Stereo or surround mic for live recording
Old 1st January 2014
  #1
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Thread Starter
Stereo or surround mic for live recording

As a double bassist and artistic researcher I just purchased an RME Octamic XTC to record the rehearsals of my improv ensembles. Up until now I just used an Olympus LS10, but I would like a bit more control over the sound. For my double bass I use a Schoeps CMC6 with MK41 capsule for playing live and for recording, but I am still wondering with other mic I should choose.

At this moment I have narrowed the choice down to two possible candidates: a Schoeps MSTC stereo mic and a Soundfield SPS200. Both mics have the advantage that they are relatively unproblematic in use. The Schoeps probably sounds better, but the Soundfield is more flexible, especially in combination with the Harpex plugin, which for my purposes (documenting music for research purposes) might be useful.

I would love to hear what you guys think of these mics!

Thanks,
Vincent
Old 1st January 2014
  #2
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John Willett's Avatar
 

If you want surround, the SMS200 is excellent and pretty close to Schoeps in quality as the capsules are made by MBHO in Germany.
Old 1st January 2014
  #3
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<> The Soundfield SPS200
Old 1st January 2014
  #4
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Thread Starter
Thanks for your replies thus far! I don't intend to make surround recordings, but the ability to virtually "zoom in" via the Harpex plugin might come in handy. The reason I hesitate between the Soundfield and the Schoeps is the sound quality, as some owners of the SPS200 complained that it sounded a bit harsh, that a "true" xy or ortf mic position always sounds better than their virtual equivalents realised via the Soundfield, and I am a big fan of Schoeps. So, I would really appreciate if there are more SPS200 owners who would like to share their views!

Cheers,
Vincent
Old 1st January 2014
  #5
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Adebar's Avatar
 

C700S

Also take a look at the Josephson C700S for this. You donĀ“t need a controller or app for building stereo or surround. All can be easily set up on a analog or digital mixer - or directly in your DAW.
Old 2nd January 2014
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surflounge's Avatar
also Nordic Audio Labs NU-880F NU-880F Panphonic surround FET microphone
Old 2nd January 2014
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tourtelot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
If you want surround, the SMS200 is excellent and pretty close to Schoeps in quality as the capsules are made by MBHO in Germany.
Oh wow! My experience is that the SPS200 doesn't sound anything nearly as good as a Schoeps and I have directly compared them in a live orchestral recording.

In fact, I would say that the SPS200 didn't sound very good at all. That is not to speak of any of the other mics from that manufacturer because I have never heard them, but the quality difference was pretty apparent to me. The one I listened to was a brand new mic from a retail distributor.

I guess YMMV but the difference seemed so large to me that I sold my SPS200 without hesitation.

D.
Old 2nd January 2014
  #8
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Larry Elliott's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
In fact, I would say that the SPS200 didn't sound very good at all. That is not to speak of any of the other mics from that manufacturer because I have never heard them, but the quality difference was pretty apparent to me. The one I listened to was a brand new mic from a retail distributor.

I guess YMMV but the difference seemed so large to me that I sold my SPS200 without hesitation.

D.
Me too. Other Soundfields are much nicer to my ears.
Old 2nd January 2014
  #9
Gear addict
 

The mstc is a very nice mic. As long as ORTF suits the situation, it gets great results. I'd also throw out a simple midside pair (ccm8/ccm4), neumann rsm181, et al, as an option. It lets you adjust stereo spread after the fact, from mono to very wide, either with plugins or a decoder box. Several preamps have midside decoders built in.
Old 5th January 2014
  #10
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I am a big fan of Schoeps. So, I would really appreciate if there are more SPS200 owners who would like to share their views!
Old 5th January 2014
  #11
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johnsound's Avatar
 

I was also not that happy with my SPS200 and sold it on to upgrade to an ST450, which I love. (Previously had an ST250 - one of the first - which I also loved and used for over twenty years.) However, Len Moskowitz at Core-Sound offers a calibration service for the SPS200 which those who have used it seem extremely happy with. It does mean that you can't use the supplied Soundfield SPSSurroundZone software, but there are other choices, including Harpex, which is just stunningly good.

And of course, Len also makes and sells the TetraMic, which will give you all the advantages of the SPS200 for a lot less. There are pros and cons to both these Ambisonic systems, but for my money, the TetraMic beats the (or at least, my) SPS200 for music recording. That said, I also use various bits of my Schoeps kit to create a double M/S system that you might also want to consider.

Core-Sound - Core Sound

Schoeps Double M/S - Double M/S - SCHOEPS.de

On a side-note, I really miss Ken Giles: now that Soundfield has been subsumed into a much larger group and Ken is no longer a point of contact, it's a rather different customer experience.

Regards,

John
Old 5th January 2014
  #12
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Thread Starter
Many thanks again for all your comments. I did also consider the tetramic, John, but I was/am a bit reluctant to buy one for three reasons: the fact that it is unbalanced (until the lead terminates in the xlr phantom adapters), comments about its self noise, and the quality of the electret capsules. It seems, however, that you seem pretty happy with it, and considering that you also use Schoeps and have used the SPS200, your praise for this mic means a lot to me. The double m/s system by Schoeps also looks very interesting, but that is definitely out of my price range (the cost of a Schoeps MSTC is as much as I am willing/able to afford).

Cheers,
Vincent
Old 5th January 2014
  #13
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johnsound's Avatar
 

I've attached a fragment of a recording made with the TetraMic, just to give some idea how it behaves under some rather odd conditions. Before you all jump up and down and bang on about the lack of vocals and the weird stereo image, you need to understand that the orchestra being recorded is sitting in a circular enclosure, with the conductor at 0 degrees, and the musicians facing him. The TetraMic is attached to a chain in the middle of the orchestra at a height of about 12 feet, and the singers that you can just about hear are around 60 feet away and being recorded separately. For the final orchestra mix, a Schoeps MK4/MK8 M/S pair was placed on a tall stand immediately in front of the conductor to add to the strings, which were facing away from the TetraMic, and a Schoeps MK5 was used to spot the harp & piano. Oh, and the whole thing was recorded in a disused warehouse. What you're hearing is just the TetraMic decoded to two channels.

Six feet of unbalanced cable between the mic and the adapters, into a Metric Halo ULN-8 and a MacBook Pro. No sound check possible, and no way to change the gain during the recording as I was chasing the principal singers around the warehouse with a Sennheiser M/S set-up on a boom and an SPS200 on a short boom strapped to my back to pick up the 200 or so people in the chorus. All recorded to a SD788T and synced up with the orchestral recording afterwards. And no, I wasn't allowed to use wireless mics on the principals, in case you're wondering.

The pictures should give you an idea of the situation.

Regards,

John
Attached Thumbnails
Stereo or surround mic for live recording-orchestra-pit.jpg   Stereo or surround mic for live recording-tetramic-chain.jpg   Stereo or surround mic for live recording-venue.jpg  
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 Orchestra Mix Fragment.mp3 (8.57 MB, 75 views)
Old 5th January 2014
  #14
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surflounge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsound View Post
I've attached a fragment of a recording made in a circular enclosure
Congratulations on your work. What a fun gig. Were the singers overdubbed?
Your approach is very close to real live recording, right?
Love the venue! We also record privately with no audience, with the players in a circle but no sound barrier. Your huge empty "disused warehouse" is a dream.
Old 6th January 2014
  #15
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johnsound's Avatar
 

This was a live recording of a performance with a promenade audience. Nothing overdubbed, just an archive, really, for the company involved. By the time the audience, the chorus and groups of actors were in the space, the place was pretty much packed. The whole space was used for the performance, which is why I had to do a lot of running around, trying to keep up with the singers, but ahead of the crowd. I had one dress rehearsal during which I took notes, and then recorded two performances. The first was too chaotic and I often found myself being blocked by audience members. The second time, I used a long-reach boom and was able to get over their heads most of the time.

Regards,
Old 6th January 2014
  #16
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Thread Starter
Many thanks for uploading your work, John! It looks as if it was quite a challenge. I am also pleasantly surprised by the quality of the recording, so the Tetramic is back on my shortlist.

Cheers,
Vincent
Old 6th January 2014
  #17
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johnsound's Avatar
 

I think it's well worth considering. And with the money you save, you can buy Harpex-B and have a truly excellent system. Just for fun, here's a screen-shot of the final set-up for the surround version of the recording.

Cheers,

John

Just added a picture of a bodged-up Schoeps DMS set-up for Boojum. Not pretty, but pretty effective.
Attached Thumbnails
Stereo or surround mic for live recording-screen-shot.jpg   Stereo or surround mic for live recording-img_0371.jpg  
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