Much Difference between SM81 and km184 ?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by ricoh, Feb 21, 2006.


  1. ricoh

    ricoh Member

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    Is there much difference between these mics besides the price?
    I think the model number of the nuemann is correct. It's the small D one.

    Thanks..............................
    Rico
     
  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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  3. ricoh

    ricoh Member

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    And.............................?
     
  4. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    yea, seriously, les...

    straight poop, pleez.
     
  5. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    The question was, is there a difference? And yeah, they sound different! I've owned both.

    The Shure SM81 is a wonderful, studio standard mic, with a very flat response, very little proximity effect, and neutral sort of character. It also has switches for low end rolloff and filtering.

    The KM 184 is also a wonderful mic, but it's different. Typical of a Neumann, I found it had a slightly accentuated high end (not a bad thing) and more sensitive to low end proximity effect than the SM81. I found the Neumann to be more detailed, more responsive to transients (this can be good or bad, depending). The Neumanns don't have low end rolloff switches (or any other switches for that matter). The Neumanns come in a nicer box. ;)

    Recordings I made with the Neumann were more "charactered"; recordings with the SM81 more neutral. Some might call the Neumanns "warmer" but I hate that word, since warmth is really just coloration. The Neumann is a little more 3D anyway. I'd choose the Neumann on piano or acoustic guitar over the SM81, but I might choose the SM81 over the Neumann for chamber ensembles, horns, overheads, drums, hi hat, kettles, etc. You could make a reasonable case for either kind of mic.

    For my typical uses in the studio, I'd invest in the Neumann (I had a matched pair), but I could definitely see preferring the SM81 depending on one's taste.

    I might mention that another worthy contender is the Blue Dragonfly, which can be put to many of the same uses, plus guitar cabs and vocals (however, I prefer the 184 on acoustic guitar). In fact, I was surprised how good the D-fly sounded with clean electric guitar (with OD guitar, I still like sticking an SM57 against the grille). I'm not so sure I'd stick a KM184 in front of a roaring cab!

    A more helpful answer?

    Ultimately, you really have to try mics out to figure out what you like; they all have coloration, and they all do different things with different sources.

    Another factor is, say you have a favorite acoustic guitar; that particular guitar might sound better with the 81 than the KM184. You really have to match the instrument to the mic.

    Finally, the very underrated and inexpensive Russian Oktava MK012s are really fine mics, I have a matched pair that cost around $300, and I prefer them to the Neumanns for some things, such as overheads and sax. If you decide to try a set of Oktavas, be aware that there is a dispute between their former importer and the Russian factory. The importer lost his deal with Oktava, but claims the right to use the name and designs of some of their mics, and is making them in China now. As I understand it, the Russian mics have serial numbers, and the Chinese mics don't. There may be other differences, in any event, check out the Sound Room for the good ones. I think matched sets are still available, and I absolutely think mine are the best studio bargain ever.

    I just remembered that I also like the Groove Tubes GT33 with bigger acoustic guitars; it's a pretty robust sucker, too, and sounds very good on hi hat. I had a pair of these, but my son wanted one of them, so now I have only one. I am glad I have it, however.

    On the subject of price, I'd say often you get what you pay for, and often not. What works best for some instruments will not work for others, no matter how expensive the mic is. But then my U89 works with some vocalists, and my old Blue Mouse worked far better with others at half the price (and I plan to buy another Mouse!).

    LS
     
  6. ricoh

    ricoh Member

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    Les..............thanks for the input. I appreciate it..........and the tip on the other less expensive alternatives.

    Dennis
     

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