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Need a good budget condenser mic for a wide range of vocals

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by spargo, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. spargo

    spargo Guest

    I understand there is no such thing as "the best" mic - in the end it comes down to personal preference. But, I would like some input.

    I am fairly new to recording and starting a project. I will be recording a female with a very high voice (soprano), as well as males with much lower bass voices, so a mic that can do well in those broad ranges is preferred. Also for recording some acoustic guitar.

    I currently have an MXL 990/991 and I'm looking for an upgrade. I recorded with a friend a while back on a Rode NT1-A and really liked the sound that came out of it, so it's what I'm considering. I hear this is a stellar mic for the price. On the other hand, I've also heard some people say it gets really harsh in the higher ranges and that they hate it - even though they seem to be in the minority this makes me less confident of its quality for the female with the higher voice I need to record (I previously recorded male vocals and spoken word with it).

    I'm recording through an M-Audio Fast Track Ultra using its onboard preamps. Any advice? I think my absolute max budget for this mic would be $300.

    I am also considering an SM57 in addition to the condenser mic I get, as I hear all over it is a good mic to have around (will it do well in recording acoustic guitar?).

    Thanks for any advice!
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Send your MXL 990 to Oktavemod.com for their mod. They make it into what it should have been to begin with and make it useful.
  3. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Darn, and I just sold my pair of 990s to my buddy for $50... hopefully he gets the mod done.

    In my experience, the weaknesses of the 990 get exploited if you have a high/nasal vocalist. Now that I have better choices, I don't like them on much of anything.
    While I have yet to do it (I have some mics that are candidates, beyond the 990s), I've heard nothing but great things about the oktavamods.

    Still, it wouldn't hurt to pick up something like the Rode and/or 57. You'd probably be better off w/ one of the condensers for acoustic guitar, but the 57 will surprise you on many sources, if you experiment enough w/ placement. Best bang for the buck mic in existence.

    Also consider a ribbon mic, which is a totally different flavor.
    It would serve you well on female vocals, acoustic, amps, and any horns.
    These typically run above your budget, but I will say I am glad I own my pair of Fatheads.
    They're closer to your budget, and while not great ribbon mics, they're good enough to hear what a ribbon offers vs. a dynamic or condenser, and to get the end result.
    There's a great thread around here w/ ribbon mic tests on a variety of sources.

    A lot of info, I know. What can I say, I like choices. :wink:
  4. Utopia

    Utopia Guest

    Go with an SM7B from the Olympics - only 250$. Works great on acoustic guitar, also.
  5. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Check out the KEL website also; they are great mics for the price. NT-1A will do you well. Audiotechnica AT series would be good too.

    SM7b is not a condensor
  6. llatht

    llatht Active Member

    I second the mods. I just had an $89 mxl mic modded at JJ Audio and am very pleased with the results. I've been gauging it against my AT4033, and to my ears it's comparing favorably in quite a few areas.
  7. llatht

    llatht Active Member

    I've never used the NT1-A, but I have an AKG C3000b that's gotten somewhat similar reviews. For what it's worth, my experience with that mic has been this - if the singer has a pretty smooth voice, it does a good job and adds some good presence. If the singer has a somewhat strident vocal (like I do) it will amplify that stridency to the point where it takes about 30 seconds to start experiencing ear fatigue.
  8. Utopia

    Utopia Guest

    Sorry, Jeemy,

    The only condensER you will find which is affordable for him would not sound as good as an SM7B on the range of things he wants,

    and an SM7B sounded quite good compared to my Schoeps 501, U87, C12A and moded U47.

    (I have also heard Pearl Jam records their acoustic guitars with the SM7B.)
  9. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    The SM7 is good for screaming vocals but I don't know that it would be what I considered good for all voice types. It probably ought to be on the short list of microphones for the locker though.
  10. gehauser

    gehauser Active Member

    SP B1 ($150 new)
    MK319 ($100 used)
  11. leopoldolopes

    leopoldolopes Active Member

    Hi! I had your questions quite back on time... and solve it with a RODE M3... cheap and very good condenser mic! You need to have a good pre for it... to translate the fullness of it!
    Cheers and good luck!
  12. TDMS

    TDMS Guest

    Rode NT1A, Rode Nt3, Shure SM58 are all decent mics for your price range, but i would look at the condenser mics for recording guitar. I own a MXL mic and personally didn't care for it that much, but your desired sound may be different. That is one of the most important things to remember, what are you trying to achive not who am I going to impress with my gear list. Unless you are opening a commercial studio and will use that list to draw in customers. (who probally won't use it all anyway, but it's good to have in case).:cool:
  13. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

    You can look for some "studio projects" mics... They are pretty cool!!!

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