Microtech Gefell UM930

Multi-pattern Capacitor Microphone

Published in SOS June 2008
Bookmark and Share

Reviews : Microphone

At nearly twice the price of a Neumann U87, you've every right to expect this to be a very, very nice microphone...

Hugh Robjohns

MG_UM930_05
Photos: Mark Ewing

Back in SOS January 2004, I reviewed the Microtech Gefell M930 large-diaphragm cardioid studio microphone, and was very impressed. However, there are times when it's useful to have something other than a cardioid mic, and the versatility of a good multi-pattern mic cannot be ignored. So the launch of the new UM930 intrigued me.

Overview

The UM930 is designed for the full range of studio and broadcast applications, including spoken voice, singing vocalists, and countless instrumental duties such as recording acoustic guitars and keyboards, percussion, wind and string instruments — and so on.

The mic offers five polar patterns (omni, wide cardioid, cardioid, hypercardioid and figure-of-eight), which are selected using a large ring just below the grille.

Usefully, the side-address UM930 incorporates a discreet, green LED behind the grille on the on-axis side of the mic, along with the model number and polar-pattern symbols. The manufacturer's logo is etched onto the rear of the mic (and many people actually rig MG mics to face the wrong way because of that!).

Although sharing a similar model number to the M930, and appearing to have the same sort of grille and body proportions in the advertising photographs, the UM930 is positively elephantine in comparison. Whereas the M930 is roughly 120mm long and 45mm in diameter, the UM930 is roughly 40 percent bigger in all dimensions. It measures some 158mm long, is 65mm in diameter, and weighs a very chunky 930g (compared with the M930's delicate 210g).

Gefell's clever optical DC-converter technology from the M930 is used in the new mic too, and its technical specifications are very similar, with the same low self-noise of 7dBA, the same maximum SPL of 142dB (for 0.5 percent distortion), and fractionally lower sensitivity, at 20mV/Pa. Standard phantom power is required, of course, from which the mic draws 4.5mA.

Decisions, Decisions...

Available in either satin-nickel or dark-bronze finishes, the review UM930 was equipped with an integral, dual-axis 'elastic suspension'. However, a more conventional cradle shockmount is also available, as is a simple, single-axis microphone bracket. Whichever support is chosen, the mic is supplied in a traditional wooden box.

There are three versions of this mic: the Studio Condenser, and the Soundcheck Tool and Twin versions. The Soundcheck Tool (SCT) sends a 1kHz test signal down the cable if the polar-pattern switch is left midway between any two positions for more than about five seconds. The test-tone generator emits tone equivalent to a sound pressure level of 74dBA (20dB below the reference standard of 1 Pascal). The other model (the UM930 Twin) provides two simultaneous outputs. This mic is fitted with a five-pin XLR instead of the standard three-pin type, and it provides a fixed cardioid pattern on one output and the normal switched-pattern output on the other, thus allowing the user more flexibility in comparing polar patterns when recording. Another useful feature (on all models) is that the black rings around the pattern selector can be replaced with one or more coloured O-rings to aid identification. Green, red and blue rings are available.

In Use

The mic feels very robust, solid and — dare I say it — expensive. The polar-pattern switch is nicely weighted and detented for a smooth, positive action, and the sealed reed-relays used to change patterns should give a lifetime of reliable service. The output mutes for a few seconds when switching patterns (and the green LED turns off), to allow the electronics to stabilise, after which the LED illuminates again.

The published polar patterns are all fairly tidy and consistent up to about 8kHz — but above about 12kHz they collapse towards a narrow figure-of-eight response (as with most dual-diaphragm mics). All patterns have a broad 4dB presence peak centred at about 12kHz, but as the patterns become more directional the frequency response tilts more strongly up towards the HF. The 5kHz point is only 2dB higher than the 50Hz point for the omni pattern, but it's 4dB for the cardioid, and almost 8dB for the figure-of-eight pattern. The proximity effect counteracts this in most applications, however, and the rising response is not as obvious in use as the various plots suggest. The broad presence peak is nicely judged to give clarity and air without exposing sibilance.

In cardioid mode the sound is very similar to the M930, and the character is clean and reasonably neutral. I acquired some lovely recordings, ranging from male vocal to solo cello and silver cornet, and the mic's size and styling impressed the vocalist enormously!

Nice, But Pricey

Sonically, I can't fault the UM930, but I feel its price is a concern — even if you don't opt for the 24-carat gold version (yes, really!) — given that it is almost double that of the industry-standard Neumann U87ai, and over three times that of the fixed-pattern M930. The UM930 offers far more versatility and easily outperforms the U87 technically, but even so I think many will struggle to justify the cost. 

Alternatives
High-end multi-pattern mics abound, but the standard has always been the Neumann U87. For similar money, the Brauner Phantom V is an interesting alternative, and Neumann's TLM170R is a firm favourite. The AKG C12VR is in the same cost ball-park as the UM930, as is Gefell's switchable-pattern valve mic, the UM900, and — for ultimate pattern versatility — so too is the Soundfield SPS422.
Microtech Gefell UM930 £2535
pros
Very low self-noise and huge headroom.
Beautifully engineered and solid.
Interesting SCT and dual-output Twin models.
Various shockmount options.
Sound quality lives up to the price.
cons
That price...
summary
A beautifully produced, multi-pattern, solid-state, large-diaphragm mic with a relatively neutral and accurate character and impressive technical specs. Only its cost counts against it.
information
UM930 Studio Condenser £2535; UM930 SCT £2693; UM930 Twin £3316. Prices include shockmount or elastic suspension and VAT.
Sound Link Marketing
+44 (0)1223 264765.


SOS Readers Ads
GRAB A BARGAIN

£486,285

of Second-User Gear for sale now — don't miss out!

Audio-Technica AT4047 MP

Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Audio-Technica AT4047 MP

Audio-Technica have added multiple polar patterns to one of their already successful designs, bringing increased versatility in the studio.

Audio-Technica AT4047 MP | Media

Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone

Audio files to accompany the article.

Audio-Technica AT4050 ST

Stereo Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Audio-Technica AT4050 ST

There's more to this variation on Audio-Technica's flagship microphone than the simple addition of a second capsule...

Peavey Studio Pro M2

Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Peavey Studio Pro M2

Paul White explores the capabilities of the understated-yet-powerful Studio Pro M2.

Schoeps VSR5

Microphone Preamp

Thumbnail for article: Schoeps VSR5

Schoeps make some of the most revered mics on the planet, so when they release a commercial version of the mic preamp they use for testing, you have to take it seriously...

Schoeps VSR5 Mic Preamp

Test Measurements

Thumbnail for article: Schoeps VSR5 Mic Preamp

The following charts, made using an Audio Precision Analyser, accompany our review of the Schoeps VSR5 microphone preamplifier.

Blue Encore 300

Handheld Condenser Microphone

Designed as a hand-held live vocal mic, this mic has a cardioid pickup pattern, and seems very robustly engineered.

Cartec EQP1A

Mono Valve Equaliser

Thumbnail for article: Cartec EQP1ABritish 'boutique' outboard manufacturers seem to be rather thin on the ground these days, but if this Pultec clone is anything to go by, newcomers Cartec look set to make a big impression.

Prodipe TT1

Dynamic Microphone

Prodipe say they wanted to offer a high-quality, live-sound, cardioid-pattern dynamic mic at a very affordable price.

Sontronics Saturn

Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Sontronics SaturnSontronics mics usually sound as distinctive as they look - and this one looks more distinctive than most!

MXL Revelation

Multi-pattern Valve Microphone

Thumbnail for article: MXL Revelation

Hot on the heels of the impressive Genesis cardioid valve mic, MXL have unveiled their flagship multi-pattern model, the Revelation. Does it live up to its name?

MXL Revelation | Audio Examples

Multi-pattern Valve Microphone

These audio files accompany the SOS September 2010 review of the MXL Revelation microphone.

Samson Go Mic

USB Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Samson Go Mic

USB mics are nothing new, but the Samson Go Mic is probably the smallest and cutest I've seen to date. This metal-bodied mic,...

AKG Perception 820

Valve Microphone

Thumbnail for article: AKG Perception 820Does AKG’s Chinese-made Perception 820 maintain the Austrian company’s impressive reputation?

AKG Perception 820 | Audio

Audio Examples

Hear for yourself how this mic performed during the SOS tests.

Audio-Technica AT4080 & AT4081

Ribbon Microphones

A-T’s brand-new transducer technology has produced a robust design intended to deliver high signal levels as well as that prized ribbon character...

Earthworks DP25C & DP30C

Snare & Tom Condenser Microphones

Despite the ubiquity of the SM57 for use on snare, there are other options — and Earthworks aim to help you capture a more natural sound.

MXL Genesis

Cardioid Valve Microphone

Thumbnail for article: MXL GenesisWe put MXL’s Genesis through its paces alongside a much pricier model, to find out just how good a tube mic can be at this price.

MXL Genesis Mic | Audio Files

Hear For Yourself

To accompany our July 2010 Genesis review, we recorded a series of standard tests with the review mic alongside a more established mic (in this case, the AKG C12 VR).

WIN Great Prizes in SOS Competitions!

 

Home | Search | News | Current Issue | Tablet Mag | Articles | Forum | Subscribe | Shop | Readers Ads

Advertise | Information | Digital Editions | Privacy Policy | Support | Login Help

 

Email: Contact SOS

Telephone: +44 (0)1954 789888

Fax: +44 (0)1954 789895

Registered Office: Media House, Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SQ, United Kingdom.

Sound On Sound Ltd is registered in England and Wales.

Company number: 3015516 VAT number: GB 638 5307 26

         

All contents copyright © SOS Publications Group and/or its licensors, 1985-2014. All rights reserved.
The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, whether mechanical or electronic, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Great care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this article but neither Sound On Sound Limited nor the publishers can be held responsible for its contents. The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers.

Web site designed & maintained by PB Associates | SOS | Relative Media