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Thread: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

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    Default Small diaphragm condenser mic for live

    I am about to buy a mic for live use. Good chance I will want to use it in the studio, but basicly looking for a live solution here. In a perfect world I would buy a Neuman of some sort.(Probably a km84 or KM 184.) But, funds are an issue, so leaning toward someting like an AT Pro 37. Any one have any other suggestions? What are your favorites? Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Carleton Page; Apr-02-2012 at 4:35pm.

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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    AT 37 is a great mic for the price. I like the Rodes as well, for a bit more money.

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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    KSM 137 from Shure might be a choice. I use a KSM 141 except it has switchable directionality. I like it.

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    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    one of the bands I play with uses a MXL 990 for our vocals and our mandolin player uses its companion, a MXL 991 for his mandolin. The first time he used mine, he was so blown away by the sound and volume he got from it he went out the next day and bought one. MXL is Guitar Center's house brand. The set is available for $99 as a set and you can buy them individually for around $79. They're probably not the best for the studio, but live, they are fantastic. I have been using them for about 6 years now and have never been disappointed.

    http://www.guitarcenter.com/MXL-990-...ource=4LMXWXX1

    Here's a link I found for both for $79.

    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-a...ophone-package
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    Second the MXL 990. I bought two when they were on sale for $50 each, and use 'em frequently.
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    I sure () would not be using my KM184's on stage....

    I don't know how familiar with them you are, but if you take a close look, there is very little protection at all for the diaphragm. One good knock in the right (or wrong) place and it is goodbye KM184 and whatever they cost these days (around $850 each?). They also do not like dust, smoke, rain, dew or any other kind of high humidity situation. They are hyper sensitive to wind noise, and handling noise, and due to their sensitivity and polar pattern they are absolute hell in terms of feedback in any live situation where you have onstage monitors. You might get away with that aspect if you use IEM's. They are excellent in the studio, of course.

    That is why Neumann actually make microphones specifically designed for live use:

    http://www.neumann.com/?lang=en&id=c...05_description

    Here, the capsule is shock mounted and adequately protected. Their off-axis rejection is also much better.

    That said... I have never really felt the need to use anything like that on stage myself, nice though they undoubtedly are. As others have said, you can get a Shure KSM, a nice AT, or similar by AKG or Beyer, or even one of the many very decent (if you shop carefully) Chinese mics and have plenty of change to buy yourself a really good studio mic as well. Or several. You would have to have golden ears to be able to tell the difference between say, an AT PRO 37 ($130) and a KMS105 ($699) over a typical PA system, anyway. I can't.
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    Thanks for the tips everyone./ I did research on the web recently and made a list of what a lot of the top pros used and it was almost entirely Km184, Km84 or Km54. So I figured cost no object, this was the way to go. They are pretty delicate huh? So is it the concensus that in a live situation the differences are going to negligible? If this is the case I guess I will probably pick up a Pro 37. They are pretty reasonably priced. I'l check out those MXl too.

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    Registered User Trey Young's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    I've been using an AT Pro-37 for a couple of years now and have been very happy with it for live use.

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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    The KM-54 is a vintage tube mic. No longer made. Parts are hard to get... almost impossible for some.... you will pay around $3K for single one in average condition, I have seen up to $8K for a pair in great condition...

    Stage mic? You gotta be kidding!

    Not only do they cost an arm and a leg, but if you blow the diaphragm (very easy to do on these as they are only a few micons thick and prone to arcing) you'll never be able to fully restore it.

    Very nice in the studio, again, though. Yes, a lot of people do love them to record with. Not sure who has used them over a PA... seems rather extreme, to me.
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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    Quote Originally Posted by Ctone View Post
    Thanks for the tips everyone./ I did research on the web recently and made a list of what a lot of the top pros used and it was almost entirely Km184, Km84 or Km54. So I figured cost no object, this was the way to go. They are pretty delicate huh?
    I'll disagree with Almeriastrings on that point. I've used my KM184's for live gigs before, and I'd do it again if the circumstances were right. In my experience (I've owned the same pair for 15 years), they're not any more delicate than other small condensers, or more prone to feedback either. It's a standard cardioid pattern, so the only way theyd be more prone to feedback is if you're comparing against a hypercardioid mic.

    The reason I'm not using KM184's for gigs right now, is that I've migrated to DPA 4099's (clip-on mini condensers) for my mandolin, OM, Dobro, and for the guitar player and the occasional fiddler who joins in. There is a bit more gain before feedback with a clip-on mic, it eliminates the "forest of mic stands" between us and the audience, and I like the freedom of movement. I like the clip-on approach, although I swear if my current gigs require the use of just one more instrument (I'm currently using two to three), I might go back to a single external mic, just to make setup easier. And it'll be a KM184.

    So if you've got the money to spend, and you're not playing in smoky dive bars with chicken wire between you and the audience, and you want a mic that will be good for studio use as well, then a KM184 would be a fine live mic.

    So is it the concensus that in a live situation the differences are going to negligible?
    That's very situational. There's no point in using a KM184 or mic of similar quality in that smoky dive bar with a boisterous crowd and a crap PA system. If you're playing to an attentive audience in a dinner/folk club, with a good PA system (the kind of place I've used my KM184's), then yes... you'll hear a difference.

    With any decent modern PA using powered speakers (and someone who knows how to run it), it's really more about the room than the PA. Is the audience loud or quiet? How low is the ceiling, how reflective is the room, and so on. There are rooms where it doesn't matter what you use, so you might as well use a pickup and a cheap PA. And other rooms where it matters.

    BTW, I think the AT Pro 37 is a good starter mic for recording. You can always pick up a KM184 or other small condenser for dedicated studio use, later on. The choices for studio use don't stop at the KM184... there are some very nice (and expensive!) mics from other sources like Schoeps, Gefell, DPA, etc.

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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    I believe Almeriastrings was writing about the KM 54 not the 184.

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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    I personally wouldn't use my KM184s in a live performance situation unless I was sure that I was in complete control of all of the possible things that might happen. They're too valuable a recording mic, and too pricey, to risk for live applications where bad things (e.g., getting knocked over on stage) can happen. I'm quite happy live with an Oktava M012 or a Rode NT-5 for live work.
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Bunting View Post
    I believe Almeriastrings was writing about the KM 54 not the 184.
    Actually, he was referring to the 184 in post #6. Maybe I have a different view on this, but I feel that unless you're a top level working pro, why use mics that are that expensive. The tone and gain I have had from the MXL 991 has been stunning, especially in light of the low cost. Everyone that hears us play through these mics cannot believe they are so inexpensive. They're durable. I have been using the 990 and 991 in two bands for the past 6 years with no issues. In a live situation, with crowd noise, I challenge anyone to hear a discernible difference between these mics and more expensive ones. If, in the event they do get damaged by a hit or whatever, you can replace it for $79.
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    Quote Originally Posted by mandobassman View Post
    Maybe I have a different view on this, but I feel that unless you're a top level working pro, why use mics that are that expensive.
    Well, that argument could be applied to our mandolins and other musical instruments, too.

    I don't think you have to be a high-level pro to play an expensive instrument at a gig, and I guess I just feel the same way about sound reinforcement gear. Again, with the disclaimer that it has to be a room where any differences can be heard. I certainly understand the perspective of those who wouldn't want to take mics like this out on a gig.

    Another factor might be how many other recording mics you own, and whether something like this represents the heart of the setup, or "just another mic." I don't own that many recording mics -- maybe 8 really good ones -- but it's enough to feel like the 184's can stand an occasional trip out in the world. If one had to be repaired due to gig damage, I have others I can use. I'm getting to that point in geezerhood where I think life is short, and I'm gonna use my stuff however it works best, while I still can.

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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    Quote Originally Posted by mandobassman View Post
    Actually, he was referring to the 184 in post #6. Maybe I have a different view on this, but I feel that unless you're a top level working pro, why use mics that are that expensive. The tone and gain I have had from the MXL 991 has been stunning, especially in light of the low cost. Everyone that hears us play through these mics cannot believe they are so inexpensive. They're durable. I have been using the 990 and 991 in two bands for the past 6 years with no issues. In a live situation, with crowd noise, I challenge anyone to hear a discernible difference between these mics and more expensive ones. If, in the event they do get damaged by a hit or whatever, you can replace it for $79.
    You're right. I was looking at post #9.

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    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    I don't think you have to be a high-level pro to play an expensive instrument at a gig, and I guess I just feel the same way about sound reinforcement gear.
    I agree that if you have the funds to have that kind of gear, then by all means. However, as the OP stated, funds are an issue and I have been seeing recommendations like The Shure KSM 137, AKG, Beyer, Rode NT5. All great choices, but not cheap. I think the AT Pro 37 would be a fine choice as it is a great mic for the money. I had made the suggestion for the MXL 991 because I have used it many times and you can get it, and the MXL 990 large diaphragm, as a package for under $100. Great mics for stage and it's hard to beat that kind of deal.
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    Quote Originally Posted by mandobassman View Post
    I agree that if you have the funds to have that kind of gear, then by all means. However, as the OP stated, funds are an issue and I have been seeing recommendations like The Shure KSM 137, AKG, Beyer, Rode NT5.
    I was actually thinking of the NT3, which is less costly but still a fair bit more than the Pro-37.

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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Well, that argument could be applied to our mandolins and other musical instruments, too.

    I don't think you have to be a high-level pro to play an expensive instrument at a gig, and I guess I just feel the same way about sound reinforcement gear. Again, with the disclaimer that it has to be a room where any differences can be heard.
    To me the difference is that the instrument is played at other times than on stage, often in very good acoustic environments so all its nuances can be heard and appreciated. Gear is just gear. Most of my gigs are in bars and such, not nice concert halls. I remember buying a KM184 at David Grisman's recommendation but he was playing nice halls with a pro sound guy while I was, as I still am, playing in bars and such. The KM184 was too much mic for the situations I was trying to use it in. I sold it to a studio and bought an SM-57, which was a better choice for me.

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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    two more thing you might want to consider when choosing condensor mic's:

    1) some mic's have a much more linear response than others. sometime back i had looked at a couple of the ATs (a 30 and/or 37?, don't remember clearly) and they had noticeable boosts in the 5KHz-9KHz range, i guess that is the "presence" range but is more likely desired for vocals rather than instruments. some of the lesser ones also start taking a dive in response around 200 Hz, which is by the lowest note on the mando (196 Hz). a boost or loss of 3dB can be noticeable.

    i'm not a sound expert, maybe they will respond too, but i dont' know that i'd want an instrument mic that gives an artificial peak (or a big dip) to a broad range of frequencies, which might require some extra EQ work that could change considerably with the room/venue. i'd think a fairly flat response mike would be easier to tweak if/as needed for a PA/room. used SM81's or AT 4041's, both fairly linear and sensitive, might be a good in btwn choice, might find them used for $200 + or - a few bucks. not quite a KM184 but still way nicer than a AT37.

    2) if you are gonna get a phantom power condensor mic, know what its min voltage rqmt is. i have some decent AT mikes, they all need at least 48V supplied. i have a couple nice AKG pencil mikes. they will function with 12V or greater. i have one acoustic combo amp and a mackie powered mixer that only put out 15V for phantom. i can't use any of my AT mic's with them. so the lesson is, know what your eqpmt has to offer for phantom power and see if your mic's of choice will run off that voltage.
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    There is no shock mounting whatever in either the KM-184 or KM-154. If, you examine the capsules, and compare, say, to a typical 'road-worthy' SDC you will also see how incredibly close the diaphragm itself is to the front of the mic, and how light-duty the protective grill is. You can see this illustrated very clearly here, in a comparison with a 'clone' the MXL 603, where the diaphragm is mounted several mm further back. This is partly what gives the 84's and 184's their distinctive sound, of course.

    http://www.oktavamodshop.com/product...roducts_id=119

    Good article, there by the way. I actually modded the back-venting on my 184's and yes, it does reduce the slight peak, and now they sound near identical (as far as I can tell) to an old purple-label KM84 I've had for many years.

    Regarding feedback and the KM-184. Foldepath is quite right that the sensitivity as such is not a factor... however, we are back to the fact that moving in very close (certainly for vocals) on something as delicate as these is not a recipe for long mic life. They also have a profound proximity effect that emphasises frequencies most prone to feedback.... on the few occasions I have used them 'live' (at a performer's insistence) I was not very happy with them. I knew I could have done a better job with something else. It would of course depend on the system, and in an ideal situation, with a great, well designed system and very careful setup you can use just about anything - but the reality is that very often you are in poor rooms and might even end up 'plugging in' to someone else's system that could be thrown together from all kinds of junk. FWIW, currently, the mics I use for live sound are Beta57's, AKG D5's and C-5's, and Beyerdynamic M-201's. All apart from the C5's are hypercardiod and are dynamics. They are all tough, well made, have excellent off-axis rejection, good rejection of mechanical noise, and you can back far enough off from them that proximity effect is not much of an issue, while still avoiding feedback. I also think they sound pretty good. So, I leave my Neumann's in their nice little wooden box in the studio.. and use the others live. This is partly coloured by the fact that many years ago I saw a harmonica player suddenly appear unannounced and with no warning on stage and grab a very fine microphone as harmonica players do, and totally kill it in less than 5 minutes! That made an impression on me.

    Regarding frequency response curves. Take with a pinch of salt. So much depends on how they were measured and manufacturers all measure them differently. In any event, if you use a good desk with good EQ, you can deal with any slight differences or problems pretty easily. Unfortunately, a lot of desks do not have good EQ... for live use, we use a 28-channel Allen & Heath that has 4-band semi-parametric on each channel strip, plus 4-band swept parametric on the master section. This one:

    http://www.allen-heath.com/uk/produc...ProductId=PA28

    A fantastic desk, that sounds great and gives a huge amount of control. I also use a smaller one (Zed 12FX) on occasions, and a ZED R16 firewire version in the studio. The EQ on all these, particularly the PA28 and ZED R16 is superb.
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    Registered User Justus True Waldron's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    I have used a pair of vintage km84's for recording with very good success. I don't think I would use them live though. Live I've used an AKG c1000 several times with good results, but mostly when I play acoustic music I wind up doing the one mic thing with a large diaphragm condenser. I know lots of pros use km84s and the like for recording, but I can't think of a single concert involving those same pros where I remember seeing them live (not saying it's never happened though).
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    have a NT5 pair.. myself. in a good sized molded carry case.
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    I have an AT4030, Okava 012, and Peavey 480. They all sound good on my mando. The hotest and most feedback rejecting is the 480, even over the 012 with a hyper cardiod capsule. Probably the smoothest is the 4030. I also have a Beyer 260 that I want to try live too.

    Recently I got asked to do a bluegrass put together band for a local church. Everybody else was plugged in and the soundman noticed I didn't have a pickup. I asked him what he had for mic's. He replied the usual 57, and I asked if he had anything else. He said we've got a Neumann, I'll go get it. He came back with a KM 83. I'd of course heard of an 84, but not an 83. Looked just like a 84, and made my mandolin sound like a million bucks. What a treat! I just looked it up and it appears to be omni?!?! No feedback whatsoever, what a totally sweet sounding mic. The church was HUGE, the stage was bigger than my house. It seated 1,000 people and was amazing acoustically. And unlike other church soundmen I'd dealt with, this guy knew how to do Bluegrass. Every once in a while I get lucky......

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    Registered User Andy Morton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    You ask about a small condenser mic...I use an AT 831 and it is a step up in frequency range than the AT Pro 70 and a little more expensive.

    I use it to play in in a a church setting for large venues with a wide range of "plugged in" instruments. It has a cardiod pattern which and is attached to the instrument. I ground down the lavalier clip and put padding on the metal surfaces of the clip so that I could attach it to the F hole---and not have to alter the instrument. When I play my oval hole A-2, I use the clip that comes with the mic that was designed for use on an acoustic guitar.

    The lav mic allows me to play with a true condenser mic and avoid feedback issue that could come in in the midst of playing next to drums with mics, electric guitars, a hammond B3 and leslie, and a baby grand piano (also with a mic)---not too mention vocals.

    If I could I would prefer playing with a full sized condenser mic --- but this works fine.

    Andy

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    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small diaphagm condenser mic for live

    I had a set up like Mando andy's once. A long time ago I played bass in a top 40 Counrty band and once in a while switched over to mandolin for a few tunes. I had a shadow pickup in the bridge and also had a lavalier mic with the clip attached to the F hole and the mic pointed inside the body. I ran two cables. The pickup went to the monitors and the condenser lavalier mic went to the mains. The pickup sounded lousy, but it didn't matter because it was only for me. The sound going to the crowd sounded great. I didn't have to worry about feedback since the lavalier wasn't in the monitors.
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