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Choosing a condenser mic

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by alesis, Feb 21, 2006.

  1. alesis

    alesis Guest

    Hi Folks,

    I need some help in choosing a condenser mic for my home studio. I have a decent home studio setup along with a focusrite twintrak pro mic preamp. My budget is $ 200 - $ 300. I zeroed down on the following models.

    Audio Technica AT4040
    Audio Technical AT3035

    I intend to record acoustic guitars, vocals and mic my speaker cabinet. I finger pick my acoustic guitar and am pretty soft on that. Therefore I think I would be needing a powerful condenser mic. Bear with me for I am still a rookie in micing techniques and selection.

    I currently use a SM57 to mic my speaker cabinet. Once I get the condenser I will be trying some stereo micing techniques. I totally understand that there is no one mic that can do it all. Nevertheless, I would like to choose a kinda universal condenser mic. I do not have any sound insulation in my studio.

    Your expert input will be appreciated.

  2. Boltino

    Boltino Guest

    Welcome to RO! I have no experience with the AT 3035, but I've used the others. I'm a big fan of the AT4040. It is very versatile, which makes it a great first condenser. I have a pair that I use on a lot of different sources with good results. The KSM27 is a good mic, but has a more individual tone that makes it hard to use on a lot of sources IMHO. I've never regretted purchasing my 4040s. Good Luck!

  3. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Moderator

    Feb 23, 2005
    I agree about the AT. I have a couple of AT4047s in my locker, and the 4040 can't be far behind. Also use the KSM27 in live applications, no complaints here, but my $$$ would be on the 4040...for VOCALS. As for the mic'ed amp, stick to the 57 (OK, you can "room mic" with the LDC). And for the fingerpicked acoustic, you can try the LDC route (4040,27), but , quite frankly, I have found that a small-diaphragm condenser is much better. This would bring up mics like a Shure SM81, the AT4041, or AKG C451. You can certainly try the large diaphragm mic on acoustic, but make like a Boy Scout and be prepared...
    In fact, you might get lucky and find both a 4040 and a 4041 on the internet at a price you can deal with...Good luck!
  4. Boltino

    Boltino Guest

    I've found the same thing. I guess it depends on your focus. If recording acoustic guitar is 90% of your concern, an SDC is the way to go. Obviously the best would be to have one of each . . . . . or 10 of each . . . . Sweet!

  5. alesis

    alesis Guest

    I am hoping that the AT4040 will help me for my vocals / acoustic guitar. I am planning to invest only in this mic at this time (budget constraints).

    I am suprised that the KSM27 is nto up to the mark as the AT4040. Is the AT4040 as rugged as the KSM27? any ideas?

    Thanks a lot for your input guys.
  6. Zoltar8814

    Zoltar8814 Guest

    I have both mics. It isn't that the KSM27 isn't every bit as "good" a mic as the 4040..it is just different. I find the 4040 to be a little more diverse. Vocals, acoustic guit, elect guit, sax etc...
    Whereas the Shure, even though it is a fine mic, has a more specific sound and use IMO.
    But hell you can record anything with anything, if it sounds good it sounds good, if it don't it don't.
    Actually I like the 4047 a bit better on vocals...but that's a different kettle o' fish.
  7. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Moderator

    Feb 23, 2005
    Exactly...I just prefer a SDC on acoustic guitar, but that depends on the geetar and the player, the room,blah, blah,blah...I would have to say that the AT is a very well-built mic line. The only issue that I have with the Shure KSM is that they are "electret condenser" mics, not "true" condensers. but that is true with many others,too. The KSM is a durable mic-hell, we use 'em all over the place onstage-piano, horns, drumkits, choirs- I just think that the 4040 would be more versatile, sonically speaking.
  8. Correct me, because i may be wrong, but I learned that electret capacitor/condensor mics were just the eurpopean term for condensor mics. Electret just means:

    Electret (formed of elektr- from "electricity" and -et from "magnet") is material that has been permanently electrically charged (polarised). The magnetic equivalent is a permanent magnet. (wikipedia)

    Basically this just says that it is a charged piece of metal (diaphragm) that causes fluctiuations in voltage across two poles... which is what a condensor mic is.

    I seriously could be wrong. I'm not trying to be a bunghole or anything. I just wanted to clear it up with myself as well as anyone reading this.
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Personally, I feel that there is hardly a mic at twice or 3 times the price that competes with the 4040. It's not hyped, it's not boring. It simply represents what it hears rather well. It's off-axis response is different than the 4050 (not bad, just different). Up close, I prefer the 4050 - at a distance of a few feet or more, I prefer the 4040. However, the 4040 is excellent up close too - the 4050 is just, IMO, a tad better (but about twice the cost).

    Electret vs externally polarized are different in how they apply power to the backplate. Many electrets are pre-polarized where externally biased are just that. The difference can be negligible in many cases. Where I find a major difference is with those "self-powered" or battery powered electrets. I find that they smear image badly and often have irregular frequency responses.

    Back to the 4040 - I have some rather nice microphones in my collection or available to me from friends. You would be surprised just how often the 4040s get called out. Vocals, overheads, guitar cabs, toms, hand percussion, acoustic guitar (usually mixed with a SDC - Schoeps, Gefell or AKG or even a Beyer ribbon).

    As for the difference between it and say the 4047 - the difference is noticable. The 4047 has a much darker/sweeter flavor. The 4040 is open and clear - the 47 is kinda designed to emulate older fet designs.

  10. ryanwalters

    ryanwalters Guest

    condenser advice

    the AT4033 does good on vocals and guitar cabs haven't tried on acoustic yet but for around 200-300 dollars I think thats the best advice for the price.
  11. Len
    Save your money. And buy a condensor worth your time and hard earned money.
    One word...
    KEL HM-1
    I just got mine in the mail. It is only $99 and comes with FREE shipping. I believe it is one of the best sounding condensor mics "for guitar" you can get. Esp for the killer price of $99
    Not that the other mic's you mentioned are not worthy choices. But the KEL is almost like magic.
    I have no idea how these mic's are sooo cheap and sound sooo good.
    There also was one on ebay the other day. For like $50 or so. keep your eyes open
    And buy a KEL HM-1 you will not regret it
  12. Boltino

    Boltino Guest

    That's great, but have you compared the KEL to anything? Don't get me wrong, I've heard good things about it. I'm just curious what you are basing your opinion on. Everyone loves their first condenser . . . at first.

  13. I own 10 condensor mic's and the KEL is right up there with all the better ones. Just my 2 cents
    I can't see why anyone would NOT like the KEL HM-1

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