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Egads! Another Mic Shootout? Condenser Microphones
Old 1st January 2011
  #1
Here for the gear
Egads! Another Mic Shootout?

Ok – I’ve been a lurker for a few months and especially enthralled by the Mic mod’ing community here. I do want to say “thanks!” to everyone - some fantastic information and resources from this group. I’ve now personally mod’ed 2 Ribbon mics, and an Apex 460 and have 3 Oktava mics currently on their way back from Oktavamod (unfortunately, not in time for this shootout!)

I figure it’s time to “give back” – in the best way I’ve experienced here on Gearslutz: A microphone shootout!

I ventured off to a friend’s studio outside of San Francisco – “The Briefing Room” - for a day with a car full of microphones owned and borrowed. This was a wide variety of price ranges for the comparison. The mics we used, in order of cost:

• An MXL R144 Ribbon mic – modified by removing excess screens, headbasket resonance reduced with “creative placement of 5-minute epoxy and plasti-dip”, and the transformer replaced with a Lundahl 2912. ($140)
• A Shure Beta58A, stock ($160)
• Audio Technica AT4033, stock ($400)
• Apex 460 heavily mod’ed – Peluso CEK-12 Capsule, Cinemag Transformer CM-2480, 1963 NOS 6072A tube, bypass of cathode follower circuit, re-capped with mylar film (~$600)
• Wunder Audio CM7GT w/ K47 capsule. ($3500)
• Brauner VMA ($9700) (Thanks Mike!)


(I really wanted to have the Oktavamod MK-219, MK-319 there too, but alas timing was not ideal – for a future shoot out perhaps)

We used an 8-channel Millenia HV-3D mic preamp – sent out to Millenia the week before for “dusting and cleaning” so it was it prime shape (Thanks John!)


Everything was recorded at 24bit / 96KHz into Sony Vegas – then edited / normalized in Cubase.

Each file is a specific mic (to be identified at a later date) has 5 identical sections:
1 – Spoken Word - “Tee Kay Kay, She sells seashells…”
2 – Male singing voice (sorry about the backing track bleed – need to be more careful next time)
3 – Same Male singing, but with the backing track for “context”
4 – Acoustic guitar – 1976 era Guild
5 – Electric guitar - 1970’s vintage strat, through mesa boogie Mark 5 combo amp


No effects, no EQ, just pure recordings. Here are the MP3’s – 256kbit.

Mic1
Mic2
Mic3
Mic4
Mic5
Mic6


And the complete WAV files can be downloaded (24b/96KHz) HERE.

I’ll post our comments on the files when I post the mic / file identities.

One note, there were three of us involved in the recording, of various experience - from student / intern, musicians through to audio researcher & producer. The one thing we agreed is that we ALL learned a great deal from this exercise.

/philip
Old 2nd January 2011
  #2
bee
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bee's Avatar
 

Did you record the acoustic guitar tacks with the microphones in the same position as the photos?
Old 2nd January 2011
  #3
Here for the gear
Indeed, the same position you see in the photo. Its hard to see that the mics are somewhat angled in towards the same 12th fret location on the guitar
Old 3rd January 2011
  #4
Gear Nut
 
jimthepisces's Avatar
 

This is a tricky shootout. Mic 1 must be the cheap MXL ribbon...after that it gets confusing. Mic 2 and 3 also don't sound great to me. They sound thin. 4, 5, and 6 are a toss up.

If I had a gun to my head I'd order them like this:
BEST
1 - Mic 6
2 - Mic 4
3 - Mic 5
4 - Mic 2
5 - Mic 3
6 - Mic 1
WORST
Old 4th January 2011
  #5
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didier.brest's Avatar
 

Mic2 !
Old 15th January 2011
  #6
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didier.brest's Avatar
 

May I get the key by PM ?
Old 15th January 2011
  #7
Y.E
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Y.E's Avatar
 

Thanks for the test

The distances between the microphones pick up different frequencies from the source,
Each microphone has a different sweet spot distance, and therefore would not be right to choose the microphone according to this test only.

My guess:
1.R144
2.Apex
3. 4033
4.Shure
5.Cm7 GT
6.vma (VMX mode)

My choice 6 & 5
Old 2nd February 2011
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

answers???
Old 2nd February 2011
  #9
Nice test, though I would be concerned with how many mics are being tested at once here, since it's not physically possible to get them all close enough together. Having two mics six inches apart can sometimes make a bigger difference in the sound than the differences in the mics themselves. In this test the preferred mics might be those that are in the optimal positions. Generally I test no more than 4 mics at a time so the mics can stay very close together.
Old 2nd February 2011
  #10
Here for the gear
3, 5 and 6 are very beautiful sounding.
If I had to make a choice though, I'd go with the 5.
Old 20th February 2011
  #11
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Bubbakron's Avatar
 

Answers?
Old 20th February 2011
  #12
PDC
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Ok, I love shoot outs, but the diaphragms must be exactly in the same position for this to be of any value. Even then, what might be a good placement for one mic may suck for another.
Old 21st February 2011
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Y.E View Post

My guess:
1.R144
2.Apex
3. 4033
4.Shure
5.Cm7 GT
6.vma (VMX mode)
That would be my guess too. I prefer 5. 6 is nice too but a little too bright for me. Don't know the VMA but 6 remids me on my old Valvet X (which I sold recently).

Oliver
Old 26th February 2011
  #14
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pasarski's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Y.E View Post

My guess:
1.R144
2.Apex
3. 4033
4.Shure
5.Cm7 GT
6.vma (VMX mode)

My choice 6 & 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzjoe View Post
That would be my guess too.
Mine too. 5 and 6 really stand out. 6 has everything I could wish from a microphone.
Old 2nd March 2011
  #15
Lives for gear
I like 3 the best. Full, clear, with girth.
Old 22nd March 2011
  #16
Gear Head
 
shipwreck's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gehauser View Post
I like 3 the best. Full, clear, with girth.
+1

I'd love to see the revealing of which is which here.
Old 23rd March 2011
  #17
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by OttoPus View Post
3, 5 and 6 are very beautiful sounding.
If I had to make a choice though, I'd go with the 5.
+1. 5 then 6 then 3.
Old 23rd March 2011
  #18
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World Studios's Avatar
The 3 last ones are pretty good. I prefer 6 slightly to 4. 5 is nice too, a little darker. I would not be surprised if they turn out to be:

4 • Apex 460 heavily mod’ed – Peluso CEK-12 Capsule
5 • Wunder Audio CM7GT w/ K47 capsule. ($3500)
6 • Brauner VMA ($9700)

My pick is number 6.

The first 3 are in another league. The demo league...
Old 26th April 2011
  #19
Lives for gear
aaand the 3 month suspense.
Old 27th April 2011
  #20
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World Studios's Avatar
Revelation, please! Enlightenment for Pete´s sake! :-)
Old 29th April 2011
  #21
Here for the gear
 

"The 3 last ones are pretty good. I prefer 6 slightly to 4. 5 is nice too, a little darker."

I fell the same... And also think that Mic1 sounds horrible! hehehe...
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