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Small diaphragm condenser... Condenser Microphones
Old 27th December 2010
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Small diaphragm condenser...

Hi there guys!

Ok, so my next purchase is going to be a nice s/d condenser for miking mainly acoustic instruments.

I have a strong mind set on the Neumann ksm184's however I was wondering if you guys knew of any equal or better solutions?

I have seen a lot of hyping surrounding the earthworks products. Any recommendations?


Thanks!
Old 27th December 2010
  #2
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bcgood's Avatar
 

I would check out a pair of Miktek C5s if I where you. I used a matched pair a couple of weeks ago to mic my acoustic guitar and even tried one out for vocals. I really like the mics, I think they sound fantastic!


Here's what a studio owner in Minneapolis, MN had to say about them below.

Sell your 184s.

"Fantastic acoustic guitar microphone, but money in the bank on overheads, a stereo pair over a string quartet, and almost anything acoustic. Not brittle, but very sharp. A/Bed them against a 184, an SM81, a 414, a C451B, and an NT-5 on acoustic guitar through an Avid 192 & an API 512c preamp, and the C5 is the clear cut winner. A fantastic microphone investment for casual users AND professionals."

Here's a link to his studio: 24 Bit Productions

Let me know if you want to hear them. I could post an mp3 although I already did on the SDC for vocals thread.
Old 27th December 2010
  #3
A single stereo-surround baffled omni array can easily sound as good if not better than most mic types/arrays recording acoustic instruments.

Both myself and customers of my custom mics using same capsule as Earthworks 30K omni, but modified differently, have donated some samples of our work on many pure acoustic sessions.

While the bulk of the recordings with gear notes placed on single very long site page: Sonic Studios MP3 Page 1, below are a few sessions to easily audition. I am thinking this mic/array technique is likely the natural uncolored sound you seek for your studio.

http://74.208.10.48/mp3/ashokanf.mp3


http://74.208.10.48/mp3/erin.mp3


http://74.208.10.48/mp3/robn.mp3


http://74.208.10.48/mp3/elaina.mp3
Old 27th December 2010
  #4
Gear Addict
 

This may be frowned upon in the high end section, but they reproduce a high end sound, especially for acoustic guitar. Rode NT4 or pair of NT5s in XY.

They may not cost a lot, but they sound like they do. First mic of choice on acoustic without owning anything short of a c12 or much higher end Neumann. The 184s are a little brittle in the top end, not something I feel works well with guitar/acoustic transient instruments. I much prefer Rode Nt5 for clean, or a nice ribbon for dulling the sound naturally with an overly bright guitar.
Old 27th December 2010
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrodie View Post
Ok, so my next purchase is going to be a nice s/d condenser for miking mainly acoustic instruments.

I have a strong mind set on the Neumann ksm184's however I was wondering if you guys knew of any equal or better solutions?

I have seen a lot of hyping surrounding the earthworks products. Any recommendations?
My highly subjective opinion is that flatter mikes are preferred to those with big HF peaks for miking acoustic instruments.

I mainly use my old SM80 omnis for miking acoustic instruments, or sometimes an M130.

The Earthworks mikes are flat and accurate. However, they all have a higher noise floor than I want... the unavoidable tradeoff of having the smaller capsule that gives you more extended HF response.

If you just want to mike close and have high SPLs at the mike, the Earthworks mikes will do the job very well.

My preference is to have fewer, more versatile mikes, so I stick with the SM80, which still has the same basic, flat omni sound, not so extended a response above 20K, but a much lower noise floor that lets it work farther from the source at slightly lower SPLs.

The SM80 was discontinued about 10 years ago, back when omni mike sales were abysmal, at least in the sub-$2000 range. However, there are other current make condenser omnis with 1/2" capsules that will do the job splendidly. Audio Technica now makes the AT4049B, which sells for about $500, just to name one. If your budget extends to $2000, just about all the options are good.

Cheers,

Otto

Last edited by ofajen; 1st January 2011 at 09:20 PM.. Reason: Deleted wrong data for KM184 frequency response
Old 27th December 2010
  #6
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grrrayson's Avatar
 

Small diaphragm condenser...

Schoeps.
Old 27th December 2010
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
Hi, yes I had an SM80 for some years and thought it was smoother than the SM81, but omnis may not be the right choice depending on room.

I also had a pair of AT4051's which sound really good. thumbsup I did buy an omni capsule to try (turning it into a 4049) thinking I would love it, but it didn't sound as good as the cardioid capsule, not as full/warm.
I guess I too easily forget that many people don't have sufficient command of the recording space to get good results with omni mikes, but then... this is the High End forum.

I would never describe a flat omni as warm, though it can sound huge on a good sound in a controlled space with good electronics and plenty of headroom.

The thing is that if you are tracking several parts, you need to evaluate how the tracks play together at mix time, not merely which one creates the most appealing solo track. That is where I usually find the omni mikes to shine...

Cheers,

Otto
Old 27th December 2010
  #8
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BradLyons's Avatar
 

Max,

The KM184's are truly fantastic microphones, I use them often myself. However what has made you decide on these, or at least make these the first microphones on your list? The fact is, there are many options and choices available---just as there are many factors that will impact what truly is best for you. May I ask--what are you using now and why are you wanting to get a SDC? I have to imagine that if you were completely in-love with the results you were getting, you wouldn't need or want to upgrade.
Old 27th December 2010
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
Very true, though in the case of the Shure, I just thought the SM80 sounds better than the SM81 even on single source, but not the case with the AT's.
Recall that while the AT mikes are designed primarily for studio use, the SM81 was designed for both studio and live sound use. The SM81 capsule has an internal windscreen grill in front of the capsule that adds a bit of top end resonance. The SM80 capsule has no such windscreen, and so it tends to be smoother.

My SM81 capsules happen to be the ones that Scott Dorsey modded several decades ago. The mod is just to take the capsule apart (carefully!) and remove the internal windscreen grill and then put the pieces back together. It makes the capsule more vulnerable to wind blasts and pretty much suitable only for studio use, but it smoothes out the top end a bit.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 27th December 2010
  #10
Of course all this comes highly down to taste. So do what you can to try out as many as possible before deciding.

I've compared quite a few sdc's in stereo pairs, and here's what I found (this is just my taste obviously):

AKG 451 C: pretty bright, I like them for acoustic guitar (they seem to "shine" a bit which can be a really good or a not so good thing, depending on style)

KM 84, lovely mics, on the darker side, but since they're old I guess that depends highly on which pair you lay your hands on.
(I never tried the 184s though)

Schoeps: Excellent mics! But almost too honest sometimes! Running the risk of generalizing heavily here, but I think if you're recording things for "unrealistic" mixes (meaning everything that isnt "true to the ear" acoustic stuff, ie almost all pop/rock/whatever) I find them a bit too honest and crystal clear. But that can be a huge asset for other things..

RODE NT4: Surprisingly good! And the ease of placement is worth a lot sometimes. From what I know the nt5's are supposed to use the same capsules (someone might correct me on this) but I havent been able to get the same good sound out of 2 of those, not sure why really...

But my winner is: Oktava MK12 with the Joly Mod. I'd say the sound is more similar to the 84s (darker than the 451s for example) but crystal clear and very well balanced! They really sound amazing in my opinion! And take EQ very well.
They're well built too.
Lot of options if you buy the big kit too, with those medium diaphragms, and the other capsules.
I actually bought another pair of mic bodies for it, so using different capsules I got 2 more mics for another 200 bucks (I know this is the high end forum, but no use not being practical right! )

Hope that helps!

PS: Whenever someone speaks of stereo pairs, I can never avoid mentioning the Royer SF12. I've found about a million different uses for that mic!
Old 27th December 2010
  #11
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waxx's Avatar
 

I think schoeps are probally the best. The CMC6 body with the accompagning caps are at least the best that passed trough my hands but they are very expensive. Gefell M300's are also very good and more in the 184's price league, just like the other Gefell sdc's. the Josephon C42 or a AKG C460 (out of production, so it will have to be second hand) also beat easely a 184 on acoustic instruments.

It's not that the 184 is really bad, but they are really bright, and often to bright. Especially for acoustic instruments you may prefer a more realistic sound.

on the cheaper side, there is only one real contestor: the Oktava MK012, especially joly modded. Rode NT5 or NT4 or AKG C451 (but also bright) are also more than ok.
Old 27th December 2010
  #12
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Tone Laborer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuySonic View Post
A single stereo-surround baffled omni array can easily sound as good if not better than most mic types/arrays recording acoustic instruments.
VERY cool recordings, GuySonic.thumbsup
Old 27th December 2010
  #13
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jnorman's Avatar
i have owned DPA 4011s, schoeps cmc64s, akg c481s, gefell m300s, and many other nice SDCs, and the km184s and km140s are among my all time favorites. they are very versatile and musical, and if you find them a bit bright, that is a good thing for many instruments - if you dont know how to make them sound flat and smooth for instruments which do not need any high end enhancement, you have not learned your lessons yet on how to use microphones (it took me a while too...).
Old 28th December 2010
  #14
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Another mic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
The KM184 has an 8 dB peak at 10K .....................
This is, of course, not correct.

Perhaps you are thinking of a different mic, or have made a typo?
Old 28th December 2010
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEGG View Post
This is, of course, not correct.

Perhaps you are thinking of a different mic, or have made a typo?
Oops. That's the KM183, a far-field omni. The KM184 is only up a couple of dB at 10K. Still not my fave.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 28th December 2010
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEGG View Post
This is, of course, not correct.

Perhaps you are thinking of a different mic, or have made a typo?
Didn't seem right. I read the wrong graph. The C42 is only up 4 dB in the high end and it seems plenty crispy to me, even more than the KM184. Shoulda known 10 dB was not the right figure.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 28th December 2010
  #17
Buying your first SDC or adding one to your collection,
no microphone toolkit should be without an AKG C460. Hands down, best value in a SDC.

Yes, you have to buy them used, and usually you have to buy the preamp separate from the capsule, but it's worth it.

All the bright sheen and clarity of a C451 but the added low-end and body from a 460 makes it the best choice in this field, IMHO.

If you can, for your first one, buy a C460 pre and a CK1 capsule from a 451, and get the sleeve adapter to fit them together.

You will be surprised. Then you can buy the other capsules for regular C460 cardioid (CK61) omni (CK62) hyper-cardioid (CK63) which are a tiny bit larger and darker.

You might wish to check out current ebait offerings: Just search for "AKG C460" and a good list of items will come out to help you with your decision.

Last edited by Ward Pike; 28th December 2010 at 03:32 AM.. Reason: I saw ************* and realized editing was required.
Old 28th December 2010
  #18
Gear Addict
 

I have worked with and have regular access to many high end SDC's..
"High end" favourites include DPA/B&K 4011's and Neumann Km84's..

However, maybe not as high end (especially price wise) but the Beyer MC930's are fantastic in my opinion. Maybe at least give them a listen.
Old 28th December 2010
  #19
Gear Nut
 

Small diaphragm condenser...

Thanks for all these replies! Didn't realise how much of a choice there was.

I'm currently swaying to the Oktava mk12's with Joly mod (heard some brilliant samples on YouTube). However, I can't seem to find it for sale (the mod) in the uk!!
Old 28th December 2010
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrodie View Post
Thanks for all these replies! Didn't realise how much of a choice there was.

I'm currently swaying to the Oktava mk12's with Joly mod (heard some brilliant samples on YouTube). However, I can't seem to find it for sale (the mod) in the uk!!
he ships to the uk
Old 28th December 2010
  #21
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I am amused by some of the mic recommendations I have read over the years on this forum. While it is generally true that upscale mics can have attractive unique sonic qualities: It is not true they will automatically best fit an appropriate recording need. Multiple factors such as recording environment, instrument voice, players style, preamp choices and the dimension of individual recording envelopes will produce needs that will find some surprising fits. To this end three surprises I have found are the ATM450 side addressed, the AE 5100, and the Peluso P28. I have been recording Bluegrass for more than 35 years and recent real improvement in affordable front end equipment has made the digital revolution a reality for high quality recordings almost anywhere/everywhere. The ability to deliver to the paying customer the sound they want has made many musicians doityourselfers. A $2,000. SD mic will not necessarily deliver the desired end result.
Hugh
Old 28th December 2010
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
A $2,000. SD mic will not necessarily deliver the desired end result.
Hugh
True, but a $100 - $200 SDC probably won't.
Old 28th December 2010
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wardpike View Post
Buying your first SDC or adding one to your collection,
no microphone toolkit should be without an AKG C460. Hands down, best value in a SDC.

Yes, you have to buy them used, and usually you have to buy the preamp separate from the capsule, but it's worth it.
I can vouch for the quality of the 460's, if you can find them. I now have four (two with Jim Williams mods), with cardioid, hyper and omni capsules, and they are my go-to SDC's in most situations. But I still use my KM140's (and sometimes 451's) when I'm looking for a little more bite, such as with a hard-strummed rock acoustic, or as overheads when I need brighter cymbals. As a multi-purpose utility SDC that sounds good on almost everything, though, a good pair of 460b's would be a great first choice.
Old 28th December 2010
  #24
Good advice, Sean. My 451s are my go-to mic's for acoustic guitars also.
Old 31st December 2010
  #25
Gear Addict
 
tedpenn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
Hi, yes I had an SM80 for some years and thought it was smoother than the SM81, but omnis may not be the right choice depending on room.
(emphasis mine)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
I guess I too easily forget that many people don't have sufficient command of the recording space to get good results with omni mikes, but then... this is the High End forum.

I would never describe a flat omni as warm, though it can sound huge on a good sound in a controlled space with good electronics and plenty of headroom.
Guys- Don't forget that an omni becomes just as good at rejecting off axis sounds when placed at just over half the distance of cardioid. For example, if you have a cardioid mic on an acoustic guitar placed at 2 feet, you can get an omni to be just as "directional" by placing it at just over 1 foot away from the guitar. AND, you lose the proximity effect so there's no real worry of getting boomy (compared to a card) as you move in close.


Relative distance to sound source for equal balance between direct and indirect sound

Source: DPA Microphones :: Microphone University - The Essentials

I've gotten great acoustic sounds with B&K (DPA) 4006's, which are omni's.


As to the OP, plenty of great suggestions here. My KM184's sound fantastic on most acoustics but can be a little bright at times, and can get boomy without careful placement. These particular mics seem to be extra sensitive with regards to placement.

Other great choices:
DPA(B&K) 4006 or 4011
Schoeps CMC5 or CMC6 system (various capsules)
Neumann KM84 or KM184 (newer)
AKG 451 or 460
Shure SM81
Earthworks (various models- haven't used them in a while, but liked them)

I'd say it ought to be possible to get great acoustic sounds with any of the above. If I had to choose one to buy tomorrow though (and given that I already have 184's), I'd go with the DPA's (either) or Schoeps. Both very pricey, but very nice.
Old 31st December 2010
  #26
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tapehiss's Avatar
Right now I have 3 AKG C451eb's, which are the older version with transformer'd outs. They are great, and I use them with CK1's. All around a great mic. The 451b's which are currently made are transformerless and overly bright IMO.

I also have the BeesNeez LuLu FET tranny-less which is a great mic with lots of detail and clarity.

For my next purchase I'd love to get either the Chameleon Labs TS-1 MKII or the Telefunken Ela M 260, both tube SDC's and are compatible with the AKG CK1's.

I can gladly recommend any of these mics.
Old 31st December 2010
  #27
Gear Nut
 
Rupert Limehouse's Avatar
 

As a regular user of Earthworks QTC30 (omni) and SR25 (cardioid) I can highly recommend them - extremely high fidelity in the true sense of the phrase - the transient response in particular is awesome by comparison with KM184 etc. Providing you're happy with the sound in the room, you'll be happy in the control room, but if you want extra 'flavour', look elsewhere! They are noisier than other mics, but in use I have only found this to be any kind of problem when miking quiet sources from a distance. Best uses I've found are acoustic guitar (cardioid or omnis, usually picking only - too much attack for strumming!), omni wedged in double bass bridge with bubble wrap, cardioids on drum overheads (beautiful cymbals), omnis on piano.
Old 31st December 2010
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tedpenn View Post
Guys- Don't forget that an omni becomes just as good at rejecting off axis sounds when placed at just over half the distance of cardioid. For example, if you have a cardioid mic on an acoustic guitar placed at 2 feet, you can get an omni to be just as "directional" by placing it at just over 1 foot away from the guitar. AND, you lose the proximity effect so there's no real worry of getting boomy (compared to a card) as you move in close.
That very nice graph is showing an averaged figure of direct to reflected sound. However, your statement reads a bit odd to me, since it seems to imply there is a change in directionality of the mikes, which does not occur.

The cardioid will still have a rear port and significant rearward attenuation that varies with frequency. While the average ratio of direct to reflected sound may be equal for the omni mike at half the distance, it is still an omni mike and will still be more sensitive (relative to source SPL at the mike) than the cardioid to rearward sounds or to a figure-8 relative to sounds at 90 degrees. So, if there are unwelcome sounds (reflected or otherwise) coming from the side or rear that would be rejected by the directional mike, they may still be an issue, even when the omni moves closer.

Bottom line is that the details matter. Try it out and see if you have particular reflections that cause problems.

Also, while omni mikes themselves don't have proximity effect, being in closer proximity to the top of an acoustic guitar puts it in a different part of the top's radiation pattern and could significantly change the sound you get. You might get into a stronger part of a particular radiation mode that shifts the tone or causes boominess you don't want, even though the mike is flat as may be.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 31st December 2010
  #29
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Small diaphragm condenser...

Quote:
Originally Posted by tapehiss
Right now I have 3 AKG C451eb's, which are the older version with transformer'd outs. They are great, and I use them with CK1's. All around a great mic. The 451b's which are currently made are transformerless and overly bright IMO.

I also have the BeesNeez LuLu FET tranny-less which is a great mic with lots of detail and clarity.

For my next purchase I'd love to get either the Chameleon Labs TS-1 MKII or the Telefunken Ela M 260, both tube SDC's and are compatible with the AKG CK1's.

I can gladly recommend any of these mics.
The current 451s are electrets, the originals were true condensers (and I still have a 452, CK1, VR1 in my kit - the 452 being the 48V phantom version as opposed to the 9-52V 451).

Sent from my iPhone using Gearslutz
Old 31st December 2010
  #30
Gear Addict
 
tedpenn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
That very nice graph is showing an averaged figure of direct to reflected sound. However, your statement reads a bit odd to me, since it seems to imply there is a change in directionality of the mikes, which does not occur.
Sorry if you misunderstood- didn't mean to imply any change in the actual pickup pattern of either mic, simply their practical application in those respective locations (omni closer to source). Hence the quotes around "directional".

Quote:
Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
The cardioid will still have a rear port and significant rearward attenuation that varies with frequency. While the average ratio of direct to reflected sound may be equal for the omni mike at half the distance, it is still an omni mike and will still be more sensitive (relative to source SPL at the mike) than the cardioid to rearward sounds or to a figure-8 relative to sounds at 90 degrees. So, if there are unwelcome sounds (reflected or otherwise) coming from the side or rear that would be rejected by the directional mike, they may still be an issue, even when the omni moves closer.
This is a common misconception regarding omni's. "Directionality" has everything to do with the ratio of direct to indirect sounds that the microphone is seeing, and by moving an omni closer to the source you are able to achieve the same ratio of direct/indirect as a more distant cardioid.

Let me be very clear: I am in no way suggesting that the actual pickup pattern of either microphone is changing, only their practical application. The myth that I'm trying to dispel (which unfortunately your post seems to perpetuate) is that no matter how close to the source you place an omni it will never be as good at rejecting unwanted reflections as a cardioid placed further back. This is simply untrue.

As noted before:
Quote:
Originally Posted by DPA Microphone University
If you choose an omnidirectional microphone, channel separation may be less precise than with a directional microphone, because the omni will pick up sound from all directions. Therefore, if channel separation is preferred, the ratio between direct and indirect sound can become more unfavourable with an omni. The omni, however, can be moved closer to the source, without the penalty of proximity effect. As a general rule it can be said that if we place a cardioid at a distance of 17 cm to the source, then an omni placed at 10 cm gives the same ratio of direct and indirect sound as the cardioid.
While (obviously) you are indeed placing the omni in a different place within the guitar's radiation pattern when moving it closer, this is often not a problem, especially with careful placement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
Bottom line is that the details matter. Try it out and see if you have particular reflections that cause problems.
I have, many times, and in direct comparison between an omni and a cardioid in a fairly reflective room. I've also used an omni in a (fairly unflattering) booth with great results from careful close placement.

I'm not sure what part of my earlier post may have lead you to believe that for some reason I didn't think the details mattered, but of course they do. That's the reason for my detailed responses, as well as references to 3rd party sources cited (albeit a manufacturer with unavoidable bias).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
Also, while omni mikes themselves don't have proximity effect, being in closer proximity to the top of an acoustic guitar puts it in a different part of the top's radiation pattern and could significantly change the sound you get. You might get into a stronger part of a particular radiation mode that shifts the tone or causes boominess you don't want, even though the mike is flat as may be.
This is very true, and the reason that careful placement is needed regardless of the microphone type. No one's talking about shoving an omni right up over the soundhole of a guitar. We're talking about the difference in a cardioid placed at 2 feet, versus an omni placed just over a foot away.

There is a tradeoff with either mic type.

With an omni, you have to move in closer to achieve the same rejection of off-axis sounds, but you lose that proximity effect and coloration of off-axis sounds.

With a cardioid, you can get away with more distant placement, but they are significantly more colored off-axis and the proximity effect can translate to boominess if you're too close, or thinness if too distant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPA Microphone University
Additionally the off-axis sound of a cardioid is less linear than that of an omni. It is very hard to reduce the level of sound taken in from the sides without some coloration, and some directional microphones have a notably poor off-axis response. This means that sound entering the microphone from the sides and the rear are more or less strongly colored – the industry names this "the curtain effect". This effect can be seen on the microphones polar pattern as ‘spikes’.
To make matters worse, these polar patterns are entirely frequency dependent. In the case of an acoustic guitar recording, if you look at what is undoubtedly the most common cardioid placement (straight on from the front, a foot or two away, somewhere near the 12th fret, etc.) the rejection of lower frequencies at 45 degress off axis is quite poor. This is remarkable and relevant because with this placement, that boomy soundhole happens to fall right around 45 degrees off axis! And the proximity effect only makes dealing with the low end buildup more difficult. So what do you do to deal with this? Move the mic further away, putting you right back in the position of the mic hearing more indirect/reflected sounds, the very complaint you make about omni's.

KM184 Polar Pattern


Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking cardioids. In fact, MOST of the time I'm recording acoustics I'm using cards of some type. My KM184's, for example, sound fantastic on-axis, and when placed well, but they get downright nasty off-axis or when placed hastily.

The bottom line is that in my experience folks are simply overly paranoid about using omni's, for fear of not being able to deal with those unwanted reflections. As mentioned, moving closer is one way to deal with this.

However, the giant elephant in the room is that the other very effective way to handle this potential problem is with absorptive gobos! To be blunt, if someone has the money to be considering any of these microphones, you also have to cash to pick up some 703, wood, and fabric (or buy some pre-made). Treating the recording space and mic placement are equally, if not more important than the pickup pattern you're dealing with. And, assuming you're in a studio environment (and not live) those things are just as easy to do.
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