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Snare top test
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Snare top test

So, several years ago I switched from using an SM57 on snare top. I'd been working a lot with ****ty, unbalanced indie drummers, and having to deal with lots of ugly hihat bleed had made me look for something else. I was also a bit sick of the conventional 57-sound on rock snares. Punchy, yes, but also a bit grainy and ugly sounding. Eventually I landed on an old Beyerdynamic M201. Although not as punchy or forward as a 57, it was fatter and more balanced, and the bled was way more manageable. The M201 has been my go-to ever since.

However, on a drum session last week, I noticed the M201 did not sound like it used to, it was small, thin, and the bleed was about as ugly as I've ever heard a snare mic. I guess it had finally taken too many hits from said ****ty indie drummers.

Today I decided to round up a few mics to see how they performed as a replacement going forward. I did two separate passes on my favorite snare atm, an old Slingerland Radio King. Also included a few hihat and cymbal hits to see how the mics dealt with the bleed. All mics recorded through audient ASP preamps, they sound quite clean and I've got a lot of them. Normalized all the tracks to -0.25.

I already have a few notes, but let me know what you think!
Listen for:

1. Sound of the snare
2. Volume of the bleed
3. Sound of the bleed
4. Natural compression/clipping

Contenders:
1. SM57
2. Gefell M70
3. Beyer M160
4. Beyer M201 (obviously broken)
5. Beyer M88
6. Sennheiser 441
Attached Files

1 SM57 - Snare O.mp3 (1.07 MB, 677 views)

2 M 70 - Snare O.mp3 (1.07 MB, 643 views)

3 M160 - Snare O.mp3 (1.07 MB, 658 views)

4 M201 - Snare O.mp3 (1.07 MB, 637 views)

5 M88 - Snare O.mp3 (1.07 MB, 641 views)

6 441 - Snare O.mp3 (1.07 MB, 675 views)

Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Nut
 

The 441 sounds the most natural to me. Which is great because it's also the most expensive....
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 
gravyface's Avatar
Would be cool to try a pencil condenser there, but I like the 57 the best. Just sounds right.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
Would be cool to try a pencil condenser there, but I like the 57 the best. Just sounds right.
The M70 is a pencil condenser. Akin to KM84, which I've used on snares before, but with a nickel capsule: A bit brighter, yet not in a harsh way.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dokterrock View Post
The 441 sounds the most natural to me. Which is great because it's also the most expensive....
I agree, thought the 441 sounded really balanced, could definitely be usable. A bit softer sounding than a few of the others, the bleed is also a bit much, although it does sound good. Another con is it's really hard to place in a tight drum kit.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
gravyface's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Six Feet Over View Post
The M70 is a pencil condenser. Akin to KM84, which I've used on snares before, but with a nickel capsule: A bit brighter, yet not in a harsh way.
Wow, you're right. That's a really smooth pencil.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 
the fxs's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Mayock View Post
interesting product.
anyone use these?
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 
gravyface's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Six Feet Over View Post
I agree, thought the 441 sounded really balanced, could definitely be usable. A bit softer sounding than a few of the others, the bleed is also a bit much, although it does sound good. Another con is it's really hard to place in a tight drum kit.
I've used 441 on snare top and it is a nice hi-fi sound if you really like the natural detail... but it doesn't cut very well in the mix. Perfect for brushes and ghost notes, subtleties, etc.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 
gravyface's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by the fxs View Post
interesting product.
anyone use these?
I have not, but I've tried a piece of cardboard with foam on it, half a plastic pop bottle and a styrofoam cup (the latter two from Bob Owinsky's book) with some success.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by the fxs View Post
interesting product.
anyone use these?
I've not tried this exact product, but other varieties of the same concept. Didn't really work for me, did little to remedy the spill (sometimes made it less, but still worse sounding). Also does something strange to the snare sound itself, imo. Works better for tom mic's, for some reason.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
I've used 441 on snare top and it is a nice hi-fi sound if you really like the natural detail... but it doesn't cut very well in the mix. Perfect for brushes and ghost notes, subtleties, etc.
This is my experience with the 441 as well. Plus I like it so much on bass cab these days, it'll stay there when tracking live bands.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

A few of my other notes:

Round 1:
SM57: Punchy, familiar, nice presence, a little bit grainy. Bleed has that annoying high mid-harshness I used to dread so much, but there's not too much of it, volume-wise.

M70: Tone is surprisingly similar to the 57, somewhat less punchy, but more open sounding. Clips a little on the peaks, but not in an ugly way. Bleed sounds brighter, but more pleasant than the 57.

M160: This was a disappointment. Boxy sounding on the snare itself. Which is kind of strange, I really like the snare sounds I've gotten when using them as overheads (But I can't stand how the cymbals or toms sound). Will once again be relegated to guitar cabs, where they're my favorite mic.
Attached Thumbnails
Snare top test-img_20200206_133024844_hdr.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Gear Addict
 
robotchicken's Avatar
 

99 flavors of poo...
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by the fxs View Post
interesting product.
anyone use these?
Nopes, but I had some luck using a beat up pop filter and replacing the original filter with a thick layer of foam from a madrass, holding it in place with strips and a nylon sock. Almost as efficient as it is hideous - and if I at some point can't make a living doing analog recording anymore, I have the nylon sock around for another ancient, noble craftmanship in the shape of robbing banks
Dinosaur for life...

The cheap pop filter solution also comes with the advantage that it saves my 441 and KMS105 from drumsticks, hence indirectly saves the health of the poor soul who hits it...
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Lives for gear
The 57 is common for snare not because of how it sounds, but because of what it does not pick up. Great rejection of the rest of the kit. The definition of "Boxy sounding"

This is why many have a 57 with the transformer taken out (lose 10db) or use modified 57. Older ones are much better than the new ones. All the way back to the 56 then UnidyneIII.

If you want to upgrade the quality. here are other options not listed. Most are rare and cost a bit as a result:
Moving coil:
Yamaha MZ105, 204, 205 (discontinues in 80's, they are radio active! from beryllium). Basically sounds like a 57 but not boxy.
Nakimachi DM1000 (bit noisy, but sounds wonderful)
MD409-U3 (Best moving coil ever, I think)
Sony FV300 (Japan voicing, but similar to 409)
Any good SDC that can take SPL
Old 1 week ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 
gravyface's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum View Post
The 57 is common for snare not because of how it sounds, but because of what it does not pick up. Great rejection of the rest of the kit. The definition of "Boxy sounding"

This is why many have a 57 with the transformer taken out (lose 10db) or use modified 57. Older ones are much better than the new ones. All the way back to the 56 then UnidyneIII.

If you want to upgrade the quality. here are other options not listed. Most are rare and cost a bit as a result:
Moving coil:
Yamaha MZ105, 204, 205 (discontinues in 80's, they are radio active! from beryllium). Basically sounds like a 57 but not boxy.
Nakimachi DM1000 (bit noisy, but sounds wonderful)
MD409-U3 (Best moving coil ever, I think)
Sony FV300 (Japan voicing, but similar to 409)
Any good SDC that can take SPL
I’d argue that the presence bump on a 57 is exactly why it’s so popular on snare and guitar cab.
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