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CO-100K User's Report from Michael Bishop, Recording Engineer & Producer of Five Four Productions Ltd.

I’ve now used the Sanken CO-100K microphones as the main orchestra pickup on several major symphony recordings and one opera recording, all recorded in DSD for CD and SACD release in surround.  The use of the Sanken microphones represents a major shift from what I had been using for years on orchestra recordings.  I’m looking forward to incorporating the CO-100K microphones in upcoming jazz sessions as well.  

What prompted me to make this microphone change is the ability of the CO-100K microphone to better capture an accurate, yet very musical, image of the width and breadth of a full symphony orchestra.  The CO-100K’s superior frequency response and very accurate transient response allows a recording of the orchestra that sounds far closer to the “real thing.”  One might expect that the extremely wide frequency response of the CO-100K microphone would be achieved with exaggeration or “harshness” of high frequencies.  On the contrary, I’m finding the CO-100Ks to be extremely musical, versatile and quite neutral, allowing me great latitude in placement and application.  A few sessions ago, I put a CO-100K mic side-by-side with my former “standard” orchestra microphone running mono A/B test recordings at 5.6 MHZ DSD. Identical microphone preamp channel gain was accurately set & aligned using a custom Sennheiser noise source at each microphone. The comparison mic was set to an omni-directional pattern, of course.

 What I found in comparisons were a lot of similarities since both microphones are first-class tools in anyone’s arsenal of microphones.  Both captured a sound of the orchestra that anyone could be proud of.  What was different however was that the CO-100K exhibited a more concise & accurate transient response without exaggeration, at the same time giving more depth and reach into the orchestra sound.  The low frequencies seemed to be better represented with no “cloudiness” and with excellent solid harmonic structure – and all of this from MONO A/B test recordings!  Both microphones have extended high-frequency response, but the CO-100K simply gave the impression of a more wide-open, very clean picture of the sound.  Again, I can detect no exaggeration of the high frequencies with the CO-100K mic with normal, somewhat distant, free-air placement in front of the orchestra.  In looking at the CO-100K frequency plot, I’d suspect that with too-close placement to a sound source, one might get somewhat accentuated high-frequency response but that would be at very high frequencies – certainly not in any area that one would consider to be “harsh.”  I assume the rising high-frequency response nicely compensates for free-air high-end attenuation that naturally occurs with distance.
Again, my compliments to everyone at Sanken for producing a recording tool that is truly making a difference in my work!  I do wish there was a figure-eight equivalent of the CO-100K mic, though.  Figure-eights are an essential additional ingredient in my surround recordings and I’m forced to use other mics in those positions.  The ideal would be to have all similar mics, of course!


Stanley Clarke Trio: Jazz in the Garden  [HeadsUp HUCD-3155]

Robert Spano/Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus - John Adams: On the Transmigration of Souls  [Telarc CD-80673]

Robert Spano/Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Christine Brewer, soprano - Gorecki: Symphony No. 3  [Telarc CD-80699]

Erich Kunzel/Cincinnati Pops Orchestra - From the Top  [Telarc CD-80745]

Paavo Jarvi/Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra - Holst: The Planets  [Telarc CD-80743]

Robert Spano/Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus and Guests - Puccinni: La Boheme  [Telarc CD-80697]

Paavo Jarvi/Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra - Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Night on Bald Mountain, Prelude to Khovanshchina  [Telarc CD-80705]  [(SACD)Telarc SACD-60705

Paavo Jarvi/Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra - Shostkovich Symphony No. 10; Tormis: Overture No. 2  [Telarc CD-80702]

Transmigration (Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus)
[Telarc CD-80673 / SACD-60673]