Dynamic Microphones for Classical Recording?!

In the late 1950’s Electro-Voice ceased production of both ribbon and condenser microphones. In an article in his series ‘MICROPHONE FACTS for the operating engineer’ Electro-Voice founder Lou Burroughs explained the decision and presented reasons why dynamic microphones were, in every way, superior. The feeling at Electro-Voice was that ribbons and condensers were too fragile and prone to failure and that dynamics were solid and reliable and sounded better. Towards the end of the article (referring to dynamics) Burroughs declares that ‘These are the microphones of the future’.

Today, although dynamic mics are still revered for their robustness and ability to handle high SPLs they are not generally considered to be sonically superior to all other microphones! Indeed, I can’t imagine many engineers taking a pair of dynamics out to record an orchestral concert of classical music instead of their usual selection of condensers and ribbons.

Compared to condensers Burroughs claimed that dynamics have a ‘smoother high frequency response’ and so, here (by way of an experiment) are a  couple  of clips from an orchestral concert I recorded recently using a pair of Soviet Era, Russian, Oktava MD186 dynamics! I was simply curious to see if Lou Burroughs maybe had a point?

CLICK HERE for End of Beethoven’s Fifth

CLICK HERE for Mozart Piano Concerto

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5 responses to “Dynamic Microphones for Classical Recording?!

  1. very interesting experiment! thank you!

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    • When I set the mics up I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I have used them a lot as drum overheads and on guitars (both electric and acoustic) but a symphony orchestra is a very demanding beast even for high quality condensers! Anyhow, glad you found it interesting.

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      • Simone Coen

        Yes,

        I wonder how it would have been with the 224E or a Decca tree done with Omni dynamics like the sennheiser MD211…

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      • Although the Oktavas are very similar to the Akg224, I think the Russians may be very slightly smoother and more detailed. They are certainly more solidly engineered and weigh a lot more than a 224.
        Now, I like your idea of a Decca Tree with MD211s ……. mmm!

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  2. I have also used dynamics, including the Oktavas, for recording classical ensembles. But, never alone. I have generally paired them with ribbons to good effect. I think that a good flat dynamic adds nice complexities to the midrange. I like the Oktavas (and have said in another comment, that in some ways I prefer them to the AKGs –less phasey), but they are really very wide ‘cardioids’ –more like omni in my experience. This can be a bit annoying in some situations, but helpful in others. Personally, I think condensers are over-rated, esp for live work where room and audience sounds can really be problematic, and I am happy to see alternatives being explored.

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