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Condenser Microphone Examples


SCMs vs LCMs
Both have advantaged and disadvantages:
  • SCMs: Smaller diaphragms mean lower sensitivity and higher noise but also better transient response and less proximity effect. These are best for high signal conditions, close mic positioning and capturing detail as with instruments.
  • LCMs: Larger diaphragms mean greater sensitivity so lower noise and (potentially) more favorable coloration which can enhance (or detract) from the sound.They also have noticeable proximity effect which, again, can be a plus or minus.
The Table
Below is a table listing the specs of some popular studio microphones. This is NOT an exhaustive list and your favorite mic is very likely not to be listed. However, the purpose is to provide a number of choices where the same specs can be compared for the purpose of visualizing the differences thus making it easier to understand what is important to you when looking for a new mic. All data has been extracted from what is published on the web which ultimately limits the accuracy of the data. Manufacturers can make their measurements in different ways so keep this in mind when comparing the numbers -- a small difference between two mics might have little to no meaning at all.

It's largely all about making the right selection of mic cost, type, positioning and, again, room acoustics. As should be clear from the rest of this web site, it's always all about the acoustics.


Neumann U-87Ai
( Industry Standard Vocal / Instrument )
 
 
Dimensions: 56 x 200 mm
Weight: 500 g
Cost: $3,200
Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Capsule: 34 mm (K47)
Sensitivity: -28 dB re. 1V/Pa (40 mV/Pa)
Self Noise: 12 dB A-weighted
Max SPL: 117 dB
Impedance: 200 ohms
Phantom Power: +48 V

Directivity: Multi-Pattern
( Cardioid values shown )
  Subjective +:  Classic (w/FET), smooth, natural, warm
Subjective -: Pricey
 
   
Behringer ECM-8000
( Flat Reference Measurement )
 
 
Dimensions: 20 x 190 mm
Weight: 120 g
Cost: $50
Response: 15 Hz - 20 kHz
Sensitivity: -24 dB re. 1V/Pa (63 mV/Pa)
Max SPL: 128 dB
Impedance: 600 ohms
Phantom Power: +15 to +48 V

Directivity: Omni
  Subjective +:  Good flat response for the price
Subjective -: Slight peaking above 2 kHz
 
   
Shure SM137

 
 
Dimensions: 24 x 162 mm
Weight: 95 g
Cost: $180
Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Sensitivity: -45 dB re. 1V/Pa (6 mV/Pa)
Self Noise: 19 dB A-weighted
Max SPL: 139 dB @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 150 ohms
Phantom Power: +48 V

Directivity: Cardioid
  Subjective +:  Consistent polar, low proximity effects
Subjective -: Better for instruments than vocals
 
   
Studio Projects C1-V2
( A "poor-man's" U-87 ?? )
 
 
Dimensions: 54 x 225 mm
Weight: 760 g
Cost: $250
[ VT-1B Preamp: $150 ]
Response: 30 Hz - 20 kHz
Capsule: 34 mm (27mm diaphragm) (K67 capsule)
Sensitivity: -37 dB re. 1V/Pa (14 mV/Pa)
Self Noise: 17 dB A-weighted
Max SPL: 131 dB @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 200 ohms
Phantom Power: +48 V

Directivity: Cardioid
  Subjective +:  Has classic "U-87-like" sound, low cost
Subjective -:  Brighter than some might like
 
   
Rhode NTK-Tube

 
 
Dimensions: 55 x 208 mm
Weight: 760 g
Cost: $550
Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Capsule: 25 mm (HF-2)
Sensitivity: -38 dB re. 1V/Pa (13 mV/Pa)
Self Noise: 12 dB A-weighted
Max SPL: 158 dB @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 200 ohms
Phantom Power: Dedicated power supply

Directivity: Cardioid
 
Subjective +: Rugged, smoothness, purity, natural, airy
Subjective -: Bright, peaky, pricy
 
   
Marshall MXL Genesis Tube
 
 
Dimensions: 59 x 240 mm
Weight: 703 g
Cost: $600
Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Capsule: 32 mm
Sensitivity: -40 dB re. 1V/Pa (10 mV/Pa)
Self Noise: 18 dB A-weighted
Max SPL: 130 dB @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 200 ohms
Phantom Power: Dedicated power supply

Directivity: Cardioid
 
Subjective +:  Warm "tube" sound, female vocals
Subjective -: Pricey
 
   
Sterling Audio ST77

 
 
Dimensions: 61 x 241 mm
Weight: 907 g
Cost: $300
Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Capsule: 32 mm
Sensitivity: -31 dB re. 1V/Pa (28mV/Pa)
Self Noise: 18 dB A-weighted
Max SPL: 134 dB @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 200 ohms
Phantom Power: +48 V

Directivity: Cardioid
  Subjective +:
Subjective -:
 
   
Shure SM7B
 
 
Dimensions: 64 x 190 mm
Weight: 765 g
Cost: $350
Response: 40 Hz - 16 kHz
Capsule: ?? mm (Unidyne III)(RPM106)
Sensitivity: -56 dB re. 1V/Pa (1.6 mV/Pa)
Self Noise: <not specified>
Max SPL: 180 dB @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 150 ohms
Phantom Power: +48 V

Directivity: Cardioid
  Subjective +:  Standard vocal mic of Nashville
Subjective -:
 
   
AKG C-414 XLS

 
 
Dimensions: 50 x 38 x 160 mm
Weight: 300 g
Cost: $800
Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Capsule: ?? mm
Sensitivity: -33 dB re. 1V/Pa (23 mV/Pa)
Self Noise: (88 dB SNR)
Max SPL: 140 dB @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 200 ohms
Phantom Power: +48 V

Directivity: Multi-Patterned
  Subjective +:  9 polar patterns, neutral, low noise
Subjective -: Pricey, sharp peaking at 12 kHz
 
   
Audio Technica 4040

 
 
Dimensions: 54 x 170 mm
Weight: 360 g
Cost: $300
Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Capsule: 25 mm (20.4 mm membrane)
Sensitivity: -33 dB re. 1V/Pa (22 mV/Pa)
Self Noise: 12 dB (A-weighted)
Max SPL: 145 dB @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 100 ohms
Phantom Power: +48 V

Directivity: Multi-Patterned
  Subjective +:  Open cardiod, bright highs, good lows
Subjective -: Small membrane for an LCM
 
   
Avantone CV-12

 





            Not Available
Dimensions: 46 x 237 mm
Weight: 800 g
Cost: $500
Response: 25 Hz - 20 kHz
Capsule: 32 mm
Sensitivity: -35 dB re. 1V/Pa) (17.8 mV/Pa)
Self Noise: 17 dB (A-weighted)
Max SPL: 146 dB @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 250 ohms
Phantom Power: +48 V

Directivity: Multi-Patterned
  Subjective +:  Warm, fat, "tube" sound
Subjective -: Pricey clone
 
   
Blue Microphones Bluebird
 
 
Dimensions: 45 x 222 mm
Weight: 480 g
Cost: $300
Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Capsule: 34 mm (B8)
Sensitivity: -31 dB re. 1V/Pa (27 mV/Pa)
Self Noise: 7 dB (A-weighted)
Max SPL: 138 dB @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 50 ohms
Phantom Power: +48 V

Directivity: Cardioid
 Subjective +: Low noise, crispness and airy highs
Subjective -: 50 Hz and 5 kHz peaks
 
   

References:
  • 'recordinghacks.com/microphones' has a helpful database of mic reviews
  • 'recordinghacks.com/microphones/Neumann/U-87' has info on the Neumann U87
  • 'recordinghacks.com/capsules/' has a list of replacement mic capsules for the 'brave-of-heart'