A customer recently wanted to know if the Earthworks SR40v was worth the extra money over the Neumann KMS105. Here's what he reported :
The Earthworks is undoubtedly an astounding microphone. It’s flat response and accurate reproduction were as I expected. The only problem is that, unless you maintain a relatively constant distance from it – as you would in a studio situation – the proximity effect is quite detrimental. Because of this, I found I had to roll off quite a lot of lower-mid (I tend to ‘kiss’ the mic at times) to get the best results. This then causes the sound to get a little too thin when ‘backing off’ for big notes. It’s a great mic, but I think I would probably need to employ some in-line compression so I could maintain a fixed distance from the mic and would also have to ‘unlearn’ the mic technique I’ve acquired over the many years I have been singing. In short, I think it would require quite a lot of effort to get the most from it.
I think the Neumann, with it’s subtle bass roll-off and slight lift at around 12Khz is a little better thought out as far as singing in the real world is concerned. I found I could move into the mic for quieter passages without fear. The ‘glassy’ high-end also gives the mic a quality often missing in live vocals. Of course, this relies on a decent PA for it to be truly appreciated, but I used the KMS105 in a rehearsal studio last week and, given the quality of PA that was there, the mic made it sound better than it had any right to!
So, of the 2, it has to be the Neumann.
Many thanks to Howard Rogers for his excellent feedback.