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Author Topic: Milab DC-196 microphone  (Read 14869 times)

Barry Hufker

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Milab DC-196 microphone
« on: October 23, 2008, 07:36:07 pm »

It was Michael Aarvold who got me interested in this microphone.  I didn't know he had until some months later when I began looking for another pair of mics and thought again about the 196s.  I started reading reviews about the DC-196.  Each of them, in magazines I trust (such as Sound On Sound) was very complimentary.  So I bought a pair.  Here is a first impression.

They are great little mics!

I didn't know what to expect.  I'd never heard any Milab mics except maybe once thirty years ago.  Those were the 96s as I recall.  They were fine but I was never dying to own them.  Now many years later, here is the 196 and I believe it to be quite a leap forward from that previous experience.

I've only been able to hear them using my voice but I think they would sound good with a number of instruments and could quite possibly be an oft-chosen vocal mic.  As my initial thought, I would describe the mics as crisp but without a harsh high frequency response.  There is a certain smoothness to them as well.  The bottom is good and proximity effect is well-controlled.

All three patterns (omni, cardioid, figure-8) seem to be quite useful.  I can imagine using these mics for acoustic instruments, but am eager to hear them especially on choir, which I record a lot.  Each pattern has its own sound of course (as is typical of so many microphones if not all of them), but I believe a very good recording could be made with the 196s in spaced omnis, X/Y, M/S and Blumlein.  Unlike many other microphones possessing a roll-off in both the highs and lows in figure-8, the 196 maintains its bass and treble.  This should result in quite a nice, full sound with M/S or Blumlein.  I'm not sure there is enough side rejection in figure-8 but more experimentation will determine that.

I *think* I read somewhere around this site that Milab EQs their mics to maintain the high frequency response.  If so, they've done a good job.  Again, the top end is crisp but not unpleasant.  A C12 for instance would probably possess a sweeter top, but I'm confident it also doesn't have the clarity, low noise and low distortion the 196 has.

And although you might believe from a picture the mic is the size of a U-87 (especially given the 196's shape), it is actually *very* small.  It's a little bit bigger than a KM 84 (184, 140).  But it has some heft to it for its size and is obviously well built.

I ordered a matched-pair and Milab didn't disappoint.  Both mics came with their own frequency plot and a third plot showing how closely the mics match -- and they do match quite closely.  Because Milab doesn't manufacture microphones on the same scale as Neumann, Schoeps or Sennheiser, making a match took a few weeks, but it was well worth the wait.

The mics come in a nice, black "leatherette" box, which is foam lined inside.  Accessories include a mic clip and foam wind screen, as well as some literature.  A pleasant surprise was finding a beautiful postcard of Sweden with a charming note from Mattias Str
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maarvold

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2008, 09:41:38 pm »

Barry,

I became interested in the idea of a rectangular capsule--or, for that matter--any capsule that would spread out the distribution of the high frequency resonant signature that seems to accompany all condenser mics; this would also have to include the new Bock Audio 5-Zero-7 (with elliptical capsule) as well.  Since it is talking with me that got you interested in the Milab's, I'm very glad you like the mics.  
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Michael Aarvold
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Barry Hufker

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2008, 01:16:23 am »

Mike,

I had a chance to hear the DC-196s today on piano -- VERY NICE...
The bass was firm, extended and never bloated.  The mid was smooth, clean, balanced.  The highs were emphasized but not overly so. They were rather sweet, clean and clear.

Yes, I'm very happy.

Barry
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KB_S1

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2008, 12:22:11 pm »

I Have one of these mic's too and I agree entirely with your summary Barry.

I use it on snare, some vocals and acoustic instruments.
It is now my first stop mic' for fiddle.

I have also had success with it on upright bass where its uneven pickup pattern was very useful for a live band recording.

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Barry Hufker

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2008, 01:02:51 pm »

I've now had a chance to use the mics in ORTF (near coincident pair) for choir.  The sound is quite good, being clear and clean with a great sense of space and very fine imaging.  The bass is a little lighter than what I'm used to with a spaced pair of Sonodore RCM 402 omnis, but it's not a fair comparison as I didn't have the 196s in omni.  Given the distance I had to work with, cardioid was the better choice as I couldn't place the mics close enough for omnis to work.

Once again, I'm extremely satisfied with this fine little microphone.

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Berolzheimer

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2008, 01:57:19 pm »

What's the relationship between the 196 and the dc96?  I've used the 96's a few times over the years & always loved them, on lead vox, percussion, VO, sound effects recording & a few other things I don't remember.  It doesn't surprise me that they sound great on piano.  They do indeed have a very clear & extended low end, and one thing I liked was that when the proximity effect kicks in it's about an octave lower than it is in most mics.  

Gotta put those back on my list....

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maarvold

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2008, 03:28:08 pm »

Berolzheimer wrote on Tue, 02 December 2008 10:57

What's the relationship between the 196 and the dc96?


I'm pretty sure the 196's are substantially quieter... maybe a bit flatter too, although I can't remember for sure on that one.  
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Michael Aarvold
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Schallfeldnebel

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2008, 04:13:39 pm »

About 7 decibels more queiet. Probably transformerless. Could not find that on the website. http://www.milabmic.com

Erik Sikkema
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J.J. Blair

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2008, 06:10:10 pm »

All I know is that the VIP-50 looks like it should be labeled "Norelco."

http://www.milabmic.com/images/vip-50/vip-50.jpg
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Barry Hufker

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2008, 06:26:37 pm »

As I stated in my first post I don't really have any significant experience with the 96, but from the specs at the Milab site, the 196 is a great improvement.  I would bet that to be true.

It is however my estimation that you do indeed get a better, closer, cleaner shave with the VIP-50 than the 196.  But then again I'm a razor man...

index.php/fa/10576/0/


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Berolzheimer

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2008, 05:42:58 pm »

J.J. Blair wrote on Tue, 02 December 2008 15:10

All I know is that the VIP-50 looks like it should be labeled "Norelco."

http://www.milabmic.com/images/vip-50/vip-50.jpg


That's the first thing I thought when I looked at my new acm-4:

index.php/fa/10597/0/

I've never used the vip-50 but a friend of mine who's used both the dc96b and the vip-50 tells me the vip doesn't sound nearly as good.  Same capsule but different body  & different electronics.
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billiard

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2008, 07:17:56 pm »

Funny thing, the model number sometimes escapes me because I still call these "shavers".


index.php/fa/10598/0/


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Berolzheimer

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2008, 01:53:40 am »

maarvold wrote on Tue, 02 December 2008 12:28

Berolzheimer wrote on Tue, 02 December 2008 10:57

What's the relationship between the 196 and the dc96?


I'm pretty sure the 196's are substantially quieter... maybe a bit flatter too, although I can't remember for sure on that one.  


Interesting.  As it happens I was transferring some sound effects last night that I recorded with the dc96b, and there was nothing that sounded to me like microphone self noise on the tracks.
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Daniel Farris

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2008, 11:05:48 am »

I love my DC96, and I've always thought it was really quiet as well.

It has been in regular use for over 10 years at my place. Especially on ridiculously loud guitars. It's nearly impossible to overdrive one.

I'll look into the DC196. I'm intrigued.

DF
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J.J. Blair

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Re: Milab DC-196 microphone
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2008, 03:54:19 am »

It's an MD421.  There's actually a Paul Revere and the Raiders performance on Dick Clark or somethig, where Mark Lindsay pretends to shave with one of these.  


billiard wrote on Thu, 04 December 2008 16:17

Funny thing, the model number sometimes escapes me because I still call these "shavers".


index.php/fa/10598/0/




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studio info

They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham
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