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First Condenser Mic

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Hugh Jorgan, Dec 25, 2013.

  1. Hugh Jorgan

    Hugh Jorgan Active Member



    Hello everyone, and Merry Christmas (for those of you who celebrate it).

    I came to this forum because I would like to learn more about recording. I am a vocalist who, in the past, has always relied on pro studios and sound engineers to capture my voice. Singing is just a hobby for me now, and I would like to try my hand at home recording (nothing fancy, just adding my vocals to pre-recorded instrumental tracks). I have purchased DAW software and an audio interface (as well as some other equipment that was all included in a bundle on craigslist), but I have not yet purchased a dedicated studio condenser microphone. I have a few dynamic mics that I used for live performance, and I'm not even certain I really NEED a condenser mic to record with...but I've seen some entry-level models that are well within my price range, and I thought perhaps a side-address microphone may be better in a vocal recording environment than a handheld dynamic (such as the Sennheiser e845 that I currently have).

    The ones that caught my eye (mostly due to price point) were

    Monoprice 600800 - ($64) If anyone is curious and unfamiliar ====> Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone - Monoprice.com
    Audio Technica AT2020 - ($84)
    Studio Projects B1 - ($119)
    MXL 3000 Bundle - ($149)
    AKG Perception 220 - ($149)

    My "studio" facepalm will be a small (13 x 18), carpeted spare-bedroom office. My recording chain will consist of a microphone via XLR to audio interface (TC Helicon VoiceLive 2) via USB to PC using Sony Sound Forge 10 for DAW. Vocal tracking will be through Sennheiser HD 280 Pro via VL2 1/8 output, mix through KRK Rokit 5 monitors. I will be doing some vocal tracks for a Prog Metal project...my vocal style is much like James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Geoff Tate (Queensryche) and Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)... in case that makes a difference in microphone choice.

    If any of you have experience with any of these microphones on a powerful male vocalist, I would love to hear feedback from you. If any of you have any alternative suggestions for condenser microphones, fire away.

  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    don't even bother w/ those mics, especially since you have one you already like your voice on. if you had more money, you could upgrade to a shure sm 7, or a sennheiser 441, both awesome for powerful vocalists. there is no good choice in the budget condenser category based on your references, and it's likely the sm 7 or 441, or another dynamic mic would beat most condensers no matter what the price.

    far far far, better use of your money is on acoustic treatment and a pair of monitors (speakers). i doubt you saw the pro's using headphones for much more than a quick check when they were mixing.
  3. Hugh Jorgan

    Hugh Jorgan Active Member

    Thanks for the quick reply. I have monitors for mixing (KRK Rokit 5's...not great, but whatever), the headphones are to be used while I'm singing. Sorry for not making that clear, I have edited my OP. I have enough money for the Shure SM7B if that's what you think I should go with. I didn't plan on spending that much, but its not gonna break me. Unfortunately the 441 is a bit more than I'm willing to spend.

    Or should I just record using my e845? I also have a EV N/D967 that I like my voice on, both are super-cardioid handhelds. I always thought it was kind of a no-no to do studio vocal recording with a handheld mic (I've never seen it done, anyway), but I'm not an engineer so I know nothing about what is "best".
  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    the cool thing is you've got a couple to choose from. i'd pick the fav for leads, and use the 2nd fave for backups. It's definitely not a no no to use a handheld, i've used a 57 at least a few times, on different people w/ good results. good meaning nobody questioned the vocal sound. i would feel far more confident using your two mics than the ones your thinking of, on any singer, especially if i've never heard them before. the odds of getting a more workable sound, are much better. there made to minimize loud background noise, and bad sounding rooms/stages, and handle loud singers. all of which seem like good things to me in your case, of recording in an untreated spare room, in a house, and being a powerful vocalist. i think you have what you need already, especially to get you started.

    i'd say since your just getting the system together, use what you've got and figure out what's missing. but until you learn gain staging, and just get used to the routine, what you have are professional vocal mics, and won't make nearly as much of a difference as a firm grasp on some basics.

    once your not making technical mistakes, you can compare your mics to others, like the sm 7 (great mic) or some condensers, in a more suitable fashion. but first you gotta get your recording basics down, and figure out how to get the best sound you can w/ the mics you have which are nice. then you can figure out what's missing, or what you'd like to enhance, and see if there is a mic that will help to get you there.

    i'm not trying to doge a mic recommendation. i look at it like trying to figure out the best racing tires for a car, before you know how to shift. this will help you make a far more informed decision when it's time to get a new mic, and give you some time to try some.

    you could take the money you have right now, and book say 3 hours at somewhere you liked your sound, and just have them show you the basics of how to record your vocal, and you can audition a bunch of mics, vs yours, and hear the difference, and ask the guys opinions.

    for 150 bucks, that will set you on the fast track w/ your equipment, and give you an experience you can take w/ you and build off of for the rest of your life.
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Just because a mic is of the condenser type doesn't mean it's a good mic. The market has, in the last few years, been flooded with Chinese made cheap condensers, most of which sound cheap - harsh, brittle, glassy.

    Using a handheld mic in the studio is only a no no if you hold it - at which point you'll pick up handling noise.

    Many studios have dynamic mics in their lockers, from SM58's and SM7's to Sennheiser 421's and EV RE20's. Dynamic mics have the overall tendency to take high SPL's very well. That being said, they don't necessarily treat the top end the same as a nice condenser will... with a nice condenser mic you will pick up more "silk" on the top end than you generally will with a dynamic.

    The entry level price for a new condenser that will sound good is probably around $500 or so, give or take, although if you are willing to go used you might be able to pick up something like an AKG 414 for around that price range, which is one of the popular "go to" pro condenser mics in pro studios... along with Nuemanns, AT's (upper level models) and other AKG models as well.

    I really like K's suggestion that you drop a few bucks at a professional studio and A/B your voice through several different higher end model mics to see which sounds best on your vocal with your style. Picking the engineer's brain for technique is also a good idea. Although, keep in mind that if you are in a pro room, you'll be hearing your voice back through good monitors, in a tuned environment, and it's also very possible that the engineer will be running that mic through a nice pre amp as well... so you may want to "dumb down" the gain chain and have the engineer avoid running the mic(s) through any boutique pre amps, and also avoid any other processing as well, so that what you will be hearing will be closer to that of your own "studio" based on the equipment you have.

    K said :

    Solid advice that I wouldn't brush off. If your room and or monitors are lying to you, it won't matter what mic you use; you'll never be able to get an accurate representation of what you are mixing, and if you are in a room with acoustic issues that are evident and bad enough, not only will it effect your mixes but it will effect your recordings negatively as well.

    All the above being said, if you are simply wanting to mess around at home and sing some karaoke, these improvements won't return much value to you. If you are merely a hobbyist and just want to have fun, then set up in your spare bedroom, use whatever budget gear you can afford, and have fun. But if you are looking at turning out product with any quality, you'll need to spend some money to get to that point. As with most anything, you'll only ever get out of it what you put into it. ;)
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Both of your stage mics are neodyniums. Both have nice characteristics which make them ideal for vocals especially onstage. I tend to like the EV more myself its a little smoother on top and the low-end is a touch tighter.

    The thing you will notice right off the bat is the seemingly lack of high-end in the Shure SM7 compared to what you are used to listening to. Its really about what you are used to more so than that being the case.

    A bit brighter and more complete dynamic would be something like the Miktek PM9. Or if you really want to get into a condenser there are several for stage use that work like a charm in a studio setup like you describe for yourself. Miktek PM5, Neumann 105 etc.....With a strong voice one advantage for a good condenser is you will never have noise from having to add a lot of gain to the signal chain.

    Really for your useage as you described, you have plenty of mics.
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I agree with the previous posters that what you have is better than the proposed upgrades. With that said, one thing you might do is contact the pro studios where you have recorded before and esquire about the signal chain in you recording. Don't be embarrassed if you didn't notice at the time. You were there to sing - not be an engineer. (Don't be surprised if they don't remember. A lot of us could do better at keeping records.) If the microphones and preamps are way out of your price range it may be possible to recommend something similar at a lower price. But similar only goes so low. If the budget is at the level you are thinking about in the first post, you had better stay with what you have.
  8. pcrecord

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

    You also benifit from a dynamic mic when recording in an untreated room. As an exemple, a sm58 is maid to reject background noise and reduce feedback when used live. It will pickup a lot less noise and room reverb than most condensers.
  9. Hugh Jorgan

    Hugh Jorgan Active Member

    Thank you gentlemen for the solid advice...AND for saving me a few hundred bucks in the process. MUCH appreciated.

    Happy (and prosperous) New Year to you all.
  10. lbeasley

    lbeasley Active Member

    I'm glad to see you taking the initiative to learn and ask questions. If you plan on expanding your music outside of your circle of family and friends, then I would suggest you upgrade to a good condenser mic. In fact, invest in quality if you plan to release quality. I'm actually in the middle of creating a video series on microphones, recording, etc for newbies like yourself. Although I'm still adding to the series, I think 2 videos of mine would be of benefit to you. Hopefully this is of some help :)

  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    You forgot to mention Ribbon Mics in your "Types Of Mics" reference. A LOT of us , as pro engineers, rely on these as much as the collection of condensers for many things.

    Good videos BTW. as A Moderator here, I'm happy to see you aren't selling anything with your posts. Enjoy!

    Be assured that ANYTHING posted here without approval that indicates selling or shilling would be pulled down. We also look at 'instructional videos" with a keen eye for incorrect information. While we aren't perfect we do have a level of correctness, if you will, and having the facts straight will certainly keep our very learned and sometimes heavily opinionated faithful from doing their thing. LOL! Welcome to R.O.
  12. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I stopped watching the first video on mics after about 2 minutes.Statements like "dynamic mics aren't usually used in broadcasting" and "most condenser mics are omni and, because omni mics pick up sound from all around, that's what you want for broadcasting" are absolutely not correct. I quit there, but maybe there was some good info I missed.
  13. Hugh Jorgan

    Hugh Jorgan Active Member

    Thanks, man...I appreciate the post (and the videos...you're quite animated).

    Although I'm certain a "quality" condenser microphone would benefit the production, I'm NOT ready to invest yet. If there is ONE thing I have learned so far (due in no small part to this forum), its that I have a LOT TO LEARN about recording before spending thousands of dollars on equipment. Right now buying a high-end condenser mic would be like buying a Corvette ZR1 simply to commute to work. Sure, I could drive it (and I'd get to brag about owning it), but in rush hour freeway traffic I'd only be ably to use a fraction of the vehicle's potential. That's a pretty loose analogy, but you get the point.

    I will be honest...I'm so overwhelmed with the whole recording process that I haven't even attempted anything yet. I am a singer, not an engineer...and even though I really wanted to capture my voice on some stuff for fun, I'm feeling more anxiety than "fun" (mostly due to the learning curve with the DAW software...its pretty complex). I've always believed its worth every penny to leave the recording to the professionals...its just hard to justify studio costs when the end-product is only for myself (and my "circle of family and friends" should they choose to want to hear it)...it will NEVER be marketed or sold. The other part is, I don't plan on EVER recording ANYONE else...so again, very hard to justify the cost of high-end recording equipment when it will generate absolutely ZERO income for me.

    That doesn't mean I'm not willing to eventually make the investment...music has NEVER been about $$ for me, the reward has always been the sheer quality of the end product. I just have to get to a point where I feel my engineering skills warrant the investment in high quality gear. Unfortunately, at the rate I'm going now, I'll be dead before that happens!!
  14. pcrecord

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

    I respect the guy, he's funny and have some good information in there but according to the video, 3 categories of mic : Dynamic, Condenser and USB mic !! facepalm

    Sorry but USB Mics are Dynamic mics or mostly Condenser mics.. So it's not a sort of mic. it's a connectivity option. A usb port does not capture sound.., in a usb mic, you'll find a regular mic with some kind of preamp and audio interface/converter connected to the usb port (this is also said in the video..)

    And what about ribbon mic ?? ;)
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    LOL! Don't say I didn't warn you......BTW. MOST broadcast mics are dynamics. Just for the record. RE20....SM7B....Heil PM40.....etc.
  16. lbeasley

    lbeasley Active Member

    LOL! Thanks for the welcome and the heads up Davedog. I appreciate the criticism as well. There are some very intelligent individuals here and you have to respect that. Let me make it clear that I agree that ribbon mics are just as important / common as condenser mics. Especially in the recording field. However, I decided at the last minute before recording this video to throw ribbon mics out. Due to the area of focus (Internet Radio Broadcasting and Web Broadcasting), I wanted to focus on the most commonly used mics in those areas. I have not been to every FM station in the world, but I have been in and out of a number Commercial FM stations and semi-professional stations. Although a hand full of those used dynamic mics, the majority were condenser microphones. That being said, be easy on me guys...lol. Seriously, I appreciate all the responses (Critical and Non-Critical). I really dothumb
  17. pcrecord

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

    As I said, good personallity and content (minus MINOR adjusments). Keep up the good work!!! I like it ;)

    Envoyé de mon iPhone à l'aide de Tapatalk
  18. lbeasley

    lbeasley Active Member

    Hugh, don't become overwhelmed with all the standards and suggestions that we tend to append to the process of recording music. Especially, if your not aiming for that professional level. Truthfully, music is fun. Jump in, make mistakes, and become creative in the process. To me, that is what makes it fun. I didn't mean to add to the confusion. If you ever decide to go to a professional level, expect a book of standards and a form of prejudice against the way something is done and the equipment being used. That is society for you :)
  19. Hugh Jorgan

    Hugh Jorgan Active Member

    Yeah, you're right. Unfortunately I also suffer from wicked ADHD (worked great for me on stage...not so much in the studio) so I lack the patience necessary to learn this GODDAMN DAW SOFTWARE!! I need like a live workshop or a 1-on-1 tutorial to help me get started. Do you know know if there is such a thing as a "home recording studio consultant" that will actually come out to your house and get you rolling? If so, anyone know of one in the Dallas-Ft Worth area?
  20. pcrecord

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

    Look online for tutorials about your daw. Videos are funnier than manuals ;)

    Envoyé de mon iPhone à l'aide de Tapatalk
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