Technology

Field Test: Beyerdynamic Opus 69 and 81

Beyerdynamic's latest performance mics are the Opus 69 and the Opus 81. The $299 69 is a supercardioid dynamic intended for live sound applications, ranging 4/01/2001 8:00 AM Eastern

Beyerdynamic's latest performance mics are the Opus 69 and theOpus 81. The $299 69 is a supercardioid dynamic intended for livesound applications, ranging from vocals to miking instruments andcabinets. The $425 81 cardioid condenser (back electret) is equallyusable onstage and in the studio for vocals and acousticinstruments. The mics offer a black matte finish, sleek styling andrugged construction, built to endure long outings on the road; bothinclude mic clips and padded carry bags.

THE OPUS 69

Boasting a respectable frequency response of 35 to 16k Hz, the69 was a solid performer in live sound situations. On vocals, I setup the 69 for the lead vocalist in a local rock band. With a fullP.A. and live drums, I A/B'd between the 69 and the SM58s that wenormally use. The first thing I noticed was the level differenceand the clarity; I normally spend a good amount of time fightingwith the gain and the EQ to get the lead vocal to cut through. Withthe 69's noticeably higher output and excellent rejection, I couldback the gain way off while preserving a great-sounding signal. The69 produces a pronounced mid-range boost that provides a brightsound without requiring EQ. All of this yields a very clear andeasy-to-use signal.

The 69's extremely tight pattern does wonders to reduce leakage,but performers who sing while playing or moving around a lot shouldget acquainted with this mic before going onstage. In my studio, Iset up the 69 for some demo work and tracked my own vocals and adirect guitar line. In playing back the material (without addingcompression), I noticed substantial level differences in my vocalson each of the more difficult chord changes where I was turning myhead. After a few run-throughs, I was used to the 69's pattern— this tight, supercardioid response is something performersneed to know about before using this mic.

On acoustic guitar, the 69 seemed an obvious choice. On a boomstand positioned approximately 10 inches from the performer, the 69sounded great — clear, uncluttered, full and warm. The sameapplied to guitar and bass cabinets; the 69 rocked on both a FenderPrinceton and a Peavey TNT bass amp. The mic had no trouble withhigh SPLs, and its handling of heavily effected guitar tones wasexactly what one would expect from a mic of this caliber.

THE OPUS 81

The Opus 81 has a stated frequency response of 50 to 18k Hz anda max SPL of 138 dB. The capsule is fitted with a tight meshcovering, which doubles as an internal pop screen and protectivecover to keep saliva and dirt out of the condenser element.

On lead vocals, the 81 sounded like a happy medium between ahigh-end dynamic and mid-level studio condenser. It didn't quitehave the warmth, character or features of, say, a RØDE NT-2,but it sounded noticeably fuller and richer than any of thedynamics I paired it against. This mic would be an especially goodfit for younger performers, quieter singers, and softer, morenuanced performances. The mic's internal pop screen was fairlyresistant to plosives, and the 81 had almost no handling noise.

I also tried the 81 on guitar and violin in the studio, and themic continued to impress me, providing the kind of clear, pristinesignal that you almost don't want to touch. On guitar, the 81'sresponse was flat and predictable, with the performer positionedsix to 12 inches away and even swaying around a bit. With theviolin, I felt the need to keep the performer on the mic a littletighter, but, again, the 81 provided a realistic and uncoloredsignal.

CONCLUSIONS

For performers who play in less-than-ideal locales, where themic selection leaves something to be desired, a complement of Opus69s for your vocalists will do wonders to improve your overallsound. The Opus 81 could be a dream come true for performersworking pro venues where phantom power is available. These are twomics that you'll definitely hear the difference.

Beyerdynamic, 56 Central Ave., Farmingdale, NY 11735;631/293-3200; fax 631/293-3288; www.beyerdynamic.com.


Robert Hanson, Mix's editorial assistant, is a musician/producerwho somehow manages to survive in San Francisco.

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