Skip to main content

Large Diaphragm condenser for choirs/orch/etc.

Member for

21 years
Hello...

Well... I'd like a few suggestions on Large Diaphragm condensers. Basically, I need something to record choirs and orchestras, and possibly concert bands with. Also, as a Mid mic for M/S recording. I was only hoping to spend $100 - $200... but it looks like I would have to spend a minimum of $600 to get a quality mic! However, I've been looking at the following:

Studio Projects C3
MXL 2003/2006
Shure KSM 32
CAD GXL 2200/3000
Rode NT2000

The Rode and the Shure are expensive... but I might be able to score them cheaper if I find a used model. However, I figured I might as well see what some of the pros think. Maybe you have suggestions not listed above? I've read great things of the Shure KSM 44, but that's just unrealistically expensive for me (I'm still a college student!).

Thank you.

Comments

Member for

21 years

Member Fri, 01/25/2008 - 13:09
Cucco wrote: A mic with a high sensitivity and a medium to low self-noise will seem quieter on the recording in most cases than a quiet mic with low sensitivity.

Yes, I used to think so, too, but that's not quite the way it is... Self-noise is not related to sensitivity, it's measured in SPL.

Other way round: Sensitivity is measured at 94 dB SPL. Regardless of the electrical level that 94 dB SPL will translate into (aka sensitivity), the mic's S/N ratio (usually quoted in relation to 1Pa/94 SPL as well) at e.g. 20 dB of self noise will be 74 dB, and at 6 dB it will be 88dB. Higher sensitivity will not change that. (Hope I'm not stating the all-too-obvious...)

I've found an Earthworks SR78 (which does not claim to be particularly quiet) to be way too noisy to be even used as a harpsichord spot mic...

As for good low-cost SDCs, I'd like to mention the Beyerdynamic MC930.
But I've also use a pair of AKG 414 B-TL (not TL-II) as AB main mic quite successfully...

Daniel

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Fri, 01/25/2008 - 13:20
d_fu wrote: Yes, I used to think so, too, but that's not quite the way it is... Self-noise is not related to sensitivity, it's measured in SPL.

I know what you're saying and agree - however, the quoted spec of a fixed dB noise rating for each mic is directly related to (or more accurately to say - "impacted by" or "affected by")the amount of gain applied to that mic using your mic preamp. Where you have to use less gain, you will have lower (relative) noise levels. However, there's no escaping the S/N ratio - it's a matter of maximizing the headroom and gain of the mic at hand.

Member for

16 years 8 months

Simmosonic Fri, 01/25/2008 - 22:42
Ardroth wrote: Unfortunately, those mics recommended are FAR too expensive... I'm no professional yet! I just have a project studio that's probably only worth 2 of those mics. For recording live acoustic music (small choirs, chamber, solo, etc.), would a M/S (figure 8 ribbon paired with a LDC or SMD) work well?

There are many suggestions being made here...

I'd forget about MS for now, mostly because you'll need a means to decode it, and also because it is not the most versatile technique around for the money.

I'd put in a recommendation for a pair of Rode NT5s, which are SDC cardioids and are sold in matched pairs. A pair of those will allow a range of near-coincident (ORTF, etc.) and coincident (XY) methods, making it equally useful for large or small ensembles.

If you can stretch the budget a bit further, a pair of NT55s with cardioid and omni capsules is also a good choice. IMHO, the NT55 with omni capsule performs well above its price point. That set-up won't cost you much and adds spaced omnis (AB) to the near-coincident and coincident methods offered by the cardioids.

They're also very versatile for close miking, which sometimes is the best thing to do...

Member for

16 years 8 months

Simmosonic Sun, 01/27/2008 - 02:10
Cucco wrote: It's tough to monitor an undecoded MS signal without thinking you've been licking some acid earlier in the day.

Prior to getting my Nagra V (which has MS decoding on board), I made half a dozen or so MS recordings without decoding during monitoring. By paying careful attention to the individual M and S signals, and judging what I thought *ought* to be in the centre and what *ought* to be in the sides, I figured I could do a pretty job of it.

Every single one of those recordings was a spectacular failure. I would've been better off dropping that acid when the curtain went up and spending the rest of the concert cowering in the corner of a bathroom, afraid of the soap dispenser...

Member for

16 years 8 months

DavidSpearritt Sun, 01/27/2008 - 03:06
Cucco wrote: [quote=d_fu]Yes, I used to think so, too, but that's not quite the way it is... Self-noise is not related to sensitivity, it's measured in SPL.

I know what you're saying and agree - however, the quoted spec of a fixed dB noise rating for each mic is directly related to (or more accurately to say - "impacted by" or "affected by")the amount of gain applied to that mic using your mic preamp. Where you have to use less gain, you will have lower (relative) noise levels. However, there's no escaping the S/N ratio - it's a matter of maximizing the headroom and gain of the mic at hand.
This is not correct Jeremy. The self noise figure is completely independent of sensitivity, by design. Its measured in equivalent sound pressure level, thus removing sensivity, ie mv/Pa from the equation.

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Sun, 01/27/2008 - 07:27
Well, the sensitivity and the self noise are related and it boils down to Signal to Noise Ratio. If the SNR is the same between two mics, the only variable at this point is the preamp and its noise imparted at given gains. So a low noise, low sensivity mic should, in theory, be no noisier than a higher noise higher sensitivity mic if the noise and sensitivity go up by equal levels and the SNR is the same.

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Sun, 01/27/2008 - 08:02
Let me just put it in different terms.

Take 2 mics. One of which has a 7 dB self noise and a low sensitivity (11dB/PA).

The second has a high sensitivity (40dB/PA) and a 20 dB self noise.

To get the same level of signal out of the first mic, you'd have to amplify it by let's say 13dB (I haven't done the math so I'm probably way off - let's just work on hypothetical.)

Now, the equivalent noise from mic a is 20dB since you've boosted the existing noise by 13dB. (Last time I checked, you boost everything that comes down the line, including noise.)

So, if everything else were equal between these two mics, you should get a pretty darn similar sound and noise figure.

If this is incorrect, please state how as this has been my understanding as long as I can remember.

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Sun, 01/27/2008 - 08:52
Let's put it in a less simple term -

SNR is determined by the delta between the fixed *input* level of 94dB at 1kHz (1 Pa) and its self-noise figure which is determined as the electrical *ouput* of the mic with no load and no gain.

Since this delta always results in a figure of less than 94dB, is it not safe to assume that NO mic is suitable for 24bit recording?

My point is, determining SNR is a good factor for demonstrating a mic's self noise, but little else of relevance since it would be more accurate to measure the output of the microphone with a specified input and its output with no input.

Since the self noise output does not vary based on input yet output signal does, how does the existing SNR have any relevance to actual performance of the mic?

Member for

16 years 8 months

DavidSpearritt Sun, 01/27/2008 - 14:02
I remember we had a debate about this very early on. Could find the thread but nevermind, he is the explanation.

Take two mics, A and B, with the same self noise of 15dBA, but mic A has a sensitivity of 10mV/Pa and mic B has 40mV/Pa.

Put them up in front of a lute which produces 25 dBA at 1m. Mic A preamp will be on a setting which is 20 log 40/10 more gain than mic B's preamp setting, but the recording will have the same SNR for both ie 10dBA, ASSUMING the mic preamps noise floor is insignificant.

This last assumption is my only qualificiation and is true for most modern pres, they have insiginificant noise floors compared to mics.

Member for

21 years

Member Sun, 01/27/2008 - 17:31
Cucco wrote: Since this delta always results in a figure of less than 94dB, is it not safe to assume that NO mic is suitable for 24bit recording?
If you were to find music (and acoustical surroundings) that could actually provide a dynamic range beyond 100 dB, the microphones' self noise might become a limiting factor... But this very unlikely to happen, isn't it? :D
Also consider that practically all 24-bit converters in the market have an SNR that does not even reach the theoretical SNR for 20 bit (120 dB)...

24-bit recording will help keep converter noise away when recording levels are set too carefully, e.g. with peaks at -20 dBFS or less.

And while a noisy mic's self noise (e.g. 26 dB) might become noticeable in quiet surroundings (the DPA 4090 being a case in point, totally useless as e.g. AB main mic), a quieter mic's self noise of 6-15 dB is likely to be inaudible.


My point is, determining SNR is a good factor for demonstrating a mic's self noise, but little else of relevance since it would be more accurate to measure the output of the microphone with a specified input
That's what sensitivity measures (mV/Pa).
and its output with no input.
That's the self noise...

Since the self noise output does not vary based on input yet output signal does, how does the existing SNR have any relevance to actual performance of the mic?
SNR and self noise are directly related, and both will tell you whether a mic is noisy or not. In relative or absolute terms...

Mind that SNR (as in the above examples) is a standardized measurement, allowing direct comparison between different microphones. A mic's SNR is not equal to its dynamic range. The latter will take into account a mic's max SPL handling. (Max. SPL - Self noise = dynamic range). This figure does not allow direct comparison, since some mics handle greater SPL than others. Hence the SNR figure, based on a fixed SPL value.

Cucco wrote: Take 2 mics. One of which has a 7 dB self noise and a low sensitivity (11dB/PA).The second has a high sensitivity (40dB/PA) and a 20 dB self noise. To get the same level of signal out of the first mic, you'd have to amplify it by let's say 13dB (I haven't done the math so I'm probably way off - let's just work on hypothetical.)
The problem with the math here is that sensitivity is measured in mV/Pa, not dB/Pa.

Daniel

Member for

21 years

Member Thu, 01/24/2008 - 08:48
I forgot to mention that I actually have a mic very similar to the MXL 2200... but it's a "no name" mic that I bought from someone for like $30. I don't know what the brand is. I used it for a M/S recording for a choir once and everyone was happy with the results... so I guess it works OK. I think I might prefer something that I KNOW myself is good.

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Sun, 01/27/2008 - 19:58
My bad - I mistyped "db/Pa" vs. "mv/Pa"

All else that's stated is stuff that I'm aware of and do not dispute. (Actually, where you quote me as stating "and its output with no input." is equal to self-noise - I had made that statement in the previous paragraph, so we're on the same wavelength.)

David's information is helpful. Given his examples, I'd like to do some testing of my own to validate what's been said.

Member for

14 years 8 months

droc8705 Thu, 01/24/2008 - 12:31
i'm not a professional, so take this for what it's worth.

i went to sam ash one day to buy a couple mics to do exactly what you want to do. i out of them, i tried out the Rode NT2000 and the NT2-a. Honestly, i didn't a difference. The only thing different between the NT2000 and the NT20-a is that the NT2000 has the variable polar patterns, bass roll offs, and pad. If i'm not mistaken, they actually share the same capsule, but don't quote me on that. I ended up going with the NT2-a since it's $200 cheaper. Also, try playing the used market to see what you can come up with; i liked my rode so much that i just bought another on ebay for $260.

as far as the shure ksm mics, i have the ksm27 and love it...got that on ebay too. i don't have the ksm32, but when my band recorded our ep, our producer Lee Dyess actually used one to cut the vocals over a AT4060 (a badass mic, btw) and a Neumann M149...to me, that says something.

You could also check out the audio-technica stuff. the at4033 and at4040 are definitely worth checking out. do a search on here and you'll find a lot of fans of both.

-dave

Member for

17 years 2 months

JoeH Thu, 01/24/2008 - 13:21
Don't spend any real cash until you've at least checked out the AT 4000 series.

The 4040 and 4050 are two of their best, and I use them a lot on a variety of things, including choral and instrumental work. The 4040 is simply a good work-horse single element LD cardioid mic, with a -10 pad and bass rolloff switch for under $500. The pricier 4050 has those features as well, but is a dual-element capsule, which means it also has a figure of eight setting for bluemline use, as well as an omni setting for use as an omni on its own, or used with another 4050 in MS mode. very nice options to have in a mic that's under $600. They look great onstage (disappear on most TV shoots since they're jet-black) and they're quite rugged.

Another good one to check out is the 4033, in the same price range as the 4040. Their lower end mics aren't bad either; the 3035 is wonderful too, regardless of price. (Usually about $299 each.)
x