By Stephanie Ciccarelli
November 12, 2009
Honey, does this microphone make my bottom sound big?
If you are looking for a way to make your bottom bigger and your top end a little less bright, the new Cloud Microphones JRS-34 may be just what you are looking for.
It's going to surprise you.
By Greg Phelps
I have always wanted to try out a ribbon microphone. Noting the JRS-34 came out as a brand new creation from Stephan Sank and company, I jumped on the opportunity.
Look out smooth and fat... here I come.
Ribbons are typically quite dark and that's one of the reasons you really don't see that many in the voice over world. Some of them actually just sound really great... as is the case with Cloud's new JRS-34.
We make 'em like they used to.
The story begins in the 1930's at RCA* with Harry Olson developing the 44 and 77 series ribbon microphones. Mr. Olson was followed in his post by engineer Jon R. Sank, for whom the JRS-34 is named. He was charged by RCA with improving on Harry's best mics. He did just that with the BK-11, a direct descendant of the 44 series. It's been an inside audio secret for many years among top engineers that the BK-11 is the most advanced ribbon microphone in the world. Jon Sank passed away in 1998, but before he died he passed more than 50 years of skill and technology to his son, Stephen Sank. Trained by his father beginning at age 10, Stephen's studies continued to build upon lessons learned from the original RCA Laboratory Studies. Today, Stephen and his wife Cynthia continue the family tradition of developing quality hand crafted ribbon microphones in collaboration with Cloud Microphones. With modern appointments such as Cinemag transformers, neodymium magnets and an optional phantom powered JFET circuit, the Cloud JRS-34 takes the next evolutionary step in the immortal BK-11 / 44 series microphone design line. All Cloud products are completely built in the USA.
The JRS-34 is a true beauty. It is all chrome and surprisingly light weight for its size. It comes in both an active, requiring phantom power of 48volts, and a passive version.
The active version is very nice for us folks who don't have a preamp that goes to 11. (yes it's a Spinal Tap reference) Typically a ribbon requires quite a bit of gain but the active circuitry makes the Cloud ribbon usable on most any preamp.
The sound of this mic is like putting on a nice warm blanket and cuddling up to a fire on a cold day. In my opinion, too many of today's microphones are cold and bright. Cloud has succeeded in building a microphone that is not too bright and not too dark. It's also very smooth. The JRS-34 is also a very quiet microphone. All in all a very nice package.
I put the JRS-34 through about every kind of read you can think of. It's not perfect for everything. You can clip it and it's not one I would suggest for those screamer ads but it works great for long form and for commercial work but only if you want your work to sound fabulous.
The thing I found most interesting about this microphone is that adjusting it's sound can be done by moving it closer or farther away. Once you dial it in....you get a very rich and creamy sound while still being able to hear the upper ranges very easily. This ribbon mic will give you everything you can ask for in a mic except that overly bright sound we have all heard and have begun to loathe. If you want proximity effect, the JRS-34 will give you all you could ever want. Pull it back some, and it will give you a nice big bottom and still offer you some wonderful clarity through the mid and upper bands. The JRS-34 is one for the mic locker without a doubt. I highly recommend trying one out... be warned however, you will want one.
Take a listen for yourself. Here is a little sample of what the JRS-34 sounds like with both a male (Greg Phelps) and a female, (Diane Maggipinto).
Here is the signal chain:
EMU 1212, Mackie 1402 VLZ3, Summit Audio Everest.
Settings on the Everest were the same for both male and female voices. Input at 5.6 Drive bus at 4 and output at 6. The JRS-34 active version was used in making these files. The male voice was recorded with the JRS-34 12 inches away and the female at 8 inches away. No processing was added.
If you have any thoughts about the JRS-34 mic or comments for Greg Phelps, be sure to add them and continue the conversation!
StephanieRelated Topics: Microphones