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Best Value Microphones

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by aaronwaudio, May 28, 2011.

  1. aaronwaudio

    aaronwaudio Active Member

    Hey guys, I was wondering about what you all think are the best value microphones. I don't mean cheap microphones that sound better than you expect, just any microphone that seems priced below its performance. Some examples include:

    Rode K2: Not very expensive, but with the right engineer can sound fantastic. The vocals for two songs on my band's latest album, The Sound of Nothing-A City Alive, were recorded on this mic, and they sound really great.

    Cascade Fathead: $400 for a pair in a carrying case with a blumlein rod. You buy them direct from the company, so you get an awesome price on some really awesome ribbon mics.

    What else is out there?
  2. Ripeart

    Ripeart Active Member

    I own a pair of Rode NT2a mics that sound extremely excellent considering the price.

    You can also buy MXT mics on the cheap and get them modded.
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    A "best value" would naturally be something that performs better than expected. This can be enhanced by better downstream gear if the mic in question happens to be designed fairly well and has some decent parts inside. A perfect example is a Shure SM57. Plug one into something like a GrooveTubes ViPre and go "WTF!!!".$90 over the counter new......what a bargain!
  4. gehauser

    gehauser Active Member

    Oktava MK319, MK220
  5. aaronwaudio

    aaronwaudio Active Member

    Also based on a post I saw by davedog when researching a mic my studio is buying, the Avantone CR-14 seems to be a pretty awesome mic for the price. Can't wait to hear it when we get it in. $259 from Sweetwater, but we're getting a better deal from Full Compass.
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I could list every mic I own as a bargain. But thats how I roll. I have an old U87 I got for cheap. Thats a bargain.
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Value SDCs:

    Shure SM 81. Distinctive "pop" sound. Classical guys like something flatter. But a solid mic that works great for overheads, acoustic guitar.

    Rode NT55 - Omni and cardioid capsules. Pad. Rolloff. It's styled more like a flat classical mic and from what I can see you have to go up to the likes of Scheops, DPA, Earthworks to get a big jump in quality.
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Didier has posted some clips in this thread comparing a Schoeps CMC-621 and RODE NT5 on piano. The NT5 has the same capsule and body type as the NT55, but no pad (and it doesn't come with the omni capsule). I'll have to listen on better speakers, but it sounded to me as if the Rode did an excellent job, though the Schoeps showed its quality on those high trills.
  9. aaronwaudio

    aaronwaudio Active Member

    The NT5s don't come with high pass options either. I would definitely spring for the 55s if I were getting some, which I had been thinking about. Thanks for the links, I'll have to check that out when I get home from work.
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I'm a fan of the AT4041's. Honest and full sound.
  11. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    +1 to the Fathead and SM57. When I bought my Fatheads, they threw in a pair of their SDCs for free. Nothing spectacular, but well worth the cost of $0.
    My 421s and 414s are also critical pairs that get used almost always. Pricier, but very versatile.
    And like Dave said, some good pres go a long way. I don't have anything special, but my Focusrite ISA and Syteks do a nice job of bringing out the best of each mic, once I learned the mics and the pres.
    When I look to upgrade my SDCs, the SM81 and Rodes are at the top of my list, if I can't spring for a pair of Neumanns....
  12. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I second the AT4041's but I like the AT4051's even better. Also in the bang for buck category is the AKG C391/92/93/94/98 and good used C460's. I really liked the Royer R101's and SF12 this past recording season.
  13. Michael Hodecker

    Michael Hodecker Active Member

    Nothing comes close to the ADK mics in terms of value. They're still fairly "off-the-radar" compared to AT and Rode, but they'll give you twice as much mic for the money. This review might be helpful for the range that you're looking at...

    Prosound Network: ADK Custom Shop Berlin-47Au Cremona 251Au Large-Diaphragm Microphones

    Larry is an extremely friendly guy; one of the nicest people I've ever worked with. I recently got the Custom Shop TT-47 (an optimized tube version of the berlin 47- runs about $1,500) from him, and it's blown me away. I've worked with one of those big ol' Charter Oak tube mics as well (in the same price range) and it blew the charter oak out of the water in terms of smooth, detailed sound. I'd highly recommend checking out his company; he charges the honest price I've seen.
  14. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I own a few of the ADK mics. I love them a lot. I've shilled up and down on these pages and others about them. Larry is a real honest guy and treats all the customers with respect.

    That being said, they are really great sounding and for the price I would put them in the upper tier of bang-for-buck product. I'm not so sure there arent other products and manufacturers that "come close in terms of value" . There are a lot of fine builders of mic out there these days. Many of them are quite in tune with the needs and desires of the budget conscious and are more than willing to place a high value on their customer service. Much like ADK.

    The real difference I hear is the ADK mics having a very signature sound. And they have an aged sound. Like an old European mic might have after years of use. Only theres no unstable components ready to bip it in the middle of an important session.

    Like I said, I have several of these mics as well as one of the AP-2 mic pres which is an amazing piece all on its own.

    ADK is high value and even though a little more pricey than the real budget gear, it delivers a first-class sound. I have a pair of the original TT tube mics, a pair of hot-rodded A-51's, a Chi System SDC, an SC-T body and two Chi System cardioid caps. My band still has a pair of SC-1's we use as drum overheads live and have for 10 years now.

    Great stuff, great service.
  15. Michael Hodecker

    Michael Hodecker Active Member

    Dave, you may be right. Some may come close, but I haven't found any as of yet. Charteroak SA538B, Lauten Oceanus, Miktek CV4, Mojave 200, and on and on... I've either worked with or heard files from all of these recently, and the TT came out pretty far above the others for my taste. It doesn't have as dated of a sound as the J-Mod series, but that's good because it offers more detail in the higher frequencies. That's just my experience though, sounds like you've had alot with ADK! Their pre's are awesome. I'd like to try some more transformers and op-amps in mine... that's all i have for budget mics though. may God bless you all.
  16. Michael Hodecker

    Michael Hodecker Active Member

    In response to Bob and Dave's SDC posts, other alternatives are the Peluso CEM-6 and the Charter Oak M900s. Around the same price as the SM81's but they give much higher quality than you'd expect. The Pelusos seem to be about as Schoepsy as you can get without spending a couple thousand per pair. the 4041s are also good.
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I have 4041's. I'm very much into exactly what the source is all about. The 4041's deliver that every time. If I want a little color in the SDC's I put up the ADK Chi System mics.

    Michael. The plethora of great combinations of Op-amps and trannys for the ADK pre make it one of the best bang-for-buck pieces. I have a bunch of different stuff for mine. John Hardy, Forssell, Jensen, Neve, Lundahl, Sowter, all of the ADK stock Op-amps...THIS is what they had in mind when they built it. ALL of the combinations make it possible to really tailor the sound for any particular source. And massive amounts of clear gain means you can get right down into those ribbon mics' beauty. Mine is attached to a server room pullout desktop with double sided tape so changing anything out is a breeze.
  18. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    I echo the praise of ADK mics. I've owned many, tried just about all of them and currently own a complete stereo set of 3 Zigma CHI mics (6 mic bodies and 16 capsules). ADK mics (and their 3 Zigma CHI cousins) are good value, well built and offer a large variety of models, capsules, behaviors and sounds.

    Other mics that I like are the Schoeps Collette Series, the Microtech Gefell M29x Series, the Josephson Series 6 models (including the discontinued modular system), among some others.

    I also have an ADK AP2, with 5 tranny pairs and 5 op amp pairs. We AP2 owners seem to be few and far between.
  19. Michael Hodecker

    Michael Hodecker Active Member

    Where do you guys get your transformers and op-amps? I'm looking forward to adding a bunch of these to my array for some different flavors. When Larry shipped me the CHI's, i took them to the top studio around here and the engineer advised me not to return them... great stuff, huh? May God bless you guys :)
  20. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I think Larry has a few Op-amps and trannys left. There are no more AP-2's. I got the last one. It was a demo. And it sounds great. So give Larry a call or Donnie at Superdigital. He had a list and may still have it. I'm really hoping all you Northwest guys are getting all these toys from my peeps down there. Super digital is the last Pro Palace of sound we have.

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