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Author Topic: Vocal mic comparison and question (with sound samples)  (Read 1080 times)

Daniel Mauric

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Vocal mic comparison and question (with sound samples)
« on: August 07, 2020, 01:08:50 pm »

Few months ago we bought Sennheiser wireless system with e935 mic.
Few days ago we also bought Beyerdynamic M160 for overheads.

Due to curiosity we gave M160 a try as for vocals, and were both surprised and disappointed to find out we much prefer M160 on vocals.

Admitedly the M160 is wired and goes through RME UCX preamp, while the e935 goes via EW100 receiver through RME UCX line in.
Also with e935 singer was "kissing" the mic, while with M160 we used a pop filter and so she was a bit away.
But I don't think that really makes a difference that we hear.

Also M160 is ribbon and e935 is dynamic, but do you think that makes the singer feel any better about singing into worse mic ?

Here are short clips to demonstrate both, bone dry:

https://soundcloud.com/daniel-mauric/sennheiser-e935-test

https://soundcloud.com/daniel-mauric/beyerdynamic-m160-test

Not sure what you guys think, but we feel it's a pretty big difference, M160 sounds more natural and simply better.

So now I wonder should we upgrade the capsule on Sennheiser wireless ?

Obviously there's no M160 capsule, or any ribbon for that matter, so upgrade (in terms of price at least) would be Sennheiser E965 or Neumann K105 or DPA 4018.

We're a loud rock band, so we need good rejection as well.

Any thoughts ?
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Vocal mic comparison and question (with sound samples)
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2020, 01:23:46 pm »

To start with...

It takes a $3000 wireless system to approach the sonic quality of a $30 mic cable.  Seriously.

The M-160 is a very, very different animal from the e935 capsule.  It's really an apples to cantaloupes comparison so I'm not surprised you found a difference.

FWIW, an e935 (without the wireless) is about $160.  What did you pay for a new M-160?  Let that sink in.

My thoughts?  You have your priorities backwards.  In a "loud rock band", unless you're playing 60'x40' stages, the drum kit cymbals bleed into every open vocal mic (and listen to your tom mics, they'll be full of cymbals).  What you put up over the bronze is, IMHO, largely immaterial until you've achieved isolation from the vocal mics and even then, a product with the relatively fragility of the M-160 would be a distant 3rd choice for me.

I think you need to audition other Sennheiser wired mics to find the capsule you want.

I take it your use is not live, or why the RME products?
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: Vocal mic comparison and question (with sound samples)
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2020, 01:27:04 pm »

Lots of thoughts:

- A bit of distance can make a big difference in vocal sound. Proximity effect is one factor (did you try EQ to reduce that?), but there are other components, too.
- 935s are decent mics, but better sound is available. I use a Beyer TG-X930 (MC930 customised for vocal use) for if I want something better. It gets expensive, though, if you want a bunch of them.
- Wireless isn't perfect. A wired 935 might be better.
- The 935 close-up will almost certainly have better vocal isolation than the M160 at a distance. I don't care how beautiful your mic sounds - if it's picking up more of the wedges and cymbals than the vocal, I'm not interested.

Chris
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Daniel Mauric

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Re: Vocal mic comparison and question (with sound samples)
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2020, 02:03:02 pm »

First of all, guys, thanks for replying.

We are performing live, or at least we plan to once clubs reopen. So the use case is live rather than studio application.
After 30 years of singing, the singer wanted a wireless mic and IEM, to be able to feel unrestrained, walk into the crowd, etc. Of course, you can argue that's superficial or whatever, and I could agree, but it's her decision, justified or not.

Let me also chime in with brief explanation of what we're doing, as a context for the story, since I know it sounds confusing.

We're a 4 piece rock band (singer and guitar/bass/drums), but we're trying to play stuff with a bit more modern/produced sound, like Muse, Queens of the stone age, Portishead, Garbage, etc
So we're using a laptop and DAW live. We all go via RME UCX and have custom in ear mix for each member. We play to the click, and I work on automated mixing. It's a bit like playing to a studio mixed project but live. So we do things like turning on Vocoder for choruses, automated guitar pedal switching via MIDI, changing snare sounds from track to track, etc.
So we make 4 in ear mixes plus 1 stereo mix for FOH.
Takes a lot of work, but we hope it's going to be worth it. We'll see.

Anyway, the reason we bought M160 for overheads, is we need overheads in IEM for proper sound/feel/space of drums. And M160 is hyper cardioid, so I hope it won't pick up too much of the amps and bleed. We plan to keep it somewhat low, above drummer but not much higher. We'll experiment.

Now, M160 obviously wouldn't be ideal for live vocals, and we just tried it out of curiosity. But the problem is it sounds lot better than E935.

Back on topic:
I am aware that wireless in general is a compromise, but would different capsule make a big difference ?
So my question is if the difference in sound comes from the fact that it's wireless and then capsule doesn't matter much, or does it come more from the capsule and "upgrading" the capsule would make a significant difference ?
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: Vocal mic comparison and question (with sound samples)
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2020, 02:58:57 pm »

Now, M160 obviously wouldn't be ideal for live vocals, and we just tried it out of curiosity. But the problem is it sounds lot better than E935.

... In an apples-to-oranges comparison.
Can you get the 935, used up close, to sound how you want?

Chris
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Daniel Mauric

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Re: Vocal mic comparison and question (with sound samples)
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2020, 03:03:24 pm »

... In an apples-to-oranges comparison.
Can you get the 935, used up close, to sound how you want?

Indeed it is, and yes 935 sounds fine, I just wish I didn't let the singer try M160.
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Tim Hite

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Re: Vocal mic comparison and question (with sound samples)
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2020, 03:04:52 pm »

To start with...

It takes a $3000 wireless system to approach the sonic quality of a $30 mic cable.  Seriously.


This, in spades. e935 on my Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid wireless stuff sounds just like it does when it's wired, works great. Over the G4 wireless, the e935 doesn't sound so hot, in comparison. I didn't realize how big the difference was until I got asked to add a second channel of wireless for a gig with a choir that added a second soloist at the last minute.

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Ed Taylor

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Re: Vocal mic comparison and question (with sound samples)
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2020, 03:40:15 pm »

This, in spades. e935 on my Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid wireless stuff sounds just like it does when it's wired, works great. Over the G4 wireless, the e935 doesn't sound so hot, in comparison. I didn't realize how big the difference was until I got asked to add a second channel of wireless for a gig with a choir that added a second soloist at the last minute.
having done midi since it was first out in the late 80s, I get all the auto-magic stuff you guys are doing..cool n good on you...seriously.

as for mics...fun to read the threads out in the wide world web..

but in the end, it's what works for you.

I keep a box full of most everything just cause in most cases I'm satisfying the psychy of the artist..if they think a 935 is da mac daddy and they deserve the best..ok..fine..even if you sing like a 4 yr old whisperer with no real vocal chops.....here ya go.

if they are an old school club rocker (like me) used to beltin it out on a corner stage in the bar and they want that old smoke clogged sm58 (lord I even at times used to sing over a 57 and loved it)..then ok...we got em.
I gave up on all the wireless world options and the expense and just bought some of the sennheiser transmitters...if they want a beta, or an sm, or a 935...ok..here..and I'll be on the console eq/gain trying to account for their chops or lack thereof more than accounting for fidelity loss from a wireless rig.
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Ed Taylor

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Re: Vocal mic comparison and question (with sound samples)
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2020, 03:54:41 pm »

nother story....good example

I inherited a pair of the Shure GLX (I know..but wait) with the beta58 heads on them

I had stopped by to listen and support a band that was doing a benefit gig in my area (they play nationally).

The audio was being provided by a local sound guy in that nearby town.

I thought the entire rig and band's sound was very thin and feeble, even though the audio rig was solid old school stack n rack stuff that could certainly deliver better..noted the console was a presonus studiolive 16 channel..nothing unfamiliar..so why so washed out?

end of the night, the lead singer was complaining that the new GLX he had bought on a whim was just not giving him near what he wanted...he asked me if I wanted the mics.. I told him I really didn't have a need for them...maybe some talking head stuff ..so he gave them to me as a thankyou for audio I had done for them over the years.
I've put those mics on my rig (including presonus console) adjusted gains and I had to call my bud back and tell him he should take the mics back cause I had them sounding sooo much better..he was done and had moved on to other toys...anyway, i've used these mics many times on church n a box etc, where I don't have to worry about the house audio guy not knowing how to sync the wireless etc....they are serving well for what I expect of them and honestly they sound fine.
my point..it's on the artist and the audio guys to make what you have work.
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Vocal mic comparison and question (with sound samples)
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2020, 04:15:24 pm »

Senny does make a transmitter that plugs into a regular mic.
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Re: Vocal mic comparison and question (with sound samples)
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2020, 04:15:24 pm »


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