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Drum overheads - mic preferences

Discussion in 'Room & Overhead' started by molehole, Jan 6, 2015.

  1. molehole

    molehole Active Member

    I'm looking to upgrade my drum overheads from AKG C 1000 S' to either Shure SM81's or AKG C 214's. Price and versatility are factors, but the main use will be as drum overheads. Any opinions or advice is very much appreciated. Thanks!
  2. pan60

    pan60 Active Member

    Well from my prospective I would not look at the AKG C 1000's I had a couple and literally tossed em and I don't toss nothing. Everyone calls me a hoarder.
    I don't know anything about the AKG C214's, and I think there are better mics then the Shure SM81's.
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Either pair is gonna be a significant sonic upgrade. I'd go w the sm81s. When you have the money go w the 414s, not the 214s. Stick w the real things, the ones that are workhorses. Not price point modified design jr. Models of a classic, that's doesn't need to be tampered w. The 81s are real mics used by recordists for a very long time. The 214 is okay, but your better off w a pair of used 414s. The pickup patterns are a big part of they're charm.
    pcrecord likes this.
  4. molehole

    molehole Active Member

    Thanks! That's good advice.
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    The SM81 is a great choice. I also like the AKG C451 and the Rode NT5 is a great value. If you can afford it, the AKG C414 is always useful on just about anything, and look at the Neumann KM series.

    Make sure you budget for some seriously heavy-duty mic stands if you're putting something that expensive on a high boom. Maybe there's a time and place for cheap lightweight stands, this would not be it.

    Good luck.
    kmetal likes this.
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    You didn't say how much you wanted to spend.

    All of the members here who have commented, have posted on other mic threads in the past how beneficial it is to buy nice mics, because you won't ever have to upgrade them.
    I agree completely with their approach. If you buy a nice mic, or a few nice mics, you'll never have to worry about them becoming obsolete as your methods and chops improve.

    AKG's C1000's were, as far as I'm concerned, the first time that AKG dropped the ball on mic quality, although the cheap price should have been an indicator to most that they were only ever going to be "okay".
    They are at best "entry- level" caliber, and most who buy them do so because they are entry level and priced accordingly.

    But, as these people get better at the craft, and as their ears become more refined to what really sounds good - and what doesn't - they start to look at other options. If you buy a few nice mics, that won't happen.
    Treated well, they will continue to sound just as fantastic as the day you bought them.

    I always thought C1000's to be pretty harsh, and, without the accuracy of other SD's - even compared to other SD mics in a similar price range... "similar" meaning under $400.

    The Shure SM81 blows the C1000 away, and it's only around $100 more.

    If you want to invest in mics that you'll never have to upgrade from, invest in a pair of AKG 414's, which sound great on virtually anything you put them on, or, if you want to stick with SD's, go with a pair of Neumann KM185's... and you'll never find any need to upgrade from either one. You may add other mics in the future, for different coloration or apps, for example, a nice Ribbon, or a Tube model, but you'll never get tired of working with the mics you initially purchased that are of exceptional quality. Yes, they can be pricey... but then again, you only need to buy them once. ;)

    IMHO of course.
    kmetal and pan60 like this.
  7. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    Neumann Km 184's are my favorite. 214's are pretty good for the money they have that 5 k pre equed spike tot hem but they do the job.
  8. molehole

    molehole Active Member

    Thanks again for the replies, they've been very helpful. I decided to go with the SM81's. They look like the best choice for me. The C 1000 S' were bought used, a dozen years ago, and were what I could afford at the time. Yes, I didn't give a price range, but I assumed that the mics I listed implied that. The KM 184 and C414 are still out of my price range, so they'll have to be something to shoot for down the road. I have managed through "garbage picking" and acoustic research to build a pretty good sounding room. I've recently upgraded to Pro Tools 11 and an Universal Audio Apollo. It's a huge improvement in sound quality. I do own a Fat Head ribbon and a couple of large diaphragm condensers. Nothing top of the line, but all improvements for me.
  9. pan60

    pan60 Active Member

    I think you'll find the SM81's to not only be very useful, but a welcome addition to your mic locker.
  10. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Good stuff man! Looks like your covering a lot of the important bases, acoustics, conversion, high end effects, and mics! These are the un glamorous items that can really make your situation professional. Congrats !!!!!
  11. Jensenmann

    Jensenmann Active Member

    I haven´t heard the AKG214s yet so I can´t comment on these. But I have a pair of SM81s and I consider them to be useful bread and butter tools which are worth their price. If you want to step up a bit in price and sonic integrity then you should consider Beyerdynamic MC930s. These are winners and will make you happy a whole lifetime.
  12. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    The SM81's are a great choice! They're honestly my favorite if I'm not in a Pro room and they're very versatile. Try them on acoustic guitar if you can.
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I like em a lot. I used to have 6 of em. Used them on toms, acoustic guitars, drum overheads etc etc... Never failed. GREAT extra vocal mic....seriously. Kinda miss them some.....Love the KM184. Getting lots of love lately for the AKG C460's I bought from Kurt. Makes me want to find a pair of the hyper caps....
    Big_D likes this.
  14. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    And the C460 is my other favorite SDC Dave. I haven't had access to a pair of them for a few years now but when I did I always found a place for them. I'd love to get a pair. I've never used the KM184 but have always heard great things.
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I've just started a new project with live drums and I'm using the C460's in a non-coincidental pair with my Cathedral Pipes Seville ribbon as the room mic. AKG's thru a Focusrite 428 so I can take advantage of the great variable HPF and the Seville thru a Phoenix Audio DRS-Q4. The initial drum tracking sounds really solid and complete.

    As for the C1000 from the OP...these things are not good sounding mics. A couple of years ago I read an article on a mod someone has for these. Unfortunately thats all the info I have at the moment but the results were claimed to be rather spectacular. I still couldn't decide from the article whether the price was worth it. I guess if the mics were free it could be worth investigating. Here's a short story about modding things.....

    I recently had two mics modded. JJ Audio did the work. They have turned out great and are two of my go-to vocal mics. I only mention this because in the past, I have not been all that receptive to modded equipment. I always thought that if it didn't work as well as you wanted then get something else that does. After a long phone conversation with Jim Jacobson, (I called him) I decided to send him my pair of ADK Area51 TT tube mics. These were early releases of this mic and they really sounded pretty good as they were. Jim's take on them was something along the lines of "They've got great bones, just need the rest properly done". This included new caps which ironically are ADK Custom Shop capsules, better transformers and a rearrangement of the electronics to match the build of the two mics I wanted to turn these into.....something I have wanted forever...A U47 tube, and a C12. The Custom Shop caps are as good as it gets and as Larry told me when I asked the price, "We've spent so much on developing these, we'll never get it all back....!" All of this based on my studio upgrade and the fact that I do a lot of vocals here. I already had a vintage U87 and a custom built U67 tube mic so why not the "other two" industry standards?? And at a fraction of the cost of the real thing. I figured if they got 75% of the real thing it would be worth the investment. It may be closer to 95%. So I can advocate custom work on things like this with someone with the experience and even more than that, the desire and inclination to make a good product a finely tuned piece of kit that performs above expectations.
  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Hmmm... I'm not sure about that. LOL

    The mics you had modded were decent to start with, Dave. As JJ told you, they had "great bones"...LOL - but the C1000 was never really good to begin with.

    Although, I suppose an argument could be made that any mod would make the C1000 sound better than it originally does, because there's nowhere else to go but "up".... and improving it - which is essentially gutting it, replacing all the components, and just using the housing to hold the new components, turns it into a completely different mic , so at that point, if the mic has no other original redeeming factors to keep, one might as well just buy another, better mic from the get-go.

    IMHO of course. ;)
  17. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    When you look at the responses here, it rather proves the point that people who are happy with the sound of their mics care about that first, and then the brand second. Dave dog, for instance has some of the 'wish list' mics available, but use much less well known mics first, because he likes the sound. The really important thing is that he has a U87, the mic so many people aspire to, before actually hearing them - and uses something else.

    I suspect it's about having a selection of mics - perhaps a selection at many different price points. finding those that are just nasty (like the C1000), and the others that flatter certain things.

    When people want to upgrade they pick a few mics that look (not sound) like they will be contenders. Few people get the chance to try them, so you take a guess based on paper figures. Hopefully you are happy, but what if the ones you didn't buy would have been better? You will never know, and you will recommend the one you bought to others. If you hate the one you bought, you tell people that too?

    I've driven Ford for years and been very happy, and for the first time bought a Vauxhall - and I'm happier. Pure fluke!
    pcrecord likes this.
  18. molehole

    molehole Active Member

    Acoustic guitar was the first thing I used the SM81's on. I am very leased with the results.
    kmetal likes this.
  19. pcrecord

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

    This is one of the more mature thoughts about gear I've read so far !
  20. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Yup... except for the Ford part. LOL ;)
    pcrecord likes this.

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