Author Topic: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist  (Read 17966 times)

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Offline Spirit532Topic starter

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Everything is on github, not going to duplicate the description here, just going to say that this was my first time using a hex inverter as a charge pump, maybe there's people here who aren't aware that this is a cool trick to get high voltages with low part count, price, and noise.

https://github.com/Spirit532/studio_mic

Critiques welcome, I suppose.
 
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Offline JohanH

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2023, 01:38:56 pm »
Interesting, thanks for sharing. I've thought of getting a (better) mic, but it would be a great idea to build one instead.

Just a comment about ceramic capacitors. Any class 2 capacitor will have loss of capacitance at higher voltages. It doesn't help with higher voltage rating. Larger package and higher temp dielectric helps somewhat (so X7R/X8R in larger case). But class 1 capacitors are best, C0G(NP0). They will have virtually no loss of capacitance at higher voltages. They are more expensive, though, and isn't available in higher capacitance values and all package sizes.
 

Offline Spirit532Topic starter

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2023, 01:43:47 pm »
Any class 2 capacitor will have loss of capacitance at higher voltages. It doesn't help with higher voltage rating.

It's good that you pointed that out!
I'm aware of this, but the note I made about capacitors is more to do just with the voltage rating. 100V caps will typically be X7R(at least the ones I've looked at briefly), which have good enough capacitance for what's happening in the circuit. Derating by even 70% is acceptable, but it's the unexpected behavior(failure, really) if you go too close to the rated voltage that's the biggest issue.
Since it's aimed at less experienced people and perhaps non-EEs, I just chose to generalize, if a bit wrong.
 
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Offline TimFox

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2023, 01:49:22 pm »
The 1 nF and 10 nF capacitors should be available in NP0/C0G.
100 nF C0G capacitors are rather large.
 

Offline Spirit532Topic starter

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2023, 01:50:39 pm »
The 1 nF and 10 nF capacitors should be available in NP0/C0G.
100 nF C0G capacitors are rather large.

Those are ones that really matter the least, so going for price is more important.
 
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Offline MasterT

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2023, 03:02:24 pm »
I wander what is the voltage comes out of mic, that you could afford translate signal over diff pair w/o amplification? SNR is not in consideration?
 

Offline Weston

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2023, 06:50:07 pm »
I saw this on twitter earlier today, really cool work! Good documentation too. With a few changes you could probably have an ionization chamber radiation detector  ;D

You probably don't need to worry about NP0 capacitors for the charge pump, but class 2 capacitors have a strong temperature coefficient too. If C19 is not NP0 you could see changes in the low frequency cutoff of the microphone with ambient temperature.

I would be a little bit worried about the charge pump injecting noise back into the 12V power rail with the fast transitions of the hex inverter. Have you scoped out the 12V power rail for switching noise?
 

Offline Spirit532Topic starter

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2023, 01:34:33 am »
I wander what is the voltage comes out of mic, that you could afford translate signal over diff pair w/o amplification? SNR is not in consideration?
SNR is not an issue, unity gain is typical for mics. You have to remember that you're doing a massive impedance conversion, the mic capacitor charged to 84V going from >xxGOhm to ~1G, with a FET input that draws no current, you get quite a high signal.
In this configuration, the mic can pick up me whispering across the room at max gain of the preamp(I'm using a UMC204HD), with the only noise I can hear being wind from the open window and my (almost silent to the ear) PC fans.

Everything I'm saying is handwavy because I don't have an isolated scope with high impedance inputs to actually poke at it.


I saw this on twitter earlier today, really cool work! Good documentation too. With a few changes you could probably have an ionization chamber radiation detector  ;D

You probably don't need to worry about NP0 capacitors for the charge pump, but class 2 capacitors have a strong temperature coefficient too. If C19 is not NP0 you could see changes in the low frequency cutoff of the microphone with ambient temperature.

I would be a little bit worried about the charge pump injecting noise back into the 12V power rail with the fast transitions of the hex inverter. Have you scoped out the 12V power rail for switching noise?

C19 also doesn't particularly matter, and if the capacitance drops, all the better. You should only start to see frequency response issues when you go up about an order of magnitude, I just chose 1nf because it would be a duplicate part in the circuit, fewer values to buy.
The capsule also has a highly nonlinear response below the "normally audible" range of ~20-30Hz, and varies quite a bit unit to unit, so even if I wanted to measure its effects, I probably couldn't without a full anechoic chamber and calibrated freq response metrology mics.

Noise in the power rail is a valid concern, but filtering thankfully works both ways(the high impedance power path has its advantages), and since there's basically no inductive component to the charge pump(*ideally), you'll only really get noise at the oscillation frequency and higher(*ideally), which is at least 10x higher than the audio range, and doesn't matter at all.

(same handwavy response as above, don't have the right scope setup to poke at it)
« Last Edit: March 19, 2023, 01:39:51 am by Spirit532 »
 

Offline JohanH

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2023, 09:08:20 am »
I tried to find some information about these clone microphone capsules. According to some sources they are based on a design similar to the original K67, even the edge connected CK12/RK12 clones. Anyway, some of them are rumored to be quite bright sounding with several dB peak at around 10 kHz, similar to the original K67. So I got thinking, would it be clever to include a switchable notch or low pass filter in the circuit, and what would be the best way. Now all of this is speculation as I don't know much about the capsules.
 

Offline Spirit532Topic starter

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2023, 10:14:18 am »
Unfortunately you really need a calibrated transducer and an anechoic chamber to test any of this, or at least a calibrated transducer and a good measurement of the room. Not to mention a good handful of these capsules, and while cheap, they're not cheap cheap.
The edge terminated capsules seem to fare a bit better and have a lower response at the high end, but they all use 3um mylar instead of 6um, so they will tend to ring at higher frequencies more than the old ones. I haven't found a good source of 6um mylar, and my sputter coater isn't quite ready yet, so I can't start building my own :P
 

Offline jonpaul

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2023, 11:00:58 am »
sorry cannot decode any of the files on GitHub.

Please post a simple JPG image of SCH, PCB and device.


Jon
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Offline Spirit532Topic starter

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2023, 11:04:43 am »
sorry cannot decode any of the files on GitHub.

Please post a simple JPG image of SCH, PCB and device.


Jon

That's all on GitHub.
The schematic is the first thing on that page... The rest is a KiCad project.
 

Offline JohanH

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2023, 02:11:49 pm »
Unfortunately you really need a calibrated transducer and an anechoic chamber to test any of this, or at least a calibrated transducer and a good measurement of the room. Not to mention a good handful of these capsules, and while cheap, they're not cheap cheap.
The edge terminated capsules seem to fare a bit better and have a lower response at the high end, but they all use 3um mylar instead of 6um, so they will tend to ring at higher frequencies more than the old ones. I haven't found a good source of 6um mylar, and my sputter coater isn't quite ready yet, so I can't start building my own :P

You are probably right, you would need some good measurement equipment.

Just another detail I wondered about. Do you have the microphone metal chassis connected to ground in the circuit, or is it floating?
This is unverified, but I read that some Neumann microphones had the chassis connected to circuit ground with a 10 ohm resistor.
 

Offline Spirit532Topic starter

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2023, 02:15:50 pm »
Just another detail I wondered about. Do you have the microphone metal chassis connected to ground in the circuit, or is it floating?
This is unverified, but I read that some Neumann microphones had the chassis connected to circuit ground with a 10 ohm resistor.

It's connected to the XLR (&cable) shield, which I believe is connected to ground at the audio interface.
That would essentially make the whole thing a diffpair coax, which is probably the most optimal configuration.
 
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Offline jonpaul

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2023, 06:24:23 pm »
Rebonjour a tous, BRAVO to the OP on the project.

The advent of ECM since 1970s has greatly changed the mkt for true HV condenser, eg Neumann/Valves.

We have a fine Akai ECM mic bought at a fle in Paris for $7.



Is your design  built and tested or just a schema?

Happy to comment an markup esp on the VM 100V, phantom, EMI and Hi Meg R.

Whose capsule using?

Let me know what is your project stage.

Amicalement,


Jon

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Offline Spirit532Topic starter

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2023, 02:15:46 am »
Is your design  built and tested or just a schema?
Whose capsule using?

Scroll down on the github page. It's a finished build. Pictures are there.
 

Offline jonpaul

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2023, 03:39:03 am »
github is a pita, way too many oddball extt files.

For non gît hub folks, PLEASE  just post your design, schematic and project pix as images direct.

j
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Offline JohanH

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2023, 07:13:36 am »
Jean-Paul,

There is literally a web page on the github site, when you scroll down. Or direct link here: https://github.com/Spirit532/studio_mic#schematic

The schematic is also in pdf format. Here's the direct link https://github.com/Spirit532/studio_mic/raw/main/StudioMic.pdf

I found a youtuber that has made pretty much the same microphone interface, but he uses a two membrane capsule to get two signals for stereo or mixing (he has made multiple variants):



He demonstrates the ready microphone. It sounds good (as good as you can expect through youtube and random headphones). There is a web page for the same build, where you can see schematics etc.:
https://www.instructables.com/True-Condenser-OPA-Mics/

And another web page describing the amplifier/impedance converter part with schematics:
https://www.instructables.com/OPA-Based-Alice-Microphones-a-Cardioid-and-a-Figur/
 

Offline jonpaul

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2023, 12:25:58 pm »
Rebonjour cher  JohanH, and Sprit 532: Many thahks for the alrts to github, links, etc!

Bravo for the mic projects!  Very fine! I was unaware of these DIY attempts to recreate the classics 1940s..1970s condenser mics with valves eg Neumann, Sennheiser,

Am retired Audio designer since 1970s, ( Sequerra, Dolby Labs, THX, Lucasfilm)  sat on AES digital microphones standards committee, AES-42 in 1980s, invented the first digital mic.

Thus,  some experience and a lot of interest  in microphones!!

For the schema, 2018 KiCAD, before I can make a cogent comment,  a few questions please!

0/ Test setup, equip used?

1/  Freq resp,  weighted SNR and DYN R  ?

2/ EMI susceptibility ?  XLR output EMI  filter needs work.

3/ What is source, spec  for the condenser capsule?

4/ What is source/spec of the 100M Ohm R13, 101 ..110 SMD resistors?

 5/ How is performance vs modern ECM mics?

Amicalment!

Jon






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Offline Spirit532Topic starter

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2023, 12:34:53 pm »
2018 KiCAD
2023, latest

0/ Test setup, equip used?
None, besides a Keithley 2000.

1/  Freq resp,  weighted SNR and DYN R  ?
No clue. I'm accepting donations of free anechoic chambers and calibrated transducer kits ;)
SNR probably between "a lot" and "tons", dynamic range is between "plenty" and "good enough".

2/ EMI susceptibility ?  XLR output EMI  filter needs work.
None. Runs just fine without earthing, near lots of electrical noise. EMI filter doesn't need any work, simpler is better.

3/ What is source, spec  for the condenser capsule?
China. Spec is "sounds good". It's an AKG CK12 clone, with thinner mylar.

4/ What is source/spec of the 100M Ohm R13, 101 ..110 SMD resistors?
Whatever cheap stuff I could get at the local store. +-5%, doesn't matter much. Maybe a dB of gain here or there, the audio interface can compensate. Not aiming for Neumann quality or Neumann pricing. This is cheaper to build than some electrets are to buy.

5/ How is performance vs modern ECM mics?
Significantly better. Many times higher sensitivity, many times lower SNR, much flatter(but still not flat) frequency response.
This is expected of any large diaphragm condenser, modern or old. Electrets are good and more robust, but by no means better performance.
 

Offline JohanH

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2023, 02:15:09 pm »

4/ What is source/spec of the 100M Ohm R13, 101 ..110 SMD resistors?

Jon

Jon, is there a reason for wanting to have some better spec resistors in this place?

I'm thinking a long string of resistors is good against leakage, better than a single 1 Gohm resistor (unless through hole), so quality shouldn't matter. A guard ring around opamp inputs could help if PCB becomes dirty with time etc.
 

Offline EC8010

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2023, 09:10:50 am »
All large capsule microphones have a bit of a peak around 10kHz or so. It's as well to remember that recording microphones are not the same as measurement microphones and are chosen for whether or not they favour their subject. I wouldn't worry about the peak.

The capsule is likely to have a source capacitance of around 30pF or less. That makes it a high impedance source and construction quality of your electronics becomes paramount. Notably, cleanliness. Everything has to be squeaky clean, and bare fingers shouldn't go near high impedance parts or noise will result. And don't breathe on it (water vapour in exhaled breath). The main issue with a 100M surface mount resistor will be surface leakage. When I used a 1G surface mount resistor, I routed a large hole under its body so that dirty defluxer etc couldn't be trapped under the resistor and increase leakage. You'll find that's quite a common technique where low leakage is needed.
 
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Offline Spirit532Topic starter

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2023, 06:58:13 pm »
The main issue with a 100M surface mount resistor will be surface leakage. When I used a 1G surface mount resistor, I routed a large hole under its body so that dirty defluxer etc couldn't be trapped under the resistor and increase leakage. You'll find that's quite a common technique where low leakage is needed.

The 1G assembly out of 100M resistors is fairly long and realistically, it doesn't matter if there's a small amount of DC leakage or not, because it's all dissipated. The signal is AC coupled by nature, and I've not noticed any significant performance differences between a completely clean, degreased and DI rinsed board and one that I touched with my fingers.

A lot of the audio stuff is way overblown in importance, as is natural with audiophools.
 

Offline NiHaoMike

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2023, 02:49:54 am »
Since the microphone element itself is enclosed behind a shield, wouldn't it make more sense to connect its casing to the high voltage supply and then the signal output go to the amplifier with some bootstrapping tricks to eliminate the need for such high value resistors or a low leakage coupling cap?
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Cryptocurrency lesson 0: Altcoins and Bitcoin are not the same thing.
 

Offline Spirit532Topic starter

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Re: Simple open-source condenser studio microphone with a modern twist
« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2023, 02:51:20 am »
The outer housing is the shield, and with the not-insignificant capacitance I wouldn't.
 


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