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Mid-Range Mic with Good Off-Axis Response

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Mid-Range Mic with Good Off-Axis Response

Postby ITHertz » Tue May 14, 2019 3:23 am

Hi,

I'm looking to get a mid-range (cost) mic with good off-axis response for recording acoustic instruments.

My list so far is:

Neumann TLM 193
Sennheiser MKH 8040
MiLab DC-96C

Also looking at a Mesanovic Model 2 but unsure of its off-axis response.

Thoughts on these?

Any others in this general price range that I should consider?

I'd prefer to get something new rather than secondhand.

Cheers,

Chris
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Re: Mid-Range Mic with Good Off-Axis Response

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue May 14, 2019 6:19 am

I have both the TLM193 as well as the MKH8040. I generally pull out the 193 for all things acoustic. It’s essentially a cardioid only version of the TLM170 and I’ve long regarded is as my desert-island microphone. It’s neutral with that certain Neumann fairy dust, though some people would describe its neutral character as ‘dark’. Great on strings and woodwind and a great vocal microphone too. If you’re thinking guitar, often people look for a little more high frequency lift from a microphone, but the 193 is still fine IMHO.

That’s not to say the 8040 isn’t a good mic by the way. Maybe it’s habit, but the 193 tends to come out first. The 8040s are often used as an ORTF pair if I’m using a tall stand, whereas I’m more careful about putting the 193s in precarious positions.

Can’t comment on your other mic suggestions.

Bob
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Re: Mid-Range Mic with Good Off-Axis Response

Postby Sam Inglis » Tue May 14, 2019 8:27 am

All the mics on your shortlist are very capable, but I'm not sure they are all directly comparable. The TLM193 is a conventional large-diaphragm capacitor mic. The MKH series are small-diaphragm mics that use the RF principle. The Milab is technically a large-diaphragm mic but with a rectangular capsule that behaves somewhat differently from standard circular ones. And the Mesanovic is a ribbon mic with a figure-8 rather than a cardioid pattern.

All things being equal, small-diaphragm mics will tend to have better behaved off-axis pickup than large-diaphragm mics, at the expense of being noisier. Ribbon mics and other true figure-8 designs offer amazing rejection of off-axis sources, and I use them a lot for this reason, but you do have to think about them slightly differently because you always have the rear pickup lobe to consider.

I do like the Milab rectangular capsule and in my experience it offers quite a benign off-axis response, with the added advantage that (like a ribbon) it offers more rejection in the vertical plane than in the horizontal. If it's like the other Milab / Pearl mics that I've heard then I would expect it to be a relatively soft-sounding mic. My experience with the MKH series is limited but I'd expect that to be brighter and more clinical in comparison.

Luckily, or unluckily, there's probably never been a better choice of amazing mics available than today, so there are plenty more alternatives to choose from! On the large-diaphragm front you could consider the Sony C100 for example, and I've currently got review mics from Samar Audio and Austrian Audio which both seem to me very good indeed (not sure if those are in shops yet, though). There are tons of great-sounding ribbons out there too -- for acoustic instruments my favourites would include the Rode NT-R and the Samar mics.

Either way, off-axis response is important but probably not the only factor to consider -- the on-axis sound of the mics you've suggested is likely to be significantly different so the best choice may well depend on source and context. For example on an acoustic piano I'd generally favour quite a bright mic, whereas something like a banjo might suit a ribbon mic better.
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Re: Mid-Range Mic with Good Off-Axis Response

Postby Ramirez » Tue May 14, 2019 8:37 am

Sam Inglis wrote:The TLM193 is a conventional large-diaphragm capacitor mic.

I think the 193 is a medium-diaphragm mic, and hasn’t got the upper frequencies loft of many LDCs.

There are a couple of Milabs at the studio - I’ve never used them much, but fascinated to try them again now! What do you find them good for?

I’ve never tried the 8040 but the MKH40 is one of my very favourite mics, on pretty much anything! The polar is fantastically controller, and what off-axis sound it does pick up doesn’t suffer much from colouration.
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Re: Mid-Range Mic with Good Off-Axis Response

Postby Sam Inglis » Tue May 14, 2019 9:15 am

Ah, yes, it looks as though the TLM193 capsule is the same one used in the U89. If I understand right that uses the same principle as a large-diaphragm capacitor mic but with a smaller diameter?

I don't know how similar the various Milab / Pearl models are to one another. The one I have is a stereo mic from the 1970s. I like it on quite a few things -- drum overheads, acoustic guitars, even vocals sometimes. I often use it as a room mic.
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Re: Mid-Range Mic with Good Off-Axis Response

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue May 14, 2019 9:54 am

Yes, the 193 is medium-diaphragm mic. Think no high lift but less clinical than the 8040.

Bob
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Re: Mid-Range Mic with Good Off-Axis Response

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue May 14, 2019 3:29 pm

Sam Inglis wrote:Ah, yes, it looks as though the TLM193 capsule is the same one used in the U89. If I understand right that uses the same principle as a large-diaphragm capacitor mic but with a smaller diameter?

Yes, it's about 3/4-inch instead of a nominal 1-inch diameter, and uses edge termination instead of centre-termination. It also features aluminium backplates and the biasing voltages are applied to the backplates so that the diaphragms are at 0V which minimises the attraction of dust and charge leakage etc.

If the OP is primarily concerned about off-axis colouration then a small diaphragm capsule is definitely the way to go. I rate the MKH40/8040 cardioids very highly in that respect, but they are clinically accurate in comparison to the slightly warmer and more flattering Neumann.

H
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Re: Mid-Range Mic with Good Off-Axis Response

Postby ITHertz » Sat May 18, 2019 1:34 am

Someone on another forum has suggested one of these:

https://www.world.weissklang.com/v17?lang=en

Anyone know anything about them?

Cheers,

Chris
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