Occasional posts on subjects including field recording, London history and literature, other websites worth looking at, articles in the press, and news of sound-related events.

26 July 2011

New low-noise binaural mics from Sound Professionals

A NEW ADDITION from the US-based firm Sound Professionals goes up on the London Sound Survey’s Budget headworn mics page.

They’re an upgraded version of the popular SP-TFB-2 in-ear binaurals, which you can hear on Ollie Hall’s Binaural Diaries. The new ones get the name of MS-TFB-2. The ‘MS’ stands for Master Series, which needs saying aloud by Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman, and they cost more at $149. Like DFS Sofas, Sound Professionals seem to feature eternally reduced prices but the MS-TFB-2s nonetheless have an encouraging spec.

Sound Professionals binaural mics

The above picture with the faceless man shows how unobtrusive the mics are. They won’t pass for MP3 player earbuds like the German-made Soundman series or the Roland CS-10EMs can. Nosey parkers might charitably think they’re some sort of hearing aid and leave you alone, especially if you’ve chosen the beige option for the cables. Well, if Morrissey can wear a fake hearing aid for effect, so can the rest of us.

Now for the spec. Self-noise is an impressive 19dB – that’s very good indeed for the price. Sensitivity is also encouraging at around 25mV/Pa. The maximum sound pressure level is 115dB when the mics get plug-in power from a digital recorder, and 130dB with one of Sound Professionals’ own battery boxes. 115dB is fine for most everyday urban settings but not so good for recording gigs and sound systems. The frequency response chart looks pretty flat as well. There are a couple of samples on the Sound Professionals site for you to listen to.

If you’re not in the US then delivery can become a significant add-on to the overall price. Insured and tracked delivery to the UK begins at around $46. But that plus the cost of the MS-TFB-2s themselves works out at £122 given current exchange rates. That’s still pretty reasonable. The only downside is likely to be susceptibility to wind noise and the optional foam windshields won’t be able to do much about that outdoors. Better to invest in an acrylic beanie hat and pull it down over your ears.