SD SYSTEMS STM 99
Saxophone Miking System
Over the years,
the Netherlands-based SD Systems has developed a number of microphones
designed for the needs of reproducing specific jazz and orchestral
instruments. The company's latest offering is the STM 99, a modular
system intended to provide high-quality miking of saxophones onstage
or in the studio.
$1,395 (individual mic capsules, mounts and accessories are also
available separately) with a foam-lined wood box, the STM 99 system
consists of three interchangeable mic capsules (cardioid, hypercardioid
and omnidirectional), a 5-foot cable connecting the mic body to
a 4-inch preamp section (with a standard-XLR output), a removable
foam windscreen and three mic mounts. Among the latter are a stand
mounting clip (for using the STM with other insturments), an on-axis
mount that centers the capsule about five inches in front of the
sax bell and a clip-on mount with a flexible 6-inch gooseneck.
All of the
mounts include shock-mounting hardware that suspends the mic capsule
via elastic bands, isolating the mic from thumps, bumps and other
vibrations. The on-instrument mounts have thick rubber coatings
at the point of contact, which adds to the shock resistance while
protecting the instrument from scratches. Either mount holds securely
while allowing for easy removal after the gig. A minimal screen
over the capsules provides for an open sound, which, unfortunately,
exposes more of the diaphragm to smoke, dirt, etc. For live applications,
I suggest using the foam windscreen for additional protection.
Also, the threads on the capsules are very fine, and caution should
be used when changing capsules to avoid cross-threading.
In use, the
system offers an extraordinary degree of flexiblity, both in mounting
and placement options, as well as in capsule choices. The omni
capsule had the best LF response of all and was especially nice
on bari and tenor saxes; the omni also exhibits a rising top end
that added an airy, breathy quality. The cardioid had the flattest
overall response of the three (especially in the upper registers)
and was ideal for altos and sopranos, where the omni's HF rise
could get somewhat edgy.
here, however, depends on the sound of the sax itself and the
type of music or track it was in — for example, as a spot mic
on an orchestral or light jazz piece the cardoid may not be right,
while that same tone for a screaming rock solo could be spot-on.
The sound of the hypercardioid capsule was somewhere between the
omni and cardioid in character and, due to its tight pattern,
would be my first choice on a busy, high-SPL stage where isolation
or feedback is problematic. The availability of the on-axis mount
or the gooseneck clip also allows for more variation in the audio
palette, offering either a down-the-throat growl or a smoother,
more ambient effect.
The need for
an on-sax mount is obvious onstage, but I'm surprised at how many
sax players refuse to stand still in front of a mic while tracking
in the studio. For such players, the STM 99 is ideal. But whether
onstage or in the studio, the STM 99 offers an elegant solution
to an old problem.
Dist. by Advanced
Sonic Concepts; 609/726-9202; http://www.advancedsonicconcepts.com/.
— George Petersen