Senn ME66 vs Shure SM58 at DVinfo.net

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Old April 6th, 2005, 09:02 AM   #1
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Senn ME66 vs Shure SM58

Out of curiosity, I thought I'd compare my ME66 and Shure SM58 mics with a non-technical audio comparison. Based on reputation, I bought the SM58 for this year's weddings as my wireless, near-the-speaker, channel 2 audio source.

To my surprise, the ME66's sound quality blew away the SM58. I recorded music with the ME66 from about 4' away from the speaker. When I tried that with the Shure, audio levels were almost half as much and noticeably tinny. I moved the Shure much closer to the source and although louder, the quality was still inferior. Maybe someone who has much greater technical knowlege than me can explain? I know the ME66 is supercardioid shotgun and the Shure is an omni-directional cardioid but does that account for the big difference in quality?

So, now I'm thinking that I should use an ME66 or ME64 to mic the DJ/band music at receptions. Anyone else using shotguns this way?
Bob
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Old April 6th, 2005, 10:55 AM   #2
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These two mics are designed for dramatically different purposes and have hugely different performance characteristics.
You mentioned using the SM58 wirelessly. Did you have it set up wirelessly during your test and was the ME66 directly wired? If so, that adds even more potential for greatly different performance.
Even if they were both directly wired; their frequency response, pick-up pattern, sensitivity and the distance from the subject they are designed for working at are so different that the results are only valid for that exact setup. You could change one variable, such as the overall volume of the music, or the acoustic character of the space you're in, and get a totally different opinion.
In addition, your success in getting a good recording with each mic will be determined by what you're recording on and how that device handles the gigantic difference in output level of each mic.
Basically they are near the two extremes of output level in the field of all mics.
From a real-world perspective, both mics have substantial limitations for doing the activity you've mentioned. A dynamic mic with a flatter, wider frequency response and greater sensitivity than the SM58, such as the AKG D880, Sennheiser e835 or EV N/D 367s will do a better job of picking up the DJ/band speakers.
The ME66 is almost always overwhelmed by the loud output and reverberent sound in these situations. What you're hearing in your test is the much better frequency response and sensitivity of the ME66. What you're hearing that's bad with the SM58 is its tailored vocal response and low sensitivity that's designed for close-up (almost touching) hand-held singing with a live PA system.
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Old April 6th, 2005, 11:22 AM   #3
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"You mentioned using the SM58 wirelessly. Did you have it set up wirelessly during your test and was the ME66 directly wired? If so, that adds even more potential for greatly different performance."

Both mics were tested wirelessly with a Samson AX1 UHF transmitter. Also, the ME66 was "detuned" by Sennheiser as part of their red-dot warranty fix for the ME66's over sensitivity issue. Again, I'm no audio engineer by any stretch, but the output on the ME66 is 200ohms and 300 on the Shure. Is that accounting for the difference?

BTW, I'm recording into a PD-170 with manual gain. Last year, I used a Sennheiser E835 at the speaker but was not happy with it's performance either. It's sound was always not as warm as the on-board ME66.

I've always mounted the mic on a boom below the speaker's pressure wave to avoid distortion. So you're thinking that using an ME66 or ME64 would not be a good idea for DJ or live band music?

Bob
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Old April 6th, 2005, 01:48 PM   #4
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Since you had the red-dot modification for the Senn, that dramatically changes things! I think they actually do the modification to the K6 rather than the capsule, so this reduced output would also apply if you got the ME64, which might be your best bet for this situation since you like the greater frequency response.
Also the PD-170 is better able to handle hot outputs than some cameras. It does less well with low output mics although it's not as bad as the PD-150 was.
At any rate, since both mics were being sent wirelessly, then a different set of variables becomes very important. Those are the transmitter input gain, which must be set optimally for each mic, and the receiver output gain, which is really what the camera is accepting as the level from the mic.
With modern equipment, the difference in impedence of 200 and 300 ohms is insignificant, but the difference in output strength is still very significant even with the red-dot modification. As I said before, the difference in frequency response is also very great, but the passage through the wireless system will reduce this difference some.
With whichever mic you choose, setting the wireless system to its best input and output levels will be very important in getting satisfactory sound.
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Old April 6th, 2005, 02:01 PM   #5
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Thanks Jay, great info. BTW, I use a Samson UM32 receiver and it's output gain is set at the recommended -30db for mic-level.
Bob
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Old April 6th, 2005, 02:53 PM   #6
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The ME66 will exhibit the proximity effect at that distance, where you get more bass the closer you put the mic to the sound source.

The SM58 will do it to a much lesser degree, and it has less bass response to counteract that. Maybe why the Sennheiser ME66 sounds a lot better is that it has a lot more bass?

I don't know where the tinniness would come from.

2- There's no such thing as an "omni-directional cardioid". Omni-directional is all directions, cardioid is a heart-shaped pickup pattern. see jay rose's article on pattern regonition on dv.com
http://www.dv.com/news/news_item.jht.../2003/rose0203 registration required.

Omnidirectional mics do not get the proximity effect, while directional microphones like the Shure SM58 and ME66 do. I believe the more directional the microphone is, the stronger the proximity effect.

3- As Jay points out, there are better microphones for the job. You may want a condenser microphone as dynamic microphones need a lot of gain from preamps (and the PD150's preamps are not so great if you want low noise).
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Old April 6th, 2005, 03:32 PM   #7
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Glen,
Sorry for the misrepresentation. The SM58 is actually a unidirectional (cardioid) dynamic vocal microphone. The tinniness description was my term for a lack of bass compared to the ME66.

Can you recommend a condenser microphone for the application I mentioned?
Bob
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Old April 6th, 2005, 03:46 PM   #8
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If you want to send the signal wirelessly using a standard XLR condenser mic, either your wireless transmitter will have to supply the needed voltage of phantom power on a balanced input, or you'll need to use a battery-powered mic.
The battery-powered mics I'd recommend for this are an ME64 on your red-dot K6, the Rode NT3, or the ATM31a.
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Old April 6th, 2005, 04:19 PM   #9
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Thanks guys. I just ordered the ME64 since I already have a pair of K6 units.

One last question. Where would you suggest the optimal placement for this mic be for either DJ speakers or live band? I'm using a boom stand for some flexibility.
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Old April 6th, 2005, 06:50 PM   #10
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That will depend on the room you're in and the configuration the band or DJ has set up. Plus other factors like drunk people tripping over the stand or grabbing the mic and singing into it...
You'll have to experiment. You'll also notice the ME64 has a definite peak in the highs. I use an extra thick foam windscreen even indoors to bring that peak down a little.
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