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Can I skimp a little on SDC spot mics?
Old 21st May 2006
  #1
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mosrite's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Talking Can I skimp a little on SDC spot mics?

Hi Guys,

Ive already decided that I want the MG300's but, as always, a budget is a budget and money is tight.

I already have my main stereo pair sorted out and its in the high end. But I reckon Im going to need a pair of SDC's as well to help with the bigger sessions.

So my question is this:

Do either the AKG C451b's or the AT4051's cut it for classical recording as supplementary spot mics or am I kidding myself?

Do I have to visit the bank manager again and push for the extra dosh and go MG300?

If I eventually get the MG300's would I just end up using the C451b's or 4051's as unattractive candle holders?

To give you an idea the pricing in the UK is about Β£900 for a stereo pair of the MG300's and Β£380 for the AKG's. Not a trivial difference.

BTW, I havnt included the c42s or KM184's in this as the price of them is too close to the MG300's which would be my choice in that price bracket.
Old 21st May 2006
  #2
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NetworkAudio's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
How about a pair of 184's - they run at about $1150 for a pair at musicians-gear.com. They work nicely as orchestral spots.
They are still a ways away in price from 900 pounds, but will work much better for classical IMO.
kjetil
Old 21st May 2006 | Show parent
  #3
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mosrite's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
How about a pair of 184's - they run at about $1150 for a pair at musicians-gear.com. They work nicely as orchestral spots.
They are still a ways away in price from 900 pounds, but will work much better for classical IMO.
kjetil
Actually with shipping that works out at Β£815. Getting close to Gefell territory and more than double the cost of the AKGC451b's.
Old 21st May 2006 | Show parent
  #4
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🎧 15 years
Tony Faulkener has said elsewhere that he finds Rode NT5's useful as spots. These are excellent value and sound pretty good.
Old 21st May 2006
  #5
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🎧 15 years
I owned a pair of 4051a and got M300s in to compare. Both are excellent. I kept the 4051 and passed on the Gefells.

I don't know where you came up with the idea they might be "candle holders" or whatever. These are first rate mics, and can be valuable for many applications.

Steve
Old 21st May 2006 | Show parent
  #6
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NetworkAudio's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I see your point. Can you wait until you have the cash to get what you really want?
I hate compromises
Old 21st May 2006 | Show parent
  #7
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mosrite's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Tony Faulkener has said elsewhere that he finds Rode NT5's useful as spots. These are excellent value and sound pretty good.
Hi David,
Hope you are well. Things are happening here at the moment hence the equipment rush! I have heard good things about the NT5's as well but have had slightly negative "Rode" experiences previously so have discounted them. Have you heard them yourself against anything higher end?

Quote:
I owned a pair of 4051a and got M300s in to compare. Both are excellent. I kept the 4051 and passed on the Gefells.

I don't know where you came up with the idea they might be "candle holders" or whatever. These are first rate mics, and can be valuable for many applications.

Steve
Was only kidding about the candle holders thing mate! Can you please elaborate on your comparison with the Gefells and also what do you favour them on? Thanks.

Quote:
I see your point. Can you wait until you have the cash to get what you really want?
I hate compromises
I know but I suppose my way of thinking is that if any of these cheaper mics are still good mics in their own right then it wont be a compromise as I'll just add to them later down the line. Thats why I need to know if they will make the grade.
Old 21st May 2006 | Show parent
  #8
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite
Hi David,
Hope you are well. Things are happening here at the moment hence the equipment rush! I have heard good things about the NT5's as well but have had slightly negative "Rode" experiences previously so have discounted them. Have you heard them yourself against anything higher end?
Yep we did a direct similataneous record with them against KM184's and Schoeps MK21 pr and Schoeps MS pr. They hold up well against these others, although not as neutral, but as spots they will be excellent.
Old 21st May 2006 | Show parent
  #9
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orange's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
FWIW km184 are about 750 a pair at www.thomann.de - in a nice wooden box too thumbsup
Old 21st May 2006 | Show parent
  #10
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mosrite's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Yep we did a direct similataneous record with them against KM184's and Schoeps MK21 pr and Schoeps MS pr. They hold up well against these others, although not as neutral, but as spots they will be excellent.
I have heard similar tales of the NT5's holding their own suprising well so they are certainly worth considering. Not to quiz you too much on your findings but how did the top end hold up with the NT5's? Previously I have found the Rode stuff a little harsh especially at the top end and slightly unfocused.

Quote:
FWIW km184 are about 750 a pair at www.thomann.de - in a nice wooden box too
That is a good price but pretty close to the Gefells (and they dont come with the stereo bar that the Gefells do). I did prefer the Gefells when I did a shootout with them and the Neumanns a while back (found them smoother, almost like a subtle compression) but didnt try them on classical instruments. Perhaps thats what suits the Neumanns most anyway. More transparent perhaps?
Old 21st May 2006 | Show parent
  #11
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mosrite's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
I owned a pair of 4051a and got M300s in to compare. Both are excellent. I kept the 4051 and passed on the Gefells.

I don't know where you came up with the idea they might be "candle holders" or whatever. These are first rate mics, and can be valuable for many applications.

Steve
Think the price list I saw was wrong as those AT's here in the UK are more like Β£300 each. That puts them in a different bracket from say the Rode NT5's and the AKG C451b's
Old 21st May 2006 | Show parent
  #12
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite
Was only kidding about the candle holders thing mate! Can you please elaborate on your comparison with the Gefells and also what do you favour them on? Thanks.

I know but I suppose my way of thinking is that if any of these cheaper mics are still good mics in their own right then it wont be a compromise as I'll just add to them later down the line. Thats why I need to know if they will make the grade.
I used both M300 and AT4051a on several acoustic stringed instruments, also on some vocal ensembles. As I mentioned, both are very nice. They have what I consider a "pure", or organic sound -- resonant and natural, with body and some texture, not hyped or brilliant. Certainly far above the shiny Oktava/MXL/etc. sound.

Overall I thought the AT was slightly brighter, with a 4-5 dB rise around 7-15k. Smooth and clear, though. The Gefell seemed to have the perception of a little more midrange presence, which could require some bit of notching to fit into mixes as I might want. Its response also increases gradually around 6-12 kHz.

The 4051 presented deeper bass extension, easily to 20 Hz, which of course can be modified with the HPF. Very musical either way. As I remember, I think the M300 does not even have a rolloff filter?

Noise and dynamic range was very similar between the two. The AT mic has a wonderful off-axis response which I regularly take advantage of. Very easy to place, I often use it parallel to sources rather than straight on.

I have not used them, but Audio-Technica also offers the 4049a-EL omnidirectional and 4053a-EL hypercardiod screw-on capsule modules for the body. Can build a very cost-effective range of solutions with those.

I found that just a little EQ could bring either of these mics to be fairly equivalent to the other, as far as overall tone. I did my A/B listening comparisons blind.

At that time, my available price difference was not as extreme as it is now between the two, so that was not a factor. Today it could be, since the gap is much larger.

FYI you may already have seen this, here is an article that compared 4051 mics plus KM184, C42, and others, no M300 though. If you have a SOS subscription, they review the M300, and compare to KM84 and KM184, in the April '06 issue.

Steve
Old 21st May 2006 | Show parent
  #13
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tINY's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years


There are a lot of decent mics that would make good spot mics in different situations. But, if you have a limited budget, I don't think a half-dozen $200-300 mics does you much good.


The replacable capsules sounds like a good way to go. Several manufacturers make these systems. Sorry I'm not familiar with UK pricing structure (other than you guys pay too much tax....). So you'll have to see what's available locally.






-tINY

Old 21st May 2006 | Show parent
  #14
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mosrite's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
The 4051 presented deeper bass extension, easily to 20 Hz, which of course can be modified with the HPF. Very musical either way. As I remember, I think the M300 does not even have a rolloff filter?
That bass extension could certainly prove useful.

Quote:
I have not used them, but Audio-Technica also offers the 4049a-EL omnidirectional and 4053a-EL hypercardiod screw-on capsule modules for the body. Can build a very cost-effective range of solutions with those.
That is interesting. I will look into how much these capsules are as that does create some interesting possibilities.

Thanks for the informative post Steve.
Old 22nd May 2006 | Show parent
  #15
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T.RayBullard's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
it isnt fair to compare the m300 and 4051,apples and oranges.. they arent even in the same league. Sonically, price wise, or any other way...(imho, of course)...the 4051 is brighter, as seems to be standard with most AT mics ive heard..some may find it useful, I dont care for it. I have used those mics in a pinch(I had to rent some mics in a hurry for a concert 3 months ago, and as the rental house catered mainly to budget gear I had to grab the 4051s and some other lowish cost mics to use in addition to my own MGs and Schoeps). They did alright as spot mics in a pinch, but I would never use them unless I had to. I didnt care for them at all really. M300s dont have a BRO, which I dont miss, as I never use one, but ymmv. MGs were definitely more musical and enjoyable(to me)..I also found the 4051s to be a lot more noisy...a no no for me , since I record classical music.

to my ears there was no comparison. yes, the 4051 is a lot cheaper , for what its worth.

. the josephson c42mp is also very nice.

Edit...I just heard KEL Cardiods...those are really nice sounding...im thinking about grabbing a pair myself.
TLM193s are also good spot mics...

but give me Gefells any day of the week. they are the best mic company on earth, after all. heh
Old 22nd May 2006 | Show parent
  #16
Here for the gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by T.RayBullard
Edit...I just heard KEL Cardiods...those are really nice sounding...im thinking about grabbing a pair myself.
Are you referring to the new Kel P-1's? If so, could you elaborate a bit more on them. Thanks.
Old 22nd May 2006 | Show parent
  #17
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Sounds Great's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegybug
I owned a pair of 4051a and got M300s in to compare. Both are excellent. I kept the 4051 and passed on the Gefells.


Nothing second rate about the 4051's.
Old 22nd May 2006 | Show parent
  #18
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sonare's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Have you noticed that NO ONE mentioned the AKG451? OK, I will-- they were my first
"serious" mics (30 yrs ago) and the closest thing to a migraine headache I can imagine. I sold them and bought a pair of KM84s, which I stupidly sold for very little about 15 years ago. Live and learn.

Rich
Old 22nd May 2006 | Show parent
  #19
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Pohaku's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've got the ATs and the C42. The ATs are great mics. I think they are flatter than the C42s. I don't find them noisy either. Used they run @ $250 each (which is how I've bought them). Even if you were to buy a pair of M300s later, I expect that you will always be able to use the ATs.
Old 22nd May 2006 | Show parent
  #20
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T.RayBullard's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by knightrupert
Are you referring to the new Kel P-1's? If so, could you elaborate a bit more on them. Thanks.

Howdy, I am not informed enough to have an opinion on them yet, other than to say that I heard a recording with a pair of them used(yes, the P1s) as a main pair on a woodwind quintet and was really impressed. I only heard one song, but if they sound as good every time I hear them, I will definitely look into at least trying a pair myself.

I think the c42 has a similar freq. response as the km84. Definitely not "flat", but pleasing all the same. I always hear the c42, m300 and km84 suggested in the same breath.

the OLD AKG c451 b and EB are solid on some applications, but I dont like the new version at all.
Old 22nd May 2006 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pohaku
I've got the ATs and the C42. The ATs are great mics.
I did a recording a few years ago that used nothing except 4053s and 4051s. A track from it wound up on the rec.audio.pro compilation volume 5, if anyone has that package. Here is a short MP3 excerpt from the recording:

http://users.adelphia.net/~gilliland/Lunatics66sec.mp3

And here are some of the notes that I wrote for the r.a.p compilation back when we were first putting it together:

Artist: Nashville Mandolin Ensemble
Song: The Dance of the Lunatics
Engineer: Jimmie Wilson, WRUW, Cleveland (Jim Gilliland)
Venue: Kent State University Ballroom
Copyright 2002 Butch Baldassari, used with permission

This performance took place in November 2001, as part of the 35th annual Kent State Folk Festival in Kent, Ohio.

This piece, "Dance of the Lunatics" (subtitled "An Idiotic Rave"), was composed by T. S. Allen in 1912. Allen was a well-known composer for the mandolin orchestra, his "Dance of the Skeletons" was also quite popular in that day. The version of "Dance Of The Lunatics" heard here is copyright Butch Baldassari, and is used with permission.

The room in which it was performed is fairly large, maybe 100 feet deep by 160 feet across (that's a wild guess - I didn't measure anything). It had a fairly pronounced echo coming back from the back wall, but we added some curtains that dampened that somewhat. The hall was packed with a sellout audience, too, which probably helped control some of the room's idiosyncracies.

The recording used eight mics, one for each instrument, plus a pair aimed into the room from the front of the stage. The mics were all Audio Technica models: 4053s on mandolin, mandola, mandocello, guitar; 4051 on bass, and 2 AT871R cardioid boundary mics as room mics.

This recording is fairly pure in most senses. I used only the slightest hint of compression on the individual instruments, and none at all on the combined mix. I used almost no EQ, except for a 1-2db cut in the 100-300Hz range on the guitar. The reverb that you hear is mostly the actual reverb in the room. I added a slight amount of digital reverb to the mandolins and the mandola (just to lengthen the reverb tails slightly), and none at all to the other instruments.
Old 22nd May 2006 | Show parent
  #22
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In defence of the 451:

I imagine the 451 is avoided by purely classical/acoustic guys because it is not a particularly 'true' or natural sounding mic. It does this peculiar 3k-5k thing which could be described as 'glassy' when it works and 'brittle' when it doesn't.

This characteristic makes it more popular with pop/rock guys for cutting through dense mixes.

I have a pair & have used then as spots in a pinch. They perform just fine if you are using them to add a little weight to the soloist within the context of a solid stereo pair. Once I even had them win over a pair of 414s on SATB choir...

If you do any genre other than acoustic/classical then the 451 is a tried & tested, fully professional mic which won't do any disservice to your mic cabinet.

If you are purely classical maybe you should save up for at least the Neumanns.
Old 22nd May 2006 | Show parent
  #23
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matyas's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite
I have heard similar tales of the NT5's holding their own suprising well so they are certainly worth considering.
I recently compared the NT5s to a good pair of Oktava MC012s. The material was a live recording of a cello recital (cello+piano) with fine musicians playing excellent intruments in a good sounding room. The cellist preferred the Rodes, but I have a feeling that this was due to the fact that the Rodes were his own personal mics, so he was used to their sound. To my ears, they sounded overly bright and harsh. I vastly preferred the Oktavas, which sounded much more neutral, if a bit dark. I think Oktava's QC is famously inconsistent, this was a very nice-sounding set, factory matched and QC'd by the Sound Room. No, they're not Schoeps or Neumann, but I've always maintained that a good MC012 really is the best budget SDC, especially for classical music. I can't wait to pick up a BG-1 to pair them with!
Old 22nd May 2006 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by matyas
I vastly preferred the Oktavas, which sounded much more neutral, if a bit dark. I think Oktava's QC is famously inconsistent, this was a very nice-sounding set, factory matched and QC'd by the Sound Room.
If you haven't performed the Scott Dorsey mods on your MC012s, then they're not living up to their full potential. It cost me about $50 to upgrade my pair of mics, and I'm definitely glad that I tackled it. It gets rid of that slightly veiled midrange that they usually have, and also extends the low-end. The article was in the Sept 2003 issue of Recording magazine.
Old 22nd May 2006 | Show parent
  #25
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Sounds Great's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I had the Oktava's from Soundroom. I HATED them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilliland
If you haven't performed the Scott Dorsey mods on your MC012s, then they're not living up to their full potential. It cost me about $50 to upgrade my pair of mics, and I'm definitely glad that I tackled it. It gets rid of that slightly veiled midrange that they usually have, and also extends the low-end. The article was in the Sept 2003 issue of Recording magazine.

I guess I would have to hear what Scott does to them.



Quote:
It gets rid of that slightly veiled midrange that they usually have
And that is putting it mildly.
Old 23rd May 2006 | Show parent
  #26
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Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Don't forget the Shure KSM 137 cardioids.
They are a good spot mic--no snob appeal, however.
It is a copy of a Schoeps mic.

We use them as string accent mics and on harp too.

US $299/each

best features: good sound, not Chinese
Old 23rd May 2006
  #27
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
Another good Shure alternative

Don't neglect the Shure KSM 141 as well--mechanically switchable cardiod and omni. I don't use them as a main pair but they are fine for spots, room mics, and in omni very good inside the piano for rock or jazz sessions. Versatile and a good performer for the money.
Old 23rd May 2006 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
i liked the shure 141's as spot mics when i used them recently-- piano and sax-- both applications worked well in context although i don't know about as a main pair. josephsons are great (well, i use and like them and liked them better than the neumann km184's that i auditioned at the same time).
Old 23rd May 2006 | Show parent
  #29
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mosrite's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Phew! Thanks guys a lot of good opinions / susggestions here. Ive now realised that it would make sense to have a pair of SDCs that I could also use as a main stereo pair if I wanted (at the moment my main stereo pair are LDCs). Because that is the case I feel that a better mic is needed as the recording might well hang on the pair of SDCs that I get.

While the cheaper mics talked about might be great for spots I think its a different things altogether when we're talking a main stereo pair. Therefore I have decided to visit the bank manager again and reckon I can reach that pair of KM184's for Β£750. Thats a pretty good price and although I prefer what Ive heard of the Gefells ,when I shot them out a year ago, the Neumanns were still good mics to my ears. The problem is the Gefells will cost me more like Β£950 and Im stretched as it is.


Quote:
Don't neglect the Shure KSM 141 as well--mechanically switchable cardiod and omni. I don't use them as a main pair but they are fine for spots, room mics, and in omni very good inside the piano for rock or jazz sessions. Versatile and a good performer for the money.
With the deal on the Neumanns they are very simliar in price though.

Quote:
If you are purely classical maybe you should save up for at least the Neumanns
That makes a lot of sense.
Old 23rd May 2006 | Show parent
  #30
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Jim vanBergen's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
AKG 451s and Shure SM81s are good workhorses that can cut thru a dense mix. Josephsons too, and I was amazed at how good the SD ATs (which as a brand I really simply dislike-- just MY opinion!) sounded on some sources.

There are a LOT of great options these days that we did not have 15 years ago. You have to go listen to them!

Jim
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