A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

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UnexplodedCow
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A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby UnexplodedCow » Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:33 pm

So I did receive the M22V/SD set I've been waiting for, and decided to try 'em out, and then do some very raw sound recording for the fun of it. No, this is not played expertly, well, or in any sort of decently....I was goofing around, but wanted as dead a comparison as I could get. Consider your ears warned. I'm sure the people who live below me absolutely love me by now.

The amp is set up to sound best with my DC 135, so the Vader sounds a bit different, to be sure, but I don't want to adjust it. I only ran full neck or full bridge to keep it as simple as possible. No mixing, EQ (other than on amp). Mostly E based chords and what-not since we all know how those sound (generally speaking).

Here's the lowdown:
Guitar:
2015 Kiesel V6 Vader - 25.5" 5 piece Maple/Mahogany neck. Mahogany body sides.Ebony board, stainless jumbo frets.

Bridge height:
.125" away from strings bass side
.080" away from strings trebl side. Poles flat

Neck Height:
.130" away from strings bass side
.090" away from strings trebl side. Poles flat

Amp:
Carvin V3m (custom preamp tube complement and JJ EL84 output). Set to 50W mode, 4ohm output.
Settings shown by picture. No reverb or effects.

Cable: 10' Kustom 1/4" cable (low capacitance). Straight to amp.

Cabinet: Ear Candy Buzzbomb with 2 x Eminence 12" Cannabis Rex 8 ohm speakers in parallel.

Microphone: Shure SM58 (grille removed) approx 1/4" away from speaker grille.

Mic pre: Art Tube MP Studio

Sound-card: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 into computer.

Recording software: Goldwave (simple recorder/editor).

Strings used: D'addario 10-46 (Orange package) in E and D standard tunings. I used the same set of strings for both pickups, and they've been on the guitar for a little while now, so slightly dead-ish, but nothing terrible.

Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 250 ohm driven by a NE5532 chip in a modified Rolls HA43 Pro headphone amp (running on 15VDC).

Pick: Jim Dunlop Ultex Jazz III.

Player: UnexplodedCow.

Volume: 100%
Tone: 100:

Stock Vader controls (500K pots with stock film capacitor).
1st clip here:
http://www.soundclick.com/player/single ... i&newref=1

2nd and 3rd clips here (same pickups):

http://www.soundclick.com/player/single ... i&newref=1

http://www.soundclick.com/player/single ... i&newref=1

Image

Image

So far, can anyone identify which pickup I'm using (probably most notable on clean)?

Hopefully someone has smiled at all this. I thought I'd offer up a comparison between K and M series pickups. I know which one I like more, but I ain't saying just yet.
Last edited by UnexplodedCow on Thu Jun 16, 2016 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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re: A blind taste test (with audio!)

Postby UnexplodedCow » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:36 am

In hindsight, somehow I missed the E standard tuning for the "first" set of pickups...oops.

Also, over 100 views, and nobody cares to hazard a guess? You're breakin' my heart.
We are entitled to our own, wrong, opinions.

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!)

Postby JAEZ » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:50 am

I honestly don't know which pickups.
1st recording was bright and reminded me of my C22 on bridge pickup.
2nd recording was subtle/perfect to my ears almost like when I use middle settings on my S22's metal covered pickups.
3rd was somewhat mellower like a neck pickup brightened up a little, I know my C22's don't sound like that but my S22's are close. I don't have any M22's or Kiesels.

No comment on tonewoods, it wasn't mentioned. :laughhard: :P
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Re: re: A blind taste test (with audio!)

Postby UnexplodedCow » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:56 am

JAEZ wrote:I honestly don't know which pickups.
1st recording was bright and reminded me of my C22 on bridge pickup.
2nd recording was subtle/perfect to my ears almost like when I use middle settings on my S22's metal covered pickups.
3rd was somewhat mellower like a neck pickup brightened up a little, I know my C22's don't sound like that but my S22's are close. I don't have any M22's or Kiesels.

No comment on tonewoods, it wasn't mentioned. :laughhard: :P


The general format (that I forgot to mention) is:

Neck clean
Bridge Clean
Neck dirty
Bridge Dirty
Neck Filthy
Bridge Filthy

First recording is D standard (accidentally...thought I had both tunings) with Pickup set A

Second recording is E standard with Pickup set B (should be ignored, honestly)

Third recording is D standard again with Pickup set B.

Neck-thru headless with carbon reinforcement rods, with a fixed bridge. I have a feeling woods really don't matter in this build (aside from aesthetic choices).
We are entitled to our own, wrong, opinions.

Guitar theorem: G=X+1 where G= guitars one needs, and X = guitars one has.

Do or do not; there is no understand.

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby Doctor Turn » Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:22 am

So I admit I've only taken a very short time with the very first two clips on the first link but I'd like to hazard a guess.

Qualifier.. I don't own, nor have I ever owned the m22v, or T, or the lithiums. But I think I have enough of a familiarity to at least try to guess.

So I'm hazarding a guess on Clip A, and Clip B off this link

http://www.soundclick.com/mobile/defaul ... d=13397864

I think the first clip are likely the lithiums, and Clip B the M22? I just want to say Ii find it odd that such hugely different pickups (the m line are paf flavored, just amped up with a touch more output, and lithiums sounds NOTHING like a Paf. ) sound so similar. Mic placement? Type?
Carvin Weaponry:
1985 DC150K (koa) Stereo, M22N/M22SD w/black hardware.
1985 100 Watt X Amp 2 x 12 combo (XV212) upgraded w/ 2 Vintage 30's
...and other gear.

https://soundcloud.com/the_heavy_clouds

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby Cynical » Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:19 am

Yeah, that's why I didn't hazard a guess; none of the high again demos sound anything like any sound I've ever heard from a Lithium demo. Whichever is the Lithium, you're the first person to get a sound out of it that I think is good!

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby Doctor Turn » Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:48 am

I wouldn't go as far as to say I've never heard a good tone coming from a Lithium... they just have a frequency spike that I'm not interested in fighting with every time I turn on my guitar.

Like Vintage 30's: I don't know that I would put them anything in that had a passive suite of tone pots. The high mid spike, when running full bore, is fine when you're pumping up your signal with a muscular distortion box sitting in front of the amp, maybe even a compressor and you're in a high gain situation where the super heavy fuzz on your signal requires a pump of that hi mid frequency so your guitar punches through and you don't want to read on record or in the audience as total mush.

Beyond that, for the more meatier tones I use, it requires a negative suck down of that frequency. And active electronics is just the man for that kind of job. The added graphic EQ on my vintage X Amp just makes it SO SO SO SO much easier, and this is one of the reasons that it, along with its beautiful 6L6 tone and phenomenal clean channel, is essentially a lifetime workhorse I'd never part with. But to mix that presence spike on the 30's with the presence spike on the Lithiums, I'd go postal.

But to have that frequency push at the pickup level--that's really there for a specific style of music, and that style is just not mine. I love roaring, heavy overdrive as much as the next guy (and use it in my songs all the time; in fact, even though lately I've just been combining the natural overdrive from the amp combined with the SP compressor, I recently purchased an old used vintage Ibby Tube Screamer with the Analog Man mod on it; that combined with the dirty channel on the X.. it's a phenomenal heavy overdrive for both humbuckers and single coils, including 90's), but my heavy overdrive tones veer more towards punk (Ramones-y), heavy rock or acid rock (Who, Mountain, Crimson ie "Red"). I just don't have a use for that piercing hi-hi mid accentuation.

But I think for what it is, it can--on the right guitar and in the right hands--sound good. It's not always a bad sound to me.
Carvin Weaponry:
1985 DC150K (koa) Stereo, M22N/M22SD w/black hardware.
1985 100 Watt X Amp 2 x 12 combo (XV212) upgraded w/ 2 Vintage 30's
...and other gear.

https://soundcloud.com/the_heavy_clouds

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Re: re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby UnexplodedCow » Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:56 am

Doctor Turn wrote:So I admit I've only taken a very short time with the very first two clips on the first link but I'd like to hazard a guess.

Qualifier.. I don't own, nor have I ever owned the m22v, or T, or the lithiums. But I think I have enough of a familiarity to at least try to guess.

So I'm hazarding a guess on Clip A, and Clip B off this link

http://www.soundclick.com/mobile/defaul ... d=13397864

I think the first clip are likely the lithiums, and Clip B the M22? I just want to say Ii find it odd that such hugely different pickups (the m line are paf flavored, just amped up with a touch more output, and lithiums sounds NOTHING like a Paf. ) sound so similar. Mic placement? Type?


Bit of a different horse there, Turn, as that M22SD was direct into a V-amp 3 with no effects, using a DC135T.

In this case, I used an actual amp, and a microphone known to be good on vocals, and sometimes used for amps. The capsule is supposedly the same between the SM58 and 57, with the 58 having the ball style pop filter (which is why I removed it).

What you're hearing is straight up V3m into a cabinet, mic'd about 3/4" off dead center, and 1/4" away from the speaker grille. It doesn't sound quite as bassy in real life, but that mic sure picks it up.

I was going for as true a sound as I could get from the types.

I will say that the M22V is quite true to its description as a "Sweet sounding humbucker." The new SD I have (which reads in spec), is also a killer.

Two hints:

Listen to the false harmonics (both clean and high gain). These are almost a complete dead giveaway between the two.

Second, listen to the early up-strummed open chord at the beginning of each section; there's the other designator to listen for between the types.


Cynical wrote:Whichever is the Lithium, you're the first person to get a sound out of it that I think is good!


I'm glad you enjoy the tone. You have the recipe if you want to recreate it (my amp settings are in the picture above). I've spent quite a few hours tweaking the V3m to get it where I like it (those knobs are paper-cut sensitive).

As a side note, I recently acquired an ISP Theta pedal...supposedly it has brutal gain and whatnot. It does sound good, but I didn't find it to sound any better than the V3m, except its noise gate is fantastic.






What if I said the first clip was M series, and 2nd/3rd were Lithiums?
We are entitled to our own, wrong, opinions.

Guitar theorem: G=X+1 where G= guitars one needs, and X = guitars one has.

Do or do not; there is no understand.

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby Cynical » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:02 pm

My problem with the sounds I've always heard out of Lithium's isn't the high-mid spike (I played a SD JB on my main player for six years), but, rather, the lack of thickness on heavy riffs. Every metal demo I see is the same -- some djenting, and then they get around to some classic death metal tremolo-picked riffing, and there's just no body at all to it.

Looking at the amp settings in the OP, though, I wonder if it's an amp settings thing. So many modern metal guys want to scoop their mids... but so many of the ballsiest metal tones ever -- "Like an Everflowing Stream", "Left Hand Path", and "Reign in Blood" just to name a few -- came from boosting the mids, not scooping them.

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby UnexplodedCow » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:07 pm

I like mids...and my main amp for years was a JMP-50 style circuit with a 3 stage mid boost on it (Jackson JG-2 was the amp). I wanted more gain, but this was before I knew about boosting with a dirt pedal. I still have the amp somewhere.

The speaker cabinet is a big part of the sound, more specifically the speakers. Check out the response curve in the link below. They are in a different ballpark than most Celestions.

http://www.eminence.com/pdf/Cannabis_Rex.pdf
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Re: re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby Doctor Turn » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:52 pm

UnexplodedCow wrote:What if I said the first clip was M series, and 2nd/3rd were Lithiums?


I'd say that it was a bit of delaying fun before admitting I got it right. If I was wrong, everything else that you wrote above this question would have been secondary. If I got it wrong we still wouldn't be waiting for the answer, all these posts down from my guess. :D :mrgreen:

There's just too much thick clean mid-low and bottom end INDEPENDENT of high mids, for the second sample to be a lithium, ESPECIALLY on a neck through guitar with non-contributory body wings. Not happening.

Anything is possible with Carvin amp circuitry, I guess, but I'd have a tough time believing #2 was a Lithium.
Carvin Weaponry:
1985 DC150K (koa) Stereo, M22N/M22SD w/black hardware.
1985 100 Watt X Amp 2 x 12 combo (XV212) upgraded w/ 2 Vintage 30's
...and other gear.

https://soundcloud.com/the_heavy_clouds

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby texastoast » Fri Jun 17, 2016 2:46 pm

I can not tell myself what is what . I did like clip 3 better than 1 but not by much. I await the answers. Before that I wish to thank you for taking the time out to make this interesting test.

I own two sets of lithium and do not hear much of what people talk about. Perhaps you have to give in to the spike DR turn mentions. Although when on the legacy it just does not exist. On the x100 it is pretty prevalent. The v3 and vl100 are in the middle. I have not pulled out a marshall in a while. I need to try them on it. A very small turn on the tone knob eliminates it. I have learned to embrace it.
The funny thing is in my ears the litiums have a humbucker tone with a tad bit of p90 in it. Yet most p90 fans hate the lithiums. I thought they would like them.

I wish to make a quick sound clip using the legacy three so you can hear them on it. If any one wants it(not offended if you do not) please let me know what style you wish to hear. Or should I just go clean dirty and metal? The request lines are open. I just will not play copyrighted music. But I can do in the style of kinda thing as long as it is not to hard to play. I am a good musician on some instruments. Not a very good guitar player however.

Or would you prefer the same lick on the different Carvin amps so you can hear the lithium on different amps with the same guitar and meathead playing it?

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby Cynical » Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:04 pm

I'll add to the chorus of people who like 3 slightly more than 1. As I said before, though, both are definitely good, and I have no idea which is which.

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby UnexplodedCow » Fri Jun 17, 2016 6:09 pm

That spike is the 1.5-1.6k range Bredo and I have both referenced heavily. The reason it's not as audible in these recordings is due to the speakers I use having a notch in the response curve for that area of frequency. It helps to cull that "Lithium filth," I've noticed.

Keep in mind, that peak is *fantastic* for false harmonics, squeals, and overall "tight," feeling, but as I need to have it be clean, rich, and borderline jazzy many days, I then have to roll off the treble to such an extent that overdriven leads come out as unadulterated mud, so I'm always playing with the tone control...

For me, that little spike is a bit ear fatiguing, especially when doing clean passages. The neck pickup does not exhibit it nearly as much as the bridge, and I find it to be a very good pickup, though it does sound a touch sterile at times. It reminds me of Ovation UKII pickups in parallel, or something along the lines of a Bill Lawrence design, but not as smooth sounding. At any rate, I like an easy listening style pickup, I suppose.




So, the consensus is that people like...the M22V/SD more. Unanimously so.

Clip 1 is the Lithiums in D standard, neck first, then bridge, for clean, dirty, filthy.

Clip 2 and 3 are the M22 in the same format, but with E standard and D standard respectively.


I did this more blind because I wanted to know if people really heard the differences between the pickups...they do, but it varies on scale.


Dr. Turn hit it on the mark. I was also hoping Bredo would have commented, but I kind of expected him to also hear it as well.

Hopefully it's a learning experience for all. Also, please keep in mind the amp was *never* touched while recording. I plugged in the cable while it was off, and turned it on via power regulator, letting it warm up for about 20 minutes in run mode, then playing, so signal response should have stayed very similar.

Thanks for playing everyone! Happy Weekend!
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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby Cynical » Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:52 pm

There's one big shocker for me here... and that is that I liked the M22V tone more than the M22SD tone (although I like both of those more than either Lithium tone)!

I've always been a "bridge position, tone and volume at 10" sort of guy, so learning that I like the sound of a neck pickup more than a bridge pickup in this particular case is a surprise. I need to play with the neck pickup (a M22V) on my Ultra V some, obviously!

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby texastoast » Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:04 pm

Dont forget back in the day those Carvin pickups sucked according to the world. I wish I had a dollar for every guitar made by Carvin that the pickups were change without even trying them.

I have always loved Carvin pickups. (until the lithium, it is just like with them). It has defined my sound for 29 years. I never understood the hate over the years. I felt I knew something of a secret.

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby GuitFiddle » Sat Jun 18, 2016 5:37 am

I was bang-on even though I didn't reply with my guess. This was a good comparison for me to hear since I have a V3M as well. I think it is almost a certainty that I would not get along with the Lithiums. I understand they were developed to appeal to a different crowd and to help cull the Carvin pickup stigma (which is ridiculous considering they have always been great pickups). Like Turn, I also dislike Vintage 30s very much. Just ear-fatiguing mid barking that I also find myself fighting. I'll take a Cannabis Rex any day.

I also found it humorous that these clips also reminded me of precisely the things I don't like about my V3M, and why I have a schema laid out on my table and a list of cap and resistor values that I'm going to change. It's a decent amp as is, but it's a blank canvas that needs some help. I think it will be a great amp when I'm done.

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby arahobob » Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:27 am

Ah, more pup threads to further make me dread my incoming guitar (should it ever finish and ship to my door)
:mrgreen:
Current Carvins:
2010 Bolt (Candy Red Metallic)
2013 Bolt Plus (Koa)
2016 Black n Blue VSEVEN
2017 TT SCB6

Wish List
Some sort of multiscale 6 HSS with RAD ASH
JB Numbers Guitar (July sale has given me the itch!)

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re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby UnexplodedCow » Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:46 am

GuitFiddle - I'd love to converse with you about the changes for your V3M. I like mine, but have wondered what "it could be." I'm also not one to leave much factory stock for long. Anyway, that's a discussion for in private (or the amp forums), so I won't gunk it up here.

arahobob - I wouldn't worry about your pickup choice: I went with the Lithiums because they were new and didn't cost extra, knowing that if I didn't like them after a while, I could swap them out. I'm glad I went with them instead of going with M series first, and then trying Lithiums later (M series are roughly half the price).
We are entitled to our own, wrong, opinions.

Guitar theorem: G=X+1 where G= guitars one needs, and X = guitars one has.

Do or do not; there is no understand.

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Re: re: A blind taste test (with audio!) Lithium vs. M22

Postby arahobob » Sat Jun 18, 2016 9:45 am

UnexplodedCow wrote:GuitFiddle - I'd love to converse with you about the changes for your V3M. I like mine, but have wondered what "it could be." I'm also not one to leave much factory stock for long. Anyway, that's a discussion for in private (or the amp forums), so I won't gunk it up here.

arahobob - I wouldn't worry about your pickup choice: I went with the Lithiums because they were new and didn't cost extra, knowing that if I didn't like them after a while, I could swap them out. I'm glad I went with them instead of going with M series first, and then trying Lithiums later (M series are roughly half the price).



I wish it was that simple.
AM7 only has one pup option.

Its lithiums or bust with my build.
Current Carvins:
2010 Bolt (Candy Red Metallic)
2013 Bolt Plus (Koa)
2016 Black n Blue VSEVEN
2017 TT SCB6

Wish List
Some sort of multiscale 6 HSS with RAD ASH
JB Numbers Guitar (July sale has given me the itch!)


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