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Vocal Mics That Win Blind Shootouts

Vocal Mic Shoot Out - £30k

We have vocal mics that win shootout contests. In the last blind test, supervised by Sirkus CEO K Robin Junga at De Montfort University the humble AT2020(apparently favoured by Billie Eilish, nearly outperformed the Neumann M147. It beat the Neumann U87, Neumann U67, AKG C12VR, AKG C414, Flea and £30K’s worth of other top mics. It was the first year in 8 years running that any Neumann mic broke into the top 4 blind choices of the group listening. So in real world recording decent ears are choosing mics that don’t fit many’s expectations. Go figure.

For all the previous years the oft chosen tube Rode NTK and the workhorse Shure SM58 joined the AT2020 in the top 4 on both baritone male vocals and soprano female. Ultimately, It’s the sound of each artist in each song that counts, not the price tag. Don’t be fooled by slick marketing or received wisdom, the Neumann U87 is often a poor lead vocal mic choice. it has a real 3kHz honk when you hit it hard with vocals or brass.

We also have vocal mics like our original Russian-made Oktava MK319, and we use the AKG MD421 with some rappers – percussive sounds are generally better captured by dynamic mics rather than condensers. The 421 is an all round legend on vocals. toms. kicks. guitar, bass….

Original Russian Oktava 319 Vocal Microphone Sirkus Studios
Original Russian Oktava 319
Classic Shure SM58 Vocal Microphone Sirkus Studios
Classic Shure SM58
Tube Rode NTK Vocal Microphone Sirkus Studios
Tube Rode NTK
Sennheisser MD421 Vocal Microphone Sirkus Studios Dru7ms, Bass , Guitar
Sennheisser MD421
Humble but great AT 2020 vocal microphone Sirkus Studios
Humble AT 2020

Here’s an except from the Facebook article linked

Some of the more coloured tube mics weren’t as appealing this year, as they can be on other material. And the C12VR and WA47 were faulty from the resultant sounds, so factor those out. The C12VR should shine in a situation like this in my experience. Like the M147, and indeed the Flea 12 – by definition – since it too emulates the original C12! You’d hope for something pretty damn special at those eye-watering price points right?Full Line up with Logic channel inputs as key for anyone with the full stems:

Mic 1 – Shure SM58
Mic 2 – EV RE20
Mic 3 – Coles 4038
Mic 4- Neumann U87
Mic 5 – Neumann U67 tube
Mic 6 – Warm Audio WA47 ( seemed faulty)
Mic 7 – Flea 12
Mic 8 – Neumann M147
Mic 9 – AKG C12VR ( seemed faulty)
Mic 10 – Rode NTK
Mic 11 – AKG C414
Mic 12 – Neumann TLM 102
Mic 13 – AT2020
Mic 14 – Sontronics- STC-20
Mic 15 – Aston Spirit
Mic 16 – Oktava MKL-2500

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