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Line Audio CM3 Vs. Schoeps MK21 Condenser Microphones
Old 28th March 2015
  #1
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Line Audio CM3 Vs. Schoeps MK21

Hi guys,

got some direct comparison files of the Schoeps MK21 (with CMC6 body) and a Line audio CM3.

Photo below shows how they were setup - violinist was stood on the white towel. If the instrument sounds a little different from what you would expect this is why: The strings have gut cores but metal wound outsides; modern bridge; Authentic bow (forget the type of wood). So it's quite a hybrid setup - the reason is the music is Vilsmeyer (just before Bach) Partitas and a more authentic sound was desired but full gut strings were causing too many tuning issues.

The placement for this type of thing I suppose isn't perfect; I used the Schopes mic in the mix and it was positioned as part of a spaced pair of MK21s.

Anyway, the files are completely unedited with no EQ or compression at all.

Which do you think is which?


Happy to PM answers and reveal after some time of guessing.


Dave



P.s. Files were originally recorded in 24/96 but I've SRC these down to 44.1 for quicker upload on GS. SRC done in PT11
Attached Thumbnails
Line Audio CM3 Vs. Schoeps MK21-schoeps-vs.-line-audio.jpg  
Attached Files

Microphone 1.wav (5.95 MB, 25047 views)

Old 28th March 2015
  #2
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For some reason the second audio example didn't upload.

Here it is:
Attached Files

Microphone 2.wav (5.95 MB, 24506 views)

Old 28th March 2015
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Wow! Well, with such beautiful playing, and such a beautiful-sounding room, I'll bet even a Shure SM-57 would sound lovely.

I'll guess that #1 = Line Audio, #2 = Schoeps.
The highs on #2 sound classy to me.
Old 28th March 2015
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Honkermann View Post
Wow! Well, with such beautiful playing, and such a beautiful-sounding room, I'll bet even a Shure SM-57 would sound lovely.

I'll guess that #1 = Line Audio, #2 = Schoeps.
The highs on #2 sound classy to me.
I also prefer #2 . #1 sounds harsh.

probably the first is cm3 ?
Old 28th March 2015
  #5
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I am hoping that #2 was the Schoeps.
Old 28th March 2015
  #6
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Also guessing 2 was Schoeps.
Old 30th March 2015
  #7
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Without guessing which mic was which, I think I prefer #1 . The highs in #2 do seem a bit less aggressive, although I'm not sure that equates to more accurate especially given Davey's description of the instrument. What I really prefer about #1 is the quality of the hall ambiance / reverb. After a lot of back and forth, I decided to look at the spectrogram to see if anything is revealed there. Here screenshots from RX of the same passage in each recording. If I'm reading this correctly (and I may not be), #1 seems to show more energy in the highest harmonics and also less background noise / cleaner decay.
Attached Thumbnails
Line Audio CM3 Vs. Schoeps MK21-mic1.jpg   Line Audio CM3 Vs. Schoeps MK21-mic2.jpg  
Old 30th March 2015
  #8
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I have no direct experience with the MK21 but with CM3. #2 sounds like CM3 to me, but I prefer #1 . 3D, nice depth, good detail.
Old 30th March 2015
  #9
SChoeps No.2
Old 30th March 2015
  #10
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#1 = CM 3
#2 = Schoeps

BTW, what frequency was the A-string fundamental tuned to? The open E string sounded incredibly low.
Old 30th March 2015
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Jule View Post
I have no direct experience with the MK21 but with CM3. #2 sounds like CM3 to me, but I prefer #1 . 3D, nice depth, good detail.
My first impression was that the highs on #1 were a little edgy, but on further review, I think there's just more there - as you say, more detail and maybe a tiny bit lower noise floor, which creates more "contrast" between the instrument and the silence. So yeah, I like #1 , and will vote #1 = Schoeps and #2 = CM-3.

Either way, you wouldn't expect there to be nearly an order of magnitude price difference between the two. I recently got a pair of the CM-3s but haven't had a chance to give them a really good tryout yet....my initial impression is that, compared to my Gefell M300s, they're very smooth and just a bit slower/less detailed, which would jibe with the above. I'm looking forward to some rehearsal sessions in a few weeks!
Old 31st March 2015
  #12
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Interesting to have different people prefer different mics.

#1 is Schoeps
#2 is Line Audio

Go figure...
Old 1st April 2015
  #13
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This was great. Thanks for posting the files.
Old 1st April 2015
  #14
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Very interesting how the preferences came out here. Once again I feel proud to own these little CM3s that punch so far above their weight. Can you show or at least describe the other mic placement from this session?
Old 1st April 2015
  #15
I normally rent MK4s to use with MK2H

I will consider using my CM3s now.

the OM1 however is no match for the MK2H.

the bottom octave on this Schoeps is of a totally other category.

on piano however I like the OM1 more than the CM3.
Old 1st April 2015
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveyJones View Post
#1 is Schoeps
#2 is Line Audio

Go figure...
Thanks!
Old 1st April 2015
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveyJones View Post
Interesting to have different people prefer different mics.

#1 is Schoeps
#2 is Line Audio

Go figure...
I'm totally blown away.
Old 3rd April 2015
  #18
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At first listen, I assumed (like others who posted) that 1 was the Line Audio mic and was surprised. Although mic 2 is more rounded in the sound, on second listen mic 1 is much more detailed. No.1 might be more faithfully reproducing the sound than no.2, impossible to know for sure. Once again it shows that the Line Audio is good value. I own a pair and would not use them for mains, but as spots are very respectable. Thanks for posting!
Old 6th April 2015
  #19
no2 is smoother in the high end and maybe more flattering.... The only difference in the schoeps is slighly more depth to the sound, and a tiny bit more detail possibly, but it's very hard to hear, it might become more obvious with a stereo pair. I own the line audio cm3's and love them on acoustic guitar, they are great mics.
Old 7th April 2015
  #20
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How do people perceive the polar response?

It's interesting that the CM3 is described on the Line Audio Website as being 'Cardioid' but everybody knows it's more of an open / wide cardioid.

To me, listening to these side by side, the Schoeps seems a touch more directional which I think lends to the reason why people feel more 3D sound with better detail - there is more definition between on and off axis sound.


The two mics are staggeringly close. I might add one other difference is the sensitivity - the CM3 requires quite a margin extra of gain to produce the same level into my AD converter.


Davey
Old 7th April 2015
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveyJones View Post
How do people perceive the polar response?
The two mics are staggeringly close. I might add one other difference is the sensitivity - the CM3 requires quite a margin extra of gain to produce the same level into my AD converter.
Davey
That seems to be where they differ the most on paper, otherwise the specs are quite close. If my math is correct, the CM3 would need 6.7dB more gain to match the level of the MK21, although that's only taking into account the specs of the MK21 capsule only. Did you find you needed more than that?
Old 7th April 2015
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

By reading the graphs:



At 90 degrees, CM3 is at -5 to -6 dB, while MK21 is at -4 to -5 dB.
Both are at around -11 to -12 dB at 180 degrees.
So, theoretically, CM3 is a tiny bit more directional than MK21.

For frequency response,
CM3 has no "bump" at all, while MK21 has +2 dB boost at 15kHz.
This can explain why CM3 sounded darker / less edgy / less detailed, while MK21 sounded brighter / more edgy / more detailed, whatever terms you'd like to use.



Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveyJones View Post
How do people perceive the polar response?

It's interesting that the CM3 is described on the Line Audio Website as being 'Cardioid' but everybody knows it's more of an open / wide cardioid.

To me, listening to these side by side, the Schoeps seems a touch more directional which I think lends to the reason why people feel more 3D sound with better detail - there is more definition between on and off axis sound.


The two mics are staggeringly close. I might add one other difference is the sensitivity - the CM3 requires quite a margin extra of gain to produce the same level into my AD converter.


Davey
Old 10th April 2015
  #23
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by claying View Post
By reading the graphs:



At 90 degrees, CM3 is at -5 to -6 dB, while MK21 is at -4 to -5 dB.
Both are at around -11 to -12 dB at 180 degrees.
So, theoretically, CM3 is a tiny bit more directional than MK21.

For frequency response,
CM3 has no "bump" at all, while MK21 has +2 dB boost at 15kHz.
This can explain why CM3 sounded darker / less edgy / less detailed, while MK21 sounded brighter / more edgy / more detailed, whatever terms you'd like to use.
Although what you are reading from these graphs is probably all true about CM3 being more direct than the MK21 etc

BUT - lets be honest. How averaged out are those response curves? How much has line audio spent on rigorously testing their mics?

I just don't think those figures are likely to be THAT accurate. To me, the Schoeps is more focused than the Line Audio.


Dave



PS. I wouldn't expect Line Audio to invest as much quality control into their products as Schoeps would - and that's why the schoeps cost 10 x the price.

Still, those CM3 sound amazing!
Old 11th April 2015
  #24
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Schoeps has a long standing reputation that allows them to charge a premium price. Line audio is earning a good reputation with the CM3.
Old 11th April 2015
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2manyrocks View Post
Schoeps has a long standing reputation that allows them to charge a premium price. Line audio is earning a good reputation with the CM3.
Very true. Schoeps also has massively higher operating costs than Line Audio, which is a one-man operation as far as I know. On the other side of the coin, Schoeps likely has much higher profit margins, especially for their accessories (shockmounts, etc.) that I've always felt are horribly overpriced for what they are. Their mics are one of the gold standards in audio though, so with that they can charge whatever the market will bear, and I imagine most who own them consider the price reasonable for the performance.

Regarding DaveyJones' comment on testing accuracy, it would be interesting to see how thoroughly and with what equipment each manufacturer tests their mics. I highly doubt any of the big companies would share their details on this though. JP has posted here before that Line Audio tests all of their capsules and discards those that are not "within spec". They don't offer matched pairs so one might assume that their testing at manufacture must be at least reasonably thorough otherwise users would be reporting variances.

The fact that the CM3s are even in the same league as Schoeps in terms of sound is quite amazing.

What I am still waiting to hear is a Line Audio / Schoeps shootout with choral music, which is most of what I do. I own the CM3 and they perform great with choirs, but don't have the MK21 to compare.
Old 11th April 2015
  #26
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Not helpful in terms of Schoeps/Line Audio comparison I'm sorry, but here is a small rehearsal segment featuring CM3's in 15 foot high, NOS as main pair and OM1's as outriggers 10 foot high at 1/3 & 2/3 width across stage. No compression or limiting, 16 bit mp3
Attached Files

Dvorak rehearsal segment.mp3 (1.83 MB, 18941 views)

Old 11th April 2015
  #27
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more from the same rehearsal: Rimsky Korsakov
Attached Files

Rimsky Korsakov rehearsal.mp3 (3.29 MB, 18397 views)

Old 11th April 2015
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveyJones View Post
Although what you are reading from these graphs is probably all true about CM3 being more direct than the MK21 etc

BUT - lets be honest. How averaged out are those response curves? How much has line audio spent on rigorously testing their mics?

I just don't think those figures are likely to be THAT accurate. To me, the Schoeps is more focused than the Line Audio.


Dave



PS. I wouldn't expect Line Audio to invest as much quality control into their products as Schoeps would - and that's why the schoeps cost 10 x the price.

Still, those CM3 sound amazing!
I have measured several CM3 and OM1 and the tolerances are very very good and no smoothing is needed with 1/24oct or 1/48oct FFT resolution.

In other words Line Audio graphs are very accurate and as mentioned they measure every capsule and throw away those that don't qualify.

The thick line in the graph of CM3 is more or less representative of the deviation or sample to sample tolerance.
Old 11th April 2015
  #29
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop View Post
I have measured several CM3 and OM1 and the tolerances are very very good
Just out of interest;

How do you measure the tolerances? And when you say they are 'very very good' how exactly are you coming to that conclusion? By listening to them?
Old 12th April 2015
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveyJones View Post
Just out of interest;

How do you measure the tolerances? And when you say they are 'very very good' how exactly are you coming to that conclusion? By listening to them?
Tolerances = measure several devices under test and compare the results.
Accuracy = measure a device under test and compare to a known reference.

Of course I do not listen to a product and claim "tight tolerances". :-)
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