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Test of 4 types of mics (with mp3-files as hear-example)

Discussion in 'The Piano' started by musicusblau, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I tested four types of microphones: AKG C1000, AKG C3000, AKG Perception 400 and Neumann KM 184. I put a mp3-file of each here. It´s in every file the begining of Beethoven sonata f-minor, 1 movement.
    Please, tell me, which mic you would prefer. (I think, the Neumann absolutely wins, because of it´t clearness and very natural sound, the others have more "artificial brillance" IMO.)
     
  2. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you for your test. It is my first opportunity to listen to the KM 184s.

    My ranking is
    1 Neumann
    2 AKG C 3000 S (Isn't it rather AKG C 3000 B ? I have used these microphones during several years up to one year ago.)
    3 AKG C 1000
    4 AKG Perception 400

    The direct competitor from AKG to the KM 184 is the C 480 B ULS, which is a modular small diaphragme condenser like the Neumann MK 130/140/150, Schoeps Colette, or, in a more affordable price range, Oktava MK-012 and Rode NT5. It is about as expensive like the KM 184 and would be better according to some professionals. The AKGs that you have tested, as an opposite to the KM 184, are for home-studio rather than for professional recording.
    The most used small diaphragm condensers for professional recording of classical piano are from Schoeps and DPA. For this application Neumann is acknowledged rather for their big microphones (TLM 193, 170, U89, TLM 50).

    So, what do you decide ? :wink:
     
  3. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks, Didier, for all this professional informations about microphones. I looked for some of the types you mentioned on the internet. For example the big mics of Neumann are much more expensive than the stereo pair of KM 184. Which types exactly DPA and Schoeps do you mean?
    The problem is, that it certainly will not be possible to test all these types of mics. I would do it, if I would have this possibility. So, I think, the Neumann KM 184 are very convincing because of their very clear and natural sound. May be I´ll get the opportunity to compare with still another mic-pair: the Rode K2, but it´s not sure in this moment.
    The advantage of the Neumanns is also a very simple one: they are small and easy, so I do not fear, that my mic-stand will fall down. With the Perception 400 I always waited for coming the whole stand down, because it´s impossible for me to get the stands enough stabil. :?
    And I really fall in love with this transparent and natural sound of the Neumanns. So, in this moment, they are my favourites. Which mic would you recommend mostly (in the price-level for a pair of about 1000 Euro)?
     
  4. bclever

    bclever New Member

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    I completely agree with Didier's rankings.
     
  5. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist

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    A Schoeps microphone of the Colette serie consists in a body containing the electronics: CMC5 or CMC6 (minor difference), and a cap: MK 2, MK21, MK4 and others with different frequency responses and directivities. They can be found at a much lower cost than previously since they have been recently available from Internet dealers, but it is at least two times more expensive than the Neumann KM 184.
    One year ago, I could compare a pair of Schoeps with two types of caps with my Oktavas. I could hear that there was a difference but was not ready to pay 10 times the price of the Oktavas for it. :twisted:

    The most famous model from DPA for classical music recording is the DPA 4006: it is an omni directional small diaphragm condenser. Also available from Internet dealers but it is still more expensive than the Schoeps, about three times the Neumann KM 184. :roll:

    Anyway, I think that your choice for small diaphragm rather than large one is the good one: easier placement, more natural sound. And most often used today for classical music recording. In good acoustics, omni microphones are most often preferred to cardioid ones by professional sound engineers. For home recording, cardioid may be better. For sure the KM 184 is not a wrong choice, despite some polemics whether it is as good as the KM 84, the now mythic microphone that it is replacing. (You can read about that on the Neumann forum.)

    I cannot propose you a better alternative for the same budget because I am only an amateur and do'nt have the KM 184s. In my previous post, I was just suggesting that your comparison demonstrated that for a important increase of price, there is a significant improvement of the sound. Which is fortunate but not a priori so obvious. :wink:

    Here attached a document in German that I found on the Neumann forum about several microphones configurations for classical piano recording. It is of minor interest for home recording, but interesting with respect to the diversity of the microphones and their placement.

    Edit: attachments removed.
     
  6. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks once more, Didier, for your very competent informations and advices and the documents. (I loaded them down just two weeks ago from this site, which is very useful of people like us, who make piano-recordings, but it´s all in german: http://www.sengpielaudio.com/Klavieraufnahme.htm)
    I think my choice now concentrated on the Neumann KM 184 and the Rode K2, which I will get probably next week for to test. (I hope it very much, I´ll get them.) But I have to say, I´m really very fascinated by the natural sound of the Neumann KM 184. Together with my speakers of "Myro" it´s a combination, which makes you feel hardly a difference between original- and record-sound.
    I´ll visit the Neumann forum, it is really a great luck to have had your support and competent informations. (You have much more knowledge about mics than me.):D
     
  7. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    >

    My ranking is
    1 Neumann
    2 AKG C 3000 S
    3 AKG C 1000
    4 AKG Perception 400

    And my preferences list is the same. All excellent mics, you'll see what improvement!
    Didier's recordings have IMHO the best quality sound here.
    I'm kappy with my Rode K2, but I do not know (without a real comparison) if they are
    better or worse than these Neumann. Each microphone (as each speaker, to not tell about
    pianos and pianists)) has its personality....
    Go serene with that Neumann, but consider Didies words, and also my suggestion for a large capsule
    and tube alimented mics. Like that Neumann (but also Akg 3000) or better you can be sure of a good
    choice.
    All best,
    Sandro
     
  8. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist

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    I much regret that my German, studied for 10 years, is so far... Nevertheless, thank you very much for the link. Note that the former music microphone activity of Brüel & Kjaer (a brand mentioned in the above document) is now in DPA (Danish Professional Audio).

    May be ? Anyway, thank you Sandro for the compliment. Unfortunately, like we say in French, l'habit ne fait pas le moine: the clothe does not make the monk, or in other words, the sound does not make the pianist. :lol:
     
  9. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi guys, I have a question. I recently discovered a new place for my Edirol to sit when I record and I do not use any external microphones. But what I notice is that my recordings and all of yours sound the same to me as I listen to them on my computer. Even all these different sound samples that Andreas put up sound the same to me. Do you listen to yourselves on speakers other than what you have on your computer? I am thinking that it must depend on the quality of the speakers as to how good the sound is, right? Or how good your computer’s sound card is? I thought mine was all right, but now I'm not sure. Or, is it that you put your recordings on CDs and then listen to them? When I did this with my earlier recordings, I noticed some static or a kind of fuzzy sound in between tracks. But I don’t hear the same noise on the computer speakers. Maybe that’s why you use external microphones? I wonder if I should get some microphones.
     
  10. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Pianolady,

    I listen usually on earphones plugged on an external soundcard, which I used also for recording. The earphone output on the integrated audio card of a PC is often good enough for listening. PC loudspeakers may be good (not the ones integrated to a laptop) but most often they are just good enough to listen to the sound warnings from Windows.

    You would loose the great advantage of the Edirol: its simplicity. Moreover, all microphones discussed above cannot be plugged directly on an Edirol. My advice: if you are happy with your sound, do not make your life more complicated. Music is more important than sound.
    If you are interested in the sound itself also, you might first purchase earphones of good quality for monitoring it. :)
     
  11. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sandro Bistotti wrote:
    And my preferences list is the same. All excellent mics, you'll see what improvement!

    Thank you for to let me know your opinion, Sandro. The choice you made, was extactly mine, too.

    You are very right with this, I think. When I listen to your execellent records, I have know a comparison with your Rode K2 and the Neumanns. I think, the difference is not too much. For me, may be the Neumanns are a little bit more natural.

    Thank you once more for you opinion. :D I think, you are more experienced in the question of mics than me.
     
  12. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Pianolady wrote:
    Dear Monika, I have a good soundcard (audiophile 192, m-audio), which is especially for recording. I joined my Hifi-amplifier to it, which is an Arcam A80 and I have some nice speakers of Myro, which is an east-german producer of speakers. These are some kind of "Hi end"-speakers, which have a very natural sound, if you compare them with usual speakers. With this equipment I hear all these differences between the mics very clearly.

    May be the sound-quality of your records would improve with external speakers, and I know, that there is an external mic for the Edirol R09, which is a stereo-mic and especially recommended for the Edirol R09 (Edirol CS-15 Stereo-Mikrofon für R-09 , look for example here: http://www.musicstorekoeln.de/is-bin/IN ... =OfferList). I suppose, the extern mic for the Edirol R09 could improve the record-quality, but, of course, I can not say this with absolute sureness.
     
  13. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    > Do you listen to yourselves on speakers other than what you have on your computer?

    From the poor computer speaker, and from my (I hope good also if old) hi-fi set:
    Wadia wt-3200 cd mechanism and Wadia x-64 converter, tube pre music reference mk-II,
    a final stage built by a friend, and as speaker MartinLogan Re-quest.

    > I am thinking that it must depend on the quality of the speakers as to how good the sound is,

    Surely. And of all the others parts (very important for example the CD transport mechanism).
    But I am at the same time fan of hi-fi and computer speaker listener, without any problem.

    > Or, is it that you put your recordings on CDs and then listen to them?

    Yes, in .wav extension, which is better than .mp3, but worse than high frequency (192khz) sampling
    rate or SACD. My recorder convert the mics signal also into these formats, but they are
    unuseful (on CD player you must compress to .wav), and this "hi-tech" recorder buying is an example of how much I am silly.

    > Maybe that’s why you use external microphones?

    Idon't think this problem is because external mics.


    > I wonder if I should get some microphones.

    Consider : you may obtain an increase of quality, but you must invest
    money and time (the choice of mics, positioning of them that is a never-ending question).
    The cost (time and money) is not low,depends how strong is your motivation to improve the audio quality of your recordings....
    The difference respect the (excellent quality/price ratio) edirol will be good, but not really
    amazing. But a certain level one must pay much monet (and time, and work I repeat) to
    obtain a few more nuances, a little incease of dynamics, a little increase of transparence
    etc..

    All best,
    Sandro
     
  14. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Didier. I’m glad you said what you said, because I also use earphones when I am ‘seriously’ listening. I think they are pretty good, so perhaps I don’t need to do anything further. Good point about making this not so complicated. Now I understand that although a good microphone is necessary, it also matters what you listen with.

    Andreas – I’m not technically-gifted enough to have a set-up like yours, but thanks for that link. I may get one since it's not that complicated. But with my current set-up, I place my Edirol right inside the piano, behind the music rack. So I think I am getting a clearer sound, now. I just wasn’t sure about the listening part afterwards. My son has his computer connected to gigantic speakers, and when he plays video games the whole house shakes. (Just for the fun of it, I’m going to ‘borrow’ his speakers and connect them to my computer.)

    Sandro – do you record in .wav and then transfer it to .mp3 for the site? Also, can you elaborate on what you mean by “CD transport mechanism”.

    Thank you all for the information.
     
  15. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    >

    Sandro – do you record in .wav and then transfer it to .mp3 for the site?

    Yes. I can record also in better extension than .wav, but it's unuseful...
    Now I read that the .mp3 must be maximum 192 kbps. About and under this level,
    has no sense to speak of mics and other things, because the quality is strangled.

    >Also, can you elaborate on what you mean by “CD transport mechanism”.

    Some cd players ( mine for example) consist in two boxes: one is for turning cd
    and read it, another is for the digital-to-analogue conversion.

    All best,
    Sandro
     
  16. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I also record in wav-format with 96000 Khz (but my soundcard is also able to sample up to 192000 Khz) and then I reduce to mp3-format. You can listen to my newest record (Beethoven, op.2,1, 4th movement) in the audition room, if you like. It´s made with the Neumann KM 184.
     

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