Sennheiser MKH 20 matching

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by John Stafford, Mar 28, 2005.

  1. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Hi all

    I wonder if MKH20s bought separately would be ok to use as a main pair. I'm talking about new mics that haven't been abused.

  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I would tend to think so. First, their quality control is such that, unless you are talking about 1st generation vs current iteration, you should be just fine. Also, in general, I think matching is over-rated for what we do. We aren't recording the exact same signal with 2 mics, therefore, any variances should go relatively or completely unnoticed. Also, when most mic manufacturers test for matching, they test for relative amplitude and frequency *on-axis* only. Where we need the accuracy is where the polar patterns would overlap - in otherwords, significantly off-axis.

    My thoughts - go ahead, buy both even though they aren't matched - they are phenomenal microphones and you won't regret it!

  3. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Thanks Jeremy
    That's good to know. I'm thinking of buying one at a time -although I'm sure it will be excruciating waiting for a second one!

    As always, thanks

    Matching is such a strange thing. I can use my Oktava tube mic and AT4047 as an ortf pair and they actually work very well for stereo (apart from the tube being noisier of course). I can't think of any mics that sound more different individually, yet they're the only mics that I can use for stereo (apart from my NT5s).
  4. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    You'll be fine... The QC on MKH series mics is great. You could use mics made years apart and they'll still sound good together. I wouldn't do that with certain other mics, but for most high-end modern condensers, you'll be ok.

  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I can't say that I would recommend this for every disparate type of mic, but if it works in that case - go right ahead.
  6. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Thank you very much for your opinion. It's great to know that I'm not going to end up with a pair that I can't use, and having bought gear that I have regretted in the past, it's very reassuring!

    I know the matching with the Oktava and AT4047 is unusual for such different mics. I don't think I'd trust them as a pair though in a critical situation -bring on the MKH20s!

  7. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    In my experience, a factory matched pair (as in, they have actually measured the two mic's response) is the best way to go. This will ensure that the mics are tightly matched (+/- 1dB) across their entire frequency range. While manufacturing tolerences are better these days, they are still not perfect. Electronic component manufactures no longer make the same parts for very long, which means mics made from year to year are likely to be constructed with different parts in them. Mics bought seperately will most likely sound similar and work well enough together. But for critical stereo recording the imaging will not be as good. I feel the extra bucks for matching is well worth it.
  8. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Thanks Zilla
    I'm afraid that in my case it's not really possible, as I can't afford a new pair. One option I'm considering is buying a pair of Schoeps bodies, and then buying matched capsules later on, but I don't think I could bear to look at those decapitated bodies while I save up for the capsules :wink:
  9. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    Personally I think matching is WAY over rated, and here is an embarrassing anecdote to prove it.

    I was doing a string quartet with a MK21 on one side of the ORTF and MK5 cardi on the other. Not even close in response or pattern and the error was not caught until another issue was being dealt with several minutes into the first session. This was being monitored on both headphones and speakers.

    Perhaps I (and the quartet and an assistant) have ears of lead, but it was really not obvious at all. Consider that the differences in these capsules FAR exceed the QC limits with any reputable company.

  10. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Rich; something similar happened to me with an AT 4040 and a 4033. (Whoops!)

    Seems someone switched one its storage case, and didn't look too closely at the model #. The next time they got put into use, the wrong mic went into the clip. Luckily, we caught it in time, although it didn't sound all that different anyway!

    I buy matched pairs whenever I can; otherwise, I live with the results. It's not usually much...
  11. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Hi Joe and Rich
    Remember that ears generally don't come in matched pairs -certainly in my case :wink:
  12. Plush

    Plush Guest

    Sennheiser MKH series are all useable as matched.

    The reason is that when the mic is manufactured it is measured and then each mic has an electronic filter network incorporated into it to make it sound like the factory spec requires.

    The frequency response of these mics is equalized electronically--it does not depend on carefully matched capsules as much as other manufacturers products.

    In this way the consistency of the sound is carefully controlled.
  13. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    And in this way the LF of theFig-8 is quite extended!

  14. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    and, according to Scott Dorsey and others, require very occassional tweaking and retuning throughout their life.
  15. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I understand about the way they're equalised, but given that equalisation gives rise to phase issues, and that equalisation varies from mic to mic, I wonder if this has implications in phase dependent recording techniques like M/S and Blumlein's omni-mic methods?


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