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November 16, 2011 / Randy Coppinger

Neumann vs. Studio Projects featuring Mae Whitman

The Neumann u87 microphone is commonly used for voice recording. People looking to cut costs have compared many lower priced microphones to it, such as the Studio Projects C1. Just how similar are these two, especially on voice?
Neumann u87Ai and Studio Projects LSD-2 microphones close view with capsules visible

I think the Studio Projects C series microphones offer impressive bang for your buck. That’s why I bought an LSD-2, which is a stereo version of the C3, which is the multi-pattern version of the C1. It’s no surprise these three mikes have nearly identical cardioid profiles.

Back in July we had Mae Whitman in the studio and she was kind enough to voice both mikes at the same time for this comparison. Each time we hear the u87Ai first.

Feel free to download and listen to the full bandwidth file on some decent speakers.

Ever hear of that old trick where you stop P-pops with a pencil? Mae was probably just taking that to an extreme.

The frequency plots of the LSD-2 and u87Ai look similar. In use these two do sound much the same. Whereas the Studio Projects mic has more high end (to the point of getting strident at times) it also seems slightly less full on bottom. The hyped top end tends to exaggerate mouth noise and sibilance. Lower priced mikes are not known for accurate off axis response, so I’m not surprised to hear a bit more room from the Studio Projects mic than the Neumann. For some voices these differences will be subtle, like we hear with Mae. On others the differences could be more noticeable.

I don’t think we’re going to fool many people using a Studio Projects C series mic as a replacement for a u87. But for roughly 1/10th the price a C1 provides some of the same flavor. Good to know.

Technical Details of the Comparison
Both mikes recorded at the same time (same take). Acquisition chain: u87Ai (cardioid, no pad, no rolloff), LSD-2 (cardioid, no pad, no rolloff) both to Focusrite Red 8 to Apogee PSX-100. Recorded 24bit, 48k Hz and level matched in ProTools by ear. 100 Hz low rolloff (18dB/ octave) applied in ProTools.

4 Comments

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  1. Jordan Reynolds / Nov 16 2011 11:28 am

    Ok this was cool! I’ve never even heard of that interesting dual capsule mic! After listening to the comparison, before reading your comments, my thoughts matched yours exactly. The LSD-2 produced more high end and was lacking in the low-mids compared to the U87Ai. It would be interesting to hear a baritone pitched male voice on this shootout. I’d guess that the differences would be more obvious. Out of the two I prefer the U87Ai based on it’s tamer highs and more present low-mids. Just added more presence and warmth to the voice. But the higher she pitched her voice the less noticeable the lower mid difference was.

    Ok, now I’m just aimlessly typing out my thoughts with no structure. Time to stop. Thanks for sharing this Randy!

    -Jordan Reynolds

    • Randy Coppinger / Nov 16 2011 11:50 am

      I’d like to compare these two mikes on other voices and in other rooms to better understand the differences. Thanks for listening and commenting Jordan.

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