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Looking for mic to compliment my collection?

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by dickiefunk, May 5, 2012.

  1. dickiefunk

    dickiefunk Active Member


    I'm looking for another vocal mic to compliment my collection. My budget is around £400. I currently own :-

    Neumann TLM102
    SE Electronics SE2200T
    Audio Technica AT4040
    Shure SM7b
    Kel HM2d
    Rode NT-1a
    Oktava MK-319 (faulty)

    I don't really like the Shure SM7b and tend to prefer the KEL HM2d for really bright sources. I don't use my Rode NT-1a either so am thinking of selling these mics to get something different.
    Another option I'm considering is sending my Oktava off to be repaired and modded at the same time!?

    What would you recommend?
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Well lets see here... you have a myriad of condenser microphones. You have a single dynamic microphone. What you DON'T have is a ribbon microphone. This is the oldest Hi fidelity technology we know created back in the late 1920s. They all but disappeared in the later days of analog recording and today, they're virtually ain't any manufacturer that isn't making a modern-day version of the classic ribbon microphone. I have seven of these suckers. One dating back to the early 1950s, followed by my late 1960s & my latest from the 1980s. You can find them for as little as $160 all the way up to over $3000 each. My oldest RCA 77's you can still find today, used on eBay starting around $1500 US and my newer ones averaging around $900 US made in West Germany by the Beyer company. There are also ones from China and Japan, the United States, Great Britain, Germany. You need one of these they are completely different from anything else you have. They have a unique tonality unlike any condenser or dynamic microphone made yesterday or today. They're not universal for everything but our unique and special on certain things. They are offered typically with a figure of 8 pattern but are also capable of Omni & Cardioid directional patterns as well. Some utilize active circuitry with transistors or tubes, some without any circuitry at all. They are typically much more fragile than any other type of microphone and you will find that they are neither in phase nor out of phase to any other microphone type but are more like 90° or 270° different in phase from any other type of microphone such as a condenser or dynamic type. They can be extremely smooth sounding like the passive ones offer or sound every bit as bright as the brightest condenser microphones sound. Check some out.

    I love ribbon microphones
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. dickiefunk

    dickiefunk Active Member

    Hi Remy,

    Thanks for the reply. Yeah I have been considering a ribbon mic but got put off these after trying a Golden Age Projects RM1 mkIII.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Yeah, they're not all winners. But there are those exceptional ones such as what I listed also including Wes Dooley's AEA. He not only make some lovely original units, he makes some exact replicas to the classic RCA BK 44's and I mean exact. Their parts are even interchangeable with the original RCA's. Sweet, I'm telling you sweet. Basically, there are two types of classic ribbons, the most common, long geometry and then there are the short geometry ones. The long geometry ones have a more mellow quality. The short geometry ones are generally brighter in quality. Wes Dooley doesn't make any short geometry ones as he told me he found those to be more difficult to make consistent. Though a good example of excellent short geometry ones would be the Beyer M-130 figure of 8 & the M-160 which is a hyper cardioid. Those two together makes for an excellent MS stereo pair which many of us here have and utilize as such. Those are usually obtainable for between $700-$900 US each. However, these types of microphones do not survive well when hit with blasts of air. So careful pop filtering should be utilized. Also, they can be easily destroyed with a bad cable and phantom power. So some of the active types which are yet more expensive can be more advantageous since they require phantom for their active circuitry to work and therefore, no possibility of damaging the ribbon motor. And those sound more like condenser microphones with a smoothness not obtainable from a condenser microphone. Such as the active Royer & SHURE/Crowley & Trips units along with the AT's hand there are yet others. These all have a tonality and sound not obtainable with any other condenser or dynamic types. You've probably heard these in the past when Bones Howe recorded Marilyn McCoo and the Fifth Dimension which as I recall were the short geometry RCA 77 DX's. One of the closest to that would be the Beyer 130 & 160's and are completely passive not active units. Velvety smooth.

    Most are made from aluminum foil ribbons whereas other newer designs utilize other high-tech metals and are designed to be much more robust and less sensitive to damage from air blasts and extremely high SPL's such as some of the Royer's rich seem to have gained a high popularity in the land of popular music genres of today. They aren't cheap but then you already have some really fine microphones that aren't cheap. This would really complement your collection that are simply great on female vocalists, percussion instruments, brass instruments, high output guitar amplifiers without any of that high-frequency overload you frequently get from condenser microphones. And that's why they're unique and extremely useful in those applications.

    I like ribbons in my hair
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  5. Jadystacia

    Jadystacia Active Member

    I have an Oktava Mk-319 which sucked, but then I had it modded by Michael Joly over at Oktavamod, so now it's fantastic. I'd highly suggest getting it modded, and while you're there - he also does a great job on the Apex 205, which could easily set you up as a new ribbon microphone. Other popular and fantastic ribbon choices are the Royer R-101 and Blue Woodpecker. Oh, he mods the NT1-a as well, with plenty of listening tests. As you can tell, I'm a fan of his work.

    However, all of your microphones are centered around the same price range and function. Assuming you have a decent preamp, interface, and acoustically-treated setup, you may want to sell off your microphones you don't use and splurge on a truly exceptional microphone. A dynamic will give you a new quality of sound, while a truly great condenser will give you the same clarity and cleanness your current ones do, just at a higher level.

    Your budget is around $650, but I think you'd find it worth it to sell off some microphones and save up a little for one of the studio greats.

    All of these microphones are known for being very high quality and for their professional use.

    In condensers, I'd recommend:
    $849 Audio Technica AT4047 - well known for being a great condenser, especially for vocals
    $999 AKG C414- pretty much the same story, except this microphone is legendary for how great it is.

    For dynamics:
    $429 ElectroVoice RE-20 - may not be your cup of tea, more used in podcasts/voiceovers and for kick drums than for singers.
    $699 Neumann BCM705 - great, versatile dynamic microphone that can be used on a bunch of sources including vocals. Not the best, but pretty damn good.
    $899 Sennheiser MD441 - the king of dynamic vocal microphones. all over professional studios, used mainly on vocals, this thing's incredible.
  6. dickiefunk

    dickiefunk Active Member

    Thanks for the post.

    I've tried the AT4047 and AKG C-414 B-ULS and own a Shure SM7b. I prefer my AT4040 to the 4047 and didn't really get on with the SM7b. The 414 was ok.

    I have decent preamps (Focusrite Liquid Channel, UA 610 and Focusrite ISA One digital so there are mo worries there and I have a treated vocal booth.
  7. Jadystacia

    Jadystacia Active Member

    In that case, I'd head straight to the Sennheiser MD441 to check it out. It's one of my favorite microphones ever (as you can probably tell). However, seeing as you don't like some of the most common popular microphones (C414, SM7B, etc.), it may be that you just have different tastes and need a unique microphone. Ribbons have been mentioned before; you might find a unique microphone like the Blue Woodpecker suits you perfectly.

    What kind of vocals are you recording?
  8. dickiefunk

    dickiefunk Active Member

    I'm mainly recording this vocalist :-

    Ley Adewole, Gospel Singer, Songwriter and Vocal Coach
  9. Jadystacia

    Jadystacia Active Member

    Ah, she's great! You're lucky to be recording a good singer, I mostly deal with horrific vocalists.

    So she's got more of a bright, strident voice that needs some smoothing out to sound best. When she gets lower in pitch and volume, she's a little airier, and even when she's singing brightly she's still got that element of warmth to her voice. That actually reinforces Remy's ribbon suggestions above. It's kind of like monitoring; the frequencies your monitors best represent will typically be the worst in your mixes. In the same way, standard condensers emphasize accuracy and clarity in the high frequencies, which happen to be where Ley Adewole is already very present and clear.

    I'd be looking for microphones that smooth out the high frequencies - ribbons, and to some extent, dynamics. The MD441 would still be a good option, though you might find a ribbon provides a much closer sound to what you're looking for. So the Oktavamod Apex 205, Royer R-101, Audio Technica AT4080, or Blue Woodpecker would all be good starting points, especially since each one has a significantly different sound.

    The 205 is classic, like a Coles ribbon; the R-101 and AT4080 are more modern, with a more extended high end and a boost in the midrange that can make them sound more brash; the Woodpecker is almost a condenser microphone, but one with a lot of lushness and silkiness instead of clarity and air.

    Without a ribbon microphone, I'd be looking to use a preamp with character and warmth, like the UA610 that you have.
  10. dickiefunk

    dickiefunk Active Member

    Yeah she is a great singer. Small lady with a huge voice!!

    I did try the Golden Age Projects R1 mkIII active ribbon mic and absolutely hated it on here voice but this is the only ribbon mic I've tried and probably not a good example!

    The most successful recordings I've done used the following chains :-

    AT4040 - Liquid Channel - Neve 1081 or Telefunken V76 emulation
    SE Gemini II - Liquid Channel - " "
    SE 2200T - Liquid Channel - " "
    Neumann TLM102 - Liquid Channel - " "
    Studio Projects B1 - M-Audio Tampa (surprisingly)

    All of these combinations have given me very useable results but I would like to try and get the vocal sounding as good as possible without having to do a lot of eq'ing etc!
    I was really impressed with the SE Gemini II as it offers a sound that I don't have in my current collection and possibly dealt with higher frequencies and sibilance better than anything I've tried!? I only got to try it briefly for a few minutes so didn't really get to explore this mic fully. I would certainly like to give this mic a thorough try out though.
    The other combinations all tended to sound a little harsh or sibilant but I haven't given up on experimenting on positioning and trying different Liquid Channel emulations or my UA 610.
  11. Jadystacia

    Jadystacia Active Member

    Whatever sounds the best, is the best. The Gemini is pretty pricey, unfortunately!

    I actually think the Studio Projects B1 is one of the best budget microphones on the market, along with the AT2020, Rode NT1-A, Studio Projects C1, and Blue Spark.

    If the Gemini worked well for you, it may be that other tube condensers will perform well. I haven't used it myself, but I've heard good things about the MXL Genesis tube microphone. You may want to give it a try.
  12. pan60

    pan60 Active Member

    In addition to ribbon dynamic mic's there are a number of other great dynamics.
    One of my more modern favs that I feel are real bargain would be the Audix OM2 mic ( not intended to exclude other Audix mics ).
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    You really need a classic ribbon. Something like that Beyer M-160/130, AEA 44 BX RCA type, Coles. Nothing else sounds like these classic ribbons. You haven't lived yet. You really don't know what you're missing. All of the active ribbons sound like condenser microphones which I don't want. If I want a condenser sound, I'll use a condenser. If you want the sound of a ribbon you want a passive ribbon.

    M-160's/130, RCA 77 DX's owner
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  14. pan60

    pan60 Active Member

    A friend of mine that is shutting down has a few nice ribbons for sell.
    Not sure what kind of deal he is doing but his gear is always in immaculate condition.
    I have bought a number of mics and other items from him recently.
    He has a AEA 44 ( among others ), I have been wanting but I just recently got a 1rst generation Lawson L47-MP from him so I am to broke at the moment.
    P.M. me a number and i can pass it on to him if you like.

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