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Need advise buying entry-level vocal "recording kit".

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by DelphiBeats, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. DelphiBeats

    DelphiBeats Active Member

    I am relatively new to audio recording. I want to buy a "kit" that has:

    • Large diaphragm microphone WITH a power supply (not battery powered) for high-quality vocal recording. I don't know if the Phantom power supply/batter makes a difference but I assume the battery is a cheaper alternative with lower quality results.
    • Headphones for monitoring
    I want to spend less than $350.

    I looked at Presonus 1box Audiobox Recording Package but I'm not sure if it's the right thing for me. For that price, $250, I could buy a microphone kit and headphones separately for less money I think.

    Could you please advice me what I should buy?

    I am using a PC with a standard (integrated; very simple) audio card. I also have a USB card in the PC.

    Thank you.
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    That package will get you started enough to know whether you really want to continue. It includes a condenser microphone which will gain it's power from the preamp/interface supplied. If a DAW program is not included that's ok as you can download Reaper which is an excellent program.

    You do not to use a batter adapter to replace the phantom. They do exist but the quality ones cost a little more than half of your package when purchased new and are definitely not more reliable than good phantom 48V from an interface or mixing board.

    FYI, this belongs in the newbie section.
  3. DelphiBeats

    DelphiBeats Active Member

    Do you think that I can save some money or get even better equipment if I bought the microphone and headphones seperately? That's the only two devices that I am looking for, seperate or in a kit. I think that package is too expensive for what I get... Unless I am mistaking about the quality of that microphone like if it's really good or something.

    I am aware that you don't use a battery adapter to replace the phantom. I was just saying that I have NO requirement for a battery adapter. This will be for a home studio setup only.

    So the question is, should I buy that kit or buy the mic/headphones separately?
  4. DelphiBeats

    DelphiBeats Active Member

    For example, I found the MXL 990-USB USB Powered Condenser Microphone which is fully USB powered for only $100. I think MXL is a good mic manufacturer.... but I'm not sure.

    I think in the PresSonus kit, all of that equipment is made in China. I am looking for something more higher quality than that... like a mic made in the USA or Japan for example.

    Any other suggestions are appreciated.
  5. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Well firstly, the MXL mics are just as Chinese as anything else. I think for your budget the Presonus kit is actually a good buy - it will get you going and has all the bits you need inside it. In case you didn't realize, these are:

    Microphone (condensor as per your choice)
    Phantom (or USB) power for this mic
    Preamplifier (to bring the mic level up to usable recording level)
    Interface (to convert the line level into USB or Fireware data for the computer)
    Monitoring system (headphones or speakers)
    DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) - software to record, mix & playback

    So in fact the Presonus kit is excellent for what you need. If you tried to put this together (the preamp, phantom power and interface are often combined into an external sound card tyoe thing at this price point) a possible setup would be:

    Rode NT1A
    M-Audio, TC Electronic, Apogee etc 2-channel interface with USB out, phantom power and 1-2 preamps
    Set of headphones

    The cost of a good semi-pro pair of headphones alone would be $150, the mic must be $200 or so and the interface maybe $350? And all of this will be Chinese-made, you aren't going to get to a high quality mic made in US/EU/JP for anything sub $500.

    However lots of manufacturers make in China with better QC and thats the next level up - Audiotechnica might be a good thing.

    Moving your thread on a 1-day redirect. Let us know how you get on.
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    At your $350 limit for everything, just stick with the Presonus kit and call it good. If you eventually get hooked on this recording stuff and truly get GAS then we can talk again. As Jeemy points out, there isn't anything cheap about quality recording gear. The Presonus kit will be plenty good enough to get your feet wet.
  7. DelphiBeats

    DelphiBeats Active Member

    I think the PreSonus kit is overpriced. I am looking for a good quality microphone, and a basic set of headphones.

    Why should I buy a kit with a mic, preamp, and headphones? For cheaper, I can buy a USB condenser microphone (with a built-in preamp) and a pair of headphones that I can use outside of the studio (daily listening) and when recording... the only reason I think is, that if I buy a better microphone down the line, I can still use my old preamp.

    I guess... another reason to get a pre-amp is that I can plug a musical instrument into the second plug? That would make sense if I wanted to use an electric guitar on my DAW.. right? Would the PreSonus preamp work if I wanted to use an electric guitar?
  8. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    You are wrong. For what you get inside the packet, its absolute nothing. Each one of those items on its own will cost $150 - $200. You can't build the same package for the same price using bits from different manufacturers, therefore I thought this was good value for you. "Overpriced" is not an adjective I'd use for this....

    You will not get a "good quality" microphone for anything less than $350, and USB-powered condensor mics with built in pre-amps, for all they say on the pack, are garbage. You'll be throwing your money away.

    And if you do buy a "good quality" microphone for $350 you can't afford any of the remaining bits.

    $350 is, without meaning to be harsh, nothing. You won't notice much reduction in quality spending $200 on a USB mic & a set of basic headphones, but you are right, you will lose any possible upgrade path. Meaning later if you want to record 2 things at once, or if you want to upgrade the mic or preamp (as the 'preamp' you refer to is both preamp and A/D/A soundcard and will take a line in from a better preamp and convert it for you), you are leaving yourself with no options.

    As I say, $200 doesn't seem a lot of money to throw away but if you are concerned about a $150 difference in cost then I'd have thought you'd want the option that actually gives you some futureproofing. Let us know how you get on.
  9. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Just my 2 cents FWIW but....you can go buy a Shure SM57 or SM58 for $89 (or cheaper on sale) and those are absolutely some of the best quality US made microphones out there in the world with no phantom/battery power required and a perfect starting point.
    For headphones get a new pair of Sony MDR-7506 for $99 (or even cheaper on sale).
    Get an inexpensive USB audio interface with a couple of mic inputs and lose the internal computer sound card! There is nothing worse than those for recording sound.
    Download Reaper for software, KVR software effects and plugins and get busy....

    There are literally millions of hit songs out there using one of those mics and if you "sound" good on one of those, then maybe you got something going on and on your way to creating some good sound...if you don't sound good on one of those mics then anything beyond that should have you rethinking the whole idea.

    And I'm not trying to be negative here or discouraging...just truthful and honest.
    I don't work for Shure or Sony or Presonus or some online retailer...

    But buying recording equipment and microphones is the one thing that is full of hype and nonsense...just be careful and be smart with your money.
    Soooo many new people out there get caught up in the hype...like there's some magical mic or equipment out there that so and so uses and I can sound like that!
    It don't work that way...seriously.
    Microphones pick up sound and there's no magic involved.
    if you don't sound good maybe your doing something wrong, maybe you need more work on your voice, maybe it just ain't happenin and you just don't get there.
    You want equipment that is reliable consistent faithful with reproduction that you can count on.
    And it's really not that expensive...
    But I look at that other stuff and to me it's just cheap short lived hyped up for newbie vanity merchandise....
  10. DelphiBeats

    DelphiBeats Active Member

    djmukilteo, those are dynamic microphones, and I am looking for a condenser mic. Thanks for your input though.

    I think that I will look on my local Craigslist for a condenser microphone, headphones, and a USB audio interface which has phantom power.

    I live in Minnesota, FYI. I was advised against buying any type of used electrical equipment, but I might also hit up a local Pawn America to see if they have the microphone + USB audio interface that I can try/buy on the spot.
  11. DelphiBeats

    DelphiBeats Active Member

    message deleted.
  12. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    And you want specifically a condenser mic for .......why??

    Is this some more of that 'advice'...Lets see.....ALL of the advice you got on here was from no one who would be considered a 'newbie'. All professionals with a lot of years of doing this.

    So, Why do you want a condenser?

    I would put a Shure SM58 up against ANY sub $200 condenser made. ANY.
  13. DelphiBeats

    DelphiBeats Active Member

    I read that condense mics are better for vocal recording. I plan to have this at home only, not on live stage or on the road.

    I am looking at $#@!)(*""? they are having a holiday sale.

    I am going to buy a condenser mic from there, an MXL Mic Mate usb interface (powers the mic from a usb port) and a decent pair of headphones all for around $150 and with free shipping. Sounds better then wasting my money for the overpriced not-on-sale PreSonus kit (I've never even heard of PreSonus before)
  14. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Ya know....it's funny isn't it!
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I read somewhere you should only believe half of what you see and none of what you read.
  16. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Ok, first off, DJ and Dave are way nicer than I am. I already deleted two of my own replies earlier today because I didn't think the OP could take it. I'll try to be constructive.

    Presonus is one the primary mid grade companies out there. Do they put out some low end cheap chinese stuff? Yes but not as cheap as many. But anyone that thinks you "need" a condenser to record vocals is highly ignorant of the music on the radio today. If you haven't heard of Presonus what makes you think MXL is superior? You haven't heard of it either.

    Listen up. No, LISTEN UP! The SM57/SM58 is the single most used vocal mic in recording for the last twenty years. Are others used? Yes. Are condensers used? Yes. That doesn't change the facts that the $hitty little MXL mic the OP listed is not the same thing as a $3000 Neumann. The fact that you can pound nails with a 57 or if trained like me, kill a man (heckler in the audience, whatever) with it is just a bonus. If you're just getting some things down at home it doesn't matter, do what you want. Just don't come nosing about asking questions and then outright refusing to listen to the answers because Music123 or Musiciansfriend or Giardinelli (all same same by the way) are running some sales and some shill reviews are posted.

    I think I've had too much coffee and a stitch too much velveeta from the rehearsal tonight. Is this thing on...on....on...on...on?????
  17. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Can you hear me now?
    Can you hear me now?
  18. DelphiBeats

    DelphiBeats Active Member

    I read reviews on Amazon.com about the MXL 990 mic and they all say it sounds "muddy" so I am going to stay away from any of the MXL condenser mics.

    I am currently looking at the Audio Technica AT2020, or the M-Audio Nova, or the Nady SCM 1000 (three selectable patterns on the last mic.. good for outdoor/nature recording I guess)... I'd like to hear what you think of those mics. I am probably going to end up buying the stuff seperately from music123 as its the best bargained outlet I can find online.

    The problem with the Nady SCM 1000, however, is that it doesn't come with a shock mount or any mount at all... which would mean I would have to get the Nady SSM-3 Shock Mount for $15 (the Nady mic is only $99 and the MSRP of it is $170)

    So can I get a universal microphone mount for a mic that doesn't come with a mount, or are mic mounts specific for a certain mic model?
  19. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Well OK I guess the thing to know is what sort of vocals are you going to be doing?
    Screaming death metal, rap, voice overs, what gender, soft, loud voice?
    Some of those condensers can be very sensitive.
  20. DelphiBeats

    DelphiBeats Active Member

    djmukilteo, I will be doing r&b and rap and maybe light/alt rock, and I will also want to record acoustic guitar and other instraments (like maracas)... and after looking at the Nady SCM 1000 which has three different patterns I think I might be recording voice or instruments outside next to other sound sources (like streaming water or birds or wind blowing through trees, or something like that.)

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