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If You Could Only Have Only One Stereo Mic Pair...
Old 30th May 2020
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
Kid_Fiction's Avatar
If You Could Only Have Only One Stereo Mic Pair...

Hi all,

I'm looking around to upgrade my mic collection, and am in need of nice stereo pair. I don't have a lot of mics and mainly work on Electronic music, so I'm not looking to start a massive collection. I just need something that is super versatile as a close mic on acoustic instruments, brass strings, guitars, piano etc... as well as room/overhead duties when doing drums, percussion, brass etc...

I'm guessing something with a switchable pattern might be the best investment? I'm also interested in the possibilities of a stereo ribbon or matched pair of ribbons.

Basically... what's your desert island stereo pair for recording everything forever? My budget is 1-2k total.
Old 30th May 2020
  #2
Gear Addict
 
MandoBastardo's Avatar
My choice would be to cheat the anti-gearslut premise. I would get the best pair of SD condensers with a large variety of capsules, from omni to hyper to bi-directional.

Sadly for me, a pair of Schoeps with 6 pairs of caps would blow the $2k budget - or from Sennheiser.

So... I would look at other less famous families of interchangeable SD capsule mics, like 3U Audio CM100 / Warbler 127 or Vanguard V1 or Advanced Audio CM1084. There's a few other families to interview, but that's where I'd start.

It's how I'd cheat the one-pair-only system.
Old 30th May 2020
  #3
@ Kid_Fiction I did the same this month and bought a stereo pair of AKG C414 XLIIs after a lot of comparing on Audio Test Kitchen. Very happy with them. Super low noise.
Old 30th May 2020
  #4
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

A matched pair (stereo set) of Gefell M 930 would probably cover this well.

Excellent on both speech and vocals - a good spot mic. and also good for an XY or ORTF stereo pair.

And within budget.

Yes, the ideal would be SDCs and LDCs but the cost will be more - and the M930 is a very versatile mic.
Old 30th May 2020
  #5
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
AT4050 and sE T2 come to mind.
Old 30th May 2020
  #6
Lives for gear
 
EvilRoy's Avatar
 

I went with 4050s. Cheaper than 414s and multipattern, good reviews.
Old 30th May 2020
  #7
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vernier's Avatar
Never understood the "matched pair" concept, but as mics go, I think the low freq roll-off switch with multiple choices is a nice function to have, especially when recording certain instruments.
Old 30th May 2020
  #8
Km84 or Coles 4038.

I really like km84's. Natural, open in that vintage way. Never harsh or brittle.

Coles 4038 for their weight and natural sound. Usually needs some eq but they do sound amazing on anything you throw at them.
Old 31st May 2020
  #9
Gear Guru
 

One pair with that budget? That would be 414's for me. Not only a great workhorse mic, they are still my fave on overheads, work well on pretty much anything. Including lead vocal. I will record pretty much anything with a 414. Piano, guitars, percussion, horns, strings.

I love my ribbon mics, but they are usually figure-8 only, and as cool as the "ribbon sound" is, it does not have the same usefulness and versatility. You would really be committing to a signature sound for literally everything. A pair of ribbons would be my next pair.

Quote:
a stereo ribbon or matched pair of ribbons.
IMHO, you would need to have a pretty deep mic locker before going for "stereo" mics. Two mics can be stereo but they can also be two mics, which your "stereo mic" cannot. And with individual mics, you can set them up XY, AB, ORTF, etc. If you have switchable polar patterns, even M/S

But you could also use your two mics in "not stereo" to great effect.

For example, putting one mic near the bridge of an acoustic guitar and one mic near the 12th fret is not really "stereo", but it is very useful. Mic on top of a conga and one down on the floor. Also not "stereo". A mic each on two singers singing in harmony. Mono overhead and Front Of Kick etc etc
Old 31st May 2020
  #10
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Oldone's Avatar
KM 84 or heck, let's blow the retirement fund and get a pair of KM54s.
Old 31st May 2020
  #11
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilRoy View Post
I went with 4050s. Cheaper than 414s and multipattern, good reviews.
Its a good choice.
Old 31st May 2020
  #12
Back to my condenser roots

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
One pair with that budget? That would be 414's for me. Not only a great workhorse mic, they are still my fave on overheads, work well on pretty much anything. Including lead vocal. I will record pretty much anything with a 414. Piano, guitars, percussion, horns, strings.
My first good pair of condensers were 414's, and I used them for pretty-near everything. If I had to drop back to single pair today, it would be a pair of Neumann TLM 107's. Alas, they are over budget per the OP's ground rules: a pair goes for $2800 US. I think they're truly worth that, but if the money isn't there then the best alternative I know would be a pair of Austrian Audio OC818's. This is a worthy successor to the 414, built in the same Vienna factory by ex-AKG staff. AT 4050's are an option too, but the pattern selection is more limited and I like the 414 family better on male voices.

The only SDC's I think are worthy at this price limit would be Sennheiser MKH 8040's. But, for me, a do-everything mic must be multi-pattern or multi-capsule, and adding extra MKH patterns blows the budget.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 31st May 2020
  #13
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EvilRoy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Its a good choice.
Yep, quite happy. Good all ‘rounders, but not good on everything. They have a slightly accentuated high end which sounds a little crispy on some stuff (great on vocals though). I supplemented them with Oktava 319s and 012s. Not super high end (not super expensive either) but they work better on some things and they can be modded/upgraded, although I’m very happy with them as is.
Old 31st May 2020
  #14
Lives for gear
 
mbvoxx's Avatar
whichever you end up with make sure they have pattern options, esp figure of 8. that will give you more options on stereo patterns.
Old 1st June 2020
  #15
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Never understood the "matched pair" concept.
Matched pair means that both microphones in the pair will have closely matched frequency response curves and the same sensitivity, and can therefore be used as a stereo pair.

Unmatched microphones can have differeing response curves and a difference in sensitivity which would show up in a stereo recording - especially if one mic. was at one end of tolerance and the other at the other end.

Some modern microphones from the top manufacturers can be very close taken at random, but the cheaper manufacturers would allow broader tolerances.

I once saw a stereo set that had been incorrectly packed and had two microphones with sequential serial numbers - this was a good manufacturer that supplied individual frequency response curves - holding the two responses, one over the other, up to the light; it was very clear that they were quite different, especially at the upper frequencies. The set was returned for replacement.

Sequential serial numbers does not necessarily mean a matched pair, it depends when the manufacturer number them. If they are numbered at the very end, then you may get sequential numbers (I think Neumann do this and also Schoeps), but most others number earlier in the manufacturing process (you don't want any dust from doing the engraving getting inside the mic.) so matched pair numbers will be close, but not sequential.
Old 1st June 2020
  #16
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vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
Matched pair means that both microphones in the pair will have closely matched frequency response curves and the same sensitivity, and can therefore be used as a stereo pair.

Unmatched microphones can have differeing response curves and a difference in sensitivity which would show up in a stereo recording - especially if one mic. was at one end of tolerance and the other at the other end.

Some modern microphones from the top manufacturers can be very close taken at random, but the cheaper manufacturers would allow broader tolerances.

I once saw a stereo set that had been incorrectly packed and had two microphones with sequential serial numbers - this was a good manufacturer that supplied individual frequency response curves - holding the two responses, one over the other, up to the light; it was very clear that they were quite different, especially at the upper frequencies. The set was returned for replacement.

Sequential serial numbers does not necessarily mean a matched pair, it depends when the manufacturer number them. If they are numbered at the very end, then you may get sequential numbers (I think Neumann do this and also Schoeps), but most others number earlier in the manufacturing process (you don't want any dust from doing the engraving getting inside the mic.) so matched pair numbers will be close, but not sequential.
Hey thanks for the explanation, I'm sure it'll be helpful to many.
Old 7th June 2020
  #17
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fhames's Avatar
 

Coles. 4038’s
Old 7th June 2020
  #18
They are not for everyone, but I love my QTC30 matched pair. The source needs to sound good since they don’t hype, but the image they produce is outstanding.
Old 7th June 2020
  #19
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My first thought is if you’re doing mostly electronic music, a stereo ribbon might not be the best choice. However, I would get rid of just about everything in my studio before I dumped my AEA R88. It’s a fantastic stereo mic and I’ve yet to find anything else that can touch it. I do a lot of acoustic/folk/bluegrass/Americana type stuff though, and it knocks it out of the park on all sorts of things for that type of music. It’s accurate to a fault sometimes and is happier when backed off of sources, so you need a good room to get the most out of it. I have no idea what your intentions are, but I don’t see the R88 working out well for you on more electronic sounding music.

I tired out the Vanguard V44 when it first same out. I liked it a lot, but held out for two of his V4 mics for a little more versatility. Don’t let the price on that mic fool you though, it’s fantastic. There’s a lot of cool things you can do with a mic like that, check out the Creative Sound Labs YouTube video on it for some examples. That would be my recommendation as it’s a fairly neutrally voiced design and pretty warm sounding as far as transformerless mics go (it might fit your expectations better if you’re leaning towards ribbon mics).

A more modern design and brighter sounding option would be a used Telefunken M216.
Old 7th June 2020
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
ljona's Avatar
 

Not a pair but stereo - R88
Old 7th June 2020
  #21
Gear Nut
Make sure to have a close look at the Townsend Sphere. Stereo mic with a modeling front end, but extraordinary for acoustic guitar and very versatile. I have several nice pairs of SDCs including a nice set of old KM84s, but the Sphere is so versatile and flexible that it is becoming my go-to.

Fred
Old 7th June 2020
  #22
Lives for gear
 
andersmv's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljona View Post
Not a pair but stereo - R88
I participated in class but failed to follow directions...
Old 7th June 2020
  #23
Gear Addict
 

if I could only have one pair of mics it would be sennheiser mkh80 or 800. Or Neumann TLM170 or Neumann U89. Or Schoeps CMC65. All out of your budget. In your budget I'd go with second hand TLM107 (they can be found used for about $1kUSD each).
Old 10th June 2020
  #24
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanBarley View Post
if I could only have one pair of mics it would be sennheiser mkh80 or 800.
The 800 (or 800 TWIN) is an excellent choice for a pair as they are very versatile and have a neutral sound; so that any "colour" you want can be added in the DAW.
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