MK21 as M of MS Pair

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by DavidSpearritt, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Preparing to buy either a pair of CMC5/MK4 or CMC5/MK21 to fill in a gap in my mic collection. I do not have a cardioid pair and very occasionally need an ORTF pair to tame an ordinary acoustic.

    Now the question is, which capsule to buy. I dislike cardioids, but need to maximise my reach with this purchase.

    I like recording with MS a lot, so my question is, what is the MK21 like as an M mic in an MS pair. I feel that a pair of MK21's will be nicer in ORTF, but that it may be a little shy on image assertion as the M of an MS pair, where the MK4's maybe better.

    Thoughts from those with direct experience in MS and ORTF pr recording with the MK21 are appreciated.
  2. 0VU

    0VU Active Member

    It seems we share a dislike of cardioids.

    I used to use MS a lot as a main pickup and spent ages playing with different M mics. I've probably, at some point, been through every MS combination I can get out of the mics I own. I'd agree completely with your comments about the MK21s being more flexible in ORTF but having a somewhat loose image in MS. I really like the MK21 in ORTF-like spacing (or one of the other wider near coincident pseudo ORTF spaced arrays) where generally I prefer them to a true ORTF with cardioids. In MS, I find that they behave more like an omni than a cardioid and I'm not a fan of omni M mics. They lack the imaging that I want if I'm using MS. I don't usually like pinpoint imaging, I prefer an image with a bit of movement and space in it, but I find that the width control element of MS. with omni M mics, is too poorly defined for my taste.Subcardioids are not completely useless in MS but I don't often find myself using them like that. What would be your choice of S mic?

    My favourite/most used condensor mic MS arrays partner a Schoeps M222/MK6 (or MK8) with either a DPA 4011, Schoeps MK5 or MK6 (in cardioid), Neumann KM140 (when I want bright) or a second M222/MK6 or MK8 (in Fig 8 ).

    DPA4011+M222/MK6 (The combination I probably used most; slightly warm/dark sound but great on big romantic symphonic stuff, large scale choral/chorus+orchestra stuff and for bright sounding chamber groups. I usually balance these with a pair of DPA4006 or CMC6/MK2H outriggers. The very smooth cardioid pattern of the DPA works well, giving a nice balance of imaging and room pickup that's between a more obviously cardioid mic like an MK4 and the more open, wider sound of a subcardioid. The MK21 is not unlike this in tonal balance but with less defined imaging. The LF response of the 4011 is wider sounding than the MK4, though not as wide as an MK21, and the top is more directional than an MK21. It also seems to be less coloured and smoother off axis than the MK4. )

    M222/MK5+M222/MK6 (Another nice flexible setup with a subjectively more accurate and brighter sound than the DPA. Imaging is everything you'd expect it to be, more defined than the 4011 and much cleaner than the MK21, and the sound is typically Schoeps so no problem there :) I've also used MK5 and MK6 M mics which do more or less exactly what you'd expect with regard to imaging and HF contouring. The MK5 is probably my favourite Schoeps capsule for cardioid as I like the slight HF lift. When I have to use cardioids I hate being too close and the MK5 gives me a bit more room for manoeveur, yet doesn't sound in-your-face-bright like many HF lifted cardioids.)

    With any of the Schoeps mics above, swapping the M222 for a CMC6 will change things but not too much. I love the M222 for it's ability to take high levels without any harshness and the way it makes even bright capsules and bright sources sit into a balance rather than dominating. The sound doesn't scream "VALVES" at all - it just does the things that valves do best without trying to impress you or convince you that you're using a valve mic. Transients seem to be more natural, with an almost ribbon-like clarity and "speed" (if you know what I mean :roll: ) but still smooth and without gaining the artificial bite that most mics bring to the party. If you have a capsule with an extended LF and a bit of HF lift it sounds stunning and for me was well worth the extra money over a CMC. The CMC6 shares a lot of the things I like about the M222 but has more "balls". It's a punchier, more exciting sound which definitely has its applications, and since slinging an M222 is a pain in the neck at best and in many venues impossible it's a good one to have around. I'm never really sure whether or not I like the slightly higher rolloff on the CMC5; sometimes it sounds to me cleaner than the CMC6 but sometimes not. I think for an MS pair or main pair use I'd go with the CMC6 for the extra LF handling. Especially in a directional MS pair where the capsules themselves roll off fairly high anyway. It's obviously a personal thing though - you may hate the CMC6 and I would never argue with that ;)

    I guess the choice of MK4 or MK21 is going to be determined by whether your primary use is as an MS pair or an ORTF/other pair. (As a side note, personally, I'd go for an MK5 before an MK4 but that's just me. I've got a pair of MK4s but they get little use compared to my MK5s.) I think if I was going to consider MS as my main use I'd go for the cardioid; for anything else, and because I'd definitely get more use out of them, I'd get the MK21s. The MK21s I think are more flexible mics than the MK4s but then I've already said that I don't favour cardioids
  3. liuto

    liuto Guest

    Schoeps MS

    0VU, great posting!
    Having just purchased an MK8 your expieriences regarding MS with Schoeps and description of characteristics are very valuable for me.
  4. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I use stereo mics for my M-S micing. I'll put just about anything in the middle, but rarely cardiod. For large ensemble micing, I'll actually usually go tighter rather than wider for my mid. In Schoeps, that would mean a MK41 capsule. I like the focus deep into the ensemble that the hyper gives. In the end, though, having a number of different ways to work would be good. Ensembles and rooms are different and you want to be as flexable as possible.

  5. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    OVU and Ben, many thanks, but I am still in a quandry. I guess the MK4 is looking good for being the biggest problem solver. I need an ORTF pair for eliminating the acoustic in problem rooms and will probably use them often with my beloved KM120's in an MS pair.

    I think the MK41 would be too directional at this stage, would love a pair of course but do not have the budget until I sell something else. Will probably buy the CMC5 bodies as I do not want the extended bottom and always have 48V. The tube amps would be nice, but budget again.

    Anyway, thanks for your assistance, lots to think about.
  6. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    It is not to discount the mk21 capsule as it's directional characteristics at higher frequencies make it a very versatile microphone. In fact, it is one of my favorite capsules that Schoeps makes.

    Perhaps an MK5 capsule would be a good center as well- you'd get a quality cardiod, but also when you close the vents, you get an omni which can work well in a M-S center of an orchestral array. (Yes, it is a strange way of working, but it can sound good). When you get additional funding, you could add other capsules as you see fit.

    For a near coincident pair, I've gotten great results from the MK21. I find it needs to be spaced a bit further than standard cardiods, but it sounds quite full. The MK21 is also one of my favorite spot mics for choral recording.

  7. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    My suggestion...

    [2] CMC6(or5) bodies.
    [2] Mk21's, matched
    [1] Mk4

    I think this strikes a better balance of price and functionality. The multipattern schoeps capsules are hardly cost effective as they cost almost as much as two seperate capsules.

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