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Fri Jan 5 12:14 pm  #1


Asking for a friend.

Could one or two of our super brainy sowny 'peeps', as the kids say, please explain why/if? microphones are made to broadcast the male voice. The same mic seems to make a number of women sound fairly nasal when broadcasting on AM/FM. No agenda, or unkindness here, this is a genuine tech question.

Asking for a friend.

 

Fri Jan 5 3:36 pm  #2


Re: Asking for a friend.

betaylored wrote:

Could one or two of our super brainy sowny 'peeps', as the kids say, please explain why/if? microphones are made to broadcast the male voice. The same mic seems to make a number of women sound fairly nasal when broadcasting on AM/FM. No agenda, or unkindness here, this is a genuine tech question.

Asking for a friend.

Generally speaking, accuracy across the human hearing range is the top objective of a microphone designer. Directionality comes next (i.e.: what does the on-axis pick-up pattern look like). So there's no gender bias that I've ever heard of.

What happens in the audio processing stage (after pre-amplification) can alter a microphone's character. I also wonder if the female you're referring to is in a different studio where the acoustics may be less flattering to anyone - male or female.

 

Fri Jan 5 4:03 pm  #3


Re: Asking for a friend.

betaylored wrote:

Could one or two of our super brainy sowny 'peeps', as the kids say, please explain why/if? microphones are made to broadcast the male voice. The same mic seems to make a number of women sound fairly nasal when broadcasting on AM/FM. No agenda, or unkindness here, this is a genuine tech question.

Asking for a friend.

Maybe, other than Arlene Bynon, they just all sound the same.  Most of the female yakkers sound alike to me.  Don't know if the mic has anything to do with it.
 

 

Fri Jan 5 4:09 pm  #4


Re: Asking for a friend.

I've worked in quite a few facilities, almost exclusively in the US to be honest, where each host has their own 'processing profile' that the audio processor can be configured for.   At the start of their shift they can select their profile and the chain is adjusted accordingly.

Many times the control rooms are built using the industry standard RE20 or the Sennheiser MD421 II (used for control rooms and kick drums) but then the consultant comes in and wants a sound better tailored for in-car listening, so roll off the bottoms and up especially the mid and top end.   So now Earl Mann sounds like me, and I sound like I have even lower serum testosterone levels and a head cold. 

The real challenge is the variance of listening environments, a lot of it is now headphone listening, and you can go from shitty beats headphones to 550BTNC's and no matter how good you are, there's no happy medium optimod setting for that.  Now add in-car listening and in-home listening on everything from Bose to Candle speakers and it's a bit of a nightmare. 

Then to top of all that, add in the opinion of the program director and station manager's wife etc.  I used to joke about CHUM-FM's 'sound' in the 80's being created by the 'Downsview Camaro' pre-set.  Heavy on the bottom and top, with the mids pulled back and then all compressed to hell.  (I can never forget hearing 'Speak to me / Breathe' one night and understanding just how 'bad processing' can make something truly sound like hell.  That heartbeat separates the men from the boys )

There's been a real push over the past few years for a less bottom endy 'radio guy' sounding processing, but for many female announcers, that bottom end processing helped fill out the range, and becomes especially apparent when the chain is tweaked as I was just mentioning.

Interestingly the 'big bottom' sound seems to be on the way back, with consultants / pd's pushing back against the thinned out processing and back to the 'larger than life' sound.  

Oh yes, I've also seen situations stateside where their 'plug and play' 96k Stereo STL  just rounds things out perfectly.

Ofcourse the other issue is TV audio on radio, and there's simply no hope for that.  The best you can do is load up on gauze to minimize the bleeding in your ears.



 


Madness takes its toll.  Please have exact change.
 
 

Fri Jan 5 4:51 pm  #5


Re: Asking for a friend.

ig wrote:

Interestingly the 'big bottom' sound seems to be on the way back, with consultants / pd's pushing back against the thinned out processing and back to the 'larger than life' sound. 

Somehow from all that drivel above, this line specifically will come back to haunt me, prefaced with 'so are you saying I have a big ass?'.


Madness takes its toll.  Please have exact change.
 
 

Fri Jan 5 4:57 pm  #6


Re: Asking for a friend.

Mic choice is important.
The ubiquitous RE 20 really is a pretty crappy microphone.
The Shure SM7 is much better and more forgiving for the female voice.
The new Neumanns everyone raves about and lusts after are too sterile sounding.
Any radio station worth it's salt back in the last century tailored the vocal chain to the talent.
At 1050 CHUM, we each had our own eq and processing settings and at that time, the mic of choice for AM was the Sennheiser MD421. 
Being a rock station, there was massive processing involved after the console.
No one seems to care about sound quality any more.
Most stations sound pretty terrible and a lot of the problem is the way the music is recorded, brick walled with no dynamic range and then everyone and his dog has to have his hands on the controls, fiddling with the adjustments to get what they consider the winning sound.
Listener fatigue is a major problem still especially with female listeners who have better top end hearing and are annoyed by the high frequency junk.
 

 

Fri Jan 5 5:01 pm  #7


Re: Asking for a friend.

Speaking of 'thin' processing, I was listening to the latest 'Under The Influence' with Terry O'Reilly podcast (Outstanding btw) and this exact thread jumped to mind.  It's that y2K nothing below 700k mic. processing that's maximized for distance and clarity and not necessarily aural comfort .  


Madness takes its toll.  Please have exact change.
 
 

Fri Jan 5 5:06 pm  #8


Re: Asking for a friend.

Mike Cleaver wrote:

The new Neumann's everyone raves about and lusts after are too sterile sounding. 

Amen to that!!  So true.  The fact they require so much post processing should be give-away #1 that something isn't quite right for a control room environment.
 


Madness takes its toll.  Please have exact change.
 
 

Fri Jan 5 5:21 pm  #9


Re: Asking for a friend.

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:

Generally speaking, accuracy across the human hearing range is the top objective of a microphone designer. Directionality comes next (i.e.: what does the on-axis pick-up pattern look like). So there's no gender bias that I've ever heard of.  What happens in the audio processing stage (after pre-amplification) can alter a microphone's character. I also wonder if the female you're referring to is in a different studio where the acoustics may be less flattering to anyone - male or female.

Tim pretty much nails the mic issue.  On air I've used the 421, RE20, U88, and a few other shotgun style mics.  Some mics by the nature of the frequencies they handle better favor a particular voice over another.  It's not related to gender just how the mic performs.  Whats more important as Tim alludes to is the pattern.  If it's too tight you can't move you head very much, which inhibits some people who are more animated in their delivery.  The right mic may also compensate for shitty sound treatment or cross talk between host and guests.  Very easy to get phasing when a multiple mic setup with no baffling between who's in the room.  Hence a much tighter pattern.

The biggest single problem is the amount of compression on a control room or booth mic.  You can get tons of "breathy noises" that would normally not be heard along with other artifacts..  The processing after the signal leaves the mic is always the main issue.  Add into that the age of the intended audience.  Older audience needs the right setting to hear it properly, whereas a young audience wants to "feel" the sound.  It's a no win situation.

When the Optimod's first hit PDs and consultants went crazy trying out new sounds louder and bigger than heard before..in their ears.  Key point..who's ears set it up based on what quality of source and speaker type.  There has been tons of Focus Group hours spent listening to different radio station settings.  And it all boils down to personal preference.  The next set of people may say the group before were idiots.

In my studio I have 4 mic's that I rely on for different types of projects.  All of them would sound great but one of them will be better for the intended use of the audio file.  By that I mean what processing do I have to add or take away for the intended usage - and a lot of tis depends on whether the client is a pro audio post studio or a TV/Radio station, independent AV company etc. I think you get where I'm going with this.

There is no magic sound...there is however a "true sound" which will work well with any processing.
 

 

Fri Jan 5 6:43 pm  #10


Re: Asking for a friend.

Holy crap you guys are brainiacs

I never got past the on - off button


"I'll kick your ass down Yonge Street"... CFTR's Robert Holiday circa 1979...
 

Thu Jan 11 11:43 pm  #11


Re: Asking for a friend.

I didn't have any one female voice in mind when I posed the query. In order to sound authorative, some women end up talking through their noses which can sound nasally at best and irritating at worst. After hearing what some pop singers sound like without Autotune, I wondered why/if something couldn't be done to tweak the voices of those on-air hosts that have the brain and wit but not necessarily the voice for radio. It's very true that the ambiance of the booth does have a good deal to do with it, as well as how much bass is in the voice naturally.

I appreciate all the shared information and expertise.

     Thread Starter