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Re: comparing mic specifications...

Subject: Re: comparing mic specifications...
From: "Walter Knapp" waltknapp
Date: Thu Jul 6, 2006 6:54 am (PDT)
Posted by: "cfmspencer"

> yes, I know they are not related,
> I was simply seeking a sort of calculated
> formula that included what I thought to be
> the two most important specifications for
> nature recording into a single number for
> a relative ranking (of sorts).  certainly
> not scientific

That's really the point, they are two more or less independent 
specifications. As far as single numbers they are probably the most 
important for nature recording. I also consider things like the 
character of the polar patterns to be very important too. In other words 
don't get hung up on just those two numbers, look at the mic as a whole.

As you can tell from the numbers you are getting combining the two can 
be pretty misleading.

> thanks, for my purposes, I believe that the lowest noise
> mic available that meets other needs, e.g. pattern, and
> weatherproofness will be best.

Yes, as a general rule this is true. Though one should not just choose 
the lowest spec mic without trying others that are low as well. There's 
a lot more to a mic than just it's self noise.

> with regards to my 'formula' approach, I was looking to
> somehow factor in the sensitivity of a mic, as I assumed
> that a mic with high sensitivity will be able to
> provide the preamp with a stronger signal-to-noise ratio
> even if it's self noise level might be higher than
> the lowest available.

Sensitivity certainly helps in that regard, but cannot compensate for 
too high self noise.

> yes, this is exactly what I am hoping to figure out, ideally
> with a formula, if this is even possible.

The two do relate, but not close enough for a formula being much more 
informative than just comparing the two numbers independently.

Of course this is where getting out there and recording sorts things out 
pretty well.

> Walt, I've been reading some of the posts in the archives.
> I appreciate that you often tell the reader to get down from the
> ivory tower and out into the woods to 'find out for yourself',
> that there is NO 'perfect' mic or pattern or setup, and that it is 
> impossible to know what you need/like without experience.

At best the specs and so on might be a little help in choosing which 
mics to take out in the field with you. Then you really get to find out 
about the mics.

The preponderance of discussion in this group seems to have become 
discussing specs or doing simplistic tests. It would be good to see a 
lot more discussion of actual field recording, some sound like they 
hardly get out and record, and thats really the point of nature 
recording. I do try and push folks to step out the door and get going on 
nature recording as that's where the majority of the learning and info 
about equipment comes from.

Putting my money where my mouth is I'm off to Florida for a bit of field 
work today. If you have more questions of me they will have to wait.


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