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Posts Tagged ‘Sennheiser MKH8040’

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It is not everyone who knows that when recording the finest detail in natural silence a large-diaphragm condenser microphone can be much better choice than a small-diaphragm condenser microphones.
But there are just few microphones which can fit into this category because they must have the lowest noise possible on the microphone market. Of course it is possible to use a noise reduction software but that will never give as good of a result as recording with the best separation between signal to noise ratio. Many microphones have very low noise, but are not sensitive for the finest details, so low noise number in manufacturer specification is not telling you everything.
So what microphones are the best to record fly’s footsteps?
For a many years Rode NT1a has been the best microphone in this category. But now we have at last two other microphones to choose. They are Lewitt LCT540s  and Rode NT1. All these three microphones are almost equal when it comes into self noise, but they are slightly different by characteristics. Rode NT1a is extremely well focused on midrange <8Khz so for most natural sounds they can give a stunning result. But for whole natural soundscape they sound rather flat and without depth, I guess mainly because NT1a has a poor low frequency response. It is also very sensitive for handling noise so using NT1a outdoor in a windshield is very difficult.
Rode NT1 is an improved version of NT1a. Anyway it is not as well focused on the mid range, but instead it sounds slightly more natural with better low frequency response and has also less handling noise.
I recently discovered Lewitt LCT540s which sounds overall fantastic. Different from NT1 and NT1a which is mainly good for voices and spoken words, the LCT540s sounds very natural for everything, as for quiet open natural spaces and for music. It is even possible to hear the depth of the field in all sound pressure levels which is not usual with many other microphones.
I think many are curious how this large capsule withstand humidity. I can only say, in Iceland humidity is not a big problem, I just remember one time I had some strange noise in NT1a, But that was in a bog after several hours in fog and rain so the windshield was soaking in water.
This comparison is mainly focused on LCT540s and NT1 while they sound so close. Their main difference is the output sensitivity which is about +7dB higher in LCT540s than in NT1. MKH8040 is in other hand just for comparison, to show the difference between a small and large diaphragm microphones and how they react in quiet environment.
This recordings was made in 50m2 garage in the countryside. This recording contains mainly two ticking clocks, both sides of the mic rig, also a buzzing fly and a mouse jumping somewhere in the garage. Outside is a traffic in a distance
If you interest how NT1a compare to LCT540S, then you can read and listen to this older blog post HERE

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First three audio samples are straight from the recorder at 50dB gain, so it sounds in very low level. *

Sennheier MKH8040

Rode NT1

Lewitt LCT540S

Same audio samples again but with +24dB added gain to the original recording, combined 74dB of gain. *

Sennheier MKH8040

Rode NT1

Lewitt LCT540S

Audio samples goes through 80Hz HPF and normalized up to 0dB which increased the gain on MKH8040 about +16dB, NT1 about +14dB and LCT540S about +9dB *

Sennheiser MKH8040  See spectrogram

Rode NT1  See spectrogram

Lewitt LCT540S   See spectrogram

See the whole picture gallery

* All audio samples above are mp3 at 256kbps 44kHz.
Original recording at 24bit/48Khz on Sonosax SX-R4+ & SX-AD8+

See a windshield solution for Rode NT1a and Lewitt LCT540s

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When using a cardioid microphone in nature recordings Rode NT1a has been my favorite for a years. With its ultra low noise and sound clarity exactly on the bird song frequency ranges. But it also has a several bad futures. It is mainly made for studio recordings, so it is bulgy, heavy and sensitive for humidity. It has also a rather „flat sound“ and worst of all it is very sensitive for handling noise, so it is sensitive for wind noise and other vibrations, mainly through the microphone stand. All of these flaws has given me a good reason to use more often omni mics and AB setup rather other arrangement with cardioid mics
Searching for the perfect cardioid microphone for nature recordings can be difficult. They usually have higher self noise than omni or/and many large capsule microphones. But some of them have low handling noise and some work better in humid environment than other.
Here is a comparison of three cardioid condenser microphones which give an insight on how they detect the finest details in silence which is often very important issue in nature recordings, especially natural silence.
Sennheiser MKH40 has been well known for a many years as one of the best microphone available for field recording. But since Sennheiser offers the smaller brother MKH8040 at affordable prices, then that microphone has been its successor, especially because of its high frequency ranges up to 50Khz.
It is nearly two years since the Russian company Nevaton introduce their new compact microphone MC59 with two capsules omni (O) and cardioid (C).  It is made with similar modular system as Sennheiser MKH8000 series with an independent amplifier and capsule. One type with integrated 3-pin XLR connector and a smaller version “S” with a break-out cable.
As my previous comparisons this was made in the countryside in a 50 m² garage, in as much silence as possible. Gain on all channels was at 50dB and HPF off.  To focus on a sound source in this silence, I used a pocket radio and two ticking alarm clocks.  (See picture)

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_______________________________________________________________________________
First three audio samples are straight from the recorder so it sounds in very low level. *
MKH40   RX6 spectrogram   RX6 WAV

MKH8040  RX6 spectrogram  RX6 WAV

MC59C  RX6 spectrogram    RX6 WAV

_______________________________________________________________________________
Same audio samples again but with +20dB added gain to the original recording, combined 70dB of gain. *
MKH40  RX6 Specrogram    Spek spectrogram

MKH8040  RX6 Specrogram    Spek spectrogram

MC59C  RX6 Specrogram    Spek spectrogram

______________________________________________________________________________
Audio samples goes through 100Hz HPF and normalized up to 0dB which increased the gain between 18 to 20dB, or combined 90db *

MKH40  RX6 Specrogram

MKH8040  RX6 Specrogram

MC59C  RX6 Specrogram

_____________________________________________________________________________
Audio samples in more silence with +30dB added gain to the original recording, combined 80dB of gain, no radio or traffic noise. *
MKH40   RX6 Specrogram at +12db added gain

MKH8040   RX6 Spectrogram at +12db added gain

MC59C   RX6 Spectrogram at +12db added gain

_____________________________________________________________________________

The comparison

MKH40 was in this comparison connected to the additional Sonosax SX-AD8+ mixer which was connected to the SX-R4+ recorder. When I put the recording through spectrogram I saw a strange buzz noise around 11Khz and above. I have seen this several times before on spectrograms, usually only when I have used the Sound devices 552 mixer. But not always and different from this one. I was not happy to see this happens on the SX-AD8+ mixer, so I checked if I could see this noise if I connected other microphones to the mixer. They all passed that test with success, even MKH20. But both MKH40 and MKH30 fail with this high frequency buzz. I am still not sure what is exactly going on. But I think it is some kind of ground problem in the microphone, not the mixer, even though it does not appear when using preamps in SX-R4 or MixPre recorders. I can change the shape and the frequency of this buzz by just putting a contact lube under an assembling screw on MKH40 and tie them again firmly.
This must be fixed. So I will continue testing and look into this issue with different microphones, recorders, mixers, cables and power supplies.
Except this high frequency buzz MKH40 sounds surprisingly nice. It sounds even more transparent than MKH8040 which surprises me because I have always thought it was the opposite. Saying that it might be because my ears barely hear anything above 11Khz anymore, so I can for example not hear the loudest part of the MKH40’s self noise which is between 12 and 23Khz, with highest level at 18Khz. That means I can only hear the self noise below that frequency range which anyway is a very important frequency range, because most of the nature sounds I record are below 8 Khz (at least in Iceland). So ultra low self noise at the midrange is more important than self noise on higher frequency range. This is what I noticed between MKH40 and 8040. The MKH40 seems to have slightly lower self noise at mid range and therefor the silence is more transparent with better fine details and better focused.
MKH8040 is a wonderful mic and one of my favorites, especially after Sennheiser fixed the noise problem which seems to have appeared in many MKH8000 mics some years ago. This pair comes nicely matched from the factory, it is suitable to record anything and as far as I know seems to withstand humidity as well as MKH40. For most recordings MKH8040 and MKH40 sound identical, These two mics have almost the same sensitivity and same characteristics. But the MKH8040 frequency range goes up to 50Khz which is useful for sound design and/or bat recordings. The 8040 self noise is not high but is the highest in this comparison. The self noise starts around 15Khz and is strongest around 50Khz. The sound quality seems to be a bit „gray“compare to the other two.
Nevaton offers MC59C sound samples of concert recordings to download. It was something in these recordings which told me that MC59 could be an interesting microphone  So I ordered four matched pieces of MC59C, from Bluetone mainly for music recording, but as well to keep it in mind to use them for surround nature recordings. This microphone is wonderful for music. It was confirmed after I did a concert recording last November. But that does not necessary mean it is as perfect for nature recordings. So here was a good reason to make a comparison to other well known microphones.
What surprises me in the comparison is the low noise and how clean this Russian wonder sounds above 10Khz. I just wished I was 40 years younger to hear this upper frequency clarity because I can mostly or only see it on a spectrogram which shows this microphone is outstanding compare to other small condenser microphones I know, as MKH´s. The mid range noise level is similar below 10Khz as in MKH40, or slightly more. But it has no additional self noise above 10Khz as most or all other microphones. In fact the self noise seems to be at same level through the whole frequency ranges up to 65Khz when it starts to increase.
Nevaton says the frequency range is 20-20Khz, but on the spectogram the frequency range seems to go much higher. When I recorded a noise from switching power supply it detect sound up to 30Khz almost as clearly as MKH8040 and without mic’s self noise.

Conclusion

In the sound world where it is possible to make a noise reduction with only several mouse clicks in a software it seems like microphone self noise does not matter. But it is not true. No NR software is so good it will not affect or harm the sound quality. So low noise microphones are important, especially at mid range (>8khz) for quiet nature sound and upper frequency (<8Khz) for music recording.
All three microphones in this comparison seem to have similar „low“ handling noise
MKH40 seems to have the lowest self noise at mid ranges and MC59C overall lowest self noise.
MKH8040 is a very versatile mic which can pick up sound up to 50Khz and is always a nice sounding microphone.
The MKH40 behaved strangely by creating this frequency buzz in individual frequency ranges above 10Khz. It is something I need to figure out as soon as I can and add information about it here in this blog.
MKH40 is anyway a good work horse. It is possible to rely on this mic in high humidity, record everything and always get highest quality you can get from a cardioid microphone. In my opinion, the MKH40 sounds slightly better than MKH8040 probably because it has less mid range noise than 8040. I have owned mkh80 for some years now, but not used it much. It is worth keeping this mic in action again.
MC59C is on the other hand the big success in this comparison. It has outstanding sound quality for classical music recording. Saying that, it must be kept in mind I have only used it once in a concert. In this comparison, sound quality seems to be the best I’ve heard or seen before on a small condenser microphone. It can clearly record the weakest sound effects between 10 KHz and 20 KHz without drowning that sound in the microphone’s self noise. The comparison did not exactly show which of these mics was the best to stay in a windshield, record everything from a birdsong to falling snowflakes, but MC59c is definitely an outstanding microphone and ready to record everything.
There is some rumors about MC59 can’t withstand high humidity. I have not tested it, but I think that humidity is not be a problem in Iceland.
It is a surprise to me how equally they sound compared to the price ranges. Nevaton MC59 is only half price of the MKH8040 and the MKH40 is more expensive**. But price is not everything because they all have a tiny specific difference.

See the whole picture gallery
* All audio samples above are mp3 at 256kbps 44kHz.
Original recording at 24bit/48Khz
** Update: Just overnight 18th of January 2020 the price of Nevaton MC59 microphones increase about 50%.
For one mic, both XLR or S version price was last week at €620 excl. VAT
But now is XLR at €868 and S version at €898

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Life has been difficult for some seabird species in some places around Iceland. Puffin colony with around 3 million birds has almost disappeared within few years from Vestmannaeyjar island south of Iceland. Change in the ecosystem is probably the main reason for this dramatically changes. But it is not only Puffins; many seagull species have also difficulties to survive. These gulls are in big flocks where ever scraps can be found. We have also several stories about them hunting BQ from hot outdoor grills.
Last week I was in Garðabær, south Reykjavik region, when I noticed some different behaviors of the birds around me. I went there with my gear later that day if there was something to record. I was lucky. Just when I arrived, hundreds of Arctic Tern and Black-Headed Gull was catching something on a manmade beach. Tide was getting lower so it was something trapped in a pool on the beach. I am still not sure what it was, but probably was it Pollock juveniles.
Some minutes after I started recording a flock of Lesser Black Backed Gull arrive with lot of noise until some photographer came too close and they all flew away (at 13 min).
Other birds like Great Black Backed Gull, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Common Eider, Raven and even Great Northern Diver was around, or not far away.
This recording is my contribution to World listening day 2014.

Matarveislan í Hraunsvík

Það var óvenju fjölskrúðugt fuglalíf á Arnarnesvoginum þegar ég átti þar leið um miðjan júlí. Mátti meira að segja heyra í himbrima úti á voginum. Ég ákvað því að koma þar við með upptökutækin um kvöldið og hljóðrita herlegheitin.
Ég kom svo til alveg á réttum tíma. Kría var í tuga ef ekki hundraða tali að steypa sér eftir einhverju æti í manngerðri vík í Hraunsvík. Stuttu eftir að upptaka hófst þá kom flokkur máfa sem reyndi að fá hlutdeild af ætinu sem líklega voru ufsaseiði.
Þegar mest gekk á voru þarna margar fuglategundir. Mest var af kríu, hettumáfi og sílamáfi, en inn á milli mátti sjá svartbak, æðarfugl, tjald og hrafn .
Þessi upptaka er framlag mitt til World Listening Day 2014.

Download mp3 file (192kmps / 38Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 744
Mics: Sennheiser 8040 (ORTF)
Pics. EOS-M (see more pictures)
Overview above the recording place

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In February I went to Geysir in Haukadal with my recording gear.  The plan was to record the sound in Geysir and other hot springs in the area with hydrophones. But when I arrived it was both windy and freezing cold so I did not make as many recordings as I expected.
Anyway, I got some recordings that I mixed together in one 20 minutes session.
It started with eruption in hot spring named Strokkur. It usually erupts every five to ten minutes and is one of the most attractive things in the area today.
Then, we dived down to the tube of Geysir. It is now some decade since it erupted automatically so now it is just a quiet deep hole in the ground full of hot water.
Then Strokkur erupted again before we dived into the “blue side” of the hot spring Blesi.
After several minutes Strokkur erupted again and we dived into the ”deep side” of Blesi.
Then we went to the surface and listened to two eruptions on Strokkur in a fellowship with two tourists.

Geysir, Blesi og Strokkur.

Í febrúar gerði ég mér ferð í uppsveitir Árnessýslu með upptökutækin. Var komið við á stöðum eins og á Geysi þar sem hljóðnemar voru brúkaðir bæði ofan jarðar og neðan. Vegna roks, kulda og myrkurs náðist ekki að hljóðrita allt það sem til stóð, en eftir stóðu þó upptökur sem hér hafa verið dregnar saman í stutta 20 mínutna langa hljóðmynd.

Download mp3 file (192Mbps / 29Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Aquarian H2a-XLR & Sennheiser MKH8040 (ORTF)
Pics: Canon EOS M (see more pictures)

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The summer 1978 I got a job at Sogsvirkjanir power stations, about 50 km east of Reykjavik capital. There are three power stations close to each other in the river Sog south of Þingvallavatn lake.
This place was familiar to me because my grandparents lived at a nearby farm, Efri Brú.
For me, as a tanager, this summer was very important. It was the time to decide what I would like to do for a living; a technician, farmer, engineer, or something else. I was not sure.
My job at Sogsvirkjanir was miscellaneous, gardening, cleaning and painting. But what interested me most was working in the power stations when generators were shut down for cleaning and overhauling. As a thin, lithe teenager I was used to go into and work inside places in the generators where older, fatter and stiffer engineers could not access or work. Afterwards I think it was very damaging environment for my health. Working almost every day with 1,1,1Trichloroethane and other toxic liquids with useless mask. But in these days nobody took care of it, and I did not take care of it either.
All this machineries fascinated me so I decided to start learning electrician in the autumn 1978.
The following recording is a combination of five recordings I made in and around Ljósafoss power station the summer 2013. This is the oldest power station in the river and was built on my grandfather’s land 1934. The birdsong in the recording is from a nearby county at Laugarvatn which is my grandmothers’ birthplace. It reminds me of my childhood at my grandparent’s farm, especially in the swamp behind the cowshed, so it is worth to keep it with this recording.
Even though all these sounds gives me some nice memories, they sound also far in my mind. It feels like a memory from my “last life”, not something that happened in my life about 40 years ago. Every thing has changed fast in this county. My grandparents are long gone and almost all farming in the county too. Land in many places has been broken up in peaces for cottages. Farming and animals have disappeared.
Instead of narrow gravel roads, all roads now have asphalt. Fast driving, noisy traffic, day and night seems to be the only human activity.
Sadly, in just thirty years, this beautiful countryside has changed into “American style suburb”
The following recording gives you a flight as a ghost, or a spirit from my grandparents farm to Ljósafoss power station. Your flight goes above and through water, concrete and steel. It starts over the reservoir, then trough the intake, penstock, power house, transformer and to the outflow canal.
The flight ends as it starts with “quiet bird song” far away from the nosy power station.

Miningar frá sumrinu 1978.

Sumarið 1978 fékk ég sumarvinnu við Sogsvirkjanir. Þetta sumar varð mér heldur örlagaríkt, en þá tók ég ákvörðun um að læra rafvirjun. Eftirarandi hljóðmynd var tekin upp sumarið 2013 í og við Ljósafossstöð. Segja má að það sé í raun minningabrot frá sumrinu 1978 og þremur næstu sumrum á meðan ég vann þar við ýmis störf.

Download mp3 file (192kbps / 36,0Mb)

Recorder Sound devices 788
Mics. Sennheiser MKH8040 (ORTF setup)
Pics. Canon EOS-M (more pictures)
Rafn sigurbjörnsson’s picture gallery

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Around 4,000 people turned up to Austurvöllur square in front of the parliament 24th of February to protest the decision by the ruling Progressive and Independence Parties to put forward a resolution to withdraw from European Union talks.
Earlier this day police fenced off the parliament building with aluminum riot fence. It was great because in the bank crises five years ago people brought all kinds of “kitchen tools” to make noise during the protests. This time police brought the instrument, and the protesters played and kicked the fence. (More info)

Mótmælin í febrúar 2014

Fólk fjölmennti á Austurvöll framan við Alþingishúsið þann 24. febrúar sl. til að mótmæla slitum á aðildarviðræðum við ESB. Í raun átti að ganga svo frá hnútum að það væri allt eins ógjörningur að fara í slíkar viðræður í framtíðinni.
Fyrsti dagur þessara mótmæla var 24. febrúar og héldu þau svo áfram fram eftir vikunni eða þar til að stjórnarliðar sáu að sér og ákváðu að afgreiða málið með einhverjum öðrum hætti.
Meðfylgjandi upptaka var tekin upp á fyrsta degi mótmæla norðan við dómkirkjuna rétt fyrir kl. 16. Lögreglan hafði girt af Alþingishúsið með álgirðingu sem nýttist dásamlega vel til að koma óánægju almennings til skila inn í sali Alþingis.

Download mp3 file (192kbps / 31MB)

Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics: Sennheiser 8040 (ORTF setup)
Pix: Nokia N82

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Reykjavík Culture Night was held for the nineteenth time on 23rd of August 2014. As usual it normally ends with a big concert and a fireworks in Reykjavík downtown.
This year the weather was wet but warm.
I was soaked when the fireworks started, and I was probably not in the best place to record fireworks. But it was as interesting to listen to the joyful crowd during the show.
In just 9 minutes they blew up three tons of fireworks from several places around the concert stage.  More information about this dance project and Reykjavik culture nights.

Eldar, dansverk fyrir þrjú tonn af flugeldum

Upptaka frá flugedasýningu menningarnætur 24. ágúst 2013 í blautu en hlýju veðri. Því miður má heyra það á upptökunni að vindhlífin var, þegar þarna kom við sögu, orðin  gegnblaut. En engu að síður, stemmningi skilar sér bærilega.

Download mp3 file (192kbps / 23,2Mb)

Recorder. Sound Devices 744
Mics: Sennheiser MKH8040 (ORTF)
Pix: Nokia N82. (see video of this fireworks)

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