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Choosing the Right Mic

Discussion in 'Recording' started by BradleyGZ, Dec 29, 2003.

  1. BradleyGZ

    BradleyGZ Guest

    Hello. I am doing some home recording for my band and I can get the guitar to sound great, but the vocals sound like crap, they are boxy and sound like you are holding your nose and I know that it is because of the type mic I have. Well, I was wondering what is a good(not extremly expensive) mic proablly somehwere between $100-$400 microphone for recording vocals. There is gonna be alot of screaming(Heavy Metal). I have found two that are goning on sale at musicians friend, let me know if these are any good and which one is better. Mic number 1 Mic Number 2 Any info is greatly appreciated, Thanks. Brad.
  2. BradleyGZ

    BradleyGZ Guest

    And oh yea, I think one of those mics required a phantom power supply. Could someone please explain a phantom power supply to me and what it does. I know my mixing board has a button for it, but I dont know what it does. Thanks.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Phantom power is a way to supply energy for a mic that requires electricity to operate. Condenser mics usually need phantom power unless they are battery powered, dynamic mics don't need power.

    You don't mention what kind of mics or mic pres you are currently useing??

    I think both those mics you have mentioned, leave a lot to be desired. Most of the negative comments I see here in regards to MXL mics here is that they fail in operation and unit to unit consistancy varies. customer service seems to be an issue at times also.

    (Dead Link Removed)

    For a small diaphragm mic, go with the SP C4s .... KILLER!

    [ January 09, 2004, 01:33 PM: Message edited by: Kurt Foster ]
  4. Bri

    Bri Active Member

    Jan 12, 2003
    Sorry to barge in here, however, Kurt, since you mentioned the SP C4s, I was always curious to get your input on how they compared(on acoustic guitar for example) to the Rode NT5s...putting aside any bias in lieu of the C4's interchangeable capsules, filter and pad. ;)

  5. ErikFlipside

    ErikFlipside Guest

    kurt made an excellent suggestion with the C series Studio Projects. I would also suggest the B series, but that might be a little more dependent on your singer's characteristics as i have heard that the B series sound better on female vocals than male vocals. that is not always the case, of course, but for the price and quality compared to the MXLs it would be WELL worth auditioning.


    have you tried a Shure SM58 yet?
  6. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    I would also pick the Studio Projects mics over the MXL mics. But if you insist on picking between the two MXL that you mention, I'd pick number two as it at least has a pad and a low cut filter both of which I think your gonna need for the style of music you said you were going to use this mic for. You are very likely to get what you pay for so keep that in mind. You might also get more miles out of a good old fashion Shure SM57 or SM58.
  7. If you are doing heavy metal a dynamic might just be the right thing. A 57 through a great pre/comp is a good thing. David
  8. Todzilla

    Todzilla Active Member

    May 12, 2003
    Neuse River Watershed
    Home Page:
    Ditto with the dynamic for screaming. Plus, you can always use the SM58 for live playing as well.
  9. BradleyGZ

    BradleyGZ Guest

    Thanks for all the help guys. As for kurts question about the mics and pres I am currently using. The mic I am using is a samson R11 and I am just running it directly into my MusicMix16 mixer board. Like I said I am kinda new at this so I dont know all the little gadgets I should use to get good results(as far as mics go anyways). I will give the Studio Project mics a look at. And as for the Shure SM57 and 58. I think those might be good, Cuz I have heard ALOT about them, never tried one though. Which one would be better and what is the difference really between the 57 and 58? And AudioGaff, those were just some mics I found that I though might be good, wasnt sure, just wanted some input on them. See I wish I could borrow or something a few different mics and see which one works best, cuz I just cant go out and buy a couple different ones and test them, we dont have the money for that. And again, Thanks guys for all the help and great info, If ya have any more info please feel free to give away, I can always use :) Thanks. Brad.
  10. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Pretty much the exact same mic with the SM58 being targeted more for vocals having the ball windscreen. The SM57 is targeted more for instruments and general purpose use, including vocals. The SM57 has been one of, if not the most common dynamic mic ever to be used in recording for over 25-years. I have recorded bands and done PA/FOH gigs using nothing but SM57's on every source with very good results. The better the preamp, the better the SM57 performs.
  11. BradleyGZ

    BradleyGZ Guest

    Ok, cool. Thanks. Now for one more final question. I am not to fimilar with preamps, like I said earlier I am currently running my samson mic directly into my mixer board. I guess what I am trying to say(not sounding so stupid rather) is what is a good preamp? Again thanks for all the help, All of you have been so helpful. Brad.
  12. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    A preamp as in your mixer, is going to do the most basic job of a preamp by taking the very small voltage of the microphone and amplifing that to higher level for interface to other analog gear including recorders and PC analog interfaces. A good or great preamp is going to do that, but is also going to do with it a higher quality passing on more deatils from the mic. A great preamp will use the very best and highest quality components and have a very specific design goal as to the character of the sound it adds or enhances to the microphone. If we use the another analogy, you could say that the mic would be the brush and the great preamp would be the color.

    Great preamps are expensive compared to what you have paid for the SM57 or the Samson mixer and most of the great ones will likely cost much more than what you paid the mixer and all your mics combined. I would suggest for now, that you stick with using the mic pre within the mixer while you save up money. In the meantime you may want to search the web or the archives here at RO to get better insight about mic preamps. At one time there was only a handful to choose from, but today there are dozens to choose from, some that are crap some that are not, and fewer that are great.
  13. shortyprs

    shortyprs Guest

    A great preamp is a lot of money! That said, there are lots of 'better' preamps (better than your board) for not too much. A DMP3 (M-Audio) is a good introduction. I like my Joe Meek VCQ6 and RNP, neither of which is too expensive. Any of these pre's would help. With a dynamic mic, better pres seem to make a bigger difference.

    I go along with the idea of a dynamic mic for screaming, although the condensors like the SP B1 and C3 have fit the bill on occassion. An AT 3035 has worked pretty well.

    There are major differences in "screaming". A lot depends on whether you want clarity or upper end definition in the tone, whether you want the words to be articulate, or whether you're looking for an over-driven or distorted input signal. Do you want the vocals to stand out in the mix, or to sit back more even with other instruments (think Smashing Pumkins)? Condensors and dynamics with brighter top ends will give more articulation.

    I've gotten a great James Brown scream with a Sennheiser 845 dynamic through a Great River pre with a lot of input gain. Good God...funky!! Good articulation. Sits forward in the mix. Then again, an sm 57 is a little more mid-rangy, without as much articulation. Great for a raw more overdriven scream. A Sennheiser 421 (older, not the mkII) can give the scream a lot of 'fat' in the tone, for the same reason its so good on guitar amps. The 421 is one of your most flexible options. Unless you're focused on recording, dynamic mics are more flexible. They're easier to work with live but still very useful in recording.

    Good luck.
  14. BradleyGZ

    BradleyGZ Guest

    Ok gotcha Gaff. Thanks for all the help. And for Shortyprs, the screaming(heavymetal) I would like for it to stand out a little, but with someover drive also. I have a Vocal300 effects pedal that can help with that, as far as distortion and pitch and that, but I dont want the vocal to blend with the guitar, I want it where you can hear what he is saying but still keep that heavy metal sound. Did you or anybody understand that?? And as far as the mic goes it looks like the sm57 is the winner unless there is more info to be given? I can always make or buy the windscreen and it will also allow me to record guitar or other instrument with it also if needed or wanted. So, guess it is the SM57, Thanks for all the input and help. This is the best site I have ever been to. Everybody is so helpful here. Thanks. Brad.
  15. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Your welcome. The SM57 may not be the perfect mic for you, but it is a good mic, and a good mic to have in your mic collection. The fact that the SM57 is also built well, takes abuse well and is so very affordable makes it a great value.
    That's nice to hear as most of us around here try hard to make this a place where you can get real valued info and less crap. 2004 promises to bring many new things to those at R.O.
  16. bgavin

    bgavin Guest

    I read this favorable review on the Rode NT1000 and NTK mics:

    Link To Review

    The hardware engineer in me was impressed by the construction details and quality. I don't know if Rode is manufactured by 797 in China or ??, but I was sure impressed by the review.

    I need a pair of SDC and noticed the NT5.

    Can anybody comment on the Rode line in its price range?
  17. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    The SM57 and a Studio projects mic preamp sounds like it would do well for your situation. The SP preamp is a good "Starter" unit and can also provide tube distortion when desired. It's certainly not top of the line, but is far better than a samson mixer.


    [ January 09, 2004, 01:27 PM: Message edited by: Kurt Foster ]
  18. route909

    route909 Guest


    The Rode mics are some of the best mic you can get for the price you pay. I had a pair of NT1000s for over a year and they got use for most recording sessions (till I bought my Studio Projects C1). I borrowed an NTK for a week, it´s a bit more colorful and works better for my voice than the NT1000.

    The mics are contructed and built in Røde´s new facility in Australia but the capsules are chinese (the new NT2000 and K2 have capsules made by Røde). The reviewer at prorec.com (Bruce Richardson) is right, they don´t look like ordinary mics inside. It´s creepy, you see only a handful of components and the PCB design is first rate, as is the metal work. And they open up with a hand twist. Check out the web site: http://www.rodemic.com

    The NT1000 and NTK are incredibly well built, and will last you a lifetime if you take care of them. They produce almost no noise, sound very clean and have pretty good off-axis sound. No frequencies pop out, but if you are sibilant singer, they won´t hide it. The top is a bit boosted. I actually prefered the clip mounts to the Studio Projects shock mounts, simply because they never give you any trouble.

    However I sold off my rode pair and bought a pair of Studio Projects C4s instead, simply because I had more use for small diaphragm mics with both omni and cardioid heads than a fixed cardioid pair of LD mics. Another reason I did that was that the C1 got more use as a vocal mic, it works for almost all singers I´ve tried it on, except the most extreme "air" singers.

    This is only one man´s opinion ;)

  19. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Distinguished Member

    Oct 7, 2001
    I have several Rode mics, including the NTK, the NT2, and a pair of the NT5's.

    The NTK is a great vocal mic, very smooth and detailed, but as was mentioned, be careful of silibancy!

    The NT2 is a different beast, but a good mic nonetheless...also will emphasize silibancy however.

    The NT5's are a bit darker actually, and actually can sound pretty good with a bit of high-end boost on acoustic guitars.

    I love all my Rode mics...well built and they sound great!
  20. aphid

    aphid Guest

    I know i say this all the time but: Groove Tubes GT55 (can get em for $299) and a tube preamp (tube mp is running under $50 now). Sounds better than an AKG c4000 to me.

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