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Thread: What I did on my summer vacation: Sax Mic Shootout

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Voss View Post
    Lynn-

    Did you say which one the you and the sax player settled on? Or favorites?
    I've always insisted on being just the reporter for events like this and staying completely impartial and not offering an opinion. This time I'll break with that tradition, primarily because it was an audition with a very specific purpose--to choose a mic that one player liked most. His opinion was the deciding factor so I'm not reluctant to share that with you.

    The mics that I lined up were:

    • AKG 414B-ULS
    • A-T 4033
    • A-T 4050
    • A-T 4047
    • Neumann U67
    • Neumann U87
    • JZ BH-1
    • Mojave MA-200
    • AA CM47
    • Shure KSM44
    • Shure SM7
    • Sennheiser 441
    • Shure SM57
    • E-V RE20
    • CAD 7000
    • AEA R84
    • Royer R122
    • Shiny Box-mod Chinese ribbon
    • Cascade C77


    We also had these preamps on hand:

    • Millennia Media HV-3B
    • Millennia Media M2b
    • AEA RPQ
    • DAV BG8
    • Great River MP-2NV
    • Avalon 737
    • Vintech 473
    • Daking Mic Pre One


    For the mic auditioning, I used the MM HV3B as the default preamp.

    After all was said and done, the saxophone player preferred the A-T 4050, much to his great surprise. He was not an A-T fan, mostly because of his experience with the 4033 which he frequently sees in the studio. On sax, he doesn't like the 4033. He wasn't even aware of the 4050. But it was his clear favorite over all the rest. We went back and forth through the list, listening blindly, narrowing it down to six finalists and he still picked the 4050. It has a strong presence without sounding thin (far too common with most of the other condensers) and a nice top end that doesn't expose the mechanicals of the instrument.

    I agreed with his summary, but preferred the CM47. It was slightly less present (maybe 1.5 to 2 dB less in the 2-4K range) but in exchange for that it sounded smoother, more even, across the instrument's range with fewer notes popping out. It also has more appealing low mids to my ear. The 4050 was less pleasing to my ear but it cut better in the track.

    Given that the two are very similar in price, either one would do a great job. He continually chose the 4050 though in blind test after blind test. So that was his pick.

    For preamp, it was much harder to tell the differences to him. In a blind test, he gave 4 A's, 2 B's, 1 C and an F. (Don't ask. I don't recall.) Of the four A's, any one would do but his first two choices were the Great River and the Avalon in that order. The AEA was also a contender, another A, but it wasn't quite as nice with the 4050 as the GR was.

    I agreed with his assessment about the preamp, although I was less impressed with the Avalon. The GR and AEA would have been my first two choices, again we were only listening to the 4050.

    We went back and played with the AEA RPQ using the R84 and explored the EQ options. Absolutely fascinating and incredibly useful.

    My conclusion? I think the R84/RPQ (with EQ) pairing would be one of my top two choices, the other being the AA CM47/Great River. Between those two, it's really a toss up depending on your personal preference. The RPQ's EQ enabled the R84 to gain the presence of the condensers but without spotlighting the high end that plagued many of the condensers. It always amazes me at how differently mics can hear and interpret the same source.

    NOTE: One point to remember. I'm judging solely on sound whereas a potential buyer also has to consider price. The 4050/ME1NV (granted a single channel) would be $1850. The R84/RPQ pair would be $2520. [I understand that's not apples to apples, since one preamp is mono, the other stereo. Sub'ing a stereo GR makes it a fairer comparison at $2975. But when someone needs a single mic/pre combo and is looking at the bottom line price on the invoice, adding in the spare pre channel for parity doesn't always matter. The dollars do.]

    His conclusions:

    1) Buy a 4050 first along with a GR preamp.
    2) Maybe add a CM47 as a second mic.
    3) Plan on buying the RPQ for additional preamp channels along with an R84 in the future.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  2. #22
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    Other meaningless observations.

    The U67 and KSM44 required the least preamp gain. Roughly 16 dB. Followed by the 4033 and MA200 which needed ~18 dB.

    The SM7 required the most, ~44 dB, followed closely by the R84 and 441 which both required ~42 dB. The RE20 and Shiny-Mod required ~40 dB.

    By comparison, the SM57 required ~37 dB of gain.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Voss View Post
    Lynn-

    Did you say which one the you and the sax player settled on? Or favorites?

    thanks,

    Matt
    He liked the 4050 best. I preferred the AA CM-47. He ended up buying both and he's incredibly happy with them. I've heard what he's getting and it sounds great.

    I also gave him a CAD 7000 (ribbon) to round out his collection. He's pretty much set for recording whatever he needs in the brass and woodwinds camps.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  4. #24
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    When I get the ok I'll post some clips I recorded over at Sam's. Flute, Clarinet, and Oboe.

    sounds nice to me!

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3daudioinc View Post
    He liked the 4050 best. I preferred the AA CM-47. He ended up buying both and he's incredibly happy with them. I've heard what he's getting and it sounds great.

    I also gave him a CAD 7000 (ribbon) to round out his collection. He's pretty much set for recording whatever he needs in the brass and woodwinds camps.
    Thanks Lynn. This thread is a bit old and I did purchase a CM-47 as a saxophonist myself in part based on your positive comments. I second your sentiments and have been very happy with this mic given my budget.

    Here is a short clip of the mic with a True Systems preamp direct to pro-tools:

    http://kiwi6.com/file/wg25y6r26d
    Last edited by Matthew Voss; 02-11-2011 at 02:53 PM.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Voss View Post
    Thanks Lynn. This thread is a bit old and I did purchase a CM-47 as a saxophonist myself in part based on your positive comments. I second your sentiments and have been very happy with this mic given my budget.
    Glad it worked out well.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  7. #27
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    Here's a tune that we cut the winds over at Sam's house. We used the CAD 7000 on the flute, clarinet and oboe.

    FWIW: Todd R tracked the guitar, strings and brass. I did the winds and vocals and mixed this. Robert Nugent wrote the Arrangement.

    This is the unmastered version. Will be mastering the project this Friday.


    https://www.onlinefilefolder.com/4shfJR3zddhhd0

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3daudioinc View Post
    He liked the 4050 best. I preferred the AA CM-47. He ended up buying both and he's incredibly happy with them. I've heard what he's getting and it sounds great.

    I also gave him a CAD 7000 (ribbon) to round out his collection. He's pretty much set for recording whatever he needs in the brass and woodwinds camps.
    Which pattern was used on the 4050?

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Easton View Post
    Which pattern was used on the 4050?
    Cardioid.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bechtel View Post
    It says "invalid link." Did you already take it down?
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

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