Saturday, March 3, 2012

Schoeps CMIT Analog Shotgun Mic


Schoeps CMIT Analog Shotgun
Yes, there is now a Schoeps Digital shotgun mic. But this analog version came first in 2005 after some arm twisting and it's a great sounding mic. I'll post my review of the digital SuperCMIT later.

Imagine the surprise of shotgun mic users everywhere to find that Schoeps finally caved after twenty years and made a shotgun microphone. At the 2005 New York AES Convention, there it was, in blue anodized aluminum. No other mic on the planet looks like it so they get marketing marks for that alone. What took them so long? What are the implications? What are the features? How does it sound? We can only guess what changed their mindset from, “We don’t want/need to.”

Obviously a profit motive exists. The CMIT (Condenser Mic With Interference Tube) lists for $1795. Not that you could easily buy one at the moment. The first somewhat smallish production run has already been pre-sold to just over 100 location audio pros. More are due later this year.

 Surely there are enough shotgun mics on the market already, and for a lot less than $1795. True, but if you’re at the top of your game and already have a Schoeps CMC641 for booming interior dialog, having a shotgun for sound stage and outdoor work that matches the sound of the CMC641 insures the continuity of sound from one shot to the next. Of course, that’s providing the two mics sound anything alike. They sound very much alike. The only differences I heard were due to proximity. That’s to be expected and the three EQ switches take care of that.

So now the location audio recordist can help the postproduction department, because post won’t have to fidget around with EQ to match the sound of, say, a Sennheiser 416 to a Schoeps CMC641

FEATURES

The Schoeps CMIT is a supercardioid mic with two high-pass filters, 18 dB/oct below 80 Hz and 6 dB/oct below 300 Hz, and a HF lift filter that starts at 1 kHz and lifts to +5 dB at 10 kHz. The filters may be used separately or in combination. Each filter is activated by a push button on the body of the mic. Each filter position shows a legend for the EQ curve and each filter has red and green LEDs that are visible at a distance to indicate in/out status. The two high pass filters are used to control LF ambient noise and to adjust for proximity. The +5 dB at 10 kHz filter compensates for high frequency loss when the CMIT is used, as they typically are, in a Rycote Windshield and Windjammer, or Softie for exterior work.

While not the most sensitive shotgun on the planet, at 17 mV/Pa with an a-weighted equivalent noise of 13 dB, the CMIT is well within the range of other shotguns. The CMIT requires 4.4 ma of Phantom Power at 48 V DC. It’s maximum output voltage is 1.3 V (1 kHz, 1 k Ohm) and it has an output impedance of 50 Ohms. At 3 and 1/8 ounces, it’s one of the lightest shotguns on the market. The importance of which will be quickly appreciated by boom operators.

For those not yet acquainted with the Schoeps sound, I can describe it as extremely natural with an impressive amount of midrange detail. I use the CMC641 to capture voice, acoustic guitar, drum overheads, tambourine, egg and guitar amps. It always make things sound pretty much the way they do sound, only slightly better...richer. Not in an obvious, hyped sort of way, just right there.

IN USE

So now, after all this time, there’s a Schoeps shotgun that sounds very much like their CMC641. You may be thinking, right...shotgun...interference tube...careful, not cool to use in the studio due to sound bouncing off hard surfaces and being chopped up as it enters the interference tube. You’d be right. But wait! That only counts if you’re in normal spaces with hard walls, ceilings, floors, windows and big tables. You don’t find those slappy conditions in most studios because they have been designed to be less reflective. I know. I’ve tried it.

I was comparing two shotguns, thinking, “Damn! They sound really nice for interference tube mics. Oh, right, I’m in an acoustically damped recording studio. Doh!” At 5-6 feet, even in a studio, the sound is very distant and the difference between the CMIT and a Sennheiser MKH 416 is minimal. The room has more of an effect. The 416 has a slight HF edge. That’s without the CMIT’s 10 kHz lift switch turned on. With that switch engaged, the CMIT is slightly brighter and has slightly more self noise. At three feet, the 416 pattern is more apparent. At that distance, the width of the pattern is a little over two feet.

When you’re in the pattern, you can definitely hear the loss of HF response when you move out of it. With the CMIT, the pattern is about the same width, but the predominant frequencies are lower, somewhere in the midrange. Moving out of pattern results in a more subtle aural shift. Booming from overhead outside with both mics was revealing. Due to its signature peaky response, the 416 heard more footfalls and gravel under foot. The CMIT, not so much.

The CMIT is not quite as sensitive as the 416, and requires 5-6 dB more preamp gain. When the preamp is increased to make the two mics the same level, the CMIT has slightly more selfnoise. You’ve heard that people have been using shotgun mics as V/O mics in the studio for years. The Schoeps CMIT does a very nice job on voiceovers in the studio, sounding much like a CMC641.

The EQ switches are very helpful in reducing proximity, low frequency noise and boosting the HF. I have .wav files of the CMIT and other mics in a folder called ‘Schoeps CMIT’ in the On Line Archives on my website; www.tyford.com. You’ll also hear and see examples of what happens when I used the CMIT on acoustic guitar and as a single mic from above to capture both voice and guitar. Even though the audio portion of the videos is compressed, you can hear how well the CMIT does in these applications.

SUMMARY At $1795, in 2005, the Schoeps CMIT is an expensive mic in today’s lowball market.  The price continues to vary based on the conversion rate between the Euro and the US Dollar. Fortunately for Schoeps, it’s a great sounding mic. Once you hear it, you’ll understand and want it.

PRODUCT POINTS

Schoeps CMIT Shotgun Mic Plus • Great sound • High-pass filter and HF shelf EQ • Light weight 3.8 ounces Minus • Expensive The Score An excellent piece of gear to add to your kit. Mildly addictive.

Reach Ty Ford at www.tyford.com

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