beyerdynamic MC 950 Review

The newest small-diaphragm condenser mic from beyerdynamic is the supercardioid MC 950 ($599). Like the other mics in the MC 900
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The MC 950 is an end-address supercardioid condenser intended for miking piano, choirs, orchestras, and drum overheads.

The newest small-diaphragm condenser mic from beyerdynamic is the supercardioid MC 950 ($599). Like the other mics in the MC 900 line (the cardioid MC 930 and omni MC 910), the MC 950 is intended for both spot and main miking of piano, choir, orchestra, guitar, and any source where natural sound is the goal.

All three mics employ the same capsule, -15dB pad and 6dB/octave LF roll-off fixed at 250Hz. The only difference between the models is the fixed pickup patterns of each model. (The capsules cannot be swapped.) The design of the MC 900 line allows the capsule to be fitted right at the edge of the body, eliminating some of the reflections that occur in other microphones where the capsule is recessed in the chassis. An optional windscreen is available for outdoor use.

The pronounced sense of rear rejection in the supercardioid pattern is well suited for minimizing the amount of other sources getting picked up, particularly in a live situation. The MC 950''s rear rejection is quite good and quickly falls off further from the source, although a certain amount of low-end content can enter from the back side when used close to a loud instrument with a lot of low end. When used close up and on-axis, the mic provides a fullness and toughness to the low midrange, and as you move in closer, the low bottom end blossoms nicely. The pad allows close placement on high-SPL sources such as a guitar cabinet or Leslie.

Each mic comes with a mic clip, a carry bag, and its own frequency chart, which displays a subtle 2dB to 3dB dip in the 4kHz to 8kHz range and an equal amount of lift in the 9kHz to 14kHz area. The result is actually flattering on most sources without sounding unnatural. I received a matched set of MC 950s for review that showed a slight 1dB difference around 6kHz, although in practice they sounded identical.

I recorded acoustic guitar, upright piano, and vocals, and the key for me was finding the sweet spot, which seemed to be 6 inches to 12 inches away from the source. If the mic is much closer than that, the proximity effect of the supercardioid pattern really kicks in, although employing the LF rolloff helped somewhat. Moving back beyond three feet on a source resulted in a quick falloff of both the high and low end, resulting in a thinner, nasal midrange quality. I would imagine the MC 930 cardioid and the MC 910 omni would be better suited for miking over greater distances while the MC 950 is at its best as a spot mic or in live settings. Home studios with less-than-flattering room acoustics would benefit from the MC 950''s rear-rejection characteristics while close-miking instruments and vocals.

When you do find the sweet spot, the MC 950 opens up and sounds huge. I really liked my upright piano with the MC 950s about 18 inches away underneath the player side, and my voice sounded very natural at 6 inches to 8 inches away with no LF rolloff. The subtle dip and boost characteristics of the MC 950 may not be for everyone, but it helps minimize sibilance and adds a little air to the signal that might be the right amount of finish for many tracks, especially on a crowded live date with a multitude of instruments and microphones.

Some sources can get a little raspy. I noticed that my Taylor acoustic guitar was not immediately as pleasing on the top end as my Tacoma acoustic. However, as I adjusted my left to right position and experimented with moving in and out, I found a position that ultimately sounded great on the Taylor using the pair of MC 950s.

If you don''t mind showing a little patience and finding the right spot for the MC 950, the results are excellent and competitive with microphones three times the price.

Overall Rating (1 through 5): 3
MC 950 Product Page