Microphone Comparison Blog- We have used 7 different Microphones to test them against each other to hear how each microphone captures the same instrument
Microphones used- Neumann u 87 ai, TLM102, Warm Audio WA47, AKG c414, Neumann KM 184, Sennheiser e614 and Shure SM58
Preamplifer- SSL Six Superanalogue
Neumann U 87
The Neumann U 87 Ai is the modern incarnation of a classic microphone. Introduced in 1967, the U 87 gained instant favor with engineers, producers, and their clients; by the mid ’70s it was a staple in every world-class recording studio. And it still is. Walk into a session, and you’ll see 87s everywhere. On piano, vocals, toms, overheads, guitar cabs, brass, strings, congas — you name it. The mic’s popularity is easy to understand: it ushered in a new era of audio fidelity and reliability, and with three selectable polar patterns (cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8), plus a switchable highpass filter and 10dB pre-attenuation pad, the mic is incredibly versatile, and an ideal choice for a broad range of recording techniques. The Neumann U 87 Ai is the industry-standard large-diaphragm condenser mic.
When you’re striving for fidelity, clarity, and authoritative presence, the U 87 Ai — with its ruler-flat midrange and gentle presence boost — is your go-to mic. We all need vocals to shine in the mix, and the 87 was born for this. It’s not right for every vocalist, but you will find it the vocal microphone of choice on innumerable iconic recordings. Piano? Grand or upright, when you need an acoustic piano to sit pretty in a thick track, a couple of 87s will get the job done.
At first glance, the TLM 102 stands out from other Neumann microphones because of its extraordinarily compact design. Don’t let its size fool you! Inside the TLM 102 sits a large-diaphragm, cardioid capsule that Neumann developed specifically for their next generation of microphones intended for a broad range of applications. Like the rest of the TLM series, the TLM 102 is built around low-noise circuitry and captures sound sources without adding extensive color. It particularly excels with vocals, and the ability to handle extreme SPLs makes the TLM 102 a truly versatile microphone.
Up to 6kHz the frequency response of the TLM 102 extremely linear. But just after 6kHz, Neumann built in a slight boost to bolster the presence of the voice. This characteristic adds a quality often called “sweetness” to vocals that makes them jump out in the mix. The extra smoothness tends to enhance vocals by smoothing out a highly audible frequency range and adds some extra dimension to spoken recordings. The small stature of the TLM 102 is also a major asset in applications where maintaining a clear line of sight between the vocalist and the control room or or band is a priority.
The AKG C414 multi-pattern condenser microphone needs no introduction. Because of its ability to handle many different sources, it’s been used in some of the world’s leading broadcast facilities, recording studios, and performance stages. AKG has upped the game with the addition of their C414 XLII, improving the C414’s already legendary adaptability. With its nine polar patterns, leading-edge technology, state-of-the-art components, and reference-quality results, the AKG C414 XLII condenser microphone ushers in a new standard in microphone versatility.
The C414 XLII has been improved by offering a slight presence boost and by providing the spatial reproduction capability of the legendary AKG C12 microphone. This characteristic response and spatial detailing makes lead vocals and solo instruments stand out, even in a dense mix. This signature upfront sound is also excellent for distant miking applications, making the C414 XLII ideal for classical music or drum ambience miking.
Warm Audio WA47
The WA-47 is an all vacuum tube, large diaphragm, transformer balanced, multi-pattern (9), large condenser microphone, based on the classic ‘47 that has been used on countless hit records for the last 50+ years. The WA-47 is designed for pro studio, home studio, live, and broadcast applications and sounds great on vocals, acoustic/electric guitars, acoustic/electric bass, drums, piano, strings, brass/woodwind instruments, and an array of other sources. The classic ‘47 became extremely popular in the 1960’s and is now considered one of the greatest microphones ever made. The classic ‘47 is still widely used today in professional recording studios but have become extremely rare and expensive to acquire.
The WA-47 utilizes a custom reproduction of the vintage k47 style capsule that was used in the classic ‘47 microphone – designed with the same hole pattern and frequency response. Every Warm Audio capsule is made in the same small assembly house in a clean-room environment, and packaged in its own protective jewel case until the moment it is loaded into the microphone. Each capsule is visually inspected and electrically tested for imperfections.
A large part of any microphone’s tone comes from its capsule, and the true k47 style capsule used in the WA-47 is not easily manufactured or typically found in affordable condenser microphones. We are proud to be using such a faithful recreation of this classic part in an affordably priced ’47 style microphone.
Neumann KM 184
While many microphones, these days, are designed to add some sonic imprint of their own, there are many applications that require a faithful reproduction of the original acoustic event, without adding or removing anything. That’s where the Neumann Series 180 comes in.
The Neumann Series 180 consists of three members with different pickup patterns: KM 183 (omni), KM 184 (cardioid), and KM 185 (hypercardioid), thus covering the majority of stage and studio applications. Because the Series 180 microphones are non-modular, they are more cost-effective than the modular Series KM A and KM D (which offer a wide range of interchangeable capsule heads for analog and digital output stages).
Despite its attractive pricing, the KM 184 offers state-of-the-art Neumann engineering. Its cardioid pattern is frequency-independent; rejection of rearward sound (180°) is excellent, even at low frequencies. In practical usage, there is no sound coloration over a wide pickup angle, which is crucial in multi-microphone setups and for precise stereo/surround imaging. The KM 184’s frequency response is very smooth and linear with a slight treble lift around 9 kHz for added brilliance. Its innovative transformerless head amplifier offers a wide dynamic range of 125 dB and is carefully designed to maintain the capsule’s sonic integrity. The KM 184 has a very low self-noise of only 13 dB-A and can handle high sound pressure levels of up to 138 dB free from distortion. Due to its low impedance output stage, the KM 184 can drive long cable runs of up to 300 meters (1000 feet) without transmission losses.
The e 614 from Sennheiser is a supercardioid electret condenser microphone designed for general recording and sound-reinforcement applications. The e 614 features high SPL handling and fast transient response making it ideal for drums, percussion, bass, guitar, brass and other instruments rich in transient response. The supercardioid polar pattern is effective in minimizing noise and ambiance at the off-axis sections of the microphone capsule. The wide, flat frequency response of 40 Hz to 20 kHz lends itself
Shure SM 58
The SM58 is known as the world’s most popular performance microphone. It is an instantly recognizable icon for performance and can be seen in the hands of anyone from Pop Idols and Presidents, to Podcasters, Poets and MC’s It is also a very effective microphone for live streaming and podcasting. Simply connect the SM58 to either an MVi, an X2U, or your audio interface of choice, and you’ve got a very affordable and durable kit for your live stream.