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Microphone advice Beyerdynamic M160/M260/AKG 535EB Dynamic Microphones
Old 22nd December 2010
Lives for gear
Microphone advice Beyerdynamic M160/M260/AKG 535EB

I've got a bit of Christmas cash to go shopping and I'm looking for a mic to fill a few niches.

My uses, in no order:

1) Live sound with my own PA, for music mostly ranging from acoustic guitar/singer, through folk band, to not-too-heavy rock. Mostly with a conventional monitoring set up. This use is less important than the next two when it comes to this mic purchase decision.

2) Live sound for my own folk band, with my rig or with house rigs, with in-ear monitors. Instruments include acoustic guitar (with internal condenser mic pickup), violin (piezo for now, but I'll work on her to get a clip-on mic), upright bass (mic'd), and 2 male and 2 female vocals (one female vocal is on the quiet side).

3) Well equipped home studio recording, focusing on acoustic guitar and vocal, but also strings, double bass, and occasional drums or other instruments.

I own: RE-20, SM7B, AKG 451B, AT 4033, 2x SM58, 2x SM57, 2x E/V ND 257.

I'm pretty finicky with sound, especially when my band performs live (I'm less likely to bring expensive and fragile gear to gigs for other bands, but I will if I'm comfortable with the venue and band, and if I know them or want to impress).

Some considerations:
1) With traditional live sound monitoring acoustic guitars, violin, and double bass usually use pickups. I hate piezo pickups but acknowledge them as a necessity in that environment. In-ear monitoring frees up some possibilities for instrument mics (especially for the double bass) and whereas a variety of vocal mics causes feedback issues since they are prone to feedback at different frequencies, using in-ears eliminates that issue and a variety of microphones promotes certain frequencies for each vocalist, ideally making a clearer mix.

2) I hate the proximity effect, especially for live male vocals. I'm not a big fan of the SM-58. Mud and unintelligibility.

3) I mic the double bass far enough away from the bridge that proximity effect is reduced to a manageable level.

I love the RE-20 on male vocals (live or studio), on studio acoustic guitar, and on double bass (it's a bit low-gain for live, but will work). It's durable and awesome enough that I'll gladly take it live in most circumstances for vocals. It has no significant proximity effect.

I love the SM7B on male vocals (live or studio) and it really suits my band's male lead singer. It would get taken out more if it weren't for my RE-20.

The theater where I work has AKG 535EBs, a handheld cardiod condenser. It's got a flat response, a lovely hi-pass switch for a gentle roll off from about 500 Hz that is essentially the inverse of the proximity effect. I think it would be a great live vocal mic for male or female voices (including female in the studio where an external pop filter is not desired), a good overhead, and good general purpose microphone. The fact that it is handheld would be useful occasionally for the female lead singer of my band. It's the cheapest of the 3 mics in consideration. I'm hoping to sell my AKG 451B (which isn't suitable for vocals, I wouldn't take live, and is usually too bright but sometimes used in the studio) in which case I'll probably get this mic to take its place, regardless of whatever else I may do. 535 EB Spec sheet

The Beyerdynamic M160 is a hypercardiod ribbon dynamic. It's pretty flat. A hypercardiod mic would be great as a guitar mic in the studio as I can position it to reject the vocals. It's longer throw would make it good for my live vocals (I wouldn't bring it to a show that wasn't my own band) as I can sing far enough away from it to discount the proximity effect. It may also be a good double bass microphone, with stronger signal than the RE-20 for live (again, positioned far enough away to reduce the proximity effect). It would also be pretty kick-ass for studio saxophones, trumpet (though the RE-20 and SM7B both kick ass here too), strings, and overhead. This is the most expensive of the 3 mics under consideration (almost twice as much as the AKG 535EB). M160 Spec sheet

The Beyerdynamic M260 is a hypercardiod ribbon dynamic. It's similar to the M160 except it has a built-in high pass filter starting at about 300Hz. It would be good for studio acoustic guitar with the same vocal rejection as the M160 (positioned closer to the guitar to balance proximity effect with its high-pass). It would be a good studio vocal mic, and again great for horns, strings, and overhead. Close-mic'd it would be good on my live vocals, but it wouldn't likely be suitable for my double bass. It's cheaper than the M160.

I've only used the 535EB briefly, and while I haven't used the M160 or M260 I have used an M500 and was impressed by the possibilities of hyper-cardiod off-axis rejection for acoustic guitar and vocal recording.

I know that's a bit of an essay. I'm interested in opinions by those with experience with these mics, considerations I may have missed, and other options.

A specific question: would the M160 be a good double bass microphone, live? I'm pretty happy with the RE20 in the studio.
Old 22nd December 2010
Lives for gear
I'm intrigued by the following distribution for my band, live:
M160 on double bass
RE20 on my voice (backing vocals)
SM7B on the male lead vocal
SM58s for the girls. If and when I get a 535EB (when the 451B sells) then the female lead gets the 535EB. Hrm, or maybe the violin player: she's pretty sibilant.
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