Oktava Mk-102 MSP2 Stereo Pair by BernieW
I wasn't going to write another review but I am driven to write how impressed I am with these mics. I have bought several Oktava stereo condenser pairs and used many others trying to find my go-to overheads, and this is the pair I keep coming back to.
My application is generally live sound reinforcement. I have never heard overheads capable of such a full drum sound yet without harshness in the cymbals. I even tried a single mono overhead over a rock drum kit in a 400-person venue and was very impressed. In fact it was uniquely successful in this role. I know of no other end-address LDC of this type, and very few of any format with this performance as an overhead. The secret IMO is to use them in X-Y on a single stand from over the drummer's shoulder rather than spaced on 2 separate stands as is usual practice. This eliminates most phasing problems and provides a natural balance of the kit, and has the advantage that you are over the shells and between the cymbals rather than over them. So I wondered if a single MK-102 in mono would work well this way, and it sure did! I couldn't get over how big and clear the toms were without resorting to close mics; for a loud club rock gig in a medium venue I can rarely use OH's at all, but to be able to prefer them to the close mics I have never seen. That is how I use the MK-102's all the time now.
There are some shoot-out videos of the MK-102 on acoustic guitar online and it is very effective. IMO it is better to mic the neck at about fret 12 to 15 or the bridge and avoid the sound hole as this can be boomy with any large diaphragm mic, and this applies to the 102. I've seen it used on the sounding board behind an upright piano and it worked well. It has full HF extension and a relatively flat response for this type yet remains free from sibilance or harshness, a quality shared with most Oktavas. I have read it is also useful for many female vocalists to tame the high register; like many Oktava mics it requires a pop filter as it is vulnerable to plosives and wind noise.
It is available as a set of capsules to fit the same pre-amps and accessories as the rest of the "100-series", which basically means fitting capsules to the well-known MK-012 condenser mic body. I use 2 on the SM-MSR stereo shock mount with swivel adapters for X-Y and you can reverse them in the same mount to do ORTF, albeit with a slight vertical offset in both config's. I don't know of another LDC of this design with an end-address capsule on a pencil-type body, but I really like it. And as drum overheads, I can't live without them now. I am sure I can find many more effective applications, I would try this on orchestral instruments in stereo. You may prefer SDC's but I know these work well on choirs. I've bought many different mics in the past year or so but this to me was the most interesting, and I'm glad to find it so useful. It's the only one I use on literally every gig and I'm sure there will be broad recording applications.
It is not an all-purpose mic as an LDC with these rich lows and smooth tops does not suit every application, though for some it is a very helpful alternative to most end-address condensers. I can always find something good for vocals and instruments but I've never heard anything I prefer for overheads to these. If you want them for this use I recommend a matched pair (Oktava's name is MSP for Matched Stereo Pair). They are more expensive than their other 100-series capsules (and sadly the -103 is no longer available) but other LDC's that work so well generally cost much more. You have to be careful fitting them to the mic bodies. There is no pad or HPF switch, no variable pattern, there are 10dB and 75Hz HPF screw-on modules but the HPF is noisy. On the plus side these also work with the entire modular 100-series system. But for the results on drums I need them no matter what features it has or does not have.