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Author Topic: Comparison: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930  (Read 1593 times)

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Offline spyder9

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Comparison: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« on: May 12, 2020, 11:17:44 PM »
I was doing research on Neumann KM84 and Telefunken M280 N mics, when I stumbled across this old thread on Gearslutz.

Worth a listen.  :)

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/gear-shoot-outs-sound-file-comparisons-audio-tests/375735-acoustic-guitar-samples-km84-vs-mc930.html
« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 04:22:08 PM by spyder9 »

Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Shootout: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2020, 11:31:46 PM »
thanks for the post

i find myself continually learning in regard to microphones and technique. So many things i didnt understand before like how off-axis data is represented, usually dependent on frequency, and how that converts to the overall resulting 'sound' of a tape, among other things.

Comparisons are invaluable in training your ears
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Online DSatz

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Re: Shootout: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2020, 01:48:44 PM »
"Shootouts" in general are crap, and this one's no exception--no offense intended to whoever put it together; it's the underlying idea that makes no sense.

But spyder9--I'm curious to know what you're interested in here. I used to record with KM 83s and 84s back when they were current models, so if there's anything I can tell you, please ask. One thing that's for sure is that the ultra-flat response curve shown for the KM 84 in Neumann's catalogs isn't quite real, particularly above the midrange. It's neither a total lie nor the whole truth; games are being played with the tolerance limits, which is more common than not among the manufacturers--and I don't exclude anyone from that statement.

The Ela M 280 K and N (K = Kugel = omni = KM 83; N = Niere = cardioid = KM 84) were the only cases that I'm aware of in which Telefunken asked Neumann to deliver anything that wasn't exactly the same as what Neumann sold under their own name. In this case, the difference was a custom outer sleeve with a differently-styled grille for the rear sound inlet (which of course is inactive when the omni capsule head is used, since its back is completely sealed). There's no 10 dB pad switch on these models, but there wasn't on the earliest KM 83s and 84s, either.

As I hope everyone is aware, Telefunken made no professional microphones at all during this period of time, but generally just packaged and sold the microphones of real manufacturers at a large markup. The cases in which they specified anything other than what was offered to them can be counted on the fingers of one hand (the most prominent examples being the Ela M 250 and M 251, which they sourced from AKG to replace the U 47 when Neumann decided not to renew the exclusive aspects of their distribution contract).

By the way, in case anyone doesn't realize this, the outfitting of the microphones to suit the distributor's logo requirements was/is done by the manufacturers themselves; Telefunken didn't remove the Neumann (or Schoeps, or Beyer, or Sennheiser, or ...) emblems and replace them with their own. Their contracts with the actual manufacturers covered the exact protocols and limited-use licensing of Telefunken's logo. For example, Schoeps' 1953 contract with Telefunken specified that all Telefunken advertising for any Schoeps microphone would prominently carry the words "System Dr. Schoeps", while the microphones themselves could carry Schoeps' own logo as long as it wasn't larger than the Telefunken "star", etc.

--best regards
« Last Edit: May 13, 2020, 02:17:06 PM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Online DSatz

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Re: Shootout: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2020, 02:45:22 PM »
just wanted to tack on this extreme example of reality-disconnected puffery on behalf of Telefunken, from their U.S. representative at the time (a representative's representative, in other words).

As you read this, keep in mind that absolutely none, zero, zip, zilch of the products shown in this brochure were made by Telefunken, and American Elite knew that full well.
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Offline audBall

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Re: Shootout: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2020, 02:55:06 PM »
Ha, did they actually have "18 factories in West Germany with 35,000 employees"?

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Re: Shootout: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2020, 03:47:13 PM »
I suspect that this number may have lumped Telefunken together with its original parent company AEG. Between the two of them, they made an enormous variety of electrical and electronic things--just not any studio microphones whatsoever. Somewhere I have brochures for AEG/Telefunken railway cars and AEG/Telefunken PCs, for example.

But there was also stuff that they very definitely made themselves, including vacuum tubes, some excellent analog studio tape recorders and other specialized equipment for professional audio applications. For a number of years I used their "telcom c4" noise reduction system--an advanced, more powerful alternative to Dolby "A" that didn't have the problems of dbx--or rather, had them to such a small degree that one could generally avoid them in practice.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2020, 04:01:22 PM by DSatz »
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Offline spyder9

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Re: Comparison: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2020, 09:13:11 PM »
Hi David,

I was very interested in the Neumann KM84 and I'm very much aware that Telefunken M280 N was made by Neumann.   Telefunken is just like Nakamichi = they made nothing.  Primo made all of Nakamichi's mics.  That said, I currently own a pair of Beyer MC930.  I like them a lot.  Underrated performers.  But I wasn't looking for a comparison to the 84's.  I just stumbled on the comp on Gearslutz.   

As far as shootouts, I have conducted many myself at home and in the field.  Whether it be Mics, Preamps, or Recorders.  I critically listen for the sound I'm looking for.  Shootouts aren't crap, if you know what you're listening for.  It's not about which mics are better performers, it's about the sound in itself for me.  For example, DPA 4011's shape sound so wonderfully.  They really do.  Best capsules I ever critically listen to so far.  Unfortunately, they had no low end what so ever, so I sold them.  lol     


« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 04:24:10 PM by spyder9 »

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Re: Shootout: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2020, 12:33:56 AM »
Well, of course as everyone knows, Nakamichi manufactured cassette decks, including arguably some of the best ever made by anyone--and some other companies' decks were made for them by Nakamichi. But I take your point regarding "their" microphones (and also the Nakamichi-branded version of the Sony PCM-F1 digital recording adapter, which differed only in four capacitors from Sony's; such a silly business).

Also I agree with you that a "shootout" can be useful if you _don't_ compare anything while listening, but simply take it as a chance to hear several particular types of microphone in use. That hadn't occurred to me before, so thanks.

To most people, though, I think that the opportunity for critical comparison is pretty much the whole point. And because of that flawed concept, the microphones (or microphone pairs) aren't normally placed where they would each sound the best, nor are they chosen for the room and the type of source material as one would normally do. Rather, they're placed as nearly identically to one another as possible, and they're chosen for the sake of comparing them, whether they're the type you would normally choose for that type of recording or not.

As a result, the placement (along with the source material and the recording space) usually favors the characteristics of one microphone type over the other(s). Or sometimes it puts all the microphones at a disadvantage more or less equally--but in no case do you get to hear what you could ideally get from each type of microphone. So as long as people still call them "shootouts" and regard them as such, I still say that they're crap.

Finally, I'll just say that back in the 1970s, I used to lend my recording equipment to other people fairly often, on the condition that they would let me hear the results they got. In no case did anyone EVER make a recording that sounded like my recordings.

I want to come clean and admit that fairly often, the other people's recordings sounded better to me. But even when the shoe was on the other foot, and I was the one trying to get the same sound that someone else was getting, even when I used the exact same equipment as they did, my recordings still sounded like my recordings--not like theirs. I might call that Satz's second law of sound recording.

--best regards
« Last Edit: May 15, 2020, 12:37:25 AM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline heathen

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Re: Shootout: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2020, 12:58:31 AM »
I want to come clean and admit that fairly often, the other people's recordings sounded better to me. But even when the shoe was on the other foot, and I was the one trying to get the same sound that someone else was getting, even when I used the exact same equipment as they did, my recordings still sounded like my recordings--not like theirs. I might call that Satz's second law of sound recording.

--best regards

Reminds me of the oft-repeated phrase, "tone is in the fingers."
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Offline EmRR

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Re: Shootout: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2020, 10:06:51 AM »
I find my own shootouts useful to me, but sharing them requires more caveats than can be parsed. 
Mics: DPA 4060 w/MPS 6030 PSU/DAD6001/DAD4099, Neumann KM 131, KMR 81i, Oktava MK 012, Sennheiser MKH 105, MKH 20, MKH 30, MKH 40, MKH 800 TWIN, lots of other studio appropriate choices
Recorders: Zoom F8n, Sony MZ-R50, portable MOTU based multitrack DAW for client work

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Re: Shootout: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2020, 11:51:06 AM »
^ This.  We of course choose gear based on our impressions and comparisons over time, which is most fruitful when it comes from personal on hands-on use. Many here understand the value of running two sets of mics or whatever at the same show as a way of making as fair a basis for comparison as possible without too many extraneous variables which would otherwise make it near meaningless.  Still, that kind of comparison is most useful to the one setting up the test as the person best positioned to understand the caveats.  Yet even then we can still deceive ourselves and overlook some important variable which might skew our subjective impression.  Tread lightly, question oneself.  Over time the overall trends tend to wash out the more deceptive outlier positions.  We have to go on something and trust ourselves at some point in order to move forward.

A close mic'd acoustic guitar test (assuming that's what the GS shootout is) done by someone else can essentially inform you about which mic you prefer when it is setup by that particular guy, that particular time, on that particular guitar.  Near impossible to translate that to what I'd prefer when I use those mics to record a band from the audience.  I take most comps with a grain of salt anyway, but I can't see how a studio instrument shootout tells one anything useful audience-perspective recording, except maybe something about basic overall response differences between the two, which is probably just as or more apparent by checking out at the response graphs.

Sometimes its simply satisfying to find that linked samples in old threads still remain available!
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Offline spyder9

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Re: Comparison: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2020, 08:22:17 PM »
What I learned from the "Crap":  You don't need a 35 year old used pair of mics costing $2,000, when a brand new pair of $800 mics will sound just fine in our little hobby.  Carry on........ 

lol
« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 04:24:26 PM by spyder9 »

Online DSatz

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Re: Comparison: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2020, 09:07:13 PM »
OK, OK, yes, I was impatient and I overstated what I meant. I actually agree with EmRR, too. Under certain circumstances, if you make your own comparison recordings, you can definitely learn something from them.

But that's not what most shootouts are about, or how most people (by far) talk about them on line. When you're just given two or more recordings, and you weren't in the room with the actual sound while it was being recorded, and you don't have the equivalent information in any other form ... then they're worse than useless, because they convey information that can't be evaluated, but that people try to evaluate anyway, because it seems as if that should be possible.

I'm sorry that I dragged this thread so far off topic. In penance, let me post an older graph for the KM 84 that Neumann published in 1968, before the basically flat line that they published starting in 1973. This is more truthful as to what the microphone actually delivers.

--best regards
« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 09:12:00 PM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline Ben Turnbull

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Re: Comparison: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2020, 11:16:48 PM »
I enjoy taking a hard left at the fork in the road if I'm following Dstaz!

Here's one, is that curve OK to apply to the SKM140 actives?
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Re: Comparison: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2020, 05:20:32 PM »
I did some comps one year at a Suwannee Magnolia Fest ....km184's vs mc930's both into identical decks on same stand  ;D
I felt it was useful and still own both sets of mics. I like both sets and can't part with em.  It helped me decide that in some situations/venues/bands I just like certain flavored mics over the other mics I own.

Online DSatz

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Re: Comparison: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2020, 07:00:55 PM »
Ben, the KM 140 (and dnuggs, the KM 184, which is acoustically identical but electronically a little better, although not modular) uses the "innards" of the same capsule as the KM 84 did, but the shape and dimensions of the rear sound inlet are different. This causes a slight, further elevation of the high frequency response, only around 1 dB, but it's a narrow elevation (a/k/a a "peak"), which for me was a problem when I briefly owned a pair of 184s. The only analogy I can make is to the taste of saccharine or aspartame, which I find really annoying, although a lot of people think that they're just fine.

--best regards

[Edited later to add:] That last sentence was a little dismissive in a way that I don't think Neumann ever deserves. Let me try to put things in perspective.

- If the KM 84 had never existed, and the KM 184 (or something that sounded the same) had been Neumann's small cardioid offering in 1972-73, it would still have been a real step up from what I'd been using before (AKG C 451--the original version, not the "tribute" electret that they came out with in recent years; the old series had a very nice omni capsule but a rather hard-sounding cardioid). Professional singers already have a lot going on in the high frequencies, and any further boost in the microphone--at least in the kind of recording that I do--is really off-putting. It might have made sense back when the "delivery media" (phonograph records, pre-recorded cassettes, AM radio) had audible high-frequency limitations, but certainly not nowadays.

- The directional pattern of cardioid microphones is never exactly the same at all frequencies, so what is picked up from the room has a distinctly different coloration than what's picked up on axis. Typically the frequency response from the hemisphere behind the diaphragm is "bathtub-shaped"--it rises both at low and high frequencies, then falls off again at the extremes. Cardioids are really the worst in this respect of any first-order microphone pattern. That's why I generally avoid them in favor of in-between patterns such as "wide cardioid" (or Schoeps' "open cardioid") and supercardioid. I've also learned that if cardioids must be used, side-addressed cardioids can be audibly better in this respect than "end-addressed" cardioids.

However, as I said about the KM 140 / 184, many people really like the added brightness/brilliance. I can very well imagine that if I let myself get used to it, any microphone that didn't have it would seem to be lacking something.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 01:39:39 PM by DSatz »
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Offline Ben Turnbull

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Re: Comparison: Neumann KM84 vs Beyerdynamic MC930
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2020, 09:12:57 AM »
Nicely done. Thanks much.  :coolguy:
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