Beyer Soundstar Mk II and M260 N(C)S
The fare on the menu this month takes us to the Beyer range of microphones. The importers, Beyer UK, have submitted the M400 N(C)S moving coil and given it the more easily remembered name Soundstar Mk II, together with the M260 N(C)S with a ribbon transducer.
Again, like last month, we will look at the models in a variety of situations and use them in company with a couple of other mics to allow the judgement to be relative and not in isolation. The other mics set up beside the Beyers will not be anonymous as far as I'm concerned, and are the EV PL91A from last month's issue and an AKG D330 BT, which should be featured in its own right shortly.
Some background initially — ribbon dynamic transducers are still a Beyer speciality whereas other manufacturers largely seem to ignore this form of transducer. Its use in the M260 is unusual for the genre, in the accepted sense, as it is in a 'stick' mic and has a hyper-cardioid pick-up pattern as opposed to the more usual use of ribbons as figure of eights with a 'flat' stand-up presentation.
Beyer dub hyper-cardioid as super-cardioid. The term refers to a pick-up pattern half way between cardioid (heart shaped) and figure of eight.
The Soundstar Mk II moving coil is also supercardioid and for this there was a data sheet giving lots of details, including typical frequency response and polar patterns. The latter shows a narrowing of the front pick-up at HF. It's the variation of frequency response with angle to the mic which will account for changes in the sound, either off axis or in the total sound in more reflective acoustics. This latter is more likely to be noticed out and about in PA or location recording, as opposed to 'treated' studio situations.
Both mics come supplied with black leatherette 'presentation' cases with foam infill. The Soundstar has an additional slip on foam 'pop' filter and is supplied with a 7.5m cable with a Cannon connector for the mic and a tip and sleeve ¼" jack plug at the recorder/mixer end. The M260 is supplied with a machine run, on axis, frequency response curve. Both have stand adapters of the quick clip in type. On/off switches are fitted with the curiosity of them being operated in opposite directions for on! Must make life difficult for performers! Finally on background — both are the nominal 200 ohm rating requiring connection to input impedances of 1000 ohms or greater.
It is very difficult to list a set of specific uses for either (or any of the mics lined up). There are differences — the M260 being, as expected, more extended in LF and without the (albeit subtle) upper middle and HF lift of the M400. The latter is more the vocal mic although the literature does not think of it as this exclusively. It certainly gives a clear 'cut through' in this situation. For instrumental pick up both perform very well — again bearing out my adage that good mics always come through. OK, we are not in the crossed pair flat response situation, but the careful tailoring of mics such as the M400 enable clean vocal and instrumental pick up for recording and PA work.
The M260 Ribbon seems to be a little boomy on speech — or more particularly, it allows the room to affect the sound more; and yet on cymbals and guitar there is a HF delicacy — the ribbon sound? The M400 is less prone to proximity bars rise as there is a bass roll-off at normal distances. Also it is 'P' blast protected that bit better, and more so with the add on shield. All as expected as it is intended for vocal usage.
Both have a higher handling noise than I think I am really expecting. This aspect is certainly setting me on the lookout for mics which excel in this respect.
So summarising — mics in this class offer solid, no problem, usage. They will take high levels, and have a decent feel and expectation of reliability which will reward purchasers. Again, a pair of mics thoroughly recommended.
Both mics are available from Beyer Dynamic Microphones, 1 Clair Road, Haywards Heath, Sussex.
Gear in this article:
Review by Mike Skeet
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