The new CMC 6 xt mic body from Schoeps is the latest update to theColette modular mic system. The body, which can be powered by either48-volt or 12V power supplies, can be joined to any of the axiallyaddressed Colette capsules (nine in all) to achieve a frequencyresponse beyond 40 kHz. The matte-gray unit used for the test lookedlike the standard CMC 6 except for the “xt” (extended)printed at the base near the connector. I paired the xt with the MK 41universal supercardioid capsule.
In the past, I've used other extended-range mics such as theSennheiser MKH-800 and several from Earthworks with good results, so Iwas interested to try the xt. I had the perfect opportunity to test themic on a CD project that would involve recording a variety of acousticinstruments at varying sampling rates.
I first used the xt on an acoustic guitar. After having greatresults in the past with the standard CMC 6, I expected at least thesame from the xt and got it. What's easy to like about the xt is thesmooth, silky top end and its size; because it's so light and tiny,it's very easy to maneuver into tight spots. It was a winner in thisapplication and became the first-call guitar mic for the rest of thesession. I found myself wishing for a pair to try in stereo.
Next, I had various bluegrass players come in for overdubs and usedthe mic on upright bass, fiddle, mandolin and banjo. For the upright, Iused two mics: one cardioid large-diaphragm near the floor, pointing upat the bridge, and the xt up closer to the players' right hand tocapture more of the string noise and attack. The combination soundedfantastic and allowed me to mix the lower and upper mics to taste. Thedetail that the xt afforded at the top was perfect and gave just theright balance that I was looking for. The xt is no wimp on the low end,either. When I isolated the xt, I had a very usable upright track,although I had to add some EQ at 100 Hz or so because of the mic'splacement.
The mandolin sounded great, as well, and when mixed, it cut throughthe rest of the instruments without sounding harsh; ditto for banjo.Transient response was very good on an instrument that is loud and cantend to be annoyingly harsh. The fiddle was interesting in that I hadto mike it closer than I would have liked to because the player wasinexperienced and played quietly. The room had some ambient noise thatI didn't want to be a factor, so I close-miked this usuallyscratchy-sounding instrument. The xt did a standup job, giving meplenty to work with later on when I had to add some EQ to warm itup.
An unexpected but revealing use of the mic came when I had to recorda small children's choir. I first put up an expensive, self-powered,large-diaphragm vocal mic to do the job and quickly discovered that thekids were overloading the mic (the power of youth!). Unfortunately, themic had no pad, so I had to make a quick decision, not wanting to losemy short-attention-spanned artists. The xt happened to be up on a standso I quickly plugged it in and sent it through a Millennia STT-1 micpreamp. The results were very good and much better than I had expected.It took plenty of level and gave me a track that did not need EQ'ingduring the mix.
Frankly, without close A/B'ing with the standard CMC 6, I'd find ithard to discern if I was getting the extended response promised bySchoeps. But I did have one interesting thing happen that made me an xtbeliever: On a solo guitar piece, I was working with an acoustic guitarthat I had recorded previously on a number of occasions so I wasfamiliar with the instrument. During the session, I put up the xt, gotthe sound and started recording the track. During playback, I noticedthat the harmonics were especially clear, present and bright. I askedthe artist if she had changed her strings and she said no, these wereold. Bing! I found that very interesting and telling, especiallybecause that track was recorded at 48k. In addition, aside from thesonic beauty that the xt captures, it's especially nice to be able tochoose exactly the capsule that you want. At $610 (body only), it's agood deal. I'm sold.
Distributed by Redding Audio, 203/270-1808, www.schoeps.de.
Kevin Becka is a technical editor at Mix.
Test Signal Chain
Interconnect: Hosa Pro mic cable
Mic Preamp(s): Millennia STT-1, Daking
52270B, Focusrite ISA 428
Multitrack: Pro Tools|HD
Power Amp: Crown Com-Tech 400
Speaker Cables: DiMarzio M-Path
Speakers: Westlake Lc 5.75
The room is approximately 13×25 feet with a peaked woodenceiling, carpeted floor and textured stucco walls with plenty ofnatural diffusion.