recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

Moderator: Moderators

Post Reply

recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by plodsmeade »

Hi all

I have an opportunity to purchase some mics for use in a variety of music/film/video/field recording contexts, both in the studio and outdoors, with multiple users. I'd like to cover as many bases as possible with high quality, neutrally voiced and robustly built specimens that will last a long time.

So, to allow for various coincident and non-coincident stereo techniques I thought it would be efficient to look at modular options: two output bodies and 5 capsules, 2 x cardioid, 2 x omni and 1 x Fig-8, which would cover X-Y, ORTF, AB, MS etc.

At the moment I think it would be feasible to go for Neumann KM-A plus 184, 183 and 120 caps. I've used these before and know they work well, as you'd hope I suppose.

I'm not that familiar with other modular systems. Any thoughts or recommendations in a similar price bracket?

I'll also need to spec a couple of LDCs for studio work, again high quality. For versatility I thought to go for two identical multi-pattern numbers so these can also be used for stereo work - although they will mainly be used individually for voice - and have been looking at the Neumann 107. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated too.

Also going to get an MKH416 probably.

This is a slightly ridiculous situation as far as my past purchasing power goes, and I am enjoying ordering lists on websites by price higher to lower for once. This pleasure will be short lived as unfortunately this is a one time thing. I won't own any of these myself :( but will get to use them :D

cheers
plodsmeade
Poster
Posts: 86 Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:00 am

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by John Willett »

You can also look at the Sennheiser MKH 8000 series (and, personally, I would go for the 8060 instead of the ancient 416).

Though Sennheiser have not yet done the fig.8 for the 8000 series - though I think they are now going to do it (I hope so, that's the indication I got when I spoke to them at IBC in Amsterdam and them saying they "want to complete the series").

The RF condensers that the MKH series are, are much better for outdoor use than others as they will work well in damp conditions that make others go crackly. :thumbup:
User avatar
John Willett
Longtime Poster
Posts: 7295 Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2000 12:00 am Location: Oxfordshire UK
John
Sound-Link ProAudio
Circle Sound Services
Sound-Link are UK Distributors for: Microtech Gefell, ME-Geithain, AETA, HUM, Håkan, Meyer Turtle

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by plodsmeade »

Thanks John.

Noted about the 8060.

The 8000 series might be doable if a fig-8 appears. Not really modular in cost terms though are they. How damp is damp for a non RF to have problems? Simply a humid day?
plodsmeade
Poster
Posts: 86 Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:00 am

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by John Willett »

plodsmeade wrote:How damp is damp for a non RF to have problems? Simply a humid day?

I think the easiest way to answer this is to quote Hugh Robjohn's reply to a similar question on another forum from several years ago:-

Basically, AF capacitor microphones use the capsule as a capacitor to store charge. With one fixed plate and the other free to vibrate in sympathy with the sound, the capacitance varies, and the charge moves in or out of the capsule accordingly. This is measured by the head preamplifier and an audio signal results. Allwell and good, but the capsule is inherently in a high impedance circuit (over 1GigaΩ) – it has to sit there with stored charge until the diaphragm moves and any changes in the charge are perceived as audio. In a humid atmosphere the stored charge finds it easier to escape on water molecules in the air rather than through the input of the preamplifier, hence noisy and reduced output, and misery all round. The high biasing voltage also
attracts dust particles to the diaphragm, reducing its efficiency and linearity.

The RF system (as used in Sennheiser MKH microphones) uses the capsule (a low
impedance capsule) in a completely different way: as a tuning capacitor for an RF oscillator – which inherently employs it in a low impedance circuit where a high frequency signal is being passed through the capacitor all the time. Changes in capacitance (caused by sound moving the diaphragm) alter the resonant frequency of the circuit (circa 8MHz) and so its frequency becomes proportional to the audio signal. A simple RF demodulator restores the output to a conventional audio signal. More complex and sophisticated (but still very rugged), this system is highly immune to the effects of humidity and is thus the preferred design to be used out of doors (or when moving from outside to inside on a cold day!)

I think this explains it rather well (and why I keep a copy for easy reference to reply to
questions like this ;) ) :thumbup:
.
User avatar
John Willett
Longtime Poster
Posts: 7295 Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2000 12:00 am Location: Oxfordshire UK
John
Sound-Link ProAudio
Circle Sound Services
Sound-Link are UK Distributors for: Microtech Gefell, ME-Geithain, AETA, HUM, Håkan, Meyer Turtle

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by Aural Reject »

They’re more expensive but you could add the Schoeps Colette series to your list.

Depending on your preferences, you could grab a couple of CMC6 bodies...and could add whatever capsules you need...MK5 capsules could potentially cover both your cardioid and omni needs...alongside an MK8....or you could get dedicated cardioid and omni (of three flavour choices) capsules...or wide cardioids...or the MK22 which sits in between...
Last edited by Aural Reject on Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
Aural Reject
Frequent Poster
Posts: 988 Joined: Fri May 02, 2003 12:00 am Location: Lancashire born, living in Yorkshire :s

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

plodsmeade wrote:The 8000 series might be doable if a fig-8 appears.

Yes... we've been waiting a remarkably long time for Sennheiser to get their act together with that one. I gave up holding my breath a long time ago!

How damp is damp for a non RF to have problems? Simply a humid day?

No, we're talking rain-forest levels of humidity, really, although taking a mic from a cold car to a warm studio will often cause problems for DC capacitor mics until they have fully acclimatised.

While the damp-handling properties of an RF capacitor mics are genuine and can be very useful in extremis it's not something I spend any time worrying about for normal work... and plenty of highly successful recording engineers -- both in the studio and on location -- swear by standard DC capacitor mics from the likes of Neumann and Schoeps etc.

And talking of Schoeps, I'd second the recommendation for their modular mics if budgets allow, and the Schoeps CMIT range of shot-gun mics are probably the best sounding of all.

At the other end of the budget range, you could look at the AKG Blueline series: https://www.akg.com/blueline-series.html
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 38984 Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound...
(But generally posting my own personal views and not necessarily those of SOS, the company or the magazine!)
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by Bob Bickerton »

I ended up with a set of MKH 8000 series. Yes they are modular, sort of, but I didn’t buy them because of that, and here’s something to consider; if you buy a truly modular system, say two bodies and four capsules, obviously you can’t use all four when you want to, which may be more often than you think.

I often use a combination of an ORTF pair with omnis to supplement (which I now understand is known as one of Tony Faulkner’s arrays).

With the 8000 series the active part of the microphone and capsule are one of the same, with the modular options being ‘add on accessories’. I find it useful to split the body from the XLR connector at times (using their bespoke extension cable) and have made my own discreet stands as well as a nifty stereo array for bird recording.

Yes, they’ve been tardy in terms of developing the figure of eight model. I gave up waiting and bought the MKH30.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Longtime Poster
Posts: 5089 Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 12:00 am Location: Nelson, New Zealand

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Bob Bickerton wrote:I often use a combination of an ORTF pair with omnis to supplement (which I now understand is known as one of Tony Faulkner’s arrays).

:D I think that might be over-egging it a little.

An ORTF array used in combination with spaced omni outriggers is a useful compound array in which the outriggers supplement the low-end extension and spaciousness o the ORTF. I know Tony sometimes uses the combination -- as do many others --nbut I don't believe he invented it or was the first to use it.

On the other hand, I believe he did conceive, and was the first to document the stereo array comprising spaced parallel fig-8s -- an array which has specific benefits in certain circumstances -- and so that is justifiably called a Faulkner array.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 38984 Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound...
(But generally posting my own personal views and not necessarily those of SOS, the company or the magazine!)
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by plodsmeade »

Hugh Robjohns wrote:While the damp-handling properties of an RF capacitor mics are genuine and can be very useful in extremis it's not something I spend any time worrying about for normal work

And if somebody tries to use DC mics in extremis aqua is that potentially damaging to the mic itself, i.e. can I recommend correct usage and the only thing that will suffer is the recording if that advice is not followed?

If so, that seems the best way to go given the lack of fig-8 with the Sennheiser 8000s, and the expense of individual MKH 20/30/40s. Interestingly, for my purposes the Schoeps is only two or three hundred more than the Neumanns due to the dual MK5 capsule (cheers Aural Reject). Two CM6 bodies plus 2 x MK5 and 1 x MK8 will do it. Understand where you're coming from Bob but that's probably not where I'll end up...

Any quibbles with the 107 idea?
plodsmeade
Poster
Posts: 86 Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:00 am

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by Bob Bickerton »

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Bob Bickerton wrote:I often use a combination of an ORTF pair with omnis to supplement (which I now understand is known as one of Tony Faulkner’s arrays).

:D I think that might be over-egging it a little.

Consider him stripped of that particular title......... :thumbdown:;)

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Longtime Poster
Posts: 5089 Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 12:00 am Location: Nelson, New Zealand

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by plodsmeade »

Hi all

Just resurrecting this one, I wasn't able to follow through on the purchase unfortunately last time, back in 2018, but I may well be able to now, hooray.

I haven't been in the habit of keeping tabs on new models coming out though, so wondered if the advice was pretty much the same as before or it anything has changed. I see the 8030 capsule still doesn't exist at least. Any other thoughts?

Cheers

p
plodsmeade
Poster
Posts: 86 Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:00 am

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by Bob Bickerton »

I’d still be thinking mkh8000 series, with maybe the mkh30 for figure of eight.

In terms of LDC I’d probably put Microtech Gefell UMT70s at the top of the list unless you can afford TLM170s, but even than the Gefell would probably be handier on vocals. I find I’m using it more often than my U87.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Longtime Poster
Posts: 5089 Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 12:00 am Location: Nelson, New Zealand

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Not much has changed. I think Sennheiser are unlikely to release a fig-8 for the 8000 series, sadly. They'd have done it by now if they were going to...

Personally, I'd go down the Schoeps modular mic route. They're expensive, but very well proven n both studio and location, and sound wonderful. And they hold their price well on the pre-loved market. And there are countless useful accessories to do almost everything you can think of with them.

To help justify the cost, you can save some money by ditching the antiquated MKH416 from the shopping list and looking at the Rode alternatives instead. The NTG5 is cheaper, sounds better, and comes with accessories that would be expensive cost options with the Sennheiser. The NTG5 uses the same RF Condenser technology as Sennheiser's MKH range, too. (The NTG3 is essentially a reverse-engineered MKH416 and the NTG5 is a next-generation version).

It's a bargain! I used a 416 professionally for decades but I'm very happy with the NTG5 now.
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 38984 Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound...
(But generally posting my own personal views and not necessarily those of SOS, the company or the magazine!)
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by sonics »

So the NTG5 seems be to about half the price of a 416. Is it really comparable?
I may be after a shotgun mic ~$1000 and have always had good results from the 416.

Also, have you used the NTG8?
sonics
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1634 Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2003 12:00 am Location: Canada
 

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

sonics wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 8:38 pm So the NTG5 seems be to about half the price of a 416. Is it really comparable?

I think it sounds better – and it's less phasey off-axis, too.

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/rode-ntg5

I ... have always had good results from the 416.

Me too... but I've achieved as good and better results from the NTG5.

Also, have you used the NTG8?

No, I'm afraid not, but it looks like a much longer version of the NTG5, so similar sound but directional to a lower frequency.

Of course, if money is no object then one of the Schoeps Cmits would be very nice.
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 38984 Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound...
(But generally posting my own personal views and not necessarily those of SOS, the company or the magazine!)
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by sonics »

Thanks for the response, Hugh. I'm think I'll rent one for the next project and see...

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 9:39 pm I think it sounds better – and it's less phasey off-axis, too.

Good to hear...

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 9:39 pm Of course, if money is no object then one of the Schoeps Cmits would be very nice.

About three "objects" too much in my local currency :lol::cry:

My apologies to the OP for the minor thread hijack.
sonics
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1634 Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2003 12:00 am Location: Canada
 

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by plodsmeade »

Thanks Bob and Hugh!
plodsmeade
Poster
Posts: 86 Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:00 am

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by Arpangel »

I’m not known for my in depth technical know-how, as you all know, but just thought I’d mention this here, for what it’s worth, I had to record a session one day using Shoeps CCM's an ORTF pair of CCM4's, on the day they started hissing, as I had them on loan from a friend and they were in my damp flat over night, it eventually went away after I took them to the warm venue, but now, I never have this problem with my Sennheiser MKH's, they seem more robust in this respect.
User avatar
Arpangel
Jedi Poster
Posts: 16532 Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am

Re: recommendations for mic set, mainly modular SDC

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Arpangel wrote: Fri Dec 02, 2022 10:46 amI had to record a session one day using Shoeps CCM's an ORTF pair of CCM4's, on the day they started hissing, as I had them on loan from a friend and they were in my damp flat over night, it eventually went away after I took them to the warm venue, but now, I never have this problem with my Sennheiser MKH's, they seem more robust in this respect.

They are, by design.

Sennheiser's MKH range (and a few of the Rode rifle mics – NTG 3/ 5/ 8) use 'RF Bias' instead of the conventional 'DC Bias' used in most mics (Neumann, Shoeps etc al), or the Electrostatic Bias of electret mics.

DC Bias (and electrostatic bias) operate the capacitive capsule within a very high impedance environment. And that's why they need impedance converter circuitry to buffer the capsule and generate the low-impedance output.

The potential problem is that damp condensation on the capsule is of a lower impedance and causes the stored charge to leak away, resulting in hissing and frying noises.

If the capsule is clean, these noises stop when the capsule warms up and the damp evaporates.

Consequently, DC bias capsules might not be the best choice in cold, damp, or humid places...

In contrast, the RF Bias technique uses the capacitive capsule as the tuning element of an RF oscillator. This is a very low impedance environment and so damp really doesn't make any difference. And that's why this approach is so popular in the more demanding outdoor situations. This design also allows more elaborate corrections to the capsule response, so these mics generally have wider and flatter responses than their DC cousins.

The downside is a lot more complexity in the circuitry, and some argue that the sound character is not as pleasing as traditional DC Bias mics.

Personally, I love 'em and have a dozen MKH mics (20s, 30s, 40s and a 50) and a couple of Rode NTG5s.
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 38984 Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound...
(But generally posting my own personal views and not necessarily those of SOS, the company or the magazine!)
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 
Post Reply