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Author Topic: 1990s taper finally upgrading gear - a few questions about mics, power, stealth  (Read 5705 times)

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Offline chiefscribe

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Hi from Rip Van Winkle checking in after a few decades. I used to record on cassette and DAT in the 90s with lower-cost earpiece mics, Sonic Studios, powered with an AA-battery cable. 

Most of my old stuff still works, but now that I am older and wiser and have a little more money than I did when I was a student, I am trying to bring my gear into the new millennium and could use advice. 

I like to record live music ranging from quieter jazz and folk to rock, mostly in venues of 1500-3000 people, and also nature sounds.  For now the priority is stealth recording of music.  Bonus points for gear that would do well with nature sounds as well, though I am prepared to have to get different mic capsules later for nature sounds. 

Hoping to have the gear by the end of this month for use on Labor Day weekend. 

Re: budget, funds are not unlimited but I'd rather know what the best/right options are and then look for cost savings on those items later if needed.  For now, assume that all options are on the table and I'll figure out financing later.   

I have liked the sound of many mics, but am leaning toward either

  • Schoeps Colette with MK4 or MK41  (or is Schoeps CCM4 worth considering - ? I have assumed it is better to get the modular system but am open to being persuaded otherwise)
or
  • DPAs if I determine that the Schoeps are too difficult to use in stealth situations.
or
  • possibly getting both if the DPAs are much easier to stealth but the Schoeps could work for portable semi-stealth situations where taping is not prohibited but I want to be subtle.



My questions are

  • how much more difficult is it to stealth-record with Schoeps vs. DPAs?   is the Schoeps CCM4 integrated /non-modular mic worth considering for stealth advantages?   overall I would prefer the modular system but only if it's practical for stealth.
&   

  • if I go with Schoeps modular Colette system, I keep changing my mind about MK4s vs. MK41s.  In a quiet situation, I'd probably like the MK4s better, but since I am not tall enough to keep mics above chatty people, I am questioning whether MK41s would be a smarter choice to avoid noise - ?
&

  • whether I go with the MK4s or MK41s, or the DPAs, or both, what else do I need for mic power / gain / ADC between that and the recorder?  I have seen mentions of NBobs (now discontinued) and other things but don't know exactly what they are or where and how to get them, despite reading and searching this site for quite a while.  I have zero clue about this part of the equation and need the most basic 101-level lesson. 

&
  • I do already own a Roland R-05, which has a stereo mini input.  It works fine and I am in no particular hurry to get rid of it, but I am open to upgrading the recorder if it makes sense to do so.  I think I have only used it with the internal mics - possibly with the old Sonic Studios mics once.  Needless to say I would like to get better mics in use ASAP.  I like how easy the R-05 is to fit in a pocket and disguise as a cell phone, but if there's another recorder that can be used for stealth and would be much better for my needs, I'm all ears. Keep using the R-05 or get something better?

Stealth advice also welcome. 
I don't have a K@ng0l (yet) and only have experience with the 1990s eyeglass-mounted mics for stealth, so if anyone wants to send me a message about headgear stealth methods, I'd appreciate it.  I can imagine the basic principle, but if there are modifications or tools that are helpful, or specific models of hats, I'd love to know.  Even better if any methods can be used with a baseball cap or another more generic hat. 

I did almost get kicked out of a Jerry Garcia Band show one time because I was close to the rail with my earpiece microphones stuck on the logo of my baseball hat with a plastic cone, and one time got asked about the DAT deck in my pants and had to go in a different door, but otherwise have always succeeded in getting my gear in and using it with no security issues. 

I am pretty short, so putting mics on shoulders would probably result in too much muffling of the sound. 


Any help in sorting out what to buy would be very much appreciated.  Would love to get gear ordered ASAP so I don't have to go to yet another show on Labor Day weekend with no good mics. 

Offline Scooter123

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I was taping since 1970 and went through your exact conundrum a few years ago.  I picked Schoeps, but easily could have gone for Neumann KM 180 or something similar.  But here is how I solved the problem.

First, I downloaded about 50 really good sounding shows off torrent sites or trades.  I actually think it was 100 to make things nice and round.  I made a spread sheet. 

Second, I looked at the microphones and rigs used in my favorite shows.  For me, about 40% of the best sounding shows were either Neumann or Schoeps each.  However, AKG had a decent showing and surprisingly, stupid Coresound and Church mikes made up a small minority. 

Third, I then had conversations with actual tapers over the phone as to why they liked Schoeps and Neuman.  By the way, to your ears, the 40% Schoeps or 40% Neumann could be something else--this is a process, not a conclusion.  You might pick AKG or Sennheiser.  A fellow taper, Josephine, let me borrow her rig for a couple shows, one in an arena and one in a local club, so I could get real results.  The type of mike you pick will depend on the type of shows you will tape.  Small jazz clubs?  A DPA Omni would be nice for close in work.  Large arena shows in front of the stacks?  A DPA would also work well.  Arenas in the center surrounded by crowds?  Go with a card or super card.  That's why I made my decision on 100 shows, of various types and wanted the best overall microphone for those types of shows. 

Finally, I made my decision based on the gear and not the sound.  I actually liked the sound of Neumanns better than Schoeps (clearer more accurate), but that could be handled using EQ in post.  But Schoeps won the contest because there is a whole host of Schoeps tapers out there with nearly identical gear that can be borrowed etc.  Also consider Nick--the man is a genius and developed two preamps especially made for Schoeps--the NBox and the Baby NBox.  It makes the Schoeps rig a little smaller and easier to stealth.

The Schoeps taping crowd has been around since the 1990s using RBox (a predecessor to the NBox) and is a brotherhood of tapers.  I have three NBoxes and two sets of Schoeps mikes, they are a lifetime investment.  While you may be able to pull decent tapes with other microphones, the odds of pulling a good tape in a bad location is better with Schoeps or Neumanns.   

Oh, I should add-- the recorder you use is irrelevant.  Anything small with decent battery life is fine.  All it does is store 1s and 0s, and we call them bit boxes.  A regular around here uses a 20 year old Tascam DR2d which is obsolete by all measurements, but fits the bill, he likes the interface, and it works for him.  The DR2d also allows the recording of a second source at the same time, like an ALD or IEM with the necessity of a time synch.  I use a ten year old Sony M10 for VU Meters and battery life. 

Have fun making your decision. 
« Last Edit: August 09, 2021, 12:53:04 PM by Scooter123 »
Regards,
Scooter123

mk41 > N Box  > Sony M-10
mk4 > N Box > Sony M-10

Offline jbell

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Check in with Scheopsnbox he can build you actives for Microtech Gefell, Schoeps, Neumann, or AKG caps.  You would save some cash over buying a set of ccm4's.  If you only stealth tape you might want to look into an Nbox or baby Nbox. 
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Offline heathen

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If you're talking about the lavalier size DPAs (4060 or 4061, for example), there's literally nothing easier to stealth with.  Incredible mics.
Mics: AT4050ST | AT4031 | AT853 (C/SC) | Line Audio CM3 | Sennheiser e614 | Sennheiser MKE2 | DPA 4061 | CA-14 omni Pres: CA9200 | DPA d:vice Decks: Zoom F8 | Roland R-05

Offline morst

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While you may be able to pull decent tapes with other microphones, the odds of pulling a good tape in a bad location is better with Schoeps or Neumanns. 
One reason for this might be that Schoeps and Neumanns are very well made (as are DPA) and have excellent and consistent off-axis response.
This even response allows for more flexibility of placement, and can still yield excellent results in compromised locations such as off center, or too far back, in my experience.

Offline heathen

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While you may be able to pull decent tapes with other microphones, the odds of pulling a good tape in a bad location is better with Schoeps or Neumanns.   

Gotta' disagree with you there.  Location is everything, and anyone thinking they can make up for suboptimal location simply by purchasing a certain brand of microphone is setting themselves up for disappointment.
Mics: AT4050ST | AT4031 | AT853 (C/SC) | Line Audio CM3 | Sennheiser e614 | Sennheiser MKE2 | DPA 4061 | CA-14 omni Pres: CA9200 | DPA d:vice Decks: Zoom F8 | Roland R-05

Offline OhioHead

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OP - if you don’t go the active route, Old in the Way has the new Schoeps CCM-1 (mini) mic body and we taped LOS @ Woodlands his recording is on Archive (not a great room to tape in, sounds good) and new mic body is tiny.

Good luck and welcome back!

Offline daspyknows

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While you may be able to pull decent tapes with other microphones, the odds of pulling a good tape in a bad location is better with Schoeps or Neumanns.   

Gotta' disagree with you there.  Location is everything, and anyone thinking they can make up for suboptimal location simply by purchasing a certain brand of microphone is setting themselves up for disappointment.

I think the point he is making is in a bad location he will be happier with the Schoeps or Neumanns than with other types.  A suboptimal location is just that.  The results will be worse that a prime location regardless of mics used.
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Offline H₂O

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I'd go Schoeps mk22/4/41 > CMC 1 L or CMC 1 K  - Gives you the modularity of the CMC series with almost the size of the CCM (a mm or 2 longer) - plenty of people here use Schoeps Stealth and alot prefer the 4v or 41v (vertical capsule alignment) in these situations as well as the mics can conform better to the shape of the head (as you direction of the mic is side addressed).  So you could go mk4v > CMC 1 K and be pretty low profile.



I prefer the sound the 4 to the 4v but that is me.


Schoeps just came out with the CMC 1 so you should be good to go for some time.


There are many options for pre's/AD's and all in one's that the schoeps CMC's could plug right into.  For example:
https://www.sonosax.ch/product/sx-m2d2/


If you went with CMC 1-L (Lemo) - you could get custom Lemo > mini 3pin XLR's cables made to make that setup small


MK4v > CMC 1-L > M2D2 > iPhone (you would want a dedicated phone that would run in airplane mode IMO - to avoid any issues) - battery life may be an issue as the M2D2 claims 4.5 hours on a single charge but don't know real world timings








The newer DPA's are modular as well but they do not have side addresses caps.



« Last Edit: August 09, 2021, 04:33:28 PM by H₂O »
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Offline Gutbucket

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Good morning Mr Van Winkle,

Condensing and summing up a bit on the contributions , with a general overview of options for you.. (much posting here since I started this response a few hours ago, so there is overlap with the above)

Miniature options-
If omnis work for you, DPA 4060 or 4061 is a good choice, mounted on glasses as you are familiar, or placed on either side of your head in a hat. Choose 4060 to get lowest self-noise (best accommodating nature recording and very quiet classical/folk/jazz music) or lower sensitivity 4061 to gain additional headroom for particularly loud music.  You will need a battery box or preamp which provides between 5V-9V to power them correctly, placed ahead of your R-05 should otherwise work nicely.  If you want to consider recording to iphone or other Apple devices, DPA now makes a very compact preamp/ADC that connects directly to iphone used as recorder called the d:vice.  The d:vice is able to power DPA miniature microphones directly from the phone.  There is no option more stealth-able than a pair of miniature DPA 4060 or 4061 > DPA d:vice > iOS device.  Android unfortunately not currently supported. 

4060 work well for nature recording except for super quiet background stuff, and are essentially waterproof.


There are miniature directional mics available, but if you want high-quality directional mics, you will probably be best served with the following modular options-

1) DPA's full line of higher-end (non-miniauture) modular capsule mics can also be used with the d:vice > iOS device, via a special cable with miniature amplifier.  There is no other equivalent modular option as small and compact, but it does require recording to an iOS device rather than a dedicated recorder (Actually this might also work for DPA directional caps into a regular recorder without the d:vice by using the same special cable/amplifier into a preamp providing low voltage 5V-9V powering, but I've not heard of anyone trying this yet).

2) Schoeps, Microtech Gefell, Neumann, or AKG sdc capsules powered via a third party device that replaces the microphone amplifier body - Requires active cable or custom cable connection that fits the capsules and Schoepsnbox's Nbox, or Naiant PFA or Tinybox.  This is the traditional route to compact directional mic stealth rigs at Taper Section, which many here have experience with.

3) Schoeps CCM has effectively been superseded by recent developments that end up being about the same size - both Schoeps's and DPA's primary lines of interchangeable-capsule microphones are now available with very compact phantom powered amplifiers about the size of an XLR plug.   Current Sennheiser is not modular but much more compact than previous Senn SDCs.  If using a recorder that does not provide phantom power to the microphones (such as your R05), you'll need to power the mics using a phantom power box or preamp that provides phantom ahead of the recorder.


Sonosax M2D2 is a high quality preamp /ADC that provides both phantom power and low voltage and can feed analog input recorders or digital USB host device such as a phone.  In that way it is similar to d:vice but is larger and more fully featured.  Compact and top quality but not miniature.

Edit- as H2O mentions, if you want compact modular sdc side-address, that points to Schoeps
« Last Edit: August 09, 2021, 06:07:22 PM by Gutbucket »
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Offline chiefscribe

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Thank you all for the helpful info.  VERY much appreciated.  A few more questions below .

Quote
>>>> the recorder you use is irrelevant.  Anything small with decent battery life is fine.  All it does is store 1s and 0s, and we call them bit boxes. >>>>
Right, the 1s and 0s are the same, but some of the bit buckets have phantom power, and some have blindingly bright LED displays, and some fit down my pants more easily.  I like that the R-05 is the size of a deck of cards and doesn't scream "PROFESSIONAL AUDIO EQUIPMENT!" at first glance, but if a different recorder with XLR inputs and phantom power would allow me not to have to have cables re-terminated etc., I could keep the R-05 for situations where more stealth is needed and get something with XLR and phantom power for when I can get better gear into the venue. 

Quote
>>> Check in with Schoepsnbox he can build you actives for Microtech Gefell, Schoeps, Neumann, or AKG caps.  You would save some cash over buying a set of ccm4's.  If you only stealth tape you might want to look into an Nbox or baby Nbox.  >>>>

Oh, are Nbox inline devices still available? I keep seeing that they are discontinued, and so are littleboxes and tinyboxes and PFAs from Naiant, so I was at a loss as to whether anyone is still making active cables or inline devices.  Hope so.  Yes, I pretty much only do stealth recording, even when open taping is an option, because I tend to go to shows with non-tapers who don't want their whole concert experience to revolve around me and my gear.  If schoepsnbox and/or Naiant are still making solutions that would let me use Schoeps caps with my recorder, that would be fantastic. 


Quote
>>>>> I'd go Schoeps mk22/4/41 > CMC 1 L or CMC 1 K  - Gives you the modularity of the CMC series with almost the size of the CCM (a mm or 2 longer) - plenty of people here use Schoeps Stealth and alot prefer the 4v or 41v (vertical capsule alignment) in these situations as well as the mics can conform better to the shape of the head (as you direction of the mic is side addressed).  So you could go mk4v > CMC 1 K and be pretty low profile.
>>>>

This is what I was leaning toward - Schoeps MK4 or MK41 with the new CMC1.  https://schoeps.de/en/products/colette/microphone-amplifiers/cmc-1-l.html Wasn't sure about the cable options - is there any advantage to having the cable permanently affixed (K) vs. separate (L)?  In general I'd rather keep the flexibility of separate components unless it saves a lot of space, but I welcome advice if I'm missing something important. 

Quote
>>>>
There are many options for pre's/AD's and all in one's that the schoeps CMC's could plug right into.  For example:
https://www.sonosax.ch/product/sx-m2d2/
>>>>

Good to know there are options. Any others to consider besides Sonosax? 


Quote
>>>>
If you went with CMC 1-L (Lemo) - you could get custom Lemo > mini 3pin XLR's cables made to make that setup small
>>>>

This is what I most need advice on, the in-between stuff between the mics and the recorder. Best space-efficient/stealth-able power and cables is what is most puzzling me.  I keep finding recommendations on custom cables and inline devices... and then later seeing a post that they are discontinued or the vendor has retired or something.  So I am puzzled about what actually is available now.  Are there reliable sources of active cables, custom-terminated cables, and inline devices who are in the biz now?  Hope so. 

Quote
>>> The newer DPA's are modular as well but they do not have side addresses caps. >>>

Forgive my cluelessness but I don't know what "side addresses caps" / "sdc side-address" means - ? 


Based on your advice and other things I've read, this is what I am considering right now - please tell me if I'm making any huge mistakes.

Plan A, quality rig to use when security is less tight


  • Schoeps Colette capsules MK4 or MK41, probably MK4 >
  • CMC 1 amp (L with LEMO connector? or K with integrated cable?) >
  • some kind of preamp (Sonosax M2D2 or is there a better option?  will all of this gear fit in my pants?) >
  • recorder (do I need to upgrade to one with XLR and phantom power?  I saw a used Tascam DR-100mkIII and am wondering if I should get it. The R-05 just has stereo mini inputs.)
?? Any special cables needed for these? 
Special backup batteries?
 Do I have to wear a fanny pack? 
Other accessories I'm not thinking of?   
Anyone care to send a PM with tips on stealth-facilitating clothing for a short guy?  I would look like a jackass in a Kangol but am not tall enough to put mics on shoulders and get good sound.  Baseball caps I can pull off OK. 


Plan B, tiniest possible stealth rig

  • DPA 4060s>
  • d:vice >
  • iOS device [or if there is a way to use the R-05 I'd love to be able to set track markers etc. and use the features of the R-05]
?? Any special cables or batteries or needed for this? 
Software for the iOS device?   
Other accessories I'm not thinking of that I would realize are necessary three hours before the show? 
Tips on not checking what time it is on your phone while recording? 

If I can afford both plan A and plan B setups I think it would be best to have a more streamlined version as a backup, and the higher-quality gear for when it's feasible.  That might be a little bit over budget, though. 

Thanks again for talking me through this.   


P.S. Regarding my plea for PMs about hat methods etc., if anyone is worried that I am a spy from venue security because I haven't posted much here... 1) I'm not.  Look for my account name on dimeadozen and some of my old Sonic Studios DAT recordings may still be circulating there, though I haven't been actively torrenting in a while.  I believe I have mutual friends with daspyknows (Hodon's list) and know many many Deadhead tapers for decades - but most of them like me haven't kept up on all the new tech developments. 2)  I have had an account here since ~2014 IIRC but have never gotten my list of questions written down until now.  Shows would come around and I would not have time to decide on gear, and then after I missed taping those shows properly the pressure would be off and I would forget about it, and then more shows would come up, same deal, etc. etc. etc., but missing a year and a half of shows due to the pandemic has motivated me to make a decision finally.  I really want to tape shows on Labor Day weekend with something better than the built-in mics on the R-05. 

Offline morst

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Tips on not checking what time it is on your phone while recording? 
wrist watch?

Offline rocksuitcase

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kindms and I have spoken about using the D:vice for our DPA 4061sk's omnis.
IMO, you would/should use a dedicated phone for recording. IOW, NOT one which is your primary phone.

Quote
Plan B, tiniest possible stealth rig

    DPA 4060s>
    d:vice >
    iOS device [or if there is a way to use the R-05 I'd love to be able to set track markers etc. and use the features of the R-05]

?? Any special cables or batteries or needed for this?
Software for the iOS device?   
Other accessories I'm not thinking of that I would realize are necessary three hours before the show?
Tips on not checking what time it is on your phone while recording? 
music IS love

When you get confused, listen to the music play!

Mics:         AKG460|CK61|CK1|CK3|CK8|Beyer M 201E|DPA 4060 SK
Recorders:Marantz PMD661 OADE Concert mod; Tascam DR680 MKI

Offline chiefscribe

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Quote
IMO, you would/should use a dedicated phone for recording. IOW, NOT one which is your primary phone.

because it will be unavailable for use as a phone, or are there other practical reasons?

Also wondering if getting files off the phone is a challenge.

Offline moondust.and.solitude

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Quote
Also wondering if getting files off the phone is a challenge.

For me it's not a challenge, as once I am on a wifi I upload the files to my DropBox account. From there I can do whatever I want with it.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2021, 07:09:00 AM by moondust.and.solitude »

 

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