Now here we are with two (relatively) new mics in hand, and they say Peavey right on the box. Will they help focus more attention on what Peavey can bring to the studio?
First off, both mics are condensers. Cosmetically they are very similar, but there are some important differences. For example, the M1 has a cardioid pattern only, while the M2 allows choosing among cardioid, omni, and figure eight patterns. And diaphragms? The M1 has one and (surprise!) the M2 has two.
Now to the similarities: Both mics are based around large capsules with gold membranes. They each have a –10dB pad (which, when engaged, allows either mic to handle 140dB without distorting). They also both sport a low frequency rolloff feature, offer an overall response of 30Hz to 20kHz, and include a swivel mount and case.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s listen to how they perform.
First impression from the requisite “plug them in, sing through them, and see how they sound” test: dark. Now, that’s not a bad thing — there are many applications in which you’ll find that character incredibly useful. But they are definitely not on the “bright” or “shrill” end of the scale.
So I try them as drum overheads. Why? Because nowadays I use overheads primarily for cymbals. Fifteen years ago, I would have been looking for my overheads to pick up pieces of the entire kit, minus the kick. But now that I have unlimited tracks (thanks to digital!) and can use multiple mics to pick up each drum (as well as the room), I find myself lowering overheads and placing them strategically towards the cymbals so that the mics’ primary task is capturing the cymbals.
This application is where darker mics come in extremely handy — most cymbals can use a bit of mellowing, and dark mics perform that function well. This was certainly the case with these mics. I set the M2 to cardioid so that it matched the M1, engaged the –10dB pads on both, and sent them through the preamps of my DDA DVM224v console, directly to Pro Tools. Starting at about 28" above the cymbals, I noticed the mics’ low-end frequency response combated the harsh, “shrilly” quality of the cymbals — but I thought it would be appropriate to add a little more brightness. Lowering the mics to around 15" above the cymbals, about one foot apart from each other and cocked outwards away from one another, added just enough brightness to the sound. The positioning of the mics (facing away from each other) gave a good stereo image of the cymbals, and I was very happy with the resulting sound.
Next I tried the M1 and the M2 paired with a Shure SM57 (running into a Nice Pair preamp with a moderate gain stage, and into Pro Tools) on a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier (the source guitar was a ’60s Gibson Les Paul). With the 57 around two fingers from the grill, off-axis from the speaker, and the M1 and M2 both about 20" from the amp, I had to engage the pads to cool down the cranked signal. As I expected, the sound was a bit dark due to the low frequency response, so I flipped the rolloff switch to see how it would sound.
It wasn’t bad, but I decided we would be better off focusing on room sounds. So I took the M1 away, flipped the M2 into the omni pattern, and moved the mic a few inches closer to the amp. Bingo: The result was a really balanced, even sound — part room and part amp.
For the price, these are some pretty good mics. They have a unique sound, and their relative “darkness” makes them very practical in certain situations. Both mics can handle some serious SPL, and they have all the necessary options to make them useful on many sources, from drum overheads to loud guitar cabinets to general room duties. If you already have mics that provide high-end sizzle, the M1/M2 could be the ideal complement to round out your mic locker.
Product type: Large diaphragm condenser microphones.
Target audience: Budget recordists, or those looking to add a good, low-cost mic to their arsenal.
Strengths: Fair price. M2 has multiple polar patterns. Particularly good for drum overheads.
Limitations: You have to purchase the shockmount separately.
List prices: M1 $349, M2: $499