beyerdynamic MCD 100 Microphone with MPD 200 Power Supply

The beyerdynamic digital mic may currently be the only digital microphone on the market today. The gimmick (if you will) of this mic is the idea of an analog-to-digital transfer immediately following a high-quality condenser capsule. This will eliminate, or at least reduce, the possibility of any interference from mic lines, preamps, patchbays, etc.
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The MCD 100 is a cardioid condenser microphone designed for fully digital studio recording. It's been designed for direct connection to digital mixing consoles or provides a standard AES/EBU output signal with a sampling frequency or 48 kHz. The company claims an impressive dynamic range of 150 dB and an omnidirectional brother, the MCD 101.
Product PointsApplications: Commercial and project studios (if digitally equipped)

Key Features: Fixed cardioid pattern, digital AES/EBU output only; output adjustable in 6 dB steps.

Price: MCD 100: $2,500; MPD 200 power supply: $1,599

Contact: beyerdynamic at 800-293-4463.

Plus

+ Great sounding mic

+ Very low noise floor

+ Handles high SPL

Minus

- Setup requires additional steps

- Cheaply made case

The Score; "Well-suited for critical vocal recording. I wish I owned one."
The beyerdynamic digital mic may currently be the only digital microphone on the market today. The gimmick (if you will) of this mic is the idea of an analog-to-digital transfer immediately following a high-quality condenser capsule. This will eliminate, or at least reduce, the possibility of any interference from mic lines, preamps, patchbays, etc.

Features

I must admit, the plastic case and the lack of weight of the components themselves (mic and preamp), as well as the general appearance of this microphone, did not have me rushing to test it immediately. For the price of this mic - $2,500 for the mic, plus $1,599 for the power supply - I expected something more along the lines of a brushed aluminum construction with a steel power supply (not plastic). This was especially disappointing in a mic of German design.

The carrying case is made of lightweight molded plastic. Hinges are created by simply making the plastic thinner in the middle than it is on the sides and folding the two ends together, forming a crease. The case just doesn't seem up-to-snuff for a mic in this price range.

The mic has no rolloffs or pads or moving parts of any kind. The manual does say, however, that if you want a unique microphone, special filter characteristics can be implemented in the DSP program. beyer will need the desired filter parameters and will exchange your mic's EEPROM. There is a charge for this optional service.

The power supply is about the size of a sandwich. It houses two XLR inputs (two mics) and one AES/EBU output (left and right). It has a word clock in and a word clock out. Gain control is implemented by two buttons, one up and one down, in 6 dB steps, and is indicated by nine amber LEDs.

In use

My first attempt to use this mic was a disappointment. Hookup of the mic involves an extra step not normally required. In addition to the standard connections from the mic to the power supply, it requires clocking to a digital console or tape machine and finally connecting the AES output of the supply to the AES input of the digital console.

The studios I tend to work in are generally equipped with digital tape machines and analog consoles. I plugged directly into the tape machine (a Sony 3348) and used the Sony as my master clock. This clocking path was unsatisfactory so I reversed the path and made the mic the master clock. Neither way worked and I was already at the end of a long day, so decided to try this mic another day.

I had been working on a Christmas CD with Amy Grant that was, for the most part, orchestral and very elegant sounding. All vocals up to this point had been recorded with a Neumann U67 through a Martech mic preamp. One song on the album was to be a departure from the rest, in that it was more of a pop track. I decided to try the MCD 100 for this lead vocal.

Again, I was in a studio that contained an analog console with a digital tape machine (this time a Sony 3324s). I used the mic power supply as the master clock and this time it worked beautifully. In fact I A/B'd this mic to the U67 through the Martech and it was stunning. I found the sound on Grant's voice crystal clear and right in my face. Good, tight, close proximity low end (big, but not out of proportion), along with clarity and definition to capture every nuance and lip smack needed to record the most intimate vocal.

No EQ was required at all. In the following weeks I used the mic on a nylon string acoustic guitar, electric guitar in pop rock style, harmony and group background vocals. In all applications I found no shortcomings to this microphone. The acoustic guitar was rich and warm, with a presence that could easily and gracefully cut through an already big track.

I close miked the electric guitar like I would typically do with a Shure SM57. In fact, I fully expected to ditch the beyerdynamic in favor of an SM57 after the test but I did just the opposite. It wasn't that the beyer sounded better than the Shure, but it certainly held its own. It was every bit as chunky and well-defined as I wanted and had no problem handling all the level produced by the guitar. Background vocals recorded much like the lead vocals, clear and crisp.

Summary

I loved this microphone. For the month I used it I never took it off its stand but kept it set up and available for whatever application I felt it might be suitable - and there were many. This is not an inexpensive microphone. The direct connectability of the MCD 100/101 to a tape machine or digital console, however, eliminates the need for a mic preamp. This may not mean much to a commercial studio already equipped with outboard mic preamps, but a project/home studio using a digital console, digital recorders, Pro Tools, etc. should seriously consider the benefit of not needing to purchase a high-end mic/pre to go with its vocal mic.

One of the more comforting aspects of this mic is that in creating a direct link to a tape machine and eliminating the use of patchcords, console buttons, dirty pots, busses etc., it reduces the possibility of anything going wrong. It also makes documenting a vocal sound extremely easy and accurate - very nice when jumping from one song to another and coming back later to make corrections or improvements.

This is a truly impressive mic whose clarity, presence, crispness and warmth can go up against any other. Don't let the looks fool you.