Another Schoeps vs Senn question

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by hughesmr, Aug 21, 2005.

  1. hughesmr

    hughesmr Guest

    Hello all,

    Sorry for flogging this subject again, but I'm about to bite on a big purchase and just wanted to get a bit more feedback. Hey, it's a lot of $$!

    Background: I record organ, orchestra, orch+chorus and small acoustic ensembles (e.g. trios, etc). I currently have KM184 (pr) and Earthworks QTC1 omnis (pr). I am going to purchase one additional pr of SDC mics.

    I'm down to picking between Schoeps CMC6/MK21 and Senn MKH20. I'm leaning toward the Schoeps, as they get raves here as very versatile mics, and look to fill a gap in my current mic locker (more like a pouch than a locker, though :? ) I was earlier debating between Schoeps MK21s and MK2H....but I have since heard that using the 'pressure build-up ring' on the MKH20 turns it into a sort of wide card like the MK21. Is this true, or is it more of just an omni with HF emphasis like the Schoeps MK2H? Or am I splitting hairs?

    Anyone's relayed personal experience with both MK21 and MKH20 would be appreciated.

  2. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    May 25, 2004
    some personal experience from a lowly amateur. I think the real pros will chime in later.

    My belief is that both mics are in the really good category, that is that they are in a quality level where you will not go bad with anyone of them. They are not loved equally by the same person, probably because it is a matter of taste and experience.

    So my first suggestion is to, if at all possible, rent one of the types. If you like that type, don´t look twice but buy it. Renting is generally surprisingly cheap for a a day or two. Try the mics out in as real conditions as possible.

    Some words I have heard about your mics just to put things into perspective. When taste is involved it does really differ, use your own ears instead.

    KM184 - some say it has an "unnatural" harsh increase in the high frequencys and that they will never use that for anything. Same people seems to love the discontinued KM84 a lot. Well a number of professional people does use it as a general workhorse for a lot of things. I use mine as well, have a pair. Don´t listen too much on those people.

    The Earthworks are a bit on the noisy side. Not useful for a number of recording uses because of that some say. (I´ve tried them, they work for a lot of things, really great for some things according to my ears).

    MKH20 is really low noise and goes really deep down into the bass. (I recently acquired a pair, like them a lot but cannot really say I have much experience with them). Some people say that since they use an electronic equalizer circuit inside the mic they must be bad. (Odd argument, clearly if it sounds good it is good). These are what I would recommend to you. Rather uncommon it seems in audio recording circuits in the states it seems, could be because of price.

    The Schoeps has a large group of followers and propably rightly so. I have tried them once but cannot evaluate them. Some people report that they does not really go down that low in the bass (but do you really believe word of mouth).

  3. liuto

    liuto Guest

    I personally like the Schoeps system very much. It is very flexible with all the capsules and it sounds very good, definately better than your KM184 for your applications (I owned a pair of them and used them a lot for choir and chamber music).
    I haven't tried the MKH20 but as I understand it the ring changes the polar pattern and frequency response only slightly, providing a touch more reach in reverberant rooms, similar to spheres (e. g. Neumann SBK or DPA APE). Although this is a nice addition together with the built in diffuse/free field equalization it does not make a subcardioid like the MK21 out of the microphone.
    By the way, if you are planning to record organ, choir orchestras etc. and decide for Schoeps i suggest to use MK2S rather than MK2H. You will always have quite a distance to your source so you will appreciate the extra 2dB@10kHz. If it might once turn out to be too much you can still use an equalizer. And it is better to cut eventually than to have to boost (noise!). Another possibility for you might be the switchable Schoeps MK5 pressure omni/cardioid capsule. It is very versatile and you can later add MK21 and/or MK41.
    Bst regards
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Hey Mike -

    Personally, I would lean towards the Schoeps (I think you knew I was gonna say that :wink: )

    However, I wouldn't go with the MK21 (Sub-Cardioid), I would go for the MK2s or MK2h. The extension into the nether regions of bass are quite good and accurate where I find the Senn's to be a little fake. (By fake, I mean it sounds like someone has used some kind of BBE processor or something on them to coax a bit more girth out of the lower frequencies. A good way to tell - listen to several Telarc recordings - on many, they use the Schoeps, yet on others they use the Senns. I feel that, on the Senns, the recordings sound "processed" despite their claims that they do little to nothing to the sound. The Schoeps recordings sound far more natural and open - less "Hollywood-ed." )

    Plus, the versatility of the removable/interchangable caps is not to be underestimated.

    J. :cool:
  5. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:
    I think when you are dealing with mics like that, you are dealing with questions of shades of sound rather than one being "better" than the other. Both are amazing mics.

    I use both, but if I had to choose, I'd probably go MK21's... That is actually high up on my list of mics to buy- They are one of my favorite choral mics and they are great orchestral mics. Three make a good decca tree or 2 can be a good wide stereo bar kind of spaced rig (18" 90 degree kind of recording setup).

    The Sennheisers are ultra quiet and generally they have a bit more solid low end. I use them with orchestras as flanking mics, but I prefer my DPA 4006s in general. I'm not sure I'd consider it more of a fake sound, but it definitely picks up quite differently.

    The Schoeps omnis are also great, but I find the MK21 is a bit more versatile mic if you don't have a huge rig.

  6. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    If you look at the polar graph for the MKH20 you will not see anything to suggest a wide cardioid. Further, without the HF lift it is ruler flat. Having noted that, I think that Ben is correct that the MK21 will be most versatile choice given your collection. It also enables you to interchange capsules. Also note that you can use the Shure A53M shockmount with the Schoeps (and all SD mics EXCEPT the MKH series). The Shure item is cheaper, more effective, and infinitely more rugged than any other shockmount except the old metal Neumanns.

    The MK21 will sound a little smoother than your Earthworks and MUCH smoother than the KM184, but once your ears adjust you will not miss that HF tilt at all!

    The MK2H is a different sound altogether-- the slight lift is a half-octave higher and is in what Bob Katz calls the "air band."

  7. alexaudio

    alexaudio Active Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    I agree with all the Rich has said. I have utilized all the microphones in question. I own the Schoeps MK21 and MK2H microphones as well. If I were in your shoes, I would not hesitate to purchase the Schoeps. I generally find the Schoeps to have an excellent mid range timbre. I would not consider the Schoeps neutral, but overall an excellent microphone to utilize, especially for comments already mentioned.

    I think I said this on another post, but I wouldn't buy the Sennheiser's new. I really really like the MKH800s from Sennheiser. I am certainly not as interested in the rest of the Sennheiser line, though they are a good microphone and don't have anything in particular against them. They just aren't worth the the new price you pay for them in my minds eye. That said, I would not buy an MKH20 new (or even MKH40s new either). I would only buy them used to have in my collection if I had the spare resources to make the purchase. The MKH20s are neutral but also lack character as well. Furthermore, they do not hold their value, where-as Schoeps have (hmmm...wonder why).
  8. Plush

    Plush Guest

    Schoeps CMC521 or CMC621 is my recommendation. I'm actually liking the CMC5 better than the CMC6 because it has a more prounounced bass roll off. (it cuts at 30 Hz. instead of the CCM6's 20 Hz.)

    The MK21 is acting more like a cardioid than an omni which is more useful in the run of the mill room or church. Bass extension is improved over a strictly cardioid mic.

    Omni mics only really shine in an excellent acoustic.

    I'm with Alex---Sennheiser is overpriced and un-spectacular.
  9. hughesmr

    hughesmr Guest

    My sincere thanks to all for your valuable recommendations. MK21s are in order for now: my KM184s are OK sometimes as ORTF mains, but I have gotten very inconsistent results with them in varying venues. I really like the thought of trying MK21s as spaced mains, but especially (as Ben suggest) as choral spots behind orchestra (think Orff Carmina Burana and Verdi Requiem ... using QTC1s as choral spots didn't get me quite the amount of isolation I wanted!)

    An HF-rise pair of Schoeps omni caps will wait for another day.

    And glory, hallelujah, the ADC1 lives!

    (Oh yeah, and thanks Alex for the referral earlier this summer. Much appreciated!)

  10. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    FWIW and IMHO I used to own KM184s-- I cannot think of a less appropriate mic for orchestral mains.

    I have not used my MK21s spaced, rather modified ORTF with about 14 inches separation-- 110 degrees (Jerry Bruck says 120 BTW)

    If it were me I would use MK21 for mains and 184s (rolled off slightly starting at 3kHz) for choir touchup. Aim the rear at the orch for max benefit and the crunch problem may solve itself without EQ.

  11. alexaudio

    alexaudio Active Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    No problem on the referral Mike...
    I would suggest that you start looking for a replacement for the KM184s. I find the new KM100 series to be, well - highly overrated and not worth their money what-so-ever and less than ideal for main microphones. I'd use Oktava's first (and they aren't my first choice either). I know this is a harsh statement, but I have run the key jangle test in from of some, they failed, where-as my older KM84s (which are modified now by Bill Bradley and really have an open sound now) are suited for classical recording applications. I find the KM184s harsh/closed sounding and again, highly over priced. Among those who design microphones or repair such microphones, you will find these comments to be consistent.

    Mike - give me an email off list sometime since you are local, if you want to listen to some other microphones and such.

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