Since the late 1940s, Schoeps Mikrofone has been producing some of the world's most renowned microphones from its home base in Germany. The brand is responsible for creating the first dynamic microphone and continues on today as a leader in small diaphragm condenser mics.
In our new Buyer's Guide, we're taking a deep dive into the world of Schoeps Mikrofone. Continue reading below to learn more about company founder Dr. Karl Schoeps, the brand's storied history, and get a tour of its current product offerings available to engineers today.
The History Of Schoeps Mikrofone
Schoeps Mikrofone is a manufacturer in the great Austrian-German tradition. Founded in 1948 by Dr. Karl Schoeps, it remains a family-owned company still residing in its hometown of Karlsruhe, Germany. There, a small and dedicated team of employees manufacture all of their microphones in-house, maintaining the highest technical standards, and competing with much larger companies based on the excellence and innovation of their products.
CM 51/3, M201, And M 221B
The first Schoeps microphone was of the giant bottle variety, similar to the Neumann CMV 3, using a pair of RV12P2000 Telefunken tubes. Within a couple of years, the CM 51/3 was released, whose amplifier body was made only half as wide by using the smaller Telefunken EF94 tube. The downsizing continued and in 1952 the rare and famous M 201 was produced. By placing the transformer outside the body, the overall length was cut almost in half, making it the smallest condenser mic then available.
The M201 was widely used by Mercury in their immortal Living Presence series, producing some of the most noteworthy classical recordings of all time. Starting in 1953, it was used as the single mic for all their mono recordings. In 1955, it became the center omni mic along with a pair of U47s on either side for stereo recording. Then in 1956, it was paired with KM 56s in the same manner. By 1959, a full trio of the mics were used for all the MLP recordings, until the finale of that series in 1967.
During this same era, the Schoeps M 221B became widely available and remained in production until 1985. Based on the Telefunken AC701k miniature tube, it was the slimmest Schoeps microphone to date, and quickly became a favorite for classical recording. The great Marc Aubort used these throughout his career to make recordings for Vanguard, Vox, and Nonesuch that are still treasured by audiophiles. But more importantly for the development of Schoeps, the M 221B introduced the idea of interchangeable capsules for a single amplifier body. This principle remains the core of the Schoeps approach to this day.
CMT 20 and CMT 200
Schoeps continued to innovate in the 1960s, offering up the world’s first phantom-powered microphone in the CMT 20. This mic also saw the move toward a transformerless design, and the upgraded CMT 200 made the output direct-coupled, removing the coupling capacitors and creating a circuitry that is still the basis of the modern Schoeps design. A FET-based microphone followed soon after, and a switch from nickel diaphragms to mylar, but the modular concept remained. A pair of stereo mics rounded out the offerings from that decade, based on coincident cardioid capsules offering M/S, X/Y and Blumlein capabilities. A dedicated pair of mics designed for ORTF recording (a technique Schoeps had been instrumental in developing) appeared a decade later.
The Colette Series
In 1973 the next great Schoeps innovation appeared with the release of the Colette Series. In the rapidly changing world of microphone technology, a product has to be exceptional to stay in production for almost half a century. The Colette Series is just such a product, and remains a key part of the Schoeps reputation for excellence in microphone development.
By separating the capsule from the amplifier body using active cables, the Colette Series allowed for a very small mic profile. And while the overall footprint diminished, the options increased with 20 different capsules and 6 different amplifiers. There were literally over a hundred different combinations. Whether separated or screwed directly into the mic body, the Colette Series continues to provide the highest quality of transformerless microphone technology. Combining their most popular amplifier and capsule, the Colette CMC 6/MK 4 is found in studios throughout the world.
CCM And Shotgun Microphones
Never one to rest on their laurels, Schoeps introduced the miniaturized version of their Colette Series in the CCM product line in 1994. While it remains a regular condenser mic (no electrets here!), the CCM line incorporates the entire microphone in their smallest ever footprint, while maintaining the quality you expect from a Schoeps. CCM mics are not modular. They are a complete mic in themselves, and they deliver all the precision and clarity that Schoeps has become famous for.
Due to popular demand, Schoeps finally dove into the shotgun microphone arena, with their CMIT 5 of 2005, the Super CMIT 5 of 2010, and the MiniCMIT of 2016. With a smooth off-axis response and consistent polar pattern, even at high frequencies, the CMIT is the pinnacle of shotgun mic technology. Further enhanced by digital signal processing in the Super CMIT, the inevitable miniaturization arrived in the MiniCMIT, which also provided superb protection against RF interference.
In 2014, Schoeps paid homage to their roots with the introduction of the V4U. Employing classic looks hearkening back to their first tube mic, the CM 51/3, the new V4 U is meant as a vocal microphone of the highest quality, and also excels at piano and acoustic instruments, as well as louder sources like guitar cabs and percussion. While it remains a small-diaphragm condenser, it also incorporates a special large diameter ring that increases the directivity at higher frequencies, imitating one of the strengths of a true LDC mic. With its ability to handle 144 dB of SPL and a dynamic range of 129 dB, the V4 U is an impressive performer indeed.
Let’s take a closer look at the current microphones being created by Schoeps.
Current Microphones Made By Schoeps Mikrofone
The Colette Series
If you're wondering how to decipher the Schoeps Colette Series, you've come to the right place. There are literally hundreds of combinations of Colette amplifiers and capsules that can be created to cater to your exact recording situation. Use the guide below to get a better understanding of what each component in the series does.
Types of Colette Amplifiers
Colette amplifiers are available in either matte gray (‘Nextel’ / suede finish) or satin nickel (metal finish). They have numerous optional, inline, "active" accessories like HP filters, swivels, pads, extension tubes and cables. The modular capsules screw into the mic amplifier body, which has excellent radio frequency rejection via its "RFI Shield."
CMC 6: The brand's most popular amplifier. It can be powered with either 48v or 12v, including ‘T-power’. Fixed LF filter -12dB/octave @ 20 Hz. Class A amplifier and no capacitors or transformers in the output stage.
CMC 6 XT: Similar to CMC 6, but has extended frequency range - beyond 40 kHz! Especially useful for recordings that will be down-pitched later, such as sound design.
CMC 1: A miniaturized version of the CMC 6; being one-third shorter and lighter, but equal to or better in performance. It can handle up to 135 dB of SPL.
CMR: A specialty amplifier designed to have extremely low current draw, to use with pocket transmitters. It, therefore, needs no 48v phantom power, only 4v/1mA, typical of electret condensers. Yet it still delivers the sonic quality found in the CMC 6.
MK2: A free-field Omni capsule, meant for close distances
Variants: MK2H; MK2S; MK2XS
MK5: Mechanically switchable between Omni and Cardioid (not switched electronically; this preserves the benefits of a true pressure or pressure-gradient transducer), slight HF emphasis, great all-rounder and the best choice for starting out with the Colette series
MK4: Cardioid – end address, directivity independent of frequency - the best-selling Schoeps capsule
Variants: MK4V; MK4P; MK4XP; MK4VP; MK4VXP
MK21: Wide Cardioid – combines advantages of omni and cardioid – less proximity effect, no added coloration of off-axis response.
Variant: MK21H – wide Cardioid with HF emphasis
MK22: Open Cardioid (between wide and normal cardioid), combines warmth and directionality
MK41: Supercardioid – great for indoor film sound, high attenuation with no coloration off-axis, ‘flat’ response through the frequency spectrum
Variant: MK41V – Supercardioid – side address
MK8: Figure 8 (side-address, indicated by the red and black dots); pure pressure gradient, great for M/S applications
BLM 3: A classic boundary-layer microphone with a square profile and a standard connector for any Colette amplifier.
BLM 03: C - a smaller, circular profile, for conditions where a standard BLM 3 is too large or obtrusive; it is otherwise identical in pickup characteristics.
MSTC 64 U: The ORTF stereo mic. One of the best-selling Schoeps mics, with a T-shaped, dual-channel amplifier matched with a pair of MK4 cardioid capsules set at a 110° angle. The fixed set up of the mic makes placement a breeze, even for the inexperienced user. Set it, forget it, make great recordings!
CMXY 4V / 41V: The XY stereo mic, with a dual-channel amplifier matched with a pair of side-address mics: either the MK4V Cardioid or MK41V Supercardioid. Fully adjustable angle from 0° to 180°. The capsules always rotate equally and in opposite direction, maintaining the stereo axis.
Explanation of Variants
A "V" in the model name indicates Side-address; all others are end-address.
A "P" indicates Proximity Effect – low-frequency attenuation reduces proximity; meant to be used at a distance of 20cm and above.
An "H" in the model name indicates a (slight) High-frequency lift.
An "S" in the name indicates Speech – with even more lift on the high frequencies.
An "X" model has eXtra attenuation or emphasis: the XP highly attenuates proximity, (designed for close-miking at 10 cm); the XS has a larger high-frequency emphasis.
The Colette Series has a wealth of accessories to complement your microphones and extend their flexibility. Table mounts and cable hangers, tension mounts and stand adapters, pop screens and windscreens, stereo and surround rigs. Goosenecks and swivel necks, extender tubes and active cables expand the placement options, while high pass filters and attenuators expand the sonic signature.
THE CCM SERIES
CCM stands for Compact Condenser Microphone. The purpose of the Schoeps CCM Series is to provide all the capabilities of the full-size Colette Series, but in a more compact footprint. By utilizing surface-mount technologies, the entire microphone (amplifier and capsule) can be placed within a body about twice the size of a Colette capsule alone. This makes the CCM the smallest ‘true’ condenser mic (i.e., without an electret element). All such microphones are fixed, not modular.
By sacrificing the interchangeable capsules, the benefits of reduced size can be maximized, with no loss in the quality of the reproduction. To complement the smaller size, an 8mm Lemo socket is used instead; this can be connected to a standard XLR plug with the included adapter cable. A fixed XLR cable version is also available.
CCM 2: A free-field omnidirectional mic for close distance recording. Frontal sound incidence results in a very natural sonic character.
CCM 4: A classic Cardioid pattern with excellent rejection from the rear. The directional pattern is consistent throughout all frequencies, and off-axis response is uncolored. The “go-to” compact cardioid, it remains one of Schoeps’ biggest sellers.
CCM 21: A ‘Wide Cardioid’ that offers a pattern between the classic Omni and Cardioid, thus offering some of the advantages of both: more bass response and less proximity effect, with more allowance of side- and rear-incident sounds. With less directivity, it should be placed closer to the source than a standard cardioid would be.
CCM 22: A new pattern that Schoeps calls ‘Open Cardioid’. This places the pattern between classic and wide cardioid, providing the advantages of both the CCM 4 and the CCM 21. Slightly less directional, but with the warmth of a more diffuse sound field, the CCM 22 gives a little more bass and a little less proximity than a cardioid. Intended to be used as a spot microphone.
CCM 41: A Supercardioid that drops 10 dB off the response 90° to the mic. Acting like a shotgun mic in the lows and mids, the CCM 41 is excellent for indoor dialogue recording, with no coloration of the off-axis sound, and great directivity at all frequencies.
CCM 8: A classic figure-of-8 dipole transducer, with the inherent bass roll-off and proximity effect. Use it wherever a figure-eight mic is needed. Excellent for M/S applications.
CCM 5: Mechanically switchable between Omni and Cardioid; the single diaphragm provides a full frequency response throughout the spectrum - a rarity in a switchable mic. This versatile performer is the best introduction to the CCM Series. Grab a pair for M/S and ORTF stereo recording.
BL CCM 3: A boundary-layer version of the CCM2XS, with a circular collar, meant to be surface mounted into a table or lectern. Often used as a redundant microphone in conference room setups.
Responding to high customer demand, Schoeps introduced the CMIT line after a long period of development. Designed for film recording, sporting events and Foley sets, all models incorporate the typical high quality and focus on performance that you expect from Schoeps. There are three models in the shotgun lineup:
Schoeps CMIT 5U: Incorporating a smooth off-axis response without distinct side lobes, the 5U directionality increases smoothly with higher frequencies. Very light weight, with excellent rejection of wind noise, the CMIT 5U avoids all of the typical pitfalls of other shotgun microphone designs, and is suitable for both music and speech recording. A +5 dB boost at 10 kHz compensates for windscreens and enhances speech pickup, while a low frequency roll-off and steep low-cut filter reduces boom and wind noise.
Schoeps MiniCMIT: This mic provides all the features of its big brother in a more compact footprint, and can be either P12 or P48 phantom powered. It features the same lightweight all-metal housing, in a bright blue anodized finish.
Schoeps SuperCMIT: This mic the shotgun concept to another level. Based on the analog CMIT 5U, it incorporates digital technology and two transducers, providing excellent directivity. Its output is processed with a DSP algorithm to provide digital output on one channel and analog on the other. The DSP actually discriminates between diffuse and discrete sounds, reducing the one and enhancing the other, a feat that regular shotguns cannot achieve. Using the digital (AES42) standard, the SuperCMIT can be used with many different mobile recorders and mixing boards. The utmost in directivity and off-axis rejection combine with transparent sound to give you the ultimate in shotgun microphone performance.
For all their shotgun microphones, Schoeps provides a full range of optional accessories. Windscreens for mono, stereo and double M/S set ups; various mounts for boom arms; and power packs for AES42 to provide both digital and analog outputs. Whatever the shotgun situation, Schoeps has got an accessory to make your gig easier.
v4U - The Vocalist's Microphone
Schoeps has never made a large diaphragm condenser microphone, but most vocalists expect to see one in a studio. Despite having some inherent drawbacks, the more impressive size of an LDC gives singers a bigger vocal target (and maybe a bigger boost to their ego). In order to make a true vocal microphone without compromising their principles, Schoeps took a look backward at one of their classics and created something entirely new... the V4 U.
With a retro look that is reminiscent of one of their earliest products, the CM 51/3 of 1951, the V4 U is anything but retro in technology. State of the art circuitry and mechanical design combine with an innovative outer bevel that makes the smaller diaphragm act in some ways like a much larger one. The result is the best of both worlds: the off-axis sounds roll off nicely, on-axis sounds have a mild HF lift, the polar pattern narrows smoothly as the frequency rises, and the sound is typical of Schoeps. You can expect clear, distinct and natural recordings.
The 20° tilting head of the microphone is a thoughtful touch found on few other mics, helpful in those situations where a slight tweak to the capsule position can pay big dividends. This is a mic any performer can be proud to sing into, and any studio owner can be proud to display.