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ISOMAX II and similar Condenser Microphones
Old 15th January 2010
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Question ISOMAX II and similar

I am searching for the high quality miniature condenser for close pick up of percussion and wind instruments - especially - udu drum, frame drums, macedonian kaval, etc.

Any ideas? I am especially interested in Isomax II... any experiences for that kind of applications, any audio clips? DPA 4061 clip on close percussion would also be helpful...
Old 15th January 2010
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Ok, problem solved, Isomax II omni it will be... it has perfect specs and Brian Melick who played the gorgeous Frank Giorgini udu drums is using them, so is a virtuoso player Nadishana... And I read that Kronos quartet uses them for close micing the strings... so... no second thoughts anymore.
Old 15th January 2010
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Kronos does in fact use them, but they have special needs that dictate the microphone choice. They also do not use them in a traditional mounting which helps the sound. They have used the DPAs but they didn't work as well as the sound was too smooth. When they work with the heavy processing that they usually have, you need something to cut- therefore the ISOMAX.

I haven't used them for percussion, but a group that is coming through a festival where I am sound director will be using one as a snare drum mic on a drum set. I look forward to hearing it as that is probably one of the last mics I would have reached for on a snare. It makes sense that it should at least be ok.

Given a choice, though, in most situations, I reach for DPAs.

Old 16th January 2010
Gear Addict
I have used Isomax II's for percussion, they work remarkably well, can withstand lots of spl, have a fairly flat response and are pretty reliable.

I have 10. 6 hypercardioid (IIh) and 4 omni (IIo) I have some clips that I made myself and some that were made by Countryman.

If you use a clip.... wrap a bit of electrical tape around the cable, about 15 mm (1/16 inch) from the grommet that holds the mic element on the cable.
Use an alligator clip on the tape to secure the mic in position. The little bit of free cable will provide a shockmount for your mic.

I have used IIo's in Kick drums, tablas, bodhrans, djimbes, bell trees and many other percussion instruments. I have also used them for piano, flute, banjo, vocal, Goal mics in soccer, corner mics in Hockey, front of stage mics for dancers and so forth.

Old 16th January 2010
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Originally Posted by DannyL View Post

I have used IIo's in Kick drums, tablas, bodhrans, djimbes, bell trees and many other percussion instruments. I have also used them for piano, flute, banjo, vocal, Goal mics in soccer, corner mics in Hockey, front of stage mics for dancers and so forth.

Great, I see you're a real "power user" of Isomax mics, do you maybe have some audio examples of those percussion applications, would love to hear to have a better first idea...
Thanks for the mounting tips, but that's not a problem, I am proficient with "stage tape"...

@fifthcircle - thank you for some clarification, I think I originally saw that Kronos use Isomax in one of your posts. Do you have any audio of Isomax II application you can share?
What do you mean with "cut" for heavy proccessing and what is the "non-traditional" mounting and in what way does it improve the sound? What is critical with Isomax - what needs to be improved or "worked around"? I have impression that the "workarounds" for DPA are cutting the upper mids, not using boost grilles and using denoising plug-ins in post-production and/or using them with loud sources live. I have no ideas what are the short-comings of Isomax II and I'd like to know that, too.

Do you find them less pleasant and more brittle than DPA4061, since you mention the latter were too "smooth" for those specific Kronos quartet needs? Or does "cut" imply some mid forward quality in Isomax?

I was always very "pro" distant, overhead, natural, etc. micing, but with complex percussion set ups comprised of udu drums, tablas, frame drums, hang, chimes and various other small percussion & FX, djembes, darabukkas, dunun and different ethnic flutes, we started to realise that we get best results when we close mic silent instruments to get enough power and detail and use overheads only for some additional ambience... this creates much better illusion and sounds closer to CD's percussion sound that people are used to. So we started putting mini mics inside udu drums, clip or tape them on the side of frame drums, etc. It is not a completely "natural" sound, but I want a smooth pick up that can "artificially" produce a nice and beautiful, interesting sound (nobody naturally listens to udu drum from the inside, etc.)

There is an abundance of DPA4061 audio examples (although none for the close miced percussion...), but none for the Countryman Isomax II or some others I am still considering, now - Audio-technica ATM350, Audix ADX10...

What would be a general description of Isomax II sound? Even, smooth, detailed, noiseless OR harsh, hyped in some bands, noisy? What's the flat sound, without EQ - natural or plastic?

Direct comparison with DPA4061 would be great if someone can do that. I know that you cannot judge mics only from such examples, but it is enough of a first information, so you don't order mics that would not suit you at all and then have to return them, etc.
Old 16th January 2010
Gear Addict
I will try to post some audio examples, but it may be difficult, as most are already integrated into mixes and I no longer have the isolated tracks. My studio policy is to give all tracks back to the client within 3 months of the proect being realeased.... I do not have the space or insurance to be an archive service.

There may be one or two projects that I still have though....

I will have a look when I get a chance.

Old 17th January 2010
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The Listener's Avatar

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Thanks, I will appreciate it if you would find some recordings...

I am much curious how do they compare to DPA 4061, too.
Old 18th January 2010
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I do have some examples around somewhere, but I really don't know where right now. I've used them in some string quartet situations in similar ways to what Kronos does (convenient as the house engineer on the gig that I'm thinking of was the person that does Kronos's work).

I find the DPA to be a much more natural sound and often I can use them without EQ. Countryman mics have a somewhat harsh sound to them that requires a lot of EQ work- something that I really dislike doing on acoustic gigs. That being said, it is that harsh sound that makes them able to cut in a mix.

The piece where I last used them was Steve Reich's Different Trains. The quartet must cut through a dense mix where individual parts are highlighted while having to balance an electronic playback of sampled sounds of narration, people talking, people yelling, train whistles, a second string quartet, and other things. The dig those mics gave me helped make the piece work.

The Kronos mic setup includes ISOMAX mics mounted on the bridge of the instruments in a way that would cause most players to freak out. It is done with extreme care and respect, but is something that I would never recommend to any other engineer to even think about mentioning to a performer. I will say no more on the mounting as I don't want to give people ideas. In addition to this, there is a set of Neuman KM150 mics mounted to the music stands of the performers. The violins and violas have mics under the instruments facing up and the cello has it facing towards the insrument from the stand, fairly close to the ground. The engineer balances these depending on what the piece calls for. Some pieces have extensive signal processing or electronic playback. Those are more likely to use the ISOMAX mics and the more "acoustic" pieces will use the Neumanns more heavily.

Old 18th January 2010
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Gaston69's Avatar
DPA4061 or 4060
Old 18th January 2010
Gear Addict
I have used DPA 4060 series mics and have used Countryman Isomax II o's.

I find no discernible harshness in the Countryman Isomax II mics. The E and B series are optimized for voice and sound appropriately "punchier" The Isomax mics are pretty flat. The omnis are amazingly flat and smooth. The polar patterns of the Countryman directional mics show a greater directionality than that of the directional DPA lavs. The directionality extends down into the low notes where many other brands of miniature mics become quite omnidirectional.

If you compare the response of the Countryman Isomax II to the DPA 4060, the DPA in fact, appears to be much brighter. There is a presence peak at either 8k-20k +3db(soft boost) or at 12k +10 db(high boost) This certainly adds a coloration to the signal. Some people like it. I prefer the flatter response of the Isomax II.

They are also less expensive and more robust, and should they break Countryman will repair them quickly. ( I had an airport problem where my gear was left out in the rain and was opened for inspection, the mics were badly damaged. I sent them to Countryman and had them back within 5 working days.)

My 2¢.

Old 19th January 2010
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The Listener's Avatar

Thread Starter
Thanks for all the opinions, I guess I'll have to try out both myself...
Old 27th January 2010
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Ok, I finally got a DPA 4060 in for a test, but sadly no Isomax II. Still waiting for any audio examples if anyone could find some...

First, I was surprised how tiny they are - I knew they are miniature, but not so much - they are bigger on most photographs, They are very easy to position, tape on, clip on, put in... the instruments. Much easier than the bigger clip-on mics.

I used my lo-budget Samson MH40 (100eu price tag) as a reference, since I use this mic inside udu drum now and that is the main application I am looking for the new mic for.

I made simultaneous recordings of those two mics inside udu clay drum, in front of ocean drum, on the back side of darabukka - to pick up bass, in front of kaval and on the back side of big 22" frame drum. I tried to match them in level as good as I can, but they are sonically very different. I also made sure that the capsules of the mics were in the same position for each instrument. No processing was used, the recording was done with DAV BG1U preamp and TC konnekt 48 conversion.

DPA sounds nicer on frame drums and back of darabukka, it also picks better bass inside udu, but it sounds almost scooped in the middle and higher mids (sort of strong bass and silky highs, but not much tone of the mids), it doesn't pick up the clay tone so well - I also can't EQ that back, therefore I let it go after the test.

I wonder if Isomax deals better with mids - maybe that's the "harsh" edge I might like for the udu drum... I don't like any of those mics on kaval and I'll stick to Shure58/57/81 or whatever similar the sound guys will put up.

I attach two clips with short examples of different applications. Those are specific cases - they don't sound "good" per se, they need eq, compression (maybe) and reverb - this is a simulation of life close pick-up - but I would also like to use the mic inside udu for recording. This is also meant to be only one part of sound for PA - the more natural part is taken care of by overheads and/or front dynamic mics like Shure SM57, Sennheiser MD421, 441 and similar, but you also need more impact - therefore micing inside of udu, back of frame drums, darabukkas, etc. to get some bass and "fat"...

This DPA could be suitable for that, but specifically for clay drum I still prefer the tone of my lowly Samson (sort of a copy of Audio-technica (or same OEM mic?) ATM PRO35), although it lacks some bass - but some of that can be compensated with EQ... I would prefer the mic that can do both, though.
Attached Files

DPA4060.mp3 (3.26 MB, 895 views)

SamsonMH40.mp3 (3.26 MB, 922 views)

Old 27th January 2010
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jwh1192's Avatar
we hung two countryman EWM's from a pool toy (inflatable ring) in the water for the Imax film "Pulse" .. they were about 2 or 3 feet underwater for hours ... yes, they work underwater .. do not go to deep as it will crush the element ..

there were two B&K underwater mics, with 30 foot cables on them, as well for the close up sounds ... if you get a chance check it out ... sync sound underwater .. crazy shoot ..

disclaimer: mics were hung by professionals, no electronics were harmed in the filming of this movie

countryman's sound awesome


Old 31st January 2010
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PlugHead's Avatar

My first time hearing them was on a live show (Robert Minden ensemble) where they were all mobile performers on stage playing various acoustic instruments (some manufactured, some regular) - the sound was incredible for live.

Then I heard a pr. installed inside a Steinway Concert grand piano at a very nice Arts Centre - the house tech told me he did the Minden ensemble sound, and decided on a pr or Isomax II's for the grand, and it sounded the best it EVER had in that space (amplified, of course).

I've since purchased a pr., and tho I often use other options on piano, I won't hesitate to use them on ANY instrument - for live they are great, but for recording I have better options, depending on the venue/ensemble...

BTW - the DPA 4060/1's are better sounding mics (IMO), but they are also way more expensive...
Old 19th November 2010
Gear interested

getting lots of feedback when using isomax 2o inside an Ibo Drum

Hi all,
I just bought an Isomax 2o (# M2oP6FF10). I want to mic an Ibo Drum (Meinl fiberglass version of an Udu) from the inside. I bought this mic because it seemed many people was using it already for Udu and Ibo drums. Before i continue a disclaimer: I have no previous experience with mics so I may be missing something ovbious here. The problem I had so far is that as soon as I start inserting the mic into the Ibo Drum mic hole, I get this loud feedback so i cannot use the mic. I tried this with two different sound PA systems (a big PA system at church and a home PA system at a friends house). It looks like I am missing some ovbious configuration here. So far I cannot use the mic because of this feedback problem. The feedback starts as soon as I start turning up the gain of the mic up.
So the question is, how do I setup up this mic inside my Ibo Drum so I can amplify it without getting this feedback?
Old 19th November 2010
Gear Addict
Acoustic instruments are by their nature resonant chambers that amplify particular tones and overtones. This means that the very sound that you like about your instrument will resonate and therefore be prone to feedback.
Most amplification systems that involve internal mics also use some sort of pick up. I suggest you choose an appropriate K&K pickup for your type of instrument and use that in conjunction with the Isomax II O. I use a Fishman Blender system with great results. The pickup provides the volume and the mic provides the tonal balance.

If you are looking for a mic-only solution you should use a Countryman Isomax II H (hypercardioid) mic. Position it outside the instrument and aim it at your "sweet spot." There are several mounting options that you can use. (I made mini flexi-mounts using a piece of 10 gauge solid copper wire and 2 alligator clips) Clip the mic on the cable about 1/8 inch behind the rubber grommet. Then the cable will act as a shock absorber.
The directionality of the mic will help you to avoid feedback.


Old 7th April 2016
Here for the gear

Countryman Isomax II vs I2 to amplify a flute

I want to amplify a flute and was considering the Countryman Isomax II.
I saw that countryman now has a new version called the I2. Does anyone have experience with both and make a recommendation?
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