Shoot Out: Three Handheld Dynamic Omnis at

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Old December 25th, 2003, 06:09 PM   #1
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Shoot Out: Three Handheld Dynamic Omnis

I was fortunte to get three dynamic omnis together in
the same room for a comparison. They are the AKG D230 (Austrian, $140), the Electro-Voice RE50N/D (American, $160), and the Beyerdynamic
M58 (German, $200).
IN COMMON: Come with two-year warranties, zippered nylon cases, and owners' manuals. All
claim to be high-output dynamics which are well-
insulated from handling noise.
IN YOUR HAND: The AKG and the EV are of traditional
length. AKG's the most balanced in the hand. The
EV is top heavy (and somethings loose inside the
head, you can feel it knocking upon being gently
shaken). Beyer feels solid and is extra-long, which is okay.
Beyer seems made of cast aluminum whereas
EV is old-school stamped steel. AKG is also cast aluminum.
HOW THEY LOOK: EV is gloss black and noticably more
reflective for on cam use (the base of the head and
the shaft, but not the basket). The AKG is semi-gloss
medium gray. The Beyer really stands out here, in
a good way. Non-reflective matte gray surface -- even
the basket is this way. Easily wins for "unobtrusiveness" to light glare/reflection. Best "grip" too; the others are
HANDLING NOISE: Before plugging them into the
XLRs, I ran my hand over them to get an idea what
to expect. The AKG and Beyer were quiet. Here's one
area where the EV really stood out. Actually, this
is something you can't miss from the first time you
handle the EV: all touch along the shaft of the mic
yields a rather annoying high-pitched metallic noise.
Even the lightest touch evokes this. I think it may
be due to the stamped steel construction of the
outer shell. Upon hearing this, I was prepared for
the worst when it came to the actual recorded
noise handling tests. Surprisingly to myself, I was
wrong. All three seem about equally well insulated
from handling noise, with the metalic noise of the
EV just barely audible. Not to say the handling noise
is the same with each. While the insulation is the
same (or even better on the EV), the handling
noice is directly related to microphone sensitivity,
with the most sensitive, the AKG (2.5 mV) having the
most handling noise: tapping the head gave -25 dB
and shaft rubbing gave -40 dB. The EV (2.0 mV):
tap gave -38 dB and rub gave -51 dB. Beyer (1.3 mV):
tap gave -41 and rub gave -54. In general, though,
handling noise was well controlled on all, with none
being objectionable.
OTHER INCIDENTAL NOISE: Again here, directly
related to mic sensitivity. AKG: ambiance (-58),
deep breath (-30), P pop (-22). EV: ambiance (-65),
breath (-45), P pop (-32). Beyer: ambiance (-69),
breath (-46), P pop (-34). The Beyer came with a
foam windscreen so I checked the effect of that:
breathing went from -46 to -51. P pop was quite
reduced: -34 to -53.
SENSITIVITY: Corresponds with the manufacturers
ratings. To equalize to the same recorded volume
as the AKG, the EV needs a 4 dB boost in post and the
Beyer needs an 11 dB boost.
tested for both male and female spoken word, with
the mic held 6" from the mouth. Here are the
observations. EV with male voice: nasally, unnatural,
lots of mid, not complimentary, less harsh than the
Beyer. EV with female voice: most canned sounding,
least dynamic range. Event though the mic was only
6" from the mouth, it *seemed* as if it were 2 feet away.
Beyer with male voice: bit fuller than the EV
with more presence and naturalness, some nasality
and some harshness, not complimentary. Beyer with
female voice: good clarity, presence peaked,
unpleasant harshness. *Seemed* to be 1 foot away
from mic. AKG with male voice: warm, full, complimentary,
pleasant sounding, the most natural sounding of the
bunch. AKG with female voice: smooth, full, most like
a voice over. *Seemed* the half foot away that it was.
FINAL IMPRESSIONS: The Beyer, despite being the
most expensive of the group, sounds the worst due
to an unpleasant harshness. It's low sensitivity
is also a concern. Great non-reflective coating though.
Long handle might be nice in that the interviewer
doesn't have to hold the mic so close to the
interviewees mouth. The EV, despite sounding
a bit more canned than the Beyer, atleast wasn't
as harsh, so overall gets better marks. It's a traditional
looking mic, that's heavy and not well balanced. The female
who did the female vocals for these tests is not an
audiophile, so I was curious to see from her what
her thoughts were. I just asked her "Which one sounds
the best to you". Her reply was: "I know which one
sounds the worst: The Beyer. I like either of the other
two better. Probably the AKG is the best." So we come
to the AKG. The AKG is in a different league from the
other two. With its fullness, warmth, and naturalness
it's the only mic here that would be up to voice-over
work. It looks modern and feels the most natural in
the hand. And being the cheapest mic in the test, it
is by far the best value. Actually, it's the only "good"
mic in the bunch.
Dave Largent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 25th, 2003, 08:21 PM   #2
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Thank you for the hands-on review! Found it very useful.

Question: What do mean by "complimentary" when referring to your recorded male/female voices?
"Ultimately, the most extraordinary thing, in a frame, is a human being." - Martin Scorsese
Michael Wisniewski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 25th, 2003, 09:24 PM   #3
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Complimentary means just that. the AKG is kick ass for the money. Even for more money , it's still the same. It imparts a warmth yet retains accuracy, if you really must get knobular about it!
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Old December 25th, 2003, 10:36 PM   #4
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If a mic is "not complimentary", it means the recorded vocals sound worse than they really are.
"Complimentary" means they sound as good as, or
better than, real life.
Dave Largent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 26th, 2003, 10:19 AM   #5
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Now if we can get someone to compare the AKG D230 to the AudioTechnica AT804. (I'm assuming the neodymium version of the EV635a would be too similar to the RE50 to warrant a test, but I could be wrong.)
I have an 804 and like the sound very much but I haven't compared it directly to anything else. It certainly won't win any on-camera appearance awards, the styling looks straight out of 1972. The picture at the following link is very gracious, the mic is much more old-school champagne colored than this image.
Sensitivity is 3.5mv and the mic is very small and light. It would be good if you are super-limited on what you can carry.
Like most AT's, it's pretty bright, but I wouldn't call it harsh. It has good clarity, but might not sound as beefy and warm as the AKG. In situations with high ambient rumble, this could be an advantage over the AKG.
The AT is also lower cost than all the others mentioned, but I can't remember exactly what I paid.
Jay Massengill is online now   Reply With Quote
Old December 26th, 2003, 01:41 PM   #6
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Hi Jay,
Yes, that would be an interesting test. That AT804 has pretty good sensitivity for a dynamic. Has it
been around for some time?
If anyone were to be interested in a cheap
dynamic hypercardiod, the Samson R11Q (~$25) isn't too bad. I compared it to the D230. On-axis vocals show the Samson having a greater sensitivity than the EV and Beyer I tested. For vocals, at 0 degrees with the AKG, I got -25 dB. In the same situation, the Samson gave me -26. Off-axis, at 90 degrees, the AKG gave a respectible -28 dB. In the same situation, the R11Q showed its hypercardioid nature, and gave -39 dB.
For the money, I was pleasantly surprised at the Samson's sound quality. It is a little nasally and not as full as the AKG D230, but it's
not bad. Not much different from the RE50N/D
and the M58, as I recall. I must note that the Samson was not tested side-by-side with the EV and the Beyer--this is just from memory. Where the Samson shows it's price difference is in handling noise. Now, I got this mic for interviews in louder-ambianced situations, so the handling noise won't be a big concern, I don't believe.
Here are the numbers on handling noise.
I tapped the heads of the D230 and the R11Q.
The a-bit-more-sensitive AKG capsule gave me
-21. The Samson gave -6 dB! I blew on the
mics. the AKG gve me -33 dB. The Samson gave
-27 dB. I rubbed their bodies lightly (no comments from the "peanut gallery" here, please), and the AKG gave -45 dB and the Samson gave -27. I rubbed the D230 hard and I got -38 dB and the R11Q gave -24 dB.
Anyways, today I begin a Super Duper "shoot out", and boy am I excited about it. I believe it
will be the first time ever on the internet that
these mics are compared side by side. One
on one. Head to head. Mono on mono (no pun intended and, yeah, I know I need
a life; beats standing on the street corner,
right Beas?)
The Combatants: Sennheiser ME64 vs. Audio
Technica AT4073 vs. Sanken CS-1 vs. Neumann
KM 184. And just to spice it up a bit, the Audio Technica AT4071 will be tagging along. I will be doing on-axis tests at 2 feet,
(podium), 4 feet (camcorder-mounted interview), and 15 feet (across a room). I'll also take a brief look at the off-axis at 45 degrees, 90 degrees, and 180 degrees.
Let the games ..... begin!
Dave Largent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 26th, 2003, 04:46 PM   #7
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Yes I think the 804 or something similar has been in the AT lineup for the last 15 years or so.
I'll also suggest an inexpensive hypercardioid, the AKG D880. It's being released now as a modular wired/wireless body, the original wired-only design is on clearance for $50 most everywhere that still has them in stock. Good sensitivity and a very wide flat frequency response for a dynamic. Pretty comparable to a Shure Beta58 and has minimal handling noise too.
That's a pretty divergent group of mics you'll be testing. One method that may help is to test each mic individually first as opposed to only testing all mics together at given distances. In other words, explore one mic dynamically, listening live at varying distances til you find where it sounds best. Sometimes that gives you a different perspective on a mic's strengths rather than on comparative weaknesses at a fixed artificial distance. I know I get severly ear-fatigued listening to mics in comparison, but find it easier to navigate a single mic into a zone where I can tell it's getting the sound I want.
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