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I need a new Large Diaphragm condenser- can you help me choose?

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by RJrules64, Oct 26, 2014.

  1. RJrules64

    RJrules64 Active Member

    Hi all,

    In the recent years I've slowly accumulated most of the studio equipment I need, however for my LDC I'm still using the first mic I ever got from about 4 years ago, a USB Samson G track.

    I don't know why I've been so slow to upgrade it, when personally I use my LDC the most out of all mics in the studio.

    I don't want to spend any more than $500, preferably about $300, so I'm looking for just one all-purpose mic, that would be decent for Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, and Vocals (mostly, but not limited to for -Male, Rock/Pop).

    I've used an AKG Perception 420 before and I liked it quite a lot. I used it on all of the above instruments and was pretty impressed. I really like that it is multi-pattern. If my new mic has multi-pattern, that would be a huge bonus, but i'd prefer a quality cardiod-only over an alright mic with more patterns.

    However the AKG seemed to be pretty muddy on vocals. I'm not sure if it was the performance or the room or the mic though, anyone got any experience with this mic?

    I know this sounds really superficial, but I also really like the look of the 420. Some mics I have checked out just don't look all that appealing to me. If I'm going to blow $500 on a mic, I want it to look good in my studio :p I also really like the look of most Audio Technica Mics.

    I have also been looking at the AT4040, anyone got any opinions on that? Apparently it's almost too transparent to use on vocals, not enough colour?

    Does anyone have any opinions on these or other suggestions?
    Thanks so much for your time!

    I need an all purpose LDC Sub $500. AKG Perception 420? Audio Technica AT4040? Other?
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    You won't get any real color - of any decent kind to speak of - in cheaper condensers - unless you broaden the definition of "color" to include muddy lows, harsh mids and fizzy, brittle hi's, which are all-too-common in today's mic market that is flooded with cheap Chinese condensers. Even upper-end LD's are still mostly transparent, unless they are a tube model, or, are run through a tube or SS pre which is known for its color.

    The difference is how they sound in their "transparency". A nice mic will have smooth sonics; will be accurate, quiet, upper end frequencies will be silky, lower end will be warm, there will be nice definition and overall clarity. Cheap mics will almost always have hyped and brittle, "fizzy" sounding top end, harsh mids, undefined and muddy sounding lows... they can also be noisy, and, they won't take the same amount of SPL that a well built mic will before it distorts.

    At your price point, your choices are limited, and you'll want to look for the best transparent good sounding condenser you can find. You can always add a good tube or SS preamp in the future at some point to add the favorable color or warmth that you seek.

    To expect a mic - a good sounding mic - in your current cost allowance to have a multitude of features such as multiple patterns, HPF's and db Pads is, well, over - expectation. You may find cheap models with the features you seek, but you're going to get them through sacrificing/ trading off the true feature of what a microphone should have the most of, and that is good sound.

    Look for the best sounding mic you can find in a cardioid pattern. At some point, widen your range of price allowance to around $1000 - $2000, and many more doors - nicer doors - will open up to you.

    Also, remember that your mic pre amp matters... it matters a lot. You can find the same bad sonics in cheap pre's just the same way you can with cheap mics. Your gain chain will only ever sound as good as its weakest link.
    Personally, I'd rather use a Shure SM57/58 through a nice, sweet preamp, than I would a $3000 Neumann through a budget pre with cheap electronics, low gain and trashy sounding converters.

    I find your comment regarding your mentioning how a mic looks to be a bit silly. Yes, there have been some mics in the past that have caught my eye because of their beauty, but the only real thing that ultimately matters to me in a mic is how it sounds, how well it's built, how many applications I can use it for and for how long I can hope it will last, through average amounts of use.

    It's become very chic' for manufacturers of cheap condenser mics to make their models appear to resemble expensive condenser mics like Neumann U87's, 89's, etc. They are doing this because they know that somewhere, someone who has seen the real thing in a music video somewhere will walk into GC, and look for a cheap microphone made to physically resemble those very nice and very expensive models. Their hope is that the customer will say "I've seen that mic before on TV! It looks just like it, it must sound great...That's the one I want!" .... Except you didn't see (or hear) that cheap model. You saw the real thing.
    But to some people, appearances determine the quality of a mic... and they are using the wrong sense.... they should be using their ears instead of their eyes.

    In the $300 - $500 price range, here are a few models you could consider:





    If you do want color, then a tube mic will provide that. Here is one I've used that I think sounds very good (for the price):


  3. pcrecord

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

    Donny have made some very good suggestions !
    I was to question rather a dynamic mic could be a better options, but checking your gear list, I see that you already have some.

    The only thing I can add to Donny's post is : why not checking used ?
    I bought 2 KSM44 (500$each) last year and I'm very happy with them.
    If you get lucky, you could find a classic AKG C414 or other mics that sells for over 1000$ new ;)

    Also, with your focusrite, you got some decent and relativly transparent preamps.
    At some point, adding a high-end preamp, will make you rediscover all your mics...

    By the way I found it funny that you have too many pianos.. must be a very big studio :)
    Kurt Foster likes this.
  4. RJrules64

    RJrules64 Active Member

    Me too :p
    It is very silly, and really if it comes down to it I'll probably buy the better sounding mic. But I feel like if a band checks out my studio to see if they want to record there, without any prior knowledge of mics, they will usually like it to be nice looking. I guess I'm trying to say that I think it adds to the mood of the studio, just like the lighting, which I often hear stressed as very important for getting Muso's in the mood.

    pcrecord said I'm doing alright with my 8 Focusrite pre's, do you agree?

    Thanks for the suggestions, I'll look into them.
    Also, Donny, you have commented on every single post I've made. Thank you so much for your time and effort! :)

    I may have the wrong mindset towards audio equipment in this way so tell me if I'm way off, but I feel like with something as sensitive and important to quality as microphones and speakers, It's safer to always buy new? Somehow I have it ingrained in my mentality that used mics and speakers are a bit like used clothes- stretched and no longer well fitting.. If that makes sense?

    Haha I can see how you could read it that way! What I meant was that there are too many "other things" in the studio to mention, not just pianos. I fixed it anyway, coz I'm not feeling lazy today. ;) Now my full list is there :) Studio is 7 meters by 3 meters.
    pcrecord likes this.
  5. pcrecord

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

    Of course, new is better !
    But if you are carefull, there is some real gems out there.
    Between a cheap new mic and a high end used one... You get to choose.

    I also got a used UA la610 which is pristine unit.

    Of course some mics are real work horse and can be thrusted for long ;)
  6. RJrules64

    RJrules64 Active Member

    What do you guys think of the ART Pro MPA II?
    It looks like an affordable way for me to add some tube warmth to my mics?
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I see you have a budget but being in Australia should get you access to some of the brands built there. Sebatron, JLM, and I think SMPro are all built in Australia....Yes/No?

    There are only a few mics in that price range that do not have the 'pinched' lack of mid-range sound that we associate with inexpensive components and capsules. The ADK line of mics is a very complete line with a o
    lot of value to be found in the $500 range especially used.

    I'm of the belief that most of the 'color' of a track will come from the mics ability to reproduce the original sound....which you make colorful in the first place.
  8. RJrules64

    RJrules64 Active Member

    What do you mean? I can still buy European and American mics here! :p

    That's a nice point! Thanks for the input. :) I'll check out some ADK mics.
  9. pcrecord

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

    All the comments about the ART Pro MPA II are that it sounds great for the price.
    Now the 'for the price' is a problem for me. In the end it is just saying there is a lot of better sounding units but if you don't want to spend more money that's ok.

    Honestly, the ART is not a big step foward from what you have. Yes it as a bit of tube sound, but it's not as precise as a UA 610.
    See, it's pretty easy to add warmth. Doing it without sounding muddy is another story ;)

    Depending on the sound you are looking for, one of these would be real step foward :
    1. UA 610
    2. Grace Design m101
    3. Vintech x73
    4. Presonus ADL 600 or 700
    5. Great River ME-1NV
    6. Focusrite ISA one
    Each has unique character that will make you say : AH ! that's how the pro are doing it ! ;)
  10. RJrules64

    RJrules64 Active Member

    Wow thanks so much for the suggestions!
    I don't have the money for it now, but one day in the future I'll definitely invest in something like those!
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    What I mean is some your native high end builders are doing great things and you'll not have to pay as much for them being there as one might pay for the same device elsewhere in the world.
    RJrules64 likes this.

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