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Transformerless cardioid condenser choice

Member for

21 years
I see there are a lot of 'what mic should I buy' questions here, so apologies in advance for yet another one...

I'm looking to augment our mic collection with a matched pair of high quality transformerless cardioid condensers. They are being chosen mainly as a stereo pair for 'classical' recording (XY, ORTF, NAS, etc.), but will get used for all kinds of other purposes as well. High on our list of priorities is that they are as quiet as possible. At the moment we have Focusrite Octopre pre-amps but are thinking of upgrading to some 'character' and 'flat' pre-amps (such as some Focusrite Reds for the former and Earthworks for the latter). We already have a pair of old Neumann KM84s (that have transformers).

So far I've considered the Sennheiser MKH40 and the Earthworks SR30 (we already have a pair of QTC1 omnis, which are fabulous mics).

Does anyone have experience of either of these mics for this kind of purpose and would you consider any other models? I'm not really familiar with models from Schoeps, for example.

Many thanks.


Member for

15 years 11 months

RemyRAD Wed, 10/29/2008 - 15:32
I think you should look into the AKG 414 series? Why? Because they are far more reversible than anything else you mentioned or anything else anybody else as mentioned. Certainly as quiet as any others. A beautiful fullness with lots of character. Not thin, crispy, anemic. You're not backed into the wall with cardioid only, Omni only, XY or ORTF. You can create a beautiful MS microphone which I fine far superior to spaced omnis, XY or ORTF.

Not sure what everybody wants to hear a broad fog of sound for? Especially when you can have a focused center image with a broad sense of space & be able to hear each and every individual instrument and its placement. Just like a human being hears it. I guess folks don't feel important enough unless they set up 2 stands??

I don't miss the boat. I MS the boat.
MS. Remy Ann David

Member for

21 years

Member Fri, 11/07/2008 - 00:41
Many thanks for the input.

I should have put my complete mic list in my original post. I already have half a dozen C414B-ULS mics and I use them all the time for making such stereo pairs (including MS pairs) and I agree, they're great. I could probably do better with some of the slightly newer, quieter models (B-XLS?), but I'm pretty happy with those as they are. The 'warmth' that they impart (and that's a rather qualitative term) can be flattering, but can also be a bit too much, leaving the timbre a little 'tubby'. I almost always end up adding a bit of 'air' EQ lift (something approximating a baxandall curve).

Also, of all the myriad large diaphragm condensers that are out there, the C414 series' off-axis response is pretty good. Having said that there are many smaller diaphragm mics that have an off-axis response that is better still - and this really helps to get a better centre image when using (for example) an ORTF pair. When mono compatibility isn't much of an issue, I do like to use configurations like ORTF to get some time difference into the imaging as well as volume difference - as that really is the way humans hear it.

So it's really those thoughts that lead me to ask my original question. Apologies for not putting more detail in the original post. I've used my Neumann KM84s a lot for this purpose and I like their sound a lot, but I'm just looking for the next level of clarity and quietness, really - hence looking for something transformerless.

Any thoughts?