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Early Schoeps/Mercury LP mic'ing specifics
Old 11th February 2015
  #1
Early Schoeps/Mercury LP mic'ing specifics

Hey friends,

I came across a neat little post while researching early Schoeps mics, by Tom Fine about the specific mics used for the Mercury Living Presence recordings:

Schoeps microphones of the early 1960s | Preservation Sound

Down at the bottom, first comment.

"Schoeps M201 was the main (but not the only) mic used for the Mercury Living Presence recordings. In the mono days, starting in 1951, first it was a single Telefunken-badged Neumann U-47. But by 1953, the M201 was discovered and that became the single-mic mono pickup from then on. There were very few M201’s made, so when stereo recording started, in late 1955, it was not possible to locate six M201’s (needed three for recording and three backups — session time with an orchestra was way too expensive not to have backups for every microphone). The earliest Mercury 3-channel stereo recordings were made with a M201 in the middle and U-47’s on the side. However, in early 1956, the switch was made to Neumann KM-56 on the sides. By the beginning of 1959, enough Schoeps M201’s had been located so all Mercury recordings after that, through the last Living Presence in San Antonio in 1967, were made with M201’s."

It seemed worth posting here, if just for the record.
Old 11th February 2015
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Bruce Watson's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I saw a Schoeps M201 go by in the last year or so. Crazy expensive. More than my car.

That said I always liked the sound of the ol' Mercury Living Presence LPs. Back when they recorded performances. Almost like being there.
Old 12th February 2015
  #3
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
One thing that I think it's important to realize is that the Schoeps M 201, in its omnidirectional setting, was a pure, single-diaphragm pressure transducer.

This is a fundamental difference between it and either of the Neumann microphones (U 47 or KM 56), both of which are dual-diaphragm pressure gradient transducers. It always seemed odd to me that people would make spaced-omni or Decca Tree recordings with this type of microphone; Neumann had both the M 50 and KM 53 available at the time, either of which would seem to be more suitable if a Neumann microphone was wanted.

By the way, the M 201 featured an output transformer which, in order to keep the microphone very small, was housed in a little outboard box. Those have become very rare in the meantime. Whenever I've seen M 201 microphones come up for sale on eBay, etc., I've almost never seen the transformer box included, and the microphone can't really be considered complete and authentic without one.

--best regards
Old 12th February 2015
  #4
Lives for gear
 
boojum's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
KP - the Mercury Living Presence box collection has those lovely old M201's prominently displayed on the box. They also discuss their use when changing from Neumann. FWIW

The Bluegrass Special | March 2012 | Classical Perspectives | Remembering Wilma Cozart Fine
Old 12th February 2015
  #5
Lives for gear
 
hughesmr's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Of related interest:

MERCURY RECORDS Living Presence - Wilma Cozart Fine and 50 Years Mercury Recordings

One of the last things forwarded to me by my good friend and colleague Rich Mays.
Old 12th February 2015 | Show parent
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSatz ➡️
One thing that I think it's important to realize is that the Schoeps M 201, in its omnidirectional setting, was a pure, single-diaphragm pressure transducer.

This is a fundamental difference between it and either of the Neumann microphones (U 47 or KM 56), both of which are dual-diaphragm pressure gradient transducers. It always seemed odd to me that people would make spaced-omni or Decca Tree recordings with this type of microphone; Neumann had both the M 50 and KM 53 available at the time, either of which would seem to be more suitable if a Neumann microphone was wanted.

By the way, the M 201 featured an output transformer which, in order to keep the microphone very small, was housed in a little outboard box. Those have become very rare in the meantime. Whenever I've seen M 201 microphones come up for sale on eBay, etc., I've almost never seen the transformer box included, and the microphone can't really be considered complete and authentic without one.

--best regards
Thanks for the notes! Interesting about the seperate transformer box....

Wrt the single vs dual-diaphragm mic choices, you are definitely on the money, and Decca did move to the m50 tree-with-outriggers between the early and mid 60s. Still though, listening back to those mid-60s Sofiensaal recordings (the "last bastion" of the km56 tree) they still sound great to my ears!
Old 18th February 2015 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Addict
 
c1ferrari's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSatz ➡️

By the way, the M 201 featured an output transformer which, in order to keep the microphone very small, was housed in a little outboard box. Those have become very rare in the meantime. Whenever I've seen M 201 microphones come up for sale on eBay, etc., I've almost never seen the transformer box included, and the microphone can't really be considered complete and authentic without one.

Yes, I would second what Kevin stated, prior. We are all more knowledgeable about this Schoeps mic, now
Old 9th July 2015
  #8
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Here's another article on the Schoeps M201, as used in the recording of Mercury Living Presence series from the mono days onwards: Mercury Living Presence - Mono Days

25 feet up in the air...my goodness !

Maybe that's how far you needed to be away from it to mitigate the wide HF lift: "Where it differed from the U-47 was its sound — more “exposed” than the “fatter” sound of the U-47, it was flat between 20 Hz to about 2 kHz, from which it rose slowly to a peak of 7 dB at 10 kHz."
Old 9th July 2015 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSatz ➡️
One thing that I think it's important to realize is that the Schoeps M 201, in its omnidirectional setting, was a pure, single-diaphragm pressure transducer.

This is a fundamental difference between it and either of the Neumann microphones (U 47 or KM 56), both of which are dual-diaphragm pressure gradient transducers. It always seemed odd to me that people would make spaced-omni or Decca Tree recordings with this type of microphone; Neumann had both the M 50 and KM 53 available at the time, either of which would seem to be more suitable if a Neumann microphone was wanted.

By the way, the M 201 featured an output transformer which, in order to keep the microphone very small, was housed in a little outboard box. Those have become very rare in the meantime. Whenever I've seen M 201 microphones come up for sale on eBay, etc., I've almost never seen the transformer box included, and the microphone can't really be considered complete and authentic without one.

--best regards
David's right, as you can see here: SCHOEPS CLASSICS: 1952 - The M 201
Old 16th July 2015
  #10
Gear Nut
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
I stumbled across a very mediocre Mercury CD reissue in the third (and final) box set... It's Antal Dorati conducting Philharmonia Hungarica in light Viennese pieces (Lehar, stc.), credited as recorded in June 1958 in the Grossersaal, Vienna. (there are also a few other tracks from Minneaoplis in December, 1957)

The Vienna tracks sound severely over modulated at the peaks. Hard to beleive that this was the original recording or an error in re-mastering. Could this have been deterioration of the master tapes? Has anyone else noticed this issue on this or other re-issued CDs?

- Ted
Old 21st June 2021
  #11
Here for the gear
Does anyone have a schematic of the Schoeps M201? There is hardly anything about it on the internet and I am quite curious about it.

I have the entire Mercury Living Presence vol. 1-3 and they sound absolutely amazing. I tried to use three CMC6 with MK2 to replicate the sound but no luck...
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson ➡️
I saw a Schoeps M201 go by in the last year or so. Crazy expensive. More than my car.

That said I always liked the sound of the ol' Mercury Living Presence LPs. Back when they recorded performances. Almost like being there.
Better fuel consumption though.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Bruce Watson's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Poulton ➡️
Better fuel consumption though.
And lower maintenance costs.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Nut
 
I think many people seeing pix of those cool M201bs don't realize, is that the Mercury recordings that used them were made with SDCs; only the small omni capsule at the bottom of those lollipops was used. Also, as the tube in them was simply a unity-gain cathode follower, they would have imparted little to no 'tube sound'. Any of that in the Mercurys would have come from the Pultec MB-1s Fine used as mic pres, instead of the ones in the Ampexes, and the remaining tube circuitry in the tape machines.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I think much of the excellence of Mercury recordings comes (came) from the recording of orchestras and conductors that regarded the event as a special undertaking. The birth of stereo.

I'm thinking of some of the London Symphony Orchestra recordings under Antal Dorati. The performances exceeded many other recordings of that period from that orchestra.

The use of favourable acoustics, and the knowledge and experience of the recording Engineers using their minimal mic. techniques, positioning of musical sections and mics. etc.

They would have achieved similar or greater results on today's equipment using exactly the same techniques.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
If you're interested, here's Tom Fine talking at great length about his parents' recording and editing methods with Mercury, at a presentation for the Pacific Northwest AES chapter in Nov 2020. It stops being a 'zoom meeting' after about 8 mins in....

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp8qLbS51YE

Great detail presented, including mics and tape machines, against timelines of the era....a great use of your 2 listening hours ! In his concluding remarks, before opening 'question time', Tom announced that from April 2021 all existing (and many as-yet unreleased) Mercury Living Presence recordings will be ported over to streaming services, as 24 bit/192 releases.

Last edited by studer58; 3 weeks ago at 08:02 AM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Anyone interested in the complete history of Telefunken/Neumann/Schoeps microphones will get something of value from this YouTube capture of David Satz' presentation to the AES Pacific Northwest chapter last late November. It starts at 8 minutes in.....

https://youtu.be/9xmF-A3ITEQ

Last edited by studer58; 3 weeks ago at 03:50 AM..
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