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I hope someone can advice me... ;)

I have to buy two nice microphones for classical music recording.
I want to upgrade my gear and at the moment I own 3 AKG C-1000S and 2 Behringer B2-PRO.
I'd like to sell the 2 Behrs and buy a pair of Neumann KM184 or Shure SM81.
I read somewhere on this forum the SM81 are closed to the old SM84, is it correct?
I mainly record classical guitar concerts but sometimes I also record chamber music as well as orchestral music. For this purposes maybe two multi-pattern microphones can do the job better (since the also allow me to record in M-S, my favourite stereo miking).
The reason I'm going to sell the Behringers is that some time ago I've recorded with them an early music concert (cello and harpsichord) in M-S: the cello sound is pretty much out of control and the bass is very undetailed in my opinion.
The next concert (a lute concert) was recorded with two c-1000s without the internal foam. The recording came out very very bright but with some eq the result was not bad and also the S/N level came up pretty much.

So my BIG question is... I would like to replace the 2 Behringer with something better and, since I don't have a big budget and I also have to replace my preamps (I'm thinking on a M-Audio dmp-3), I was looking for something simple but with good sound quality, at least if this can match my needings (i.e classical guitar and sometimes other instruments as well as orchestras...).

Thank you very for your help.



anonymous Mon, 01/15/2007 - 01:10

If you are on a budget I always recommend Oktava MK012 either with cardioid capsules or all three capsules for added flexibility. I posted some recordings with Schoeps MK2s and Oktava MK012 for download here:

You can buy these at
Another option are AKG C480 or MBHO 603 but these are for a higher budget but still less than Neumann KM184 which is not bad either but a bit overpriced IMHO.
Best regards

ghellquist Mon, 01/15/2007 - 13:54

I find it difficult to recommend mics I have not used. From the ones you ask about, I have only used the KM184-s and to my ears they did a decent job. (In comparison the Schoeps KM4 sounds lovely, but that is double the price). I think you would be happy with the KM184-s though.

You might be able to find a used pair, looking around ebay and such. For new things, I always compare to as they has given me good service and generally has good prices. They will sell you a pair of KM184 for 1090 Euro (plus about 20 Euro shipping), all taxes included. Compared to the official prices here in Sweden that is much lower.



JoeH Mon, 01/15/2007 - 18:39

FWIW, I prefer my KMi84's to my SM81's, but that doesn't mean the 81's are bad; quite the opposite. They're just not quite as good as the 84s to my ears, and I don't use them for highly crictial stuff. Not only that , the overall size of the KMi84 is smaller and looks better on camera, etc.

The SM81's are great on HiHat, snare, and all kinds of hot percussive stuff. I also use them on winds from time to time. They're cool, accurate but not harsh.

But for the really smooth stuff, even vocals sometimes, I prefer my vintage KMi84s.

stax Tue, 01/16/2007 - 01:53

Thank you very much for your replies...
So it seem that I must give a chance to the oktavas...
Of course I'm not looking for the perfect mic for all the situations. I would like to build a good setup of microphones that could serve me in different situations while recording acoustic music and I would like to start with some good stuff.

Hermann, I listened your recordings they are very interesting. Are you the player? By the way all the 3 mics have different character. The Naiant, while providing good sound (especially for such low price...) is too noisy for my needs. The Schoeps are wonderful and very smooth while the Oktava are a bit brighter. Well, I don't know if I like the Schoeps more than the Oktava, they are quite different and maybe in a live acoustic recording they can be as pleasing as a pair of Schoeps.
I have already used a pair of KM184 for a project, yes they are on the bright side but the result was pleasing with gentle hi-freq eq. Do you think they are overpriced in comparison with the Oktava mics?
I was also looking at the Rode NT2-A, have someone ever tried this mic? It has a good reputation around the web but I don't know if 's usable for classical recordings.


Boswell Tue, 01/16/2007 - 04:08

stax wrote: I was also looking at the Rode NT2-A, have someone ever tried this mic? It has a good reputation around the web but I don't know if 's usable for classical recordings.

I regularly use a pair of NT2-As in MS configuration for close guitar recordings, both steel-string acoustic and nylon-string classical. They produce a great sound, but you do have to experiment with the microphone positioning relative to the instrument, and persuade the player to KEEP STILL when performing.

The NT2A is a very flexible mic, and has one of the lowest internal noise levels I have ever encountered. When coupled to a decent pre-amp it punches well above its weight. However, I was once tempted to use a pair of them as main ORTF overheads for an orchestral recording. Not so good - as well as problems in suspending them in the correct position, they gave a somewhat bright, ill-defined sound. I should have stuck to SDCs for that job.

anonymous Tue, 01/16/2007 - 12:53

Hi Stax,
yes, I am the player on these recordings.
I own 4 KM84 and some years ago I wanted to add a pair of KM184 to my locker for a different colour. I bought them for about 750€/pair and used them for a while. I found their brighness useful in some situations. But for me their ability to create a 3dimensional soundstage and detail seemed inferior to the original KM84. This is a very delicate difference but important for main mic purposes. That was the reason why I sold the KM184 in the end. At the moment they are much pricier with about 1100€ for a pair, for me overpriced (I bought my Schoeps pairs second hand for this price). In the meantime I went the Schoeps route and I am quite happy with them. They are quieter than the KM84/83 (lute recordings benefit from this) sound very smooth and natural and can create a stunning soundstage.
I personally would not use LDC mics for main mics because they are simply much bigger, which can be a problem in handling and for optics in concerts.
Best regards

stax Tue, 01/16/2007 - 16:01

Hermann, many compliments for your musical skills! I'm a classical guitar player and I love lute music. Regarding the KM184 you've got the same feeling of lack of 3D image I had when used them! In fact on that project where I used the Neumanns I tried to recreate a sense of 3D image with a software plugin while I was doing the mixing... well the result was not one of the best in my opinion ;-).
I would ask you how can you compare the Oktavas with the KM184? I'm not used to do this kind of question, sound is a matter of personal taste, but, since I've used only the 184 among the mics you have described and you seem to know them quite well I'd be pleased to know your personal opinion.

Boswell I'm a big fan of M-S recording too but I've found that M-S setup for live recordings "on the fly" sometimes is difficult. I agree with Hermann when he says that LDC "are simply much bigger, which can be a problem in handling and for optics in concerts". In addition with the LDC I had some problems during the last recordings I've done, that's why I used two AKG C-1000S on my last live project.
Well one of my biggest project I'm involved in is the recording of a guitar competition here in Gorizia (italy) for a CD production: it's quite impossible to adjust the microphones for every performer so this year I used a M-S array with an OMNI Mid insead of a Cardioid (I thought this setup more versatile). Well I had off-axis sound coloration and not a strong image mainly for the reason described above. Maybe two omni or wide-cardioid SDC little spaced would have done the job better. The last problem I had with a M-S recording was an on-the fly recording of baroque music: cello and harpsichord. I was unable to do any soundcheck before the concert simply because the musicians arrived 5 minutes before the concert due to a cue in the highway. The result was thin and unnnatural sound with uncontrolled bass... Now this recording have to be sent to RAI radio for broadcast and I'm dealing with wavelab to get an acceptable sound!!!

Guys, thank you very much for your support, you're helping me alot !

anonymous Wed, 01/17/2007 - 00:36

Thank you Stax :D
The MK012 were a later addition to my rig, so I have no direct comparison to KM184. I also have not used the Oktavas side by side with KM84 and Schoeps as main mics in real world concert situations as I have the Schoeps at hand. I only made these living room test recordings with my lutes.
I can only comment on a few choral recordings a friend of mine made with my Oktavas in the last two years and these sound fine.
My advice: if you are on a budget now, a pair of MK012 is a fine beginning. Later you can upgrade to something like Schoeps (maybe used, as I did) Sennheiser, Microtech Gefell or even DPA and keep the Oktavas for spots. AKG 480 seem to get good critique by some classical recordists, some call Neumann KM140 better than KM184.

Best regards

Ps.: Please keep in mind that I am a professional lutenist and only an amateur recordist with a semi professional approach :roll: