DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

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DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby Chinagraf » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:20 pm

Anyone built there own version of these sort of things - say 25dB clean gain, powered by 48V phantom.
To go between something like a ribbon mic and a preamp, give things a little more gain?
But without any hpf which I believe the fethead has, because I like the proximity of ribbons.
Anyone know of any schemos out there?
Thanks
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby The Tasmanian » Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:18 pm

Good to know the Fethead has a HPF , meaning it must be avoided.
What about the Cloudhead? does it have a HPF?
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby Chinagraf » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:13 pm

Chris, there's actually a couple of versions, and one is called the fethead filter which has a hpf with a corner at 220 Hz. The other one has no HPF.I hadn't seen that there was more than 1 version when I posted. Ronan Murphy did a comparison of the 2 on his web show - http://ronansrecordingshow.com/2012/04/ ... fter-cl-1/
Cloudlifter has come out with a new version that has variable impedance and variable hpf as well. Stephen Sank is the Cloudlifter designer and has a pretty high rep. The base models have different impedance - CL is 3Kohm and Fethead 22Kohm.
I'm personally a little suss on putting anything more active in front of a passive mic, but I'd like to try one out at some point. I keep thinking back to an active Seymour Duncan I had in my old strat, and when I replaced it with a correct era passive pickup it just sounded so much better. Not as loud, but better.
Most of the stuff I use the ribbons on is loud enough, but it would be good to have an option for quieter sources. I just figure how hard could it be to build a small jfet amp that is powered by phantom..
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby The Tasmanian » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:29 pm

Hey Andy -
I've always been a bit suss about these "lifter" type things.
Thinking - surely there is some sonic compromise?

It always comes back to me as similar concept to pads, as I always hear a loss of quality when any pad is engaged.
I avoid them as much as humanly possible, either moving a mic slightly away, or turning down the source.

But when Dave Royer introduced his phantom ribbons, it made me think there was a possible way of getting more gain without compromise, as there was consensus that they sounded really good.

It would be interesting to find out what is happening in these Royer mic's - what he is doing (even if it means pulling one apart to investigate)
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby Chinagraf » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:43 pm

Yeah, a tech named Jim Williams tested the Cloud lifter and got it a pretty much flat with -3db down at 50Khz.
I'm sure the Royer stuff is done well. I wonder more about the impedance change. I guess there is some personal taste in there too. I have variable impedance pres and prefer a higher impedance on drums but a bit lower on guitar.
I was talking to someone today with a lot of older ribbon experience who dislikes the Royer stuff, and isn't a fan of mics using neodinium magnets.
I assume the active ribbons are adding some sort of gain and buffering stage that is small enough to fit in the body.
If you buy one I will pick you up at the ferry and buy a slab to drink while we pull it apart at my joint. We can make an art installation with the bits and call it "The ribbon of life".
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby The Tasmanian » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:14 pm

Your on!
"The Ribbon of life" - we gotta do it! (with more than 1 slab... of course)
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby Ben M » Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:56 am

Putting a ribbon mic back together after sinking a slab (or two) = priceless :)) make sure you post the video.
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby mylesgm » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:51 pm

Rode had one of these things for awhile (can't remember the model) and they even had a sort of DIY module where you could physically install it in the mic I think. I tried it out at a store and the difference in noise floor of the mic made the thing thoroughly unusable, tried it on a few sources including an sm57 and I just thought what's the point of simply
increasing the gain before the mic preamp if the quality is so poor when I've got really nice mic preamps to do that for me...

I do like hi impedances on ribbons especially (and lots of other places too) and variable impedance is one of those things I love on mic preamps so an inline tool that did that for all the preamps that don't have it would be worth investigating. Also has the added benefit of increasing the apparent gain whilst potentially lowering the noise floor (depending on mic/pre combo) because of the impedance relationship and this maybe what you need rather than an active stage before your pre of choice. If you try it let me know as I can't really explore that option in swaziland. Just sourcing XLR connectors can be a real thorny issue.
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby Alistair » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:32 pm

I've got a fethead. I really like it, doesn't make much on audible difference on the mics I use it on, but does greatly improve level and SNR. Great for using some of my old ribbons on acoustic guitar and voice.
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby Alistair » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:34 pm

And I spent quite a bit of time looking for a suitable DIY circuit, but couldn't find anything that didn't seem to have serious issues. Flipside is the circuits all looked pretty cheap to build!
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby rick » Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:42 pm

I tried the fet head on a RCA 44 and decided
It didnt really bring anything to the party as I
Have never really known how to use ribbons on soft sources
And the way I use 44 with a neve is not on subtle sounds

But it did seem to make it louder so i used less gain and the mic sounded the same
Dull .. I thought .. So what ?

I have had limited experience with the aea ribbon mike
Pre which absolutely doesn't make ribbons sound the same
It gives you tops and bottoms I never knew where there
A few of those are on my wish list

Meanwhile Daniel Weiss sent me these 500 pres
And they have mic amps running at theoretical
Noise floor limits , plug them into my ribbons and
There is no hiss what so ever .. And I am thinking they are also
Changing the way I think the mics sound
For the better .. Learning to use ribbons when you have no
Noise restrictions Is the challenge
its hard to unlearn old habits me thinks


Then compare them to the aea / forsell designed ribbon pre

The impedance of the aea is around 18k and the Weiss I think is 12 k

A neve is like 1.2 k or .3 k if your too lazy to pull the module out and flick
The switch ..

Ribbons sound dull and neves are too noisy up on high gain
The DIY lifter with the right impedance is probably
Viable .. If you get the impedance / tone / load correct ?
I am thinking let smarter minds then me ponder that
But super low noise ribbon mic pres seems the sensible way forward
Not old school classics

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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby Alistair » Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:56 pm

I've got a B&O Ribbon that is so low output it can be tough going on as a mono OH if the drummer is quiet. I bought the Fethead for that, and the other uses have just been bonuses. For me, it's about the option of using a very dark mic on a range of sources, rather than changing the sound of the mic.

And yes, I'd like some AEA ribbon pres too!
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby Chinagraf » Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:05 pm

I was eyeing off the AEA pre last night. I'll probably get one. Wish it wasn't half rack though. Hate half rack gear.
Ugly colour too. What is that..beige? Probably why Rick hasn't got one..
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby seancook » Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:59 pm

TRP is a great pre not just on ribbons, for a while there i was using one side for a CMV with M7 mono OH and the other side to a coles mono room, really brings the best out of both.

though there is something i find undeniable about a pair of coles into neves on OH, so meaty
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Re: DIY Fethead/Cloudlifter?

Postby Chris H » Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:30 pm

I think a Rola 77 and the later professional model, in excellent operating order having an output of +8 are a good option for ribbon mics. My 77's had a section of the circuit not necessary for mic pre use bypassed by Gerard McGough, for quieter operation.
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