Gefell M296

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by rcastiglione, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. rcastiglione

    rcastiglione Guest

    I am thinking of taking the plunge and acquiring a pair of MG M296 omnis. I will use them A-B for choral recording in a church but also hope to experiment with the omni as the mid element in an MS array (MKH30 as figure of 8) for nature recording. Looking for that greater sense of spaciousness every one talks about with omnis as I think that this will suit me. I have also heard several musical samples recorded with these mics and was blown away by the detail and natural sound. Yes, I want them all right.

    Unfortunately, I will not have any opportunity to audition them prior to purchase (unless some kind soul who lives on the west coast of Australia who is reading this can help out).

    My question is this. The M296 seems to be corrected to some extent for use in the diffuse field. This will be my first (and I hope rewarding) adventure into the world of omnis. However I do know from my reading that generally speaking omnis for use in the direct field (say the schoeps MK2) do not have such a rise. DPA solves this problem with different grills at the front I think.

    Does this mean that the M296 is not really suitable for use in the direct field? Is it too bright or at least compromised for such use? Is it really the equivalent of the Schoeps MK2H (I think this is the model). Or is it in some way a compromise between the two Schoeps? I have read a review for example by Ty Ford of the M296 that suggested that it was a bit bright for close up recording (though he did really like the mic). On the other hand I have also read the review by Jeremy Cucco of this forum in which he clearly used the mic close up. Jeremy, I know your posts that you were impressed.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. mdemeyer

    mdemeyer Active Member

    Hi Rob,

    You mention A-B choral recording and nature recording (I presume outdoors). These are generally both diffuse-field (or nearly so for the choral work), for which the 296 would be very well suited. Or did you have some other close-mic uses planned which you did not mention?

  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Generally in MS recording, your mid-microphone should be cardioid. Yes you can use in Omni.

    And as I stated in a previous post, I find that with condenser microphones, sibilence becomes quite obnoxious and I really don't believe in "de-essing" in post. But rather for choir recordings, I do recommend ribbon microphones such as the Beyer M160 HyperCardioid. A beautiful lush ribbon sound that can hardly be beat. You may also want to look into the M160 HyperCardioid with the M130 figure 8 to be used in an MS pair. Your stereo field can then also be manipulated in post. I wouldn't however recommend using these microphones outside, as a strong breeze could destroy the ribbons. Get a different pair of condenser microphones for your outdoor use. There really isn't a general-purpose pair of microphones to do what you are thinking of. And in case you haven't been able to tell, for recording choirs I'm not a big fan of spaced omnis. A friend of mine, with many gold records, does just that for choirs and it certainly does not impress me nor do I like the sibilence.

    Good luck on your endeavors
    Remy Ann David
  4. rcastiglione

    rcastiglione Guest


    The particular acoustic in the church where I normally record requires that I get reasonably close otherwise lushness turns to mush. I would also like to get maximum flexibility out of such an expensive acquisition. But maybe I am dreaming - there is after all be a good reason why Schoeps makes (at least?) two omnis, one for the direct and one for the diffuse field. If people tell me that the gefell is simply too bright close up then I might have to think again.

    I have been using MKH40 and sometimes a Schoeps MK41 for outdoor work as the mid element but am intrigued by the possibilities of using the apparently extraordinary detail of the gefell for nature recording ( I use the excellent DPA Windpac for wind protection - looks like a zeppelin, is very light and holds two mics in MS array perfectly ). I hope that the natural rise of the Gefell should work out well in that setting.

  5. rcastiglione

    rcastiglione Guest


    Been thinking on your interesting comments. Who can resist "luscious"? I have only used a ribbon once (Royer) and I was surprised and attracted to its quite different way of handling sound from my condensers. It is indeed true that I am getting a lot of sibalence and a certain 'aggressive" tone to the singing. It is a women's choir and I dont think that an aggressive sound is what is needed so it has concerned me a bit ! I wonder now whether the particular features of the Gefell wont in fact exacerbate these features.

    Had a look at the Beyers and they are very reasonably priced. Do you happen to know why they pair up they suggest pairing up the hypercardiod (160?) with their 130 to do MS? Also just to make sure how the 130 and the 160 are configured: the 160 is an end address mic while the 130 serves as the bidirectional element. Is that correct?

    Interestingly, I think i could actually use it outdoors as the figure of 8 in my DPA Windpac which has a very good shock mount and is very secure from outdoor wind.

    Many thanks

  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey Rob!

    Several things here.

    First - Gefell makes 2 versions of the M296 - the standard and the 's.' The s is ruler flat - so flat it is a certified measurement microphone. As for the regular, I don't find it to be too bright at all. Bear in mind, even omnis have directional characteristics at higher frequencies. If you're noticing too much HF, move them slightly off axis - aim the capsules at something that will benefit from the bright. (In a choral situation, this means over their heads...)

    Second - omni can work just fine in a M/S setup. The biggest issue is that the omni does better with distance and the ribbon (or fig-8) prefers closeness. A compromise is in order.

    Third - yes, you can definitely use the Gefells close up without too much stridence. If it gets a little too bright, they do handle EQ well. I'm working on editing and mixing a recording of Handel's Messiah right now - a very tedious process as I'm assembling takes from 2 nights of shows. However, both shows were recorded with a Decca Tree using M296s and the center mic was a Schoeps CMC6ext/MK2s. The Schoeps is by far a brighter mic than the Gefell, but both worked great for this group. It's a chamber orchestra and the strings in total numbered maybe 20 with a chorus of around 32, it was a small production.

    The difficulty in this recording was that, I needed to stay close to the violins for the same reasons you mentioned. In this church, if I go even slightly too far back, it's a wash of reverb. So, instead, I got the mics positioned just out of reach of the concertmistress' bow (actually a tad further - I measured the placement at just over 7' off the ground). In reality, this puts very little hall in the recording, but I am comfortable adding it with my TC M3000.

    In general, if there were moments of stridency (and there were), I could easily EQ them to tame them a bit. It wasn't needed often, but they took the EQ like a champ!

    4th - I'm an admitted HUGE fan of using omnis for recording. I think almost anything on the planet can be captured well by an omni if it's used correctly. I don't subscribe to the theory that "if the room is bad, and omni won't work." IMO, you simply need to get the omni closer to the source to avoid this. Yes, an omni will pick up more of the room than other mic varieties (except a poorly placed figure 8), but a bad room sound can be virtually eliminated with proper placement or the right compromise. (Oh, and everything we do is a compromise, it's just a matter of choosing the lesser of two or two-thousand evils.)

    That being said, I have become a HUGE fan of the M130. I had tried the Royer SF12 prior to getting the M130 and I simply didn't like it. Who knows, maybe it was my inexperience with ribbons (it probably was!), but it just didn't work for me. The Beyer on the other hand rocked my world straight out of the box and still does. I haven't found an application in which I don't like it. (Except, as pointed out by IIRs, on kick drum...)

    The M160 is designed to pair up with it b/c it uses the exact same ribbon element in a different configuration (which accounts for its different pattern.) In reality, you could easily use another directional mic (or omni, but see above) for your Mid mic, but choose wisely.

    The M130 is dark. As bright as the M296 is, the M130 is equally dark. Both handle EQ quite well, but my preference is to always cut rather than boost. (As a general rule, but there are always and frequently reasons to break that rule.)

    For that recording of the Messiah, I used a Schoeps CMC6 MK4 as the soloist's mic (cardioid so as to reject some of the 2nd violins which were directly in front of the vocal soloists.) In hindsite, I wish I had used the M130 and baffled the rear lobe - I think it would have been a tad more usable in the mix, whereas with the Schoeps, I can really only bring up the level enough to help with pronounciation. (I'm still working on that though - I might get more out of it yet!)

    So, I guess to confuse you - either the Schoeps, the Gefell, the Beyer or the B&K's will make wonderful choices. If I were stranded on a desert island, and I HAD to choose 2 pair of mics to live with forever and ever, I would go with a pair of M296's and a pair of M130s. Between the two of them, you could record EVERYTHING on this planet.

    I hope this helps!

  7. rcastiglione

    rcastiglione Guest

    Thanks so much for your very informative reply, Jeremy. I have been very curious to experiment with omnis for a long time. The turning point came for me when I heard the Mermen recorded with a couple of DPA omnis - openness and spaciousness of the sound made me very reluctant to use cardiods ever again. I find that I actually like to hear the acoustic of the room even if it is "imperfect".

    Ok, I came asking about Gefells and now I am committed to buying them and also the Beyer MS set up which I am ordering right now. Just on this point - I asked Remy above to confirm that the 160 is end address i.e. it sits on top (or below) the M130 which acts as the figure of 8 in an MS array does it? In other words, the ribbon is actually 90 degrees to the microphone body? If this is so, it should fit very nicely inside the DPA Windpac.

    Just a note of genuine appreciation: I have enjoyed and learned heaps thus far from this excellent forum for a long time. I am in fact a film maker with a misguided but passionate interest in audio and recording (I will pretty much record anything which emits a signal and then carefully archive it) but I feel my skills have been greatly improved simply from reading a lot of the excellent posts in this forum.

  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Cool Rob -

    I think you'll enjoy them!

    The M160 is in fact an end-address microphone. Many refer to it as a handheld ribbon when in fact, it really wasn't designed for that. But, because it picks up sound on the same axis as the SM58, the kids decided it must be a handheld vocal mic. (I couldn't imagine a mic I would want on stage in someone's hands LESS than the M160 - unless of course they were well insured!!!)

  9. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    I am afraid I disagree with this. I find omnis only work in good rooms and one has to have plenty of good directional mics in the kit to get a decent sound in most "normal" (ie bad, small) rooms. Cardioids and hypo-cardioids are great acoustic problem solvers. I find just getting closer with an omni eliminates any ability to balance instruments or get any sort of decent stereo image.

    Jeremy, I think you have mostly nice rooms to work with and probably don't have to put up with the school gyms, band practice rooms, bad churches, bad auditoria that maybe we have had.

    Omnis in a great room, cannot be beat. Except perhaps with a Blumlein pair. :p
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Well,here's where I'm coming from.

    The room is a component of the sound regardless of microphone type (when specifically referring to orchestral/symphonic type recording). Directional and omnidirectional mics both pick up room sound and portray it as part of the sound.

    With a directional mic, if your room is bad, you still hear it. You may move the mics closer and then simply "add" room later with a reverb processor, but the same can be done with an omni mic. The trick is, you have to seriously work the distance issues out.

    Too close and you cease to pick up the entire ensemble, too far and you pick up too much crappy room sound.

    When I go to record a concert in a less than ideal venue (and I get my fair share of those :cry: ), I simply bring a few extra mics. Often, I'll use Decca Tree if the room sucks. This allows me to get the mics close to the orchestra without sacrificing the center imaging. Then, I may work with spots to bring out what the mains might miss.

    Then, just as if I were using directional mics, I put the room back in.

    I won't say it's ideal, but it is possible and quite do-able. It just takes a lot of playing.

    That being said, I'm not above using directional mics. One of my favorite recordings that I ever did was using a pair of Schoeps CMC5 MK4's in XY with MK2h's as outriggers. Great imaging, great ambience - truly the best of both worlds. It's a shame the music director and I had a serious dispute about copyright - in his mind, "Master" means that not only did I create and give him a disc, but I no longer own rights to the recording (despite what my contract for situations like this states) Oh well, it was the Faure Requiem and I'm SSSOOOO tired of that piece. I play it at least 4 times a year and have for the past 10 years.

  11. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    One form of bad acoustic that omnis can never work in, no matter how close to the source, is one with excessive reverberation. We get a lot of these venues, and the close ORTF pair solves the problem. See for example this venue. :)
  12. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Ouch. That car vendor hall looks like an acoustic nightmare regardless of what mics you have. The Nagra though looks quite at home with Benzes.

    Just a very minor point though, the main pair does not look like ORTF to me. ORTF is very closely guarded by the French radio to be 17cm between the capsule and 110 degree angle. With normal mics this always means the ends where the connectors are overlap.

  13. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    I must confess that I am a recently converted but nowadays major fan of omni mics. As an amateur recorder / musician I do not record as often and in as varying venues as the pros on the forum here. But I do really find that omni mics gives me more of the sound I want to achieve.

    On recommendation from Cucco I bought a pair of M296 (no s at the end, has been confusing in another thread). I find them to be very good omni mics. Not bright as some has said. Quite useable on just about any source, including choirs. What you might say perhaps is that they maybe give "too true" recordings. No cosmetica added. So if the source has sound problems, the mic will show them. In my limited experience amateur choirs can have this sibilance problem, and it is shown in the recordings.

    Regardless of everything I really think everyone seriously interested in recording should try out using true pressure omnis. (The switchable mics generally are not true pressure omnis as they are built from combining two mic diaphragms). It should be possible to borrow or rent a pair for a few days, often surprisingly cheap.

    Next thing is to try out mic placement. It looks to me that there are two schools in AB placement of omnis. One school places them rather close to each other, often on the same stereo bar. They might be as close as on foot apart, more often a bit more. The second school places them further apart, 10 feet or more. Both can give good recordings with good stereo depth. The farther away you place the mics though, the risc increases of a hole on the middle. Hence you add a third microphone between the two, panned in the middle in the stereo field. Three omnis to me really is the optimum. It allows you to use only two, place three in a row in front of the orchestra or setup a Decca tree over the orchestra (althought that takes quite a bit of mounting hardware).

    Anyway, my personal ideas on the matter whatever they may be worth to anyone else.

  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Nice Pics David! The thing I want in that showroom more than anything else is the Nagra!

    BTW - that showroom looks EXACTLY like BMW/Porche of Arlington. I mean EXACTLY (with the exception of the Mercedes Benzs all over the place... :lol: )

    I would agree that it would be very tough in there, and ultimately, I would probably opt for a directional pair, but in reality, I think it could be done.

    Once I'm done with this Messiah stuff I'm doing, I'll release a recording and some photos. It was done in a Octagonal church with a dome ceiling. The reverb is insane. I chose to go with omnis on that one simply becuase of the sparse nature of that orchestra's instrumentation. I didn't want to pick up too much individual sound, so I couldn't really go directional.

    Any way - thanks again for the pics! Keep em coming!

  15. hughesmr

    hughesmr Guest

    Ehhh... I would agree, but the BIG exception to this is organ recording. The room is so vital in that circumstance, along with capture of LF info, that omnis are a must, even if you are washing in 6 seconds of reverb.

  16. hughesmr

    hughesmr Guest

    Just wondering: how many of us on here DID a Messiah recording this Christmas? I'm betting at least a few!

    I think it would be interesting to have us all post an agreed-to chorus and/or a solo from the work for all of us to compare and <ahem> critique. Or perhaps choose your "best" chorus and solo from your gig. Give full disclosure on venue, equipment used, etc.

    I recorded the whole work last month for a community orchestra and chorus (of which I am a tenor: but, did not sing in the recorded performance due to DRAINAGE :lol: ).

    Any takers?

  17. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Hey Mike; sounds like a great idea, but I'm not sure I can stand any more "Messiah" right now! Hehehe...

    I have to say I may have recorded the LONGEST version of it yet this year; it was with Haverford/Bryn Mawr's Bi-College Chorale, and they did just about every aria and movement one can find from this multi-segmented work; in fact the music director/conductor did it deliberately to include as many soloists as possible, and to include as many singers (and musicians in the chamber orchestra) as he could. (I could send a track sheet or song list to anyone who's interested.)

    It's a long work anyway, but this version barely fit onto two CDs; we started "Part the Second" on the first CD (since we had the space after Part the First and sorely needed it!), and thus the 2nd and 3rd Parts conclude on Disc Two. (It was tight; disc 1 was 1 hr and 17 minutes, disc two was 1 hr and 14 minutes, if I'm remembering correctly.)

    I'm not sure the total count yet, but I think we did up to FIVE separate versions of the "Hallelujah!" chorus this season, some were excepts, and two were from entire Messiah performances.

    Not counting all the horrible TV and Radio commercials flooding the airwaves with their own terrible re-wording of a great piece of music, to sell cars, tacos, and god knows what else. :roll: I may sound like a curmudgeon here, but I think I want to just let it all go for a while now....maybe till next December? :twisted:
  18. hughesmr

    hughesmr Guest

    Boy, do I ever hear you! The group I sang with (and recorded) did THREE performances of the COMPLETE Messiah over two weekends (Sunday, Friday, Sunday). We were ALL sick of it by the end ... and then I had the joy of post production on it!

    Waiting a while is fine with me ... up next for this group is the Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony in March ... that should be fun.

  19. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Sharped eyed Gunnar, yes you are correct. I find the rigorous ORTF spacing and angle gives me to wide an image with small chamber ensembles, hence the more like NOS pattern with these Schoeps MK4's. Wasn't ORTF mainly developed for orchestral main pairs where the sound source is huge/wide?
  20. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Yep I agree with this exception Mike, but then organ music is made for RT60 of >4secs "rooms". I was mainly referring to chamber music and smaller scale ensembles, but didn't make this clear.

    I think this thread has been well and truly hijacked. Sorry. :oops:

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