TapeOp Issue #60/July, 2007 | by Scott Craggs
If you read my take on the M 160 in the first third of this review, you know that I Am A Fan. So when Andy asked if I wanted to review the M-130, I was at his studio’s door before he finished the question. Pulled it out of the box to have a look, and oh, what a cute little mic. Yeah, I sound like Mom, but it really is kind of adorable looking.
Cosmetics aside, there’s a lot of other things to like about this mic. First thing I did was put up the hypercardioid M 160 and the figure-8 M-130 in M/S configuration in front of the drum kit. Worked a treat. I’d already come to lean on the M 160 there as my new secret weapon for drums, and the addition of the M-130 lent a whole new dimension to the sound. Then I tried it on some guitars. Zowie — sounds great. It has the same sort of smoothness the M 160 does, but with its own unique character. It has this cool “hi-fi” thing going on. It doesn’t sound “scooped”, but the lower mids are definitely “relaxed”, shall we say. A look at the frequency-response chart confirmed what I was hearing; the response seems to shelve a bit at 500 Hz, and then again around 250 Hz, coming up again with a bump around 80 Hz. The high end starts rolling off around 10 kHz.
In practice, this amounts to a really nice presence boost. Actually, I’m listening to the new Shellac record as I type this, and you know how Bob Weston’s bass sounds? The M-130 has some of that about it. That’s really the best way I can describe it. Again, it doesn’t sound scooped in an artificial way, it’s just very clear and lively sounding. I may well come to like it even more than the M 160 on guitars, and that’s saying something.
I certainly liked the M-130 better than the M 160 as an overhead, the understated mids were more flattering to my inept meanderings around the kit. Neither mic was exactly what I was looking for from an overhead, but they’re both definitely a sound, and I can imagine a lot of folks being psyched with either of them. I also put the M-130 up against a Shure SM7 on bass cab, and I really liked the way the M-130 captured more of a sense of space. Listening to the SM7, I thought, “That sounds like bass.” With the M-130, “That sounds like a bass amp in a room.” I also tried it as a distant room mic, maybe 15–20 ft from my drums, and I was surprised how much I liked it. Usually when I have mics that far back, I always hate them on playback, as the somewhat wonky sound of my live room becomes way too apparent, but the M-130 was oddly pleasant. Nice.
I haven’t had a chance to check it out on anything else yet, unless you count cowbell (sounded great!), but I have a feeling it’s going to see a lot of use. Its MSRP is almost the same as the M 160’s, so I imagine the street price is similarly less. Check these mics out. I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed by either of them. ($749 MSRP; beyerdynamic)
Read more about the Beyerdynamic M130 ribbon microphone.