Shoot Out: ME64 vs. AT4073 vs. AT4071 vs. Nuemann KM 184 vs. CS-1 at DVinfo.net

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Old December 29th, 2003, 06:09 PM   #1
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Shoot Out: ME64 vs. AT4073 vs. AT4071 vs. Nuemann KM 184 vs. CS-1

The test results are just now coming in. I'll update
as info arrives.
At a recording distance of 2 feet, it became obvious
that the manufacturers' ratings of "sensitivity", which
are usually expressed as mV Pa, are not accurate
for comparison purposes. Here are the manufacturer
ratings:
AT4071: 89 mV
AT4073: 71 mV
ME64: 32 mV
CS-1: 32 mV
184: 15 mV
In reality, the Senn is the most sensitive of the group,
with the CS-1 being the least sensitive.
At the 4 foot distance, with all the mic's being recorded at the same gain setting, I "equalized" their volumes in post production. In order to get the others up to the ME66, here are the boost (gain) figures that were required:
ME64: no gain
AT4073: +3 dB
AT4071: +4 dB
Neumann: +14 dB
CS-1: +15 dB
After the first round of testing (i.e. 2 feet) with the volumes *not* equalized in post, Bryan Beasleigh and I agreed on an
"overall" ranking of the mics this way:
#1. AT4073
#2. AT4071
#3 ME64
#4 CS-1
#5 Neumann
Some thoughts after the 2-feet test. The 4073 sounded much more pleasant than the ME64, mainly because it lacked the ME64's harshness. 4073 warmth was okay but not terrific. The 4071 was very similar to the 4073 (you can tell they're brothers) but the 4071 did not sound as full as the 4073 and was also less
harsh than the ME64. The low sensitivity of the CS-1
almost rules it out for me on that point alone. Nothing
stood out to me about the 184. In the next round
of testing, the 4 foot distance, the volumes will be
equalized in post. I think this will afford a better
look at the character of the mic's. At this point, none
jumps out at me as sounding "terrific".
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Old December 29th, 2003, 06:55 PM   #2
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ya'll aren't going to throw the octava in the mix?
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Old December 29th, 2003, 07:33 PM   #3
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Man I wish you guys had an mkh416, mkh60, and a kmr81i to throw into the mix as well.

I'm a little bummed that nothing has really grabbed you in that group.

I'm predicting my own future for next year... I see... I see... a Schoeps mk41.
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Old December 29th, 2003, 08:25 PM   #4
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Actually, one mic *has* stood out. It's the mic
I used to introduce the various mic's so that
I could keep track of which was which. That
mic is the AKG D230 handheld dynamic. Beas
turned me on to that one. The D230 recenty won a shoot out against some more expensive
mics, and it won convincingly.
We're just now looking at the 4-foot-distance results.
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Old December 29th, 2003, 09:16 PM   #5
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Dave. I'm wondering if you have a lot of experience with these handheld ENG type mics? Please read on and I'll explain...

The reason I'm asking is because I was plugging away at this very point in my posts over the last year.

I have a couple wireless sets including a plug-on and I thought it would be cool to have a newsmic both as a prop and for it's functionality.

What I'm wondering is if most of the decent ENG mics sound preferrable on voice? I'll bet so. The only reason I went with the m58 was because when I did a search for ENG mics most sites said it was regarded as the best sounding ENG mic, but I don't know if the d230 was available then.

So now I'm curious about the comparison of the top ENG mics... such as the re50, m58, md46, and d230.

My only gripe about my m58 is that it seems like it could be more sensitive... so I may just buy a d230 and do my own showdown between those two and report back.
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Old December 29th, 2003, 09:29 PM   #6
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Matt, I told you about my D230.

We did do some preliminary file swaps and for my money two mics stood out beside the AKG D230. The microtech grefell m300 and the cheap and dirty oktava. i'll email you some examples right now.
edit
Matt, if you clean out your mailbox, I can send you some stuff.
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Old December 29th, 2003, 09:30 PM   #7
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Matt,
Have you read my review that I wrote a few days
back entitled "Shoot Out: Three Handheld Dynamic
Omnis"?
Sounds like you haven't read it yet. I took a look at
the M58 and the RE50. Sorry, Matt, there's bad
news for you.
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Old December 29th, 2003, 09:50 PM   #8
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Think "Homer Simpson"... Dohh!!!

Sorry Dave, I just did the same thing that drives me nuts. I hate when people come on the board and ask a question without looking around! I appologize, but I guess I'll leave my post there so your comment to me makes sense...

Hey, no bad news for me! I'm glad you guys did this test! Yeah, Beaser told me about the d230 a while back and I just thought he was going through the same feelings I had for my piece 'o crap m58... Seriously, I loved it when I got it and I'd asked Jay Rose about it before hand... I wish he had steered me elsewhere!

So thank you for that little comparo! Rather then be upset I'm actually excited! I'll sell my m58 and have a d230 on the way tomorrow! Fortunately with the price difference I'll bet it will be almost an even swap for me! Woohoo!

I KNEW this thing was holding me down... lol, seriously it's good to know that my complaint about the lack of sensitivity will be fixed... Beaser, I'll be a better listener next time.
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Old December 29th, 2003, 10:11 PM   #9
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Yep,
You'd do yourself a favor by getting rid of the M58.
It has a good rep, though, so you maybe won't
have much trouble getting rid of it.
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Old December 29th, 2003, 10:39 PM   #10
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Dave can you give me a rundown on your mic placement and did you only record voice? Also what means did you use to "equalize" the volume in post any type of compression? thanks sounds like a fun experiment.
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Old December 29th, 2003, 10:58 PM   #11
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Hi Matt,
Placement was 2 feet, 4 feet, and 12 feet away, aimed
at the mouth.
Equalized by turning up the digital gain in an NLE.
No compression used.
So far I've only listened to male voice. Beas had
mentioned that perhaps a mic that sounds good
with one voice may not with another so I am in the
process of testing with female vocals.
I will be testing music, as well. I have a couple
songs that I use regularly for this type of testing.
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Old December 29th, 2003, 11:24 PM   #12
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Perhaps I could get a small sampler plate out to some
of you. What would you most like? If vocals, at what
distance? Music? Which mic's are you most curious
about?
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Old December 30th, 2003, 11:21 AM   #13
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Hi Dave,

That's an interesting and useful test.
What sort of a room did you test in? Did you measure the critical distance? I ask because I'd guess that reverberant sounds were greatly affecting the apparent sensitivity: a highly directional mic will lose out against a wider mic. An example is the difference between the 4071 and 4073: the 4071 needs more gain because it is picking up less reverberant sound than the 4073, despite being more sensitive. The comparison with the ME64 is even greater.

Best,
Helen
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Old December 30th, 2003, 11:58 AM   #14
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I think that's also the reason the CS-1 seems to have such a lower "apparent" sensitivity. It has extreme rejection of lower frequencies to the sides, thus it may appear to be less sensitive while still having good sensitivity to the actual on-axis voice frequencies.
One thing you should guard against in your tests is the fact that many LED meters and the waveform on your NLE are sensitive to the energy of a much broader frequency spectrum than will actually be reproduced in the listening environment. In other words, the apparent sensitivity may be boosted by unusable or unwanted energy in the lower frequency range. When I'm testing mics, I use the metering and waveforms as a guide, but I use my ear to actually set final equalized levels. Then work backwards to see which mic needed more or less boosting to "sound the same volume" during playback. I know it's difficult in testing, where you're trying to eliminate variables and keep things as scientific as possible. But there's alot to be said for giving your own ears greater weight than a strictly regimented setup that might unduly disadvantage a mic.
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Old December 30th, 2003, 07:09 PM   #15
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Mic test

Sorry, but I also think there's something wrong on those tests.

To start with you can't really invalidate the manufacturer's data just like that, except when variables are different. Particularly when that data comes from companies like Neumann or Sennheiser.

Second, level measurements should be done in an anechoic chamber. And the conditions should be established through very precise instrumentation. Under such conditions it's quite unlikely that there would be differences in spite of directionality. Which seems to be the main problem in this test.

Third, even if I think AT microphones are generally quite good and affordable microphones, they don't seem to differentiate electret from condenser microphones on their specs. And maybe I'm old fashioned, but they make a world of a difference which always shows up in the sound. Someone should have cried "wolf" when two real condenser mics from Sanken and Neumann got the tail. So once again something is not right there.

That doesn't mean the test wasn't well intentioned and that is not valid. It is valid, but not as an objective comparison. And believe me that I am usually more of a "subjectivist" than an "objectivist". But to compare figures we should get them right.

A last point should be that the gain adjustment that was established (what equipment did you use? where did you record it?) doesn't mean very much quality wise, and hopefully we are discussing quality here. The maximum gain should be set at the first stage in the chain, after the source (mic). All other subsequent stages will add noise if you equalize them later.

Now if you tell me that you were looking for a mic to be used on a DV camera, you may apply the criteria that you should get a high output mic.

I'm probably missing a previous article where some of the stuff above is explained, but the results as they are sound very limited in application. They are valid, but only as subjective findings.


Carlos
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