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Marshall MXL 603s for overheads?

Discussion in 'Room & Overhead' started by TBBucs, Apr 30, 2010.

  1. TBBucs

    TBBucs Guest

    I'm looking for a good set of condenser mics for overheads and found a pair of MXL 603s for a good price. Would these work well for drum overheads? Also, they are not a matched pair...should I be concerned?
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    603s can be used. You have to make sure you don't push them too much otherwise they sizzle. I used to use 603's all the time as choir mic's or spot mic's. They are also one of the most modified platforms around.

    There are better mic's out there. A pair of NT5's for instance. Better yet a pair of AT4051's.
  3. TBBucs

    TBBucs Guest

    Thanks for the suggestions. What I really love about the 603s is that I found a pair (with shock mounts, cables, and case) for $200, which is $50 less than a single NT5. That being said, if I'm going to be spending any amount of money on this, I don't want to get an inferior product just because it's cheaper.
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    The NT5 is a better mic than the 603s. A modified 603 might be a different story. At any rate, as long as you know a 603 is cheap and they can't be pushed they are usable.

    There is NO repeat NO resell value to a 603. That means you use the thing for whatever you can and throw it away when it breaks (or send it off to be modified). You will never be able to recoup your investment other than in your recording rates.
  5. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    I own a bunch of mics, including a pair of Rode NT5s. The NT5s are awesome and work well as drum overheads.

    I also recently bough a matched pair of Cascade M-39s, new, directly from Cascade for $149.00! I tried them out as overheads last week and I am very impressed with the result, very comparable to the NT5s at a fraction of the cost. Worth considering!

  6. blaumph2cool

    blaumph2cool Active Member

    Also in the balpark are the Samson CO2's. I find the 603's to be shrill.
  7. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    The 603s are very serviceable pencil condensers, whether as OHs or as a stereo pair on say, an acoustic guitar. Sometimes a little sizzle is what you need.
    I also own the M39s, and they are the reason the 603s don't get any use now (that, and other condensers like the 414).
    Now, if I were ever to have to record two acoustic guitars w/ two separate stereo pairs, I'd pull the 603s out for guitar #2 in a heartbeat.
    For the price, they are fantastic mics. Just be prepared to toss them when you upgrade, like Jack said.

    I too would like to hear what my 603s would sound like modded, but that money must go to other things.

    Can't comment on the Rode mics, but they get as much love here as any other brand.
  8. simman

    simman Active Member

    If you go with 603s get them modified - world of difference.
  9. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    More important are stands with good locking, because it's embarrassing when they droop, mid song!
    pcrecord likes this.
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Truthfully, you can use any matched pair of mics as overheads - condensers, dynamics, ribbons, LD's, SD's...and in different patterns - XY, ORTF, A/B, M-S, Omni, Blumlein, hell, even mono for that matter...

    It all depends on what type of sound you are after, ( tight, open, edgy, warm, silky, and the rest of the Seven Dwarves) along with how your room is (acoustically), and, how well the mics are placed. In that regard, it's always helpful to have an assistant around, someone who can move the mics around at your direction while you are monitoring. This makes it a lot easier to find the "sweet spot(s)"... those positions that can alter the sound, for better and for worse - and sometimes drastically so - simply by moving the mic(s) a mere inch or two in any given direction. (Side note: When you do come upon a placement that sound good to you, don't forget to check them in mono for potential phase issues).

    While a pair of KM85's or 414's, or other nice condensers placed in an XY array are always nice choices, you don't have to have them in order to get good sounding OH tracks. Just as important is the preamps used, having a well-tuned kit, good mic placement, and the way the room itself sounds.

    I even got decent sounding OH tracks once using a simple pair of 57's, while doing a hired-gun engineering gig at a smaller home studio, and no other matched mics were available...
    Maybe they aren't the "standard" go-to's for OH's, but it can be done, and successfully, if attention is paid to mic placement. The result I achieved with that pair of 57's - while perhaps not as detailed or "silky" as what a pair of good condensers would have offered - still sounded pretty good; and in a way, they were probably the better choice in that circumstance because the room we were in ( typical basement) sounded so bad on its own; so the fact that the 57's weren't as sensitive and "detailed" in their response as nice condensers are, actually helped in that scenario, because they weren't picking up every little nuance of the room, which in that case, were bad nuances.

    Also, if you do happen to have a good sounding space, don't rule out using a room mic (Omni or Figure 8) backed off away from the kit, to capture a mono track of the drums and the room ambience at the same time. This track can be very useful for "tightening" the image, ( or widening it, as the case may be, by decreasing the level and relying more on the OH's) and this is also sometimes beneficial for adding a "live" energy vibe, when used as a support track in conjunction with stereo arrays. (I'm not saying to use one or the other ... I'm saying to use both, and then adjust the levels of each in the mix, corresponding to each other as you best hear them.)

    Omni pattern mics can be useful for this, as can Ribbon mics ( bi-directional/fig 8). Personally speaking, I like using Ribbons for mono ( and stereo) room ambience - because they aren't as "shrill" or "edgy" in the upper frequency ranges as many condensers can be; as most ribbons top out at around 10-12k, and even then, normally the mic isn't flat up those frequencies, the upper range is attenuated (shelved), sometimes by as much as -4 db, ( depending on the model), so you can get a nice, warm low end, with hi mids and hi's that are smooth and complimentary - though again, it's all dependent on the room. FWIW, a pair of nice ribbon mics - something like Royer 121's - used as OH's can be really nice too, for the same reason mentioned above - they sound smoother, and you usually don't get as much "brashness" or "splattering" of the cymbals.

    IMHO of course... ;)
    soapfloats likes this.
  11. simman

    simman Active Member

    Nothing worse than having your boom droop. :barefoot:

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