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Welcome to the Sweetwater Mic Shootout Forum
Old 28th April 2017
  #1
Welcome to the Sweetwater Mic Shootout Forum

Hello fellow Gearslutz! Lynn Fuston from Sweetwater here.

I've worked with Jules and the team at Gearslutz to put together this forum dedicated to discussing our "Vocal Mic Shootout" (check it out here: https://goo.gl/0BT5Eb) and the microphones you hear. I hope you'll share your opinions on what you hear, what works, what doesn't work, how much price matters, and more.

As a bonus, you can download either the 24-bit/96kHz Pro Tools session or the the raw audio files and load them into your DAW of choice from the linked page below. Compare the 50 microphones — the male and female vocal examples for each mic can be solo'd or played in context with backing tracks. I'm Sweetwater's Manager of Written Content and I helped put this shootout together. I'll be checking in here during the month of May to answer any questions you may have.


Last edited by Lynn Fuston; 28th April 2017 at 09:45 PM..
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Old 1st May 2017
  #2
Just wanted to give a big welcome to Lynn and a thanks to Sweetwater for setting all this up. It must be one of the most comprehensive shootouts of its kinds ever done and we're thrilled to be hosting the 'discussion' end of things here on GS!

Please feel free to post your questions, observations, preferences, likes, like-lesses and general comments about it - as mentioned, Lynn will be answering questions and of course many of you will have extensive experience with the mics on comparison as well so your own personal stories are more than welcome!

Should be a fun month!
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Old 1st May 2017
  #3
Hi Lynn!

It's nice to have my old buddy on here doing some cool stuff!

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Old 1st May 2017
  #4
Lives for gear
 
jupiter8's Avatar
 

Awesome.

Just a heads up, the link to the behind the scenes doesn't work.
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/be...-mic-shootout/
Old 1st May 2017
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Matti's Avatar
Thanks!

Matti
Old 1st May 2017
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by jupiter8 View Post
Awesome.

Just a heads up, the link to the behind the scenes doesn't work.
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/be...-mic-shootout/
Sorry. Noticed that this morning at 2AM. We're on it. You need to see it so try again about 9AM ET.

2AM?!? I'm not excited about people seeing this, am I?
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Old 1st May 2017
  #7
Of course they left out the one mic I'm most interested in right now: Telefunken CU-29
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Old 1st May 2017
  #8
Lives for gear
 
foldback's Avatar
I hope this will be the beginning of more of this type of high-quality, well organized demonstrations of gear performance.

Thank you Sweetwater and thanks Gearslutz for making this happen. I'm looking forward to listening and comparing.

Good music to all!
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Old 1st May 2017
  #9
With a few exceptions, it is virtually impossible to find an in depth evaluation of individual mics. Someone standing in front of mic at a couple different distances, talking at different angles, then singing without processing a simple tune in a couple different ranges at a couple different distances. "Check, check" still tells me more about a mic in a few seconds than these big productions where the mic sound is buried. Just a rant!
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Old 1st May 2017
  #10
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKeefe1032 View Post
With a few exceptions, it is virtually impossible to find an in depth evaluation of individual mics. Someone standing in front of mic at a couple different distances, talking at different angles, then singing without processing a simple tune in a couple different ranges at a couple different distances. "Check, check" still tells me more about a mic in a few seconds than these big productions where the mic sound is buried. Just a rant!
Yes I agree.

Plus for me personally as a singer - it's the whole chain.

I've had a mic I thought was only 80% there and then I've swapped out the pre and/or tracking comp for something else and suddenly it's beyond perfect.

I see a mic/pre/comp exactly as a guitarist see's a guitar/amp/speaker

If you have the right chain you can play it with your voice, exactly like an instrument, interact with it exactly like an instrument - often engineers just don't get that.
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Old 1st May 2017
  #11
Totally agree! For us the preamps do wonders to shape mic sound and would sell a few famous mics before letting them go.
Old 1st May 2017
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Thanks for this great shootout

i use the Manley ref c, great to hear that it stands out.not so great for me to hear half priced mic's that stand up to it

one more thing, while importing tracks to cubase i noticed volume differences between tracks, making it hard to be objective

thanks
Old 1st May 2017
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Why not 1 or 2 high quality cardiod
and omni SDC's for comparison?
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Old 1st May 2017
  #14
That's really useful; interesting comparison aided by the speed of audio playback.

The Chandler is my favourite so far; also the Manley Ref which is a bit cleaner.
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Old 1st May 2017
  #15
Wonderful

Thank you very much !

R.
Old 1st May 2017
  #16
Lives for gear
 
ionian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ohmicide View Post
Of course they left out the one mic I'm most interested in right now: Telefunken CU-29

Quote:
Originally Posted by Folkie View Post
Why not 1 or 2 high quality cardiod
and omni SDC's for comparison?
I would have liked to see a Blue Kiwi in there as well as it seems to be a popular mic.

But I think, like a lot of shootouts, they don't really base it on what's popular and what mics people are most likely to use, but rather whatever they can get their hands on at the time of the shootout. So you end up with a selection where it's like half popular mics that get used a lot and chances are you'll come across them and half mics that aren't so popular and maybe on the fringe, but hey, they were available so we included them.

I'm sure if they had done a shootout of the Top 50 best selling mics on Sweetwater, in order of sales, we'd be seeing a different selection for the shootout. I'd love to actually see a shootout like that at some point.
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Old 1st May 2017
  #17
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

Come on now guys. I know this is gearslutz, "home of the complaint," but I don't recall anyone else attempting do do something as potentially useful as this.

I'm waiting to get home and listen to the 96/24 samples on phones.
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #18
Gear Nut
 
ccmdav's Avatar
 

I've been wondering when Sweetwater was going to get into this. I appreciate how strict they were with their methodology. I'm looking forward to shootouts done with dynamics, ribbons, and SDCs - hopefully with some instruments. (While also being aware of how much work it is to do that... thank you again.)

Somehow, in spite of my experience over the past 15 or so years, I've either not developed the golden ears, or else I'm still well-grounded enough to only be bothered with sonic differences that matter to the untrained ear... but it just goes to show you how subtle the differences are between sub-$500 and $3000+ LDC mics. VERY subtle. It also goes to show those who are learning the trade that focusing on gear before technique will discourage you and leave you broke. And yet, all too many follow that exact path. (Kind of makes me wish that this website had a different name and focus... TechniqueSlutz? Doesn't work very well.)

That being said, I'm extremely impressed with the Aston Spirit and the WA-87, neither of which I have owned or heard. If I was starting all over again, I'd get those to go along with other essential gear (especially acoustic treatment). For a studio setup that only needed to record two channels at a time, you could get a lot of mileage out of those mics. I still have a pair of AT4033s, and that is another great mic for the money.
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #19
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

Currently downloading the high res versions. Interesting, however to note that sonic differences in character between the mics are clearly audible in the compressed web audio format. The 4033 here has the same basic character as my old 4033s some of which are getting on for 20 years old. The voicing difference between the C414 XLS and the C414 XLII is clear.

There is a substantial difference between "cannot make a completely informed comparison using standard web audio," and " its pointless listening to anything in this format."
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #20
Lives for gear
Thank you Lynn for putting this together and to GS for its support. Very informative and insightful and the high res files are so much better than a YT video IMHO.
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #21
Gear Nut
 

Previews not working in IE11

On Windows 7 Pro / 64 with IE 11 the previews do no play. OK on Chrome.
Old 2nd May 2017
  #22
Lives for gear
I like the Oceanus LT-381 on male with track...Very intelligible- brings it to the front but not in a harsh way....I don't think there's a mic in the collection that could make that female vocalist sound bad.....She could sing in a kid's karaoke plastic $2 mic and kill it!.....Thanks for taking the effort....Very helpful hearing the different characteristics and making general comparisons between them....moon
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #23
Lives for gear
 

Where is the BOCK 47 (407), the SONY C800G ... any BRAUNERs, SANKENs, FleAs?
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #24
Here for the gear
 

Lynn - what an invaluable learning tool this is to us who don't have access to this kind of a collection... thank you! I remember doing blind listening parties to see what kind of mics everyone gravitated towards. We'd use shootouts like this.

I would've loved to see a 57 thrown in there, just for good measure but regardless, great work and thanks again!
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #25
Lives for gear
I hate to admit that the more expensive mics really did sound better in almost all cases. The Neumann U87, Telefunken U47, and Chandler mic really had "that BIG spacious sound" you really want on a vocal track.

I always listen to stuff like this hoping to expose some conspiracy where these legendary mics are mere brand names....can't say I found much satisfaction here!

The great ones always have a bigger low/mid strength to them. The Warm Audio 87 for example just doesn't have the BIGNESS of the U87. And the highs on the U87 are more spacious too.

The Telefunken U47 made his voice sound wide open and BIG. It sounded GREAT!
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #26
Gear Addict
 
skycaptain's Avatar
This shootout is excellent! Thanks for all the labor! A fantastic job involving vocal parts with good dynamics and timbre changes, it reveals a lot about the mics' compression characteristics and overall dynamic response. Really impressed by some of the newer affordable mics coming out like the wa-87 and Aston spirit. Cool to see other new mics like the Soundelux U99 (sounds really nice!) and the Chandler REDD as well. Also really cool to see how close some of the clones are getting today. The Bock IFET absolutely nailed the FET47 sound to me, especially on male vocals, and is much cheaper. The Bock 251 was also very close the Telefunken 251, with some subtle differences.

Like others said however, you really see why the classic mics have the reputation they have. The Telefunken U47 sounds like so many records we've all heard, and although 9 grand is steep, that sound is still one of the greatest and most sought after sounds engineers look for. Handles sibilance very well, just enough midrange cut, and has so much low and low midrange fullness. You'd hardly touch it in a mix.



Really well done, will be coming back to this comparison a lot when mic shopping!
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by halcyo View Post
I hate to admit that the more expensive mics really did sound better in almost all cases. The Neumann U87, Telefunken U47, and Chandler mic really had "that BIG spacious sound" you really want on a vocal track.

I always listen to stuff like this hoping to expose some conspiracy where these legendary mics are mere brand names....can't say I found much satisfaction here!

The great ones always have a bigger low/mid strength to them. The Warm Audio 87 for example just doesn't have the BIGNESS of the U87. And the highs on the U87 are more spacious too.

The Telefunken U47 made his voice sound wide open and BIG. It sounded GREAT!
Agreed about the Telefunken U47, it was probably my favorite for both. Liked it better than the U87.

Last edited by ohmicide; 2nd May 2017 at 09:14 AM..
Old 2nd May 2017
  #28
Gear Head
 
Pops's Avatar
My top 5 in no particular order.
Bock 251
Chandler redd
Neumann u87ai
Manley gold
Soundelux u99

Was surprised by the warm audio, sounded good on these tracks, especially for the price. Also like the lauten clarion on male vocals.
Old 2nd May 2017
  #29
Wow, a great amount of work gone into this. Obviously you can't please everyone, especially on Gearslutz.

As I previously imagined the Manley Ref C sounds very much like the Redd 47 which is so weird when you think about it.

Also interesting to hear the Aston Origin on a female voice which works very well, where on the male voice it fails miserably with a horrid resonance.

The Bock stuff does sound great, no surprise there. The Avantone which I'd only considered a Barbie doll microphone beats out many of the expensive ones which is fun.

The Warm 87 is questionable. The Tele's all sound the same to an extent so save money and get all the cheap ones instead of a silly priced one.

I'll check them all out some more and share some more opinions later.....

Thanks Lynn and all else involved for this shootout!
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #30
We actually did a "web presentation mode" shootout here (I kid you not!), comparing alternatives before deciding on 320K MP3s. Other web-friendly file formats clouded and diminished the differences. It truly is amazing how much difference you can hear between the mics in these short MP3-encoded snippets. But for the real comparison, listening to the 24/96 samples is the closest you can get without putting all the mics in the same room for yourself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolk martin View Post
Currently downloading the high res versions. Interesting, however to note that sonic differences in character between the mics are clearly audible in the compressed web audio format. The 4033 here has the same basic character as my old 4033s some of which are getting on for 20 years old. The voicing difference between the C414 XLS and the C414 XLII is clear.

There is a substantial difference between "cannot make a completely informed comparison using standard web audio," and " its pointless listening to anything in this format."
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