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First Mic for My Studio-In-Progress

Discussion in 'Recording' started by AaronP, Dec 20, 2007.

  1. AaronP

    AaronP Active Member

    I'm putting together a basement DAW studio ON A BUDGET. I already have the computer I'll be using (PC, dual core), software(got for free, huzzah for good, or rich, friends), a phonic mu 1705 mixer(got a screaming deal), and now I'm looking for a mic. My first mic. I've done alot of research, but you can only learn so much without actually talking to people.

    So, I'll be doing mostly guitar for now, acoustic and electric, and some other strings. I want to break that "sterile" feel of what I've been screwing around with so far, plugging straight into the mixer. I've bounced from the obvious SM57s everyone seems to love, to a studio projects B1, to a Sure PG81, to an Oktava mk 319, to the ADK Hamburg/Vienna mics(a little out of price range...), to a Sure KSM27 (also on the pricey side), and now I'm almost settled on a Cascade Fathead. Almost. Almost....

    I've heard alot of good things about it, including some hands on tests comparing it to Royer ribbon mics. I'm not stupid enough to believe that they are equal for a second, but for $159... I mean, the price is right. Does anyone here have hands-on experience with these? Is it suited to my needs? Should I even be looking at a ribbon as a first mic?
  2. BRH

    BRH Active Member

    Shure SM58
  3. AaronP

    AaronP Active Member

    Acoustic and electric guitar, assorted strings, possibly hand held percussion.

    Read what I post before answering, not just the topic. There is no chance of me getting that mic.
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    You should try out all the mics you list before making a decision. Also, this has been discussed on numerous occasions right here. Use the search function or spend the time going through the various posts regarding your question.

    BTW. Your reactions to folks making what might be a very wise choice for you, will determine the amount of 'help' you receive. A simple 'thanks even if its something you have looked into will go much further than some pissy response.
  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    He read your post, so did I. Do a search on this forum on the Fathead. You'll find that a very experienced moderator here, RemyRAD, and another, JoeH, had very different opinions on that mic. I would certainly not recommend a ribbon as a "first" mic. They are definitely a "niche" mic, and need to be handled VERY carefully to avoid damage, no matter who the manufacturer is.
    I'm curious; which of these mics have you actually USED? You dismissed the SM57/58 very quickly. Why? Unless you are seriously treating the acoustics in your basement (and I don't mean some egg cartons on the wall), an LDC like the B1 or the ADK's (I own a Vienna and am very fond of it...in the right situation) can create more problems than they solve. LDC's are notorious for having poorer off-axis coloration than a smaller-diaphragm. When you combine that with their wider pick-up pattern, you can get a muddy "room sound" because the mic is picking up too much of the environment. A "live sound" mic, like the SM58, has a much tighter pattern, less off-axis crap getting into the foray. For $100, I'd say get an Audix i5 for prercussion and overall instrument mic'ing, and a 58 for vocals.
    But what do I know...my "first mic" was 30+ years ago.
    Over 250 mics bought, sold, swapped, and stolen. Happy Holidays.
  6. AaronP

    AaronP Active Member

    I've used both the SM57 and 58 before, to respond to your question. I like them for what they are, a good all around mic, but that really isn't what I'm looking for. I'll be recording acoustic and electric guitar, possibly some other acoustic strings. That's all. When I need a mic for vocals, I will buy one for vocals. When I need one for kick, I'll buy one. I'm sorry about my anal response, but I've spent countless hours online getting the same crap about those mics. Now, I know you're going to say "there's a reason" but I've used them and I know that's not what I want.

    I don't need enough to record a whole band right now. I'll be building up over time. And to make up for costs, I'm doing things like building my own acoustic treatment, mooching software off of a rich friend who was upgrading, etc.

    Lastly, I'm sorry I didn't look farther into you're archives of threads. I read three about the fat head, and they didn't really answer my questions, because they were either something I already know, or discussing using it in another application. I will look further.
  7. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    You've got quite a list of mics there. I assume you've tried them all.

    Tell us more about the "sterile" feel - have you got any examples?

    How many different mixer / mic preamps have you auditioned?
  8. AaronP

    AaronP Active Member

    I don't...actually...have a mic pre right now, I'm using the on board mixer pre. It's alright for now, better than I expected. As for mixers, I tried out some behringers, other phonic models, mackie, and yamaha.

    I'd like to eventually (a year from now?) get maybe a RNP or something in the $500- area, but I have yet to try many.

    I have the mixer I do because I got an undeniable, screaming deal on it. It's just the size I need and in near perfect condition. I started looking into ribbons because of the thin, bland feeling tone I get in it. That is, though, plugging straight in. The only mic I own is a Ross dynamic which was used for harmonica for the longest time, and actually kind of...well...sounds like something crawled in my tone and died.

    I'll post a little sound clip here in a second.
  9. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member


    Now, think carefully about this one:

    In your opinion, which mixer sounded the least colored out of the list that you have there - which was the most transparent?
  10. AaronP

    AaronP Active Member

    well...probably the mackie. It was well out of my price range, though.

    Here's a sample. It's just a couple of chords and a scale, first on the neck pickup then the bridge.

  11. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Can't help but think there is a bit of operator error going on here.

    My first thought is; what are you plugging your mixer into? Directly into your soundbasher card? That could be half of your problem right there.

    Honestly, I've gotten passable results (not good but surprisingly not bad either) from a Shure PG 57 (the budget younger brother of the sm57. Essentially a snare mic) on a crappy acoustic guitar. It wasn't beautiful but in a pinch you make do.

    IMHO making do is what shapes you. You can go and buy more gear but if you're using the same techniques, what's to say that you aren't going to get the same if slightly better results?
  12. AaronP

    AaronP Active Member

    I do also need to get an interface, and that WILL help my sound tremendously. right now I plug into the POS on board sound card. I want to get a firewire or PCI interface, but the specific model will be whatever presents itself. Edirol, M-audio, presonus, RME Fireface 800... you know, budget stuff.
  13. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Ok just listened to the clip. What amp are you using? It's bone dry so, I'm not exactly sure what you are expecting. There wasn't anything dynamic going on. That is, you weren't inducing any breakup by strumming harder. Yeah it was pretty blah but what you were playing wasn't really saying "check this out" tone wise. What style do you play? Jazz? Rock? Country? That sample didn't insinuate any style at all. In which case it was as sterile as the intent put upon it.
  14. AaronP

    AaronP Active Member

    I guess that's true. I was playing direct, no amp, no mic, to show you kind of what I meant by sterile. I'll plug up to the amp and do another.
  15. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Well, I was about to post a little diatribe about low cost mixers, but I can wait. Please humor us and throw up another clip.
  16. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    That kind of defeats the purpose now doesn't it? If you're intent is to give an example of how your mic is sterile, you should post an example of how the mic reproduces your tone. Or am I missing something here.
  17. AaronP

    AaronP Active Member

    Feliz Navidad, in the Christmas spirit. As you can hear, the mic i have just sucks all the warmth out and leaves me with this....this suck. I played this with a Carlo Robelli jazz guitar through a fender deville 2x12. Bass was at 12, mid at 7, treble at 5, no drive.

    http://www.mp3crib.com/users/514-aaronp-e39897/feliz navidad.mp3

    Just to add, after Christmas I think I'll have about....$150 to spend on a mic, plus anything else I can scrounge up. Hopefully I'll get a job a little before spring(I'm in high school) and be rakin in a whopping $50 a weekend, or so.
  18. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Okay. My next question is: What are you listening on.
  19. AaronP

    AaronP Active Member

    Oh, ummmm........ well, I don't know what they're called....or where I got them....

    They have "Gateway" written on them... That's probably bad, huh?

    Oh wait, the logo is "UL" in a circle. What's that? *sarcasm*

    Anyway, they're ultra-suck.
  20. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    A better answer to Hueseph's question would have been "I'm listening on some small computer desktop speakers".

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