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The singer I'm currently works with sounds awsome on this mic. But I'm not happy with the overall quality of the signal. I may perhaps just have a "bad" one, as my friend did buy it from guitar center 5 years ago, but I've always hear people saying the tone of the mic will be horrible if you happen to get a bad one, not the noise level or sensitivity.


So, I'm wondering, what are higher quality (and less noisy) mics that are similar in tone? I remember a few people saying that one of the popular Neumann mics are in some cases hard to tell apart from this mic. I'm looking to buy the md441, and I know someone here said that the mc319 sounding like the md421, so I'm hoping that would be a close enough relation? Anyone care to share their thoughts?


Richard Monroe Tue, 09/30/2003 - 18:23

Frankly, I've heard a lot of vocal mics, and I've never heard one that sounds very much like a MK319, except maybe Shure SM7B. So maybe there's some truth to the idea that they sound like a high end dynamic, such as a MD441. It looks like they're being discontinued by Guitar Center, and they've been blowing them out for $50. So while you're considering the options, why don't you trot down to GC, audition a few, and grab a good one for about $50? Come to think of it, one mic that does produce that dark smooth sound is an AKG Solidtube with the silly internal pop filter ripped out of it. It is a greatly underestimated mic, especially because that pop filter makes it sound muddy and distant.-Richie

Davedog Tue, 10/07/2003 - 19:05

Owning an MK319 Oktava is a lot like owning a particular guitar.It may look the same as the others but the sound and the playability may be miles apart for each one.The 319 is cheap enough that you could afford to go through several to find a really good one.I have one and all I can say is, it has qualities found in Very High-End mics. My take on them is this...even the 'bad'ones will have a certain usability.And @under $100 you cant really go wrong.There are hand-picked and well tested ones available through different dealers that would assure you of a 'good' one....but them the price is quite different too.

KurtFoster Tue, 10/07/2003 - 19:24

Dave and I did some comparisons today. We recorded a short guitar piece through several mics. We used the JLM TMP8 pres. Two of the mics were my Neuman U87Ai and Daves MK319. The MK319 has considerably lower output but when we adjusted the playback level to compensate for this difference, the MK319 sounded very much like the Neumann. At a savings of $2900, it's hard to argue with this. Of course, you need to go through a few to find a good one (a drag) but to save almost $3K, it's worth it. I learned somthing today and now I have to adjust my opinions regarding the Oktivas .... I hate it when I am wrong..

anonymous Wed, 10/08/2003 - 06:13

thanks. I know about soundroom and have considered ordering from them - I don't trust my own ears, especially at a loud crammed up music store. But hey that's good to know others' 319 also have relatively low output, as does the one I already own...

The main reason I asked about this was because my singer happens to sing very softly in a few parts of a few songs and cranking the pre up to 60dB really brings on the noise. So for the softer parts I'd like to use something a bit more sensitive (or less noisy) but of course have it sound the same. I've tried a bunch of different mics and found that, while it is obviously different (yet, not too much), I always really liked the sm7 sound, so I've ordered that. finally.. I don't even own a good dynamic, not even a 57! (of course, I've used them) so...

allright, thanks again. :)

Davedog Wed, 10/08/2003 - 08:20

Sounds like your singer could use a bit of learning about mic technique.You'll love the SM7 but I have no idea whether it will solve your problem with this singer.I dont know what your setup is in regards to how far off the mic you like a vocalist to work, but you should never have to go to such a high setting with the Octava.It may not have a LOT of output but it has more than least mine also doesnt have a very pronounced proximity effect so getting right in the grill is not a problem.with a good pop filter in front you should be able to easily record quiet passages without a big db boost to the gain.But then again......YMMV....

anonymous Wed, 10/08/2003 - 09:15

Yeah that's right, he was nearly 5 inches away, slightly lower, with a popscreen. I'll try going closer next time. eh, I was scared to go "right up" against the grill, what a wuss.

I found these stats on the 319:

Output impedance: 200 Ohms
Free field sensitivity at 1 KHz, mV/Pa ....11
Free field Sensitivity loss:
180 degrees to 0 degrees: db .......... -15
Self-noise (no more than): dBA .............. 14
Max Output Voltage:1.2 Volts

Is there a way I can test my particular mic to see if it's operating anywhere near whats stated here? These are the only terms I'm not %100 comfortable with. I remember someone (a pro) offering to evaluate it for something like 200 bucks!

oh, ADD kicking in! :s:

Richard Monroe Wed, 10/08/2003 - 20:33

What the hell? Don't trust your ears? Live dangerously. For $50 or so, it ain't that big a deal. I agree with the impression that the mic's output is a little low. Therefore, just like that SM7, it wants a lot of clean gain. Not unlike a dynamic, the 319 profits from a kickass preamp.
The only thing that surprises me is Kurt's impression that it sonically resembles a U87. A contralto I work with, Maureen Fleming, recorded her entire first album with a U87ai, and it sounds great. On the other hand, the MK319 scrubs highs off her voice, and makes her sound muddy. Carolyn, who is a mezzo soprano, on the other hand, and a little strident, sucks on U87, KSM44, and C-3, but rocks on the Oktava.
I'm betting my 319 and the one Kurt auditioned have very different response profiles. Mine is way dark, like a Solidtube with the pop filter ripped out, which is pretty damn good for a $99 mic! Besides, it's just about the only mic you can buy these days that's pretty much guaranteed to have no Chinese parts!-Richie

anonymous Thu, 10/09/2003 - 06:27

Originally posted by white swan:
The rate of success of matching the sounds of two mics by looking at their spec sheets should be about the same as predicting the success of a new relationship based on the similarities of your new mate's measurements compared to the old! ;)

yeah, I understand that. And I realize specs like this are often averages between many different mics. I was just wondering if there was a simple way to find out just how defected my mic is. I'm not trying to find a mic to match the one I already own. Rather simply: Is there a way to find out the self noise of my mic? How do the manufacturers do this? How do they figure the volts and all that other stuff. That's really what I'm interested in. Honestly. I like to know technical stuff like this, because I'm just curious like that. I'm not really trying to just find a quick fix. I enjoy slow painful deaths!

Sorry if I'm sounding anal or something. I'm not trying to. I'm using an rnp preamp, which I find compliments the mics tone nicely. I know the pre is a little on the noisy side, which yes I suppose does go against what I'm trying to deal with.... Ugh. But you're right, it's not a big deal really... I guess I'm just feeling me wet myself a bit. I'm a nerd.


anonymous Sat, 10/11/2003 - 10:00

I went to GC today and tried out six different 319's. Needless to say, they all sounded different - some quite a lot. The difference in the minimal amount of testing I did using my voice was largely in the midrange - some of them sounded very scooped while one had an ultra-present tone which I liked a lot. There was one really bad "runt" of the litter, which I removed from the running immediately. Ultimately I found two that I thought were a pretty good match and then I was going to grab the really "present" (I know, that's so vague but I don't know how else to describe it) one as sort of a ringer - see how it worked out. However, the price I was able to talk the guy down to just didn't seem worth it. He wanted 75 per mic and 30 for the shockmounts. Considering you can find SP B1's for 80, and the shockmounts a bit cheaper I decided to pass.

Who was saying they found the 319 for $50??

Never thought I'd see the day where I considered $105 for a LD condensor w/shockmounts being "too much". :lol:

It seems like the only thing the 319 has over the B1 is the 10db pad. Considering I'm going to be using these to close-mic toms, do you think it's worth it?

Davedog Sat, 10/11/2003 - 12:32

Richard, they are all as different as night and day...I have never seen two within 2db of each other throughout their range and the outputs vary a bunch.I'm not surprised that your's sounds so different from a U87....which by the way all sound somewhat different too!...Mics age and everybodys drool does differnt things to em...I worked in a studio which had 2 U87i's each about 20 years old...they were different enough not to use em as a matched pair on stereo recording of pianos and classical instruments.
However...I gotta tell ya, my 319 sounds very similar to Kurts 87....but this is a one in ???chance.I got mine because it was the best sounding one.
I used to own a PA.I had around 20 SM57's and other mics...I've sold off most of em now and there were a bunch of UnidyneIII's in there.I kept one of them and will never part with it.It does not sound like ANY 57 I'v e ever heard.It doent sound like the other 5 I still have.

Microphones,tube amps,instruments themselves and drums, are the biggest varibles we face in the recording business.

The 319 is a very different mic than the B1.I would get the B3 before a B1 any day...better sounding and more patterns....

Richard Monroe Sun, 10/12/2003 - 18:49

Well, Davedog, what I think is really cool is that in spite of obviously being different, both of our mics sound good, and it was, after all, $99 or whatever. I just don't think we're going to make a matched pair here. So don't ask me what an MK319 sounds like. The only honest answer is, "some of them sound very good."-Richie