be that your preference for those microphones is a psychoacoustic phenomenon. Music is an emotional experience. So recording with old vintage gear that looks cool can influence your perception of the recording. It might also influence the artist. That's why studios buy all sorts of expensive rack gear even though they do 98% of the work in protools.
 

SamuelPepys

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Generally we don't talk about "mojo" and how things have a certain "sound" around here. Surprisingly even technically knowledgeable people usually believe in some kind of inexplicable acoustic phenomenon (aka "mojo"). But usually these sorts of topics tend to get knocked down. Mostly because there's really no way to answer these sorts of questions without falling into audiophoolery and pontification. You assume the "open" and "classy" sound is the microphone. But the room is going to have a much greater influence on the sound of the recording. And then you have everything in between the mic and recording medium. To truly understand what's happening would require analyzing each part in isolation to determine it's noise, eq and distortion. But even after doing all of that, is very possible that you would find nothing particularly interesting about any one component. In that case, my conclusion would have to be that your preference for those microphones is a psychoacoustic phenomenon. Music is an emotional experience. So recording with old vintage gear that looks cool can influence your perception of the recording. It might also influence the artist. That's why studios buy all sorts of expensive rack gear even though they do 98% of the work in protools.
That's why I gave my observations of what I was hearing in certain microphones that I wasn't hearing in others, in an effort to finally explain the whole "mojo" phenomenon. Because what people consider to be "mojo" isn't actually "mojo", it IS however measurable, and it is there. It's just that it needs to be properly identified and explained. For example the compression I mentioned IS "mojo", in fact it might be the pure essence of "mojo". But it is also factually, objectively there, and it should be able to be explained by people who really understands what is happening inside a tube microphone, right?

And those with even more knowlege may even be able to explain why that isn't happening with say a Flea 49 in the same way. And that's really what I'm after: An explanation about what that compression is, and if there is something to be done to replicate that in a modern mic build. After all, if no one can answer that, then why are people even bothering with building microphones? It would be a hopeless exersice if no one knew what they were doing.

You mention an inexplicable acoustic phenomenon, but I propose it is exactly the opposite: That the phenomenon can be very accurately explained. That is what I wanted from this, for people with a good understanding of tube microphones to explain for example why and how the compression is happening, exactly what components are normally affecting it, and perhaps even how to reproduce it without buying a vintage u67.

"Mostly because there's really no way to answer these sorts of questions without falling into audiophoolery and pontification".
Well, this isn't strictly true, is it? If we can identify a compression effect that we consider to be an acoustically pleasing effect, it must be possible to identify what is causing it in the microphone, right? After all, it is only solder points, tubes and components. Whether or not some people refer to is as "mojo" doesn't mean that it isn't happening.

I believe the point about the gear looking cool or having some effect on how I perceived it based on preconceived ideas about it is countered quite neatly by me simply not being remote interested or knowlegeable about vintage gear at the time, and that in the first few months of me entering the studio world for the first time, I considered them to be tacky, old, crummy outdated gear that probably wouldn't sell for more than a hundred dollars at a garage sale.
As I explained in the original post, I really didn't like those microphones. In fact, my preconceived idea about them was that they would sound too lofi and "old" for me, as we were doing straight pop productions, and I wanted a competitive, bright "in your face" sound. I was much more into the Manley Reference and AKG C12 VR, which were my two go to microphones. So the old microphones actually defeated a powerful bias against them by possessing certain traits that is more or less exclusive to them that isn't present in their modern clones for example.

"To truly understand what's happening would require analyzing each part in isolation to determine it's noise, eq and distortion. But even after doing all of that, is very possible that you would find nothing particularly interesting about any one component."
You are entirely right, and that is a good point, but what about the interplay of those components? I don't know, I just want to get into detail about why a particular microphone with a particular set of components sounds the way it does, and not in another way. Maybe there wouldn't be any differences in any of the components... nothing to explain for example the compression I have mentioned 700 times now (sorry, last time, I swear!)... But that would present a troubeling truth; that there IS in fact audio magic, so let's not even consider that.

Now, what I wrote about "the microphone reaching out and almost touching the keys" was my feeling about how it sounded, but also subjective, audio magic mojo BS, I'll admit that.

All in all, good points, and a good spar, but I don't feel like we were entirely on the same wavelength regarding what I am looking for with this. But I do confess that I am the rambling type, and it probably wasn't easy destilling the essence of the post. But just so everyone knows, I am not a believer in audio magic as I know many people actually are, and I think that whole idea is ridiculous. This is in fact an attempt to disprove audio magic by hopefully getting some explanations to some of the phenomenon that people interpret as "mojo".
 

SamuelPepys

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Ask 10 engineers what mojo is, you'll get 11 answers...
Seriously, an original M49 is bound to be what, 60 years of age. The diaphragm has aged, has probably accumulated some dirt, even if it's been cleaned, the tube has also aged, so tehre is no way a new mic built along the same lines would sound the same.
One of the problems is that many mic mfgrs have followed the trend of sibillant mics, because it's what many people like when they test a mic. But I think a new M149 or even TLM49 retains a good amount of what you like in these M49's. Even one of the MTG with a PVC diaphragm.
And I don't think it's related to the low SPL capability.
Good points. I wasn't trying to get too much into the mojo part, but more trying to step out of the whole mojo-swamp by trying to get answers as to what is causing a certain measurable effect, that could be interpreted as "mojo".
Regarding mic makers, do you know of any that aren't following the trend of sibillant mics? I've found a few microphones where the manufacturor is pretty upfront with them being softer mics with a more vintage character, and they just sounded like there was a lowpass filter in them. Very much just a sudden cutoff, and that's not how I would consider a 50's-60's tube microphone to sound.

"And I don't think it's related to the low SPL capability." Ok, now that is interesting! Ruling out different possibilities is a good starting point to get to the bottom of it, and is pretty much exactly what I'm here for.
 

Tubetec

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Colour by numbers alone , ie THD is a blunt measurement instrument , the article Ian unearthed from 1945 suggests to me we may well have become hung up on gauging quality by numbers(thank marketing) and not what our ears tell us , more science less art . Fair enough we may well be able to create audio amplifiers in the modern age with 0.0001 % at a given dbu , but what happens on transients , even the very short term ones plays a part huge part in the subjective quality . Its less of an issue with with pre recorded music as the program material has already been subject to compression of the peaks , when it comes to real live instruments and voice we can only anticipate what the actual levels are going to be .

You make Mojo sound like a bad word Bo : -(
for me its gracefull overload on the peaks , a phrase Ive always liked to descibe what tubes do , we cant guarantee what SPL comes out of an instrument or vocalist at full tilt boogie thats the reason we need to think about what happens when our amps are driven , even momentairily beyond the red line .

If Im recording or doing live sound my head isnt stuck in a screen looking at level meters , I'm transfixed on the artist visually and Im allowing my ears , not my eyes to be the judge of whats acceptable in terms of distortion, eq level etc.
Another way to look at it is , what are the most prized pieces of studio gear ever , very little pro audio gear designed in the last 40 years even figures in the stats and most likely its destined if not already become part of mankinds ever growing heap of detritus .

The trends Abbey mentioned in microphones to become more treble boosted is often seen both in guitar amps and hifi so upon audition it appears to have more sparkle than the competing product, the compound effect is like a run away train . If you take Marshall amps of various vintages or compare a real Jennings AC30 to a modern so called replica its all screech nowadays compared to good old fashioned midrange growl .
 

SamuelPepys

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Colour by numbers alone , ie THD is a blunt measurement instrument , the article Ian unearthed from 1945 suggests to me we may well have become hung up on gauging quality by numbers(thank marketing) and not what our ears tell us , more science less art . Fair enough we may well be able to create audio amplifiers in the modern age with 0.0001 % at a given dbu , but what happens on transients , even the very short term ones plays a part huge part in the subjective quality . Its less of an issue with with pre recorded music as the program material has already been subject to compression of the peaks , when it comes to real live instruments and voice we can only anticipate what the actual levels are going to be .

You make Mojo sound like a bad word Bo : -(
for me its gracefull overload on the peaks , a phrase Ive always liked to descibe what tubes do , we cant guarantee what SPL comes out of an instrument or vocalist at full tilt boogie thats the reason we need to think about what happens when our amps are driven , even momentairily beyond the red line .

If Im recording or doing live sound my head isnt stuck in a screen looking at level meters , I'm transfixed on the artist visually and Im allowing my ears , not my eyes to be the judge of whats acceptable in terms of distortion, eq level etc.
Another way to look at it is , what are the most prized pieces of studio gear ever , very little pro audio gear designed in the last 40 years even figures in the stats and most likely its destined if not already become part of mankinds ever growing heap of detritus .

The trends Abbey mentioned in microphones to become more treble boosted is often seen both in guitar amps and hifi so upon audition it appears to have more sparkle than the competing product, the compound effect is like a run away train . If you take Marshall amps of various vintages or compare a real Jennings AC30 to a modern so called replica its all screech nowadays compared to good old fashioned midrange growl .
You get me. I wouldn't know enough about the internal workings of microphones to comment on much of what you said here, but I do agree that microphones are a lot brighter sounding now than they used to be. It's not that the older ones are dark, it's just that their brightness seems more like how our ears perceive brightness in a real life and on real instruments: it is there, but it isn't 80% of all you hear from the instrument, like with almost any modern condenser microphone.

But, if I were to ask a small output one man microphone maker to make me a fantastic tube microphone with a very natural sounding top end, with no extra brightness, a very noticeable and thick sounding tube compression that adds to the bottom of a vocal take without being muddy, and a little less open sound, Would this be a reasonable request? or would it be too far out of the "norm" to be something the maker would be able to pull off and still have it sound great?
 

Bo Deadly

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For example the compression I mentioned IS "mojo", in fact it might be the pure essence of "mojo".
Then I suppose it depends on your definition of "mojo". I always thought mojo was something that could not be explained. I don't know if there is compression going on in those mics. That would be kinda strange. Maybe you mean limiting. That will certainly make a mic sound louder. That would also be a little strange for a neumann mic which are known for precision engineering but if you hit it hard enough I suppose you could reach some limiting. I'm not a tube guy but the pentodes in mics are usually selected to be quite linear so I don't think THD is going to be prominent.
But it is also factually, objectively there, and it should be able to be explained by people who really understands what is happening inside a tube microphone, right?
Objectively or subjectively? Objectively would suggest that you could measure something.

Mics sound different for all sorts of reasons. Generally the capsule is going to dictate the quality. A good capsule is going to give you a good flat frequency response. But that can sound rather plain too so some manufactures actually add a little eq like a bump at 4kHz or so to give it some "air". A low cut is usually quite important for removing distant hum. Especially in noisier environments. That would certainly make it sound different. But these are all very quantifiable things that I would not describe as "mojo". But if that's what you're talking about there are folks here that can certainly explain such things.

If you start talking about how op amps sound 3D, or how capacitors sound, that's bubkis.
 

ruffrecords

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The ear/brain combination is an amazing processor which learns and is trained from the day you are born. Naturally produced sounds have a harmonic structure (timbre) where the higher harmonics steadily fall off in level. The shape of this harmonic structure depends not only on the sound creator but also on how loud it is played. So when we hear a recorded instruments we can tell if it is played soft or loud and also if it harmonic structure is right.

Often the harmonic structure is altered by the recording and replay process and again we can tell when this occurs. The most obvious one is where the bandwidth is limited e.g. AM radio, and we say it sounds "dull". Sometimes the harmonic structure is altered so that certain harmonics are changed more than others. If the third harmonic is emphasised it tends to sound louder. If the second harmonic is emphasised it tends to sound clearer or crisper.

Tubes and semiconductors produce different harmonics in different proportions. In tube mics, the amplifier is almost always a class A single ended type. with no negative feedback. At modest levels this topology tends to produce almost entirely second harmonic distortion which makes things sound clearer. As the level increases, third harmonic distortion begins to occur which makes things sound louder.

Perhaps this goes some way to explaining what you hear.

Cheers

Ian
 

rogs

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I think it's reasonable to assume that most audio devices with so called 'tube mojo' have it by accident rather than design.
One of the most famous has to be the original VOX AC30 guitar amp. It was designed to be loud -- and one crude but effective way of achieving that is to not employ negative feedback in the design...... Shock horror! you can't do that - it will distort!
Interesting take on that here:

Defining whether the distortion introduced has 'mojo' is very subjective... and I suspect the same is true for the non linearities introduced into tube microphones (probably by luck rather than design!)

Humans are very susceptible to being influenced by marketing hype - look at the nonsense surrounding the pricing of 'designer label' goods - so latching onto some indefinable non technical aspect of an electronic product is like manna from heaven for a clever marketing guy!

At the end of the day, content is king anyway , so many of the very expensive microphones that have 'mojo' probably never get to record anything really important anyway! :)

Near the top of many folks list of important audio has got to be Neil Armstrong's 'One small step...'
Lots of distortion on that ...... whether that has any 'mojo' ? :)
 
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Mojo happens when an artist is completely in the flow with his great instrument/gear. He will have joy and therefore performs better and will emit positive energy. I personally also get better flow goin on with vintage gear in general. Just prefer the sound of the iconic instruments, fx etc... in my signal chain. I am quite a technical person building many many DIY clones of the classics but still have no scientific explanation for it. The real deal just has that MOJO! Science isn't ready to explain it yet.
 
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Andresound

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Hi! Sorry if this isn't the right forum for this question... it's my first post here.

Sorry, but this is going to be a sort of long read, but I'll put this here for background so you can understand why I'm asking, and then phrase the question at the very end if you want to jump to that. I'll post a line of dashes where my question begins.

Alright. I've got a background working at one of the large recording studio complexes in Scandinavia, and we had several well kept Neumann m49's, a couple of nice original u47's, a C12 and most of the other classic mics (except the ELAM for some reason, never knew why).
I was new to the recording world and had no idea how old any of that stuff was, and honestly thought the old m49's etc were cheap, old, crummy microphones that ruined our sessions from suddenly developing weird sounds or lots of self noise etc. I much preferred the new ones, as they looked more expensive and seemed to always work (this was before I started actually learning about the gear I was using every day).
Then, I was recording our upright one day, and the pair of m49's was already up in a wide stereo configuration. I wanted to get rid of them to make room for the reissue C12 VR's I so often used, but was lazy and said fudge it and decided to just use the old Neumann's so I didn't have to do a lot of prep.
When I started listening to that piano that I was so very familiar with through modern microphones played on the m49's, I was asolutely mind blown.

How could something sound that ALIVE, and not detailed or bright, but just musically alive! It was like the microphones stretched out and got right into the keys being played so you could not just hear the fingers on the keys, but sort of feel it in a weird way. I'd never heard this before, so I started using them almost every day, and discovered the same thing on other instruments, and voice... holy shit. I heard the same in various intensity in the other old microphones, but not in any of the modern ones.

Fast forward to 10 years later, today. I am not living in the same country that the studio is in, so I have no access to that stuff, but I am slowly building an audiophile studio to record expensive, old and historical instruments (for example ridiculously sweet sounding and original baroque violin from the 1700's etc).
My sound ideal is somewhere between Gary Paczosa, Decca and old jazz records from the 50's, and after researching heavily and buying a pair of near mint Gefell m582's, I came up with the plan of recreating some of the magic I remembered by buying a pair of expensive m49 clones.
So after listening to a few, I decided on the Flea 49. I bought one first to get used to it and see if I wanted to buy another one, and to be honest I'm not sure. There is some family resemblance sound wise from the m49's and the Flea 49, but none of the magic.

It is a very bright microphone, and not just in the very top end, it seems to go down all the way to the high mids, and it does lack quite a bit in the lower mids as well. The lower mid magic in the originals was (I think) what created the feeling of almost putting my ears on the piano keys from the above mentioned example. I've listened to all shootouts I could find with old m49's, and while it is safe to say that no m49 sounds exactly the same, there is still some magic there in the mid range that just doesn't happen in the clones, and I've NEVER heard it happen in any modern microphone I've heard.
And also, the top seems smoother and more elegant on the old ones in general, something that doesn't happen in the clones, and in general is also something I have yet to hear in that way in a modern mic.

----------------

So, you incredibly knowlegable people - experts at repairing, maintaining, modding and even building audio gear - here follows two phenomena I've noticed with older tube microphones that I want to understand what is, and what is causing it, and also if this can be replicated authentically today.

The first is the "magic" I mentioned that happens in the mid range. When you sing into old m49, u47 and u67 microphones, I've noticed there is often a threshold where if the vocalist sings louder than that threshold, the volume doesn't increase, but the signal instead gets compressed a bit and thickens instead of getting louder. I hear this often in the mids or lower mids, and it really gives some serious weight and body to even thinner female voices. It already feels like there is a vintage LA-2A, but it is happening in the microphone. I've tried to do this countless times with EQ, but it always seems to get muddy, while with the m49 for example, it still felt clear, even with this happening.
Also, that threshold is often not very difficult to reach, and it almost feels like it is close to where the microphone starts to distort. Once you hit that threshold, it sounds like you are sort of pushing the microphone and the components, but you don't have to scream to reach it. With my Flea 49, I don't get this effect. The microphone seems a lot more open, and that just sounds weird and off to me, especially since I'm not recording an orchestra and need that open sounded headroom.

The second is the incredibly kind, elegant and classy, mellow top end on a lot of these older microphones. They aren't dark or muffled, but they don't have that top end hype that I hear on almost every single expensive boutique clone out there, and even more so on the cheaper, sub 4k microphones. So what the hell is up with this extended, sparkly top end on microphones today?

So my last question is this: Could the internal compression effect on the old microphones be due to their low SPL limit? If so, is there anyone out there making nice tube mics with a really low maximum SPL or otherwise lower specs that could help acchieve this effect? I don't want a technically superior microphone with better specs and measurements, I want a thick sounding and musical microphone with lots of mojo and classy, elegant sounding top end that really brings life to the music, not a technological feat of wonder with incredibly low self noise and with a frequency response range of 2-700,000,000,000 hz or anything like that. Where should I look if I want that?
So, I'm guessing the ultimate question is this: What EXACTLY is it in old microphones that make them seem more musical to our ears than modern "perfect" microphones, and can we achieve that same sound today? Because this far, I haven't heard anyone succeeding. I've heard people make really technically impressive and clean sounding microphones, but nothing like an old m49.

I'm no expert. In fact, the most technically complicated thing I ever did was change a hard drive in my computer to an SSD, seriously... So that's why I came here. I brought this up on another more production-centered gear forum (not the one full of children arguing, the more grown up one), and people there just guessed and pulled stuff from out of their behinds, so I figured to get a more straight answer, I needed to find the people who actually knows how the gear works and can build it themselves. Thanks for reading this far :)

I’m new here too. Welcome. Welcome my brother. However…, I also have experienced these phenomena in vintage mic and tube gear etc and know EXACTLY what you describe. But be careful mentioning such phrases as “magic, mojo, elegant and classy mellow top end” on this forum for fear of being ridiculed (Like I was). 😏😂😂
. Sorry I couldn’t resist!!
 
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SamuelPepys

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I’m new here too. Welcome. Welcome my brother. However…, I also have experienced these phenomena in vintage mic and tube gear etc and know EXACTLY what you describe. But be careful mentioning such phrases as “magic, mojo, elegant and classy mellow top end” on this forum for fear of being ridiculed (Like I was). 😏😂😂
. Sorry I couldn’t resist!!
Thanks brother! Haha, yeah, they got me good above, but I hope I managed to state my quest clearly enough in my replies following that. They seem to have understood that I'm not a typical GS believer in magic, even though I did shoot myself in the foot somewhat by using those kind of foolish words! I guess even though I thought I was careful, I still underestimated this place 😂
 

ruffrecords

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Generally we don't talk about "mojo" and how things have a certain "sound" around here. Surprisingly even technically knowledgeable people usually believe in some kind of inexplicable acoustic phenomenon (aka "mojo"). But usually these sorts of topics tend to get knocked down. .
I think we talk about mojo quite a lot around here. There's even a thread in the magnetics section entitled "GDIY passive Mojo box". There was also a long largely objective discussion about what gives those old three transistor circuits by Neve, Helios etc their particular sound.

What we don't tolerate is obvious audiophoolery of the very expensive kind like "these gold plated mains cables stroked by the thighs of virgins will make you sound stage leap into your living room, only $10,000". I think we generally agree that different products have different sounds that some people like/prefer and others don't.

Cheers

Ian
 

Bo Deadly

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There was also a long largely objective discussion about what gives those old three transistor circuits by Neve, Helios etc their particular sound.
Like I said, even technically knowledgeable people express some belief in inexplicable sound phenomenon. And this is a perfect example. Your have strong theory and you're actually a builder which commands a lot of respect. But I do not believe that you can have an objective discussion about how the old three transistor pres have a "particular sound". There is enough open loop gain in those circuits that there shouldn't be any audible differences in distortion or response. At least not unless they're pushed very hard but I don't think that's how those circuits were used or what you are talking about. This isn't as bad as talking about tropical fish capacitors but it's in the same file cabinet AFAIC.
 

MaxDM

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Well, one aspect of vintage gear in state of decay is that the top and bottom end tends to go soft and phase response suffers.
To me the vintage stuff is better because of the simpler and more straightforward design, however the softening of the sound, due to old tubes, caps, capsules also has a side effect of not drawing attention to the attack transient and bass excursion (dynamic range)

for this reason I spent endless hours raising and lowering voltages and using different tube-types in my vocal mics.

if I made the mic extremely realistic and in your face, the attention would be drawn away from the overall performance.
Usually I put the mics back to standard lower current designs like in german mics, which is a smaller and softer sound.
 

ccaudle

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The real deal just has that MOJO! Science isn't ready to explain it yet.

That is a rather defeatist attitude. The likely truth is rather more mundane, that accurate electro-acoustic measurements are difficult to perform accurately and repeatably, and learning to interpret those measurements (including understanding when they are incomplete or misleading) is just as difficult. Usually the people claiming the loudest that electronic and electroacoustic phenomenon are unexplainable are the ones who are not willing to put in the time studying not only electronics, but acoustics, physiology and psychoacoustics. Some of the guys working on codecs are pretty sharp on that, but they tend to not spend a lot of time building microphones. David Josephson is the only mic builder that I have personally seen write about some of that, but there were a couple of guys at Shure who wrote some good AES papers around the time that the KSM series came out (see Guy Torio's papers on intrinsic differences in response between single and dual diaphragm condenser capsules).

So I'm not willing to let "science" take the bad rap yet until I see a lot more people with anechoic chambers and calibrated B&K mics talking sensibly about what this or that old mic does, instead of just throwing up their hands and saying don't know, must be magic (which to his credit SamuelPepys appears to be attempting, but without the resources that would be needed to do the job on his own).
 

ruffrecords

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Like I said, even technically knowledgeable people express some belief in inexplicable sound phenomenon. And this is a perfect example. Your have strong theory and you're actually a builder which commands a lot of respect. But I do not believe that you can have an objective discussion about how the old three transistor pres have a "particular sound".
And I believe you can.
There is enough open loop gain in those circuits that there shouldn't be any audible differences in distortion or response. At least not unless they're pushed very hard but I don't think that's how those circuits were used or what you are talking about. This isn't as bad as talking about tropical fish capacitors but it's in the same file cabinet AFAIC.
There was much more to it than that. If anything the premise was that those old circuits, by their design, are in some ways better than today's op amps. In my view the discussion was highly objective. But no matter, we simply have different beliefs.

Cheers

Ian
 

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