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Fathead or Oktava for a stereo pair
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hopeless_opus
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#1
26th February 2008
Old 26th February 2008
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Fathead or Oktava for a stereo pair

I'm looking to add a stereo pair of mics to my home setup. I Currently have:

AT4047
Blue Bluebird
SM7
SM57/58's
EV 635a
AKG D112

(Pres: API 3124 & Hamptone JFET)

I've mostly been doing Indie Rock and Singer Songwriters, and these mics have been covering most of the bases for me so far. However, I have some new projects coming up that I think would benefit from a decent stereo pair. Primarily I am looking to use these on upright piano and strings, but also guitars, and on occasion drum overheads. (and anything else they happen to sound good on)

Money is a little tight, so right now I am considering the Cascade Fatheads and Oktava mk-012's because they seem to be the best values and pretty good workhorse type mics. I am leaning a little toward the Oktava's at the moment, however I am becoming more and more intrigued with the idea of trying some ribbbons. To date the only ribbon mic I have ever used was a Royer 121 on a guitar cab at the studio.

I am definately looking for something nuetral to dark. I had an MXL 603s in the past and found that high end hype isn't right for me. Other mics I am considering, though I have nearly ruled them out, are the Kel HM-1's and Rode NT-5's.

Anyway, I would love any thoughts people had on these mics regarding upright piano, strings and all around usefullness. I'd also love input on which pair might best fit into my current mic collection.

Thanks
#2
26th February 2008
Old 26th February 2008
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hey hopeless opus!

I have both, and while I love to play with the FatHeads (and they are super sexy!), I find the mk012's more versatile. If I could only keep just one it would be the oktava's. (but I would take lots of pictures of the fatheads before I got rid of them.)

I LOVE the mk012's for stereo acoustic and overheads. I want to get the oktavaMOD done soon to them. The Fatheads are more touch and go. You have to be really careful with the space due to the fig8 of the ribbon. Personally I would get the Oktava's first.

Just my .02.

best of luck my friend.


#3
26th February 2008
Old 26th February 2008
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Yep my oktava mk 012's get used all the time for overheads and acoustic guitar. The Fatheads find more use on guitar cabs and as drum room mics.

I love both and wouldn't want to give up either!

Cheers
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26th February 2008
Old 26th February 2008
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Another thumbs up for the Oktavas. I had a pair of SM81s before getting the Oktavas and they are much more exciting then the Shures. SM81s sound fine on most applications, but the Oktavas are actually exciting. I use them primarily for acoustic guitars because I've become a big fan of my pair of CharterOak SA538 as overheads, but I would not be concerned throwing the Oktavas up there.
#5
26th February 2008
Old 26th February 2008
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I found a used Oktava at a local shop for 65$. I couldn't pass it up even without the clip. I am not sorry. I plan to get a pair eventually for xy but for now it's handy doing a side mic with my Rode NT2000.
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#6
26th February 2008
Old 26th February 2008
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Well if you're talking about one or the other, it's a no-brainer. I was considering the same thing and picked up a pair of fatheads. I already had a pair of modded mk-012s. I got sucked into the whole "gearslut ribbon craze of 2007" and figured with all the talk, that you were missing out on some extra-cool vibe if you weren't using ribbons everywhere.

The fact is, while they are cool and do have a vibey sound, they cannot be utilized as a utilitary mic like the SDC like an MC-012(modded, of course).

I sent the fatheads back. The guy was pissed. He told me that even if I wanted to repurchase them someday, he wouldn't sell them to me. It was actually pretty funny. I'm sure he was just standing by his product and I'm also sure if I wanted to buy a pair today, he'd happily send them.

Bottom line for me: if you need a utility pair, the oktavas are fantastic that can be used in a myriad of different applications especially excelling in OHs and acoustics. The stand up with any SDC. The ribbons are very cool, especially those fatheads(if you're talking the inexpensive chinese ribbon), but don't work everywhere.
#7
26th February 2008
Old 26th February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redddog View Post
Well if you're talking about one or the other, it's a no-brainer. I was considering the same thing and picked up a pair of fatheads. I already had a pair of modded mk-012s. I got sucked into the whole "gearslut ribbon craze of 2007" and figured with all the talk, that you were missing out on some extra-cool vibe if you weren't using ribbons everywhere.

The fact is, while they are cool and do have a vibey sound, they cannot be utilized as a utilitary mic like the SDC like an MC-012(modded, of course).

I sent the fatheads back. The guy was pissed. He told me that even if I wanted to repurchase them someday, he wouldn't sell them to me. It was actually pretty funny. I'm sure he was just standing by his product and I'm also sure if I wanted to buy a pair today, he'd happily send them.

Bottom line for me: if you need a utility pair, the oktavas are fantastic that can be used in a myriad of different applications especially excelling in OHs and acoustics. The stand up with any SDC. The ribbons are very cool, especially those fatheads(if you're talking the inexpensive chinese ribbon), but don't work everywhere.
Yes. There is far too much praise for the Fatheads. I picked up a pair of them (to be fair, they weren't Fatheads, but the same mic under a different brand name). They certainly are great on guitar cabs, horns, even room mics. But as drum overheads? They definitely did not beat my usual AT3035 spaced pair setup. Great for some things, but definitely not for everything. Especially acoustic guitars.

FWIW, my favorite drum room/kit mic is the Cascade Victor with the stock tranny, 4 feet in front of the kit, about a foot below cymbal height. Awesome.

Staying on topic, I've only used the Oktavas once for overheads, and they were spectacular.
#8
26th February 2008
Old 26th February 2008
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Its already been said but go with the oktava first...but the fathead is awesome too...and again like others said i prefer the oktava on overheads and the fathead as a room mic.

The two mixed on acoustic are awesome!
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#9
26th February 2008
Old 26th February 2008
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I usually use Beyer M260.80 ribbons as overheads.
They already have a high pass filter at 80Hz (obviously) so you don't have to EQ them. If more shine is need it, they take tones of EQ easily.
I am Beyer slut.

They sit easily in the mix with either a D112 or Octava ML52 or MK319 on the kick, depending on the final sound I am after.
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27th February 2008
Old 27th February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minus-sounds.com View Post
I usually use Beyer M260.80 ribbons as overhead
Same here ,i love my beyer 260 as room or OH's
#11
27th February 2008
Old 27th February 2008
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shinybox 46mx

if you read all of my other posts, i've been talking about these mic's on pretty much every one, but for good reason. the shinybox 46mx ribbon mic's are so incredible for the price (500 a pair)! especially if you want a neutral to dark sound. use them as blumline on piano and overheads for drums, or pair it up with an audix i5 on a guitar amp, use it for acoustic guitar... it's all good. needless to say, it's my favorite all around microphone right now.
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#12
27th February 2008
Old 27th February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoorGlory View Post
Yes. There is far too much praise for the Fatheads. I picked up a pair of them (to be fair, they weren't Fatheads, but the same mic under a different brand name)
You can claim that there is too much praise for chinese ribbons... I'd agree with that as I've heard a few chinese ribbons that I considered un-useable...

but let's all at least be fair enough to say.... if it didn't say "fathead" on it...
it was not a fathead. period. The company doesn't claim that the design is completely original... it claims that their quality is inspected and more closely monitored once the mics come into the usa....
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27th February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A LaMere View Post

but let's all at least be fair enough to say.... if it didn't say "fathead" on it...
it was not a fathead. period. The company doesn't claim that the design is completely original... it claims that their quality is inspected and more closely monitored once the mics come into the usa....
Actually I did say that. You even quoted me saying that.

As far as inspecting a ribbon, motor, and transformer, yup.... they're all there, all functional, and the ribbon is tensioned properly. It's identical to a Fathead, minus the name "Cascade". It's a great sounding mic, and I don't think I said otherwise. But it's not this second coming of Christ that everyone says it is.
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27th February 2008
Old 27th February 2008
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i love oktava MK012. i tried it on acoustic guitar, and it sounds very good for that price, but if i have more budget, u would go with Josephson C42MP.
I normaly use it for Overhead.. "Soft" high (not harsh)
hopeless_opus
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29th February 2008
Old 29th February 2008
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Ok, seems like the overwhelming consensus is for the Oktava's. I wish my budget was higher, and were it so, I'd definately be looking at the Beyer's and Josephson's. However, at the moment I'm poor.

two more quick questions:

I know these mics (Oktava and Fathead) have a great reputation for guitars and overheads, but does anyone have experience with either pair tracking upright piano or strings?

Has anyone directly compared the Oktava's to the Rode NT-5's? if so, which stood out to you, and why?

Thanks for all the input so far, I love GS.
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29th February 2008
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For piano I didn't like the Oktava much. The new Pulsar II from M-Audio sounds nearly identical to KM184's and they sound excellent on piano. If you're doing piano and OH go M-Audio instead.

Last edited by mltamisin; 29th February 2008 at 09:01 PM.. Reason: ..
#17
29th February 2008
Old 29th February 2008
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The Oktava's musicality kicks the australian Rode's a**.....

Get modded ones from Oktavamod (no connection!) for maximum pleasure....

Still, I have to agree with the previous posters on Beyer ribbons on O/H. Supercool ! Take eq like a willing sl** and do something magic to your snare.

And for acoustic, a pair of Oktava's with a ribbon in the middle for soft cuddly bass content is gorgeous. Go Russian and when you can afford it get some ribbons, even one......
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29th February 2008
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Comparing a pair of ribbons with large condensors is a little like apples and eggs.
The sound of the fat head is much darker then the oktava's.
The last one named soundmore open and brighter.
Look at the frequency spectrum and you'll see lots of differences too.
I have a pair of fat heads and recently a pair of mk-101 Oktava. ( based on the mk-12
For me they work well on acoustic instruments.
But I have recorded singing with the as well.
Try to get a demo pair and see what sound you'll like the most

Greetz,

Paul
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29th February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hopeless_opus View Post
Ok, seems like the overwhelming consensus is for the Oktava's. I wish my budget was higher, and were it so, I'd definately be looking at the Beyer's and Josephson's. However, at the moment I'm poor.

two more quick questions:

I know these mics (Oktava and Fathead) have a great reputation for guitars and overheads, but does anyone have experience with either pair tracking upright piano or strings?

Has anyone directly compared the Oktava's to the Rode NT-5's? if so, which stood out to you, and why?

Thanks for all the input so far, I love GS.
I did some A/B test with the oktavia 012 and the rode NT5 and the kel HM-1 as Overhead. and for myself i do prefere the tone of the kel. they are neutral, and the kit did sound full with the kel...i was not impress with the oktavia.....i guess i'm the only one in here who'w not crazy about the oktavia, that's ok, and by the way, the pre's was daking when i did that test.
hopeless_opus
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1st March 2008
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mltamisin,

can you elaborate on what you didn't like about the Oktava's on piano?
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1st March 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoorGlory View Post
Actually I did say that. You even quoted me saying that.

As far as inspecting a ribbon, motor, and transformer, yup.... they're all there, all functional, and the ribbon is tensioned properly. It's identical to a Fathead, minus the name "Cascade". It's a great sounding mic, and I don't think I said otherwise. But it's not this second coming of Christ that everyone says it is.
Right on... No harm done.

Agreed... no chinese ribbon I've heard is the 'second coming'.
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5th March 2008
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Right now I am pretty sure I'll get the Oktava's and then get them modded in the future.

But, I figured I should throw out one last call for anyone with experience using the Okatva's or Fatheads on strings and upright piano. Anyone?
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5th March 2008
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upright piano - modded Apex 205 is my fav for this
and strings - dark LDC
but also guitars - fathead for electric, 2x modded Apex 205 in blumlein for singer songwriter with another close vocal mic.
drum overheads - MK-012s are cool, esp for toms. you really need a good room to use ribbons.

just my suggestions...
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5th March 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbone View Post
I did some A/B test with the oktavia 012 and the rode NT5 and the kel HM-1 as Overhead. and for myself i do prefere the tone of the kel. they are neutral, and the kit did sound full with the kel...i was not impress with the oktavia.....i guess i'm the only one in here who'w not crazy about the oktavia, that's ok, and by the way, the pre's was daking when i did that test.
The first Oktava I had was horrible...tinny and harsh sounding and super hot. The pair I bought recently, however, sound like they are always described.
#25
6th March 2008
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I'll go against the grain here and say that the Fatheads would be soooooooo nice on upright piano and a small string section in MS configuration.
I love the Oktava 219s but the 012s (non modded) makes me use the EQ way more then the Fatheads.
I'm down with the 012s on acc guitar, contra bass, and other instruments, but not so much on piano or mid/high register strings.
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6th March 2008
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I really DIG the OKTAVA MK012 on drum overheads and acoustic guitars. I have omni and cardioid heads. No experience with the FATHEAD.
#27
7th March 2008
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I have a pair of Oktava 012's with all thre SD caps and the Red LD caps. I also have a fathead. The 012's are definitely more versatile (especially if you have multiple caps) but the fathead has it's places to shine for sure. For what you specifically mentioned though(piano and strings), I am totally in agreement with 6dyslexicelephnt that a pair of Joly-modded Apex 205's would probably be perfect. They will also do nicely in most other applications where you would use either of the other mics as well.
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7th March 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VegetativeState View Post
I am totally in agreement with 6dyslexicelephnt that a pair of Joly-modded Apex 205's would probably be perfect. They will also do nicely in most other applications where you would use either of the other mics as well.
I appreciate the love. The apex 205 mod is very easy and satisfying and can be done by anyone. Get 2 for $180 from full compass and a couple of Lundahl LL2913s or maybe some cinemags or edcors. Pull out all that crap... just the outer screen straight to the ribbon. Natural and beautiful. Singer songwriter in blumlein is really sweet and SO natural like you're standing there
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7th March 2008
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I recorded a jazz combo Tuesday and I will be recording one tonight as well. Tuesday I used a pair of low-cost ribbons in the same vein as the Fatheads (though they aren't the same, I'm sure they are close). Tonight I plan on using a pair of MC-012s. I'll post some clips for comparison over the weekend if anyone wants?
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9th March 2008
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With the heavy guitar sounds I'm getting, I'd say for $200, the Fathead II is the second coming of Christ (minus the illigitimate birth part).

ESP Stephen Carpenter sig model> Mesa Dual Rec. > Fathead II> SSL Alpha Channel = the shit.
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