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Calrec CM1050 vs Hebden Sound mics... Condenser Microphones
Old 12th February 2015
  #1
Calrec CM1050 vs Hebden Sound mics...

Hey there slutz,

I'm looking at picking up a nice condenser to add to my small but healthy collection of ribbon and dynamic mics. Cash has been somewhat tight and I'm generally of the "Buy right, Buy once" type mindset when it comes to things so I've held off until now as it seems quality ribbon and dynamics can be had for pennies compared to good quality condenser mics,

I'd been planning on saving up for a Neumann KM84 or KM54 or something equally slutty but have heard nothing but good things about the Calrec mics (The CM1050 in particular) with some people even saying it is every bit as good as a KM84. I've experienced and heard nothing but great things with regards to Calrec gear so the fact they make good mics doesn't surprise me in the least...Hell, The talkback mic in my Calrec minimixer sounds crisper than some mics I've used!

For those who don't know, Calrec stopped manufacturing microphones a few years ago and have since licensed the production of their old designs to Hebden Sound/Bridge microphones in Sheffield. With their HS3000 being the follow on to the CM1050.

Which brings me to my question, Does anyone know how the modern Hebden Sound/Bridge Microphones HS3000 compares to the older Calrec CM1050 mics? Are they even comparable?

I'll likely be using it for vocals mainly, Both female and male. Although it may also see some guitar/keyboard amps or drum overheads from time to time.

Thanks in advance
Old 13th February 2015
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Hi
I forget the actual details but essentially the Calrec mic manufacturing was done by a handful of people (when Calrec was originally in Hebden Bridge). There was a couple of years when Calrec was involved with AMS and a move to Burnley. Calrec then bought it's activities back out from AMS and I think around the same time the mic manufacturing did similar with some of the original folk setting themselves up to continue making mics EXCEPT the ST250, retained by AMS.
You would have to speak with the folk at Hebden Sound / Bridge microphones to get the real story.
Good luck with your search.
Matt S
Old 13th February 2015
  #3
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Santiago's Avatar
 

Hi, from what I have heard, the Hebden Sound mics are less noisy, which is a good thing.

Hebden sound still repair the old Calrec mics and when I have dealt with them they seem highly skilled and friendly. Here are some samples:

Hebden Sound 3000 microphones | condenser microphones

I have several old Calrec 2000 series mics, and they really are lovely. They don't sound exactly like a KM84, but they are broadly similar in that they have powerful bass and a nice smooth sound with a subtle airy lift above 10 khz. They are noisier than the KM84, but I have only noticed it when testing this explicitly (recording delicate sources with distant mics, so a fairly extreme situation).

I do like mine as much as my KM84, and they are my main mics for acoustic guitar. I have also used them for vocals and they also perform well actually.

I would also be curious for info on how good the new ones are. I think it's great that they are still making their mics in the UK.
Old 14th February 2015
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson
I forget the actual details but essentially the Calrec mic manufacturing was done by a handful of people (when Calrec was originally in Hebden Bridge). There was a couple of years when Calrec was involved with AMS and a move to Burnley. Calrec then bought it's activities back out from AMS and I think around the same time the mic manufacturing did similar with some of the original folk setting themselves up to continue making mics EXCEPT the ST250, retained by AMS.
You would have to speak with the folk at Hebden Sound / Bridge microphones to get the real story.
Thanks for the info, I think I'll give the Hebden Sound folks a call after the weekend.
It would be interesting to hear directly from them how the HS3000 differs from the old models.

The Soundfield mics seem really interesting too, I was actually reading about them a few weeks ago as it happens...A little too pricey for my current budget though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santiago
I have several old Calrec 2000 series mics, and they really are lovely. They don't sound exactly like a KM84, but they are broadly similar in that they have powerful bass and a nice smooth sound with a subtle airy lift above 10 khz. They are noisier than the KM84, but I have only noticed it when testing this explicitly (recording delicate sources with distant mics, so a fairly extreme situation).
I had actually heard that some of the older Calrec mics can have a bit of self noise, But that's not really a huge deal-breaker for me...I've got a few noisy bits of kit in my studio that should be able to "out-hiss" any mic! That description is definitely selling it to me though, Powerful bass and smooth sound is what I live for! Good to hear another person who likes them as much as the Neumanns, I'm feeling quite confident that my first condenser(s?) will be from Calrec or Hebden sound. Now it comes down to that age old GS debate...Vintage or modern? heh

These seem like really slept on mics and at very reasonable prices too...Especially considering they're UK made.

Does anyone happen to know what the Calrec 1000 series and 2000 series mics are like for ease of maintenance? Apparently some of the older designs are a bit of a pain to get into if anything needs fixing.

Also, Not quite sure they are as "high end" as the 1000 or 2000 series but has anyone got any experience with the 600 series calrec mics? I think they are one of the "glued together" types that are hard to get into, Plus they use a weird powering system that isn't phantom. They are fairly cheap in comparison though...

Enjoy your weekend!
Old 14th February 2015
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Algorhythmic View Post
Thanks for the info, I think I'll give the Hebden Sound folks a call after the weekend.
It would be interesting to hear directly from them how the HS3000 differs from the old models.

The Soundfield mics seem really interesting too, I was actually reading about them a few weeks ago as it happens...A little too pricey for my current budget though!


I had actually heard that some of the older Calrec mics can have a bit of self noise, But that's not really a huge deal-breaker for me...I've got a few noisy bits of kit in my studio that should be able to "out-hiss" any mic! That description is definitely selling it to me though, Powerful bass and smooth sound is what I live for! Good to hear another person who likes them as much as the Neumanns, I'm feeling quite confident that my first condenser(s?) will be from Calrec or Hebden sound. Now it comes down to that age old GS debate...Vintage or modern? heh

These seem like really slept on mics and at very reasonable prices too...Especially considering they're UK made.

Does anyone happen to know what the Calrec 1000 series and 2000 series mics are like for ease of maintenance? Apparently some of the older designs are a bit of a pain to get into if anything needs fixing.

Also, Not quite sure they are as "high end" as the 1000 or 2000 series but has anyone got any experience with the 600 series calrec mics? I think they are one of the "glued together" types that are hard to get into, Plus they use a weird powering system that isn't phantom. They are fairly cheap in comparison though...

Enjoy your weekend!
Hi, in my experience the 1000 and 2000 series are more consistent in quality than the 600. Of course a good 600 can be as good as the rest, they just fluctuate more.

In terms of servicing they are similar, but a good hint is to look out for mics that have had a pair of tiny screws on the body close to the XLR connector, which means they have been serviced by Calrec/Hebden Sound in the past, and therefore they have removed the glue and it would be easy to service them again.
Old 14th February 2015
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Santiago View Post
Hi, in my experience the 1000 and 2000 series are more consistent in quality than the 600. Of course a good 600 can be as good as the rest, they just fluctuate more.

In terms of servicing they are similar, but a good hint is to look out for mics that have had a pair of tiny screws on the body close to the XLR connector, which means they have been serviced by Calrec/Hebden Sound in the past, and therefore they have removed the glue and it would be easy to service them again.
That's kinda what I expected about the QC on the 600 series. I have heard they sound very nice too so I guess if I see one for cheap enough then it can't hurt to pick it up.

That's a nice tip on how to spot mics that have been serviced, I'll bear that in mind when I'm looking. I guess if the Hebden Sound folks can still get into and service the older models then I'm probably worrying too much.

Thanks
Old 14th February 2015
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Hi
I would expect they can all be serviced but there may be a bit of a 'trick' to getting into some.
Matt S
Old 16th February 2015
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
I would expect they can all be serviced but there may be a bit of a 'trick' to getting into some.
I was hoping that would be the case, but wasn't sure how hopeful to feel after reading this on the saturn-sound website...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturn Sound
From a service engineers point of view, the Calrec 600 series is a nightmare. The Hi-Impedance areas of the PCB, being totally encapsulated in epoxy resin. Therefore, should any component fail within that area, then the PCB was rendered un-serviceable, and a replacement PCB would be required. That would not have presented a problem when the microphones were still in production, as the PCB's were readily available. However, in the current day, it is not financially justifiable to have new PCB's produced and "Populated" with the required components, to enable these microphones to be serviced....


...Alas, later models of the 1000 series, along with the majority of the other models, were to use the "Glued Together" method of construction (A service engineers complete nightmare), rather than the screwed together method of the "Early" 1000 series. It proves to be so easy to damage the housing tube, when dismantling the "Later" 1000 series microphones. Therefore requiring a new housing tube to be fitted during reassembly after repair/servicing. Not only was the case "Glued Together", but ..... an expanding brass "Locking Ring", holding the PCB and Capsule in place, was also glued into the microphone housing tube. The glue needs to be completely removed from the expanding ring, to allow access to the locking "Grub Screw", which often proves very difficult to undo. So, when the housing tube and lock ring are completely free of any traces of glue, the PCB can finally be withdrawn from the housing tube, to enable the required work to take place. All of this "Messing About" being very "Time Consuming" and not very cost effective, but it still has to be done !
The prospect of parts that are long out of production (such as the housing tube) being damaged seems kinda scary, Although I'm sure anyone who has sufficient experience with Calrec mics will probably have their share of tricks for getting into them.

Anyway, Here's the page I lifted those quotes from...
Calrec, some old favorites
Old 30th April 2015
  #9
Just as an update, I ended up getting a pair of the 2000 series calrec mics. They are very similar to the 1000 series but have detachable capsules.

One of them needs a service (slightly lower level and a tiny bit of hiss) but I'm super happy with the sound of them, They have an incredible clarity without any of the sharp/edgy brightness that most condensers seem to have.
They are the perfect complement to my existing collection.

For the prices these mics go for I could not be happier, I've not heard a condenser that comes close to these for 4x the price!
Old 30th April 2015
  #10
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Santiago's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Algorhythmic View Post
Just as an update, I ended up getting a pair of the 2000 series calrec mics. They are very similar to the 1000 series but have detachable capsules.

One of them needs a service (slightly lower level and a tiny bit of hiss) but I'm super happy with the sound of them, They have an incredible clarity without any of the sharp/edgy brightness that most condensers seem to have.
They are the perfect complement to my existing collection.

For the prices these mics go for I could not be happier, I've not heard a condenser that comes close to these for 4x the price!
Great to hear that!
Old 30th April 2015
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Santiago View Post
Great to hear that!
Many thanks for the info and advice, It definitely made me feel more confident about picking up a pair.

I spoke to David at Hebden Sound about them and he was very helpful, I plan on sending both up to him for a service as soon as I have a bit more spare cash.

I couldn't be happier with these mics!
Old 30th April 2015
  #12
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

As I understand it - When Calrec sold Soundfield to AMS many years ago, Keith Ming (who made the 600, 1000 and 2000 series microphones) bought the rights to these series (as AMS only wanted the Soundfield) and continued to make them. This was in 1994.

The differences:- the 600 series was unbalanced and were powered by an external 48V power supply; they had fixed capsules and I think these were the reject/out of spec. capsules from the other series. They had silver bodies. The 1000 series was the pro series, balanced and 48V phantom powered with black bodies. The 2000 series was identical to the 1000 series electrically, except they had detachable mic. heads in a very course thread that was impossible to cross-thread. Often used in preference to the original AKG C451.

I have had a couple of the 2050 (cardioid) for years.

Keith Ming, unfortunately, died in 2000 and Hebden Sound was taken over by David Anderson (Calrec's former head of microphones and then an Acoustics Consultant).

"The original Calrec microphones and the Keith Ming's Hebden microphones were identical. The new HS3000 series builds on the tradition, keeping the acclaimed sound, but bringing the manufacturing processes up to date." (that's what it says on their website).


After AMS, Soundfield passed to Ken Giles who did an excellent job in taking it forward. When Ken retired a couple of years ago, he sold Soundfield to TMS in High Wycombe. The cheapest Soundfield is the SPS200 (I have one of those as well) which are around £1,700 each.

Last edited by John Willett; 30th April 2015 at 03:29 PM..
Old 30th April 2015
  #13
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Santiago's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Algorhythmic View Post
Many thanks for the info and advice, It definitely made me feel more confident about picking up a pair.

I spoke to David at Hebden Sound about them and he was very helpful, I plan on sending both up to him for a service as soon as I have a bit more spare cash.

I couldn't be happier with these mics!
Glad to have been of help, I think they are great under-rated microphones. I'm also happy David is still servicing them in case mine fail at some point.
Old 30th April 2015
  #14
Thanks for the info, I love knowing the history behind my gear
I was initially looking at the 600 series mics, They go for pennies on ebay and David Anderson said it is possible to convert them to run from regular phantom power and provide a balanced XLR output.
However, Having a mic that was "ready to go" on arrival and being able to change capsules for different patterns seemed like a much better move, so I held of for the 2000 series instead.

The Omni capsule sounds phenomenal on guitar! Fender rhodes sounds quite heavenly through them too. Haven't had a chance to test them on vocals (aside from myself speaking into them, But I can't hit a note to save my life!) but I'm really looking forward to seeing how they perform in that role.

I couldn't agree more about how underrated these are, The Hebden sound HS3000 mics really deserve a lot more recognition if they are on par these.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
After AMS, Soundfield passed to Ken Giles who did an excellent job in taking it forward. When Ken retired a couple of years ago, he sold Soundfield to TMS in High Wycombe. The cheapest Soundfield is the SMS200 (I have one of those as well) which are around £1,700 each.
The soundfield mics have been on my radar for a while too, But they are a bit out of my price range for now so I haven't done much research on them. Definitely sounds like an incredible concept though.
What kind of stuff do you use yours for?
Old 30th April 2015
  #15
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Algorhythmic View Post
The soundfield mics have been on my radar for a while too, But they are a bit out of my price range for now so I haven't done much research on them. Definitely sounds like an incredible concept though.
What kind of stuff do you use yours for?
I wanted a Soundfield for years, but they were always far too expensive for me.

However, when they released the SPS200 a Soundfield became affordable and I bought one from Ken Giles a few years back.

They do have a wide range of uses and a friend did a wonderful drum kit recording with just one Soundfield mic. (though he did say later that he should have added a mic. for the kick drum).

I mainly do classical and have used mine as an ambience mic. and also for recording a choir.

But they are also great for video work.
Old 30th April 2015
  #16
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Santiago's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
I wanted a Soundfield for years, but they were always far too expensive for me.

However, when they released the SPS200 a Soundfield became affordable and I bought one from Ken Giles a few years back.

They do have a wide range of uses and a friend did a wonderful drum kit recording with just one Soundfield mic. (though he did say later that he should have added a mic. for the kick drum).

I mainly do classical and have used mine as an ambience mic. and also for recording a choir.

But they are also great for video work.
Thanks for the info! Soundfield mics are way too expensive for me, but I can always dream of them...

They've been used for some awful recordings (the vocals on Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up, apparently!), but also for extremely beautiful spacious ones:



Old 30th April 2015
  #17
That's hilarious about the soundfield being used on Rick Astley! Just had a look at the SOS article about it.

I really like what I've heard of Tindersticks, Fell in love with "running wild" after hearing it on the Sopranos.
Sleepy song is really beautiful too, I remember reading about the whole song being recorded with one mic at Abbey Road, But didn't realise it was a soundfield.

Looks like I may have to add a soundfield mic to "the list"...
Old 17th March 2016
  #18
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I have a pair of Hebden Sound HS3000 and am very happy indeed with them.

Here's a fun clip of Rajasthani Maestro Kutle Khan which I recorded with them :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE9Yrpqe4kY

And on this one there's one used as kit overhead and the sn/hh is a Calrec CM22 gooseneck talkback mic!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPfoIQqKr8E
Old 17th November 2016
  #19
I have used Calrec CM1050's since the 70's.

I spoke to Hebden Sound about the similarity between the later models and the earlier and was told that some small changes were made to aid manufacture. what these were I don't know.

The 600 Series were unbalanced and, if I remember correctly, had a slope off in the bass to alleviate bass tip up. Their intended use I believe was for live singers. I believe this information to be true, but I don't know why they were unbalanced if this was their intended use.

Tony Faulkner and Antony Howells were advocates of Calrec mics (with just cause in my opinion). Antony Howells once showed me his large collection of Calrecs which he had stored in a cleverly designed case of his own making. He had successfully managed to store dozens of them in a very small space.

I often use them on tuned percussion, where they have a natural sound and capture the timbre of those instruments well. I've also had good results on male voice choir too, when compared against other mics.

I like them.

Last edited by Geoff Poulton; 18th November 2016 at 12:41 PM..
Old 18th November 2016
  #20
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Poulton View Post
I have used Calrec CM1050's since the 70's.

I spoke to Hebden Sound about the similarity between the later models and the earlier and was told that some small changes were made to aid manufacture. what these were I don't know.

The 600 Series were unbalanced and, if I remember correctly, had a slope off in the bass to alleviate bass tip up. Their intended use I believe was for live singers. I believe this information to be true, but I don't know why they were unbalanced if this was their intended use.

Tony Faulkner and Antony Howells were advocates of these mics (with just cause in my opinion). Antony Howells once showed me his large collection of Calrecs which he had stored in a cleverly designed case of his own making. He had successfully managed to store dozens of them in a very small space.

I often use them on tuned percussion, where they have a natural sound and capture the timber of those instruments well. I've also had good results on male voice choir too, when compared against other mics.

I like them.
The 600 series were the reject/out-of-spec capsules and so were used as a simple unbalanced microphone for amateurs.

Full spec. capsules went into the 1000 and 2000 series - the 1000 series having fixed capsules and the 2000 series having interchangeable detachable heads.

I still have a pair of the 2050 cardioids in my collection.
Old 18th November 2016
  #21
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MIAD's Avatar
 

I love my calrec mics. I've used them on pretty much everything and they never cease to amaze me.

They're a bit noisy though, which can be a problem in some circumstances.

Never used the Hebden Sound mics but if they sound identical to the calrec ones and they have better noise specs, it's a no brainer.
Old 19th November 2016
  #22
Good to see some more love for these beauties, Feels like so long ago that I started this thread!
I've now got four of the 2000 series mics in my collection, Along with a selection of different capsules.

On that note, If anyone has a spare CC03 "studio omni" capsule which they aren't using, I could be interested...
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