About SFX recordings, I've read a lot on here. About mics too. I still am surprised not to find anything on the Oktava being used for SFX. I'm in a situation where I have a bit of money, but not so much. Just bought a pair of Adam A7's and now I want a cardioid condenser mic.

I've been told and I believe cardioid is good for SFX recordings so you can capture the bigness of the sounds (yes I did try recording a door slam with a shotgun, everyone makes mistakes! especially me...). I could even get a pair and have a stereo setup that XY at 90º just like at 120º.

Now, the Rode NT4 is widely praised, so what's the advantages/disadvantages of a stereo pair of cardioids vs. a stereo mic? The stereo pair has definitely more uses and not only as a stereo pair.

Please tell me what you think. Alternatives?

EDIT: Alternatives to the MK-012 for SFX recording (suggested in this thread or found somewhere else on the net):

  • AT3031 (discontinued)
  • Rode NT5
  • MXL 603S
  • There's nothing wrong with recording a door slam with a shotgun by the way. If you want the shotgun to capture more of the bigness of the sound, move it further away from the door.
    – Justin P
    Jun 28, 2010 at 21:13
  • Ok, I just never managed to get it big. I then discussed it with someone who told me I needed to capture the bigness of it. To do it with my shotgun I'd have to move relatively far away from the door, but I'll give it a try for the experience! Jun 29, 2010 at 18:43

3 Answers 3


Hi, Justin! I own an Oktava MK-012, with omni, cardioid, and hypercardioid capsules. Mine was modded by Michael Joly, so it's less noisy than stock ones. (Be sure you never get an MC-012, those tend to be Chinese knock-offs.)

The MK-012 is best known as a low-cost condenser for use in the studio and for dialog. It's often called "the poor man's Schoeps," but in my opinion, there's no comparison. Now, that said, it does deliver big bang for not a lotta dosh. I was about to say what I think it's good at, but then realized that everyone's got their own opinion. Remember: It won't sound like a $2000 mic. But, you might find that it sounds better than a $250 mic. (Yeesh. That was vague.)

What's not up for debate are its frequency characteristics. The omni capsule is kinda flat, the cardioid has a big high frequency dip, and the hyper even more so. That's not unusual for condensers of those patterns. However, it's pronounced when you A/B the modules.

I think that MK-012's are great tools for most professionals, even if it's simply to have a decent condenser mic that's "expendable" compared to higher-end models. I've attached mine to all sorts of sketchy mounts and moving objects without fear. I have absolutely used it in effects gathering, and on the human voice. However, for my personal taste, the noise floor is too high for subtle effects gathering, even with the Joly modifications...too much hiss. For louder sound objects, it's just fine (the 3-capsule kit usually comes with a -10dB pad).

I also own a Røde NT4. If I were going to do XY recording of natural ambiences (birdsong, crickets, etc.), it'd be no contest: NT4 for the win. Even if I were to do A-B or Jecklin Disc recordings for that same use, I'd probably even then get two Røde NT5's instead of an MK-012 (options would be way wider at higher budgets). If I was gonna put a condenser downrange of a gun, get some warm vocal tones, record bright cymbals, mount it to a vehicle - but still wanted good sound and not some throw-away mic - the MK-012 would get some use.

Just one person's opinion, though!

  • Thanks NoiseJockey, all this is precious advice! I'm considering buying a pair of NT5's then. Well at least investigating... Jun 28, 2010 at 8:11

I don´t own either(unfortunatly) but i really like the oktavas and the rode. The oktavas sound really good, are physically small, and you can get a ton of different capsules. And if you can, you can always do the michael joly mod (here)that puts them in a whole different level.

I like the rode nt4 a lot to , as its easy to set up and to fit in a zeppelin although i never found rings that fit it perfectly, i had a pair of square rings to use with just the nt4, but i had to "shove" the mike in them and couldn´t ever quite relax or tilt it to much. Its also a heavy mike, and of course it has a fixed XY position. That said neither of these details would put me off using it.

If i could choose one, personally i would go with the oktavas for the versatility.

  • Yeah versatility is key in my case. Jun 27, 2010 at 13:10
  • The Røde Blimp comes with clips that fit the NT4. Jun 27, 2010 at 15:26

In most situations, you are going to require a mono mic. The NT4 is a great stereo mic for the price, and I am sure you could use one of the capsules specifically to get a mono sound. I have heard some people say that they record stereo and simply bounce the left and right together. In most cases, this is a bad idea. Unless you want extra reflections that create phase issues when summed together.

I would concentrate on a good mono mic or a stereo pair, so you can pick and adjust the image yourself. I have a pair of MXL 603S's (the mogami version), that coast $80 for with the shockmounts and a little case. The guy I bought them from did the marrick mod to them, and they sound amazing. I never would have thought the such an inexpensive pair would work so well. http://www.prodigy-pro.com/diy/index.php?topic=5156.0

I even used them on a choir recording session, and they were amazing on harmonically rich content as well as SFX recording.

Here is a link to the omni caps for them as well, the price just cant be beat.


  • Right, so the stereo pair wins. Rather than summing two mics, you'd rather get one with a wider pattern... I'll definitely consider the modded MXL's, provided I can find the components required! Thanks :) Jun 28, 2010 at 0:11

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