Author Topic: Affordable Condenser Mic  (Read 17415 times)

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Offline mike42

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #25 on: September 07, 2015, 11:05:45 pm »
I use an MXL 990 for most of my vocals. Occasionally I will use an SM57 because I think it sounds a little more gritty, but unless I'm doubling the tracks it's normally the MXL. I don't think it's a great mic, but I got the 990/991 package for $70 a while back so I feel it's pretty good at its price point.


Offline mike42

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2015, 02:03:32 am »
After doing some research on the CAD M179 that Cue suggested, I decided to order one and will let you know what I think once I have a chance to try it out.

Offline Hollywood

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2015, 02:09:21 am »
Okay, sounds good, Mike!

All of them sound good, really.  Ugh.... I just don't know what to do with this. 
Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
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Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline justinguitar

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2015, 10:14:24 am »
I always thought the NT1 was pretty good myself, used one for years when I got into recording.

But not tried many of the other mics being mentioned cos I went strait into U87's.

The TLM103 is beyond your budget but is incredible at its price, sometimes sounds better than either of my U87s and a quarter of the price! And it's one you'll keep using forever!
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Offline Scooter Trash

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #29 on: September 08, 2015, 03:38:36 pm »
I always thought the NT1 was pretty good myself, used one for years when I got into recording.

But not tried many of the other mics being mentioned cos I went strait into U87's.

The TLM103 is beyond your budget but is incredible at its price, sometimes sounds better than either of my U87s and a quarter of the price! And it's one you'll keep using forever!

Yeah.. a U-47 would be really nice on Hollywood's voice. There's a bit of a nasally peak in Rachel's vocals that a ribbon could smooth out a bit. The NT-1 is a great mic for the price. I have one, and like it a lot, but I don't think it would work well for Rachel's vocals unless it was run through a tube pre and EQ'd quite a bit.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find a mic that best suits your voice. I went through half a dozen mics on a vocalist that was in a band I worked for years ago before we finally found one that worked well for him. If there's any way you can get a selection of mics in your price range and evaluate them before you buy one, I think you should.
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Offline Hollywood

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #30 on: September 08, 2015, 04:11:37 pm »
I'll have to see if Guitar Center will let me try out a bunch of them.


If you don't have a great recording environment, will a condenser still improve the recording quality? 
Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
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Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline Scooter Trash

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #31 on: September 08, 2015, 04:17:59 pm »
I'll have to see if Guitar Center will let me try out a bunch of them.


If you don't have a great recording environment, will a condenser still improve the recording quality?


If you use isolation, it takes the room out of the equation. A make-shift vocal booth with freight blankets can work well. If you're going to evaluate mics in the music store, it would probably be best to use the same interface that you're using, and use headphones unless they have reference speakers set up in the recording area. Then, use a reference track that you're familiar with and like the sound of for comparison.
I dream of a better tomorrow where chickens can cross roads without their motives being questioned.

Offline Steve St.Laurent

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #32 on: September 09, 2015, 01:24:19 am »
I have a MXL 990s that your welcome to come over and try out.  They come up on sale periodically for $99.  It's the only condensor I have.  I also have an SM58 and an SM57 you can use for references.  We could do a demo recording if you want to.  I've been getting pretty good at recording and editing - we're recording pretty much every session with the band now.  I have a sound isolation shield coming in about a week that will help with the condensor - it tends to pick everything up.  Let me know if your interested and we can set up a time.  Just need to make it a time when my wife can be home too.


 

Offline Hollywood

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #33 on: September 09, 2015, 01:36:11 am »
I have a MXL 990s that your welcome to come over and try out.

I talked to a guy at Guitar Center yesterday, and that was one of the ones he recommended for my price range.  I think it was the $69 one, though - with the shock-thing-with-a-name-I-can't-think-of-at-the-moment.

I appreciate the offer!  I might do that.  I just haven't been able to figure out if it would be worth it for me to get one or not at this point. 


Unrelated note - Steve, do you happen to have any videos/clips of your band?  I'd love to hear you guys!
Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
www.LightingMatchesMusic.com
www.Facebook.com/LightingMatchesMusic

Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline Steve St.Laurent

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #34 on: September 09, 2015, 01:58:54 am »

Offline Hollywood

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #35 on: September 09, 2015, 03:05:18 am »
You guys sound pretty good!
Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
www.LightingMatchesMusic.com
www.Facebook.com/LightingMatchesMusic

Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #36 on: September 09, 2015, 03:14:48 pm »
Damn, I just lost long rather details post so you will have to do with the short version.

A. You will not make a great sounding recording in your home cheaply nor in a timely manner unless you overcome the difficulties that we all have dealt with and out-perform all of our(basically anyone that ever tried recording at home) efforts. $50 here, $200 more, $30, $80, $500, $1,500, $200, $200, $100... it all adds up and it still doesn't sound great AND it takes a lot of years of learning.

B. A studio will have good mics, good knowledge, good sounding room. You get to relax and play.

C. You intend to perform live. Spend you money on -live use- items that are professional and can be resold for nearly what you pay for them.

Pros don't use cheap stuff unless they have to. You need to set aside about $350-$750 for a nice mic. Take the money you have and put it in a box. Write the word Mic on top. Don't count it. Every time you have few spare dollars, throw it in there. If you have a lump sum like $100 gift or something, toss it in.

Now in that time find out what real mics pros use and do whatever it takes to hear them with your voice and research the intended use of them and how they sound on female voice.

Here is a mic known to sound good on female vocals and many pros have used this mic live and probably in the studio too. they don;t make it any more but make a TG(touring grade) version. You could find one used though. It's going to be near $400+ Beyerdynamic M88 ... Find out everything you can about that mic, who used it, etc... It is a dynamic ribbon mic.

Next order of business, find one to sing into. Call every studio in your area or check their web site and ask if they have one. They -might- let you come in very quickly and sing into it... you never know. IF they do... be sure to take a recording device with you like Zoom H1 or such and an adapter cable so they can plug a 1/4" feed to it... that way you can have something to take home to compare with... maybe they will do that, maybe not... depends on the type studio and what mood they are in.

Do that for about 4 nice mics... again, you are going to be looking at spending as much as you do for your guitar. After all, you are selling your voice, not your guitar playing.

this girl is using the new TG model... I'm not sure how they compare.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAVkuqRKfLI


Here's a Electrovoice RE20.... it's another dynamic... Thom Yorke uses one, they are used on horns, radio announcers, all sorts of stuff.. ... oh well,,, can't find video.. it was a guy with two... one for vocal, one on acoustic guitar and I think he was in the subway in NY or something. Anyway just google RE20... but maybe it doesn't sound good on female voice.

At any rate... you need to be looking at professional mics and not thinking buying a "condenser mic" for your home use is going to change things.

1. Voice - that's the main thing you need to be spending time on
2. A real mic that is perfectly matched to -your- voice through research and testing and not Internet guessing in the under $200 category.
3. Monitoring
4. Guitar quality and skills... you have a nice guitar and you can practice that as you practice singing.
5. Later you might find that you sound and perform best through a certain device as well, like a nice compressor, or that you need a certain EQ curve to help you. These can be in done in different ways.

If you buy a real time tested mic it probably won't depreciate much at all so when later you find that $650-$700 mic, you only have maybe a $300 expense. ... and if you save your money and take your time, you might find a really good deal on just the mic for you. Good time tested gear gets sold very quickly. It generally goes from pro to pro and gets placed in studio collections.

That's my twenty five cents on it... if you see things working differently, that's great.... but I've never really seen it happen any other way. That's not to say you can't find some really good and inexpensive gear, but you pick that stuff as time goes by. Now though you need proven workhorse gear that has stood the test of time AND, works with -YOUR VOICE-... Meaning you HAVE to sing into one. Period. No two ways about it... unless it's so compelling that so many people agree it would/should really do well for you.

So the question is.... can you really afford the ultimate cost in time, acoustics, mismatch to voice, learning, for an inexpensive condenser mic based on your goals?



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Offline Borodog

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #37 on: September 09, 2015, 04:20:54 pm »
Well I am going to offer a different opinion. I am not a professional recording engineer or musician, so my opinion is probably worth less than you paid for it. But it is informed by the opinion of Graham Cochrane of The Recording Revolution, and what he says makes sense to me. Graham's position is that for home studio use ANY large diaphram condenser mic will do and be able to produce a quality result. Not top-of-the-industry quality result, but pleasing, listenable quality.

Here's the deal. There's a signal chain, some of which you can control, some of which you can't.

1) Your voice and vocal technique. Work on this, with a pro if you have to. Nothing else downstream really matters if you fail here. Believe me, I know. I record a lot of songs and I know that my voice just isn't that good. So I work on it as best I can. Anyway, sing while standing. Control your breath. Practice your voice like you practice guitar, with intention.

2) Your mic technique. Where to place the mic and how to work it. Watch The Recording Revolution video on vocal mic technique. It is excellent and a must imo.

3) The room and where you place the mic in it. You control this. Don't settle. Find the sweet spot, use simple isolation techniques. Put a carpet on the hardwood floor. Move the mic away from walls or worse, corners. Use the cardiod pattern to reject noise by placing the noise source(s) directly behind the mic and far away (laptop fans, AC vents, window with road noise, etc. Hang blankets. Sing is a closet filled with hanging clothes.

4) Your mic. Every mic is different. Your voice will sound better on some mics than others "out of the box." But hears the secret: no mic is EVER used just as it is right out of the box, especially in a recording studio. Every vocal professionally recorded is processed with effects, EQ, compression, and probably reverb at a minimum. Every mic has a response curve, a polarity pattern (really curves and patterns, plural, as the response curves are direction and proximity dependent the polarity pattern is frequency dependent). What you hear recorded on any mic is NOT your voice; it is the convolution of everything up to and including the coloration of the mic (and beyond, the pre-amp, the analog to digital coverter, the headphones or monitors, the room and placement of monitors). At that point, once you've recorded and decided that your vocal and mic technique is the best you can make it, you have to put on the engineers hat and *learn how to process your voice* to maximize the quality of your recordings. You need to learn how to EQ out that nasalness everyone always mentions. You need to know how to lift the top end, find and bring up any sweet spots in your tone. You need to learn how to use compression to even out your performance dynamics and liven up the sound. I still struggle with compression and EQ. You need to know how to edit tracks to clean out any noise, punch up timing, etc. You need to know how to do all of the above with your guitar recordings, too. Then you need to know how to mix vocals and guitars. You need to know how to set levels, make panning choices, make complementary EQ and compression choices, etc.

So I would say rather than chasing some magic $500 microphone that is perfectly matched to your voice and might save you a few minutes of EQ per recording, go get any decent LDC mic you fancy and start making music. Focus on technique, vocal, mic, and production. You will never get magically great recordings by buying expensive gear. If you are independently wealthy and can have a professional studio handle all the equipment and production for you, great. But if not, you'd best get down to putting in the hours because there is no short cut to making better recordings than having previously made poorer ones.

Here's what I use:

1) Sennheiser HD280 Pro closed back studio headphones. I just ordered some studio monitors, but up to now I've mixed everything on these and they are phenomenal. Flat, detailed, adequate but not over emphasized bass response. $99

2) Sterling Audio ST-51 LDC. I use this mic for vocals and instruments. It is nearly perfectly flat. It can be very unflattering and unforgiving. For me that's great because I want to know what my voice actually sounds like and therefor learn how to deal with it  My guitar sounds phenomenal through this thing. My voice . . . not so much. $99

3) You've already got an interface and Reaper.

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Offline Scooter Trash

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #38 on: September 09, 2015, 06:15:42 pm »
I agree with a lot of what Borodog said;

You don't absolutely have to have a lot of expensive equipment to track vocals.

I tracked the vocal on this in my dining room using an NT-1, and inexpensive PreSonus interface, and a freight blanket suspended from the ceiling:

https://soundcloud.com/scooter-trash/angel-from-montgomery-09-09-2015

   

My Sister, (the vocal on the recording)  isn't a professional vocalist and had no prior experience with recording. Katja has gotten some really great results tracking her vocals with an NT-1 at home also.

I think that if you can work on technique, find a mic that suits your voice, and get the mic positioned well, that you should be able to get good results with an inexpensive LDC or ribbon mic.

In general; I think that 2/3 of a good recording comes from the tracking. The final 1/3 comes from mixing and processing.  The mixing and processing can take longer to learn, but it's no more or less important.

Find a mic that suits your voice well, and record it so that you're reasonably happy with it before adding any processing, and the rest should be fairly easy.

I dream of a better tomorrow where chickens can cross roads without their motives being questioned.

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #39 on: September 09, 2015, 06:44:20 pm »
I tracked the vocal on this in my dining room using an NT-1, and inexpensive PreSonus interface, and a freight blanket suspended from the ceiling:

.... and 30 plus years of experience in the trenches with pro touring acts and individual learning.

=======================

Perhaps my point was missed, or misplaced.

Rachel, if you want to be a home recording engineer and make records at home. Do what they say. Good luck, you probably will not make any money but will spend a fair amount to lot. At least that's the norm. If you want to perform live, I would think about doing two things.

A. Learn to sing
B. Learn to sing better
C. Learn to sing better than that
D. Learn to sing even better than that
E. Get yourself a real nice mic that sounds really good with your voice ( there are some industry standards out there that have worked well for others and perhaps you might start your search there ) Be prepared to spend some money on it, as just like a nice guitar or amp, they are not necessarily cheap.

Just those two things should serve you well.

Don't try to hammer nails with a wrench, and get a nice hammer that fits you if you intend to hammer a lot of nails. That's all I'm saying.


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Offline Hollywood

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #40 on: September 10, 2015, 03:48:11 am »
Thank you all for your posts - I appreciate the help!  I'm going to need to think this one over for a bit before I do anything. 


I guess a better question at the moment would be:
Say I have $300.  Would I be better off spending that $300 on recording studio time, or on my own home studio or live gig equipment?

Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
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Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #41 on: September 10, 2015, 04:40:25 am »
You would be better off saving it until you know exactly what you need and why.
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Offline mike42

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #42 on: September 10, 2015, 05:41:19 am »
I have to say I agree with many of the above points. The way I see it is this: You want to be a singer-songwriter, not a recording engineer. It's going to take a *lot* of time, money and effort (likely thousands of dollars and thousands of hours) to get your home recordings to a 'semi-professional' level.

I believe your time is better spent working on your craft, writing and performing songs, and becoming a better musician. When it comes to recording, there are professional studios you can book out at an hourly rate. They have hundreds of thousands of dollars of pro equipment at your disposal, and experienced engineers who can help you create professional quality tracks.

When it comes to the gear, I think you need something that is good enough to make demo-type tracks that you can take to a studio to give the pros an idea of what you're aiming for. It doesn't have to be CD quality or radio-ready; that's what you're paying them to do.

At the end of the day, a great song is a great song no matter what is used to record it. I'm not saying you shouldn't go buy a condenser mic, and I'd be a complete hypocrite to steer you away from that since I've invested a decent amount in recording tech. But you don't necessarily need a $1000+ mic and an amazing recording environment. What you need are interesting and compelling songs that will get you noticed. Buy the gear that will facilitate you in achieving that goal, and let the pros help you handle the rest.

Just my 2 cents.

Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #43 on: September 10, 2015, 10:44:18 am »
To add to what Mike said: I'd just pcik someting and get to work with it. That's what I always end up doing ater spending way too much time on researching items I'm looking to purchase. And as Mike says, your primary goal is to be a singer-songwriter.

For many of us, recording/producing is a hobby as well - it's one of mine and even I don't have a treated room (shame on me now) or expensive microphones. I'm still a musician first and that's where most of the money is (let's say about 75%). Perhaps it's not a fair comparison as I'm a multi-instrumentalist at heart. :P

Besides that, I agree with what Borodog said. I'm a mostly-believer in what Graham talks about. Here's an interesting thing he did a while back, it's called The $300 Studio Challenge (here's a post http://therecordingrevolution.com/2015/04/16/the-300-studio-challenge-recording-vocals-video/).
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Offline digger72

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #44 on: September 10, 2015, 07:05:23 pm »
I'd go with TB's advice:

"A. Learn to sing
B. Learn to sing better
C. Learn to sing better than that
D. Learn to sing even better than that"

Imagine there are two people singing in the street - 1 has a great voice and is singing without a mic, the other has a poor voice but an expensive mic. Which do you think will/should draw the biggest crowd?

Concentrate on the real things - singing, writing, honing your performance skills.

Your current gizmos will sound better the better you get.

Offline Hollywood

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #45 on: September 10, 2015, 08:24:40 pm »
Good advice.

I'm mostly thinking in terms of doing an EP.... I don't know if my home quality would be good enough to put on a CD.
Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
www.LightingMatchesMusic.com
www.Facebook.com/LightingMatchesMusic

Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline mike42

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #46 on: September 11, 2015, 01:27:09 am »
Instead of spending several hundred dollars on a mic and then hoping you can record/mix/master your stuff well enough to put on a CD, why not put that money towards recording the EP in a studio? They will have nicer gear, far deeper knowledge, and (hopefully) a lot of experience in doing exactly what you are trying to do.

It's definitely possible to make great tracks at home on a budget, but it comes down to knowing how to make the most of your gear and environment. This is why, unless you really want to spend a ton of time learning the ins and outs of music recording/production, I believe it would be better to book a studio to record material you intend to release.

Also, you need to look at the future since you intend to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter and performer. Let's say you record an EP, get some more gigs and eventually get signed to a label. At that point the label should be paying for you to record an album in a studio. If you get to that point, do you really need to be able to record CD-quality tracks from home?

That being said, if you are interested in the recording process and want to spend your time doing that then by all means go the route of the rest of us, building up a budget home studio and trying to hone your craft. But I still believe you should focus your time on becoming a better songwriter and performer, since that is what you need to be successful.

Offline Hollywood

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #47 on: September 11, 2015, 03:12:56 pm »
At that point the label should be paying for you to record an album in a studio. If you get to that point, do you really need to be able to record CD-quality tracks from home?

That's a good point, as well. 

I just need to find some more paid gigs, I guess.
Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
www.LightingMatchesMusic.com
www.Facebook.com/LightingMatchesMusic

Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline mike42

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #48 on: September 11, 2015, 11:37:19 pm »
Have you tried finding a part-time or full-time job? Working in a music shop would be a good option, but any job would allow you to save some money that you could put towards better gear and recording an EP at a studio.

Offline justinguitar

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #49 on: September 12, 2015, 11:14:00 am »
Just to throw something extra in... I think the pre-amp is a bigger sound changer than the mic!

I remember reading that Jagger used a SM57 on vocals, but mine never sounded that great... until I got a Neve 1073, and then everything sounded good through it.

I had to sell a kidney to get my 1073's - but the first step up I took on the pre-amp ladder was an UA LA-610 - and I still had my Rode mic then and that made a HUGE difference!!

So I do recommend getting a good pre before spunking loads of mula on expensive mics. A great pre makes an average mic sound awesome - much the same as a great guitar amp makes an averegae guitar sound great. Plug a great guitar into a sht amp and it sound terrible! Same idea.

my 10c.
"You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room." Dr. Seuss

 

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