SNAP! blog

The Eccentric Microphone Collection

Vocal Mics

TELEFUNKEN ELAM 251
The Holy Grail of vocal mics with a unique ability to add presence without harshness, body without boom and above all, clarity and warmth.

NEUMANN/TELEFUNKEN U47
Probably used on more successful albums than any other tube mic, the U47 is respected for its full, dark sound, which adds body and weight to (particularly male) lead vocals.

NEUMANN U67
The tube predecessor of the ubiquitous U87, the U67 has a midrange brightness coupled with an Overall smoothness that makes it ideal for powerful voices. Definitely worth a try if the U47, C12 or Elam 251 don’t cut the mustard.

AKG C12
A true classic from my favourite manufacturer, The C12 is superb for female vocals, enabling the voice to stand out in a mix without pushing the fader and crowding the backing track. A rare pearl.

AKG C12A
The later, NuVista (miniature tube) version of the classic C12, I personally rate this beautiful Phillips badged version as the match of any C12 I’ve ever owned. Perhaps my personal favourite.

SONY C800G
The only modern tube mic to seriously threaten The supremacy of the classic quartet. Particularly recommended for male R+B vocals and rappers.

RCA DX44
Whoever said ribbon mics don’t cut it on vocals? Sinatra used a DX44 as did Ella and just about every great voice of the 1940’s and 50’s. For a truly retro sound, this is the one. Oh, it’s also the ultimate for sax.

NEUMANN U87
If all else fails, bang up a U87, the world’s most popular vocal mic. A reliable standby.

Of course, every voice requires a different mic and approach. Many of the instrumental mics in the Snap cupboard can work wonders on certain voices, including but not limited to the Shure SM7, Sennheiser MD441 (as used by Abba and Fleetwood Mac), The Beyer M88 and my personal favourite all rounder, the Milab VIP50 (reputed to have been used for lead vocals on ‘Thriller’)

Instumental Mics

CONDENSER

NEUMANN KM53 matched pair
This matched pair of KM53 tube mics are multipattern predecessors of the better known KM84’s. Try them on acoustic guitars, overheads or strings, where a pair of naturally warm yet accurate mics are required for detail coupled to tone.

NEUMANN KM264
Almost identical to the KM54, these cardioid tube mics are very versatile. Try them on anything – they may just work perfectly.

NEUMANN KM84
The solid state successor to the tube KM54, these are pretty much industry standard for acoustic guitars and snares

FICORD TUBE
I doubt if you’ve bumped into one of these early Tube Calrec mics, but if you’ve watched reruns of late 1960’s or early 1970’s TV pop or rock broadcasts, this is the mic that invariably handled lead vocals. These days there is no better mic for acoustic twelve or six string, where the guitar needs to sink into the backing track but remain easily audible. It has a unique sparkle and presence that no other mic I’ve used can match.

MILAB VIP 50 x 2
Everyone who uses one of these odd-shaped Mics wants one (or two – I have a pair). Unlike any other mic, the VIP50 combines accuracy and detail with a full, warm sound making it perfect for acoustic guitars, ambience, strings brass, overheads and a host of other applications. Think C414 with balls.

AKG C414 x 6
I have a variety of C414’s including the rare and classic early C414 (with original brass capsules) to EB’s, B-ULS’ and the latest B-XLS. The ultimate all rounder, many engineers bang up a C414 when their first choice fails.

AKG C480B – ULS/CK61 x 2
Superb instrumental mics where detail and an ability to handle high SPL are important. Use on snares, hi-hats, overheads, percussion.

AKG C451E x 2
Industry classics, the predecessors of the low noise C480’s. I have a variety of capsules including cardioid and figure of 8 plus rare extension tubes to get the mics close up to snares, hats or spot micing instruments.

DPA 4006 x 2
These classic omnis (maybe better known as B+K 4006’s) offer superb accuracy coupled with an ability to cope with loud signal sources. Perfect for strings, of course, but also great for acoustic guitars or even (reputedly) Bjork’s voice.

DPA 4011
This superb cardioid DPA (B+K) is great for Classical or flamenco guitar, flute, brass or pretty much anything where accuracy coupled with directionality is required.

CALREC 1050 X 2
Savvy recordists are beginning to wise up to the superb range of Calrec pencil mics and not before time. Great on pianos, percussion, hats, acoustic instruments – pretty much everything. Versatile and groovy.

SCHOEPS ‘THE SPHERE’
An astonishing stereo mic, based upon the binaural principle, whereby a sphere houses a pair of oppositely placed mics, thereby replicating the placement of ears on the human head. The result? A stunning, natural, stereo image. Position it above the piano, between two Leslie cabs, above a kit or string section and take the listener into the room with the performance. And being a Schoeps, of course, the quality is fantastic.

Dynamic Microphones

The heart of any recording session, high quality, well maintained dynamics will be used day in, day out.

SENNHEISER MD441
One of the best dynamics ever made. Try it on anything, but slam it on snare as a starting point.

SENNHEISER MD409 x 4
My favourite tom mics. Fast, responsive and happy to accept whatever you throw at them, these haven’t been made for ages, and more’s the pity. I haven’t tried them on vocals, but there’s plenty of footage of the early Floyd with Waters and Gilmour warbling into 409’s.

SENNHEISER MD421 x 8
Use on toms, micing up guitar cabs or even kick. My collection includes two of the rare, early white versions.

AKG D30
Rare and punchy. Kick, of course, but also a killer on double bass and even vocals (for which the D12 and D30 were first designed)

AKG D12 x 2
As above.

AKG D224E x 2
Superb dynamics. Ideal for cymbals, percussion, hat, strings or any application where a quality dynamic is required.

AKG D202E x 2
Use on percussion and particularly speech, where the dual capsule design eliminates the popping caused by proximity. Probably a killer for rap.

AKG D19 x 2
As used by The Beatles for overheads.

SHURE SM7
Superb on acoustic guitars but also extremely versatile. Great for certain voices, so try on lead or backing vocals.

ELECTROVOICE RE20
Often used for sax or other brass and kick drum although originally designed for speech. Capable of taking very high spl.

AKG D12 x 2
As above.

AKG D224E x 2
Superb dynamics. Ideal for cymbals, percussion, hat, strings or any application where a quality dynamic is required.

AKG D202E x 2
Use on percussion and particularly speech, where the dual capsule design eliminates the popping caused by proximity. Probably a killer for rap.

Ribbon Microphones

Although sensitive and therefore fragile when assaulted by ultra loud noises, ribbon mics work in three dimensions, and are therefore highly musical. As they roll off dramatically above around 8kHz, ribbon mics are perfect for any signal with a tendency to harshness and so tend to be first choice for piano, cymbals/drum overheads, brass and strings. Most are figure of eight, so separation can be an issue.

SPEIDEN/ROYER SF12
This beautiful stereo ribbon was handmade by Bob Speiden in New York years before he licensed the design to Royer Labs. Stunning on pianos or string/brass sections.

ROYER R-121 x 2
General purpose ribbons that have found a home As industry standard for micing up guitar cabs.

BEYER M160/M130
The M160 is cardioid, by virtue of a double ribbon design. This makes is ideal for spot micing strings in an ensemble. Use with the figure of eight M130 for MS recording, offering superb stereo imagery with a simple pair.

BEYER M260 x 2
Cardioid ribbons offering natural, smooth response. Once more, pianos, strings, brass.

COLES 4038 x 2
My favourite mics for drum overheads, pianos, ambience and brass. Bloody brilliant.

COLES 4040 x 2
Less well known, but beautiful sounding mics With an extended HF response. I’ve even used these for vocals.

COLES 4033
Half man, half biscuit or rather half ribbon, half dynamic. An interesting mic worth trying for a different vibe.

ALTEC 4033
Incredibly groovy appearance, but merely a different flavour of the Coles 4033.

RCA DX77
A stunning looking mic originally designed for speech but equally at home in the studio. Experiment.

These are only some of the mics from the Eccentric Collection, now housed in the Snap Studios mic cupboard. And the collection will grow over time, helping to offer Snap clients the best section of microphones in any UK studio outside Abbey Road. What’s more, all are regularly serviced and maintained in tip-top condition by the UK’s leading microphone doctor, the Very Reverend Dave Way.