Today we're looking an awesome microphone from Telefunken, the M81.
For this review, I have the mic connected directly to the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen, with the gain set at 3:00. I have done no post processing on the audio, it is all raw, but the audio was slightly boosted in final cut pro X to simply make the audio easier to listen to.
If you are interested in this microphone, it will set you back $250.00 on Amazon
What's In the Box
Frequency Response: 30Hz - 18kHz
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Max SPL: 140dB
Performance / Features
The build quality of this mic is outstanding. It has a great feeling machined metal body that has a really good amount of weight to it, which feels nice in the hand. It has a shiny metal mesh grill on the top which seems sturdy enough to handle the abuse of stage use. Inside the grill there is a substantial amount of foam, as well as an additional piece of foam to attempt to curb plosives.
The frequency response is listed as 30Hz - 18kHz. The frequency response on this mic has a slightly recessed mid section that helps with clarity, but avoids having a v-sound or scooped mid sound. The presence boost on this mic helps you cut through a mix, but immediately after the boost, the air frequencies are rolled off drastically to help battle shrill higher frequencies. Lastly, the low end is controlled well. It allows for some decent proximity effect without getting overly boomy or muddying up your mix.
The polar pattern of this mic is cardioid. The off axis coloration on this thing is incredible. At 90-degrees the tone is almost the exact same as at 0-degrees, just quieter. At 180-degrees the rejection is impressive as well. In my tests there was minimal keyboard noise from my Cherry MX blues, and I think would translate great to a live venue.
The overall performance of this mic is excellent. On spoken word you're getting great clarity with a nice warm sound even with the slight mid-cut while the low end allows you to utilize the proximity effect without ruining a recording. One draw back to this mic is that it did not handle plosives well at all. Therefore if you plan on using this mic on a singer, you may want to add an additional windscreen. The company states that this mic is a great option for taming brighter vocals and guitar tones and for fattening up percussion, horns, and thinner sounding sources.
Amazing off-axis coloration
Sturdy build quality
Decent job with handling noise
Did not handle plosives that well
A bit expensive in comparison to other handheld dynamics
I think this is a great mic to have in your live mic locker. When comparing this to the industry standard SM58, the slight mid cut and the less prominent low end makes for better clarity in singing/guitar, as well as offering a more forgiving sound for performers with less than optimal microphone technique. The presence boost will also help stick through a mix, and the air roll off will keep the harshness from overwhelming your mix. If you're just looking for a new tone to add to your live sound, I think this would be a great option.
If you have any additional questions about this microphone, leave them on the youtube video, and I will try to reply ASAP.