1. #1

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    Yesterday I was stuck in the house during a storm with no power. Since My Zoom H8 is battery operated I decided to set up a crude microphone comparison, using a few mid and low price mics I had available. The setup is pictured below.

    Cardioid Mic Shootout for Archtop Guitar-81c40004-4e30-428b-8da8-70d4705ed2d5-jpeg

    The mics were, top, left to right:
    CAD M179 (cardioid setting)
    Shure SM57
    Oktava MC-012 (cardioid capsule)
    CAD GXL1200

    Zoom XYH-6 capsule (set to 90-degrees stereo)

    I also plugged in the DeArmond RC1200 direct without amp simulation.

    The camera’s internal mic was recording too (Sony NEX6).

    I used the auphonic.com web site to normalize all tracks, pasted them into the video file, uploaded to youtube, and created the following playlist to make them easier to compare. There is no EQ and no effects—this is straight out of the mics.

    Mic Shootout with Archtop Guitar - YouTube

    If I were recording with one mic I’d probably position it closer, but with the mics somewhat spread out, I felt it would be a better comparison to keep them a few feet away. Sorry for the rough playing. After setting all this up I wasn’t very relaxed!

    The Zoom’s XYH-6 mic is brightest. Too bright for me, but I’ve found a little EQ can tame it be be acceptable.
    The Shure SM57 is the only dynamic mic and is designed to have a bit of treble boost, bit it did better than I expected.
    The two CADs and the Oktava were surprisingly close, considering the differences in price and design.
    The DeArmond didn’t get a fair shake, since it needs an amp to shine.
    The camera’s mic is horrible, as expected.

    This is so rough I’m a little embarrassed to share, but maybe someone will find it useful.


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    I found it very difficult to hear a comparative difference, with the exception of the DeArmond. Non the less I had the feeling I liked the Oktava the best, but don´t ask me to further describe that difference. There is nothing like a fire to weather a storm.

  4. #3
    Yeah, even on good headphones it’s subtle, mostly in the high trebles. My archtop playing didn’t have enough bass to really evaluate the differences down there, and my strings weren’t fresh so there’s not much sizzle to evaluate. I might try something like this again but next time use a flat top with fresh strings and play chords to cover the full range of guitar.

    Since the Oktava seems the most neutral I think it would be the easiest to dial in EQ to suit my ears. If a microphone isn’t flat it’s adding a character that may be difficult to dial out.

    The CAD M179 is unique in having a switchable pattern. Omni and wide-cardioid can be useful for close mic’ing. The hypercardioid pattern would be useful for larger distances from the instrument. It might have sounded better here with that setting. And the figure-8 pattern would make it useful as the side mic in a mid/side stereo configuration. I’ve been impressed with demos of the mid/side recording technique. It requires some tricks to decode to stereo, but should be easy with a DAW.
    Introduction To Mid-Sides Recording

  5. #4

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    That was a really good comparison.
    In order that I like:

    CAD GXL1200
    Oktava MC-012
    CAD M179 (cardioid setting)
    Shure SM-57

    Those were all pretty close, though. I thought the GXL1200 brought out more of the body tone and less of the picking noise. But that could also be due to each mic being in a slightly different position. They were all good.

    I have a CAD E-200 that is my favorite mic. I use it in conjunction with a BeyerDynamic M130 ribbon figure-8 for an M-S setup.

    One nice thing about M-S recording is that you can use different sounding microphones and still get a decent stereo image. X-Y recording requires having a matched pair and that can drive the price up.

    M-S also just makes more sense to me: point the Mid mic at what you want to record and the Side mic gets the stereo ambience. The Mid mic is on-axis, whereas with X-Y mics both mics are recording the center off-axis, and most mics don't sound as good off-axis. So then you have to buy an even more expensive matched pair of microphones.

  6. #5

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    To me, the clear outlier is the DeArmond R1100. The differences between the others is subtle, but I think I prefer the CAD GLX1200 among all of them.
    I have a SM57.