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Looking for mic suggestions

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Mckey, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. Mckey

    Mckey Active Member

    Hey guys,
    Okay looking for a good condenser specifically for acoustic guitar. Nothing super expensive, up to $800. I'm just trying to round out my locker a bit better. Usually I'm very good at selecting my mics, but this one I'm a bit lost on. I currently have a Blue Blueberry, Rode K2, Kel HM7u, Kel HM2d, Studio Projects C4's, Audio Technica AT450, Blue Baby Bottle... that's about it as far as relevance goes. I've been tossing up e614, e914, KM184, Miktek C5... I do take price into consideration. I'm open to mods, or home brews. I don't have a lot of experience with these mics so I need some input.
    Thanks guys!
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Depending on your specific acoustic guitar, you CANNOT go wrong with either the Miktek C5's or the Neumann KM184's. These are both hugely extended range mics with lots of mojo. I see you have the SP C4's and I'll bet you're finding them a bit heavy in the mids and upper mids without any real sparkle or body. I would think that the Kel mics probably sound better as do the Blues. If you're looking for just one SDC then I would go for the Neumann over most mics. But at your price range you can get the Mikteks in a matched pair with all the trimmings. A lot of people will tell you about the modded Octavas and the modded Apexes and such. All good mics. None are the Neumanns. Another mic to consider is the upper end AT SDC's. I have 4041's simply because I like it real at the source and they dont color anything. The 4051's are a bit brighter and more forward. Both have a great depth to them and a wide soundfield as well as a nice tight pattern. Both are in your range. I also have 3Sigma Chi SDC's which are from the ADK custom design shop. Very full sounding mics. Out of your price range except for used. Used also you might look at Gefell M300's . Shure SM81's are always a good bet...kinda vintage sounding but really in your face! AKG 451's or 460's. Those Sennheisers are probably very nice though I've never used them. Most of my Sennheiser experience has been with dynamics.

    It really depends on whether you want a pair or a single. Most SDC's in a single are in your budget.
  3. Mckey

    Mckey Active Member

    Wow Dave, that was hugely helpful!
    I'm actually just looking for a single at this point. I do love the Kels, they sound incredible. But they're honestly a little too "big" to fit an acoustic in a mix. So I'm looking for something I can pin in a mix and know its going to stay there, if you know what I mean. The Blues are very similar to the Kels in this regard, but with less low end definition. And if its a sparse mix I'd like to use a LDC with a SDC. I find this approach has a better result than simply stereo pairs, which I am less and less a fan of every day outside of overheads and room mics for drums. I didn't even think of the sm81! I actually loved that mic back when I was in school. Never tried it on guitar but it was one of my favorites for overheads, liked it more than the 414s we had.
    I've been hearing so many good things about Miktek. Especially how they don't eq their mics for an application.
    And you're absolutely right about the SP C4s. I mostly just put those in the post so people wouldn't recommend them haha.

    I was considering the Sennheiser's on principle alone, I've not personally heard either of those mics. But most things I get from Sennheiser lately have been incredibly refined and extremely well manufactured. Open up an e935 and compare it to ANY other handheld in its class and its so obvious just visually why that mic sounds better. And I've talked a little with Robby Scharf, who said that all Sennheiser condensers are made in the same room as Neumann condensers. Although I might've miss interpreted that as just the MK4 or LDC's. I can't imagine theres too much hand work going into those.

    Another thing I'm trying to keep in mind is that Kelly Dueck is actually working on a new mic. I may try to hold out for that. He wont tell me what it is though so it could just be another LDC. I really trust Kel stuff and if he comes out with something like that I wont need a single review or sample.

    But I'm going to definitely look much more into 184s and Miktek C4s, see what I can dig up used too. I really wish I could afford a Schoeps... maybe someday.
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Dave's suggestions of the SM81 and the AT4041 are very good, the SM81 isn't quite as bright as the 4041, but both are excellent on steel string, with the SM81 specializing on hard-strummed rhythms IMO. I have a Neumann KM185 that works well, too, better detail for finger-picking, with a tighter pattern than a 184. It works well when the room isn't as good as you might want. It's a great mic, but a 184 can easily cost you twice what the 81 or AT4041 would set you back, and I don't know that it's "twice as good". BTW, check out Craig Anderton's article in the Guitar Player November issue regarding getting a stereo guitar track with 1 mic. Real interested.
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Lately I've been going with a single AT4041 at the guitar (now where was that sweet spot???) and an AT4033 straight down just outside of the plane of the guitar face and even with the upper bout right over the players head. Kinda just above listening height. These are both sweet in the highs but very detailed everywhere. Kinda bright without being too bright or harsh. Both of these mics can be had for your budget and you can still buy a really really nice bottle of Single Malt Scotch if you want.
  6. Mckey

    Mckey Active Member

    I think the Scotch will definitely help take the shrill out of the guitar. (y)
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    They've covered the SDCs, and that's probably the best way to go. In that line I would throw the Rode NT55 in for your consideration. Well under budget and both a cardioid and an omni capsule. Pad, rolloff. Good mic.

    Have you considered a ribbon? Beyer 160 and 130 are in your price range. I don't own one yet, but Royer 101 is you price range as well, and every Royer I've tried has been great. And Dave is always raving about the Avantone: dirt cheap. (I will buy one before the end of the year, Dave. Promise.) I've been using ribbons on acoustic rather than SDC for some time now. Really like the smoothness and the tone.
  8. Mckey

    Mckey Active Member

    I misspoke earlier and said the Miktek C4, when it was the C5. Anyway I have kind of taken a liking to that mic! But who knows what I'll favor tomorrow. Or a week from now. As you can tell, I'm not a decisive person :confused:! Haha

    I have a friend of a friend who I believe has an SM81 handy, I think I'm going to try to borrow that and see if it fits my goal.

    The one thing I haven't done is characterize what kind of sound I'm looking for, which could garner some different options here to consider as well right? So I have a very tough time finding a good balance between having enough detail to not get too far in the background but not so bright that the pick noise becomes another hihat. And then there's the obvious high freq sibilancey compressiony sound that so many of these cheap condensers suffer from... I don't want none of that! But also something I can confine and place where I want in the stereo field, nothing super wide.

    I'm not even sure this exists in my budget...
  9. Mckey

    Mckey Active Member

    Actually I have tried a couple ribbons! A cloner, RCM-something... and a GT Velo. Velo was great but placement is a ***** with ribbons. I have way more trouble finding a spot I can get good enough pressure on the ribbon without making my dynamics to unwieldy. The more I back away the more noise I introduce with my pres (which are quiet, but not ribbon quiet), and my room becomes more an issue. I have been mulling over getting an sE Voodoo passive, or a Cascade Vin-Jet. Both excellent sounding ribbons to my ears, didn't love the r101's bright response. But yeah its definitely still on the table...
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    The SM81 may be exactly what you're wanting to hear. Mooney said it right and the SM81 has a huge sound but focused. Not very 'toppy'. It occured to me after reading your description that a tube SDC may be what you really want. The only one that I would be looking at in your budget is the Mojave MA100. Its a David Royer company and gets great reviews. Comes with cardioid and omni caps and all the rest of the stuff. I have NOT heard one so it is off reviews that I'm basing this as well as your budget. The Tape-Op review with Craig Schmacher is the one I trust. I've bought gear hes reviewed in the past and havent been disappointed yet in his assessments. I stay with this level of tube SDC's because I have heard a couple of cheaper ones and they all exhibit a strange mid-range honk. Perhaps the ones I heard could have been attributed to the tube selection.....?

    A wide audio field doesnt mean a sloppy field, especially in the case of these types of mics. Its the focus of the pattern that doesnt leave that blurred edge to the sound. I'm sure thats what you're looking for.

    So, based on your description, I'd say SM81, Neumann 184/185, Miktek, and a solid tube SDC are probably what you're wanting to hear for your purpose.

    The GREAT thing about ALL of these is their abilities with numerous other sources. Probably enough so that with your purchase of just one for the time being you're gonna wish you had a pair!
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I forgot to mention the Advanced Audio mic selections. Dave comes on here to post every now and then and he is a knowledgeable person about mic design and specifically 'why' something works the way it does for certain applications. The reviews for his new tube SDC look very promising. Hes on the web and well within your budget. (okay Dave, wheres MY mic!!??){ crass promo stuff....please ignore}
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Dave - If you will remember, the Mojave MA-100 was the "mystery mic" in the ribbon shootout I did with Cucco. Very nice mic. I feel like I'm pretty well fixed in the SDC department, or it would be at the top of my list. And to McKey, I'll be interested in your reactions to the SM81. I have a pair and like them a lot.

    As far as ribbons, you are right that sometimes you need a whole lot of gain for guitar. I have the AEA TRP - 85 dB clean and smooth. Excellent tool for the job. If I'm recording a louder source I'll generally choose a pre with more color. But for fingerpicked guitar a ton of gain is really nice.
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Now that you mention it, Bob, I do remember that shoot-out and if I'm not mistaken that mystery mic was one I particularly liked.

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