neumann km 183 d

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by leonin, Mar 19, 2007.

  1. leonin

    leonin Guest

    What is the word on the street about the Neumann KM 183 d? I only found one page on the net with any sort of review. Does anyone here have one? How does it compare to other quality omnis, like Schoeps? Would it be good for recording organ, or choir?
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Well, it's a KM 183 and sounds like a KM 183 with a digital output. And of course, omni-pattern. And so, what kind of digital inputs do you hope to connect this microphone to? It's not USB.

    A marvelous microphone that is well suited to recording pipe organs.

    Without an organ
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    John Willett has written about about the mics. Be warned that he is an employee by Sennheiser in UK -- in this case he has used his own money and I have always found him to be an honest guy not spilling good words unless he means it.

    I must say I find the idea very interesting. Putting the AD in the mic solves a lot of problems and can potentially give a very clean digital signal that can travel far on the cable without degradation. Guess there are a lot of other things to consider though.

  4. leonin

    leonin Guest

    I was thinking of going cheap and using the s/pdif inputs on a digital recorder. If that is not possible I suppose that I would need their special DMI 2 box.
  5. d_fu

    d_fu Guest

    Not sure whether the mics can be externally synced at all...
    From what I see on the website of a shop here, there are three varieties of each mic at the same price, 44, 48, and 96k. If you want to get anything else out of one, you need SRC. If you buy 44, you can never do 96k with it...

  6. 0VU

    0VU Active Member

    The basic mic in stand alone/'starter kit' form isn't externally syncable, nor does it have changeable sample rates, etc.

    However, whilst the mics are supplied in one of a choice of fixed output sample rates, these are just the initial supply setups. If you just buy the basic mic 'starter kit' then the mic is fixed to the sample rate (and other internal parameters) supplied; adding a DMI-2 and some external software allows external sync and control of all the many internal functions, including sample rates.

    The mic's output is an AES42 stream, which is converted to other, more useable, formats via an external box. The external box comes in one of two types, the basic stand alone mic adapter or the DMI-2 stereo adapter/sync/control unit.

    Buying a single mic, it comes in a 'starter kit' containing the mic and capsule, mic clip, foam windshield, an external adapter box (which may be ordered in one of two forms - one with an AES output, the other with an S/PDIF output) and a 12V AC 'wall wart' adapter to power it all. There's apparently a battery powered version too but I don't know whether or not this is available yet. The output from the adapter box is on a short flying lead, terminated in the appropriate connector for whichever output format is chosen.

    To sync two or more mics for stereo or multichannel work, or to change the sample rates (or other parameters) from those supplied, requires the use of mains powered DMI-2 external interface/control box(es), each of which may handle two mics and the supplied remote control software and a computer. The DMI-2 boxes have AES/EBU outputs and may be externally synced and daisy-chained for control of multiple units.

    The DMI-2 also adds access to a load of useful tricks including bi-directional remote control of the mics' internal DSP setup, access to the internal compressor/limiter setup and metering, sample rate, HPF, pre-attenuation, gain, polarity inversion, muting, activate/de-activate the internally generated test signals, even switch on and off the little blue LED on the mic body. Once set, one complete setup may be downloaded to the mic to serve as it's default configuration. So, for example, you could program your mics at home before leaving for a job and leave the computer at home, or set them up on arrival at the venue then disconnect the computer and use it for something else.

    So, whilst the mics are sold in a few pre-programmed versions, they're still fully configurable if you have a DMI-2. Buying a stereo set with a DMI-2 (which you need if you want to work in stereo), and connecting up the remote software will enable you to change sample rates, and access all the other parameters.

    I've not yet had hands on with these mics but I have heard some comparative recordings made by John Willett (outlined in his user review on the SOS site (linked above by Gunnar)) and they're interesting; thankfully, quite different from the ordinary KM183! As mentioned above, JW works as tech manager for Sennheiser UK (Neumann UK distributors) but I agree with Gunnar as to John's honesty. I've known him personally for some years and, though there's lots of things about which we amicably disagree, he has great integrity and is not given to behaving like a 'salesman'. Neither is he a man who spends his own money frivolously. Whether I agree with his various preferences and opinions or not, they're always honestly expressed and, unless he says otherwise, based upon his personal experience with the equipment.

    There's also a full review of the KM184D, by Hugh Robjohns, published in the March issue of Sound On Sound (already available on line to subscribers). This will become available FOC on the SOS site in the fullness of time, otherwise you might still be able to find a print copy of the magazine, buy a back issue, or download a paid-for pdf of the review.
    (MODS: Sorry if that over steps the advertising mark, please delete/amend as you see appropriate. (In the interests of disclosure: I don't work for SOS but I am one of the mods on their forums))
  7. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    No problem here. The more information about these mics and this system the better we are. Many thanks 0VU and Gunnar for the links and data about these exciting new developments.
  8. Plush

    Plush Guest

    I am really interested to try the 183 digital omni's.
    There is one more option for synching as I understand it. You can buy the basic version with AES or SPDIF out and plug these into a console (or external box) with sample rate converters. This will sync the two mics.

    This would also be required for the new Schoeps digital mic bodies since they do not offer a DMI box like Neumann.

    Cost is fairly high on this stuff. By my calculations a stereo set of Neumann 183 digital mics with the DMI box is circa $US 7000.00. That's quite a lot.

    The sound had better be good. One can acquire remote control over their mics for much less than that entry fee--and we reject the built in peak limiter.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    More flawed, already outdated technology. I'm certainly not impressed. They are not digital microphones! It's just a microphone with a convenient interface and analog-to-digital converter. Really kind of loony!

    Just think about all those people that purchased Neve Capricorn digital consoles at $300,000. They are all trying to dump those wonderful digital consoles, since they are only 20 bit and obviously can't be used for quality recording. LOL

    If you got money that you love to spend on "NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME" technologies, then go for it. I'll wait for a true optical/digital microphone. In the meantime, I guess I'll just have to use my crappy old Neve console and my old crappy Neumann tube and transistor microphones? Dammit!

    Frustrated with my equipment and looking for a good sex therapist
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  10. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    I'm not in the market for something like this, BUT, if you factor in the costs of a matched pair of high quality mics, pres and converters, $5K is NOT very much, specially when you consider the added convenience.

    I agree that certain digital decisions have backfired for some (sony 3348 anyone?)... But i think its time we reviewed our "investment in digital sucks" stance. Eg. The Metric Halo ULN-2 which has been around a long time, or the Lexicon 480L, which has been around for over two decades. Besides, I think 24/96 is going to be the maximum necessary capability for at least a decade... Nobody has taken 192 KHz seriously so far, and I am yet to hear of a true 24+ bit technology that has any chance of becoming a commercial reality.

    You mean like one without a conventional diaphragm? Like some laser based thing?

    PM me with specific issues and I may be able to help. I do sex therapy and(Dead Link Removed)

  11. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Remy, really! That was then, this is now. 28bits of beautifully optimised A/D right behind the capsule is what is called progress. Everyone knows about A/D design now, the learning curve is well advanced.

    Its still got to be sampled and word length limited.

    Maybe you should upgrade to some of the new digital gear. :)
  12. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    There have been a few in studio demonstrations. From what I heard, they sound dang good. I was not aware that they are shipping however. The rep I spoke to had no idea when they would be ready. Anyone have any poop?
  13. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Despite all the seemingly good points, I remain *spectacularly* disinterested in this technology, and will do so until a standard interface evolves and equipment manufacturers provide direct inputs for these mics. Until then, I see it as a backward step for most people - another box in the set up, requiring special cables and so on, and taking away options. It is a wonderful solution to a problem that really doesn't exist. Gee, if I had a dollar for every time I've been in a situation where I wished for such a microphone over the last 30 years, I'd have, um, er... the piggy bank is silent.

    Think about it... Where is the main benefit? Optimised AD conversion and so on? Okay... this is a great idea, in and of itself. With everything self-contained, there's no need for a mic preamp to provide enough gain to reach an industry-standard nominal level of +4dBu and so on. The preamp can be matched perfectly to the capsule, and the converter can be matched perfectly to the preamp. Impedances, noise levels and so can all be optimised. These are all good things...

    But, considering all the effort and thought that goes into choosing microphone preamps and AD converters, and knowing the effect those decisions have on the 'flavour' of the recorded sound, do you really want to leave all of that to a single manufacturer (Neumann, Schoeps, whoever) with no impressive history in either mic preamplifer or AD converter design? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't seem to recall hearing *any* microphone manufacturer's name mentioned in reverence (or at all!) in discussions of preamps and converters, in my entire career in audio.

    And furthermore, I don't see Prism or Lavry or anyone else cramming complete high quality AD converters onto a board small enough to fit into a microphone body. With such miniaturisation there has to come compromises in terms of noise and SPL handling. Maybe these can be balanced out by the optimisation of putting it all into one circuit, but maybe they can't. One thing I know for sure: if you compare the noise figures for any of DPA's normal size mics against its compact equivalent, noise and SPL handling are the main victims of the miniaturisation and use of surface mount devices. What happens when you try to cram the mic preamp and an AD converter into the same space?

    There must be an ideal application for this digital microphone technology... What about simple direct-to-stereo recordings with a pair of microphones, especially where long cable runs are required? Surely this is one of the areas that would benefit the most from digital microphones - at least in the short term. But why bother? I can do this kind of work already with my Nagra V - a single functional box, free from mains power dependency, that's ready to roll in five minutes and allows me to make great recordings with analog microphones. Why would I want to add another box (the digital mic's necessary appendage) to that elegant system and complicate my life? More signal connections to make, and then there's the question of powering the new box. I've doubled or tripled the amount of setting up I have to do, for a marginal sonic benefit (if any). I certainly won't be able to justify charging my clients any more for it...

    Not only that, I'll also have to replace my existing analog microphone cables with new cables of appropriate characteristic impedance for the digital signal. That's possible, but I can't see my local concert halls doing that kind of thing with their internal microphone looms. So, I'm going to have to run my own digital cables throughout the venue to take advantage of this technology. More messing around... If I'm not prepared to do that, then I'm going to have to set-up next to the stage, using a short run of my own digital cable, and, oh gosh... without the need for a long cable run, there goes one of the main benefits of a digital microphone system.

    What about recordings that require more than a stereo pair? If it's possible to use digital microphones for the entire job, and they all adhere to the same interface standard, then it's a good idea. You can run a snake of the appropriate characteristic impedance and reap the rewards. People recording in concert halls and similar will still have the problem of running entirely new cables, however. Or hoping the venue has an installed run of appropriate cabling.

    Multi-microphone recordings that combine analog and digital microphones will require two parallel cabling systems: one for analog mics, one for digital mics. More expense. Having said that, if the output of the digital mics can travel down AES/EBU cable (110 ohm characteristic impedance) then all of the cables and snakes in the rig can be replaced with 110 ohm AES cable. The digital mics will require it, of course, and the analog mic signals will benefit from the (generally) lower capacitance offered from a balanced AES cable.

    The more I think about digital microphones, the less interested I become in them. In fact, in the process of writing this post I have moved from being *spectacularly* disinterested to *incredibly amazingly spectacularly* disinterested. The idea is nice in isolation, but not when placed in the big picture of real world recording.

    Until my clients insist that I use digital microphones, or until I start losing work to other recordists who are using digital microphones, I see *no big picture benefits* in this technology at all. It's the kind of 'gee whiz' thing that impresses other engineers, but that's about all. There are cheaper, easier and more useful things I can buy that will impress other engineers; like, a really good Swiss army knife, a blue laser pointer, a robotic vacuum cleaner, or an email link to's catalogue of gee whizzikins.

    So for now I'm consigning digital microphones to the same place that I put DSD, SACD, DVD-A, square eggs and antenna recorders: clever, but impractical and/or unwanted.

    Give each microphone an ethernet output and allow me to hook a bunch of them up to my computer via cat5 and a network hub, and *then* you've got something worth wasting bandwidth for (sic).
  14. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Converter manufacturer Dan Lavry blew the punchline on the 192k joke with his white paper titled 'Sampling Theory for Digital Audio' (circa 2004). Read it and you'll realise why 192k sampling is actually a backward step. You can download it from his website.

    Get hold of a truly good AD and make some 24-bit recordings at 44.1k. You might be surprised at how good it can sound when done well. 96k makes it easier to do the audible bandwidth well, but 192k is going backwards. Anyone who is serious about digital audio has already read Lavry's paper, which is why no-one is taking 192k seriously. It's just a marketing exercise - the manufacturers need new things to sell us or they'll go broke. But if we don't want it, we don't buy it and that gives them an important message: we want 'better' things, not just 'new' things.

    Perhaps Neumann will realise this with their digital mics, and give us something that is truly 'better' than what we have now, rather than just 'newer' and less convenient.
  15. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    192 is mental masterbation. It does sound different. I notice a difference. But, nobody is able to pin what the difference is a result of.

    Aside from all of that, we are living in a 128kbps MP3 world. Although there is a new 256AAC offering on iTunes. Most people will not hear a difference, because the average consumer players, haedphone amps, headphones and noisy surroundings are not going to allow it to be heard.

    Save the hard drive space, record at 96k.
  16. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Ah Simmo, I miss all our arguments (discussions?) on the phone when you are in the mountains.

    Actually the digital mixing is about the only thing I am worried about.

    But you lose the heavy preamp box you are currently lugging around.

    No preamp, means no coloration, no impedance mismatch, no stepped gain controls, no incorrect gain settings, no overloads, no peak limiting, no saturation, and no more reading all the tedious posts on the web about what is the most uncolored preamp to buy. We would have nothing to discuss on audio forums. Bugger.

    They certainly are.

    Yes, the capsule manufacturer, YES, I do want them to do it because only they have heard the pristine sound of the capsule itself. I trust them a whole lot more than TASCAM or Mackie or even Prism to make a good sounding rendition of that capsule sound.

    Its not rocket science.

    Because they have had no need until now. Schoeps and Neumann have designed the world's first 28bit converters. These companies seem to have taken the lead in A/D design all of a sudden, why is that? They just hire brilliant young EE's like any other company. Designing this sort of electronics does not require a company history or record of achievement like car suspensions or aircraft dynamics.

    They do not have a need to. Simple as that.

    Leave it to them, it works or it doesn't, I am sure they will sort it out.

    Different problem, Greg. If my reading is correct, this A/D is done on the tiny capsule signal, so no preamp, and no electronics needed to drive the long cables, its all much simpler in those respects.

    I'm glad you see those advantages.

    Because you are troubled by noise floors, and this is something that would not be a problem with digitial mics.

    You eliminate equal or more boxes and the cable connections are simpler. You are tossing off these statements without deep thought.

    The new breed of recorder will have the digital receiver bits built in. You will plug the mic straight into the recorder. Also the prospect of wireless data transmission will become much easier. C'mon Greg these are real exciting developments,

    I have been using AES/EBU cable for all my analog mic leads for some time now. :)



    You got it. Great isn't it.

    Are you sick of the mountains, Greg? Come back to Australia and come and have a coffee in civilization. I can describe so more of the benefits of digital mics.

    They are here to stay and will shake up the remote recording scene a whole lot more than DSD/SACD etc ever did.

    At last you see it. Well done.
  17. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    There would be plenty to why recordings, for some reason, don't sound as good as they used to?
  18. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    What a cynic you are Scott, but maybe there will be some of this for awhile. Bit like the vintage mic brigade now.
  19. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    His honesty and integrity are not in question, but we do have to keep one reality in mind. As an employee of Sennheiser UK, who are also the UK's Neumann distributors, it is highly likely that he paid *far* less for those microphones than you or I would pay; possibly 40% or more below RRP. They would therefore represent far less of an investment for him than they would be for you or I, and therefore less of a risk AND a seemingly better value-for-money...
  20. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Actually, I'm in Sydney at the moment, but my mobile is cut-off because I lapsed in payments. I'm a bad man, and so I've been ex-communicated from Western civilisation. [They can cut off my phone, but they can't block me from the internet!!!]

    Not me! I'm just carrying a Nagra. Unless *that* is the heavy box you are referring to. It's not too heavy, but it could always be lighter.

    To be honest, if my Nagra had direct inputs and processing for the outputs of two of those digital Neumanns, I'd probably be right behind JW in the list of owners. But not if I've got to add another box and double the connections...

    Certainly for the technology to succeed, Neumann has to establish their method as a standard which other manufacturers will adopt and integrate into their systems. They did it years ago with +48V DC phantom power, maybe they can do it again?

    I'm sure we'd find something to bicker about. Like, what's the best digital microphone under $100? Or, how to use our 'vintage' Beyer MCD100 digital microphones, which were presented to the world at the Copenhagen AES convention in 1996. One decade ago. (Whatever happened to *that* mic?)

    And what if you don't like that sound when you finally hear it in its pristine form?!?!

    With all due respect, if you go back over my discourse you'll see that I certainly wasn't tossing off statements without deep thought. At the point you have commented on, I was specifically referring to adding a Neumann digital microphone to my 'elegant' Nagra V system, and there is absolutely no way that can be done without adding an extra box. How deep do I have to think? Wet toes or diving bell?!?!

    In the long run you are correct, of course. But the long run assumes I upgrade to a newer recording device that supports direct input from these digital microphones. Maybe that device is just around the corner? Maybe that's what Beyer thought back in 1996?

    Maybe Neumann are smarter and are already planning the recording device. Why not? That would be cool. A complete system from Neumann...

    The idea has merit; the recording device is merely that - a recording device! A large chunk of storage with an appropriate digital input, an LCD and a DA converter for monitoring. Nice. :)

    The prospect of a wireless digital link is very exciting, for sure, assuming the regulatory bodies allow us sufficient bandwidth and power in a suitable airspace. I would gladly say goodbye to cables, even if it meant putting new batteries into the mics at the start of each job.

    I'm not sick of the mountains, I'm pining for them! I've only been back for a month and already I'm venting spleen in 5.1. (And I miss my beautiful Nepali girlfriend.)

    Here to stay? Can we please make a bet on that? Just a small one, like $100, because it wouldn't surprise me if they did succeed. The optimist in me wants them to succeed, but the pragmatist says they won't succeed in their current format. So, if they are making significant progress in the next three years, I'll give you $100. If they are canned by Neumann due to phenomenal lack of interest, you give me $100.

    What say you?

    As for shaking up the remote recording scene a whole lot more than DSD/SACD etc. ever did, *that* wouldn't be hard to achieve! How about giving those mics a decent challenge?

    Speaking of DSD et al, imagine if a version of these digital microphones was available that output DSD. Hmmm....

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