OLD LYME, Conn. â€“ September 14, 2010 â€“
Ithaca College’s Sound Recording Technology (SRT) program, part of the college’s School of Music, is among the most demanding audio programs in the country. It is also one of the few four-year recording programs in the U.S. that requires students to demonstrate proficiency on a musical instrument. The college had its origins as a music conservatory in 1892, and, in addition to its strong liberal arts curriculum, is well known for its classical and jazz program–which recruits fine musicians from all over the world.
Each year, the SRT program records more than 400 live performances by guest artists, faculty members and students, drawing from its extensive collection of Sennheiser, Neumann and other microphones. Many of these performances are held in the college’s purpose-built, 700-seat main concert hall, which features a permanent pair of recently installed Sennheiser MKH 8020 omni-directional microphones.
Alex Perialas, director of Ithaca Collegeâ€™s sound recording technology program, recently invited Sennheiser to host a seminar on microphone technology for students and faculty at the college’s state of the art recording facility. The seminar consisted of a detailed demonstration of 15 different microphones including Neumann’s TLM 102, TLM 49, TLM 67, KM 184, KMS 105 and Sennheiser ‘s e 965, MKH 800, MKH 8040 and MKH 8020. Several microphone techniques were used to capture a variety of sources, including a student-comprised string quartet and two different student a cappella groups.
Dave Missall, national market development manager for broadcast and film at Sennheiserâ€™s US headquarters and a frequent lecturer for the Sennheiser Sound Academy seminar program, led the exercise and spoke at length about the attributes of each microphone. Following the recordings, students and faculty gathered in the main control where they performed critical listening exercises to distinguish how each microphone sounded across each performance application.
“It was a privilege for us to discuss microphone technology with these gifted students,” Missall says. “The SRT program at Ithaca College is of an extremely high caliber. As soon as we heard the students perform, their level of proficiency as musicians was immediately apparent; we were also very impressed with their overall understanding of technology and the recording process.”
Sennheiser and Neumann in a Shootout
After a shootout among several microphones, Perialas decided to acquire a pair of Sennheiser MKH 8020s as well as a pair of Neumann TLM 67s. “The MKH 8020 performed fantastic,” Perialas says. “Our hall is a little dark sounding and we A/B’d it against two other well-known competing brands. The MKH 8020 had a personality all its own and helped bring sonic life to the performances.” He is similarly exuberant about the performance of the TLM 67: “I put up the TLM 67 against two of my favorite Neumann U 67s, and it really held its own. It is a great microphone for vocals, piano and of course as a room mic. Its competitive price point makes it one of the best deals out there!”
For Perialas, a 35-year veteran who has worked side by side with industry legends like Tom Dowd, the microphone demonstrations confirmed what he knew all along: “I have been using many of these microphones in commercial studios long before I went into academia. So for me, when you say Sennheiser or Neumann, I know you are talking about a high quality product.” Perialas adds that it is of paramount importance to provide his students with the highest quality transducers available: “We have a diversity of project applications for each major, and each mic we use has to be honest and transparent–as well as flexible. My students are at the top of their fields and I want to ensure they have access to the best sound possible. With Sennheiser and Neumann in our mic closet, I know they are getting this.”