What is the difference between a Revox M3500 and a Beyer M201N(C)?

Had been thinking about buying a second Beyer M201………. but then I saw this immaculate 1970s Revox M3500 at a bargain price!

Both manufactured by Beyerdynamic these 2 microphones would appear to be very similar….. so what is the difference?

Frequency response plot of my Revox M3500 measured at a distance of 1 metre

Frequency response plot of my Revox M3500 measured at a distance of 1 metre

Frequency response graph for the Beyer M201

Frequency response plot for the Beyer M201 (Response at 1 metre is the bottom line.)

The low and mid-range frequency response is  similarly flat for both mics and both mics are characterised by the same tight hypercardioid polar pattern. BUT>>>>> The high end frequency response is quite different! The Revox has a distinct presence peak at around 5khz whereas the Beyer has a gentle lift at around 10khz. (This is due to  minor design differences in electronic components. )

In practical terms the difference is this :-     Although these 2 mics have a very similar general character, and are often used for the same tasks, the Beyer M201 is rather more accurate whereas the Revox M3500 appears to be somewhat brighter (which may sometimes be heard as an advantage!) Either way both of these microphones are superb perfomers, especially on drums and percussion.

Beyer M201 and Revox M3500 Grill pics

So why did Revox alter the HF response for the M3500?                    In the days of analogue tape recording, when using machines with no noise reduction facilities, it was common practice for engineers to add 3 or 4 db of boost to the incoming signal at around 4Khz whilst recording and cut by exactly the same amount during playback  This had the useful effect of reducing tape hiss by 3 or 4 db whilst maintaining the flat frequency response of the recording.  Cunning these old engineers! (This is of course roughly how Dolby B works, but done manually!)

The Revox  M3500 was intended for use with Revox 2 track recorders such as the A77 and B77. These machines did not supply phantom power and hence the microphone needed to be a high quality dynamic. The Beyer M201 was an obvious choice, with its wide, flat frequency response and ability to handle rapid transients. Also, these machines were  not blessed with any sort of built-in noise reduction or EQ facility. By redesigning the HF response of the M3500 with a boost at 4-5Khz  it is my guess that Revox were simply aiming to create additional brightness in the region of tape hiss that could be reduced during playback, thus improving the signal-to-noise ratio of their tape machine.

P.S.   I like the M3500 so much I just bought another one!

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4 responses to “What is the difference between a Revox M3500 and a Beyer M201N(C)?

  1. nice! i got a stereo pair of the revox version just yesterday in original boxes, which foam became very sticky. I gently removed it from the outside and wonder if they can be disassembled to clean the openings nicely. do you know anything?
    can’t wait to give them a try… i intended to use them for drums, so i think it could be good in the end 😉

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    • I have never tried taking mine apart and I am not sure how difficult it would be. The upper section of the case is screwed on very tightly. I have read of other people taking them apart and there are photos on the web but I don’t know how difficult it is to get them back together! Perhaps email Beyerdynamic’s service department for advice as they are usually pretty helpful.
      Anyhow, good luck! These are great drum mics (especially snare and H/Hat)

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  2. Baptist Clauwens

    (perhaps a few years too late)
    Revox 3500 is an amateur version of the Beyerdynamic. To fit a simple microphone amplifier, like in the A77, without using a transformer. They wired the Revox with a 600 ohm voice coil, i.s.o. the standard 200 ohm of Beyerdynamic. You get a better signal-to-noise figure, but also more coloration due to the mechanical disadvantages.
    I used a few decenia a pair of N201’s in combination with a self made pre-amps. A Sennheiser 1:5 transformer adapted the 200 ohm of the mic to 5000 ohm seen by the first transistors, for optimal SN-ratio.
    10 Years ago I switched to some top quality condensers, with new callenges to the whole audio chain behind it.

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