Das Mikrofon Vol. II Hybrid Multi-Channel & Stereo SACD
This recording follows on from our first project, Das Mikrofon. This second collection goes further and offers the listener a much closer view of the world of microphones. And in order that you can really judge the differences in sound and are not confused by the different compositions, different instruments, different surroundings, etc., the Georg Rox Quartet played the same short piece each time in the same position in the same room. So you can make an objective comparison and pick out your favorite microphone.
Many listeners of the first SACD were particularly fascinated by the fact that condeser microphones dating back to 1949, 1947 or even 1929 displayed astonishing recording qualities. This aroused our sporting instincts. The "constestants" travelled from far and wide: from the USA, Canada, England...in addition to the condenser microphones of 1927 (Neumann CMV 3), 1947 (Neumann U 47) and 1949 (Neumnann M 49) their most important historic relatives the ribbon microphones have joined the party, represented by teh RCA 44, RCA 77 and RCA 10001. These mics were widely used in the 1940's and 50's for movie sound. When I first heard the sounds picked up by them, I immediately thought of Humphrey Bogart. Maybe you'll feel the same way.
The choice of microphones was difficult. We had about 80 different types to choose from, so we had to be selective and used the following idea as a guide: the old historic models should be tested as thoroughly as possible--including using different directional characterisitcs. And, as in Das Mikrofon, we wanted to show the most important differences for everything from dummy head to ribbon mic. In the case of the more modern microphones tested, and to match the music we used, there is small emphasis on models commonly used on acoustic instruments; this does not mean that they would not be equally suitable for other purposes.
A lot of microphones have adjustable directional characteristics. That is why some of them appear several times. There is not enough space on a CD or LP to demostrate all the positions of all the mics selected, so we had to limit ourselves here too.
For all the omni-directional microphones the Georg Rox Quartet played "Someday My Prince Will Come" by Larry Morey and Frank Churchill, for comparing the cardioid mics they played "A Foggy Day" by George Gershwin, and the figure-eights's were tested using "Con Alma". And so that the comparison did not become to repetitive, the musicians started off with a concert. Each musician is a bandleader of his own group and contributed one or two pieces. So at the same time this recording is also a portriat of four major porponents of the current German jazz scene.
Bruel & Kjaer 4003--The Bruel & Kjaer Company originally built microphones and other equipment for electrostatic measurement. For this reason the B & K mikes have high degree specifications. For example, the 4003's used here can tolerate a sound level up to 154 decibels.
Clara--A variation on the dummy head, developed by the German scientist J. Hinrich Peters from
Goettingen. For this recording its curved plexiglass form was fitted with two Bruel & Kjaer 4007 microphones. The idea of the dummy head is almost as old as electrical transmission itself. It was born in about 1886 in the Bell Laboratories. Presumably in the early days of this development people thought that a microphone should be similar to an ear.
Coles 4030--The 4030 studio ribbon by Coles was developed by the BBC in the 1950's under the name of "PGS bi-directional ribbon microphone" as the successor to their own "BBC Marconi Type A Microphone" of 1934. The housing in the form of an "acoustic lens" gave it the name of "shoe tree". The thickness of the ribbon is only about a third fo that of an RCA 44 and RCA 77. It is still manufactured today in virtually unchanged form.
Electro-Voice RE 2000--Electro-Voice, founded in 1927 by the Al Khan, is active in many fields of acoustics, from high-specification speakers to "sound under water". Initally microphone manufacture was one of their most important fields. here you can hear a modern condenser mic, the RE 2000.
Microtech Gefell Gmb H--This company with its grand tradition, just like the Nuemann company, dates back to Georg Neumann, a pioneer of microphone manfacturing. In 1943, during World War II, Neumann and a few of his employees moved with their families to the relative safety of the countryside, to the small village of Gefell in east Germany. There he founded the new company Georg Neumann & Co. Gefell. He built microphones with many of the same components as those he had manufactured in Berlin. After the war Neumann left Gefell again. The company and most of the employees remained. In 1956 the communist GDR government nationalised the company and in 1972 changed its name to VEB Microtechnic Gefell. Since then the company has been little known in the west. When the boarders were opened in 1989, the exerpts discovered to their surprise that the quality produced by "Sleeping Beauty" had not suffered in comparison with western competitors; on the contrary, the traditional skills of a previous generation had been much better preserved than in many a company in the west. Indeed, the sound of the UMT 92.1 has certain similarities with the Neumann M49. Or what do you think?
MBHO Jecklin Disc--The MB company was founded in 1962 and has seen several changes of structure and owner. Since 1992 the company has manufactured high-specification microphones under the name of "Microphone Manufacture Obrigheim". This too is a development of the dummy head by Basel sound engineer Jurg Jecklin. The two microphones are fixed at the same distance apart as a pair of human ears. But between them is not a head but a vertical disc to increase the seperation between the left and right channels.
Neumann CMV 3--The CMV 3 by Neumann, known because of its shape as the Neumann "Bottle", was designed in 1927 and was the first ever microphone suitable for studio use. The "Bottle", which contains the valve amplifier, can be fitted with different capsules (omni directional, cardiod or figure-eight).
Neumann U 47--A functioning U 47 is a rarity, as the replacement tubes are no longer available for it.
Neumann M 49--One advantage of the M49 (designed in 1949) is that their direction is fully adjustable, so that the sound engineer can, for example, in a room with a lot of echo, choose a characteristic which is part-way between an omni-directional and a cardiod microphone and thus reduce the excess resonance. This is a very useful property which is strangely absent from any other mic.
Neumann U 67--The U 67 is also a highly prized collector's item. This type, like the M 49, was recently re-issued by Neumann.
RCA 44--This microphone was part of the logo of the NBC company in the 1940's and has been in manufacture since 1931. One copy was kindly lent to us by the Schmitronic company in Cologne, the other belongs to Timothy Walker in Canada.
RCA 77 DX--A great speciality amongst the ribbons; the directional characteristic of this microphone is switchable. The usual characteristic of ribbons in only figure-eight. The RCA 77 has been in existance since 1933, the 77 DX version presented here since 1944.
RCA 10001--The 10001 was first produced in 1948 and fewer than 500 were made altogether. It is said that these microphones provided the sound of many of the early Mickey Mouse movies.
• Super Audio CD
• SACD Multi-Channel SACD Layer
• SACD Stereo SACD Layer
• This Hybrid SACD contains a 'Red Book' Stereo CD Layer which is playable on most conventional CD Players!
1. This One Is For Trunk
2. St. Martin
3. Walk Like A Cat
4. Salad Dressing Blues
5. Someday My Prince Will Come
6. A Foggy Day
7. Con Alma