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I need a U87 style of mic at a decent price range, help!
Old 4th March 2009
  #181
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homestudioguy's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrislago ➡️
Is there a lower end mic that has a similar U87 style? I need a microphone for Rock vocals and I was debating between the Kel Audio Hm-1 and Gauge ECM-87. Please mention anything other than SM7, and if you do mention SM7, I want to hear a vocal sample! Actually any mic you mention would be great with a small reference work or vocal sample.
Any help would be appreciated.
-Chris-
Try an sE Electronics SE2200A ($299). I did an A/B awhile back with a '70s Neumann U87 and surprisingly, the SE2200A had similar sonic characteristics. Of course, the SE2200A did not have the level of dimension and "air" of the U87 but it had similar characteristics nonetheless.
Of course, always try before you buy if you can.
Old 4th March 2009 | Show parent
  #182
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael_Joly ➡️
That's great. Its wonderful to find a mic that works so well with your voice.

But this is the point that gets really interesting for me - why does it work so well? What is it about the headbasket, capsule, wiring, FET choice, impedance converter and output stage that makes this mic work on your voice while other mics you've tried have failed?

I'm all for egalitarian access to recording tools. But in my opinion, we as a community need to get back to a more rigorous analysis and description of the engineering tools we use and how we communicate to others the sound impressions they make. For example, Bill Putnam and Les Paul quantified what they heard using acoustical and electrical engineering terminology and didn't just sling vague subjective impressions.
So what would you suggest for my voice? I checked the MXL V63M mod and the AKG style C12 capsule really interests me. Out of your modded mics, would you be able to recommend one for my vocals? I like my Luna, but I am still unsure.

As for the Luna and Sputnik, I've tried both and they are very very similar in sound.
Old 4th March 2009 | Show parent
  #183
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kidvybes's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrislago ➡️
So what would you suggest for my voice?
...I guess I missed your evaluation of that SM7 you were going to rent...so how'd you like it?...say what?...you haven't got around to trying the SM7 yet?...no kidding...
Old 4th March 2009 | Show parent
  #184
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidvybes ➡️
...I guess I missed your evaluation of that SM7 you were going to rent...so how'd you like it?...say what?...you haven't got around to trying the SM7 yet?...no kidding...
You know what? I wanted to rent one at a Half price rental day and they were already all rented. So I guess I'll have to wait :(
Old 4th March 2009 | Show parent
  #185
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LeMauce's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by homestudioguy ➡️
Try an sE Electronics SE2200A ($299). I did an A/B awhile back with a '70s Neumann U87 and surprisingly, the SE2200A had similar sonic characteristics. Of course, the SE2200A did not have the level of dimension and "air" of the U87 but it had similar characteristics nonetheless.
Of course, always try before you buy if you can.
Sorry but the SE2200A has to much sibliance problems around 6/7Khz to be NEAR to U87 smoothness. Then again i don't agree (i had a 2200A) has the same characteristics as the U87, that i do use in the studio where i work, one of the early versions. The low end is far to muddy and less detail then the u87.
Old 4th March 2009 | Show parent
  #186
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🎧 10 years
So I am at a complete loss as to which mic to get and it's this thread's fault!! I was totally planning on just getting the newer Studio Projects C1 from Zzounds and be done w/ it because of the claim after claim that its good and sounds semi close to the U87. Here's my situation.

I was going to pair one w/ the new modified Chameleon Labs 7602 MKII and probably a FMR RNC or some other decent compressor. I am so confused, this would be for mainly pop/rnb and hip hop vocals but more pop.

The studio we used to record at (after wasting $3000 on studio time we decided maybe we should spend some money and cut demos first then go to the studio if we really really like the song) had a U87 going to a 1U Neve pre (not 1073) to a Tubetech CL1-B.

Now I now that's a world class chain but I'm trying to sound "like" it w/ out breaking the bank and if the results are good enough then we'll go ahead and rent studio time and do it right. So I'm basically in the same exact boat as the OP. I also have lots of experience with recording as well (went to school for it).

So I was thinking on spending 1000-2000 as opposed to 10,000 (which is approx how much the recording studio's chain is).

Now I really like the X-Modded Chameleon Labs 7602 MKII for a pre/EQ... Looks great. For a compressor (for just light compression going in) I was thinking FMR RNC but am up for suggestions as far as that goes also.

Here are the mics I was looking at:

Studio Projects C1 $200 - Studio Projects C1 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone from zZounds.com!
sE Electronics 2200a $300 - SE Electronics SE2200A Cardioid Condenser Microphone from zZounds.com!
Blue Baby Bottle - $500 BLUE Baby Bottle Studio Condenser Microphone with Case from zZounds.com!
AT 4033 - $400 Audio Technica AT4033CL from zZounds.com!

or go cheap and just get the

Gauge ECM-87 $Cheap - GAUGE MICROPHONES - CALIFORNIA, U.S.A.

I am so tired of going back and forth and just want to go ahead and pull the trigger on one.

At this price range should I just go lowest price w/ the Gauge??? Or one of the other ones. I'm ready for somebody to just tell me which one to get out of these and be done with it.

Thanks!
Old 4th March 2009 | Show parent
  #187
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homestudioguy's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMauce ➡️
Sorry but the SE2200A has to much sibliance problems around 6/7Khz to be NEAR to U87 smoothness. Then again i don't agree (i had a 2200A) has the same characteristics as the U87, that i do use in the studio where i work, one of the early versions. The low end is far to muddy and less detail then the u87.
Mine is a newer one and in our test it was interestingly close.
Not that I'd go out and sell my 1970's U-87 to buy an SE2200A mind you
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #188
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Michael_Joly's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWsounds ➡️
So I am at a complete loss as to which mic to get and it's this thread's fault!! I was totally planning on just getting the newer Studio Projects C1 from Zzounds and be done w/ it because of the claim after claim that its good and sounds semi close to the U87.
Despite the legendary hype, the C1 with its very bright and scooped sound does not sound anything like a U 87 famous for its midrange-ish honk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CWsounds ➡️
Instead of spending $150 on the Gauge spend about $100 on a used Oktava MK-219 or MK-319. Both mics use the same flat-response capsule, electronics and fine-sounding output transformer. The only difference is the headbasket - this gives the 219 a bit more "Neumann-esque" lower midrange presence while the 319 is a bit more open sounding due to less headbasket coloration.

Get one of these mics, try it out, see if it works on your voice. Together they've made over 100,000 people happy worldwide so chances are you'll like the Oktava sound. If if doesn't work you can sell it for what you paid for it - or more. Value is going up now that the MK-219 is out of production.

If you do like the sound of the mic and want to turn it into a mic that can go head to head with a $4500 Neumann consider getting it modified. You'll still be way under $400 and will have a mic you'll use for the rest of your career. I've stopped counting how many people have told me they've sold their TLM 103 and U 87 after having their 219 or 319 modified.
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #189
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🎧 10 years
And my confusion continues.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael_Joly ➡️
Despite the legendary hype, the C1 with its very bright and scooped sound does not sound anything like a U 87 famous for its midrange-ish honk.



Instead of spending $150 on the Gauge spend about $100 on a used Oktava MK-219 or MK-319. Both mics use the same flat-response capsule, electronics and fine-sounding output transformer. The only difference is the headbasket - this gives the 219 a bit more "Neumann-esque" lower midrange presence while the 319 is a bit more open sounding due to less headbasket coloration.

Get one of these mics, try it out, see if it works on your voice. Together they've made over 100,000 people happy worldwide so chances are you'll like the Oktava sound. If if doesn't work you can sell it for what you paid for it - or more. Value is going up now that the MK-219 is out of production.

If you do like the sound of the mic and want to turn it into a mic that can go head to head with a $4500 Neumann consider getting it modified. You'll still be way under $400 and will have a mic you'll use for the rest of your career. I've stopped counting how many people have told me they've sold their TLM 103 and U 87 after having their 219 or 319 modified.
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #190
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Corran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Mr. Joly is not just pimping the gear he mods. I own 6 MK-219s. I love them so I bought 4 on ebay right after I heard they were being discontinued. I will be getting two modded in the next couple weeks (hear that?) as soon as I get payed for a gig I've got coming up.

I think any Oktava mic will smoke a Chinese one regardless of price - they have a good capsule and a good transformer. That's like 90% of the sound right there.
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #191
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWsounds ➡️
And my confusion continues.
+1.. I am one of those who still don't get anything.. LOL.. Still don't know what microphone to get ( as a good all-around mic ) that won't make my wallet cry tutt.. was hyped about the Gauge.. but not anymore....
The Confusion shall go on..on..on..on..
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #192
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illacov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Talking Ok Chris here's one for you to try out...

I had an MXL v76t modified by John Peluso at Peluso Mic Labs.

I personally swapped a 1000pf capacitor out for a cap with higher voltage (1000 pf mylar 630v), installed a Mullard 12AT7 tube and ripped out the inner grille.

John installed his PK67 capsule and a Peluso transformer.

The mic sounds very close to that smooth top end yet upfront midsyness that we associate with Pop, modern and old school hip hop.

With a little EQ you can get Illmatic (older, less highs) or stock you don't have to touch any boosting, just some cuts based on the voice or source.

I have to say the mic by itself into a good pre is not that exciting, but very clear, very "Now" so to speak.

Once you give it some compression (dbx compression into tube) it sounds very very good and can be very very milky smooth with a slight off axis turn or crisp and in your face on axis.

In contrast the MK319 capsule is smooth to begin with, the furthest thing from sibilant and using my condition seeing colors when I hear sound, the MK319 strikes me as "orange."

Versus the Aqua/Green of the Peluso PK67.

I prefer the MK319 in a fet mic. I used the MXL 990 as my original guinea pig and tried the MK319 capsule in two other mics before settling on the MXL 990 with Gus Smalley mod as its final home.

If you want bright from the MK319, some eq is in order, BUT, it takes eq very well and has a midrange character that I can only describe as "cocoa."

I suggest you get a mic modded by a tech, maybe Mike Joly (whom I've only bugged with nutty questions and never managed to use him ( It's Langston. Sorry Mike lol)

Mike and John Peluso have an alliance of sorts and I'm sure between the two of them you could get some GREAT things accomplished. Consider that Mike Joly's electronics savvy and John Peluso's hardware obsession make them an incredible combination.

While you may not like that HM7U, I'm sure the minute you get that cool crisp modern sounding mic, you'll miss it when you do your background and harmony vox. Trust me.

Two things I must have for background vox and harmonies are:

One dark/mellow LDC like an Oktava MK319

A good SDC. I'm a fan of the MXL 991 on harmonies, I still haven't gotten around to modding mine though.

Peace
Illumination
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #193
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🎧 15 years
If I wanted a "budget" U87 sound I think I would give Michael Joly a call and see what he could come up with. Non of his mics are terribly expensive, nor is his modification services. He knows sound and mics. I would trust his judgment and get what he recommends. One thing is for certain....you ain't going to get a u87 sound out of a $150 mic.....that is a fact.

David B Squared
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #194
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kidvybes's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWsounds ➡️
And my confusion continues.
...let me help sort some of this out...I have had most (if not all) of the mics discussed in this thread (excluding the U87, which I have used many times in the pro studios where I have recorded, and the Joly-modded MK319...my MK319 was not modded)...if you're recording in a home studio with modest (or no) acoustic treatment, just get a Shure SM7B...with the recording chain you're planning to purchase, you should be golden...other than the U87, the SM7 has been used on more hit records than you would believe...driven by a quality high-gain mic pre with a bit of colour (like the CL) the SM7 is terrific and takes compression and EQ very nicely...even if you find it doesn't cover all your needs, for $300 you have a world class "keeper" mic that you will use more often than not...trust me...been there, done that...very simple...S-H-U-R-E S-M-7-B...
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #195
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🎧 10 years
For some reason I feel like this is sound advice... Being in the Hip-Hop forum alot of people have said SM7... The only place i've seen this mic used though is at radio stations. Why do I feel this mic won't have the high air/sparkle/sheen that i need??? I know this mic is great at getting those heavy low thick voices but what about for female vocalists?


Quote:
Originally Posted by kidvybes ➡️
...let me help sort some of this out...I have had most (if not all) of the mics discussed in this thread (excluding the U87, which I have used many times in the pro studios where I have recorded, and the Joly-modded MK319...my MK319 was not modded)...if you're recording in a home studio with modest (or no) acoustic treatment, just get a Shure SM7B...with the recording chain you're planning to purchase, you should be golden...other than the U87, the SM7 has been used on more hit records than you would believe...driven by a quality high-gain mic pre with a bit of colour (like the CL) the SM7 is terrific and takes compression and EQ very nicely...even if you find it doesn't cover all your needs, for $300 you have a world class "keeper" mic that you will use more often than not...trust me...been there, done that...very simple...S-H-U-R-E S-M-7-B...
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #196
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Cool Gauge ECM87

Very interesting thread about the Gauge ECM 87 microphone. Allow me (Gauge-CEO) to shed some light:

The information about the origination of the ECM87 and its components is PARTLY correct. As someone has already pointed out, the vast majority of imported mics do originate from the same place, including the very microphone which bears Mr. Joly's name. In fact, we share the same manufacturer.

Rather than making a big deal about it, I believe it may be more beneficial to focus on the positive aspects of what a particular microphone (or company) can offer, rather than engaging in a discussion based largely on misinformation. dfegad

With the ECM-87, it's quite simple: We personally take the time to listen to each and every microphone. As far as I know, we are the only company on the planet that has two multi-platinum engineers testing each microphone by ear. As one of you guys so nicely pointed out, we don't go by technical specifications, we make our choices by what our ears tell us.

For us, simply swapping a transformer or re-labeling a circuit board does not make a microphone good. The mic must actually sound good in a track to work for us. After all, we all know that no two C12's sound the same, right? And let's be honest, we could easily make a joke about the inside of any mic if we really wanted to.

Anyway, thanks for a very interesting & informative discussion. And thank you for taking the time to discuss the ECM87. As always, we welcome any suggestions at [email protected]
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #197
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Chaellus's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Chiarelli ➡️
Very interesting thread about the Gauge ECM 87 microphone. Allow me (Gauge-CEO) to shed some light:

The information about the origination of the ECM87 and its components is PARTLY correct. As someone has already pointed out, the vast majority of imported mics do originate from the same place, including the very microphone which bears Mr. Joly's name. In fact, we share the same manufacturer.

Rather than making a big deal about it, I believe it may be more beneficial to focus on the positive aspects of what a particular microphone (or company) can offer, rather than engaging in a discussion based largely on misinformation. dfegad

With the ECM-87, it's quite simple: We personally take the time to listen to each and every microphone. As far as I know, we are the only company on the planet that has two multi-platinum engineers testing each microphone by ear. As one of you guys so nicely pointed out, we don't go by technical specifications, we make our choices by what our ears tell us.

For us, simply swapping a transformer or re-labeling a circuit board does not make a microphone good. The mic must actually sound good in a track to work for us. After all, we all know that no two C12's sound the same, right? And let's be honest, we could easily make a joke about the inside of any mic if we really wanted to.

Anyway, thanks for a very interesting & informative discussion. And thank you for taking the time to discuss the ECM87. As always, we welcome any suggestions at [email protected]



thumbsupthumbsup
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #198
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Akshay's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The AKG condensors are pretty much worth the money you spend on them,
they may not cost as low as $149 but i'm vary of very cheap maal
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #199
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Michael_Joly's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Hi Rob, welcome to Gearslutz as a contributor. Folks here relish opportunities to interact with manufacturers so you'll probably enjoy some spirited conversation. To kick things off, here are my thoughts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Chiarelli ➡️
...the vast majority of imported mics do originate from the same place, including the very microphone which bears Mr. Joly's name.
Yes, Cascade Microphones has always acknowledged the advantages of their hybrid business model: US design & specification >> China manufacturing >> US final assembly & quality control >> direct sales. This allows custom design, low manufacturing cost, gauranteed high quality and low sales costs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Chiarelli ➡️
We personally take the time to listen to each and every microphone...we don't go by technical specifications, we make our choices by what our ears tell us.
Your individual mic auditioning is to be commended. Though many experimenters in the DIY community, also blessed with good hearing, have commented on the harshness they've heard originating in the ceramic input coupling capacitor as used in the factory-stock ECM 87, Nady SCM 800 / 900 , CAD GXL2200/2400 and MXL V63 etc. mics. These folks have reported Polystyrene, Polypropylene or other higher-quality capacitor types offer better sound. In fact, the latest microphones from MXL and CAD have followed the lead of DIYers and moved away from ceramic input caps to metal film types. In addition, the use of a K67-style capsule driving a flat-response circuit produces a rising high frequency response frequently described as being too bright and not the spectral response Neumann intended to be heard from a K67 type capsule.

A side note - as a microphone manufacturer I'm sure you know this, but I offer this for the benefit of folks who don't know the K67 story...
...Neumann developed the K67 capsule to have a rising high frequency response. The capsule's rising HF response was followed by a complementary HF de-emphasis circuit in the U 67. This design created an acoustic pre-emphasis / electronic de-emphasis noise reduction system within the microphone which also increased HF headroom and allowed some electronic control over spectral balance. As implemented in the U 67, the K67 provides a midrange-focused sound - nothing at all like the bright Chinese K67-style capsule / flat response circuit mics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Chiarelli ➡️
For us, simply swapping a transformer or re-labeling a circuit board does not make a microphone good. The mic must actually sound good in a track to work for us.
It appears you may be referring to the Cascade Microphones Gomez Michael Joly Edition ribbon mic. There is actually more to the story. The design, implementation and most importantly the sound of the Gomez MJE convinced Electronic Musician Magazine to recognize it with the 2009 Editor's Choice Award - the only microphone to receive that award this year. I'll just briefly list the Gomez MJE ribbon mic differentiating points without taking up space to describe their benefits: US design elements (functional and aesthetic); single layer headbasket; Evidence Audio LYRIC HG wire; certified ribbon dimensions, installation and tuning; Swedish-made Lundahl transformer; US-made Switchcraft XLR; final assembly and 12-point quality control verification in Olympia, Washington.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Chiarelli ➡️
Anyway, thanks for a very interesting & informative discussion.
Thank you Rob for offering your perspective, I hope you'll stick around to take questions from the community. best, Michael
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #200
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kidvybes's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWsounds ➡️
For some reason I feel like this is sound advice... Being in the Hip-Hop forum alot of people have said SM7... The only place i've seen this mic used though is at radio stations. Why do I feel this mic won't have the high air/sparkle/sheen that i need??? I know this mic is great at getting those heavy low thick voices but what about for female vocalists?
...you'd be correct in assuming the SM7 wouldn't have "air/sparkle/sheen" of a high-end condenser mic, but much of what you perceive as such can actually be carefully EQ'd into vocal tracks recorded with the SM7...often, what you perceive as "sheen" is an artificially hyped top-end on these cheap Chinese condensers (kinda like building in the EQ hype in the mic's circuit itself)...the SM7 works well on female voices, often adding some "body" to the tone of female voices (think of Michael Jackson's falsetto tones on the Thriller album)...trust me, the mic will surprise you...and no worries about recording the neighbor's dog barking or car horns or the neighbor's lawn mower...the SM7 records only what you put in front of it, unlike the overly sensitive nature of most LDC mics...no need for extensive sound treatment to get good useable tracks...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Chiarelli ➡️
With the ECM-87, it's quite simple: We personally take the time to listen to each and every microphone. As far as I know, we are the only company on the planet that has two multi-platinum engineers testing each microphone by ear. As one of you guys so nicely pointed out, we don't go by technical specifications, we make our choices by what our ears tell us.
...yes Rob, it's commendable that you guys take the time to audition each mic before shipping them, but wouldn't it make more sense to combine that factor along with making a few minor circuit improvements?...tweak the obvious hardware difficiancies (not very expensive to do) and then continue to audition them as you're doing...that way you'd be selling the "best of the good" rather than "the best of the mediocre" as you're currently offering...
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #201
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Mark Kaufman's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidvybes ➡️
...someone please put this thread to bed...
I'm glad we didn't! heh I've learned quite a bit from this thread.

Michael, I appreciate your wish that we would try to speak specifically on these matters...even though I am too ignorant to do so. When I seek information, I look for that specificity and try my best to parse it out and make decisions based on facts. (And then, of course, I go on to describe how "warm" it all sounds.) Anyway, thanks for the hard facts as you see them, and for maintaining a respectful tone at all times. And thanks Rob for joining in. Discussions like this with the real people behind the brand names is pure gold.
Old 6th March 2009 | Show parent
  #202
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Matti's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
This reminds me of " Audio Deutchkraft " discussions years ago.
ADK are having made decent mics now + their own designs of wich I hear good things

Matti
Old 6th March 2009 | Show parent
  #203
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Interesting post by Mr. Chiarelli..
How hard or expensive would it be to have those microphones modified.. knowing that just one simple component ( for us who don't know squat about electronics) cam make a difference, and we would not be with this whole deal of.. Well you all know..

Mr. Joly, First thanks for all your knowledge on these topics..
You knowing way.. more than me.. what would make a difference on this microphone, is it worth it, and how much would this "mod" cost..

What I have read.. something of a capacitor or something would make a difference, not making it be like a "Neumann" ( if wanting something like this, better off just to save up and buy one ) but for us with "tough finances".. .. it would be as much as we can afford right now.. Is it something worth it.. Also said that that component gives it that harsh boost.. that the capsule was not designed for that circuitry or something.. would there be a better difference after doing this mod..

Thanks
Kalet
Old 6th March 2009 | Show parent
  #204
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Heartfelt's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Thank God for 3 things:

1. Ears to hear
2. Many mic choices (lots of fish in the Sea)
3. Forums like this
Old 6th March 2009 | Show parent
  #205
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heartfelt ➡️
Thank God for 3 things:

1. Ears to hear
2. Many mic choices (lots of fish in the Sea)
3. Forums like this
+1 thumbsupthumbsup
Old 6th March 2009 | Show parent
  #206
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
does anyone own one of the nady scm 900s?

i'm thinkin about picking up a pair, just for everyday use.

Or is there a better condenser that I could use on just about everything.

I've heard the gauge shootouts and I do dig the way it sounds, Im just more interested in the cheaper price tag...
Old 6th March 2009 | Show parent
  #207
Quote:
Originally Posted by whoispetty ➡️
does anyone own one of the nady scm 900s?

i'm thinkin about picking up a pair, just for everyday use.

Or is there a better condenser that I could use on just about everything.

I've heard the gauge shootouts and I do dig the way it sounds, Im just more interested in the cheaper price tag...
You get what you pay for.
Old 6th March 2009 | Show parent
  #208
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Michael_Joly's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ensonix Studios ➡️
How hard or expensive would it be to have those microphones modified.. what would make a difference on this microphone, is it worth it,
Good questions - especially "is it worth it? This gets to the heart of what constitutes an ideal price / performance ratio for any individual mic buyer. There's no universal right answer, but a different right answer for each person. For some folks, the wall of diminishing returns sits just beyond the $99 CAD GXL3000 three-pattern FET / transformer coupled mic. For other folks the wall of diminishing returns is defined by one of the AKG 414 mics. But others have to go out to the level of a Klaus Heyne modified Brauner mic or Wagner, Wunder, etc before they feel they've reached the wall of diminishing returns.

How hard to modify the ECM 87 or similar? - well, this mic platform has been a favorite for mods within the DIY community since they first became available years ago. So the knowledge is out there, a lot of contained here and homerecording.com and at Prodigy Pro's "The Lab".

Upgrading the input coupling capacitor is quick and easy if you're handy with a pencil soldering iron and small screwdrivers and can identify a ceramic capacitor sitting between two 1G Ohm resistors up near the capsule end of the PC board. Peluso offers capsules that are drop in friendly if you've got good small motor control.

Evaluating and re-setting the FET bias on these mics (which tends fall in a wide range and affect headroom capability) requires some electronics knowledge and at least a voltmeter and a selection of resitors or trim pots. Circuit improvements again require some knowledge of signal flow in a mic - how to identify signal path components and evaluate if they can be upgraded or not. As a general rule, removing electrolytic capacitors from the signal path and replacing with high quality non-polarized types is a good strategy.

While it could be argued that the three-layer headbasket design found in several Neumann mics is part of those mics character, I prefer the more open and less colored sound that comes from the use of a single layer headbasket. The single layer headbasket has a much greater open area percentage and thus greatly reduced internal headbasket reflections and standing waves - just sounds more transparent. How hard is it to do this? - not too hard if you're handy with a jewelers screwdriver, wire cutters, long nose pliers and are willing to work very slowly so as not to damage the outer grille. There are other issues that can be addressed, but you get the idea. For those of us who do this work daily, all day, it is not terribly hard. Requires concentration, specialized tools, a clean workplace and good techniques along with acoustical and electronics knowledge though.

But is it worth it? I believe it is usually a better idea to invest more in a mic that you own - leverage your initial investment in other words, to make it a better piece of gear rather than sell it on the used market for a loss or place it to the side unused. This is actually a buying strategy that some folks are adopting - they buy a mic with the idea that it will be usable out of the box now, but can be upgraded later when more money is available. Chinese ribbon mics are a good example. Current entry level price for a ribbon mic like the Nady RSM-4 hovers around $80. Usable out of the box if there's no ribbon sag and can be turned into a world-class mic later with an additional investment.

With this two-stage strategy in mind - buy and use now / upgrade later, a couple of stand out mic values are worth mentioning. The $39 MCA SP-1 mic uses a clone-attempt of the KM 84 small diaphragm capsule hiding in a side-address, LDC-style body. The capsule drives the now classic Schoeps-style transformerless circuit. Very usable mic (remember, its an SDC and not a LDC) out of the box and will go head to head with the $750 KM 184 once modified.

The other stand out value is the $45 Nady SCM 800. Another Alctron-manufactured LDC, it uses the same capsule type and circuit as the ECM 87. This mic has the smallest headbasket of any currently available LDC outside of the Oktava MK-219 and can be modified physically and acoustically to more closely resemble the design of the MK-219 to deliver a bit more of lower midrange presence that the MK-219 does so well and people love. Later on, the capsule and electronics could be upgraded.

So again, two under-$50 mics that are usable out of the box as great learning tools or "second mics" but offer the possibility of great condenser mic performance with some additional investment - and still remain an excellent value because of the low initial cost.
Old 6th March 2009 | Show parent
  #209
Gear Nut
 
Mojo's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael_Joly ➡️
No. There are less expensive mics available that sound better - modified or stock. The MXL V67g for example.

The CAD GXL 3000 three-pattern mic for $99 is a good mod platform. Convert the headbasket to a single layer, replace the capsule with a Peluso PK-47, re-wire to avoid the capacitive losses in the stock wiring, re-bias the 2nd stage so it clips after the FET instead of 7dB before, replace the polarized signal path caps. The output transformer is fine and can stay.

Even cheaper is the MCA SP-1 - same circuit as the Gauge 87. Either keep the small diaphragm capsule it comes with or drop in a PK-47. The usual signal path upgrades apply - FET, coupling caps along with a single layer headbasket conversion.
So ballpark for an MCA SP-1 with the suggested mods (including the Peluso diaphragm) would be?$ It seems to me there must be a few mics in that price range (mic+mod$) that require no modifications. I own one of these cheap Chinese LDCs, the MXL V57M, and find it harsh and ringy on dreadnought acoustic, but quite enjoy it on close-miked vocals with a bit of compression and de-essing, as it tends to bring out the grain in male vocals. I do have to be very careful with placement, due to the extreme sensitivity as compared to the dynamics I've grown accustomed to. (Also, I'm shocked at how good a garden variety Shure SM57 sounds with a run of the mill tube pre) Forgive me, I'm just rambling, now....
Old 6th March 2009 | Show parent
  #210
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
i use u87 since one year.
it is build with pro electric and without compromises for low budget.

It is build very interesting with two inductors and quiet high professional parts like styroflex condensers. This all components make the sound of an u87 sound which has a sonic character. To me it is more easy working with a u87 which indicates all frequencys close. The highs are boosted at 8khz and this tickles the tube gear very nice and makes unaesthetic shhhs and sss´s very acceptable. Try different preamps and you can get very awesome results with an u87... Avalon and Manley will be a good partner.

if you say this mic sounds bad to you... try other preamps especially avalon vt737. an u87 isnt more than a professional mic and the preamp.

The Rode nt1000 has interesting highs which sound nice at some parts in the voxal mix. The bottom end is muddy and not transparent. Thats cause they cant build a mic which gives a perfect frequency spectrum for under 500$. The parts that would be needed would cost to much.

The Rode NT2 (not nt2a) is not a u87 clone. They tryed to make a similar case... the electronic of nt2 and nt1000 is mostly stuffed with wima condensers and resistiors which costs some cents. no expensive electronic anyway. I have both and use them sometimes with another mic.

Next mic ill report is the sm7b from shure which is recommended so much.
i is a solid dynamic microphone if you have a high gain preamp cause it is very low.

you wound be happy with the most cheap mics... people try to excute them a lot and comparing them with expensive mics. thats funny, they have no idea of electronic. open the cases of both and do your own look.
a u87 does quiet more than a rode or other cheap things... find it out what it does and you never will discuss about it.

"all began with handcrafted electronic like neumann mics. wake up! the cheap mics are just a marketing idea. it has a reason that the price of an old u47 is still so high." its not a hype. its quality. (perhaps a hype for people who have no bless but i dont count them)
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