Mar
01

mics_blog

Guitarist Yuri Liberzon called to arrange a video shoot and we got to talking about microphones. Yuri has a pair of Oktava mk012 modded by Michael Joly at OktavaMod and he wanted to see how they stacked up to a real pair of Neumann km84’s, which we use here for the videos we shoot. So rather than stop there we decided to compare a bunch of pairs of small-diaphragm condenser (SDC) mics. In the end we used Yuri’s OktavaMod mk012’s, a pair of Neumann km84’s, a pair of Neumann km184’s and a pair of AKG 451’s with ck28 capsules (rather than the much more common ck1 capsule which most people associate with the 451). And since we could, we decided to use Segovia’s Ramirez that he owned and played from 1969-1981, and which is part of the Russell Cleveland Collection.

In the playlist below we haven’t identified the mics. All were recorded using Apogee’s Ensemble interface mic pres (ApogeeDigital.com). Rather than attempt to mount all 8 mics at once (and therefore deal with the slight discrepancy in mic position between the pairs) we did four takes of Yuri playing a bit of Scarlatti and a bit of Capricho Arabe – one take with each pair using the exact same placement for each recording.

The audio has no eq, no reverb and no compression (i.e. no processing of any sort except for normalizing). We attempted to match gain as closely as possible during tracking and simply normalized the files.

Take a listen and let us know which recording you like best and why (or if you don’t hear any discernible difference), and we’ll post the results at the end of the month to see which pair wins.

N. B. – We understand that this is not a very scientific test. We tried to control for as many variables as possible, but really we’re just doing this for fun to see how big the difference between the various pairs of mics really is under more or less real-world circumstances.

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34 Responses to “Poll – Best Mic for Guitars”

 
  1. Rick Lord says:

    My initial impressions are that both recording A and D are warmer and more rounded than either B or C. A and D are close in my mind. If push comes to shove, I’d choose the mics used for Recording D.

    Thanks for doing this – very helpful.

    Rick

  2. Ivailo Jongarov says:

    Hey!
    I like recording D. It is clear and expressive!
    Ivo
    Bulgaria

  3. The ‘Guitar salon – C’ microphone session sounds best for my ears, more refinements and natural, no hardness.

  4. Richard Matthewz says:

    I liked D the best too not so bright warmer

  5. Sam Swank says:

    They all sound great. If I had to pick one I’d choose #4. It seems to have a bit more depth and low end.

  6. Garrett says:

    Not a lot of difference to me, but I only have my laptop at the moment. I’ve found the Km84 to be a bit brittle on guitar in my own experience. You might try some Earthworks SR77’s or any of the Earthworks, even the older SR69 or SR71, for condenser type. They are very smooth and extended range mics. For tube mics, try Soundelux Elux 251 or Lawson L47. The Lawson is hard to beat, warm, full, sweet all around mic for about half the price of an Elux.

  7. Juanfer says:

    D for clarity and expression, although probably too metalic compared to the original guitar.

  8. Ian says:

    I like A.

  9. Greg Askins says:

    It was tough to decide between C & D because they both had a warm presence. However my initial feeling was to pick C. So Cis my choice.

  10. Robert says:

    For me A is clearly the winner , followed by D which is a bit sharper in my ears. Did not like B Art all, and also C has some kind of sharpness that doesn’t appeal to me.

  11. Robert says:

    Sorry, autocorrection, did not like B at all…

  12. Steve Biasini says:

    Well this was a great idea! A first I said A hands down, then I thought about another aspect: how much playing noise did the mic pick up? Given that the player was excellent and had pretty quiet hands, and was consistent, all of which seemed true, C was the best in my view.

    These are great mics, how about a breakdown on price?

  13. Dale says:

    Great idea, thanks!
    I would pick the one I could afford! I think I heard some subtle nuances (ambient sounds maybe?) in D that gave a bit of richness to the sound, but there was things I liked about each of the recordings.

  14. Brian Mancini says:

    Very happy to see this comparison!
    A-Is clearly the winner for me. Beautiful depth and fullness to the sound while still being exceptionally clear.
    D-More low end than B or C but has a slight bit of a muffled sound quality.
    C-Fairly clear but lacks low end depth.
    B-By far the brightest and sharpest sounding.

    My guesses:
    A-OktavaMod
    D-KM84
    C-C451
    B-KM184

    Brian

  15. Roger Westman says:

    Thanks for the possibility to compare recordings. After some listening I choose D. My first impression was A or D.

  16. Eric Wilden-Constantin says:

    My preference goes to the microphones in Guitar Salon “A” – greater clarity, definition and dynamics.

  17. Bob Vasquez says:

    This is really an excellent post; very helpful. Thank you. A then D for me.

  18. Paul Reilly says:

    Mic B prefer the roundness of the sound.

  19. tom says:

    This test really shows up the colorization of each mic. This is a major factor in obscuring the individual character of a guitar but maybe an individualized mic placement would mitigate this.
    I found mic D the least colored.

  20. David Turner says:

    Definitely “D” for me. Warm rounded sound very nice

  21. Steve says:

    Mic D is by far the best.

  22. In order i like A, B, D, C.
    I have the pleasure of owning and often recording a 1969 Ramirez 1A for years. & I feel the A & B options balance the full low-mid that can be a trick with the Ramirez sound when recording.

  23. Per Lindhof says:

    Thanks a lot for this interesting comparison.
    They are very close.
    I like D the most. Good separation and clear.

    But they are all cardiods and the recording distance is close.
    This doesn’t leave much natural ambience.

    The stereo array sounds like a spaced pair with the mics more than 50 cm apart, as there is a “hole” in the middle.
    It could be interesting to hear different arrays like XY, ORTF etc. The off axis sound of mics can vary a lot.

    All the best
    Per Lindhof

  24. Frank Scott says:

    Recording A would be my pick for mics.

  25. Iren Arutyunyan says:

    Mic D is great. Solid and consistent. Round tone.

    But there’s something I REALLY enjoyed about Mic B. Very crisp. Captures the guitar’s nuances in a more dramatic fashion.

  26. Reli Suyskens says:

    None of the all fine recordings distinguishes so much from another that my attention, interest or preference is specific enough to vote for A B C or D.

    The quality of all recordings is more than enough to make me free to listen to the music itself. This is perhaps a “relief” for anyone wishing to make recordings: if the gear is good than let it be, and focus on the playing itself, because there lays the making of difference.

    Cheers!

  27. Vincent says:

    My favorite was C, followed by B, D, and A. Just felt the warmer tone sounded a bit more natural in this style. In a dense mix though, D or A would probably work better.

  28. tom says:

    A problem is that we have become so accustomed to a colored sound that we don’t miss the lack of fidelity and transparency. Many of the contemporary recordings tend to make all guitars of the same type (traditional, lattice, double top etc.) sound almost the same. We enjoy the ‘glamorization’ although it doesn’t represent the reality and, in any case, our attention is likely to be on the music.
    It’s easy to make the sound warmer; transparency and fidelity are more difficult and much of those elements results from making the best use of the available equipment, the most important part of which is, in this digital era, the microphone and how it is used.
    I think some of us tend to listen to the sound and some to the ambiance, the sound around the recorded sound. In a studio setting, this doesn’t exist in the real world and results from mic placement and from the mic’s specific and designed equalization, well or less well suited to the classical guitar.
    Of course, ‘well or less well suited’ is a matter of personal taste.

  29. laguitarra says:

    In my ears A is the best. Rounded in the highs, D ist a bit harsh, and more details than B or C. I don´t like C.

  30. Steve says:

    I thought they all sounded like SDC recordings of a really nice guitar.

    B sounded thin to me; I didn’t like it as it was, but a bit of EQ would probably make it very usable.

    I liked D the best. It seemed warmer and smooth.

  31. Issam says:

    A, no doubt. Round, warm and more balanced than the rest

  32. John says:

    I liked A best. Very clear, balanced, full representation of the tone of the guitar. B sounded thin, the least pleasing of the group. C a little better, and D still better, but I still liked A best.

  33. Edu says:

    A is my favorite