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Seven PRO microphones compared - with audio!

A post by David Mellor
Monday January 30, 2006
Can you tell the difference between a $100 dollar microphone and a $3500 microphone, all recorded in exactly the same way, with the same sound source. If you can't, you might save yourself $3400 dollars!
Seven PRO microphones compared - with audio!

The recent microphone preamplifier tests were illuminating. The conclusions were these...

  • Many people were bold enough to have a go at the test. Well done if you did!
  • Although people could in general tell the difference between the preamps, very few correctly identified which was the most expensive and which was the least expensive.
  • It wasn't a good idea to ask people to comment on the microphones as well as the preamps. Within its own terms of reference the preamp test was solid. However the microphone test introduced two variables where there should only have been one.

So... what we need is a proper microphone test. And here it is!

Here are audio examples of seven different microphones in common professional use ranging in price from around $100 to around $3500. The parameters of the test are these...

  • The mics are all either nominally cardioid, or switched to the cardioid setting.
  • The mouth-to-mic distance is consistent in all examples at 22 centimeters.
  • The microphone is placed 10 cm above the mouth and angled down at the mouth.
  • No pop shield was used.
  • All recordings were made in a large proprietary vocal booth in the same session.
  • The recordings were made on a Pro Tools HD system to 24-bit resolution using a Focusrite Octopre preamplifier. The recordings were normalized and bounced to 16-bit .WAV files with dither.

I have four questions...

  1. Which microphone do you prefer? Why is it better than the others?
  2. Which microphone do you least prefer? Why is it worse than the others?
  3. Which microphone is your next to least preference? Why is it worse than your preferred mic?
  4. Any constructive comments on the test procedure. Given that this is a speech test, please limit your comments to speech.

Please read the questions carefully before you answer, particularly Question 3.

When you comment, please try to make your remarks useful to the many sincere and committed recording professionals and enthusiasts who use this site.

Now, the mics... (right click, save target as...)

Thank you very much. I look forward to reading your replies.

Update - you can now see the results here...

A post by David Mellor
Monday January 30, 2006 ARCHIVE
David Mellor has been creating music and recording in professional and home studios for more than 30 years. This website is all about learning how to improve and have more fun with music and recording. If you enjoy creating music and recording it, then you're definitely in the right place :-)
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