Hugh Robjohns meets a double‑act of new Beyer microphones.
The MCE 93 and 94 were introduced in 1998 as general purpose end‑fire cardioid microphones for use in project studios and the like. Beyer describe the microphones as condensers but this is rather misleading: a true 'condenser' microphone requires external electrical polarisation of the capsule, but these mics are back‑electret types, where the capsule is polarised by a charge of static electricity during manufacture. A different beast entirely!
Essentially the MCE93 and 94 are the same, but whereas the internal head amplifier of the MCE93 will operate only with phantom power (12 to 48 Volts), the MCE94 will accept either phantom or internal battery power, making it ideal for location recording with DAT or MD recorders unable to supply phantom.
Both versions of the microphone are supplied in traditional padded nylon bags, and come complete with a tubular elasticated shockmount. There is also a multilingual book of words supplying such useful information as the weight (183 grams for the 93 and 218g for the 94), length (150 and 209mm respectively), and diameter (25mm). The microphones are painted matt black, with a black wire grille on the business end and a fine silver wire mesh behind the six side entry ports.
The shockmount is a plastic tube of around 38mm diameter, clipped into a flexible mic stand adaptor. There is no facility to adjust the tension of the knuckle joint, but the review model was sufficiently stiff to ensure the microphone stayed where ever it was positioned.
Across the open ends of the tube are a pair of O‑rings, clipped into recesses and arranged in a cross formation. The microphone is installed by forcing it into the gap at the centre of the crossed O‑rings at each end of the tube. To say this task is fiddly and difficult is an understatement, but as the stand adaptor can be unclipped leaving the tube attached to the mic, it need only be done once. Beyerdynamic also include a set of four replacement O‑rings with the shockmount.
The specifications for the two mics are identical, as would be expected, with a frequency response quoted as 30Hz to 20kHz and a flat trace from 60Hz to 3kHz. At the lower extreme, there is a 1dB lift before the low‑frequency rolloff begins (measured at 1 metre) and at the top end is a clear presence lift peaking to 4dB at around 12kHz and reaching 4dB down by 20kHz (relative to the sensitivity at 1kHz).
The polar pattern is shown as being commendably tight, offering a perfect cardioid response from 250Hz to 4kHz, with a gentle opening up at the rear below 125Hz and side lobes appearing above 8kHz. These side lobes appear at 60, 100 and 135 degrees relative to the frontal axis and the first two amount to an approximate 2.5dB increase in sensitivity over the mid frequencies. However, the rear lobes are at least 5dB more sensitive than the mid‑band cardioid response, making the pattern reminiscent of a hypercardioid in many ways.
The microphones generate a healthy output at 10mV/Pa and can accommodate a maximum sound pressure level of 139dB (there is no provision for a pre‑attenuator before the head amplifier). The self‑noise is equivalent to an A‑weighted sound pressure level of 16dB, which is quite respectable for a mic of this type.
The first thing to strike me about these microphones was their susceptibility to popping and wind noise with speech and vocals. Beyer do not supply a windshield as standard, but I think perhaps they should! I also found the shockmounting arrangement rather ineffective — even very modest tapping on the microphone stand was picked up by the microphone.
On the positive side, the microphones provided a crisp, clear rendition of the acoustic source, tending towards brightness perhaps, but not overly so. I found the mics to be very effective on guitars and acoustic basses, as well as woodwind instruments. However, they faired less well on 12‑string guitar where they seemed to struggle with the complex harmonic relationships, presenting a slightly muddled sound.
Overall, these two microphones make useful additions to the armoury at this price level. It is true that you get what you pay for with microphones — comparing these models with £1000‑plus examples was an education! However, as general‑purpose cardioids for the project studio, the MCE93 and 94 rise to the challenge admirably.
- Small and discreet.
- Accurate mid‑band cardioid polar response.
- Smooth frequency response, tending towards brightness.
- Ineffective shockmount.
- Struggles with very complex sounds.
Shockmount lets the side down a little, but overall sound quality equates well to the price.