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daniel

Sennheiser MKH50 vs Neumann KM185D

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Is this a fair comparison for boom work indoors but occasionally outdoors as well? Currently leaning more towards the MKH50 as I'm more familiar with it and its reach makes it versatile plus it has the pad and HPF switches. If I went with the KM185D it would be without DMI-2 box and direct into SD633 (or similar), so many of the advantages of the KM185D's DSP would be mostly lost (?).

Kind Regards,

Dan.

 

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Disadvantages of a digital mic:

Need that DMI for full control (would you even be able to control the gain from 633?)

Can't use it with all gear (while about every halfway decent gear has analog mic inputs, not all have AES-42)

Can't use it with a plug-on TX (as these AFAIK are all analog today), always need to go cabled

Given the choice between an analog MKH 50 and a digital 185D, I'd clearly choose the 50 - mostly for compatibility reasons. Not so easy to choose between 50 and 185A (both analog, and both have their pros and cons).

 

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2 hours ago, pkautzsch said:

Disadvantages of a digital mic:

Need that DMI for full control (would you even be able to control the gain from 633?)

Can't use it with all gear (while about every halfway decent gear has analog mic inputs, not all have AES-42)

Can't use it with a plug-on TX (as these AFAIK are all analog today), always need to go cabled

Given the choice between an analog MKH 50 and a digital 185D, I'd clearly choose the 50 - mostly for compatibility reasons. Not so easy to choose between 50 and 185A (both analog, and both have their pros and cons).

 

Thanks Peter,

Good points regarding TX compatibility. With the KM185 I could get the analogue output stage as well as the digital, which is not an option for the mkh50. So to ask the question (I might have done initially) MKH50 vs KM185A or D? Or put it another way is the KM185 any use outside?  

dr

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2 minutes ago, Glen Deakin said:

Could use with a zaxcom 742 plugon with the digital powered cone. 

Thanks Glen,

Yes, I was aware that Zaxcom have an AES42 plug-on option. Not quite ready to go down this particular route yet and for the instances when I would go with a TX on the boom that wasn't compatible with my current RM system I'd probably rent and I don't think many of the rental houses in the UK are doing much in the way of Zaxcom.

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This is really a two-part question. Digital mic or not? MKH-50 or 185? If you prefer the sound of the 50, then digital or analog doesn't matter. If you want a digital mic get a 185D. But if you don't know if you should get a digital mic, then you don't need one.

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Mkh50. But if you want to be fair why not consider the mkh8000 line of microphones. The 8050 can be used both analog or digital With the appropriate xlr end. 8000 series would give you similar options. 

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Argh, scuse my dyslexic 150 / 185 muddle (fixed in the edit :-).

Constantine how does 1 define "need" in this context? I've previously not owned AES42 capable recorder so it was not such a practical option. Now it is, is it not worth at least considering? It's a similar in price. It may improve my workflow. It would seem to be the direction of things. Maybe my clients might even appreciate the difference. Add something new to the marketing. Etc. I agree the MKH50 is probably the 1 for me but this is as much out of familiarity as anything and if you don't explore these things how/when does a person move on. But I do appreciate you guidance on this.

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This isn't confirmed yet, but I was told last week by Sennheiser UK that the DMI-2 Portable had been discontinued by Neumann. However, they seem to be pretty disorganised unless you want anything basic, so I'll check when I go to BVE next week. I've managed to get hold of a couple for my KM184D set-ups and I find them immensely versatile with the software, but you do need the software to make any changes to the mics, other than basic stuff. That said, if you do go the Neumann route, I'm more than happy to loan you a DMI, if I'm not using one.

Regards,

John

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Thank John,

That's a very generous offer - I'm tempted to go with the Neumann just to take you up on this :-).

It seems a strange decision to discontinue this product if it is the only way to control the mic from a battery powered device - is there something new in the pipeline or is it a reflection of how these mics are being used in the main?

 

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185 outdoors needs very quiet surroundings. MKH 50 pattern is said to be a little tighter, so probably this would be the more universal choice, but is larger which might be an issue for narrow indoor sets.

8050 seems a good idea.

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It's difficult to know: the software doesn't seem to have been updated since 2012 and the rather clueless lady at Senneheiser needed guiding in order even to know what a DMI-2 P was. I'd had one on order from one supplier for over a month and they were having problems getting any sense out of Sennheiser, so I rang direct. Eventually, the lady told me that it had been discontinued, that they didn't have any and wouldn't be getting any more. I cancelled my order to the original supplier and found one in stock at Pink Noise, which I grabbed, and then got a phone call from the first supplier to say that someone from Sennheiser had just called to say that one would be delivered next week. I explained that it was too late and they agreed to return whatever turned up from Sennheiser.

It's not the first time I've had problems with Sennheiser UK: they took over three months to repair my MKH60 and the explanation was that the one person who looked after microphone repairs had been off because his son was ill. It doesn't inspire confidence, does it?

If you've got some free time next week, I'm setting up a load of surround mics, including a Neumann IRT cross using 2 DMI-2s, to photograph for a lecture I'm doing in March: not sure where, yet, but somewhere in central London. Let me know if you want to come and have a play.

Regards,

John

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On 17 Feb 2016 at 3:51 PM, pkautzsch said:

185 outdoors needs very quiet surroundings. MKH 50 pattern is said to be a little tighter, so probably this would be the more universal choice, but is larger which might be an issue for narrow indoor sets.

8050 seems a good idea.

i compared the 185 (analog) with the MKH50 and 8050 for purchase decision:

on a 633, the 185 needed a lot more gain then the 8050 or 50 (which needed least). in fact for very quiet sounds self-noise became a real issue (first thought it was broken, but the person who rented it to me checked it and said it was alright and that most likely the preamps of the 633 didn't have enough power get noisy on high gain).

other then that it sounded nice, but went with the MKH50 in the end because of that. the 8050 was nice too but too sensitive to handling noise for my clumsy hands.

chris

 

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8 minutes ago, chrismedr said:

...

...and that most likely the preamps of the 633 didn't have enough power).

...

For anyone wanting to understand the electronics we use, this is a misleading statement.

Power and gain are two entirely different things.  More likely, self noise and microphone sensitivity come into play in this situation. 

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It seems a strange decision to discontinue this product if it is the only way to control the mic from a battery powered device

Well it's not. There is also the Connection kit, which is battery operated. It also ouputs AES3, and it is much, much cheaper than the DMI. Although, regarding your quote, you cannot actually control the mic. But with the 185D, there isn't that much to control anyway, mostly there is digital gain. But you can also digitally gain your recorder, so...

Constantine how does 1 define "need" in this context? I've previously not owned AES42 capable recorder so it was not such a practical option. Now it is, is it not worth at least considering? It's a similar in price. It may improve my workflow. It would seem to be the direction of things. Maybe my clients might even appreciate the difference. Add something new to the marketing. Etc. I agree the MKH50 is probably the 1 for me but this is as much out of familiarity as anything and if you don't explore these things how/when does a person move on. But I do appreciate you guidance on this.

Honestly, I don't think anyone would appreciate you going digital, especially your clients won't.

The specs of the mics (analog vs digital) are very very similar), so the advantages aren't all that obvious. In the MKH8000 range especially, the figures are even worse for the digital amp.

There are advantages of course, but just getting a digital mic because you can, seems foolish to me. Anyway, if it pleases you

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4 hours ago, John Blankenship said:

"...and that most likely the preamps of the 633 didn't have enough power)."

For anyone wanting to understand the electronics we use, this is a misleading statement.

yeah, my fault here.

he clearly said that the preamps of the 633 are not good enough and therefore it becomes noisy at high gain needed for this mic.

personally i was sceptical about this but he had much more experience in these matters... anyway, i heard the noise myself, so it's either this or the mic was faulty after all.

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9 minutes ago, chrismedr said:

yeah, my fault here.

he clearly said that the preamps of the 633 are not good enough and therefore it becomes noisy at high gain needed for this mic.

personally i was sceptical about this but he had much more experience in these matters... anyway, i heard the noise myself, so it's either this or the mic was faulty after all.

Sorry, but I have to say that's misleading too.

Sound Devices pre-amps are some of the quietest on the market, and certainly good enough.

What may have happened was that when pushing the level, it boosted the self noise of the mic.

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3 hours ago, Johnny Karlsson said:

Sorry, but I have to say that's misleading too.

Sound Devices pre-amps are some of the quietest on the market, and certainly good enough.

What may have happened was that when pushing the level, it boosted the self noise of the mic.

could be, all i know is that for me the noise on the 185 was very disturbing and when i discussed this with the guy who owned it i told him that i believe it was faulty because it sounded really noisy on low whispers, and he said he checked it and it must be the pre-amps. maybe the 185 is normally used with studio mixers and behaves better there, or it just generally doesn't play well with low sounds? in any case, it made me choose the MKH50 with the SD633 and i'm happy with that combo. 

sorry for side tracking this thread, i imagine the 185D will behave somewhat different, but might be still helpful for people considering the analog version. might be that i was unlucky but worth doing a test before buying.

chris 

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4 hours ago, chrismedr said:

...he clearly said that the preamps of the 633 are not good enough and therefore it becomes noisy at high gain needed for this mic.

personally i was sceptical about this but he had much more experience in these matters... anyway, i heard the noise myself, so it's either this or the mic was faulty after all.

A simple comparison of the specs of an MKH50 and a KM185 reveal that the Sennheiser is 8dB hotter and the Neumann has a 3dB higher noise floor -- which means if you adjust the input gains so both mics output the same level of signal, the KM185 should have about 11dB more noise -- not surprising -- not earthshaking.  This, and the fact that the Neumann has roughly 8dB more headroom, should make it obvious that the 185 was optimized a bit more for music recording than low level dialog. 

Also note that the Sennheiser MKH30/40/50/60 series have some of the lowest self noise levels available.

To add additional perspective, compared to a Sennheiser MKH50, the venerable Schoeps CMC641 has about 6dB lower output and a 3dB higher noise floor -- with about the same headroom.  Even with a 9dB equivalent noise difference, the Schoeps is still an awesome, and quite popular mic in our world.  So, the takeaway is that once self noise reaches a certain low level, and given the "noise floor" of the world we live in, there are few circumstances where self noise makes a substantial difference if you're using high quality microphones. 

For further reference: A current version of an MKH416 has about the same sensitivity as a 50, with approximately 3dB more noise.  Then, there's the MKH60 which is maybe 5 or 6dB better than the MKH50.

So, if you compare the noise floor of some of the lowest self noise mics available with most any other microphone, the MKH30/40/50/60 series will obviously come out better.

Bottom line:  There's nothing to indicate that the Sound Devices preamps were lacking in any way.  If they were, to trained ears it should have been more obvious with the mic that has the lowest noise floor.

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9 hours ago, John Blankenship said:

A simple comparison of the specs of an MKH50 and a KM185 reveal that the Sennheiser is 8dB hotter and the Neumann has a 3dB higher noise floor -- which means if you adjust the input gains so both mics output the same level of signal, the KM185 should have about 11dB more noise -- not surprising -- not earthshaking.  This, and the fact that the Neumann has roughly 8dB more headroom, should make it obvious that the 185 was optimized a bit more for music recording than low level dialog. 

Also note that the Sennheiser MKH30/40/50/60 series have some of the lowest self noise levels available.

To add additional perspective, compared to a Sennheiser MKH50, the venerable Schoeps CMC641 has about 6dB lower output and a 3dB higher noise floor -- with about the same headroom.  Even with a 9dB equivalent noise difference, the Schoeps is still an awesome, and quite popular mic in our world.  So, the takeaway is that once self noise reaches a certain low level, and given the "noise floor" of the world we live in, there are few circumstances where self noise makes a substantial difference if you're using high quality microphones. 

For further reference: A current version of an MKH416 has about the same sensitivity as a 50, with approximately 3dB more noise.  Then, there's the MKH60 which is maybe 5 or 6dB better than the MKH50.

So, if you compare the noise floor of some of the lowest self noise mics available with most any other microphone, the MKH30/40/50/60 series will obviously come out better.

jup, i looked at the specs of the mics at the time and came to a similar conclusion.

but i also compared a CMC641 and a 416 to the MKH50 and 185 at the time, the MKH416 sounded very close to the MKH50 (both in terms of noise floor and "character"), the 641 needed more gain and was a bit more noisy but still very nice even at whispering tests. the 185 in comparison to the 641 had *significantly* more noise, to a point where my thought was "this must be faulty".

maybe it was and the person who rented it to me didn't realise (he had some fancy test equipment and much more experience then me though), would be interesting to hear from others who have experience with the 185 on field recorders with very low ambient sounds.

chris

 

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Just did this...

Looked at DPA 4018, 8050, the 50 better for handling/wind noise, mounting and wind protection options and ruggedness on the road.

 

mkh50.jpg

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45 minutes ago, gavin said:

Just did this...

Looked at DPA 4018, 8050, the 50 better for handling/wind noise, mounting and wind protection options and ruggedness on the road.

 

mkh50.jpg

Nice photo - it's like you bought 1 for each of the 4 categories (handling, wind, mounting and ruggedness :). Glad you mention the DPA 4018 as I have been wondering if it might have been a closer competitor to the 50. What preamp did you audition? The MMP-B has the switchable low cut and high boost which I thought might add to it's versatility.

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The mkh50 is one of those mics you just can't ignore. It's got too much running for it; great sound, kinda small and light, withstands pretty much anything. There's a reason it's one of the standard mics. I prefer schoeps, but sometimes the 50 just lends itself better in terms of sound versatility. It's a great great allround mic, where many of the other options are just better in certain areas, the 50 will also do a good job in any situation. And then there's the factor of re-recording mixers here in Sweden who wants the punchy sound of the 50. They've gotten used to it...

The only thing I don't like about it is the form factor. If it had a swivel I'd never want another mic.

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