Stereo Microphones

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SpencerMartin
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Stereo Microphones

Post by SpencerMartin » Sat May 02, 2015 2:08 pm

Looking for stereo microphone suggestions. An exceptionally low noise floor is an absolute must, as the main use would be for distant placements on relatively quiet sources. Think subdued acoustic instruments next to an open window letting in bird chirps and distant traffic. Flexibility and price range are also important factors - I'd much prefer something with dual multi-pattern capsules that can be configured for XY, midside, and Blumlein. An approximately $1k price tag would seal the deal. Am I being too unrealistic, or does such an offering exist?

So far, here are the closest options that I'm aware of:

AT4050ST: I like AT mics, and I'm sure the noise floor is ideal... But no Blumlein capability. Otherwise, this would be a no-brainer.

Avantone CK-40: Capable of all three patterns, but I don't have any familiarity with this brand. If the noise floor is as low as the AT4050ST, this could be the best option. My Sweetwater rep seemed to want to steer me away from this option for some reason.

Royer SF-12 / SF-24: I have a feeling someone will mention this model and I'm sure it's amazing, but $. I'm definitely not looking to spend that much. Also, is it just me, or do ribbons generally have higher noise floors than condensers?

Any advice or opinions would be much appreciated, especially if you've personally used and compared some different options. Thanks!

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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Sat May 02, 2015 7:26 pm

You may have better luck and more options looking for a stereo pair.

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Post by SpencerMartin » Sat May 02, 2015 9:32 pm

A.David.MacKinnon wrote:You may have better luck and more options looking for a stereo pair.
Right, the possibilities with pairing two individual mics (same models or two different ones for MS) are basically endless. That is what I've done up until this point, and it certainly works well enough, but I'd specifically like to have a good stereo mic for ease of use and accuracy/consistency of configuration. Set up one stand - it's done. Capsules perfectly aligned every time. 5 minutes saved. That's the goal.

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Post by Sean Sullivan » Sun May 03, 2015 6:40 am

Personally, I wouldn't recommend a stereo ribbon for what you are wanting to do. I have an AEA R88, which sounds great, but it needs a lot of gain even being a foot away from softly played acoustic guitar. I tried to use it as a room mic in a studio last week for a mandolin/guitar session with vocals and even with a fully crank Millennia, it wasn't getting much to tape.

If you have a lot of money, an AKG C426 or C422 might be a good option. Not sure what a Neumann SM69 sells for. There's also the Sankan CMS-2. After that you are getting over $3000 I think, or in the Studio Projects/Avantone range.
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Post by Gregg Juke » Sun May 03, 2015 8:41 am

We have a Rode that we are happy with (use when a stereo pair for some reason isn't employed). Also have some cheapies that work fine for live stereo recordings or ambience/SFX capture. You are obviously talking about an entirely different class; I only have one thing to add to the discussion-- try hard to "try before you buy," or at least do an in-store shoot-out of some kind if possible; borrow one from a friend or rent first. IMHO, the quality and durability of AT microphones varies wildly. They have some excellent stuff, and have also produced some non-excellent crap. So at least in the case of Audio-Technica, I don't think you can simply rely on name brand because you've had a few that worked (cue hate-posts, death threats, and a response from an AT marketing representative...).

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Post by SpencerMartin » Tue May 05, 2015 6:35 pm

Thanks for confirming my doubts about ribbon mics for this purpose!

You're right about the try before you buy approach... I suppose the best way to decide is to actually hear them back to back. It's just surprising that there are no currently available Blumlein-capable stereo condensers in the 1-2k range. That's a significant market gap considering how thoroughly every other category is covered!

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Post by ott0bot » Wed May 06, 2015 8:25 am

I know Sanken & Shure make a stereo mid-side mic, but yeah...no blumlein that I can see except in ribbons.

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Post by joninc » Wed May 06, 2015 4:14 pm

SpencerMartin wrote:It's just surprising that there are no currently available Blumlein-capable stereo condensers in the 1-2k range. That's a significant market gap considering how thoroughly every other category is covered!
not that surprising. i think that most of us who want to experiment with various stereo set ups (blumlein, xy, m/s) are fine to do that with 2 mics.
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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Wed May 06, 2015 5:48 pm

joninc wrote:
SpencerMartin wrote:It's just surprising that there are no currently available Blumlein-capable stereo condensers in the 1-2k range. That's a significant market gap considering how thoroughly every other category is covered!
not that surprising. i think that most of us who want to experiment with various stereo set ups (blumlein, xy, m/s) are fine to do that with 2 mics.
Agreed. If the choice was to spend 2K on a Blumlein-capable stereo condenser or 2 multi-patern mics at 1K each I'd much rather have 2 mics. Use them in stereo as needed, use them each in mono as needed. More bang for the buck (always needed).

If you're looking to spend up to 2K I would strongly, strongly, strongly suggest getting a used pair of 414s. You won't regret it.

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Post by SpencerMartin » Sun May 10, 2015 7:15 pm

Holy eff, that's a beautiful line-up. DAYUM. Let the research / gear lust begin... Thanks man!

David - do you (and/or popular opinion) recommend any particular version of the 414 over the others?

Also, does anyone have any opinions on the AT4047 for this application? (Really low noise floor, room mic on quiet sources.)

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Post by joninc » Sun May 10, 2015 8:03 pm

I have a pair of the 414 b-uls and I like them a lot.
Newer models are transformerless and brighter.
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Post by GooberNumber9 » Sun May 10, 2015 8:26 pm

I finally decided I had to understand the whole 414 product line and I found this, which has now made everything clear to me:

http://www.trustmeimascientist.com/2011 ... akg-c-414/

Hopefully it helps others as well.

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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Sun May 10, 2015 9:12 pm

joninc wrote:Newer models are transformerless and brighter.
I have a pair of the newer XLS version. They are in fact transformerless but I don't find them a great deal brighter than the older versions I've used. Probably a little but not drastically. The new XLII version (with the gold grill) is much brighter.
I like my XLS pair quite a bit. They're not matched but are so close that it's a moot point. I was a little concerned that more vintage versions would be harder to match. I use them all over the place on every session - overheads, guitars, vocals, room mics, piano, you name it.

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Post by SpencerMartin » Mon May 11, 2015 9:36 am

GooberNumber9 wrote:I finally decided I had to understand the whole 414 product line and I found this, which has now made everything clear to me:

http://www.trustmeimascientist.com/2011 ... akg-c-414/

Hopefully it helps others as well.
Fantastic article. I couldn't imagine making an informed purchase without having read that first (or conducting the shoot-out myself, which would be way more difficult). That blog is amazing in general too - thanks for the heads up! I just read an article about Ennio Morricone too. So good.

You guys have all been super helpful - I really appreciate your willingness to share resources and ideas!

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