Oktava MK-012 Matched Pair. My favourite Stereo Microphone Techniques.

If you are looking for a small diaphragm condenser microphone that will add extra sparkle to your high end, more presence to your mids, and greater weight to your bass………… then the Oktava MK-012 is definitely not for you!! However, if you are looking for an accurate microphone which simply reproduces what it hears, then the Oktava MK-012 is definitely worth considering.

Oktava Mk012 Matched stereo pair.

I bought a matched stereo pair about 10 years ago (direct from Oktava) and they have earned me more money than any other mics I own! I have used them on hundreds of live shows for many different purposes, including drum overheads, hi-hat, Latin percussion, grand piano, acoustic instruments, and as ambient mics. However, it is on classical music recording that they really excel. I have used them in a variety of stereo configurations and in each case they provide a clean accurate account of the performance, capturing the finest nuances of timbre and texture.

Here below are my favourite stereo microphone techniques illustrated with the Oktava Mk-012s  

These microphones have not been ‘modified’ in any way and the recordings linked below have not been EQ’d or processed. Although the streaming quality is reasonably good, for more detailed listening most of the tracks can be downloaded off Soundcloud in their original full resolution wav format.

Oktava MK012 Crossed Pair at 90 degrees

Near-coincident X-Y crossed pair at 90 degrees gives a phase-coherent stereo image with excellent positionality. The angle between the mics can be altered to suit the width of the subject and the relative distance of the mic placement. Particularly useful for chamber music and small ensembles. Cardioid or hyper-cardioid capsules can be used.

Oktava do now make a dedicated figure of eight capsule. In which case a pair of those would be another option.

CLICK HERE for sound clip of wind quintet.

N.B. The shock mounts are Rycote InVision  INV-7   and (below with piggyback clips)

Oktava MK012 M-S pair

M-S pair using the Oktava figure of eight adapter which utilises 2 cardioid capsules back to back, in opposite phase. The Mid mic can be cardioid, hyper-cardioid or omni. As with the X-Y array, the M-S pair produce an accurate phase-coherent image. Works exceedingly well on wide subjects such as orchestras and choirs, particularly when the mic position needs to be close to the performers. Has the additional advantage that the relative levels of the mics can be manipulated in post-production. (Reducing the level of the Mid mic and raising the Side channels widens the image. Increasing the Mid and lowering the Sides ends in Mono!)

CLICK HERE for sound clip of male voice choir with brass.

Oktava MK012 ORTF Pair

ORTF pair. Cardioid capsules set at 55 degrees and spaced 17 cm apart. Emulating the inter-aural time differences between our ears this configuration produces a detailed but somewhat more diffuse stereo image than the previous examples. This array produces a good sense of depth and perspective. Many engineers argue that ORTF pairs give a more ‘musical’ sound. (?) Excellent for choirs and orchestras.

CLICK HERE for orchestral sound clip

Oktava MK012 Jecklin Disc

The Jecklin Disc takes the principles of the ORTF pair one step further and introduces a foam and fur covered 12”disc between the microphone ‘ears’, emulating the reflective, and shading characteristics of the human head. This array utilises a spaced pair of omni capsules angled slightly outwards. The Jecklin disc with a pair of MK-012s produces a remarkable sense of ‘being there’. Excellent in situations where, along with the performance, you want to capture the acoustics of a great sounding hall or church. Good with subjects of any size and can be positioned at a distance without losing ‘presence’.

CLICK HERE for sound clip of violin concerto

CLICK HERE for sound clip of choral concert

CLICK HERE for sound clip of A Cappella singers in small church


Some years ago whilst recording a live performance of Monteverdi Vespers, I was somewhat taken aback at the start of the concert by the following occurrence. As the choir processed in from the back of the church, they suddenly started singing!! Arrgh! With almost any other array this would have been a recording disaster. As it was, the pick-up of the Jecklin disc with its MK-012 omnis is pretty much the same from behind! The choir processed down the length of the church and filed past on either side of the mic stand and took their positions in front still singing! Sounded great!

Response graphs

One thing I particularly liked about my MK-012s when they arrived, was the inclusion of individual printouts of the response characteristics of each of the 6 capsules. Below is the printout comparing the matched frequency response of the 2 cardioid capsules, complete with handwritten details!

Oktava MK012 Frequency Plot for individual cardioid capsules.

Tech Spec for Oktava MK012

Oktava MK012 Wooden Box


Having provided a neat wooden box it is commendable that Oktava didn’t waste money on fancy, glossy, printing on the packaging! No hype, no bullshit, no celebrity endorsements, just a great sounding pair of mics !

Oktava MK012 Fancy Packaging

5 responses to “Oktava MK-012 Matched Pair. My favourite Stereo Microphone Techniques.

  1. Hi Martin,

    Thanks for the great simple summary of micing techniques. The resultant sounds speak for themselves! (I just shared the link with a young person training to be an engineer.) BTW, I modded my Oktavas and they are amongst my fav SD condensers. Simply upgrading the output resisters made a noticeable difference, cleaning up a bit of the upper-mid raggedness. Later I bought upgrade capsules from Michael Joly, and yes, they sound sweet too. (I still also use the original capsules.) Never tried the figure 8 capsule but sounds good on your recording. As you point out, the Oktavas have v good phase coherence –something lost in some of the other competing options. I would say that they are a bit coloured, actually, but in a good way, adding a bit of ‘vibe’ to the mids –whatever that means… :0 Anyhow, thanks for another interesting post. Keep them coming…


  2. Hi Jeff, Glad you found the post of interest. I was certainly hoping that it might be of use to students.I have long since been a fan of these (unmodded) Oktava MK012s. When recording in a concert hall or a church I can very often compare the sound in the room to what I am hearing from the mics and to my ears there is very little difference. Maybe they suit the particular frequency response of my ears!
    All the Best


  3. Hi again Martin,

    I went back to my MK012s (which I should have done before posting my first comment!) and see that I made an error –as I explain below. But first, I want to say thank you again for reminding me abut these mics. I pulled them out of the back of the closet and have thoroughly enjoyed the results. I should also add that I have the original Russian versions, modded by M Joly. There are apparently Chinese versions out now, as well. Opinion on those vary…

    I said earlier that I had got a modded capsule when actually it was the electronics. I myself also replaced the output resisters. I did slightly modify the stock cardioid capsules, by prising off their tops and removing their fine mesh screen (leaving the coarse one in place). I just now listened with and without the fine screens and do still prefer them removed, though of course one has to be a bit more careful handling them and avoiding dust and such. They sound clearer.

    So, what confused me is that at that time (a few years back) I had also ordered from M Joly new capsules for my Rode NT5 mics –a really worthwhile upgrade. Where the Oktavas sound ‘real,’ the NT5s with the new capsules sound ‘silky’. Obviously both have their place, and the MK012s are now again in the front of the closet…




    • Hi Jeff, Removing the fine mesh screen on most condensers will certainly result in a perceptible brightening of the high end. However, it may also causes problems when recording in large concert halls and churches. Even the smallest movement of air will produce noise on the capsule. Movement of hot air caused by an audience or an open door or down a ventilation system can cause havoc! Even with the mesh, careful positioning is needed to avoid unwanted air disturbance.
      All the Best


  4. P.S. The Chinese versions are to be avoided. Buying direct from Oktava is the best way to make sure that you have a genuine Russian microphone.


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