Dynamic Microphones for Classical Recording?!

Oktava MD-186 ORTF pair

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) is a clip 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 Mozart Piano Concerto

Oktava MD-186 ORTF pair 2

9 responses to “Dynamic Microphones for Classical Recording?!

  1. very interesting experiment! thank you!


    • 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.


      • Simone Coen


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


      • 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!


  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.


  3. Rojarosguitar

    Funny, the classical recordings you presented sound quite like they used to sound in my childhood (end fifties, beginning sixties). For me they are less detailed compared to condensers, but have a nice compactness (for lack of a better word) to them.
    I’m curious to try this out on classical guitar. CG is mostly recorded with SDCs and often has a too brittle sound for my taste. I experimented a bit with ribbons, but that creates new problems. I will check dynamic mics. Or maybe some kind of combination. Thanks for the creative approach!


  4. Bruce Greengart

    Here is a sample clip of the AKG D224Es used in my recording of a 1973 opera workshop performance with piano. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcOuUwox5Ic


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