Author Topic: 3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews  (Read 2467 times)

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Offline LBro

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3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews
« on: June 18, 2011, 05:04:15 am »
I have 3 mics that some may own, want to own, be considering or how about you just being the judge of which is best? This may be helpful in comparing the sounds and abilities of these 3 mics in a side by side comparison.   Note that all mics were place about 12" from a Fender DG200 SCE Guitar sound hole and groped very close to one another so that differences between them were minimal. All the mics had  little volume difference between them, so the levels were very close as well. No EQ or effects of any kind were applied. The equipment used between the mic and DAW is contained in the audio file at the end. Each of the links below contain one sound file and all are identical except for the actual mic used. I elected to leave voice the same on all three for further comparison and evaluation. Guitar starts at 00:38:00 in from the Start. If you want a true comparison I would cycle between the 3 files side by side and try to determine the differences. I will comment on each mic in context with it's file link and offer a conclusive summary. I invite you to give your feedback of what you think too as I would like to hear from others what they think about these mics.
 
Shure SM57: http://www.4shared.com/audio/aqJrQ-gH/Shure_SM57.html
Along with the SM58 this can be found in just about any studio or on stage. Simply an industry standard. I played about $95 for it. Solid and virtually indestructible. I found this mic to be great for amping speaker cabs as it will take a lot of sound. In this setting it did fairly well matched up with the acoustic guitar and on voice.  I would rate it possibly the least of the 3... Very good directional and side rejection capabilities. A dynamic mic that requires no phantom (48v) power.
 
Blue 100 enChore: http://www.4shared.com/audio/G_VBMDjq/Blue_100_Encore.html
This mic looks as solid as the Shure but weighed more in my hand. I paid $79 for this mic to the door at the time of this writing. In addition I have a $20 rebate bringing the final cost down to $59. Much like the Shure, I would call this an all around mic that to my ears seemed to have just a tad more in the mids than the Shure. Very good directional and side rejection capabilities that might have better side rejection than the Sure, time will tell here. A dynamic mic that requires no phantom (48v) power.
 
Cascade Fat Head (original): http://www.4shared.com/audio/crhjI3eV/Fat_Head_Original.html
This is a bit of an upscale mic as it is a ribbon mic and cost $175 to the door recently. I was hoping for a mic that was near condenser in sound at less than the prices for them. I judge this mic to be a bit more robust than the other 2, with a bit warmer sound with better definition. Ribbon mics are not for everyone and not what I would call a bullet proof workhorse like the 2 above. You need to treat it with kid gloves simply due to the internal construction of it. This mic is not directional, it pics up from both front and rear equally. I would call it more of an omni directional mic for that reason. No side rejection here. Unlike a condenser mic it requires no phantom (48v) power either.
[Edit] Per TB-AV and specs on the mic, there should some to good side rejection - simply have not had time yet to check this... Yet I would still say that if one of your goals in a mic is to have a lot of directional capability, go with the Shure or the Blue as it will do a better job of this.
 
CONCLUSION
I hope your high end and (to a lesser degree my) mid range hearing is not as bad off as mine. Too many concerts when young and a good deal of the past spent in the machine shop took care of that for me. Thus when I listen to these 3 sample files and even the originals in the DAW I find it hard to make night and day explicit judgment of the 3 mics side by side. If I have to choose the best overall sound I will go with the Fat Head. If I want a budget priced mic that steals the show in the bang for the buck department I have to go with Blue 100 mic. When you pick it up, you know you have something as it gives you a workout. I would expect it to last a long time based on that and what looks like decent construction. So there is my take on this shootout, now how about your opinion? I am most interested in hearing from those with good mid range and superior high end hearing. I realize most of the frequencies here are not much out of the mids, but still let me know what you think.
Thanks,
LB  
 
 
    
      
« Last Edit: June 19, 2011, 08:44:48 am by LBro »
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: 3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2011, 04:47:13 pm »
Quote
This mic is not directional, it pics up from both front and rear equally. I would call it more of an omni directional mic for that reason. No side rejection here.

The FatHead is a bi-directional Figure 8 pattern with considerable side rejection. Front and rear are opposite polarity.

They are often used in a Blumlein Pair such as seen here to capture a more omni directional stereo image.
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Offline LBro

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Re: 3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2011, 07:08:39 pm »
Well TB,
In what limited use I have with it, say from a foot back for both vocals and guitar work. I find it to be pretty omni in nature. The fact it pics up from the rear as well as the front makes it seem like it is less directional than either of the other mics I have here in this example. I will try it from the side to see what kind of rejection I might get there. Then too, since it is a ribbon you always have to be mindful of getting it real close to the sound source and that further adds to the omni type pick up "feeling". Now I would say it seems unlike say the Shure SM57 in that it has far less pickup from the top of the mic.

Question for you on the 2 shown there. Since they have them both (the mics) facing from same direction I would take it there is some phase involved here. In other words if you turn it around and use it from the "back" side you find it will change the phase 180 degrees, is that true? Is that what you mean by opposit polarity? I simply have not owned it long enough to have had much time with it yet to really learn it.

Thanks,
LB
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LB

Offline Ragz

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Re: 3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2011, 08:41:52 pm »
well, through my pc speakers, i honestly couldn't hear any difference between all 3.
I will review again with my studio cans on later. But like you, LB, my hearing is shot to hell and i can't hear any high range stuff at all without me having the volume turned up really high


Offline jerronimo3000

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Re: 3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2011, 12:48:15 am »
Hi LB

Lots of people probably would also like to know how these sound when miking an amplifier (electric guitar), especially since I've heard that that's where they really shine.  

EDIT:  Except for maybe the fathead.

Offline TB-AV

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Re: 3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2011, 12:50:49 am »
Quote
In other words if you turn it around and use it from the "back" side you find it will change the phase 180 degrees, is that true?

Yes. But you have a polarity switch on your DAW or PreAmp to change that as well.

Just hold it out in front of you and speak into it. Then rotate it sideways. I assure you, you will hear considerable rejection.
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Offline LBro

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Re: 3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2011, 08:56:23 am »
Hi Ragz,
Sorry to HEAR your hearing is in the same boat as mine. Well listen up (all puns I guess), I think a lot of folks might have a hard time telling the difference. I could be wrong there but I think most may say that as I tried it will two different headphones, and on a quad monitoring system playing them loud. At the very least the differences are subtle and somewhat subjective. I was hoping TB would give some input there on this one. I can tell you what sounds good. Any combination of the 2 mics played back at the same time really added a richness that was not had by any one mic by itself... Maybe I should post that as a demo too?

J3K,
If I get time I will set up the same kind of shootout with my Strat through my Vox VT50. But it will be less of an accurate test I think and that is because so much is dependent on mic placement. For instance with the SM 57 most would start by placing the mic off axis and out away from the cone. So do I do that and the how do we place the Blue mic? I would say in the same relationship. All good so far, but when it comes to the Fat Head it will have to be placed back probably at least 18" from the speaker. Right there we lose the objectivity of the test scenario. With the acoustic it was easy and why I opted for that instrument. Please if you or others have thoughts on this let me know before I set up the Strat for a shootout. My thought would be to place all mics back as far as the Fat Head to make it more fair in the testing mode, even though for some of the mics that will not be optimal. Thoughts?
 
TB,
Yes I agree with you thoughts on side rejection being what it is. Just in looking at and thinking over the construction of the mic makes sense that it would pick up front and rear way more than the sides! I will try what you said as well as I can use some rejection with the Flat Head. Hey, any thoughts on making an electric through an amp test fair between the mics?

LB
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LB

Offline TB-AV

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Re: 3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2011, 04:01:31 pm »
Quote
Hey, any thoughts on making an electric through an amp test fair between the mics?

The classic position for an SM57 is close and slightly off center. So basically you are getting the best the 57 has to offer.

I would expect you can do similar with the ribbon. Possibly turn it for some off axis. Basically just try to get the very best sound you can.

Then listen to the two and decide which you like best. You might like both together.

BTW, the Blue mic did sound good. The 57 lacked depth compared to the other two. the way those files were recorded is was tough to determine the Blue from the FatHead. Not sure what listening to the actual .wav might reveal.

I -thought- I heard a little more character in the FatHead but that could be my imagination.


That's the thing with these mic comparisons. Not every mic is best positioned similar to another. Especially when you are using different type mics.
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Offline LBro

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Re: 3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2011, 07:27:29 pm »
Hi TB,
Quote
Hey, any thoughts on making an electric through an amp test fair between the mics?
 
The classic position for an SM57 is close and slightly off center. So basically you are getting the best the 57 has to offer.
 
I would expect you can do similar with the ribbon. Possibly turn it for some off axis. Basically just try to get the very best sound you can.
- LB - Will try this and see what I can come up with - This will take some time, but well worth it as it will advance my experience with the mics in knowing what I can get out of them... BTW - I thought the SM57 was to be off axis by 90 deg. off from cone centerline as well as the placement you recommend - TB, can you verify this? I will look at and experiment a bit with the Blue but will start with the same placement as well for it as the SM57.
 
Quote
BTW, the Blue mic did sound good. The 57 lacked depth compared to the other two. the way those files were recorded is was tough to determine the Blue from the FatHead. Not sure what listening to the actual .wav might reveal.
- LB - Do you think it would be worth it to post the original .wav files and the new ones of the Strat/Amp combo instead of .mp3 files? I agree and this is a good suggestion as something is getting lost in the .mp3 conversion. In addition folks could download the .wavs and put them in their DAW for an instant side by side comparison for and better listening quality. In the very least I will do this for the Strat setup and resultant files.
 
Quote
I -thought- I heard a little more character in the FatHead but that could be my imagination.
- LB - Exact same feelings here and most of my relistening done with the MP3 files, just some of my listening was done using the .wav files. Still hard with my ears to really pick up on the differences. I think for $59 that Blue is a hard one to pass up. No wonder my recording bud got 4 when He needed a few mics quick and cheap. To really take in the Blue mic you have to see one. Once you pick it up and feel the weight and how it looks and sounds you know you have a nice mic.
 
Quote
That's the thing with these mic comparisons. Not every mic is best positioned similar to another. Especially when you are using different type mics.
- LB - Yeah this is a tough one, as your choices are - 1. make all the mics the same position, i.e. have them face with their pick up pattern pointed at the sound hole -or- 2. try to fine tune them for optimal recording. (2.) is probably better, but adds more subjectiveness of the person trying to tune them. I mean what if they or in this case I do not get each mic in it's best position... it adds more randomness to the test. But I guess in the end this is the way to go and is a good suggestion by you!
 
Thanks TB for your comeback and help on this. I think the posts and thread are good. I wish I had access to a lot more mics as I would do the same with them once the testing method is refined and it would be a great place for folks to start considering what mic might work well for them in tying to capture their guitar sound experience. Now if I could sneak a few more by the wife I would make my next purchase a higher end condenser... but I would need to have more going on in my little home studio to justify it. For now 3 will keep me going fine. If I need more on the cheap they will be Blue mics. By the way that sale and rebate only last a few more days so if anyone in the US wants to pick one up let me know by PM and I will PM you the info on where to get them.
 
Thanks,
LB 
 
 
     
     
You can rock a bit here:
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"I just experiment in guitar and music, at times something good comes of it..."
LB

Offline TB-AV

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Re: 3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2011, 11:50:08 pm »
Quote
I thought the SM57 was to be off axis by 90 deg. off from cone centerline as well as the placement you recommend - TB, can you verify this?

Off axis by 90d would mean it was at right angle to speaker and no I have never seen one placed that way. 9d maybe but not 90d. Usually anything up to 45d

1" from edge of voice coil. Somewhere right in that region usually yields good results. It will be different for everything you are trying to do.

Ribbon on axis + 57 45d off axis


Again I would just set your amp and guitar for a good overall tone. Then spend a lot of time getting best sound from the 57. Next a lot of time from the other two mics. More than likely you are going to find that each mic will do a specific and interesting thing.

Blue may be selling that Mic at cost for some reason. Don't think for a minute that big studios are not using cheap mics. Yes, they have the good old stuff too, but there is a lot <$100 stuff being used daily.

So what is the deal on the Blue? I didn't realize this was a time sensitive thing.


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Offline LBro

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Re: 3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2011, 02:11:21 am »
Hi once again TB,

Thanks for the great input as always. Hum, for some reason I though the SM57 was shown by one "expert" at 90d to the cone axis... so much for that. The pic is a good example then and for sure on under $100 mics being put to a lot of production use in studios world wide.

Let see the mic dealer and rebate I guess is fine to post here if not remove as this is simply a good find that might help others. I think a Blue lists for about $99 and some times I see them as low as this $89 street price... but right now it can be had here for $79:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/656679-REG/Blue_ENCORE_100_enCORE_100_Dynamic_Handheld.html
But realize the rebate is only good until June 30th.
Note that Guitar center is charging $99 right now online. I just purchased from B&H and they were fast and reputable...

Hope that helps someone out there if they are looking for a good dynamic for a great price.

I have some time here tonight and will see what I can come up with on the mics placement and sound tests. I well may not have enough time to post anything up until later though.

LB
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"I just experiment in guitar and music, at times something good comes of it..."
LB

Offline TB-AV

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Re: 3 Mic Shootout: SM57, Blue 100, Fat Head -&- Reviews
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2011, 02:34:50 am »
That's a good deal. If I needed another mic I would definitely get one before the rebate is over.

----

90 degrees, Like I said I've just never seen it. Unless we are talking about two different things.

When the sound goes directly into the top of an SM57, that is 0 degrees. So you would rotate it to a right angle meaning it would be on the same plane as the grill cloth to be 90 degrees. If that's what they meant, it's an unusual setup. If it works for them, that's great. I've just never heard of anyone doing it. I have heard people do it with a Rode NT1 to tame some of that sizzle on the top end.
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