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Schoeps CMC 6 xt, August 2003
May 14, 2004 12:00 PM, By Kevin Becka
THE COLETTE MODULAR SYSTEM GOES HIGH-BANDWIDTH
The new CMC 6 xt mic body from Schoeps is the latest update to the Colette modular mic system. The body, which can be powered by either 48-volt or 12V power supplies, can be joined to any of the axially addressed Colette capsules (nine in all) to achieve a frequency response beyond 40 kHz. The matte-gray unit used for the test looked like the standard CMC 6 except for the “xt” (extended) printed at the base near the connector. I paired the xt with the MK 41 universal supercardioid capsule.
In the past, I've used other extended-range mics such as the Sennheiser MKH-800 and several from Earthworks with good results, so I was interested to try the xt. I had the perfect opportunity to test the mic on a CD project that would involve recording a variety of acoustic instruments at varying sampling rates.
I first used the xt on an acoustic guitar. After having great results in the past with the standard CMC 6, I expected at least the same from the xt and got it. What's easy to like about the xt is the smooth, silky top end and its size; because it's so light and tiny, it's very easy to maneuver into tight spots. It was a winner in this application and became the first-call guitar mic for the rest of the session. I found myself wishing for a pair to try in stereo.
Next, I had various bluegrass players come in for overdubs and used the mic on upright bass, fiddle, mandolin and banjo. For the upright, I used two mics: one cardioid large-diaphragm near the floor, pointing up at the bridge, and the xt up closer to the players' right hand to capture more of the string noise and attack. The combination sounded fantastic and allowed me to mix the lower and upper mics to taste. The detail that the xt afforded at the top was perfect and gave just the right balance that I was looking for. The xt is no wimp on the low end, either. When I isolated the xt, I had a very usable upright track, although I had to add some EQ at 100 Hz or so because of the mic's placement.
The mandolin sounded great, as well, and when mixed, it cut through the rest of the instruments without sounding harsh; ditto for banjo. Transient response was very good on an instrument that is loud and can tend to be annoyingly harsh. The fiddle was interesting in that I had to mike it closer than I would have liked to because the player was inexperienced and played quietly. The room had some ambient noise that I didn't want to be a factor, so I close-miked this usually scratchy-sounding instrument. The xt did a standup job, giving me plenty to work with later on when I had to add some EQ to warm it up.
An unexpected but revealing use of the mic came when I had to record a small children's choir. I first put up an expensive, self-powered, large-diaphragm vocal mic to do the job and quickly discovered that the kids were overloading the mic (the power of youth!). Unfortunately, the mic had no pad, so I had to make a quick decision, not wanting to lose my short-attention-spanned artists. The xt happened to be up on a stand so I quickly plugged it in and sent it through a Millennia STT-1 mic preamp. The results were very good and much better than I had expected. It took plenty of level and gave me a track that did not need EQ'ing during the mix.
Frankly, without close A/B'ing with the standard CMC 6, I'd find it hard to discern if I was getting the extended response promised by Schoeps. But I did have one interesting thing happen that made me an xt believer: On a solo guitar piece, I was working with an acoustic guitar that I had recorded previously on a number of occasions so I was familiar with the instrument. During the session, I put up the xt, got the sound and started recording the track. During playback, I noticed that the harmonics were especially clear, present and bright. I asked the artist if she had changed her strings and she said no, these were old. Bing! I found that very interesting and telling, especially because that track was recorded at 48k. In addition, aside from the sonic beauty that the xt captures, it's especially nice to be able to choose exactly the capsule that you want. At $610 (body only), it's a good deal. I'm sold.
TEST SIGNAL CHAIN
Interconnect: Hosa Pro mic cable
Mic Preamp(s): Millennia STT-1, Daking 52270B, Focusrite ISA 428
Multitrack: Pro Tools|HD
Power Amp: Crown Com-Tech 400
Speaker Cables: DiMarzio M-Path
Speakers: Westlake Lc 5.75
The room is approximately 13x25 feet with a peaked wooden ceiling, carpeted floor and textured stucco walls with plenty of natural diffusion.
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