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stereo pair for chamber music

Discussion in 'Recording' started by David French, Nov 28, 2002.

  1. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    I am looking for a good pair of small diaphragm cardioid condensers to use professionally on small classical ensembles and solo piano. What mics would one generally use for this purpose? Right now I am looking at Neumann KM184, Earthworks SR77, AKG C451B and Elation KM201. What does everyone think of these mics for this purpose? Could I expect comparable results with less expensive mics such as AT4041's or Rode NT5's? Are there any other mics (with the exception of DPA and Schoeps) that would work well?
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    All the mics you mentioned are nice. If the 451B's are anything like the original 451's they are very bright. I have several variants of the originals and I can say that the AKG 460's are much warmer. My good friend Bruce Kapphan produced an acoustic group at my studio a while back. He was using the Earthworks mics with API and Neve 1272's and they sounded fantastic! Feedback on Forum has brought to our attention that the Neumann 184's are very hot and may require inline pads to make them useable. If you have a problem with using the pads you may wish to avoid these. I have always been a fan of Audio Technica mics, very big bang for the buck. I am not familiar with the Elations although I have heard them spoken of on Forum recently. My interest in these mics is beginning to be peaked. If anyone can tell me anything about these mic I would be very interested. Happy mic hunting, ........ Fats
  3. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    David...I am an Indiana boy too...where abouts are you anyway???

    I have very little to add to this thread, other than I have a pair of the Rode NT5's, and I just love them. I only got them about a month ago, so I am still trying to learn their characteristics, and I have never mic'ed any chamber music. I love the sound of the NT5's on acoustic guitars (the main reason I bought them) as an X/Y coincident pair...very sweet. I cannot compare them to the other mics you mention directly, but I have heard the KM184s (and have drooled over them forever), and the AKG's have such a great reputation, even the reissue ones.

    Your critical point about them being for chamber music is what is going to make the difference I think, but do you also plan on using them elsewhere, or are these going to be strictly "one-trick ponies"? This would be helpful.

    Best of luck!
  4. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the replies, guys.

    Fats, thanks for the quick reply... helpful as always.

    Doublehelix, i'm from Evansville, but i'll be moving to Muncie soon to study composition; i'll be using these mics for professionally recording performance majors' recitals. I'd also like to be able to use them in my home studio for guitars and such, but this is similar to their primary use (some of the performance majors are guitarists). I won't be needing them for drums. My home setup is too small to record a drum kit correctly, so I rely on samples. Thanks for your opinion on the NT5. I'd love to spend so little, but i'm just concerned that I won't get the type pf professional sound from them on a variety of sources as I would from the more expensive mics. After all, if people don't like my final products, they will hire someone else. I'd really like to hear from someone who has done this type of work, used several of these mics, and can point me in the right direction. Is there anyone like that here?
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    One more thing I would like to add. I think the Earthworks mics might be just the ticket you need. The corporate philosophy of Earthworks is to produce products that are as pure and uncolored as possible. These mics are very affordable considering what they do. You might consider making some inquires as to if anyone in your area rents mics for you to audition prior to making a purchase. Or you might find a dealer in the area that would allow you to audition some on site before finalizing the sale. Just some additional thoughts. ....... Fats
  6. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thanks again, Fats. Did your friend Bruce use the SR77's on the acoustic group you mentioned earlier, or did he use one of the omni's? I don't want to use an omni mic ( I'd like to be able to eliminate the room if needed ) but I am worried about the bass drop off I will likely encounter with cardioids at distances of over a meter. I may be able to make money recording choirs somaday and i'd like to buy a pair of mics that can pick up well from a distance. Does anybody know how any of these mics will react to bass from farther away?
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I couldn't say for sure. They were pencil condensers that the bodies tapered down at the capsule, I think he said they were about $300 ea. He was close micing with them so my guess is they were cardioid. For your application I think some Omnis would work better....that's the whole idea with chamber music. It is usually performed in a reasonable sounding venue and getting some of the room sound is essential. I don't think your clients would be so happy if the don't hear some of the roominess. If it is really a problem you could just close up the distance a bit to get a better ratio of direct sound to the mics. ...... Fats
  8. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    I admit I am intrigued by the Earthworks TC30K omnis, but I'm just really apprehensive about choosing an omnidirectional mic for a number of reasons. First, high self noise. The TC30K has a self noise of 27 dB, much higher than a good cardioid, although perhaps the low -42 dBV sensitivity will make up for this. Secoond, I will not be able to employ the host of coincident stereo techniques available to cardioid mics. Third, I am unfamiliar with the type of stereo imaging that omnis can do. Fourth, I don't know how useful a pair of omnis would be at home. In summary, omnis just creep me out. I read some reviews recently that say that the SR77s suffer quite a bit in bass response over even short distances, so I doubt i'll go with them. I have also learned that there are professional classical location recordists that use Neumann KM184s and Earthworks QTC1s. So now what?
  9. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member


    Just to add my 2c to this topic: I was as skeptical as you when considering the purchase of 2 Rode NT5 for a stereo pair of SD condensers: well, I think you should be giving them a listen, this for several reasons; if low self noise is a concearn with you maybe 7dBa should be low enough; plus they are modeled aroud the KM184 capsule (almost a ripoff :D :p ), and they really sound close, maybe a little bit darker, but they too have that presence boost around 6KHz.
    They come in a stereo matched pair, so well suited for coincident techniques. I just tried mine on a string quertet session (on 1 and 2 violin), and they sound bright and crisp, you have to work a little on placement, but I got excellent results. Same thing on acoustic guitar, aimed at the lower portion of the body, at the sound hole height the presence boost gave a nice balance, a little more shrill on the 12 fret.

    All in all I'd give them a try, they may not sport a nobel name like Neumann, but seriously they sound really good for the price.

    Another suggestion I may give you is try out Audio Technica 3031 serie, SD condensers (or omnis) that really kick some major butt: I got a pair of 3035, and not only they are dead quiet, but almost ruler flat (no kidding), I wonder how comes they call them "project studio" mics?

    Hope this helps
  10. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input, Gerax. I plan to use only two mics to pick up everything I record, from Solo piano and guitar to small wind ensembles and string trios/quartets. When you recorded the quartet, did you use other mics at the same time? Did you use the NT5s as a stereo pair? If not, have you ever used the NT5s as a stereo pair? How far away from the source were the NT5s? Do you know anything about the bass drop off that the NT5 exibits at a distance? Can you possibly post a short example of what the NT5s can do as a coincident pair at a distance? I'd really appreciate it if you could answer any of these questions. Thanks again.
  11. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member


    On the string quartet session I used a total of 6 ( :eek: ) mics, here's the setup: Rode NT 5 on 1 and 2 Violin (about 50 cm from the source), Audio Technica 3035 on Viola and Cello (about the same distance), 2 X AKG 414 TL II as stereo pair in ORTF pattern, with a Focusrite Octopre lightpiped at 24/44.1 to Pro Tools.

    The sound is clear with lots of definition, no digital reverb added, as the room tone was just right for the contemporary sound the composer was after.

    So far I have only used the NT 5 as stereo pair on solo acoustic guitar, with very good results, but unfortunately that's proprietary material and I don't have permission to put it online. If some web hosting is available (my site is currently in development) I could post some samples from the string quartet sessions.

    As for the bass drop, I really haven't had any problems in that regard: the bass response of the NT 5 seems quite linear to me unless you go closer than 50 cm where a healty proximity effect kicks in and pumps the bass nicely.

    I think you should try and find some agreement (or reurn policy) with a local shop and evaluate the mics with your ears and the rest of your gear in a real world situation to find out if those suit your needs or not.

    MP3s aren't the most faithful way of reproduction for acoustic and delicate audio material, but should you need some, tell me and we'll se if we can get them to you.

    Hope my answers were of any help.
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I have just become aware of a new product on the market by Alan Hyatt and Studio Projects.
    I know you are specifying small diaphragm mics but I wonder if that is your choice due to financial considerations? If that is the case there is a mic to think about. It would be perfect for a variety of situations. It is the Studio Projects LSD-2 Microphone. It is a recipient of the Pro Audio Review Excellence Award and retails for $999. This is a large diaphragm stereo mic in the tradition of a C24 for under $1K! It has adjustable patterns. This require dual capsules and represents excellent value for a mic like this. It might be something to consider. …….. Fats
  13. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the detail, Gerax.

    Fats, the reason I am looking for small diaphragm mics is because they offer faster transient response and less off-axis coloration than most large diaphragm mics. This new product of Alan's seems interesting... i'll look into it. Thanks.
  14. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I understand your concerns....another factor with small diaphragms is the room sound is easier to control with them...narrower pick up pattern. But these newer mics from Studio Projects are using diaphragm technology that was developed by Stephen Paul. This isn't to say that he designed these or had anything to do with the design. It is being misconstrued by many that because the Studio Projects products are using the same initials as Stephen Paul that these mics are a joint project, not so. While Alan and Stephen are friends and associates, Alan Hyatt and his team at Studio Projects are solely responsible for these mics. To add to the confusion, there is a mic from Stephen that is in the works that will be marketed by Studio Projects.....I digress, the point is these mics have very thin membrane diaphragm (below 3 microns) and are very fast! For what you want to do they are the sh*t! (in my not so humble opinion). Additionally, they have adjustable patterns, omni figure 8, cardioid, so you have all the tools in 1 box so to speak! This affords you the ability to use all the classic techniques used for this type of work including MS! A lot of bang for the buck. If you can only have a couple of mics in your bag of tricks, this type of mic would certainly fit the bill in a variety of situations..... Fats
  15. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Fats, do you mean to say that both of the capsules in the LSD-2 are switchable to omni, bi-directional, and cardioid, and that MS, XY/ORTF, and Blumlein techniques can all be employed? I don't see how this would be possible. Is there anywhere I can get more info on this thing? Do you know when it will be on the market?
  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Yes both capsules are adjustable in angle and pattern and will employ omni, figure 8 and cardioid! You can write directly with Alan Hyatt the owner of Studio Projects here at RO in the Designing the Future thread / Forum .... Fats
  17. 20db.com

    20db.com Guest

    David, the LSD-2 is an interesting idea but you might want to take a look at the C-4's. This might be more inline with what you are looking for.

    The SP C-4 is a match pair of small diaphragm condensers that should be available next month. Looks like they will run about $299 and are only available as a matched pair.

  18. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the tip, 20db. The C4s seem like just what i'm looking for, but at $300.00 for a matched pair, they sound too good to be true. What do you think about this? Also, do you know how I can get the full specs these mics?
  19. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    So I looked at the specs on the C4 and found that the bass response falls off qickly starting at 50 Hz. Is the lack of sound below 50 Hz going to affect my recordings of small classical ensembles? I realize that few compositions feature fundamental tones this low, but will the lack of low frequency energy produced in other ways compromise the realism of my recordings?
  20. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Two points. You say you are concerned about low end response yet you seem to really want small diaphragm mics...I won't say that a small mic won't pick up low freqs but your going to get better low end from LD mics. That being said I would like to mention that you shouldn't put too much stock into specs. You would be surprised how different that two mics that spec out the same can sound. Even with mics of a like kind. That's why you can order matched pairs. As with all things in audio the only way to really make an intelligent judgment is to use your ears. That puts us back into the realm of subjectivity. But this is audio, not rocket science. IMO spec sheets are good for ......uh, asswipe! Well, that is a little extreme but while specs are good for getting you in the ball park don't rely solely on them. Beg borrow, rent some mics and listen to them! ................. Fats

    It's my opinion, I'll play with it if I want to ……

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