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Deciding between large diaphragm condenser mics

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by davidkien68, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. davidkien68

    davidkien68 Member

    I'm replacing my old crappy AT2020 with an upgrade.

    I have a budget of about $500 or less. I would only use this mic for acoustic guitar and vocals
    These are the mics I am currently considering:

    sE Electronics 2200a II
    Avantone Audio CV-12
    Sennheiser MK-4
    Rode NT-1000
    Rode NTK
    I know its relative, but which of these is the best? Or what is the best large diaphragm condenser mic I can get for under $500? may nen khi fusheng

    Thanks for any help
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    There is quite a lot of variables that can change the decision.
    The acoustic of the room, the kind of music you do, the kind of voice you have, the preamp you are using etc...

    The best thing you could do is go in a store and try the mics available fitting your budget because vocals are like ADN no one is the same...

    NTK, Shure KSM 32, Mitek C1 and even the AKG 214 or Rode NT-2 could work.
    If you choose to go used ; A Shure KSM44 or AKG 414 are real work horses !
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    The Avantone cv12 is quite nice with a nos tube in it, or even stock, they hold up curprisingly well compared to the mic it models the c12. Haven't used the senny or SE

    The shures PC mentioned are nice. The 414 is in the next level, but it'd be a good score if u got one in good shape for under 500.

    Depending on your typical mic array, you might want multi patterns, or even ribbon(s) so you can take advantage of the nulls in the pickup pattern. Something the cv12 has. If your putting one mic up for the vocals and gtr this isn't as crucial. I'd look into a cascade ribbon, or a rode nt5 for what your gtr, and the. Depending on your voice maybe an sm7. But that's what I'd do, I'm not you, I've just heard a lot of good and bad mics under 500$ and LDC isn't necessarliy the way to go in a lot of cases. But every engineer should have at least one, in my experience, the shure is the safest bet for an all a rounder, or a click purchase, where you won't hear it. and the cv12 is an excellent choice which is probably less well rounded, but also maybe a bit more exciting on certain things. Either one are good buys, and I mean this to all the engineers around here, price disregarded the avantone cv12 is a real microphone, it holds its own for sure against the c12 stock, and w some mods can be a surprisingly good mic. I don't own one but my buddy has 2 and we like them around the studio.
  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Hey K, how is the proximity effect on the CV12 ?
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    All good recommendations...

    My favorite all round workhorse mic - I think it sounds great as well - is the 414, although that's way above your budget for a new one, you might look at a used one; it's a pro studio standard, an exceptional condenser mic, great on vocals, and you can also use it on virtually any instrument as well.

    I have seen them go on eBay for around $500 (U.S.) and in good condition(visually), and, if you were a bit hinky about getting something used, you could always get buyer's insurance to hedge your bet.

    Other than that, I think I'd be looking at a Shure KSM 32. I don't have any experience with the Avantone that Kyle mentioned - it seems like a great mic, especially for the price - but, it won't be transparent, because it's a tube mic, it's going to have some color to it, so if you were facing a recording situation that called for a transparent vocal sound, that mic probably wouldn't be the best choice.

    Don't get me wrong, I really like tube mics, but the sound you get is somewhat colored, and you can't really "undo" that sound once you've recorded through it. OTOH, if you record using a transparent mic, you can always add "tube coloration" to it afterwards, either thru the use of various plugs, or, re-amping it through a tube preamp.

    Now... what is just as important, and hasn't yet been discussed ... what mic pre are you using? Because this will have just as much to do with your sound as the mic that you choose will... actually, in my opinion, even moreso...

  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    No no, I asked the question first :
    Just teasing you Donny ! :ROFLMAO:
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Nothing out of the ordinary, workable, but not exxaggerated. these tube mics don't offer an exaggerated sense of color, it's very subtle, and I would describe the tubes role more as 'taking the edge off" as opposed to warming things up. Relative to a 414, there main difference will be in the girth of the low mids. Where the 414 will be honest or slightly thin in that area, where the cv12 is fuller or a bit exaggerated.
    pcrecord likes this.
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i have never used an Aventone but i did own an AKG C24 and i can tell you the C12 /24 's, C12a & 414 (from which the CV12 is cloned) are pretty bright mics.
  9. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    That's a very good point Kurt!
    Many of the classic mics we crave for are comming from an time when digital recording with a DAW didn't exist. Many were made to be very bright to compensate for tape recording. I'm not saying they are bad mics, on the contrary, most of them are amazing even if the designs haven't changed in 20-30yrs.
    Thing is, if you don't have a preamp that will somehow thame those HF, the may sound harsh or agressive.
    (I can't conceive that anyone would put A C12 on an audiobuddy, anyway !)

    I had good results with the KSM32 but with my voice (which might be the worst vocal that I've recorded) it sounded nazal. mainly due to my voice being thin to start with. I was fortunate to grab a pair of KSM44 (500$each) on eBay. I found the sound more balanced, but it was not since I got a LA-610 that I would start to slightly appreciate my voice. (good thing I'm a drummer ;))
  10. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    I owned a Rode NTK for a couple of years, used primarily on vocals. I didn't like it so I sold it. It imparted a 'grainy' sound to the vocal which even my clients would detect.
    I would echo Donny's suggestion that you seek out a used 414... it's fool-proof and fail-proof and extremely versatile. When I'm working with a new client with who's voice I am unfamiliar, I will often put this mic up, knowing I will not get a bad result. Then, once I have done a few passes with the vocalist, I can make a more informed choice of mics.
    pcrecord likes this.
  11. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    The avantone is quite bright too. The most significant diffrence that I hear between the tube or not, is in the low mids, since the capsules are pretty similar between the three, Asa far as I know. Which is where I've found the c-12 rich, relative to the 414, and to a lesser extent the cv12. And there is a bit of a difference, in the handling of the upper mids between the cv, and the others. I Sweat expensive high tech and all that, and even im surprised how close they are.

    So my suggestion for the cv12 would be for someone who liked the c12 but didn't have the cash, which is most people. That extra 10% in subjective quality, is 10x the price. and only a value for the most discerning hobbyist, or demanding pro.

    I've buy a cv12 or a pelusp, or cathedral pipes, before a c12. But as an owner of a 414 I do not regret it, and feel the 414 is a superior product to any of them, as the role of workhorse. Again, if you can find one. I thought I was getting a killer deal when I oaid $800, for a mic that sells for a grand now.

    This is an investment, OP, and any small upfront costs, pay for themselves, when you go to sell the mic, and the whole time your using it, guaranteeing you a pro level standard. Your mic won't be a weak link ever, you'll just want more of them, if you stick with quality tried and true mics. When you want the ultimate mic for your particular voice, that's when anything goes. But for general purchases, 414s and 575s have never been blamed for bad recordings, and are excellent at what the do. Not the absolute best of the best for every single thing, but never bad, on anything. Even vocals, I've never found 414s unusable on any one, like I have the u87, it may not be the best, but it's always usable.

    The 414 is the 57 of LDCs
  12. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    IMO You're upgrading. Why? Because you only had the money for a 2020 and now you've outgrown it. I say if you get one of the under $500 group there's a good chance you'll be back here in 2-3 years with the same request, wanting to go to the next level, and you'll have two mics you've outgrown. I believe one of the worst things we do to ourselves is to settle for less too stick with the budget, and end up buying twice.

    I suggest that if you were to save your pennies, up your price a bit to the 7-800 range, and score an AT 4050, or up again to Shure KSM44, or an AKG 414, you would get a mic that had multi polar patterns, rolloff, etc, and be satisfied FOREVER.

    Buy the best and ONLY cry once.

    The best plan is to audition them, by renting 3 or 4 mics for a week. If they won't do that, arrange with a salesman to bring in your laptop, plug in each mic, and do a quick guitar and vocal recording, 15 seconds of each. Then go back to your studio and listen.

    My two bits.
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    If you were to save your money and buy a Cathedral Pipes mic....any version/model....you will become rather spoiled about what you hear. The Peluso's are also in that league. Agreed about the C414.....there are several models these days. Its good to research these to find which one might be for you. Most equipment rental houses will have several of these to rent. Use will always trump hearsay in making decisions.

    All-in-all, your choices are not off base for the use you see this mic having. Coming from using that 2020 thing, a 57 is going to sound 'better' as a recording tool. I'm not saying go get a 57 but get one anyway so you have one while you're growing your ear with a new condenser.....( <see what I did there??! )
    kmetal likes this.
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I agree, and even with an edge, most of the time, it' a pleasing edge, although that will be greatly dependent on the mic model and the tube used, of course.

    Although, I will say that in my own experience, tube condensers generally do have a bit more inherent proximity effect than other mics. Of course, I haven't used every tube mic ever made - LOL - so I can only base my opinion on those that I have used - C12's, Rode NTK (?), Telefunken Elam's and AKG Solid Tube's... each of these did have a pronounced PE, morso than other non-tube models.

    Truthfully, these days, unless a particular vocal is really screaming out for a tube character from the get-go, I'm more into transparent capture, and adding color and character after the fact.

    IMHO of course.
  15. drumrob

    drumrob Active Member

    Lots of good recommendations, here's another. For about $500 you could pick up a used Mojave Audio MA-201. Fantastic mic and great people. As others have said, though, if you are looking for a particular sound, there's only one way to know whether you'll get it with your particular sources, and that's to audition one.
  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    D, do you think you would take the same approach if you had the option of a tube mic or two? Is it a situation where it's good enough, to not merit the need for a tube mic? I other words do you feel you are making a compromise, by adding character and color after the fact? Do you think it's effective, and even better? What have you found as far as effect techniques that does this?

    Not beinga jerk, very curious about your workflow, as I know you get good results.
  17. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Well, I do own a tube condenser, and there are times I like it very much. But, there are other times where I'd rather capture a performance as transparently as possible, and add the character later, either through plugs or routing it though an external tube pre, which I also have.

    It's all dependent on the song, really, and truthfully, most of what I do in production is all contextual. I don't have just any "one way" in which I work. Every song is different, so I approach each song on its own, and then consider all the different things that engineers consider, and then, I make my choices from there.

    There have also been times that I've set up a regular condenser (AKG 414EB or U89) along side a tube condenser (AKG SolidTube or Rode NTK) and record one performance through both (to their own discreet tracks), at which point I have a choice as to which works best as the song progresses.

    kmetal likes this.

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