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SDC pair for stereo recording of acoustic guitar and live avant-garde jazz ensembles
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
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SDC pair for stereo recording of acoustic guitar and live avant-garde jazz ensembles

Hi all, this will be my first stereo setup and it is mainly focused on recording acoustic guitar in my home studio. But I intend to use it for live recording in small clubs and festivals.

I have selected the following models that can fit into my budget:
  • Oktava MK 012-01 MSP2 (299€ pair, made in Russia)
  • Studio Projects C4 MkII (374€ pair)
  • sE Electronics sE8 (375€ pair)
  • Rode NT5 (285€ pair)

At the moment I am oriented towards the MK012. Are the C4 or sE8 worth the extra money?

Any thoughts and suggestions would be highly appreciated.

Mark
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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DCtoDaylight's Avatar
 

You might also consider the Line Audio CM3 (or newly released successor CM4) - they're in your price range and offer a subcardioid pattern and remarkably good audio quality. There's a long thread in the Remote Possibilities section about them, with lots of sample recordings.

I have a pair of the Oktava 012 multi-capsule sets, and they're pretty good, but I've not used them much since getting a pair of CM3s a few years ago. To my ear the Line Audio mics are clearer, quieter and more detailed, and I use them in conjunction with much more expensive mics in multi-track situations and also with a small Tascam recorder for basic live stereo recordings. No experience with the Rode, Studio Projects or sE units, but perhaps others can weigh in.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
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Philip Marinelis's Avatar
+1
I love my Line Audio CM3s. Sold my Neumann KM184s (kept only one) soon after I got my CM3s.

I 've also worked with rode nt5s for many years in a live venue. They have hyped and metallic sounding highs. Don't like them very much.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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RoundBadge's Avatar
maybe check out the Vanguard V1 series.
affordable and multiple capsules included
the Soyuz 013's fets surprised me.they are more dough but nice.kinda like a slighter more relaxed less upper mid forward km84 but still a very natural capture and overall good off axis response.
also includes different capsules [pattern] options and a -10 screw on pad
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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Thanks for your comments. I checked the Vanguard V1 series and the Soyuz 013. Unfortunately they are both out of my budget (400€).

Given your comments and some recording samples available around that I didn't like, I tend to exclude the Rode NT5.

The Line Audio CM3/CM4 looks another good option. Are there matched pairs available? What about the self noise? Reading the specs, the Line Audio microphones have a higher noise level than the KM184.

I am particularly interested in microphones with low self noise, but I am not sure if the values they write in the specs can be comparable. According to the specs:
  • Oktava MK 012-01: Equivalent noise level dBA 18
  • Studio Projects C4 MkII: Noise 16 DB SPL, (A-weighted per IEC268-15)
  • sE Electronics sE8: Equivalent noise level 13 dB(A)
  • Line Audio CM4: Noise level 16dB(A)

So, apparently the sE8 is the one that declares the lowest noise level and the MK012 declares the highest
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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I just got the sE8 pair a couple months ago and am really happy with them. So far I've used them for acoustic guitar and drum overhead, and cajon, and they've done a great job every time.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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low noise/high spl handling capacity are always welcomed - go with a pair of km184's if you can afford them. if not, check out shure, akg, beyer and sennheiser - plenty of options...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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By the way, as far as noise goes, I wouldn't necessarily go by the manufacturer quoted levels... And that goes for the sE8 as well. I will say, in real world experience, I've not had too much trouble with any condenser mic, maybe aside from a Shure SM81... But connecting it to a high quality pre cured that. Most of my stuff is just acoustic and vocal, so noise is a big concern for me.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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This guy has a really nice setup. He's in Slovenia, plays really well, and has a number of mic shootouts and helpful info about small studio recording.

http://guitarise.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO5DhKcHcHA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l4QqC8S8NA
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Adkins View Post
By the way, as far as noise goes, I wouldn't necessarily go by the manufacturer quoted levels... And that goes for the sE8 as well. I will say, in real world experience, I've not had too much trouble with any condenser mic, maybe aside from a Shure SM81... But connecting it to a high quality pre cured that. Most of my stuff is just acoustic and vocal, so noise is a big concern for me.
avoid the sm81! shure makes newer/better sdc's...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
This guy has a really nice setup. He's in Slovenia, plays really well, and has a number of mic shootouts and helpful info about small studio recording.

http://guitarise.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO5DhKcHcHA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l4QqC8S8NA
Thanks Robert, very helpful indeed. In the second piece of the second video that you linked (by F. Sor) I can distinctively hear a higher noise floor in the Line Audio CM3 recording compared to the Oktava MK-012 (default cardioid cap). Also in the comments the author of the video (Uros) confirms this impression. This is strange because the Equivalent Noise Level declared by the manufacturers would suggest the contrary...

I am curious now about the actual noise level of the Studio Projects C4 MkII and sE Electronics sE8, compared to the Oktava MK-012, which is the cheapest in my list.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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If, and it's a big if, you can afford it (knock over a liquor store, rob your grandmother, kite checks . . ) get the Schoeps and enjoy a lifetime of never lusting after something better. I can't think of a better gear investment.

After that, the Joly modded Oktavas would be my next choice. And glad you enjoyed Uros Baric's site.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Marinelis View Post
+1

I 've also worked with rode nt5s for many years in a live venue. They have hyped and metallic sounding highs. Don't like them very much.
Second on the Rode. I've used the X/Y Rode NT4 a bit which is the same capsules. Something in the 4 - 6K range is just a bit harsh to my ears.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Addict
 

I'm curious about the warm Audio WA-84. A KM-84 soundalike. One local engineer I know who has done some work I've heard likes them. Some folks like to bash Warm gear as a matter of course. They're still pretty new so not a lot of info out there yet. If you can get a pair with easy return option might be worth a shot.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tymish View Post
I'm curious about the warm Audio WA-84. A KM-84 soundalike. One local engineer I know who has done some work I've heard likes them. Some folks like to bash Warm gear as a matter of course. They're still pretty new so not a lot of info out there yet. If you can get a pair with easy return option might be worth a shot.
The WA-84 looks nice, but unfortunately is out of my budget (400€) :-(
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_sm View Post
The WA-84 looks nice, but unfortunately is out of my budget (400€) :-(
From your list the mic I have most experience with is the Oktava. I have a pair with the multiple capsules. Good mics, excellent value. A slight bit on the delicate side as far as construction compared to KM184s or such. But you can't go wrong with them.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Adkins View Post
I just got the sE8 pair a couple months ago and am really happy with them. So far I've used them for acoustic guitar and drum overhead, and cajon, and they've done a great job every time.
Hi Shannon, thanks for your comments. In another thread I have found a comparison between the sE8 and the KM184 and I like very much the samples recorded with the sE8. Do you think that the self noise could be an issue? Reading the specs, the Equivalent Noise Level and the Signal To Noise Ratio are exactly the same as the KM184 ones...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
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spambot_2's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_sm View Post
The Line Audio CM3/CM4 looks another good option. Are there matched pairs available? What about the self noise? Reading the specs, the Line Audio microphones have a higher noise level than the KM184.
Tolerances were low enough with the CM3 that matched pairs weren't needed, and I can't imagine this being any different with the CM4.

There's a couple threads in the Remote possibilities/on location recording section of the forum about the CM3 and CM4, and the one about the CM3 is filled with audio examples, comparisons and what have you, that ought to give you a clear idea.
I own a pair of CM3 but no CM4 so I can't comment on those, but the CM3 aren't especially noisy, rather, they don't have a high output level (the CM4 is an improvement in this regard, if not a very big one) so if you have a low noise pre you won't have any issue with them most likely, and ambient noise will be a bigger concern.
I'm attaching a recording I made some time ago with the washing machine running two rooms over, the guitar is a Big Baby Taylor, the pre's are the built-in ones in my Mackie Onyx Blackbird, and IIRC the mics were set up in a NOS array about 30-40cm in front of the guitar with only a bit of (very nice Lex) reverb applied.

I haven't tried the SE8 nor the C4 mkII but I like my CM3 a lot, more than the mk-012 I've worked with, and just about as much as the Schoeps mk21 I often work with, so among the options you listed I would definitely go for the CM4.

EDIT: audio file added
Attached Files
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
din
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din's Avatar
 

I would go with a couple Earthworks mics. TC20's are only $400.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
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phredday's Avatar
 

Or super budget...

Just got a pair, haven’t set up/tested yet... but liked what I heard on the vids... reco from another slutz member:

https://www.iskproaudio.com/products/little-gem
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
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Shannon Adkins's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_sm View Post
Hi Shannon, thanks for your comments. In another thread I have found a comparison between the sE8 and the KM184 and I like very much the samples recorded with the sE8. Do you think that the self noise could be an issue? Reading the specs, the Equivalent Noise Level and the Signal To Noise Ratio are exactly the same as the KM184 ones...
I haven't had any problems yet. I guess, more specifically, I haven't heard a recorded track that made me think about noise.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Adkins View Post
I haven't had any problems yet. I guess, more specifically, I haven't heard a recorded track that made me think about noise.
Thanks for the information. I am inclined to go for the the se8, which is also the only true condenser among the microphones that I can afford.

But I just have found a good deal for a pair of almost new Audio Technica AT4021. I know they are good, but I am not sure how they compare with the sE8...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spambot_2 View Post
Tolerances were low enough with the CM3 that matched pairs weren't needed, and I can't imagine this being any different with the CM4.

There's a couple threads in the Remote possibilities/on location recording section of the forum about the CM3 and CM4, and the one about the CM3 is filled with audio examples, comparisons and what have you, that ought to give you a clear idea.
I own a pair of CM3 but no CM4 so I can't comment on those, but the CM3 aren't especially noisy, rather, they don't have a high output level (the CM4 is an improvement in this regard, if not a very big one) so if you have a low noise pre you won't have any issue with them most likely, and ambient noise will be a bigger concern.
I'm attaching a recording I made some time ago with the washing machine running two rooms over, the guitar is a Big Baby Taylor, the pre's are the built-in ones in my Mackie Onyx Blackbird, and IIRC the mics were set up in a NOS array about 30-40cm in front of the guitar with only a bit of (very nice Lex) reverb applied.

I haven't tried the SE8 nor the C4 mkII but I like my CM3 a lot, more than the mk-012 I've worked with, and just about as much as the Schoeps mk21 I often work with, so among the options you listed I would definitely go for the CM4.

EDIT: audio file added
I like the mellow tone in your recording. Why do you prefer the CM3 over the MK012?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
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no one can tell how two or three brands of mics would compare the way and in places you'll use them...
go for those with the lowest self noise and the most flat frequency response - high sensitivity, high output and high spl handling capacity might also be worth considering...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
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Shannon Adkins's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_sm View Post
Thanks for the information. I am inclined to go for the the se8, which is also the only true condenser among the microphones that I can afford.

But I just have found a good deal for a pair of almost new Audio Technica AT4021. I know they are good, but I am not sure how they compare with the sE8...
I can tell you how they compare, as I spent a month with each and had to make a hard choice between them.
I really, really liked the 4021. It's a bit more present than the sE8. For acoustic guitar it just has a little bit of that bite that I like for more folk oriented stuff. The sE8 is a little more relaxed. Ultimately it was one 4021 vs a pair of sE8, and that swayed me toward the sE. But a pair of each?... You really can't go wrong with either.
I will say that with the vocal mic I use (Telefunken Copperhead) the sE8 seemed the better fit. They just really blend well together. I did a Coldplay cover (The Scientist, I think) and everyone who listened agreed the sE8 had more of a dreamy quality to it that really sounded quite nice. On one of my original tunes, I was playing a fast, choppy rhythm, and the 4021 seemed right.
The pickup pattern on the 4021 seems tighter, so I was getting a little less vocal bleed when miking guitar and vox together. But the sE8 has removable caps, and I'm hoping they release omni and hyper-cardioid capsules for it.
Hope that helps
The sE8 has a little more output, but both are very adequate.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
Gear Head
 

Hey there,

I took a few minutes and did a quick recording of my Martin CEO 9 using my matched pair of sE5 mics. These are the ones that Shannon’s sE 8s replaced so they should be very similar. There is a little bit of image shifting going on in the demo and maybe I should have remembered to mash the link button on the Apollo twin. I know I said on the demo that the channels were linked.

Anyhow, I only used the 100hz roll off switches on the mics and I guess the mics a about 15, 18 inches away. Hope this gives you an idea of these.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qgX...w?usp=drivesdk

Last edited by gwlee7; 3 weeks ago at 02:20 PM.. Reason: Words jammed together
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
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spambot_2's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_sm View Post
I like the mellow tone in your recording. Why do you prefer the CM3 over the MK012?
Thanks!

About the CM3 vs mk-012, in short I liked the CM3 more because it sounded more "real".
It's kind of an unexciting mic in the sense that you don't get any special emphasis on anything, nothing is hyped or colored or anything, it's a "what you hear is what you get" mic, with a real flat frequency response and a very good off-axis pick up pattern.
The mk-012 I compared the CM3 with were dull in comparison, they worked well in a certain position but then not so well in a slightly different one, and they weren't as detailed.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwlee7 View Post
Hey there,

I took a few minutes and did a quick recording of my Martin CEO 9 using my matched pair of sE5 mics. These are the ones that Shannon’s sE 8s replaced so they should be very similar. There is a little bit of image shifting going on in the demo and maybe I should have remembered to mash the link button on the Apollo twin. I know I said on the demo that the channels were linked.

Anyhow, I only used the 100hz roll off switches on the mics and I guess the mics a about 15, 18 inches away. Hope this gives you an idea of these.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qgX...w?usp=drivesdk
Thanks gwlee7! Extremely useful! As you say in the recording, the sE8 is a little too bright, like I noticed also from the recording in this thread, where there is a comparison with the KM184.

The CM4 has a more flat response, judging from the samples posted above and in the CM3 thread.

I restricted my list to the CM4 and the sE8. I am not sure if it makes sense to take in consideration that the first is al electret and the other is a true condenser. Also I must consider the impedance, as I have to use them with the preamps of my Motu interface, before I buy a proper preamp. CM4 declares <100 Ohm, sE8 has 110 Ohms. Not a big difference I guess...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #29
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In my experience so far, the sE8 has not been a bright mic at all. I've been a ribbon mic user on acoustic guitar for a few years now (mostly an R84), so I'm not into using bright mics in that application, and I'm actually adding highs to the sE8... Not as much as I added to R84 tracks, of course, but I'm still adding them.
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