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Old September 25th, 2008, 12:53 PM   #1
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Another hypercardioid mic comparison

Hi all,

I've loved the mic comparisons Dan Brockett has done. Since most of us do not have all the mics in the world, hearing some comparisons is very useful. As a follow up to the many threads about hypercardioid mics, I would like to submit my humble little mic comparison.

First of all, this is not an extensive test. I recently acquired an AKG C300B with the CK93 hypercardioid capsule. Prior to that, I had been using either a Sennheiser MKH416 or an Oktava MC012 with the hyper capsule for indoor situations. I did this test mostly for me, but since there have been many threads asking about various hyper mics, and a few that specifically mention the AKG, I thought I'd post the files. So the test is just these three mics. It's also just a test with the mics on a stationary boom, not following actors around a room. I do mostly ENG and corporate work, so a lot of interviews for news, entertainment TV magazines, documentaries, corporate videos, etc. I wanted to compare the Oktava to the AKG, but I also thought I'd throw in the Sennheiser 416 as it's so commonly used (and not in Dan's test arsenal). I'd love to have included a Schoeps CMC641, but unfortunately I don't have $2000 to buy one right now. You can hear that mic, as well as an Oktava and many others in Dan's comparison at kenstone.net.

I will not post any of my observations right now as I don't want to influence anyone's ability to listen objectively. I will however, say three things:

1) All three of the mics produce usable audio.
2) The Sennheiser, though not recommended for indoor settings where there are lots of relective surfaces, works just fine when there is carpet, furniture, etc. to soak up some of the sound.
3) I'm happy with my latest purchase.

The files can be found at:

Untitled Page

I have posted both mp3s, for quick listening, and WAV files, if you want to take the mp3 compression out of the equation and hear the highest quality.

Hope someone finds this useful. If not, at least it kept me off the streets for a couple of hours!

Rob
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Old September 25th, 2008, 01:47 PM   #2
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Nice job Rob, thanks for doing this.

Dan
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Old September 26th, 2008, 09:49 PM   #3
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Well I see a lot of people have viewed this thread, so I hope it has been helpful.

Dan, thanks for the kind words. I now have an even greater appreciation for what you did. One test just seems to lead me to want to do another. So...

Since my living room has hardwood floors, I thought using the same mics in there would be a fun comparison to the carpeted room. Same three mics, same set up. PLUS, it occurred to me that I see the AKG C1000 mentioned every once in while, so I threw that in there as well.

Files for BOTH tests can be found here:

Untitled Page

I want to point out one thing about how I've done these tests. The mics are slightly in front of me but AS CLOSE AS I CAN GET THEM TO THE TOP OF MY HEAD WITHOUT BEING IN THE SHOT. Sorry for shouting, but I often see people setting up with the mic on a boom a couple of feet over the interviewee's head. Try the test yourself sometime - start at about two feet and gradually lower the mic until you are maybe 6 inches above the person's head and at the most about a foot in front. Obviously the framing of the video will determine how close you get, but it's amazing how much difference getting a few inches closer can make. Once again, booming dialogue for a feature might mean you can't get in that close all the time. This test is for fixed interviews only.

O.K., I think now I'll retire as a mic tester. Unless of course someone wants to send me a Schoeps, or some Neumanns, or a Sound Devices mixer and 4-track recorder.......

Rob
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Old September 27th, 2008, 03:13 AM   #4
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The AKG blueline series is an undiscovered gem.

I bought a pair to use as overheads when recording drums and they performed more than adequately. Then came a shoot on a beach, so rather than risk my mkh mics I got the fig8 capsule and used the bluelines... excellent sound!
Since then I've obtained the active cable and used the mics to solve a number of difficult or dodgy recording situations and am always impressed at how well they perform. In my worthless, humble opinion the AKG bluelines and the Audio Technicas are top value-for-money mics which are too often under-rated and overlooked by the video fraternity. At the risk of upsetting one of the forum's elders, the AKGs and the AT897 easily out-perform the Rode NTG 1 & 2 in this budget end of the market.

I would say that the SE391 combo (from the AKGH blueline series) is ideal for the budget sound recordist who makes an effort and intends to expand and experiment, with the Audio Technica at897 for those who like the shotgun approach.

Not posted in order to start an arguement, just my experience and opinion.
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Old September 27th, 2008, 05:34 AM   #5
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The AKG and indeed the AT have been discovered for about 7 years or more in my world.

Maybe they are more prolific here in the U.K.
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Old September 27th, 2008, 05:41 AM   #6
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I use both the AT897 for on camera work on one camera and the AKG 300/CK93 hyper on my #1 camera and I have to say IMHO they are a great combo together. I have had very few audio problems related to the mic over the last few years that I've been using these 2 and frankly if the is it's generally my fault.
Once again IMHO these 2 mics are a really good investment.

Don
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Old September 27th, 2008, 12:42 PM   #7
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Robin, Jimmy and Don, thanks for chiming in. I am impressed with the AKG. And I agree that Audio Technica mics are generally a great value. I believe Ty has mentioned the AT4053 as a great mid level hyper option ($400 - 500). I own an AT4047 large diaphragm, an AT815 shotgun and several AT803a lavaliers. I've also had a fair amount of experience with the AT4033, 4050 and 4060 - all very good mics.

Robin - I've been using the Oktava MC012s as drum overheads and been very happy. But now that I have the AKG, I may have to think about finding another one and getting the CK91 capsules. They really have a much more full-bodied sound than the Oktavas. And they also have the low-cut switch (which I did not have engaged for my tests, btw) if you feel like you're getting too much low end.

I better quit now, I'm starting to get GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)!!

Rob
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Old September 27th, 2008, 12:48 PM   #8
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I just got the AKG with hyper module not too long ago. What is the "active cable"?
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Old September 27th, 2008, 01:55 PM   #9
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Just a quick follow up on why Audio Technica is not often considered in the video world. I don't think they really market themselves that much to video people. They do make some very good mics, but they also make a lot of lower level gear. So I think many people only know them for the "pro" line gear (isn't it funny that almost any time you see the word "pro" in a model name, the gear is anything but pro?).
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Old September 27th, 2008, 02:02 PM   #10
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I was talking to a sound guy about lower cost shotguns, and mentioned the 4073a to him. He told me (having never seen/used the mic) "Audio Technica does not make good shotguns". I said, "but it comes highly recommended," etc., and he again reapplied, "well that's great, but audio technica does not make good shotguns." So, that's probably part of your problem.
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Old September 27th, 2008, 03:42 PM   #11
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I work on a prime time 7 time award winning show with 4 million viewers 6 times a week.
Basically we have 35 mic's in the studio and 6 are radios. We have 7 Audio Technica ES933's on the audience and 22 Audio Technica 935 mic's for contributors.

So who says AT mic's are not used professionally?

Also seen them alot on live event stages. Used them for strings in orchestras too. MKH are better but I've only ever seen one company who have 20 of them. Most have 20 SE300 91/93 's
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Old September 27th, 2008, 03:45 PM   #12
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I was just pointing out that there might be a lot of pro sound guys who don't think much of the brand on principle.

Anyway, WHAT is the "active cable"?
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Old September 27th, 2008, 04:35 PM   #13
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The other point to consider is that AKG seems to be the only major manufacturer that I have approached who would NOT give me any mics to review. All of the other big manufacturers were on board, just not AKG .

I ran into the same thing with Countryman on the lav test. While I feel both companies make good products, if they refuse to participate in tests and reviews, I begin to wonder if they have something to hide.

Dan
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Old September 27th, 2008, 05:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Bass View Post
I was talking to a sound guy about lower cost shotguns, and mentioned the 4073a to him. He told me (having never seen/used the mic) "Audio Technica does not make good shotguns". I said, "but it comes highly recommended," etc., and he again reapplied, "well that's great, but audio technica does not make good shotguns." So, that's probably part of your problem.
I pretty much agree, AT shotguns stink. they are pretty thin sounding compared to other shotguns in my ears. I can pick them out of mic comparisons most of the time because of their sound which I find just plain grating at times.

OTH I've been doing some interesting listening. using several different headphones to listen to mic samples has led to some interesting results. while the CMC641 is the gold standard mic, I found the Okatava and AKG C300/93 sounding at least as good if not _better_ when listening for noise floor and room slap. overall tonal quality I'd be inclined to go with the CMC641, but the other two were very close, and it wasn't a $1500 difference. at least on the samples I had around. the head phones leading me to this conclusion where senn HD280's. the HD280's seem to be the most detailed headphones around for the price, plus thier isolation from room tone let me hear some of the sublte bits of room noise that I didn't hear as well.

listening with AKG 244 (?) I came to different conclusions generally giving the CMC641 the vote.

trying them again on some B&W speakers, and then on BA-5A's the differences where far less pronounced. with the speakers, being a few feet back most of the room tone one could hear on the headphones was not nearly as pronounced. perhaps blending into the tone of the room I was in.

perhaps the CMC641 with its lower sensitivity then the other mics means you need a bit more gain, and therefore bring up the mic self noise, mixer noise, and room tone more.

what I;d really like to hear is several different schoeps mic capsules compared - the 2, 4, 41, 8 and CMIT5 with M & F voices on and off axis in a real room ( bored this weekend TY :) ). I"ve got a CMC64 and I'm wondering whether I may be perfectly happy the with C300/93 or spending 3X for a 41 capsule which may be more name brand sell then any major performance difference. its to bad their are no pro audio dealers in my corner of the world I could take both out for a day or two on a test drive.
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Old September 27th, 2008, 07:04 PM   #15
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I've not used their shotguns.
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