M201TG, M160, SR-5 review 2/3

  • M160 (beyerdynamic)

Before discussing microphones, let's first address the need for a bottom snare microphone. Snare drums were not originally designed to be heard close to the top head.

With the exception of the drummer, few people will hear the sound of drums even at a distance of less than 1 meter.

As a result, the snare sound we actually hear is a combination of the Shell, the Top-Head, the Bottom-Head, and the Snare at a certain distance.
However, using a microphone a few meters away has limitations in sound processing, and for that reason, have to use a method of placing the microphone close to the sound source.

At this point, the need for a bottom microphone can be discussed.
In such a situation where close-micing is required, there is a limit to reproducing all the complex sounds of the snare with only one top microphone.

There are many ways to surpass these limits, but the easiest and most effective method is to add a bottom microphone. 

(I will introduce the SR-5 microphone and talk about side-micing later.)
That is, the sound of combining both the top snare and the bottom snare is the minimum element in the snare sound.

This is also related to the tuning of the top and bottom heads.

If possible, I tend to tune the heads with a similar 'note' related to shell's pitch. I think using the 'intervals' between the top-head and bottom-head is as important as the note.

When Top & Bottom's "intervals" achieve an appropriate harmony, it is natural that the sound will be acoustically good. And when the sound of both the top and bottom, which are main elements of this harmony, is sufficiently mixed, the effect to be obtained is maximized. 

Personally, I prefer the pitch of a perfect 4th, which I believe is the most ideal pitch between richness and cleanliness. In exceptional cases, a perfect 5th is used for low tuning and a minor 3rd for high tuning. This pitch has been verified through the analysis of several albums and various practical experiences, so it would be nice to try it if the opportunity arises. (For example, F-Ab / E-G / D-G / C#-F# / C-F / Bb-F. The bottom is higher than the top.) 

However, please note that the pitch of the percussion instrument is implemented in a very complex structure, so the 'note' is not accurately expressed as tuned by the head.

So, what is the specific purpose of using the bottom snare microphone?

The answer to this question is also the reason for choosing the M160 microphone.

The M160 microphone is installed on the snare bottom.

When thinking about the purpose of a snare bottom, the first thing that comes to mind is the sound of a snare wire. In that regard, an important point is shown in the picture above. The microphone location is in a place that avoids the snappy. Even if you record like that, the snappy sound is received well enough that you often have to lower the 5kHz area of the bottom channel to reduce the sound during the mixing process. Snappy is obviously an important component of the snare sound, but it is not a priority consideration in the bottom channel.

For me, the Snare Bottom microphone is intended to create a sound that is intact and rich by allowing the well-tuned Top and Bottom notes to mesh and blend well into harmony.

It’s like such as a cogwheel.

And even in the same band, it is also to make a more active mix by using the different characteristics of each top and bottom.

For example, the top's low band darkens the color, while the bottom's low band produces a punch.

For another example, while the 'resonance' frequency around Top's 500Hz can sometimes be eliminated because it is unnecessary, Bottom's 500Hz can become a very musical harmonics and play an important role in the overall sound.

This is because the top and bottom heads have made of different materials and tones, so it is important to tune the pitch correctly.

When tuned to a perfect 4th pitch of D-G by simple calculation, 1175Hz is 4 overtones based on D of the top head, but becomes 3 overtones based on G of Bottom, so its role as harmonics is different.

The expression of interlocking like the cogwheel is written in this sense.

Then, the criteria for choosing a microphone came out to some extent.

First of all, each has a different role, so it is effective to avoid using the same microphone as the one used for the top’s microphone.

Basic punch and sharpness are sufficiently handled by the top M201TG microphone, so there is no need to consider it with Bottom's microphone.

The snappy sound should not be overly emphasized, so a microphone with too much attack or brightness is not ideal.

It would be better if the overall harmonics including the LF band were even and rich.

Microphones suitable for kick or bass amps met the above conditions quite well and have actually been used for quite some time.

However, I suddenly thought that the ribbon microphone's tonal tendency would be more suitable, and the M160, which does not have to worry about the possible risk of bi-directional, emerged as a good candidate. (M160 is Hyper-Cardioid!)

The M160 was originally a microphone that was useful for acoustic guitars, orchestral instruments, and occasionally for drum overheads. but at the same time, it has soft high frequency and natural features without excessive clarity.

And the low frequency is very rich like a Ribbon microphone, so it was not difficult to predict that it would be optimal for the snare bottom sound in many ways.

" Perfect balance between the original snare sound and the processing convenience "

This was the first impression of the combination of the top's M201TG and Bottom's M160.

Since it is faithful to the original sound, it is much easier to predict the direction of the mix when selecting an instrument, and the range of musical expression is broadened by being able to fully capture the emotions of the drummer.

And yet, thanks to the proper sharpness of the sound without being excessive, the mixing work is also very easy.

Sometimes, it is not unreasonable to mix only with bus processing without any processing other than level adjustment on the individual channels of the top and the bottom microphone.

Or, if you mix the top’s M201TG with High-Shelf Boost and Bottom’s M160 with Low-Shelf Boost, it will be easy to create a full snare sound.

Raising the air band in the M160 on the bottom can conveniently increase the clarity without increasing the interference of the hi-hat.

However, since two or more microphones are used, accurate phase alignment must be preceded for proper use.

In general, you can reverse the polarity of the top and the bottom, but the factor to be considered for an accurate alignment is the distance of the microphone.

It should not be forgotten that the distance between the snare and the bottom microphone should vary depending on the depth (thickness) of the instrument and the high and low of the tuning.

When it comes to snare sound, describing the sound character of M201TG as "Holy damping!" would be easy to understand. Ironically, the damping factor of M201TG's low frequency response is actually relatively low if we look at the literal definition. (The concept of damping factor doesn't really apply to microphones it was used only as a metaphor.) What is commonly referred to as "damping" results in a punchy sound with a natural decay that has sufficient length in the low frequencies.

When I tuned the snare top microphone to C# and the bottom microphone to F#

Frequency analysis of sounds received by M201TG and M160 microphones.

The third is the combined sound.

It may be difficult to judge simply by eye, but between 300Hz and 2kHz can be expected to be significantly richer than the top microphone alone.

As mentioned earlier, the M160 was originally a microphone often used for drum overheads, acoustic guitars, orchestral instruments.

In addition, it is actively used in various instruments such as the acoustic piano, hi-hat, electric guitar amplifier, and the contrabass.

It was also used it on vocals with great satisfaction. (Selected after comparing about 6 microphones at the time)

It's the first microphone that comes to mind when you need a warm, presentable, moderately clear sound.

In particular, an acoustic guitar player once played for recording and then asked for the name of the microphone and made a purchase right away, making such an emotional sound, which is interesting that it is the opposite of Beyerdynamic's M201TG.

It is somewhat unusual to use it for a hi-hat even though it is not a high-pitched tone, but it is very convenient when you want to create a thick sound with a presence comparable to kick and snare.

A-B miking on a piano with a pair of M160s, or stereo miking of X-Y or ORTF on a long Korean musical instrument such as the “geomungo/gayageum/ajaeng" is also highly recommended.

Red dot mark on the M160. It is also stamped in the opposite symmetrical position.

There are two red dots on the grill of the M160 microphone, and the manufacturer recommends placing the two red dots on a vertical line when mounting the microphone horizontally. It is probably related to the structure in which the ribbon is installed.

The durability of the ribbon will also be affected, and above all, it is also to prevent tone changes caused by gravity.

However, I accidentally discovered a peculiar point in this regard. When the two red dots were on a vertical line, the directionality to the left and the right and the directionality to the top and the bottom were slightly different.

Compared to the left and right, up and down, that is, sounds on the extension line of the two red dots are receive sound signals more clearly.

With this in mind, various attempts are possible when installing the microphone.

In my case, when I install the bottom microphone on the snare, I make a snare sound and the two red dots parallel to block the snappy sound a little more.

When used for drum overhead, the fact that the stereo image can be changed depending on the position of the red dot is also attractive.

Contrary to the manufacturer's recommendation, it could be installed so that the red dot is on the horizontal line when you want to capture more of the neck sound of an acoustic guitar.

The two microphones were first introduced and are used as the top priority for various instruments, especially the snare drum, both of which are from Beyerdynamic.

In fact, the first time you use a new product rather than an existing proven microphone, you have to take some risks.

It is also a risk that the sound may be different from what you thought, but unexpectedly, there are cases where physical factors such as durability becomes a problem.

In that respect, Beyerdynamic's products can be trusted and used because they have shown more perfection than expected.

As some people already know, ‘Beyerdynamic’ is more famous as a headphone manufacturer. (Development of the world's first dynamic driver headphone DT48, etc.)

So, I admit there are some preconceived notions about the company's microphones.

However, the fact that the M19 microphone developed based on its unique Dynamic Driver technology is the beginning of modern dynamic microphones makes us think again of Beyerdynamic's status as a reliable microphone manufacturer.

<to be continued>

M160 Review (KR)