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camerondye
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2nd February 2008
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Acoustic Guitar Mic Pseudo Shoot Out

EDIT ****SPOILER ANSWER IS ABOUT 6 POSTS DOWN THE PAGE***


I just hooked up my new Presonus Digimax FS and decided to compare pres and at the same time find out which is the best mic for my acoustic. It's an inexpensive Taylor Big Baby, which is a little boxy but it's what I got. I was just going to make this a disclosed shoot out but whats the fun in that.

The mic pres are:
Great River ME-1NV
SMPRO PR8E with Black Lion Mod
Presonus Digimax FS
Groove Tube Brick

The mics are:
Mojave MA-200
Peluso 22-251
Peluso R14 Ribbon
Neumann TLM-103
Shure SM81

Obviously some of the mics are going to be easy to get but I was just doing this for me and decided to share it. I know people want to hear what the Black Lion Mod preamps sound like. I usually run a compressor or some eq but this has none even on the ribbon mic.

Each file is 1 of the mics ran through the 4 preamps. Each file has 4 parts about 35 seconds long. Each part is a different preamp. All the files have the same order of preamps just so there is no confusion.

I am not Consumer Reports, if you are going to get mad about the files having variations please don't listen and definitely don't make nasty comments. I have listened to a ton of other peoples files and just figured I would try and make a contribution. They do have variations, listen or don't listen. If you do, please tell me which mic/preamp you like the most.
Have Fun,
Cameron
camerondye
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2nd February 2008
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I will try and do some more comparisons of the Black Lion Modded PR8E later also when I have more time.
cam
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2nd February 2008
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Mic Position

Nice test - Are all the mics positioned in the exact same way for each test - and which way would that be, please?
camerondye
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2nd February 2008
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They are all about the 12th fret, about 8 inches off the guitar aimed towards the sound hole. From this test, I've actually started being happier mixing 2 different mics in the same position aimed at the guitar...not in a stereo configuration. Just mixing 2 different mic sounds.
cam
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2nd February 2008
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Thanks, that's interesting. 3 def sounds like a crisp neck sound but 4 & 5 sound much more like a bridge/body sound - guess that's the capsule size factor.
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Interesting. I thought #4 had the best overall tone. Maybe it's the SM81. #3 just sounds thin and scratchy. I'm guessing it's the 103 through a cheap pre. #5 is almost certainly the ribbon, but I've not used the pelusos or mojave.
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1 - 22251
2 - tlm103
3- ma200
4 - sm81
5 - ribbon

flatpick strumming is but one way to play a guitar...it can make some mics sound too bright, but those same mics will sound much better with fingerpicking or just flatpicking more open styles.
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2nd February 2008
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I like # 3 the best
very interested in how the FS sounds to the GR
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camerondye
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3rd February 2008
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***THIS IS THE SPOILER***

OK I'm going into my computer to post results, I figure about 24 hours is all I want to wait on this. Ok each recording went through 4 preamps and the order of EVERY clip is as follows:

GT Brick * Great River * PR8E Black Lion Mod * Presonus Digimax FS


The mics are as follows:

1. Neumann TLM103
2. Mojave MA200
3. Peluso 22251
4. Shure SM81
5. Peluso R14 Ribbon


I couldn't belive in comparisom how much the ribbon and the SM81, in this configuration, sounded alike. I always thought the SM81 had a natural earthy kinda of tone but sounding ribbonish I didn't think it could. I'm sure if I positioned the 81 different I could get more highs but I tried to keep everything about the same. The ribbon sounds a lot better once some eq is added like all ribbons. The 22251 and the SM81 combined sound really cool together though...I will post another mp3 tonight or tomorrow. Sorry if anything is dissappointing to anybody, if you would like a special post of something I will try and do it for you. I am going to mess around with the gain staging on the Great River, because it seemed to be adding a little too much mojo for me in comparisom. I know it will sound great on acoustic, maybe less gain and more volume though, and maybe turn off the "loading" button. Like I said, I will try and put up some more stuff on this and take requests. I also have some other mics too, just not first picks though.
cam
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3rd February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camerondye View Post
The mics are as follows:

1. Neumann TLM103
2. Mojave MA200
3. Peluso 22251
4. Shure SM81
5. Peluso R14 Ribbon
Phew because I did like #2 the best overall (I only listened to the 1st preamp though). The 22 251 turns out to be brighter than I had ever thought or maybe they're coming out brighter now than ones from earlier shootouts where I thought I had a fix on its sound. The tlm top is balanced well but there are serious problems in the mids. Anyway the ma200 is my standby mic for this purpose.

And btw I would steer you away from either the SM81 or the ribbon.
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3rd February 2008
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More files, the more I messed with the files the more I wasn't as in to the mix of the 22251 and the sm81. For acoustic the 22251 ended up not mixing well and I was incorrect. What I ended up doing was adding some UAD-1 Pulltec Pro eq to the SM81 and it really did what I wanted to anyway. The file I attached has the direct sound and about 15 seconds it switches to the eq'd tone. The second half of the file is a fingerpicked part that is done the same way. Trust me, you will hear when the pulltec eq kicks in...I may have gone overboard but it gets the point across. The SM81 starts with a good, James Tayloresque, sorta of tone and really takes the eq well after it. BTW, I also had the high pass switch on the SM81 switched to the first level on this file where I didn't on the test above.
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Have you tried the SM81 on the second HP setting? And which pre was used for the latest file?
I'm looking for a new acoustic guitar mic and thought the SM81 would fit the bill, but I still feel it lacks a certain something - not enough top end sparkle and too much low end boom (or maybe it's the converters.. ).- I've got a D28 which is dark and boomy down a mic at the best of times so I'm keen to tame it a bit.
There's a few similar threads that are leaning me towards the AKG451 / AT4041 / MC930 / NT5 (Oktavas seem hard to find in the UK) - any experience with these as compared with the SM81?
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I am trying the 2nd hp filter on the mic now and it actually helps a lot. I will post another mp3 with the 2nd high pass filter activated.

The last post was recorded through the GT Brick. I will post the next one through the Great River and use the RNLA compressor. The RNLA does a great job on acoustic guitar.
cam
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3rd February 2008
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Here is the SM81 on the 2nd HP filter on the mic (most bass cut). I think it actually does help but needs some more out of the 300 but I didn't do it. This is the SM81 to the Great River and the RNLA. On the fingerpicked part, I don't think the RNLA kicked on. I'm going to try to do better with the MA200 also, I see Peeder's post all the time and like and agree with him most of the time. We will see which of these mics are the best on my acoustic. Hope it helps a little, I also have a 12 string I could do some files on.
cam
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4th February 2008
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Mmm, that's nice. Now it sounds sweet, crisp AND warm (not keen on that compressor though) - I think my D28 will like the SM81 on HP 2. I'm almost persuaded, but any particular reason why peeder would steer one away from the SM81?
Would be interesting to hear the 12-string.
Good stuff cam.
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5th February 2008
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Here is my Takamine 12 string file, my 12 string plays like crap so it isn't the best file in the world...I'm a bass player, I just play guitar on TV. This is through the Great River no effects at all. The first part is strummed, the 2nd picked, the 3rd fingerplucked. This is the SM81 with the most HP filter on.
cam
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Ok, It's down to the Mojave MA-200 vs. the Shure SM81 with the HP Filter at the highest setting. I still think eq'ing a little more bass out of the SM81 would still help it though but there is no eq or comp at all on these files. They are ran through the same preamp and are pretty close to the same volume. I had both mics set up at the same time on the same guitar parts recording on separate channels. I did a strumming line, a fingerplucked line, and a picked line. It is still up in the air on which one I like more, I think on different songs a different mic would actually work.

I do think that anybody needing a great acoustic mic couldn't go wrong with the SM81 though for $350. It also works great on hi-hat, well on overheads and other bluegrass instruments. I think it should be on the short list of studio standards to have around.

Tell me what you guys think also
cam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camerondye View Post
Ok, It's down to the Mojave MA-200 vs. the Shure SM81 with the HP Filter at the highest setting. I still think eq'ing a little more bass out of the SM81 would still help it though but there is no eq or comp at all on these files. They are ran through the same preamp and are pretty close to the same volume. I had both mics set up at the same time on the same guitar parts recording on separate channels. I did a strumming line, a fingerplucked line, and a picked line. It is still up in the air on which one I like more, I think on different songs a different mic would actually work.

I do think that anybody needing a great acoustic mic couldn't go wrong with the SM81 though for $350. It also works great on hi-hat, well on overheads and other bluegrass instruments. I think it should be on the short list of studio standards to have around.

Tell me what you guys think also
cam
Mojave. More meat and less ringing. You could still HPF it if you needed it to sit better...but it is a better sounding setup, IMO for sure!
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The Ma-200 openly shames the sm81 in terms of detail, but you haven't placed either of them very well. They are too near the soundhole (too near the guitar in general) and are saturating in the lower mids. The Ma-200 will sit beautifully in the mix. Anyway it's my go-to. I put a blumlein pair of fathead2's behind the ma-200 for a stereo spread and a bit more meat.
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How far away do you normally keep your MA-200 from the guitar??? On these files they are about 8 inches from the sound hole off center.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camerondye View Post
How far away do you normally keep your MA-200 from the guitar??? On these files they are about 8 inches from the sound hole off center.
cam
Try at least a foot on that guitar with that player, above and aimed at the 12th fret. I will go closer if I am trying to isolate from a simultaneous singer or if the player has a lighter touch.

I'm not sure if there are other issues in the chain though...the preamp may be very unforgiving for you.

Use your dt770 headphones to help you with placement.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camerondye View Post
How far away do you normally keep your MA-200 from the guitar??? On these files they are about 8 inches from the sound hole off center.
cam
I agree with peeder. I always try to stay 10" to 18" away from the guitar on almost any setup. My favorite ac gtr mic these days id my Dragonfly -> LA610. This mic works EXCEPTIONALLY well at 1'! If I use a second mic, it is usually a GT44. When it is the Dragonfly alone, I usually place it by the 12th fret, 'looking' at the joint where neck meets body. This way you get decent brightness and a little low end, but not boom. If I use 2 mics, I typically put the Dragonfly at the base of the gtr, out from the bridge and looking slightly at the sound hole and the GT44 up on the 12th fret looking at the joint. I pan them fairly wide and fiddle with the distances until I get them in phase. This gets a great big, well balanced sound...but can be too much for songs that aren't 'featuring' acoustic gtr.

The MA-200 sounds really sweet. I like the tube mic sound, but for acoustic gtr, I prefer the SDC or MDC mics because of their faster transient response. This is why I typically chose my gt44 over my gt66.

How is it for vocals?
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I will try another set of preamps and repost. The further you take the mic away the softer the sound gets, what does above the guitar do as opposed to the side? BTW, it is me playing all of these mp3's. I am searching for the best way to do an acoustic and appreciate all the help and time.
Thanks,
Cam
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I love the MA-200 for vocals, I will post a vocal done with it if you would like. I have to wait until I get home from work to do it though.
cam
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