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help me expand my mic cabinet (and possibly other front end improvements)

Discussion in 'Recording' started by ThirdBird, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    currently own:
    1 shure beta52 - dynamic
    2 shure sm57 - dynamic
    1 shure sm58 - dynamic
    2 rode nt5 - small condenser
    1 rode nta1 - large condensor

    things I am looking to improve recording of:
    guitar cabs
    bass cabs
    acoustic pianos
    other misc. acoustic instruments
    bass drum using 2 mics (inside and reso head)(beta and something else)

    financial limitations:
    $100 - $500 per mic

    current interface:
    2 presonus firestudio (16 total inputs) with 2 open spdif

    front end daydreams:
    maybe some inline compression/eq/tube
    anything worth it under $500

    all prices 2012 $USD
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    well i suggest an akg d112 for bass cabs, tho your shure beta should be just fine. for an all arounder, it's gonna be tough to beat an akg 414xls or uls. they work very well. i personally hate the nt1a's except for handdrums, the old nt2's i like sometimes for vox, and use standard for ride cymbols.

    the best channel strip i've used around $500 is the presonus eureka channel. they kick butt. they seem to have a modern-ish almost hi-fi type sound. pretty full and clear. not harsh tho. smokes the joe meek channelstrip in that range.

    one or three standard mics your missing is the sennhiesser 421. killer on toms, inside kick, +57 w/ guitar cabs, even some vocalists. your collection shows good taste IMHO, so i'd continue to get the tried and true. love the nt5's on acoustic.

    the 414 would fufill the hole ya have in the LDC department. Next step is talking in the $3-5K range, as far as LDC's go.

    i dunno how much of a step up from stock, but an ART mpa, or a dbx 386, both have digital outs. i would expect improvements to be very mild.

    if ya got some starter cash, i'd definatley look into "500" series modules, so you can add the effect of eq's and compressors, to you pre-amp. this is gonna give you a much more drastic result, than just a pre alone. but is more loot.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Really you already have most of the tools ya need when it comes to microphones. What you are missing and what you should get is at least one or two ribbon microphones. You know those Cascades are very reasonably priced and they sound good. You'll need an active ribbon in fact I don't really care for the active ribbons. And that will give you that extra dimension trying to mic up your guitar cabinets. Because these are also neither in phase nor out of phase with all other dynamic and condenser microphones. This is another reason why they are called " VELOCITY " microphones as it is quite different from a pressure or pressure gradient microphone. While they actually have a beautiful smooth high-frequency roll off, they are actually more accurate on transients. More accurate than any condenser microphone. AT, SHURE, Royer and others offer some really beautiful and expensive ribbon microphones. Some costing more than 3000+ dollars just like a Neumann U87. So the ribbon microphone is the most important element you are currently missing. I've always been a big believer in ribbon microphones over the past 40+ years as soon as I heard my first one.

    Now that idea of having some outboard compressor/limiters, EQ's is a nice one but, I don't believe your Fire Studio's have the ability to place an insert after the microphone preamp? Which would force you to also use an outboard microphone preamp. I've used and installed that that PreSonus Eureka into a couple of clients home production studios. It works quite nicely. Of course it doesn't sound like having a API/Neve with an API 550 and a UA 1176. So it really depends on what kind of flavor you want? What is quite affordable. The others... well, you know how much they cost, it's right out of the ballpark.

    Now there is still a ways to get that dream channel for a lot less money. And it's called DIY kits. Seventh Circle Audio, Warm Audio, both offers some really wonderful and affordable channels of stuff. And with that you get those wonderful classic, old-school microphone preamps that are all discrete transistor and transformer coupled. Your flavor of faux API, Neve at just about a nearly two-for-one deal. Then there are also 1176 kits which you'll find Fabrice Dupont talking about it over at his site. And I've seen and heard those 1176's and they are lovely clones. Every bit as real and as good as the $1500 version for just a couple of hundred bucks. This will not only give you that winning sound, it will make you a winning engineer in above where you already are. Think how much more your clients will be impressed when you tell them you have built everything from scratch. And that's the kind of advertising you want. And that's what will gain you some professional respect amongst your peers and colleagues. So pick up at soldering iron as many of us have over the years and prove that you're a real engineer and not just another rock 'n roll wannabe. And you never know where this new acquired skill and talent will lead you.

    40+ years of fixin' stuff and buildin' stuff. Oh, along with 40+ years of recordin' stuff. Which actually was the original plan.

    I'm the smartest dummy I know.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I have the new Audix Mic Kit ( 8 mics in a kit) for sale right now.

    Spam... but you asked... sorry... :redface:
  5. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    Remy, as always, great out of the box insight. (get it?)

    Stuff to think about.
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    just talking mics, a beyer 160? worked for some classic stuff. just throwing it out there.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Yeah, that's one of the beauties of ribbon microphones. They are recording the velocity of sound and not the pressure of the sound. Now this is pretty strange to think about when you know that our hearing transducer residing within all ear canals is a pressure sensitive transducer. And they tell you in their advertising claims at Royer " It hears like your ears " I can certainly agree with, regardless of which manufacturer made the ribbon microphone. So it's really a transducer allowing us to hear the velocity of sound being reproduced by a pressure producing translation. Thus Transducer. And so it allows us to record and perceive another important interpretation of the sound we hear and perceive with purely organic devices.

    Boys think ribbons are sissies.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    All good advice here, although I would consider adding an EV RE20 to your mic cabinet at some point. It's a great all round use microphone, from kick drum to vocals to brass to amps.

    It's a dynamic mic of the variable-D type, and is a staple in most pro studios, (as well as broadcast use) and, it's not over the top expensive either. ;)

    Just a thought.
  10. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    I often find a lack of omnis, also figure-of-8s in mic cupboards, and in my opinion those are the most flexible mics. Ribbons are great, typically figure-of-8.

    Cardioid microphones can cause as many problems as they can solve, and the sound quality is often less than perfect when presented with a complicated sound field to pick apart.

    If I was to only have to use one sort of microphone for everything, it'd be a big box of small diaphragm (externally polarised if possible, rather than electret) condensers with swappable capsules, and the omnis and figure of 8s would see the most use.


    Spending a while with a soldering iron will not only save you money, but it will teach you loads. There's also drip: http://www.dripelectronics.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6&Itemid=33.
  11. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I would suggest an RE-20, as well. You can shove it in front of a bass amp, use it as a 2nd kick mic, it is awesome on horns of any type,and takes to a lot of voices. That "Variable-D" design keeps proximity effects out of the picture so it doesn't add to the "mud factor" when stacking tracks, this keeps any vocal clean and detailed. Finally, it is very directional keeping a less-than-ideal acoustical environment from muddying up the sound with multiple reflections hitting it. I f I had only one mic to have on a desert island - the RE-20 would probably be it. You need one !
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I agree with all of the recommendations here (love the RE-20) but let me make an alternate suggestion. Dig a hole in your back yard. Bury your $500. Dig it up when you have saved $700 more. THEN go mic shopping. There are several great mics under $500. You already own some of them. If you have decided that you want to collect all of the best dynamics in the world and base your sound on that, great. But you should do that after you have tried some high quality condensers and ribbons and decided to go in another direction. As I said, right now you have some good mics. You are buying to improve, not out of necessity. The mics you don't have in your collection are a large diaphragm condenser and a ribbon. $1200 would put you in a position where your choice is based on sound, not on cash in hand. (If at that time you choose the RE-20 so much the better.)
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    For sure the RE-20, is one of my favorite dynamic microphones. And it doesn't suffer from the kind of proximity effect that other dynamic cardioid microphones all suffer from. It also doesn't sound like a condenser microphone and it doesn't sound like a cheap dynamic microphone. About the closest you'll get to a ribbon microphone without a ribbon microphone. LOL Very popular as a bass drum microphone but just as nice if you had a pair and used them for overheads. And they're nearly impossible to break. So if you'd like to get a good bang for your buck, throw one of those at somebody... OUCH!

    Just like the good math professor suggested (though it's hard to imagine a math professor burying $500 in his backyard?) You really don't want to take a lateral move. So really a truly superb condenser or ribbon microphone makes a sizable difference. I mean I'm an engineer that can work with anything. And of course, my preferences are for those sweeter sounding pieces. It's a subtle difference but that subtle difference, makes the difference. So, yeah, go used, through a reliable used equipment broker (if you don't quite know what you're buying?) Or check out some of the swell deals that bloat the Internet and eBay. Still though, you'll find my little Beyer M-160 dual ribbon, hyper cardioid going for between $450-$700, used on eBay. I think ya can get the new for that $700 ticket? But remember, that is one single and rather fragile microphone. Royer on the other hand, makes a ribbon designed for abuse which costs, yet, more. These old technology microphones are not a luxury they're a necessity. Nothing else works or sounds like, a ribbon.

    I guess ya can tell I like ribbons?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I love ribbons. There's a texture and a warmth there that is unbeatable.

    My first experience with ribbon mics was way back in my early days (1970's) when I was cutting my teeth as an up and coming engineer, I was assisting on a project where the goal was to authenticate those late 1940's/early 1950's Capitol Records recordings by artists like Nat King Cole, Patty Page, etc.

    We were having great success with the backing tracks, recording a 50 piece orchestra that was made up of fantastic players, some of whom had actually played with a few big bands like Nelson Riddle, Glen Miller, etc.

    When it came time to record the lead vocals, while the vocalists themselves were fantastic, we just couldn't get "that sound". We tried various mics through various pre's... Neumann U87, U89i, we tried a few AKG 414's of differing specs that they had over the years...we just couldn't get the sound we wanted.

    The next day, the engineer came in with two mics that he had borrowed from an older engineer friend of his, one was an old RCA Model 44, and the other mic was a model that I can't recall, by a manufacturer named
    "The American Microphone Company" (Remy or any of the others might be able to chime in here and offer up knowledge as to what this particular mic could have been, I've not seen one since ) ...the one thing that I do remember was that this mic was accompanied by an external power supply that was the size of a Buick... lol.

    Both mics were ribbons, I set them up so that we could A/B them. The Male vocalist stepped up to the RCA and.... instant tone. We really didn't even have to do much when it came to EQ. We also had him try the other model - the "American" model, and it was also very nice, very warm, but was lacking the "silk" that the RCA had.

    My recent experience with Ribbon mics isn't like that of the other engineers here who have posted suggestions - I've been out of the game for a while now, having retired from the daily biz in 2004, so they are much more hip as to what is available these days and the prices that they command.

    I would certainly add at least one nice ribbon mic to your locker. Once you get a chance to use one, you'll know why.

    ...but I still think you need an RE20. lol :wink:
  15. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Gotta second the ribbon mic. I am not a pro engineer, though. But I love my one ribbon mic in my home studio. Very different sound. Much clarity in a natural "unboosted" kind of way.
  16. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    A lot of people are dismayed when they first hear a ribbon microphone. It's nowhere near as bright or as present as a condenser or dynamic microphone is. So people immediately perceive it's not as good because it doesn't have an overly hyped high end response, so common with condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. That was also a lower output level usually requiring greater gain cranking in the microphone preamp creating more amplification-based hiss. BFD, if you're a professional, you know how to deal with that. But when you need warmth, there just isn't anything else that compares. In fact they are very desirable for percussive instruments. You really don't want to record tambourines and shakers with condenser or even dynamic microphones. High-frequency distortion can become rather severe but not with a ribbon. I like the Royer print ads that proclaim their microphones " hear like you're ears " is absolutely truth in advertising! And that advertising statement is applicable to any manufacturer's ribbon microphones. They actually work on a much different principle than that of dynamic or condenser microphones which is on the velocity of the sound and hence known as velocity microphones, back in the day they were first created, in the late 1920s. So the basic concept of all ribbon microphones is 80+-year-old technology still in use today and for good reason. Even the use of electron tubes today, aren't much like the tubes used back in 1928. But some of our microphones are. What's that tell ya? They are just right for digital even more so today.

    You're getting a ribbon achtung! VEE have ways of making you change yah... DAS Goot Schlemiel.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  17. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Remy, what do you think of the idea of recording the ribbon at a nominal level to avoid preamp hiss and then normalizing it to get it up where you want it?
  18. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Yeah John, it would be nice if that made for lower noise but it won't. It's the relative operating level of the microphone above the noise floor, which wouldn't change if you increased the gain. On the other side of that, I sure wouldn't cut that ribbon microphone on the low average operating level one would see without cranking the gain. And then you wouldn't be getting your highest resolution that would be compromised at lower levels.

    Of course our tools today (software) either have some kind of noise reduction capabilities and/or the use of downward expansion below your noise threshold on that track. And while I think there are relevant reasons to have " active ribbons ", they start getting that hyped almost condenser like sound. Which generally isn't the reason why I grab for ribbon microphones. I was actually considering building up my own active electronics for my ribbon microphones back in the early 1980s. Thankfully, now that so many companies have done it, they're not cheap. So one might just want to get something like an inexpensive Chinese ribbon microphone and augmented with one of those BLUE, or someone else's, XLR in line low DB active microphone boosters? Which I would think would make for a poor man's active ribbon. Either way, it'll still cost around $300 but at least you don't have to put a 1 or, a 2 in front of that 300 to achieve some of the same benefits as any other active ribbon. And you'll also likely have a lower noise floor? So there is more than one way to activate one's interest in having little motors in your microphone.

    Vroom vroom... now you're trackin'.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  19. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    so a nice pre, ribbon mic, and multipattern condenser, as well as a good dynamic (re-20, sm-7) is the answer lol?
  20. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I absolutely think that's the answer. I'd even go so far as to say screw the SM-7 and just get a 58. I mean when ya take apart enough stuff and take a close look at that stuff, you're looking at the same capsule on a 7 as you are looking at on a 58. And whatever differences there are are truly miniscule if there are any? Most of the differences in the body of the microphone where you've got a couple of useful filter switches. And the microphone will not slip out of a plastic clip that frequently breaks. That different housing is just to make sure that you don't get too close to the capsule. The same with the SM-5 which you rarely see anymore. I had one of those and it was my primary bass drum microphone from 1978. And it's another one of those popular radio station disc jockey microphones. No filter switches. Less money than a 7. Same capsule again as a 57/58. In fact it looks like a 57 in a shock mount with a huge foam structure encapsulating the entire microphone within it. Take away the foam and you've got a 57 sitting inside an elastic shock mount. And you think the 7 is any different? It's got the switches BFD. And these different external housings and foam, develop a minuscule difference in the response plots.

    Of course folks are now getting bigger woody's on, to have larger diaphragm dynamic bass drum microphones. I mean why not just stick an acoustic guitar pickup right to the bass drum head? They already do that? They're called what? Oh... triggers. Right.

    No, really, has anybody ever really tried to do that? Works good on an EMT plate. Gets you that extra crack from the batter... you don't want. And if you put it on the front skin, it makes for a really bizarre microphone. UGH don't want to go there.

    Always looking for the right boom.
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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