I have been looking at expanding my mic collection and I am thinking about buying a Sanken CSS-5. I will be renting one for a few days soon to test it out. Does anyone have any go to things they always record when trying out a new mic?

I don't really mean doing a mic shoot out like described on this thread (http://socialsounddesign.com/questions/5576/opinions-on-setting-up-a-mic-test), more like if you have any tips on how to best get the feel of a mic the first time you get you hands on it, a good way to really run it through its paces.

Currently my plans are to grab some ambiences with it in its two stereo modes in both loud and quiet environments, as well as record some foley-esque props with it in mono. Basically just work with it on whatever the week throws my way. Any further suggestions would be great.

Tips don't have to apply to the CSS-5 any ideas getting to know a new mic would be great.


2 Answers 2


I'd agree about loud / quiet / atmoses / spots. I'd perhaps add crowd and voice recording, including your own as I feel we often have an instinctive sense of when this sounds how we think it should. The only other suggestions I can add are to experiment with it's off mic coloration / rejection as well as it's bass proximity. It's worth making recordings with it alongside your usual mic that you know well or any mic that you know is very neutral. So much of this sort of assessment is obviously relative therefore it always makes it a lot easier to hear characteristics when A/Bing.

I'll be really interested to hear everyone's opinions on this topic as I've just started a new feature for members of The Sound Collectors' Club called 'MicCheck' which is basically somewhere for members to share their mic demo / shootout recordings. Together we can hopefully,over time, accumulate a pretty comprehensive collection of samples of different Mics for others to audition and download to compare properly in your own DAW. Hence this should save people having to trawl the net for streamed lo-fi MP3s of someone playing a trombone or something. Anyway, I'll certainly be taking on board any comments here.


Whenever I do mic tests or get a new mic to check out, I always compare it to a mic I know very well.

For LDCs I compare it to a vintage U87 or NU48.

For SDCs I compare it to a Schoeps MK5 or MK41 capsule.

Do you own a mic you know the characteristics of very well to put it up against?

By doing this I get a better idea of what the mic sounds like and can do and possibly what sources it would be good to use on.

Then, what I do is put it up in different acoustical scenarios. An empty bare-walled room which is very echoey. Outside with no reflections. In a long hall with very little early reflections and long decay.

Try it on transient sources to see how it handles peaks and transients like a snare drum or cracks of a whip.

Try it on lots of low-end by either worldizing low sine waves or recording bassy traffic. See how it responds.

If I could, I would see how it performs in extreme weather conditions - provided you have easy access to them (and no, I don't mean putting it in a freezer and coming back 20 mins later).

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