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Omni pair advice: DPA 4006A, Josephson C617SET, Senn MKH8020 for small ensembles and field recording - Gearspace.com
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Omni pair advice: DPA 4006A, Josephson C617SET, Senn MKH8020 for small ensembles and field recording
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Omni pair advice: DPA 4006A, Josephson C617SET, Senn MKH8020 for small ensembles and field recording

I know this is a question that's been asked in various forms before, but I have a more environmental and functional spin on it.

I need a high-quality main stereo pair of omnis to cover both indoor music recordings and outdoor field recordings. For music, I record pipe organ, small acoustic (folk, old timey, roots/Americana) bands, small classical ensembles (never orchestras), solo classical piano, small jazz ensembles, and singer-songwriters. I also do a lot of ambience and soundscape recording, way out in the backcountry/wilderness (often isolated for up to two weeks at a time), in all kinds of temperatures and weather conditions.

I've used and really like the Josephson C617SET mics for all sorts of music stuff, and would happily choose them, but am concerned about how a 200V metal diaphragm would do out in the bush, in high humidity, etc. It seems not well-suited to field recording. It also seems *occasionally* poorly-suited to more distant positions in concert halls.

I've recently tried the Sennheiser MKH 8020s for stereo ambience recording in the field, and was extremely pleased with them. But trying them for music indoors, I found them somewhat dark and not nearly as realistic as the Josephsons (though I did appreciate the minimal self-noise).

It seems like the DPA 4006A pair might meet both criteria -- as an electret with a reputation for durability, it could work for field recording, but equally well in a concert hall. Moreover, the optional grids would seem to improve its versatility compared to the other two (neither of which have a diffuse-field option). However, I have relatively limited experience with the 4006. If I love the Josephson, will I think the 4006 is too bright?

The ideal option would be to get both the Josephsons and the 8020s, but that's out of budget right now. I can get one of these three pairs, and it will be quite a while before I can purchase any more mics.

Thoughts on which of these pairs would best cover my range of applications? (I'd be delighted to find out that the Josephson is equally at home in the jungle as the concert hall, but doubt that's the case.) Not afraid of using a less-ideal mic and applying EQ in post if that will get me to the same place.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesmafyew ➡️
[. . .] in all kinds of temperatures and weather conditions. [. . .]
I’m a Schoeps fan who lives in humid Florida. While I’m never taking them out in the rain, I do take them outside - but usually in a blimp with a dead-cat windjammer. . .or, at least pop screens. Never any problems with humility, per se.

If I were heading down the path I suspect you’re on - and wasn’t such a complete Schoeps fan - I would also look seriously at Sonodore microphones and their 60v battery power supply.

Still, your reference to all kinds of weather conditions scares me a bit for such expensive mics. So, I’d kill any thoughts of ‘all kinds of weather’. No expensive mics would come out in a sideways rainstorm.


Happy trails,

Ray H.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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🎧 10 years
I think you might be trying to shoehorn a multipurpose function across various styles of music and location (indoors and out) into a single pair of mics. You're applying the additional caveat of humidity resistance (at which the MKH Sennheiser family (both old and newer 8000 series) excel, as you know)...which reduces your range, even if used inside a furry zeppelin.

How much flexibility are you likely to have in all cases as far as mic-siting goes ? A diffuse field placement will dictate a different sort of omni than a near field one...a hostile and unsupportive acoustic space could militate against an omni, compared with say hypocardioid, or fig 8, for example.

How about increasing versatility via a multi pattern pair of mics or a set of additional changeable capsules (Schoeps for example)...or considering used mics, which will give you more options, such as MKH20/40 at a lower price point than new...while retaining the adverse weather conditions resistance.

There are ways of packing and storing mics for backpack travel which vastly minimize the overkill space occupancy of their original packaging, which demolishes the "can't justify the backpack space" argument for multiple pair (or capsule) ownership. You seem to be unnecessarily and perversely curtailing your responsiveness of supplying the best mic for any particular recording context, by insisting on a single 'one size fits all' tool.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #4
I own nearly 100 mics already, mostly geared toward traditional studio recording, usually of rock bands. Many solid options for spot miking, lots of high-SPL and/or low-sensitivity stuff, but few suitable for a main pair in an auditorium. And, all my higher-end stuff is LDCs & ribbons that don't travel well. Like many other folks, I'm doing different work now than I was a year ago, because of the pandemic. Much more location stuff, much more classical & acoustic music, and tons of organ recording & live-streaming in churches. About 60% of this work is for video, so yeah, placement can be an issue, though the directors I work with have an aesthetic that does often allow mics in the frame as long as they're not visually annoying.

I'm mostly using SE8s (diffuse field omni), Line Audio CM4s/OM1s, an MKH 8050, and various AT40xx series mics for these jobs right now. They're all rugged and sound good. I'm using the OM1s for field recording with an F6, also fine, if a little insensitive for the sounds I'm trying to capture. They travel in a dry-bag, and I'm not hauling them out in downpours, but they still have to live with the wide range ambient temps and humidity. FWIW I've had no reliability issues with the OM1s.

Anyway, this is now a significant-enough chunk of my income that I think it's time for a top-shelf main omni pair. I guess a better phrasing of my question is: given my applications and budget, the DPA pair seems like a no brainer -- good compromise of durability, quality, and versatility with the grids. Hell, DPA is screaming from the rooftops that the 4006 was used on the Mars lander. But in your (plural) experience, is that versatility worth any sonic trade-offs (in music recording) compared to the Josephsons? I guess I'm just not familiar enough with the sound of the DPAs to answer that myself.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesmafyew ➡️
I've recently tried the Sennheiser MKH 8020s for stereo ambience recording in the field, and was extremely pleased with them. But trying them for music indoors, I found them somewhat dark and not nearly as realistic as the Josephsons (though I did appreciate the minimal self-noise).
I wonder if you should consider the MKH20 instead, which offers free/diffuse field adjustment via a switch on the mic that controls an EQ circuit? Then you'd get the weather resistance of a Sennheiser MKH along with the versatility of adjusting for different applications. The main drawback is its larger size, which means less handy portability in the field and greater visibility on stage, compared with the 8020.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The interchangeable grids (plus balls if you want 'em) make the DPA's most versatile. But if you are planning to use them in difficult conditions, you should know that electret capsules should be protected from high temperatures to avoid loss of charge in the dielectric.

This is not entirely clear in the specifications. The temperature spec for DPA capsules is -40 to +45C. The spec table limits for Sennheiser MKH capsules are given as -10C to +60C, but the same manual says the "normal operating range" is +10 to +35C. I interpret this to mean that it's safe to store Sennheisers over the wide range, but they might not work to spec over that entire range, probably due to detuning of the RF circuitry. Oddly, the very comprehensive Schoeps CMC/MK User Guide gives no temperature spec of either kind.

The Microtech Gefell capsules used by Josephson have the widest specified operating range: -50C to +100C.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesmafyew ➡️
I know this is a question that's been asked in various forms before, but I have a more environmental and functional spin on it.
This is sort of like asking what car should you get to do everything from long highway trips to back country logging trails to hauling full sized sheets of plywood and tonnes of building materials, to carrying 12 school kids on a field trip. You get the same answer -- one size fits all, does not.

But to answer the question you actually asked: you can do a lot with just a pair of mics. Not everything. But a lot. And if some of that has to be outside, you can help yourself by specifying RF condensers. That is, Sennheiser or Rode (and probably others, but IDK who).

And the answer to the question you avoided asking is: An M/S pair of MKH 40 and MKH 30.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #8
These specs are interesting. I spend far more time in cold environments than hot, so that MKH lower limit of -10C is nearly disqualifying, yet they were the ones I'd have reflexively picked if field recording were my only application.

I'm kind of stunned by the Gefell capsule specification -- it had not occurred to me to dig up the datasheet for the MK221 itself (I've only looked at Josephson's rather uninformative cutsheet), but I'll certainly do that now that I see it will operate on the surface of Mercury. ;-D
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
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🎧 10 years
If neither pair of DPA 4006A, Josephson C617SET, or Senn MKH8020 can do the job competently for you, you probably should not be doing that job. Think twice. What music would one be performing under 40 degree C temperature and pouring rain that is worthy of recording? I can't think of any, nor do I want to listen to any music under that condition, certainly would not want to record anything. Are you trying to record the sound of someone sweating in a sauna room, or something?
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson ➡️
This is sort of like asking what car should you get to do everything from long highway trips to back country logging trails to hauling full sized sheets of plywood and tonnes of building materials, to carrying 12 school kids on a field trip. You get the same answer -- one size fits all, does not.
I get that. But to continue the analogy, obviously a high-clearance 4x4 with a trailer hitch will cover a much greater percentage of those scenarios than a sports car. Do I understand you correctly that you consider this an impossibly wide range of applications with unacceptable trade-offs, so I should just pick the ones I like best for music and call it a day?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
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Pasta4lnch's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I use the DPA's on all sorts of live gigs - I'm usually filming too and run them into a sound devices unit under a camera. From small ensembles to a yearly full orchestra/choral thing. They are amazing - and very dark (to my ears) in a very good way...so much so that in the studio they are the only mics that work with my rainsong carbon fiber acoustic that is super crazy bright.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
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surflounge's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
interested if the Josephson C617SET can be used outdoors, with care not to get moisture on it
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
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mpdonahue's Avatar
I've used DPA 4006 outside in pouring rain with no ill effects. You have to carefully tape the connector and put a drip loop so water can't run down the cable, but otherwise they are the most environmentally stable microphone ever made.
As for sound, I can choose any microphone I want, my first choice is the 4006TL.
As always, YMMV.
All the best,
Mark
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue ➡️
I've used DPA 4006 outside in pouring rain with no ill effects. You have to carefully tape the connector and put a drip loop so water can't run down the cable, but otherwise they are the most environmentally stable microphone ever made.
As for sound, I can choose any microphone I want, my first choice is the 4006TL.
As always, YMMV.
All the best,
Mark
That's really helpful. Leaning toward the DPAs at this point.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
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pentagon's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Use/own DPA 4006 and Josephson C617SET mics. These days I prefer the C617SET most of the time. For distance recordings with them, have you considered the SPH balls from Josephson (I have and use them fairly regularly on the C617SET). I'm a studio guy (mostly orchestra/ensemble) so can't tell you about environmental durability.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #16
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
i have had a dozen schoeps mics hanging over a bobsleigh track for days in freezing temperatures and have not had any failures.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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🎧 5 years
Ive had MKH's in a Pelicase outside for 6 weeks in the Artic and no problems even with the open sided 30.
The 30 failed in a Woods Hole submersible @ 10,000 feet down , humidity was 150%.
RF Sennheiser are practically infallible to normal climate variation
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #18
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didier.brest's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesmafyew ➡️
is that versatility worth any sonic trade-offs (in music recording) compared to the Josephsons? I guess I'm just not familiar enough with the sound of the DPAs to answer that myself.
Comparative test of DPA 4006 and Josephson C617 on classical piano.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #19
Thank you Didier, that test was eye-opening. I downloaded the WAVs of the C617set and 4006, and used the Foobar2000 ABX tool on both my monitors and headphones. I scored 20/20 trials in a level-matched blind ABX test, primarily because one of the files annoyed me with what sounded like a resonant peak in the upper mids, which made it easily and instantly identifiable.

It turned out the file I disliked was the Josephson. Looking at the FR analysis in Audition, in those recordings, the C617set has a massive peak at 2.4kHz compared to the DPAs. I am not sure whether this was the difference in placement, or something peculiar to those Josephsons, or a preamp interaction, or what. I haven't noticed anything like this when I've used the Josephsons myself. But breaking out the mics by channel, both channels of the Josephson show the same peak relative to the DPAs.

Usually, differences resulting from position/displacement show up in FR comparisons as the two curves "switching places" -- you can see this at 1.8-2kHz, then again at with the harmonics at 7-8kHz & 8-9kHz. The peak at 2.4kHz doesn't look like the other points where the two curves diverge, and the difference is much larger.

I do prefer the more subdued top octave of the Josephsons, but figure that a good EQ could easily bring the DPAs to the same place. In any case, my takeaway from the exercise is that I don't think I'd have any trouble making the recordings I want to make with the DPAs, and with several folks weighing in that they are reliable in the field, I think I'm going to buy a pair of 4006As.

Thanks everyone!
Attached Thumbnails
Omni pair advice: DPA 4006A, Josephson C617SET, Senn MKH8020 for small ensembles and field recording-617vs4006a-fullfr.jpg   Omni pair advice: DPA 4006A, Josephson C617SET, Senn MKH8020 for small ensembles and field recording-617vs4006-lrbreakout.jpg   Omni pair advice: DPA 4006A, Josephson C617SET, Senn MKH8020 for small ensembles and field recording-617vs4006a.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I went out on a limb in 2020 (Covid era) and bought three C617sets for use as main pair/Decca tree. I have yet to actually record with them but every review, many by people whose tastes I respect, give me hope that they will replace my 4005TL trio and shine.

The good thing is that, if I am not as satisfied as I expect to be, the C617 trio will sell for the price of new. Always an advantage with classic mics. I LOVE my DPAs but I am prepared to love my Josephsons better.

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
I'd put my vote in for the Josephson 617. I am generally a sucker for measurement microphone designs and the Josephson is an excellent one.

However... I also suggest that the MKH-20 sounds a lot better to my ears than the harsher MKH-8020. If you're going to need the lowest possible noise floor it is hard to beat the MKH-20. Unfortunately the noise floor of the room is seldom low enough for that to be much advantage in the field.

As far as humidity issues go.... the MKH-20 is absolutely the best choice in wet environments. The DPA is an electret which isn't QUITE as good at dealing with humidity as the RF electronics in the Sennheiser. The Schoeps is externally polarized and consequently much worse and although I have not used the Josephson much I have had problems with other measurement mikes in the rain at music festivals. The measurement-style microphones use 200V for polarization so it's that much easier for it to leak across a film of condensation.
--scott
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #22
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesmafyew ➡️
It turned out the file I disliked was the Josephson. Looking at the FR analysis in Audition, in those recordings, the C617set has a massive peak at 2.4kHz compared to the DPAs. I am not sure whether this was the difference in placement, or something peculiar to those Josephsons, or a preamp interaction, or what. I haven't noticed anything like this when I've used the Josephsons myself. But breaking out the mics by channel, both channels of the Josephson show the same peak relative to the DPAs.
This sounds to me like a reflection off the piano lid.
--scott
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #23
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
This sounds to me like a reflection off the piano lid.
--scott
I agree. The Josephson’s are quite flat in frequency response (+/-1 dB) and in my experience.

Here’s a sample of Simone Dinnerstein playing a Steinway D Grand Piano. No Eq or other effects. via Gordon preamp
to a SD788 at 2496. Certainly NO upper frequency range harshness.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xk5...w?usp=drivesdk

Last edited by Folkie; 1 week ago at 04:57 PM.. Reason: add sample
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
This sounds to me like a reflection off the piano lid.
--scott
Totally possible. There are no pictures in that thread of how the mics were positioned on the piano test. It certainly doesn't represent my experience with them, anyway.

(I also find it odd that everyone who noticed this in the other thread liked the Josephson better as a result)
Old 1 week ago
  #25
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wildplum's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I second Mark Donahue's view- the 4006TL. Josephson makes some wonderful mics, but for the uses you outlined, I go with the DPA.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Which do you wanna drive. The Porsche Carrera or the Jaguar F-type?

Josephson 617 or DPA 4006TL? I'd say, buy two of each.

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
AB3
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🎧 15 years
While not omni, one should consider wider than cardioid options like the DPA 4015s which are awesome mics.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #28
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by AB3 ➡️
While not omni, one should consider wider than cardioid options like the DPA 4015s which are awesome mics.
My next mics should I ever buy another pair.

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #29
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surflounge's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
love it like a bad habit
$7129
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #30
AB3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➡️
My next mics should I ever buy another pair.

D.
I sold mine and I want them back. I bought the Schoeps with the MK22, but it is not a replacement for the DPA 4015s. I find that the DPA 2015s give me what I want from Cardiod and from Omni - especially if I want to record an ensemble.
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