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Harpsichord mic shootout
Old 11th May 2007
  #1
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Talking Harpsichord mic shootout

As a byproduct of a recent recording of harpsichord duets, I did a Q&D mic shootout with the following candidates in front of one of the instruments (a Seventeen Hundred something Kirckman):
  • AKG C480/CK61, C 414 B-TL (not TL II)
  • Neumann TLM 170 (not mine), KM 140, KM 184
  • Sennheiser MKH 50 (my MKH 80 is in service for a checkup)
  • Beyer MC 803 and M201 (dynamic)
All mono, obviously. Originally recorded in 88.2k. Didn't have a lot of time to setup and test this, had to rush home 450km...
The files are here: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remot...-shootout.html

The list of mic is in the pdf, so you can guess first if you want (the file that says 201 isn't the 201).
50 dB of gain was applied to all mics, 60 dB to the M201.

EDIT: I corrected the list in the pdf, the original had the two AKGs mixed up (rest was correct).... Sorry
Attached Thumbnails
Harpsichord mic shootout-test1.jpg   Harpsichord mic shootout-test2.jpg  
Attached Files
File Type: pdf mictest.pdf (25.6 KB, 529 views)
Old 11th May 2007
  #2
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Dankeschön for this test. I find this sort of stuff really entertaining, especially having work to do and putting it off indefinitely. Care to tell us what the rest of your recording chain was?

I liked the 140 best, which kind of figured with what I normally like and work with. The beyer 803, surprisingly, came in second, the TLM170 only made a third with big low end but muffled overall sound. The rest of them I didn't like at all. To varying degrees. Too bad for AKG. And for me.
See, thats the absurdity of it: I would never consider buying a MC803 (or any beyer condenser), whereas I would love to own a 414, which, to my taste, totally stank on this particular hpschd. But then. Stereo would have been cool. Omnis, I say. In a nice sounding place like that.
Cheers.
Old 11th May 2007 | Show parent
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niquest View Post
Care to tell us what the rest of your recording chain was?
Micstasy into MADI card.

Quote:
See, thats the absurdity of it: I would never consider buying a MC803 (or any beyer condenser)
The 803 is out of production, but the 930 is said to be very good as well...

Quote:
, whereas I would love to own a 414, which, to my taste, totally stank on this particular hpschd.
It suffers a bit from the fact that I did not place it in elastic suspension. I used 414 and 803 as spot mics, and the 414 tracks are unusable in places...
The same pair of 414s sounded just wonderful as woodwind spot mics in a recent St. John Passion. And on several other occasions...

Quote:
Stereo would have been cool. Omnis, I say. In a nice sounding place like that.
Didn't have stereo pairs of all these mics and there was not much time for this test.
The actual recording was done in stereo, though. heh Will post samples and pics.
If I ever get back there, I'll make sure I get time for more shootouts.
Old 11th May 2007 | Show parent
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niquest View Post
See, thats the absurdity of it: I would never consider buying a MC803 (or any beyer condenser

Why not? Preconceived notions?
Old 11th May 2007 | Show parent
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnjazz View Post
Why not? Preconceived notions?
Was der Bauer nicht kennt, das frisst er nicht....
Roughly translates into "The peasant won't eat what he doesn't know".... heh
Old 12th May 2007 | Show parent
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
Was der Bauer nicht kennt, das frisst er nicht....
Roughly translates into "The peasant won't eat what he doesn't know".... heh
Thanks, but au contraire. I know those beyer SD well. I've had to work with them on occasions but I also once did a test with them and a pair of KM140 and a pair of KM84 and boy did the beyers lose out (as main mic pair on a big band). I know its not fair because they cost less than half. I've also worked with beyer LD and opuses but the only thing I ever liked from Beyerdynamic were the M160 and 130. Another story.

Sorry for trying to divert the thread. I know it is boring to discuss mics that are 1000 € apart, not the listening, mind you. I tested the Neumann digital SD against their KM184 counterparts and the 140 once (before they came out). That was interesting. If I can find those files again, I'll start my own thread one of these days.

Anyway: I am extremely interested in the way those Micstasies sound in stereo and I'm looking forward to your next posts. So thanks again for this.
Old 12th May 2007 | Show parent
  #7
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it is hard to tell which mic is the closest to the source without hearing it (the source)

but:

KM140 is indeed the best balanced, though I'd prefer if it was a bit rounder

TLM170 is rounder that I prefer at certain notes, but overall it seems a bit under a blanket...

KM184 not that far from KM140, but smaller and harsher - a bit

C480 was too bright

Beyer - not in the league

Sennheiser - not bad, but compared to KM140 there was no way I'd prefer mkh
Old 12th May 2007 | Show parent
  #8
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I think that each mic would give an excellent result.

Any of these mics are very good and a good engineer could make a fantastic recording with any of them.
Old 12th May 2007 | Show parent
  #9
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As I said before, I don't really like shootouts with all the mics in the same position.
One should basically go for the best sound with each mic.

That being said, first glance decisions made me pick TLM170 is nr1, MKH50 in nr2 (but not knowing which mic it was, I already decided it should have been positioned better). The rest I didn't really like.
Old 13th May 2007 | Show parent
  #10
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Remoteness's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I think that each mic would give an excellent result.

Any of these mics are very good and a good engineer could make a fantastic recording with any of them.
I'm with Plushy on this one.
Old 13th May 2007 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niquest View Post
Thanks, but au contraire. I know those beyer SD well. I've had to work with them on occasions but I also once did a test with them and a pair of KM140 and a pair of KM84 and boy did the beyers lose out (as main mic pair on a big band). I know its not fair because they cost less than half.
Which ones exactly are you referring to? The original price of the 800 series was more than half of a KM 140.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Any of these mics are very good and a good engineer could make a fantastic recording with any of them.
Good point indeed. This test does not claim universal validity... heh
What I did find surprising was that I heard more of the KM 184's alleged harshness here than I thought I would. There is a good deal of a difference between the 184 and the 140, and in this particular setup, I don't like the 184 much. On other sources, I've not noticed this much, it's mostly been a pretty useful spot mic for me. Will keep it away from harpsichords....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
As I said before, I don't really like shootouts with all the mics in the same position. One should basically go for the best sound with each mic.
that takes time. And it's a different kind of test. This is just a snapshot of how a number of different mics will sound on a particular source from more or less the same position. And I know it isn't the ideal position.

Quote:
Originally Posted by matucha View Post
Beyer - not in the league
Well, the 201 certainly isn't, but what did you dislike about the 803?
Old 13th May 2007 | Show parent
  #12
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I don't remember exactly, but both beyers were somehow "huh, what's wrong?". One was better, the other was worse. The better one didn't bothered me, so maybe it is ok, but I've dissmised them both, because of better options in the test ;-). So 803 was ok I think.
Old 13th May 2007 | Show parent
  #13
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Oooooops
Sorry, there was a mistake in the list, I mixed up the two AKGs... The 414 isn't overbright at all. If, then it's the 480...

I've uploaded a corrected pdf with the list.
Old 13th May 2007 | Show parent
  #14
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it happens... so I've changed my post accordingly
Old 13th May 2007 | Show parent
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matucha View Post
I don't remember exactly, but both beyers were somehow "huh, what's wrong?". One was better, the other was worse.
Obviously, the 201 doesn't really belong here... It was just an idea, I wanted to know how it would sound.
Old 14th May 2007 | Show parent
  #16
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Great Post! Thanks for taking the time to post these samples.

Here's my preference in order.

401 - I agree with most that, for whatever reason, either placement or quality is the most pleasent and musical. I must admit I've never heard of this mic.

801 - a very refined sound, just a little more low end would be nice.

101 - a surprise! A very detailed mic.

201 - refined and full, just a little more color than I would like.

The rest left me happy that I never invested money in them. I would have really liked to hear a schoeps in the bunch.
Old 14th May 2007 | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
Which ones exactly are you referring to? The original price of the 800 series was more than half of a KM 140.
it must have been 803s, those are the cardioids, right? i was offered them at a good discount so I've probably got the price wrong.
when were they officially discontinued then?
Old 14th May 2007 | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niquest View Post
it must have been 803s, those are the cardioids, right?
Yes.
Quote:
when were they officially discontinued then?
Don't know really... Few years ago.
Old 14th May 2007 | Show parent
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niquest View Post
it must have been 803s, those are the cardioids, right? i was offered them at a good discount so I've probably got the price wrong.
when were they officially discontinued then?
Could very possibly have been the cv710/ck703 as well. Those were the predecessors to the MC803.
Old 14th May 2007 | Show parent
  #20
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Must have been MCs. If I remember it correctly they had this protective mesh that looked like tiny metal beads.

Just came home from recording a cello and piano. tried to use a beyer pressure zone "cardioid" on the cello, you know the one with the capsule sticking out of the base plate an inch or so, making it not a real pzm or blm or how ever you abbreviate it in english. anyway, it had the same protective, beady surface in front of the diaphragm. and it sounded terrible. Next time I get a harpsichord in that studio, I'll try and use the beyer pzm, to see if it surprises me.

So to lead people away from the fact that I used another's post again to rant about Beyerdynamic microphones I'll ask:
Stereo files coming? Cant wait to hear the Micstasies... Thanks.
Old 14th May 2007 | Show parent
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niquest View Post
Must have been MCs. If I remember it correctly they had this protective mesh that looked like tiny metal beads.
The older capsules had that, too, and so does the 930. It's a Beyer specialty...
Quote:
and it sounded terrible.
I believe these capsules are more closely related to the earlier 700 series. I can't find my old Beyer catalogues at the moment, but I believe these semi-PZMs are older than the 800s.
Quote:
So to lead people away from the fact that I used another's post again to rant about Beyerdynamic microphones I'll ask: Stereo files coming? Cant wait to hear the Micstasies... Thanks.
Give me some time... Or rather, give me some time... heh heh
I have recordings on Friday and Saturday, maybe I'll try to do it next week. We sat down to edit the first peice today.
Old 17th May 2007 | Show parent
  #22
My top three:

Beyer 803 Because it doesn't sound too close
Senn MKH 50 Nicely uncolored, but I would move it to get less wire.
AKG C414B-TL Because it reminds me of Wanda Landowska.

-- David
Old 31st October 2007 | Show parent
  #23
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Follow-up moved to Remote Forum.
Old 28th November 2013
  #24
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syra's Avatar
Good Shootout
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