Sunday, November 8, 2015

Golden Ageism

I keep saying that we live in the golden age of whatever we're talking about when we talk about music and engineering. We're not living in the golden age of making money making music. No no no. But for making music, and recording music, ah. Yes.
So since the late '40's we've pretty well known what sort of microphones are the best sounding. Somewhere in the 50's we really got that all sorted out and in the 60's we made them balanced. But although now we make the best reference microphones, there are some older microphone designers (mostly, but by no means exclusively, designs by manufactures in German-speaking countries). The Neumann U47, The AKG C12, RCA ribbon mics, Coles, etc.
Squirrel. Stop being so pretentious and put the covers back on your humbuckers.

And those mics were expensive even before they tripled in price whilst becoming "vintage".
But now we have so many more interesting choices. There are Ear Trumpet Labs and others making their own new microphones.
But also there are also scores of companies making sort of cheap knockoffs of more expensive (and older) designs.
And there are small companies that do mods of those mics. Michael Joly's OktavaModShop mostly mods other brands than Oktava. JJAudio also does mods on a bunch of microphones and on the very extraordinarily priced ART VLA tube compressor.

And the thing is that yeah, you can mod all this stuff to your heart's content, but the original gear sounds flipping amazing. I mean, I've A/B'ed Schoeps CMC6's against Oktava 012's and although they sound slightly different (the Schoeps had a bit of an upper-mid "lift") you couldn't say one was in any way "better" than the other. And one could certainly EQ the Oktava to sound substantially like the Schoeps so you couldn't pick one out over the other.

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