Product focus: Live instrument mics

Whether you’re miking a choir, an orchestra or a single instrument for a recital, the wide range of live instrument microphones on the market means that there’s something for every application. With varying specs and price ranges, choosing the right product can make the world of difference to your live show…

DPA d:vote 4099

Key Features:

  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Weight: Max 50 g (1.8 oz)
  • Microphone length: 45 mm (1.8 in)
  • Cable length: 1.8 m (6 ft)
  • RRP: from £403 ($538)

DPA’s recently launched CORE by DPA amplifier technology has now been applied to its award-winning d:vote 4099 instrument microphones, giving a clearer sound to the products by lowering overall distortion and expanding the dynamic range.

The new d:vote CORE 4099 instrument mics sees the dynamic range increased from 100 dB to 108 dB for the loud SPL version and from 95 dB to 109 dB for the extreme SPL version, giving the microphones a more open sound across the whole level range.

DPA has also introduced a new streamlined design that features a more distinguished foam cover, which helps decrease vulnerability to wind or movement during a performance.

To make it easier for users to tell the difference between the two versions available, the new d:vote CORE mics are colour-coded at the bottom of the mic: a red mark represents Loud SPL and a yellow mark represents Extreme SPL.

The d:vote 4099 Series is designed for use with every woodwind and acoustical instrument, the most popular being guitar, violin, cello, trumpet and saxophone. The interchangeable clip programme, which includes units for drums, microphone stands, piano and many more, means that one microphone can fit many instruments by easily changing the clip.
Known for its discreet size and flexibility, the d:vote 4099 mic is a great fit for a variety of applications ranging from the live stage and theatre to live performances during primetime broadcasts.

Audio-Technica ATM350a

Key Features:

  • Frequency range: 40 – 20,000 Hz
  • Weight (mic): 14.5 g (0.5 oz)
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Dynamic range (typical): 130 dB, 1 kHz at Max SPL
  • RRP: from £224 ($297)

Audio-Technica’s ATM350a cardioid condenser microphone is designed for versatility and rock-solid mounting on a wide variety of instruments and is well-suited to a tough life on the road.

The ATM350a capsule delivers a well-balanced response and handles high SPL levels, making it an ideal option for dynamic instruments such as the piano, drums, brass instruments and more.

A wide frequency response and 12dB/octave low frequency roll-off at 80Hz add to the flexibility of the ATM350a, while the cardioid pickup pattern helps to minimise spill from other sound sources on busy stages.

There are many mounting options available for the microphone: universal clip-on mounts come in both long and short gooseneck options while the drum mount allows access to tuning rods and adds suspension to isolate the mic from shell vibration.

A magnetic piano mount and woodwind Velcro strap mount round out the ATM350a’s hardware option list.

As with the rest of Audio-Technica’s Artist Series live-oriented wired microphones, the ATM350a is covered by a lifetime warranty. In addition to the complete microphone systems, the mount components are also available separately, without the ATM350a.

Sennheiser EW 500 G4-Ci1 

Key Features:

  • High RF output power (up to 50 mW
  • Up to 32 compatible channels
  • Up to 88 MHz bandwidth with 3520 selectable frequencies
  • Weight: approx. 980 g
  • RRP: £799 ($1,067

The fourth generation of Sennheiser’s EW series is flexible, easy to use and reliable. Whether you are on tour, at an outdoor shoot, in the conference room or in the auditorium – Sennheiser’s G4 suits
many applications.

Renowned sound engineers rely on EW 500 G4‘s flexibility, especially when handling multi-channel settings. There is up to 88 MHz bandwidth and up to 32 channels. Ethernet connection for Wireless Systems Manager (WSM) control software is also included for advanced frequency coordination in multi-channel setups.

The EW mic is well-balanced while being upfront for guitar and bass instruments. A powerful bodypack transmitter and Ci1 instrument cable also adds to the product’s package in a full-metal housing with intuitive OLED display.

Beyerdynamic MC 930 

Key Features:

  • Switchable pre-attenuation -15 dB
  • Switchable bass roll-off filter with 6 dB/Octave at 250 Hz
  • High off-axis rejection
  • RRP: £402 ($539)

This universal condenser microphone has a good price to performance ratio. Features of the MC 930 are the wide frequency response of 40-20,000 Hz and a signal-to-noise ratio of 71 dB.

The MC 930 is suitable for miking choirs, orchestras and solo instruments. Due to the switchable pre-attenuation of 15 dB it provides great performance at high sound pressure levels. 

The switchable bass roll-off filter with 6 dB/Octave at 250 Hz compensates for proximity effects. With the WS 101 windscreen the MC 930 can be used for vocal applications and speech. The MC 930 is phantom powered (11-52 V) and is suitable for live applications and installations.

Due to its cardioid polar pattern, the MC 930 has a high-gain-before feedback and eliminates noise from the rear. It is not only a first-class tool for studios, but also for sound contracting systems, where great sound and maximum gain-before-feedback is required.

Shure KSM313

Key Features:

  • Bi-directional polar pattern
  • Roswellite proprietary ribbon material
  • Frequency response: 146dB SPL / 30 – 15,000 Hz
  • True Dual Voicing tuned specifically for user’s for choice of response
  • RRP: £1,119 ($1,490)

Ribbon microphones are well-established in the recording studio thanks to their ear-pleasing low-mid response and smooth top-end. For live sound applications, though, engineers have tended to favour dynamic microphones, as they are traditionally more durable than delicate ribbon mics. Bi-directional polar pattern

The Shure KSM313 challenges this trend, by offering the sonic advantages of a well-designed ribbon microphone, without the associated downsides.
This durability is thanks to the microphone’s unique Roswellite ribbon material, which replaces traditional foil ribbons for superior resilience at extreme SPLs.

The KSM313 is also dual-voiced, offering a different frequency response on each side to suit user preference. The front side is warm and full (well suited for amplifiers), while the rear side is a little brighter (great for adding sparkle to vocals). 

It is the robust nature of Roswellite as a material – combined with the dual-voicing – that has now made the KSM313 a firm favourite with many touring engineers for guitar and bass cabs. Recent examples include acts such as Catfish & The Bottlemen, Bruce Springsteen and Slash.

Royer R-10 Ribbon Microphone

Key Features:

  • Polar pattern: Figure-8
  • Generating element: 2.5-micron aluminum ribbon
  • Frequency response: 30Hz-15,000Hz +/- 3dB
  • Weight: 13 oz (368g)
  • RRP £374 ($499)

Royer Labs’ new R-10 ribbon microphone is hand-built in Royer’s Burbank facility and was designed for studio and live use. The R-10 features a 2.5-micron ribbon element (identical to the company’s R-121) and a David Royer custom-designed transformer. Its ribbon transducer is wired for humbucking to reject electromagnetically induced noise.

The R-10 handles SPLs of up to 160 dB @ 1K and features a protective three-layer wind screen system, making it an ideal choice for live electric guitars, brass and drum overheads and delivering all the low-end, midrange warmth and punch that Royer ribbons are well known for.

The three-layer wind screen system provides protection from air blasts and plosives while simultaneously reducing proximity effect (LF buildup caused by close miking) – enabling guitar cabinets and acoustic instruments to be close-miked with less bass buildup. Equally notable, the microphone’s internally mounted ribbon transducer isolates the ribbon element from shocks and vibrations, thus increasing the ribbon element’s durability.

The R-10 features a David Royer custom-designed transformer which minimises saturation at extremely high SPLs—making it nearly impossible to overload the microphone. The microphone’s open grill design minimises standing waves and associated comb filtering effects. As a result, its smooth frequency response, phase linearity, and lack of self-distortion make the R-10 a terrific choice for all digital recording and live sound applications.

The new Royer Labs R-10 ribbon microphone ships in a foam-lined, protective aluminum case and includes a microphone mount designed to provide flexible microphone positioning.