A quick mic/preamp comparison on a Dulcimer

by Nikolay Georgiev on December 3, 2013

Here is a quick comparison on dulcimer…

Shure KSM141 stereo pair (set to cardioid) into AMS Neve 1073 DPA preamp (HiZ option) VS AKG 460B (cardioid) into Grace Design Lunatec V3 preamp, both going into Avid HD I/O converters (the Channel Path of the SSL G+ console was bypassed on the way to the converter and I used only the Monitor Path for monitoring and Cue Mix purposes).

Nothing meticulous or scientific about the comparison – on the contrary – not an entirely fair one! (as you could probably see from the picture, the  Shure pair was spread about 8cm less than the AKGs). However, I really enjoyed the results and I see a value in sharing those two very different to my ears sounds. The levels were almost identical to Pro Tools, but I have properly RMS level matched them for a reasonable AB listening comparison. With a great player like James Lascelles and a good instrument it is all so easy… To me the 460B/Grace combo excels by much in this comparison, although, both sounds are really nice. James and my assistants were surprised that I put the mics so far from the instrument – even more surprised when they heard the result into the speakers! Another case that illustrates how some distance between the mics and the instrument is needed if one’s after a natural and balanced sound!

A few things need to be said here: 1) the preamps were  very different and this certainly has a huge impact on the sound (the Grace has a much more accurate transient response, has no transformers, and its entire idea is to deliver a very clean and accurate sound), 2) as stated above, the 460Bs were a bit more spread out above the instrument (thus the wider stereo image).

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