For the past week I was fortunate to be able to borrow two pairs of nice mics from a friend. They are Neumann KM 184’s and Gefell 300M’s. Both are small diaphram condensers and go for about $1800-$2000 a pair. I have never been able to use mics of this caliber for an extended period of time in my own room on my own gear. I thnk whenever evaluating a mic if possible it is best to use it in your own space on your own gear. Only then will you really know it works for you. This whole thing started when I posted a question on the Acoustic Guitar Forum on getting a better recorded sound at home. You can check out the ten page thread here.
Here is my basic setup position, pictured here with my ADK A6’s.
The mics are 24″ apart, and about 20″ away. The capsules are 36″ from the ground. I am using a Gitano guitar support that you can see in the picture. All mics are going straight into my Zoom H6 digital recorder, no additional preamps or anything. I dumped the tracks into a Logic X afterwards to trim off the ends, but otherwise did no other editing or processing.
I’d like to thank my friend Doug Young for the endless back and forth emails helping me with mic placement and giving his opinion. First up are my pair of ADK A6’s. The first track is my initial attempt at mic placement before Doug helped, then the final placement we settled on above, then a mix he did of the track. This mostly involved raising levels, adding reverb, and I think maybe a maximizer and some compression.
Next are the KM 184’s, in the same placement.
Finally the Gefell M300’s.
Keep in mind these different examples are not level matched, so they are not the best example comparing mic to mic. I think all three pairs sound good, though the ADK’s either have or pick up a bit more noise in the recording. At least to my ear when listening to headphones. The Gefells are my personal favorite, I feel they sound a bit smoother, though the 184’s sound fine too. It could be a performance thing. Either mic could be used on a given day to make a good recording.
My purpose behind this was to see if the more expensive mics would improve my sound enough given that I would have to spend $1000+ dollars. At this point I decided no, mostly because I just can’t justify that expense right now. Do they sound better? To me, yes, the 184’s and Gefells sound better than my A6’s. But not so much that I want to spend that much money. Its not like a night and day difference. I think you can get 99% of the way there with cheaper gear. Then for every small incremental improvement after that it is many hundreds of dollars. If I had more expendable income for this I would love to buy either pair of mics. Maybe later down the road. Right now I am going to have to search for some cheaper mics that are quieter.
Check out this clip by Doug. Two Audio Technica 2020’s that he got on sale for $50 each, straight into a Zoom H6. I think it sounds great.
Technology has come such a long way. At every price point there is gear available that will acceptable recordings. Look at the Zoom H6. For $400 you get a device that is totally silent, has clean and quiet preamps, and I think would work well for recording a solo guitar album. Especially if you use external mics.