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Mic with clean (or flat) sound ?

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by trana, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. trana

    trana Active Member

    I have this setup : Windows 7 64 bit 16GB RAM . Motu UltraLite mk3 hybrid + Mytek Stereo96 DAC .Dynaudio BM5A MKII.
    Gonna buy Mytek Stereo 96ADC + Speck micPre 5.0 .
    I have a small homestudio room with acoustic treatment, so it sounds balanced .
    I have been looking for mic´s , but it´s a jungle for me that never had recorded before .
    I´m going to record flutes some vocals , sounds I make from non instruments like kitchen tools , all sorts of odd sounds I can find out .
    What sort of mic shall I choose for that purpose ?
    I want a mic with a non colored clean sound .
    Would be grateful for some advice .
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    For the most part, the higher the quality of the mic, the more transparent its characteristics are likely to be. I say "likely", because there are exceptions...there are some high caliber mics that offer their own "coloration", and they are prized because of the coloration that they offer.

    Some condensers, even some higher priced models, will have slight presence bumps in the upper frequency ranges, but this shouldn't really deter you, because if the mic is a quality mic, those slight bumps won't really matter much by the time you add EQ relative to what you are tracking... and very few engineers won't add or subtract EQ on a mic regardless of which upper level model they use, because, especially with vocals, each individual is different in their own inherent timbre.

    You should be more concerned with the quality of the build... the diaphragm, the wiring, transformers (where applicable), polar response(s), pads, filters, body construction...

    Nuemann, AKG, AT, and several other manufacturers all make a full line of exceptional condenser mics.

    I would stay away from the current crop of cheap Chinese condensers. Don't be fooled by appearances. Some of these cheap mics can look awfully similar to the big boys, and in fact, that is done on purpose to fool the untrained consumer into thinking that because it looks like a Neumann, that it must sound like one.

    Because vocals are on your list of things you want to record, I'd personally suggest a Large Diaphragm condenser (LD) as opposed to a Small Diaphragm (SD).

    How much are you looking at spending? Because if you have enough money, you may also want to look into Ribbon mics as a possibility...
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    SM57? really, i like a pair of 414s.
    those will do everything you listed
    very well .

  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    As Donny has indicated, we need to know what budget level you are working at. There's no single microphone that will fit everything, so you may have to make an early decision: do I get a general-purpose mic that will for now give reasonable results on most sources, or do I get a mic that is excellent for certain things (e.g. vocals) and will be so-so at others, knowing that I can buy complementary mics later to cover the other areas?

    Kurt pointed out the Shure SM57, which would fit in the first category, although it is excellent at certain things like guitar cabinet and snare drum miking. If you were going for a dynamic mic, I would certainly consider the SM57 along with others such as the EV RE20 and the Sennheiser MD421.

    In the area of condenser mics, these are divided into large diaphragm and small diaphragm types, although there are others such as the AT 4033A that are medium diaphragm. As a rather over-simplification, the large diaphragm types work well on single-point sound sources such as a singer, and, mainly because of their better off-axis sounds, the small diaphragm types get used where the sound source is spread over a larger area, such as the overhead mics on a drum kit.

    Ribbon mics are the interesting type, as they can work well with a lot of different sources, and the Speck pre-amp certainly has enough gain to cater for almost any ribbon mic. However, I would be a little wary of choosing even a high-quality ribbon as my only microphone, particularly where the room acoustics may not be entirely suited to their use.

    A few more questions: How large is the group of flutes that you would want to record, as you should normally be recording that sort of source in stereo (needing two mics and a two-channel pre-amp)? Are the kitchen instruments to be recorded in a kitchen or under your studio conditions?

    Once you come back to us with an idea of the price bracket you are thinking of, we can be a bit more specific about microphone models in the different types.
  5. pcrecord

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

    Buying a Mic is a bit like buying shoes. There's many who will fit but only a few will suite your feet. + if you choose wrong you might hurt your feet for a long time!

    If the vocal your are going to record is only yours, go in a store and blind test any large Diaphragm condenser around your price limit. (bring you favorite headphones and make the seller plug them to a mixer without fancy preamps or effect and with a flat EQ.

    If you record friends or customers, you need a few mics to have some alternative or the best all around mic you can afford. The places not to go cheap in a studio is : the mic, cables, preamp, studio monitors and audio interface.

    Good thing is, if you invest in a quality mic and take care of it, it can last a life time.

    Please tell us you price limit, it will help us give you some suggestions.
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Absolutely agreed. I guess I was focusing on potential vocal use, and the fact that the OP mentioned that their room had been acoustically balanced.

    As far as an all-round mic, there really is no "one mic fits all", although you can hedge your bets with several models and come pretty close.

    Affordability wise, one of my favorites is the AKG 414. Last time I checked, they run just shy of a grand or so, and can be used in virtually endless miking apps. Great for vocals, great for acoustic instruments, great for drum overheads (LOL..get 2!) I think the 414 is probably one of my most popular "go-to's" when it comes to mic choices for almost any miking app I can think of.

    But as Boswell mentioned, having a couple of nice dynamics in your locker is a good idea too... having a few are a kind of "must have" for things like guitar cabinets, kick drums, toms, snares, and even vocals.

    The Shure SM57/58's are tried and true, you'll find them in any common studio, both project level and pro alike, and they won't cost you an arm and a leg.

    Another one of my favorite mics, as Boswell also mentioned, is the EV RE20. It's an outstanding all-purpose mic...a Variable-D type dynamic; great for kick drum, horns, vocals, amps...

    It would help to know what budget you are working with.

  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    To add some more opinions into the mix,

    Because you are using some pretty sweet ADC's I'm guessing you aren't goofing around with mid level audio accuracy so DPA is what I'd be shooting for without a doubt. Also, I see you are "going to buy" the Mytek Stereo 96ADC plus a pre so I would suggests demoing the Lavry AD11 mic/pre usb combo. Its really nice for what you are planning on too and may save you some money for better mics.

    DPA's will capture all these flavours from vocals to ultra fast attack transient and peaks with pristine precision. Not cheap though nd since you have never recording, this may be way over the top for you.
  8. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    The CAD E100S is a very clean mic. No BS with this puppy.

    I've used mine on kick, bass, guitar, etc. Very true to the sound....good, bad or otherwise!
  9. trana

    trana Active Member

    Thanks for all advices .
    My budget for mic is at least 1500 USD .
    I have compared different converters and for me Mytek is outstanding , exactly the sound I´ve searched for .
    Mytek improved the sound from my Motu enormously !!!
    Why I choosed Speck is that I got a very good price from a friend , I don´t remember but it was at least half the price on the market.
  10. trana

    trana Active Member

    I forgot this: I´m only going to record one instrument at a time .
    Do I need a 2 channel pre and 2 mics then ?
    Even the kitchen instr. am I going to record in my llittle studio .
  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    you may or may not need to grow in the future and if you do expand your capability you will be glad if you get everything in pairs right from the start. the medium is stereo.

    i think the best all around mic for anything has got to be the 414. it comes in two different versions

    414XLII C414XLII-medium.jpg or the 414XLS . C414XLS-medium.jpg

    either would be a good choice imho .

  12. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Perhaps, but you can still use multi mic arrays with one instrument.

    just a few examples:

    acoustic guitar... you can place one mic pointing at the bridge and another pointed towards the neck. An X-Y pattern is great for this, and will add depth and dimension that using only one mic will not.

    amps... one mic on the amp and another back into the room... you need a decent room for this, but it can add a space and ambiance that is very pleasing.

    drums.... X-Y, A-B or ORTF on the overheads... yes, it's just "one" kit, but you actually have several different instruments within that one kit. You can track it in stereo that will, again, add incredible depth and space... hi hat to the left, ride cymbal to the right, toms moving in same direction through the stereo field, not to mention the sound of the kit as a whole within the space it is played in.

    As Kurt mentioned, it's a stereo world. Having two 414's at your disposal would be a great thing. And yes, if you are using two mics, you will need an audio I/O with at least two channels that you can track at the same time.

    My recommendation is to do research on multiple mic/stereo arrays. It will open up a whole new world for you. I promise.

    start here:


  13. pan60

    pan60 Active Member

    Many times I have heard folks ask for a clean mic when in fact they where very happy with a great mc and pre set up.
    One friend on mine was always telling me he want a mic that was clean only wanted to hear what was preformed. he spent thousands of dollars chasing that. In the end it was a Lawson that won his heart.
    I think and I could be wrong but more often then not it the detail people are wanting to hear? In my experience I don't get that with the bargain mic.
    on a side note i do not place all dynamic mic in the bargain category either. personally i feel dynamic are very under rated mic and they are very affordable mics, real bargain and gems to be had in this category of mics. not saying thats what you will want but they are very hand and if you are going to be doing some of these things you talking about it might be worth grabbing a few.
    probably look at a Speck, Maag, Forssell, pre or something it this venue, I do not have a speck but I am familiar with Vince work and he is great, the Maag and Forssell get used here and most with dynamic mics: ) .

    As a gambling man I would bet a high quality pre and mic would make you happy, but budget maybe an issue?
  14. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Pan's got a very good point. Many times a great dynamic mic will be a better fit than a condenser. I can tell you that one of the best flute mics ever made is the Sennheiser MD-441, a mic I recently acquired for my locker. I used one for several years working with a jazz flautist (R.I.P, Ronnie Knight), and it served well on all sorts of acoustic instruments as well as voice. Unreal detail for a dynamic, but with a tighter pattern to isolate the room from the source. Plus, it takes less preamp gain than many other dynamics to bring it up.
  15. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Slightly off topic, but following on from Moon's post, [URL="(dead link removed)[/URL]'s a piece by Barry Rudolph about the 1975 recording of the drumkit on the Hall & Oates song "Sara smile", where he used only SM57s to mic the kit.
  16. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Today in the digital environment, with our incredible capabilities of our software to all have the ability to go beyond 24 tracks, has allowed the stereo miking of most everything a reality today. And anything with a pair of microphones on it or more, will provide a 3-D stereo soundscape for even greater spacious stereo sounding recordings and mixes.

    While I have usually purchased most of my microphones in pairs or even multiple pairs, it's not unusual to use to diametrically opposite sounding microphones for even more interesting stereo textures of single points sound source instruments. MS techniques can even be employed, even where MS microphone, close proximity capsules are not within close proximity of each other. This is where one could simply assign one of those microphones as a Middle designated microphone and the other which could be some distance away as the Side, microphone, even when it wasn't. And utilizing a MS to Left/right matrix decoder can offer up some really incredible ambience stereo and intimate sounding tracks. And where we can then produce some incredible Stereophonic sounding productions beyond the limitations of 24 tracks.

    In the end, we do whatever it takes to get whatever it takes of whatever takes of the takes we use and take, to take full advantage of my new timing differentials to create spacious stereo effects and tracks. Of course, during this process, you'll also want to keep checking for Mono, left combined with right compatibility. Something you've made to sound incredibly wide and spacious can virtually cancel out and disappear in monaural from say a table radio or, simple card radio. And I know a lot of very hip, talented, slick, engineers, that never bothered to do that. But that's probably also because, they've learned what not to do earlier on? My large background in FM and television audio just keeps me making sure my stereo, in Mono, is still kosher.

    A lot of us had to work strictly in Mono, back in the day. Stereo was just more icing than the cake itself.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  17. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    sm 81's deserve some love. AT3035's i recommend on budget. 414s i have one xls (the mid2000's on that doesn't have the blue logo), may have been bought before harmon secured akg?, and love it. lot's of realavent choices mentioned.
  18. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Buy a used Neumann TLM193. Flattest mic I've ever heard. Everything sounds completely real. Since this isnt even close to your budget, you'll have a few hundred left to buy a nice pair of SDC's....Shure SM81's will do it. Or a really nice dynamic. EV RE20, Heil PR40, Shure SM7b, Sennheiser MD 441/421. Pair of used AKG 414's is a great idea. Recently I have heard the MikTek CV-4. This is a very very nice mic for nearly everything. But if you REALLY want FLAT...TLM-193. done.
  19. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm gonna throw this out there and see if the cat licks it up, so to speak - and it's just a personal thought and not intended as advice, so put your flame throwers down, please...

    "Flat" and "pleasant" aren't always the same thing.

    Yeah, having a transparent mic can indeed offer you that "neutral" foundation from which to start and then add your own sonic coloration, but we're not always looking for a "neutral" starting place... while we may strive to make our environments as lab-spec based as we can, we don't always want "flat". While we may look at our foundations as colorless, our end results are anything but colorless, or at least we hope that they aren't colorless.

    What most strive for isn't necessarily "flatness" or "transparency" in their final mixes - We want the colors, those sonic textures that particular gear can offer - certain pre amps, compressors, EQ's...and yes, mics are in this equation too... one need only look to classic mics of history to see (or hear) this... U67's, 47's, C12's, RCA and Royer Ribbons, etc., etc., .... all these mics had their own particular sonic signatures and are/were prized because of them.

    In the end, often times, those pleasant tones we seek are derived from a neutral/flat source, but many other times, they are not.

    IMHO of course.
  20. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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