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Advice on mic arsenal please!

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Jeemy, Oct 7, 2004.

  1. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003

    I am building my studio bit-by-bit, and its time to consider my mic spread.

    Basically the 4 main uses I will have:

    - fully micing the drumkit with up to 8 mics
    - 5 mics to kit, mic to guitar amps x 2, bass DI for live recording
    - micing up guitar amps & bass amps
    - recording vocals

    I can record up to 8 tracks to DAW via Mackie 1604VLZ Pro desk.

    At present I have the Shure PGM4 drum mic kit, an SE 3500, a Rode NT1A, 2 x AKG C1000s, an MXL 990, and 2 x SM57s, SM57 Beta, 2 x 58s, 1 x PG56.

    I have read on these forums that the PG stuff is crap and to get rid of it. With current budget this gives me up to £400 GBP to spend on mics.

    I want to make some clever choices with a couple more mics before I start any higher spending, so we are talking £100-300 per mic here.
    Can anybody comment on the following:

    Full kit micing: am planning to use the SE for kick, SM57 Beta for the snare, Rode NT1A on the high-hat, C1000s as overheads. This leaves me up to 3 mic positions. I was considering a Beyer M201 for under the snare, and 2 SM57s for the toms and floor tom. Any advice?

    Live recording: SE for kick, 2 x C1000s as overheads, 57 Beta on snare, Rode NT1A on hi-hat. SM57s on guitar amps.

    Micing up guitar amps: SM57 close, Rode NT1A for room and SE 3500 at about 1 metre? Ditto for bass?

    Vocals: will persevere with the SE and Rode, am considering buying a studio projects C1 now, before buying a Rode K2 later.

    Questions I have - I think selling the PGs and replacing with the C1 and the M201 is the way forward - are these choices good?

    What about micing the hi-hat? I found no info on this so far.

    I know the MXL990 is a bit average but for the price it gives me another condensor and it was second-hand. What is the best use for this?

    Am I missing something that a clever purchase would help with?

    Finally can anybody direct me to some guidance on drum mic placement?

    Thanks in advance,

  2. inLoco

    inLoco Active Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    cause u live in scotland i'd recomeend the following for drums!
    go check the store digital village!
    kick- akg d112 (for bass too)
    snare- shure sm 57
    toms- audix d2
    overheads- studio projects c4

    this should be around your budget at that store! if you can use an akg c451 for hi-hat!
    but try buying good mics and not on your budget! you'll do better with this than having spent less but miking all!
    get rid of the akg c1000s! they stink!
    think less is more! don't think is just mics! quality really matters!
    as for the mic placements there are tons of articles out there! do a little search!
  3. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    Thanks for that. But you seem to have ignored a lot of what I was asking including all of my existing mics and whether my proposed usage is good.

    Are the C1000s really that bad?
  4. inLoco

    inLoco Active Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    you say you want to make clever choices so i'm telling you how! why the hell would you buy a mxl990 mic? you call that clever? think this! good mics cost money! money you don't have so instead of trying to spend the little you have in a lot of mics try buying fewer mics but with good quality!
    and yes the c1000s are really that bad!
    for bass you don't mic the bass with a room mic unless you really like booming sounds! for the bass you can use the akg d112 for close micing and record direct too! then in the mood of the song you have this 3 options! combined or separated!
    hi hat is miked at the opposite side of the snare cause of leakage!
    but you are better of with no mic on the hi-hat or even can try the rode, altough i think it's capsule ain't appropriate... but it's better to have good overheads than the c1000s and a cheap hi-hat mic too...
    less is more!
  5. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    look mate. I am well aware good mics cost money. but whats with your attitude?

    i've got plenty of money, i am just using it to buy an excellent drum kit, and think that with a couple of clever choices i have enough mics for the level i am at.

    i asked for advice, not abuse.

    i stated clearly in the first post that i know the mxl990 is very average but it cost me GBP £30 so i thought it'd be a good backup.

    both OlympicPhil and johnyoung recommended the C1000s in another thread as did the guy at Sound Control when I discussed this with him. http://www.recording.org/postx21384-0-15.html

    i have been told by many people the SE3500 is a good kick drum mic.

    i priced your suggestions and it comes to about £800-900 assuming 3 of the d2s at DV.

    i can't believe i spent $20 to support this forum and this is the first response i get.

    maybe you weren't trying to be rude?? anybody else wanna assist me?
  6. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2001
    Actually, for what it costs, the 990 is an amazingly good mic. I have a pair that I use as drum overheads.

    Here's a quote from a well respected member if the Digi User Conference (DUC)

    ......those of you thinking the 990 is large diaphragm...it isn't. It's identical in every way to the 991 except for the housing. If you think you see a large di inside of the housing, it's because the mounting ring for the small di is HUGE! That aside, I dig mine...use them often anywhere I want a good flat neutral sound. So, the 990 and 991 are the same thing internally...and are supposedly also identical to the 603s.

    and a little later........

    ...I don't want people to think I was downing these mics...they're great! They are very well suited to classical strings and piano. They have absolutely no hype at all, are very low noise, and are very well engineered. It's EXTREMELY RARE to find ANY mass produced mics these days where they don't scrounge on the parts! They definitely didn't cut any corners in the parts department electronically...they use the famed 2sk170 fets that are remarkably difficult to acquire here in the U.S. I like to use the 990's as room mics (the enclosure does have a pronounced affect on the sound of the mic in this case) and the 991's as overheads for Jazz kits, as symphony spot mics on string sections, and on solo grand piano. They remind me very much of the old Neumann KM84's (not the reissue 184's).

    While the condenser capsule itself is a relatively cheap model by today's standards (chinese or japanese...can't remember), I think they've really made a good mic with it.

    and back to the main topic.... yes, the C1000's suck big time. Sell them and add the preceeds to your budget.

    Get a second 990 and use them as overheads.

    The NT1A is wasted on the hats. Use it as a room mic. I always mic the hats but rarely end up using that track. Always seem to get plenty in the OH and snare mics. With that in mind, any little condenser will probably do. Try something like a Beyer Opus53. I use one of these on hats live and it sounds great.

    I'm not a fan of condensers inside a kick... outside, ok.... but inside try a AKG D112, Shure Beta52, Beyer M88, EV RE20, Sennheiser MD421..... depending on budget and what deals you can get.

    Then use the Beta57 on the snare, the 57s and 58s on the toms and you're all set.
  7. inLoco

    inLoco Active Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    i'm not trying to be rude! i'm just being straight forward... i learned with my mate josé mourinho... :)
    don't trust everything you hear and read! many companies pay people to say good stuff about their products, either at forums like these or in magazines...
    and about the mxl i'm not saying it isn't a good mic! i've never tried it but for the price and the reviews i can see it's a fair/average mic for a beginner! you stated you want quality so i recommended that you'd invest in fewer but better mics! and why do you need a backup like the mxl? for that price you can save a bit more and have another sm57, that yes is a great backup...
    just the other day i was reading about the recording of drums on velvet revolver's cd contraband... there's one track that as been recorded with a technique of a producer i don't recall but i can tell you later if you want!
    he recorded the whole kit with if i recall 4 mics and it sounds amazing!
    i'm now gathering info too, for buying a few stuff and it's what i recommend if you want quality! for what i understood you want quality not just fun!
    it's like when buying a pre-amp! those focusrite voicemasters and alikes won't do much compared to the ones on your vlz! so why spend unecessary bucks? save them for when you have 1000 pounds! then you'll buy a top notch pre!
    it's just like mics!
    so in conclusion, don't get me wrong but try to buy less but things you imagine using in 5 years! (when you're on a top notch studio recording... eheheh)
  8. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    I understand where you're coming from but just to digress for a moment. I've been a guitar player for 20 years, into recording for about 3 years and opened my studio in May. While I fully understand the mantra I have read on so many pro audio forums of "don't buy three things costing £300, buy one for £1000" obviously with building the place etc budgets are limited and you need one of everything (mics, cables, pres, desk, compressor, DAW/HDR/ADAT, backline) before you start. Hence the VLZ desk, getting an MXL just-in-case, 57s/58s, VC3Q, etc.

    Some things have been necessary evils. For example, 2 weeks after I opened I was asked to do a live recording of a funk band with an 8-piece drumkit. The PG set was the cheapest way of getting this done at short notice!

    Now I am at the stage where I can start investing slowly and carefully in key items. The first one is the drumkit. I am awaiting shipping of an all-maple Ludwig from the US following advice from this forum.

    I know I can manage with the guitars using the 57s and a condensor or two, and would just like to know which one (obviously I need to use my ears, but I'd rather have advice on good starting points than learn everything blind).

    Bass I have a Sansamp DI, and will manage with that too, or use the d112 once I get it.

    So just dealing with the drums just now. If I sell the PGs and the C1000s and replace with two C4s and a D112? Or better just to get a D112, a single MXL990 and buy a K2 for vocals?

    What about snare? will I struggle without a 2nd snare mic? I can probably get a Beyer M201 in amongst all this.

    Once this changeover is done, I have a live band to record, then my first individually - tracked project. Fingers crossed the Ludwig arrives for the latter.

    Thanks again for help.

  9. inLoco

    inLoco Active Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    the d112 and c4's is a great choice as is the k2! there are alot of people digging that mic so i think you can't go wrong with it! also you have the tube mic from sp's too! if you can try them head to head!
    as for the 2nd snare mic isn't a must! actually you have to study much about phase issues! when using two snare mics you have to invert one!
    the sm57 for the snare is top notch!!!
    if you use d112, d2 for toms, sm57 for snare and c4's for overheads you probably with a good acoustic and mic placement you won't need the hi-hat at first! if you don't have the money for now it's ok! in therms of money i'd suggest the k2 or similiar instead of spending money on a hi-hat mic!
    other thing you didn't mention is your a/d!
    you can record 8 tracks to your daw? which one?
  10. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    Its only Cubase SL. When I was starting I ran a cracked SX which worked super but I didn't need the functions, so when I got the money, I bought Cubase SL2.

    I've been using Cubase since the Atari ST days so I don't know if I would ever go to ProTools.

    I run through the Mackie into an Edirol FA301 I think, 8 ins, plus 2 digitals, 10 outs same.

    With a Lacie d2 Firewire 800 I get 8 simultaneous channels at 48/24 into my laptop (G4 Powerbook). I am just trying to nail down 32-bit floating point.

    Definitely lookin' at the D112 and C4 pair, plus a K2 just now. I may decide to get an MXL as they are so cheap and then do the C4s with the d2s, which will need to wait until the Ludwig kit is restored, tuned & reskinned.

    For the guitar amps whats the best to use for a 1m condensor, the SE? The NT1A?

    Should I just sell the NT1A? I'm gonna keep the SE for vocals if the K2 doesn't suit people, and just use the 57s on the toms, 58 on the floor tom?
  11. inLoco

    inLoco Active Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    don't sell the nt1a! it's a good mic for it's price and you can find it new for around 180 euros, so selling it in 2nd hand you won't get much! rather keep the money! as for the c1000's sell them! many people think those mics are ok so you can still get a few bucks with it!
    as for condenser with the guitar is a matter of trying! we all know how the sm 57 works centered and angled! which is cool! as for condensers try!
    my other question is! what's the latency on that edirol?
    and stick with the 24bits!
  12. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    edirol's giving me 13ms at 512kb but thats no issue as i have no need to monitor when going 8-track.

    i think from memory i get 4.7 at 128 for single-tracking

    however all of this was to the internal hard drive i haven't finished testing what i can get with the firewire 800. as the buffer comes down so does the chance of one track skipping during the head movements.

    1ghz powerbook 17" with 1ghz ddr

    akgs on ebay in the morning......
  13. inLoco

    inLoco Active Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    jeemy this is my advice but listen to others too...
    kurt foster, maintiger, audigaff, they all give great advices!
    they have tones of experience!
  14. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    Hopefully they'll have time to contribute before I sell anything except the PGs which are gone....J
  15. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I'm with inLoco ... sell the c1000s ...

    The only mics in the bunch I would keep are the 57's & 58's. But that's me ... I am sure the rest are fine.. although I really don't like the Marshall / MXL line .. for Chinese mics, I prefer the Studio Projects line .. A lot of people like the Rode mics ... myself, I just don't care for them .. they have not excited me when I use them.

    It's seems as if you and inLoco have hammered out a plan that is do-able. Good luck!
  16. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2004
    Quakertown PA
    I also agree with InLoco and Kurt,

    I would sell the C1000s and buy SP C4's, $319 for a matched Pair w/ shockmounts and case at http://www.sweetwater.com/

    I also don't care for the MXL's, if you decide to sell it you could get another SM57 for around the same price.

    I also recomend the D112 it's a great Kick Mic. Others I've used and liked are Audix D6 and Shure B52.

    Now here is where I differ, I like the NT1. I record mainly Blues and Rock and it fits my voice well. Kurt is correct that it is not an exicting mic, but it is a decent sounding sevicable mic.

    Here are my kit mics if it helps
    C4's - Overheads
    D112 - Kick
    SM57 - Underside of snare
    D2's - Toms
    No hat mic.
    I use Recordermans technique to set my overheads. If you haven't heard of it I'll put a link at the end so you can check it out. It sounds better than any method I've ever used. The over heads capture about 90% of the sound, add a little kick and a little compression and most of the time your done. I still mic and track the snare and toms but they rarely make it to the final mix. I only add them if a part needs a little punch. You can literally mic a whole kit with 3 mics and have it sound great. Here's the link.


    Another one to check out is Kurt's article on how to EQ a kit. I always had a problem getting the Kick and Bass to sit together in the mix without covering each other up. This sound page shows you how to EQ the kit properly. This helped me carve out a space for the bass and kick and now I have 2 distinct insturments.


    Good Luck and I wish you success.
  17. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    Thank you so much!

    This forum is so huge, I've been going through the Pro Audio page-by-page, reading everything that looked applicable to me, but had still not found these even at page 10 - I might never have found them.

    I am still selling the PGs, they will be replaced with a D112. C1000s are hopefully going back to the shop, for exchange for the C4s, if he can match the UK RRP of £309. dv247 asking £200 each for those though so doubtful, if not will import from America, hanging onto the C1000s until then, which gives me overheads in the meantime.

    MXL990 I will sell for a profit hopefully. And yes, another SM57 (or Beta 57??) is a grand idea.

    That gives me:

    Kick / bass: D112
    Toms: 3 x SM57, or 2 x SM57, SM58?
    Snare: SM57 Beta, if I use a 58 on the floor tom, 57 for the reverse too.
    Overheads: C4s

    Guitar: SM57 for close, NT1A or SE for room.

    Vox: SE3500, NT1A as choice just now. K2 in time.

    I think the K2 will be the first of my top-end vox mics. After which I am looking at the SE Z5600 or Gemini with interest. Or a more obvious choice like a secondhand U47,87,TM103, etc.

    Sounds good. Gonna check those articles and then ask for some advice on developing my room acoustics and EQ skills. If you've seen any articles that are good pointers, your help is appreciated!
  18. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Mar 31, 2002
    I will also join the keep the 57's and plan to sell everything else overtime.

    I would much rather have 5 or 6 good mics than a continuing collection of compromises.

    You don't have anything for vocals really except for the 57.
    You only need 4 mics for drums. Unless you are a grizzely seasoned pro you won't know what to do with anymore mics and I guaranty your mixes will suffer using more than 4 or maybe 5 mics on drums.

    If you really have the money than, rent great mics until you have the business or the cash to justify purchasing them.

    Thats my opinion.
  19. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    I totally agree with this statement.
    The fewer mics used, the bigger the sound. That doesn't mean that you can't use spot mics on toms and such but, try to get 99% of your final drum sound with kick-snare-2 overheads.

    Phase coherancy is such a large issue with mulitple mics that the easiest way to deal with it is fewer mics.

  20. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    As someone who has been doing drums with 2, 3, 4 mics long before it was "fashionable" let me add a couple of thoughts to the "size" aspect.

    The "size" and clarity will depend on a few exceptionally variable factors, not the least of which is the drummer. Other influences come deeply into play when mic'ing drums with a minimal mic'ing technique. The tuning of the drums is always important, but with individual mic'ing you can fix things like the envelop of a specific drum's sound with compression or expansion, two options that are not available to you with a minimal mic'ing scenario... so you really have to be exceptionally anal about drum tunings.

    The other thing that comes seriously into play with minimal drum mic'ing events is the sound of the room. When you close mic drums you can kinda put them in any digitally conceived room you'd like, and you can put each drum into that room to the degree you would like. With the minimal mic'ing thing, you are pretty much locked into the sound of the room as it applies to the sound in the overheads [or in my case, overhead (singular)].

    The one thing most "home recording" environments share is a boxiness around 4-700 Hz... which gets the drums sounding like 'cardboard' in a big hurry... couple a boxy sounding room with a drum tuning that can be used for gigging [a deader "thud" tuning that works well in a sound reinforcement system with a whole lot of subwoofer action but will generally sound somewhere between a 1975 Eagles record and complete crap when recorded] and you're going to be in drum hell.

    As the AMS driven "cat sneeze" reverb began to leave drum sounds in the 1990's, we found a return to some of the good ol' drum sounds of yesteryear... in that return it became apparent that some of the more jazz oriented tunings like you'll find on old records ranging from Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to Sly and the Family Stone and the Rolling Stones was more in tune to a lot of current musical genre.

    These jazz tunings are created with different head combinations and are highly room dependent... they will also need to be varied from song to song. Bottom line, unless you are pretty good at tuning drums, or are working with a drummer that is very good at tuning drums I would suggest that you shy away from minimal drum mic'ing when doing "records". Practice drum tuning stuff on demos here and there until you're good enough to do it on product where the overall sonic quality of your work will be judged by perspective clients.

    Until you have sounds that are worthy of being recorded, it really doesn't matter what the hell you use to record them. Once you have sounds that are worth being recorded, then [and pretty much only then] you can start to examine the tones and textures of the tools employed to capture the sounds as they relate to the overall context of the presentation of the song.

    I hope this is of some assisttance.

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