Condenser mics. Small diaphragm vs large for overheads

konaboy

Pioneer Member
So what's the advantage on condenser mics of using a small diaphragm mic vs a large diaphragm mic for overheads? Audix has the scx1 and adx51 small diaphragm and the cx212 large, AKG has the C1000 small and the 214 large, Blue seems to have primarly large condenser and so on with all the others. So just curious.
 

shemp

Silver Member
Re: Condenser mic's. Small diaphragm vs large for overheads

i think a lot of it has to do with the frequency response of the mic...and the polar pattern you are after. From a physics perspective, the large diaphragms will be able to respond to different frequencies and will have a different characteristic response, by and large, than the small diaphragm units....objectively, neither is good or bad or better or worse.

experimentation for the sound you want is the key and reading maybe some interviews from well known engineers and seeing what path they have taken.

i have both small and large...i've experimented with both and like both and can be happy with the results of both. At the moment I'm using two small diaphragm neumanns (i do not work for neumann)

With good placement and EQ/compression you can get convincing sounds out of a pair sm57 as overheads....
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Re: Condenser mic's. Small diaphragm vs large for overheads

All I can say is most overhead condensers I've seen for drums were small diaphragm. Why that is I can't say...Too bad Audiotech isn't here anymore. Denis really knows his stuff. Large diaphragm condensers are more common for vocals and room mics...at least from my obs.
That said, there's no reason at all that a large diaphragm mic can't be used as an overhead. The small diaphragm mics do come in matched pairs, I've never seen that with large diaphragm condenser mics.

Here's YT link that sheds some light on the subject:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GecdHVhoOc
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
Re: Condenser mic's. Small diaphragm vs large for overheads

Yeah Denis was great with sound stuff, sad he's not around. Not just for me but for everyone that's a member here.

Thanks for that link. So the pencil condenser faster and brighter, the large diaphragm described as a little slower response so a little warmer more natural sound.

Is MFB still lurking around?
 

makinao

Silver Member
Re: Condenser mic's. Small diaphragm vs large for overheads

There are some that say small diaphragm condensers are good for percussion overheads is that since the diaphragm is smaller, it can accelerate quicker. This makes it a good fit for most percussion instruments with a very fast attack and a lot of energy in the high frequency range.

On the other hand, I've gotten good results from LDCs too, the AKG 414 in particular. But that was in one particular studio where the 414, for some strange reason, worked best with almost everything from vocals to overheads to electric guitars. That studio had a good selection of mics, but we keep going back to their 414s. I'm pretty sure the room has something to do with it.

So in the studio, I won't question if the engineer automatically goes for either a SDC or a LDC because I assume he knows the mic collection and the room characteristics better than me. But I'll ask for a shootout if I'm not getting what I want.
 
Last edited:

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Re: Condenser mic's. Small diaphragm vs large for overheads

Yeah Denis was great with sound stuff, sad he's not around. Not just for me but for everyone that's a member here.

Thanks for that link. So the pencil condenser faster and brighter, the large diaphragm described as a little slower response so a little warmer more natural sound.

Is MFB still lurking around?
Still here.

You've basically nailed it. The transient response of a SDC is much faster than an LDC. If you're using overheads for 'just' cymbals and the attack of the toms, then a pair of SDCs are ideal. If you're after an overall kit sound, then an LDC is more appropriate.

The difference is quite small and I've used LDCs and SDCs in both applications. In a live setting, a set of SDCs is usually more appropriate to avoid frequency 'clustering' (usually around 250Hz - where most instruments have some kind of output) and avoiding stage rumble. A lot of decent LDCs have a low-frequency cut (shelf) filter to avoid stage rumble. High-quality LDCs also frequently have multiple polar patterns - which is a more obvious difference. AKG C414s are what I would think of as a 'standard' studio mic - with all of the above options.

In a studio, you can EQ the extraneous low frequencies out more easily and you'll get a more natural sound with an LDC. Having used a set of AKG C214s in the past, they would be my choice within the models you've mentioned - even though I own a C1000S (for its ability to be charged with a battery).

As with everything recording, placement is much more important than the mic you are using.
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
Re: Condenser mic's. Small diaphragm vs large for overheads

Still here.

You've basically nailed it. The transient response of a SDC is much faster than an LDC. If you're using overheads for 'just' cymbals and the attack of the toms, then a pair of SDCs are ideal. If you're after an overall kit sound, then an LDC is more appropriate.

The difference is quite small and I've used LDCs and SDCs in both applications. In a live setting, a set of SDCs is usually more appropriate to avoid frequency 'clustering' (usually around 250Hz - where most instruments have some kind of output) and avoiding stage rumble. A lot of decent LDCs have a low-frequency cut (shelf) filter to avoid stage rumble. High-quality LDCs also frequently have multiple polar patterns - which is a more obvious difference. AKG C414s are what I would think of as a 'standard' studio mic - with all of the above options.

In a studio, you can EQ the extraneous low frequencies out more easily and you'll get a more natural sound with an LDC. Having used a set of AKG C214s in the past, they would be my choice within the models you've mentioned - even though I own a C1000S (for its ability to be charged with a battery).

As with everything recording, placement is much more important than the mic you are using.
Duncan that's you? When did you change your screen name? (I'm evidently a little slow!)

So if you were only going with two overheads and a kick mic to mic a kit you'd go with the LDC's? Looking to mic up my DW Perfomance kit for practice and was just looking to go with a 3mic setup, figured that would get me what I want to hear and sound good.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Re: Condenser mic's. Small diaphragm vs large for overheads

Duncan that's you? When did you change your screen name? (I'm evidently a little slow!)

So if you were only going with two overheads and a kick mic to mic a kit you'd go with the LDC's? Looking to mic up my DW Perfomance kit for practice and was just looking to go with a 3mic setup, figured that would get me what I want to hear and sound good.
I changed the username ages and ages ago. Just have to look at the registration date!

If you were looking for a 3-mic setup, I would go with a pair of LDCs. XY or AB are probably the best bet depending on how much of a stereo field you want - you get a larger stereo field with AB.
 

Michael Madio

Pioneer Member
Re: Condenser mic's. Small diaphragm vs large for overheads

If you were looking for a 3-mic setup, I would go with a pair of LDCs. XY or AB are probably the best bet depending on how much of a stereo field you want - you get a larger stereo field with AB.
If you go with 3 LDC's, you can do a recorderman setup with one overhead, one over the shoulder, and the other for the kick. Sounds different than conventional stereo micing and can be very wide if you want.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Re: Condenser mic's. Small diaphragm vs large for overheads

If you go with 3 LDC's, you can do a recorderman setup with one overhead, one over the shoulder, and the other for the kick. Sounds different than conventional stereo micing and can be very wide if you want.
I'm not a fan of recorderman in all honesty. In an ideal World, I'd be doing M/S if I wanted an alternative stereo setup.
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
So if they aren't purchased as a match pair what problems are possible? I know guys add mics, replace mics on a regular basis, do they go out and buy matched pairs again?
 

shemp

Silver Member
there are some fantastic mics in both categories...it really boils down to frequency response, polar pattern and SPL before distortion given the source characteristics.

The most important factor is selection & placement given a good knowledge of the source....you could pick the best "U" mic known to man, but if it is not well placed or selected given the source, then it will not sound good. Some mics have gained immense favor because the response of the mic is favorable relative to and given the response of the source...this does not not mean it is better than something else, but it might be a great tool for that particular source.

There is a huge selection of fantastic mics out there and cost is not always the indicator of greatness or applicability.

if you go back and listen to some old Frank or Bob Seger....you will hear some of the worlds most popular "u" mics distorting...which sounds good to me...but might not be classified as "good"

experimentation is the key
 
Top