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Sonic Signature of Schoeps CMC6-MK2 and Sennheiser MKH8020 Condenser Microphones
Old 18th December 2010
  #1
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Talking Sonic Signature of Schoeps CMC6-MK2 and Sennheiser MKH8020

What are the sonic differences between the Schoeps CMC6/MK2 and the Sennheiser MKH8020 mics?... I am trying to decide on which of these omni SDC mics to purchase for a classical recording on a Steinway D.

Thanks.
Old 18th December 2010
  #2
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jnorman's Avatar
the mk2 is a free field capsule that has a flat response curve. the mkh8020 is more of mid to diffuse field mic with a high end lift. if you havent done so, take a look at the freq response curves for the two mics. also to be considered for your application is the neumann KM131 free field omni, which has a very flat response like the mk2 schoeps.

perhaps someone here could post some comparative clips of the mics for you...
Old 18th December 2010
  #3
The mkh8020 is actually rather flat up to 20kHz. It is only beyond where it exhibits a noticable (the not audibly) boost in the high register. It is the darker of the two mics by a good margin. And has a very honest, neutral sound. The Schoeps do have their classic character which most people seem to like, though on a Steinway, however, I do think the Sennheiser would be more flattering. I never felt the Steinway character and the Schoeps character were a great match.
Old 18th December 2010
  #4
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Hornblower64's Avatar
 

The best omni's I have found are the Sennheiser MKH8020, and the Josephson C617set. The popular DPA, Schoeps, and Neumann microphones all seem to have an unnatural sheen to which I am particularly sensitive.
Old 18th December 2010
  #5
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This thread https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remot...ng-2-mics.html has a picture of my Sennheiser 8020 AB setup with Stenway D (post #18) and 2 minute sample (post #22) if you are iterested.

Unfortunately no Schoeps comparason available.
Old 18th December 2010
  #6
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elswhrco's Avatar
 

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/1520847-post15.html

Clip A uses MK2 pair. Steinway D.

(Full post, if you're interested: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remot...-comments.html)
Old 18th December 2010
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
The mkh8020 is actually rather flat up to 20kHz. It is only beyond where it exhibits a noticable (the not audibly) boost in the high register. It is the darker of the two mics by a good margin. And has a very honest, neutral sound.
I agree with this.

I have just got a new pair of MKH 8020 for use with concert grands such as the Steinway D.

I have also got the stand and remote cables with them.

I will be making up a Y-cable to feed the two mic. heads down a single extension tube so I can record live recitals. This rig will be virtually invisible to the audience and placate house managers who don't like mics on stage during recitals.

Below is the frequency response of the 8020 - you can see it's flat up to 20kHz and the boost is up in the region way above the audible range (the blue section starts at the 20kHz point).

Notice that, unusually, the response is plotted from 10Hz to 100kHz.
Attached Thumbnails
Sonic Signature of Schoeps CMC6-MK2 and Sennheiser MKH8020-mkh8020_frequencyresponse.jpg  
Old 18th December 2010
  #8
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As John mention, the graph is extended to 100kHz which is easily missed.

MKH8020 must be considered a free field equalized omni with its +/-1dB on axis response in the audio range.


/Peter
Old 18th December 2010
  #9
Gear Head
 

Thank you jnorman, rumleymusic, Hornblower64, Petrus, naturalstudio, John Willett, Audiop. Apart from specs, from your experiences, how would you describe the sound?...

I ask this because I am trying to figure out how these mics will render the tonal and timbral characteristics of the instrument naturally without adding treble sheen in the wrong places, or darkening the sound too much by robbing the timbral characteristics. I'd prefer a slightly wooly sound than a sparkly sound. If there is treble highlighting within these mics, I want it to be smooth, appealing, sophisticated sounding that's within the character of the instrument.

The Steinway has a bronzed timbre in the bass, double-reed sweetness in the mids, bell like highs, and full bodied tonal balance throughout.

Thanks again.
Old 18th December 2010
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 88man View Post
Apart from specs, from your experiences, how would you describe the sound?...

I ask this because I am trying to figure out how these mics will render the tonal and timbral characteristics of the instrument naturally without adding treble sheen in the wrong places, or darkening the sound too much by robbing the timbral characteristics. I'd prefer a slightly wooly sound than a sparkly sound. If there is treble highlighting within these mics, I want it to be smooth, appealing, sophisticated sounding that's within the character of the instrument.

The Steinway has a bronzed timbre in the bass, double-reed sweetness in the mids, bell like highs, and full bodied tonal balance throughout.
I have always liked the Sennheiser MKH series on piano and have used the MKH 20 for the last 20 years or so for this.

The MKH 8020 was designed to do exactly what you describe you want, which is also what I want - to capture the sound and timbre of the instrument without adding or taking away.

The 8020 goes right down to 10Hz, which is why some people may think it's "dark", so be careful with rumble; but it should pick up all the lower register of the piano beautifully.

My own pair arrived only a couple of days ago and I have not had a chance to use them in anger yet, unfortunately, and will not get a chance until early in the New Year.
Old 18th December 2010
  #11
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Actually the MKH8020 is a slightly dark sounding mic but it's not because of the 10Hz extension down low. I have a pair of QTC1 which is flat to 4Hz and they are much clearer sounding due to basically perfect on and off axis response (the penalty being the noise of course).

As already mentioned this mic is equalized for a flat response in the free field which means it will sound a little dull when recording at a distance in lively acoustic.

IME this is easily compensated for with a good hardware or software EQ.

A year ago or so someone posted clips of orchestra recorded with one of the diffuse filed omnis from Schoeps and MKH8020.

People mostly prefered the Schoeps and I assumed it was because of free field vs. diffuse field differences.

I equalized the MKH8020 clip quick and dirty and to my ears the clips became very similar with no apparent quality difference to either of them. With some more fine tuning I'm sure it would be possible to get them even closer.


IMO/IME Frequency response and polar response is what we hear most and with high quality mic's even more so. Differences in noise and distortion is relatively minor so spectral balance is what it is about.


/Peter
Old 18th December 2010
  #12
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jnorman's Avatar
john - i believe you also own a pair of the neumann kmd's with ak31 free field omni caps, right? i would really like to hear some sample clips of your 8020s vs the 131s on piano if you get the chance. thanks.
Old 18th December 2010
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop View Post
this mic is equalized for a flat response in the free field which means it will sound a little dull when recording at a distance in lively acoustic.

IME this is easily compensated for with a good hardware or software EQ.

I equalized the MKH8020 clip quick and dirty and to my ears the clips became very similar with no apparent quality difference to either of them. With some more fine tuning I'm sure it would be possible to get them even closer.

I'm wondering if it would be easier to EQ a free field mic for use
in the diffuse field OR to EQ a diffuse field mic for use in the free
field?
Old 18th December 2010
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Sonic Signature of Schoeps CMC6-MK2 and Senn. MKH8020

My DPA 4006 pair is flat within 1dB to 20k. When I use them as main mics I often raise the highend just a bit. Far easier compared to get my Schoeps MK2s pair flat.
Old 18th December 2010
  #15
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Sonic Signature of Schoeps CMC6-MK2 and Senn. MKH8020

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman
john - i believe you also own a pair of the neumann kmd's with ak31 free field omni caps, right? i would really like to hear some sample clips of your 8020s vs the 131s on piano if you get the chance. thanks.
Maybe in the New Year. I have MKH 20 and 8020, and the KM-D with both 183 and 131 heads. I *do* also have the MZD 8000 to make the MKH 8000 series AES42 digital as well,

I have a friend who has a Steinway grand and I will see if we can sort a date to do a comparison recording in the New Year.


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Old 18th December 2010
  #16
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thanks john - looking forward to it.
Old 18th December 2010
  #17
Gear Head
 

Thanks John, Audiop, jnorman, Brackish, ljudatervinning. Great information! Very interesting points were made...

So if the Senn. MKH8020 is EQed for free-field and the Schoeps MK2 is EQed for diffuse-field, which would sound more natural in terms of off axis response when placed WITHIN the near field, i.e. close miced at 2-3ft from the strings of the piano? This might be the deciding factor for me...

I thought that all true pressure gradient SDC didn't suffer from off axis response at very close distances? Another main reason for getting a true pressure gradient SDC is off axis response in close mic situations, where my AKG C414B-XLS falls short since it's not a true pressure gradient mic in omni.

Thanks again!
Old 19th December 2010
  #18
Well to get this straight. Both are designed to be free-field omnis, which means they should be rather close to the source. It mostly falls down to personal preference.

I personally believe the Sennheisers are better for close applications like piano, guitar, and orchestral spots. They are neutral, flat, and easy to listen to for long periods of time.

The Schoeps have a sonic signature that flatters most acoustic instruments and are very good for main pair applications. Though like I suggested before, on a great instrument like a Steinway D, that Schoeps signature may not be the best option.
Old 19th December 2010
  #19
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Here's my pair of MKH8020's on a lowish IKEA stand at a recent concert with a Steinway...maybe placed a bit close for your tastes, but not for mine ! I don't have Schoeps for comparison, but the sound was pleasing to my ears.
Attached Thumbnails
Sonic Signature of Schoeps CMC6-MK2 and Sennheiser MKH8020-imgp0377.jpg   Sonic Signature of Schoeps CMC6-MK2 and Sennheiser MKH8020-imgp0400.jpg  
Old 19th December 2010
  #20
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Petrus View Post
This thread https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remot...ng-2-mics.html has a picture of my Sennheiser 8020 AB setup with Stenway D (post #18) and 2 minute sample (post #22) if you are iterested.

Unfortunately no Schoeps comparason available.
Wow. Gorgeous.
Old 19th December 2010
  #21
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Oops, forgot to mention that the 8020 pair were the 'close spots' as there was a suspended pair of KM183's about 3 metres above and a bit further out (1.5 metres) than the IKEA stand, and these were the main pickup. You can see the 183 pair just below the organ pipes on the right. A blend between the 2 pairs gave a good sound.
Attached Thumbnails
Sonic Signature of Schoeps CMC6-MK2 and Sennheiser MKH8020-imgp0425.jpg  
Old 19th December 2010
  #22
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jnorman's Avatar
studer - very nice, and looks like it was a fun gig. thanks for posting the shots.
Old 19th December 2010
  #23
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Plush's Avatar
For the OP--

This thread has some great information.

May I just say that these mics are made to not influence the sound. Therefore either omni will present your piano as it is. When you get to the top level performance of great mics like these, you are paying for neutrality.

It is the placement and positioning of the omni mics that will vary the tone of the recording--capturing either more or less treble and bass.

Also the main influence on the sound of piano recordings is the room.
Old 19th December 2010
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
john - i would really like to hear some sample clips of your 8020s vs the 131s on piano if you get the chance.
I, as well, would like to hear that.
Old 19th December 2010
  #25
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The schoeps and Sennheisers are completely different sounding mics, IMO. They are both great in their own ways and both have their own issues.

The 8020 is a rather dark mic and I find it to be somewhat sensitive to preamp choice because of that. It also has extrememly good "reach" into an ensemble providing a clarity of sound for a big distance.

The Schoeps is a softer feeling mic (less transient response perhaps) and does not have the same reach into the group that the Sennheisers have. That being said, it has a very pleasant sound that works in so many situations and I find that it works with a much wider range of preamps.

I also use DPA omnis (4006 non TL) and they have their own quirks as well. Probably the clearest sound mic of the three and depending on the grid you have, also probably the most customizable in its sound. The DPA can sound more clinical, however. I find that with my DPAs, I usually grap the tube and transformer-based pres to get some of that impact back in the sound.

All of them are great sounds and in the end, it really depends on the sound you happen to like, your room's influence on that sound and the rest of your rig's influence on that sound.

--Ben
Old 20th December 2010
  #26
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I have to agree with Ben on the 8020 and preamp interaction, they sound a bit 'bleached' and 'white' (sorry to use "the Absolute Sound" audiophile-type terms, but maybe this conveys something of the character ?) with Mackie VLZ mixer preamps, but much more fleshed out and 3 dimensional with DAV BG pre's. So if it's possible to rent a pair before purchase you'll get a sense of how they interact with your gear. The 8020's also have a high output level, which is no bad thing when it comes to S/N ratio, although the self noise is non-existent for all purposes anyway !
Old 20th December 2010
  #27
Gear Head
 

Great points rumleymusic, studer58, Micheal Patrick, jnorman, Plush, Brackish, fifth circle. All of you raised some useful and informative revelations.

If there is a sparkly white characteristic to the MKH8020, and the Schoeps has a softer feeling (less transient response), it seems intuitive to bring in the MK2 closer to the source and back off the MKH8020 farther from the source to achieve the same balance.

Given what I've heard, I am going to make a crude inferences on how these mics might present the sound (for my own...

CMC6-MK2: refined/golden timbre, slight emphasis on tone over timbre - "Bosendorfer of mics"

MKH8020: bronzed timbre, slight emphasis on timbre over tone - "Steinway of mics"

The rest is in the hands of the acoustics. It seems I can't go wrong with either mic. I will sleep on it some more...

Since I am the pianist and the one recording here, my preamps sound transparent for most applications, but the DAV BG-1U sounds smooth, middle of the hall presentation, whereas the Avalon AD2022 has an etched and forward presence. But in recent years, the DAV has taken precedence in recordings. The Avalon has been delegated to rack art.

Thank you all for a wonderful discussion!
Old 20th December 2010
  #28
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fifthcircle View Post
The schoeps and Sennheisers are completely different sounding mics, IMO. They are both great in their own ways and both have their own issues.

The 8020 is a rather dark mic and I find it to be somewhat sensitive to preamp choice because of that. It also has extremely good "reach" into an ensemble providing a clarity of sound for a big distance.

The Schoeps is a softer feeling mic (less transient response perhaps) and does not have the same reach into the group that the Sennheisers have. That being said, it has a very pleasant sound that works in so many situations and I find that it works with a much wider range of preamps.

I also use DPA omnis (4006 non TL) and they have their own quirks as well. Probably the clearest sound mic of the three and depending on the grid you have, also probably the most customizable in its sound. The DPA can sound more clinical, however. I find that with my DPAs, I usually grap the tube and transformer-based pres to get some of that impact back in the sound.

All of them are great sounds and in the end, it really depends on the sound you happen to like, your room's influence on that sound and the rest of your rig's influence on that sound.
Ben, this may be the most useful and brief description of these three great mics I've ever seen.

What grids (Diffuse, Free, Close) do you use most on your 4006s?
Old 20th December 2010
  #29
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Thanks Michael...

I have the silver grids, black grids, nose cones and 50mm spheres for my 4006s. I usually will grab the standard silver grids first for most recordings. As with many diffuse field pickup mics, the black grids can get a bit strident in a room that is too dry to make use of them. That being said, when I'm in a big airspace with a lot of reverb, I'll use the Black Diffuse grids and they save my figurative tush with the added clarity.

I don't own the trapezoidal grids, but I've used them and I like them a lot in certain situations as well. For years, I would remove the grids- especially when recording choral music as the lack of directionality really helped the blend of some groups. I'm also not a fan of the nosecones. I have them, but almost never use them.

I've also been known to use the spheres on flanking mics (not just a decca tree) where the added directionality can help make the image "click" into place for some groups.

--Ben
Old 21st December 2010
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
The mkh8020 is actually rather flat up to 20kHz. It is only beyond where it exhibits a noticable (the not audibly) boost in the high register. It is the darker of the two mics by a good margin. And has a very honest, neutral sound. The Schoeps do have their classic character which most people seem to like, though on a Steinway, however, I do think the Sennheiser would be more flattering. I never felt the Steinway character and the Schoeps character were a great match.
I was told that the Schoeps MK2 was the mic used for the acclaimed CDs Horowitz at home and (or ?) Horowitz - Last Recordings, both recorded at Horowitz' home in New York. So at least with this New York Steinway D, the match was great.
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