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condensor mic for rock vocals under 1k?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by atl123, Mar 11, 2008.

  1. atl123

    atl123 Guest

    I want to get a condensor mic forunder $1000. The main reason I want to get it is to record rock vocals. And by rock vocals I mean anything from Gregg Allman, to Robert Plant, to Chris Cornell type vocals. I have not been able to capture the essence of the vocals with anything that I have tried so far. I write songs with one of my family members and he has an amazing voice and set of lungs. I can sit around and listen to him sing all day long live, but when we record it just doesn't sound the same at all. It doesn't sound bad, but after listening to him live the recording doesn't do him justice.

    I have looked at the Shure KSM44, and read some reviews where people said that they owned a U87 and doing a side by side comparison, that they couldn't hardly tell a difference. I know other people have mentioned the AKG 414 a lot also. It would be nice if this mic could also double as a solid mic to record acoustic guitar on also.
  2. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2007
    Cocoa, FL
    I like the A/T 4050 and 4033 myself, as well as 414s - there's a pretty good price difference there.

    This is a difficult question to answer. Search the forums, you'll see what I mean.
  3. atl123

    atl123 Guest

    I know, that is why I started this topic. lol. But most people on here generalize a lot when it comes to mics and I know people on here have a lot of knowledge and experience when recording all types of vocalists. And I assumed that just like different guitars suit different types of music better that others, that microphones would do the same (but to a lesser extent). Not to mention that I want the microphone to capture some of the live energy and essence of the sound.
  4. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2007
    Cocoa, FL
    Either way you cut it, you're gonna get more generalizations - or at least the same ones you've read in the past.

    But anyway, that's my .02 - carry on, my man!
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Microphone choice is as subjective a choice as one can make. Much like choosing that 'perfect' guitar. Whats right for one isnt always another mans soup.

    The reason you find such a 'generalization' on this, is the people who know mics are so aware of the differences between one source and another.

    I could tell you that my experience has led me to choose older U87's as the go-to vocal mic.

    And I would be right......and wrong.......

    I will tell you this...... ANY comparisons between mics :ala saying one sounds like another is a waste of space and energy.

    They all sound different.

    In choosing a quality vocal mic for your budget, keep in mind the build quality. The closer the tolerances , the more consisent from mic to mic they will sound. This allows you to choose a mic in a fairly random way without a lot of pre-sale trial.

    As Bent mentioned...the Audio Technica line of mics is very very good and very consistent from mic to mic. It would be hard to buy a 'bad' one. The same is true with the Shures and AKG.

    Whether they are a great fit for your needs, the only REAL way is to try them out.

    I will add this. The AT4050, the Shure KSM44, and the AKG 414 are all high-quality mics that you will own for many years. Theres nothing that doesnt sound good on any of them.....different but all good. They are also ALL rather sensitive to the preamp you're plugging into.

    Any of them plugged into a cheap 'tuberater' micpre is going to suffer and probably wont sound much different than your low-end condenser. Used with a higher-end micpre, they will ALL shine.

    -----> Just My Humble Opinion, anyone that says a KSM44 sounds just like a Neumann U87 is smokin something. Or is simply repeating hearsay.
  6. atl123

    atl123 Guest

    Thanks for the help. But that brings me to my next question: Choosing a vocal mic preamp. I am currently using a Presonus preamp which seems to do a good job on everything I have thrown at it, and has low noise except when turned up to the max. What would a good choice be for a preamp to match with one of those $1000 mics listed above? Does preamps have characteristics that tend to lend itself to be better at recording certain types of vocals, or is their other features, specs, or tolerences that I need to look at? Hopefully the price to get a very good preamp that does not limit a very good mic, does not cost as much as the mic itself? (i.e. what price range should I be looking at)
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    I think Dave's guitar analogy is a great one: The mic is like picking a guitar. The pre is like picking an amp. There is no single right choice, but there are a lot of popular choices. We've gone through some of the basics in mics here AT 40 series, Shure KSM44, AKG 414. As far as preamps, I've been looking at those that are based on the 70's consoles: looking at things like API, Great River, Langevin, but there is a lot more variety of opinion here (which probably means that the mic matters more than the pre).

    Anyway, the good new is that you are trying to find something that works for a specific vocalist. That's easier than trying to build a whole mic and preamp closet. You haven't filled in your profile. Is there a studio in your area that would have a bunch of mics and pres that would be possibilities? Be up front. You want to pay for an hour or so of mic and preamp tests so you can choose something for your home studio. Pretty easy way for a studio to fill an empty block of time.
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Good advice so far.

    I'm with Dave. ANyone who says a KSM44 sounds like a u87 is smoking some great weed.

    When people ask me "what's the best mic for under $1k?" my usual response is a list of lesser expensive mics - so as to give you some flexibility within your price range. I have yet to find one mic that is the golden ticket - even 1 vocalist will sound better through mic 'a' one 1 track but better through mic 'b' on another track.

    The same goes for preamps, although I find there to be more flexibility through different gain settings on better preamps.

    That being said, my recommendations would be:
    Shure sm57
    Senn 421
    Blue Bluebird
    AT 4033

    Between that $1k's worth of mics, you'd be hard pressed to find anything more flexible.

    Or go with an AEA R84, Royer 121 or C&T Naked Eye - ribbon mics which all have two characters based on which side you sing into them.

    Just some thoughts...

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