Shure KSM141 vs Shure SM81 vs Gefell M70 on acoustic guitar
The Listener
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#1
23rd November 2009
Old 23rd November 2009
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Shure KSM141 vs Shure SM81 vs Gefell M70 on acoustic guitar

Hi,

I did a small shoot-out between three SDC mics on acoustic guitar, the old classic SM81, new "precise" KSM 141 (in cardioid setting) and vintage Gefell M70 (with MV691 - my MV692 still waiting for its power supply).

The first part is finger picked, the second is picked with a pick and the last part is strummed.

It is a single take for each part - mics being positioned as close to each other as possible - ca. 1,5cm apart and ca.50cm from the guitar. It was recorded through TC konnekt 48 preamps.

I won't state my preferences to not influence your listening too much.

LINKS:

Shure SM81

Gefell M70

Shure KSM141

Last edited by The Listener; 17th January 2012 at 02:56 PM.. Reason: links expired, had to change
#2
23rd November 2009
Old 23rd November 2009
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Thanks for this!

Interesting as always. They all are different but good.

KSM 141 - great details

Gefell M70 - expensive aura

SM81 - I don't know why I like this sound so much, I just like it.
#3
23rd November 2009
Old 23rd November 2009
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Hi There

On first listen I did find the mics quite similar particularily in the middle section but suprisingly after a couple more listens for the first section I actually preffered the SM81, it had a nice character to it. I also enjoyed the Gefell on the last strummy section, again as it has a nice character to it.

Although the KSM141 was very clean sounding and detailed I would have expected it to sound better than the other two but it was not the case.
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24th November 2009
Old 24th November 2009
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Yes, they're all useable...

...only I really noticed and liked that something "special" about Gefell M70 mids...
#5
26th November 2009
Old 26th November 2009
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Gefell M70 sounded the most natural to me. Clean highs but not unnatural.
#6
17th December 2009
Old 17th December 2009
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SM81 is one of my favorite mics. Works really well on so many sources.

I think I need to try a KSM 141.

Gefell sounded good too, not sure if I'd spend the extra loot on it, if I had the other two.
#7
17th December 2009
Old 17th December 2009
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The sound from the M70 is fuller to my ears. By comparison the KSM 141 sounds thin. The SM81 sounds good but not as full like the M70.
#8
19th December 2009
Old 19th December 2009
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the M70 definitely makes that guitar sound more professional, seconded by the sm81!
#9
24th December 2009
Old 24th December 2009
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I preferred the M70 on the first and second parts followed by the SM81. I liked the ksm141 on the strummed part the best, the M70 and SM81 may be a little too full for a mix.

Thanks for the files!
#10
31st December 2009
Old 31st December 2009
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Great set of samples The Listener! thumbsup

I think I might actually prefer the SM81 for the picking parts! Overall though I really enjoyed the Gefell. It's has a nice natural tone and fullness.

What guitar are you playing here? Where are the mics placed? Are you doing any processing (almost sounds compression in the picking parts).
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31st December 2009
Old 31st December 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norman_nomad View Post
Great set of samples The Listener! thumbsup

I think I might actually prefer the SM81 for the picking parts! Overall though I really enjoyed the Gefell. It's has a nice natural tone and fullness.

What guitar are you playing here? Where are the mics placed? Are you doing any processing (almost sounds compression in the picking parts).
SM81 is a really nice mic, I use(d) it a lot for all sorts of applications, even recording dialogue and ambient FX in the field for documentaries.

I expected that KSM141 might blow it away, but in this particular case I only liked it for more "brilliant" strumming where you want to hear more "pick". In general 141 seems more suitable (for my taste) for distant and overhead micing, although it is perfectly useful for close micing, too. On this guitar it is a bit too bright for me. It is superb for percussion/drum overheads. (but for close micing I mostly prefer M70, too - might post another shoot out with percussion next year)

Gefell was a nice revelation for me, too. Very nice tone and meaty, but not blurry mids. I used different Gefell mics in another studio for nylon and acoustic guitars before, but never owned my own M70 before this year. And I got lucky to get a really "mint" example through ebay for less than new SM81, KSM141 and similar...

The guitar was played by a pop-rock musician I am currently producing/recording/mixing and it's a simple but really nice sounding Epiphone EJ160E "John Lennon" guitar.

No compression or any other kind of processing was used, it was recorded directly through TC konnekt 48 preamps, because I needed three of the same, although I slightly prefer to use my DAV BG1U preamps for recording acoustics, but it would be only two channels at once...

Mics were placed some 40 - 50cm away at the usual 12th fret position, slightly closer to and aiming at the soundhole.

Happy entrance into the new year to all, I go off-line now and start cooking.

----
edit: We are always really picky about the "pick" - it influences the sound very, very much... But this is one take for all the mics with the same pick of course.

Last edited by The Listener; 31st December 2009 at 12:02 PM.. Reason: more info
#12
6th January 2010
Old 6th January 2010
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Liked the Gefell M70 best. Has the most detail & clarity.
#13
22nd August 2010
Old 22nd August 2010
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To my ears, the sm81 had a radio ready type sound
Not that it sounds mainstream, but it sounds polished, without much mixing required.

The other two samples sounded a little more full, but there was a tad of mud in the lower end.

The sm81 sounded tight and clean, even if it didn't have that mid/low sound.
#14
15th February 2011
Old 15th February 2011
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1. M-70 sounded best by itself
2. SM-81 sounds like it would blend better into a mix of other instruments

3. I really liked your playing styles - nicely played little musical examples
#15
16th February 2011
Old 16th February 2011
  #15
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I like the 81! Never heard it on an acoustic before, sounds delicious!
The geffel is really nice too, but the ksm is not too nice to me. too much mids!
#16
8th May 2011
Old 8th May 2011
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I liked the Gefell a lot more on the first 2/3 of the clip but the the last strumming part goes to the SM81 IMO. The KSM did a good job on the entire clip but it seemed to be missing something special.
#17
17th May 2011
Old 17th May 2011
  #17
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My favorite is the SM81 definitely!
What is your thoughts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Listener View Post
Hi,

I did a small shoot-out between three SDC mics on acoustic guitar, the old classic SM81, new "precise" KSM 141 (in cardioid setting) and vintage Gefell M70 (with MV691 - my MV692 still waiting for its power supply).

The first part is finger picked, the second is picked with a pick and the last part is strummed.

It is a single take for each part - mics being positioned as close to each other as possible - ca. 1,5cm apart and ca.50cm from the guitar. It was recorded through TC konnekt 48 preamps.

I won't state my preferences to not influence your listening too much.

LINKS:

Shure SM81

Gefell M70

Shure KSM141
ptn
#18
25th May 2011
Old 25th May 2011
  #18
ptn
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Gefell in a different league

Gefell M70 makes the guitar sound Pro - listen to those overtones.
And how much more focused the sound is.

SM81 sounds like a buildt in piezo at the end of the file. Not too bad on the rest.

KSM141..whats the point? Only "not too bad" all the way.

Gefell M70 - thats the way!:-)
Guitar comes out from my speakers, every tone is alive, sounds like it could be used with no EQ or nothing on Pink Floyd Animals record. I am so glad I just bought a bunch of old Gefells...looking forward to swapping out every cheap modern mic with those.

I really wonder how any one of you guys could prefer any of the other mics? I respect taste and all - and I dont want to sound like a "know-it-all" - but the difference here is just very huge you might say. Gefell is better in every aspect...isnt it??

The other two mikes sound like a recording, but if I close my eyes, the Gefell sounds like the guy is sitting in front of my desk. Listening through decent monitors, Blue Sky and some EventStudio Precision. Will have to get some better monitors though. Next on the list.

Gefell is so much better that I wonder if that mic is placed closer to the guitar then the others.
#19
26th May 2011
Old 26th May 2011
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hi there,

liked the m70 also the most. the day before yesterday, I bought one on ebay. is your version a revamped mic with 48v phantom power? or did you use the old 7-pin version with 12v?

thanks again,

martin
#20
1st July 2011
Old 1st July 2011
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Appreciate the O/P - thnx for this. Listened on Saffire Pro26DSP thru ATH-M50 cans. FWIW.

In terms of being able to pick up the music (pick out the tune, jig to the rhythms, that sort of thing), the SM81 is IMO distinctly inferior to the other two - I would personally eschew it.

Between the M70 and the KSM141, my preference is for the latter (not what I expected). The Gefell makes the guitar sound "expensive" (cool, except that it isn't), with a scooped midband that makes it sound "skinny", and a treble suggesting greater distance. The KSM141 OTOH sounds to me more mid-rounded with more body, to my mind like archetypal guitar Americana (showing my age here), and more intimate. I know that different brands of strings can change the sound in just these sorts of ways, so I wouldn't be dogmatic, but I like the KSM141 here.
#21
13th July 2011
Old 13th July 2011
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I liked the sm-81 best overall, especially on the first part, followed closely by Geffell which sounded a bit more natural.

Kind of disappointed with the ksm sdc, considering how much I like the ksm ldc's.

Thanks for posting.
#22
14th July 2011
Old 14th July 2011
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#23
14th July 2011
Old 14th July 2011
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My Studio

I prefer e.wav.
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#24
24th August 2011
Old 24th August 2011
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Just replied a recent PM about which kind of SM81 is the one in test - it's the US made from the early 90's. But I also had a chance to use some a bit more current, still US made and one of them sounded almost the same as mine, but another one was a bit "dry" - I suspect it was defect in some minor way. I don't know if the current ones are any different.

This test should not be your ultimate decision making about those three mics. In everyday practice I always choose Geffel, but mostly the LDC UM70 head when using only one mic on guitar, sometimes M70, but mostly UM70 is the safest bet. Even having all those mics around I end up using a pair of SE Electronics SE1A for some guitars - like finger strumming by one folk singer-songwriter that needed a bit extra HF push and very clean mics to be able to boost the somewhat undefined and silent source... KSM141 could work, too, but I didn't have them around. I also used his DI signal for some artificial bass on the guitar (listen to the song in attachment)

So - every mic has it's purpose to make it easier when mixing. I want recordings to be almost like mixes... not to fix with EQ too much later. That's the main reason to use "sligthly" different mics IMO.

I am planning to check the Line Audio CM3 in the near future - some friends swear they are amazing mics, a real cheap Schoeps MK21 alternative (which I hoped the 141 would be, but is not really).

Still - if you can find the UM70/M70 for a reasonable price on ebay and are not looking for a stereo pair - don't hesitate - those very good and versatile mics. Especially UM70 - it enables high quality vocal recordings and anything else you wish - strings, guitars, percussion...
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 Spricarmen.mp3 (7.65 MB, 259 views)
#25
2nd January 2012
Old 2nd January 2012
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nice audio test I liked the way this was presented. so many shootouts have mics positioned anywhere with lots of room spill but this was more realistic.

All 3 mics sounded good to me, each one handled the three playing styles well.

SM81
I'd never heard the sm81 before and sounded smooth with a tame high end. On the finger picking notes it sounded, muffled? but nice by itself.
With the pick it sounded choked and a little dull. Still useable in the right context. I really liked how it handled the strumming and I could imagine
it fitting in a sparse mix as is. I'd buy it just for that. Sounded less full than the other 2 and I can imagine it would take eq well for fitting into a denser mix.

If I needed a smooth 70's tame strumming sound I'd reach for the sm81

Gefell m70 - Sounded full and rich with finger picking, lots of harmonics and rich tone with a pick. Strumming was great too more alive than the 81.

KSM141 - Didn't sound bad with fingers but not my fav. I would choose this one for its bright tone with a pick. Sounded brighter than the other two
strumming, still nice just different.

I f I had to give a word to describe each:

SM81 Subdued
M70 Rich
KSM141 Bright

I'd happily own all 3

Someone give this man more mics to test!
#26
1st January 2013
Old 1st January 2013
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Stumbled on this oldish thread.

The 141 sounds best in Omni on an acoustic.

I find cardioid to be thinner and glassier.

Thought I'd throw that out there.
PDC
#27
1st January 2013
Old 1st January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Listener View Post
Hi,

I did a small shoot-out between three SDC mics on acoustic guitar, the old classic SM81, new "precise" KSM 141 (in cardioid setting) and vintage Gefell M70 (with MV691 - my MV692 still waiting for its power supply).

The first part is finger picked, the second is picked with a pick and the last part is strummed.

It is a single take for each part - mics being positioned as close to each other as possible - ca. 1,5cm apart and ca.50cm from the guitar. It was recorded through TC konnekt 48 preamps.

I won't state my preferences to not influence your listening too much.

LINKS:

Shure SM81

Gefell M70

Shure KSM141
The KSM32 would have been a good one to shoot out. It is actually not that much larger than the SM81.
#28
5th January 2013
Old 5th January 2013
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I liked the 81 the best... The highs are smoother and the whole sound was more "pleasant" to me... KSM seems to be a little too bright and the Gefell is not that appealing in general...
#29
21st January 2013
Old 21st January 2013
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I preferred the SM-81's as well, but I also think that the M70 sounded like it was in the wrong position. With all of the takes occuring simultaneously and the mics all fighting for the same space, I just wonder if it was a little off axis and/or too close or far from the guitar to really highly the Gefell's best capture.

I'm only thinking about this because on some mics and/or some guitars, moving even an inch (and/or turning the mic to face the guitar's sweet spot) can really change how something sounds.

Brad
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