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Topic: Any advantage to a very large mic?

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  1. #1

    Any advantage to a very large mic?

    Would there be an advantage to creating a mic with a very large--room size, say--mic? Would it be better able to pick up soft sounds without boosting the signal?

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone kwno what the largest mic ever created was? And the effects of the size? (I can imagine the jokes already...)

  2. #2

    Re: Any advantage to a very large mic?

    The bigger the diaphragm is, the less sensitive to high frequencies it will become. It would handle higher sound pressure levels though. Perfect for cannon blasts!

    -JF

  3. #3

    Re: Any advantage to a very large mic?

    But would it pick up soft sounds better without having to up the level?

  4. #4

    Re: Any advantage to a very large mic?

    It's all about mass. Current technologies and materials will only allow a diaphragm to be so big-that is to say, your concept works IF the material itself is extremely lite( i.e. sensitive) and subsequently ,if it were lite enough one could make it big to capture the lower frequencies. But I don't believe that material is available at a cost effective alternative. This is all logic to me and I have no facts to back it up. hope it makes some sense though.

  5. #5

    Re: Any advantage to a very large mic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Blaske
    Actually, it's the opposite. Small diaphragm mics are more ideal for high SPLs.
    That's true, but it's due to the limitation of the mic electronics, rather than the diaphragm. The large mic puts out a hotter signal than than the small one, so if you use the same electronics for each, you can handle more SPLs with the small mic.

    I was thinking about dynamic range from the giant diaphragm, which would be huge - assuming that you have a front end that can handle it.

    Consider that you want a few hundred watts to drive a big woofer. If I could mechanically vibrate the cone of that same woofer full bore at 100 Hz, it would put out a few hundred watts! Bye, Bye FET fron end!

    The dynamic range could be amazing. It would be hot enough to get tiny (low frequency) sounds above the noise floor, yet be able to handle really big booms.

    -JF

  6. #6
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    Re: Any advantage to a very large mic?

    Why don't you tell us what you want to record??

  7. #7

    Re: Any advantage to a very large mic?

    Quote Originally Posted by JonFairhurst
    That's true, but it's due to the limitation of the mic electronics, rather than the diaphragm. The large mic puts out a hotter signal than than the small one, so if you use the same electronics for each, you can handle more SPLs with the small mic.

    I was thinking about dynamic range from the giant diaphragm, which would be huge - assuming that you have a front end that can handle it.

    Consider that you want a few hundred watts to drive a big woofer. If I could mechanically vibrate the cone of that same woofer full bore at 100 Hz, it would put out a few hundred watts! Bye, Bye FET fron end!

    The dynamic range could be amazing. It would be hot enough to get tiny (low frequency) sounds above the noise floor, yet be able to handle really big booms.

    -JF
    Electronics can be padded - two resistors - three if you want it balanced - so "too much" not an issue.

    The power needed to drive a woofer bears no relationship to the amount of signal a woofer would generate. I'd be surprised if you got even a watt from a woofer moving to full excursion.

    Current woofer design basically sidesteps acoustic physics and turns the woofer into a motor. We don't care about having an efficient system where the box supports the speaker anymore. The wattage rating is an inefficiency or heat capability rating. We are just hitting the speaker with so many watts that it over-rides nature - driving with the brakes on, as it were. Amps are cheap and we want our boxes small. A speaker being used as a microphone works with a more natural set of rules.

    You can use a speaker as a mic - this was standard in intercoms. Fidelity wasn't that great and it would be worse with an 18". The problem with a large diaphragm is, as has been stated, mass. The way to get around this is to go back to the old Edison recording days and use a horn with an opening the size of a large wall that necks down to a small diaphragm mic, or in those days, a cutting needle.

    Ernie

  8. #8

    Re: Any advantage to a very large mic?

    A horn the size of a wall narrows down to mic diaphragm, eh? I'm on it........

  9. #9

    Re: Any advantage to a very large mic?

    The notion came up while thinking about how to record the softest layer of a piano. (Problems now arise with the signal to noise ratio when recording the soft layers. Not sure how the people creating the libraries with many, many layers handle the problem, though I suspect they may have to play the note fairly hard while recording what plays as a softer note, so there are still transients (in the case of the piano, the sound of the hammer and the additional air moved by the harder strike). I would think the large diaphram might be good for horns, too, where the attack\volume greatly affects the timbre\harmonic content.

  10. #10

    Re: Any advantage to a very large mic?

    Here's something to consider...

    mic (A) = small diaphragm Neumann KM84 excellent frequency response
    mic (B) = $100.00 1" diaphragm "no name" doozie from Guitar Center

    The inexpensive "BIG" impressive looking mic (B) sounds great and is only $100.00,
    but the small little Neumann (A) blows it's doors off at flatness, extended low end frequency response and high frequency response, all while maintaining a significantly better signal to noise ratio with a smaller diphragm.

    It all depends on the quality of the mic..... much more than the size,
    so in short, (no pun intended), size does not matter here.
    Now if we're talkin' woofers, the same thing applies,.... no name 18" subwoofer is easily outperformed by a name brand 15" because the design of the 15" is simply better.

    I am not saying that name brands are the only ones to buy, because there are some "no name" micrpohones on the market right now that should make companies like AKG and Neumann ashamed at what they charge. People are getting smarter these days.

    I have never been hired to record a CD for a client because I use brand X microphones, or anything else for that matter. It is only in the major studios where they are booked because of the facility and equipment, NOT the enginneer. The engineer will always make the difference regardless of the mics, console, preamps and even those gold plated oxygen free cables. Venting sorry!

    dpDan

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