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new mic for acoustic guitar to replace AKG c1000 ?

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by jbourne84, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. jbourne84

    jbourne84 Active Member

    I am a hobbyist and have been recording with an AKG c1000 mic for a 5 or 6 years and feel like its time to try something new. I was breifly looking at a Rode NT1A which is around 250$, but am just beginning my search. Any suggestions?
    It will mostly be for acoustic guitar (occasionally used for vocals).
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    my current favs for acoustic are the Neumann 87, Rode Nt-5('s), and akg 414. i think the akg 451, and sure sm 81 would do quite well, but i haven't used them in that application.

    i own an nt1a and it's honestly not seen much use, i just kinda don't like it, which is personal taste. it's nasally to me, on most things.

    The nt-5 is a great, choice for acoustic gtrs, regardless of price point. The vocal aspect of your question is a whole other dimension.

    if i were you, i'd pick the magic mic for your gtr which seems to be your primary need. if the same mic works on vocs, great, but vocals are so fickle that a $10 mic, or $25k mic could be the best.

    in short, you'd be safe IMHO w/ an nt-5 (pair if your doing steroe acoustic), and an sm58. those are professional mics in the price range of a hobbyist.
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    OTOH, and I know it's beyond your price range, but you should look into the 414 at some point. It's a great all round mic, probably the best in its price class, a studio standard, and you can use it on everything with great results. It's also got a fig 8 pattern, which, if you were to set it up with another condenser cardioid mic, (like your C1000) would allow you to do M-S miking, which can sound fantastic on acoustic guitar.

    You might be able to find one closer to your price range if you checked eBay. I don't think you'll grab one for $250, but ya never know, stranger things have happened over there.
  4. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    There is generally a lot of love for 414's. They weren't my style. I prefer the sm81.
  5. jbourne84

    jbourne84 Active Member

    I should also add- feel free to convince me to keep using the AKG c1000 if you think its good for my needs. As stated I am a hobbyist and I dont need to spend 300$+ on something that I might not even notice a difference in. I recieved the c1000 from a friend and never seriously looked into anything else until now.
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I think it probably all comes down to preference, Paul.

    Both are great mics. I prefer the 414 on my own voice, and I say that as the owner of both the U87 and the U89i, along with an EV RE20, an AKG SolidTube.....and yet, 9 times out of 10, when I'm tracking my own vox, I reach for the 414....so go figure. ;)

    And, as I stated, the 414 has a variety of patterns to choose from, one being a Figure 8, which would allow the user to try creative arrays like M-S miking, which to my ears, sounds very nice on acoustic instruments like guitar, mando and even drums.

    And, we're kinda comparing apples to cantaloupes here....The SM81, while a great mic on it's own, is limited to that cardioid pattern.... but, respectfully and to be fair, it's also less than half the cost of the 414 (retail ).

    I'm not saying I think it's a limited mic. For what it offers, and for the price - last time I checked it was around $300 U.S. - you'd be hard pressed to do much better. I've used them in X/Y coincidental pairs on drum kits, on string sections, and it performed wonderfully. In fact, I recently did a session as a hired gun at a studio where I used a pair of 81's about 6 ft back from a horn section - 2 saxes, 1 bone, 2 trumpets and man, I loved the "bite" I got using a pair of 81's in a coincidental array... brother, those mics performed great. I ended up bringing the direct mics for the horns so far down in the mix, that I could have gotten away with using just the 81's.

    If given the choice, I'd prefer the 81 to an AKG C1000 almost anytime in terms of silk and subtle, smooth texture and nuance. I also think it's much more rugged than much of the AKG line. (leave it to Shure, right? The only mic you can use to pound roofing nails into your house and still go use it for a gig! thumb So, if I was doing field work, I'd probably opt for the 81, if I was doing work that required a uni directional mic.

    Back to the 414... with my comments above, I need to be fair and state that my 414 is a lot older - it's the EB model, made around 1980 (?) or so. ( Lord, I've been at this a long time... ;)

    I've used newer 414 models that seem a little less warmer, a bit less silkier than the older 414 models. The newer models seem to be a bit more "edgier" or "brighter" - at least to my ears - but, as I say that, we all know that there are so many variables hidden within that ludicrous statement I just made - LOL - ...the type of pre, the singer, the room, ... and let's face it, if it's a bit too bright, well, heck....that's what EQ is for, right? ;)

    I believe that there is no such beast as an "end all - be all" microphone. I've done sessions with vocalists where we've tried the U87's, the 89's, the 414's... and ended up using a 57 or a 58.

    All you can do is hedge your bets and get a mic that can come as close as possible to doing all the things you need it to do, without breaking your bank account, and IMHO, the 414 falls into that category, and without taking out a second mortgage. LOL

    IMHO, of course.
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    The thing is, J, that it really all depends on the other gear in your processing and gain chain... your mic pre, your monitors, your processing...

    If you're using a cheap Realtek soundcard, and listening back through a pair of $99 computer speakers, it's doubtful that you'd hear much difference between any mic, regardless of cost or quality.

    Your audio chain is only as good as your weakest link, so if you are using budget gear with budget converters and cheap monitors - and also, your room comes into play here as well... (your listening/mixing environment is as crucial as all of these other things I've mentioned), then I doubt very much that you'd hear much of a difference between an $800 414, a $3000 U87, or a $150 C1000.

    You mentioned that you were a "hobbyist"... so, what you are using now is probably just fine if you aren't looking at a pro release or thinking about hanging out a shingle as a studio.

    But... you also mentioned that the acoustic guitar is a primary detail for you, and at some point, you might want to experiment with stereo or multi mic array recordings on that instrument to add space, depth and silk that you won't get as much of by using just one mic bused to a mono track. At that point, you'd be better off sticking with using the same mics for these multi mic arrays, so you could always add another C1000 without breaking the bank.

    However... the C1000 is an SD Condenser (small diaphragm) and you won't get the same kind of "body" in your recordings that you will with an LD condenser.... At the very least, adding an LD of some kind would give you more tonal options when it comes to other recording apps like tracking vocals, guitar amps, upright bass, etc.

    That being said, you'd be better off sticking with a quality made SD ( like another C1000, or, as Paul mentioned, a Shure 81, than you would buying a cheap Chinese made LD condenser that's made to resemble a high dollar Neumann but will just aggravate you by sounding brittle, harsh, and pretty nasty all the way around.

    IMHO of course.
  8. jonathanm777

    jonathanm777 Active Member

    I know these may be a bit out of your price range but I really like the Mojave mics, particularly the MA200 and the MA201fet for acoustic guitar. The MA201fet is around $750, its one of those mics that you could have for life. I built the kit version of the MA200 which was a modded MXL2001 over 10 years ago and I still use it to this day. On the other hand I checked out a company called 12 Gauge Microphones, they are very cheap ($35 - $80 each depending on the model) and the demos sound fantastic. I ordered one but I have not received it yet so I don't yet know for sure. It definitely depends on your other gear too, interface, pre, etc.
  9. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    I can't really disagree with anything you said here. I had 3 of them for about half a decade? Two newer and one about the same age as you have. It is a perfectly good mic and I used them a lot. I just never heard myself saying WOW when I did. You can use it darn near anywhere and get a great sound when mixing and I be perfectly happy using it in almost any application but I want WOW.
  10. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    The C1000S is an odd mic. It's sometimes my mic of last resort, which just means I tried everything else and it was the only one that worked. Right now it's in semi-permanent use as a live vocal mic for a female singer, after trying every other handheld mic at my disposal.

    That brings up two important points. First, you're going to need something else, something more universal like a good LDC. Second, you're going to want to keep the C1000S for those times when a "good" mic just doesn't do it. And while your at it save up for an SM57.
  11. pcrecord

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

    JBourn ask for a 250-300$ mic. Why suggesting a 414 or u87 ?? even used they are not close to that price...

    First I must ask what preamps and/or audio interface he is using. I checked the gear list and it says echo miamidi. looked it up on google. No xlr ?? what about phantom power?
    Are you running the c1000s on battery ?? Would I ever use a u87 on a miamidi ? NO...

    Unless you want to purchase a pro level recording system (preamp - interface/converter - threated room etc...) having just 1 hi-end mic won't cute it for you..
    A Dynamic mic may be a better choice so I agree with the sm57 which is a pro mic but may not be the better choice for your voice and may be not for acoustic either (depends on the particular instrument and room).. You must try it to know! Get to a store and try a bunch of mics and pic one that works for you.. What I know is that most cheap condensers are too bright sounding. Newby sometimes believe bright meens quality but it's not true.. It rather sound too harsh in a mix.. if you had a good preamp, I'd say try a ribbon mic.. but they need a lot of gain level so not all preamps do well with a ribbon..

    Unless you can easily return the gear, I'd always try before I buy. I know it cuts the easy internet purchase but it's worth taking the time!
  12. pcrecord

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

    By the way I first tought I was on gears..t by mistake. Sorry Donny, you're right, those mics are incredible and it's important to explain to starters the difference. But, I tried to be realistic for JBourne.

    Lately on recording.org, I saw a few thread going to discussions that were far from the op question.. Just tought I should voice my consern.
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I wasn't suggesting that he look at a U87, I was only using this model in terms of comparison and asking about his current rig set up... mentioning that if he is using a typical "hobbyist" level recording set up with poor converters and preamps, that he could use a Neumann and probably not hear much difference.... that's all I was doing.

    I also mentioned to him that he may be best off just sticking with another C1000, at which point he could do some stereo array recording.

    OTOH, he may be able to get into a used 414 on Ebay for not a whole lot more than what he is looking to spend, at which point he could open up his options considerably, again, depending on his current rig quality.

    current bid, $305 : (Dead Link Removed)

    I'm not saying he can get these deals all over the place, but they are out there occasionally. :wink:
  14. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    The big problem here is that you have a small budget and we don't know that much about your recording setup, guitar, or playing style. So there is no sure-fire recommendation we can make. One thing I recommend against is making a lateral move to another $200 condenser (large or small.) Of course, I have not tried them all, but all that I have tried have a certain harshness to them. Maybe the NT1a is a better mic than the C1000. (It has a better reputation, but I haven't tried either one.) But I guess that it would have the same kind of weakness.

    The only sure thing I can recommend for is a better small diaphragm condenser (eg. Rode NT-5 or NT-55 or Shure SM81.) That's at the top of your stated price range (assuming street price for a new mic) but I feel pretty confident that you will like the difference.

    There are a couple of other possibilities.

    You should try a dynamic. The Shure SM57 and SM58 are well within your price range. The 57 is widely used for acoustic instruments live. It won't have the brightness or "air" of a condenser, but depending on your style, that can be a good thing. Also, the 58 is so widely used as a vocal mic that you may be able to borrow one and try it out. (The 57 and 58 differ only in their wind screen. If you are buying I'd go with the 57, but the 58 will give you a very accurate idea of what it will sound like.)

    Another possibility is a ribbon. Cascade and Avantone each have ribbon mics in your price range that can sound really nice. The problem is that ribbons are generally lower output than condensers or even dynamics, so if your preamps don't have a lot of clean gain and you are doing soft fingerpicking on guitar they are the wrong mic for the application.

    There were a lot of posts above about relatively expensive large diaphragm condensers (AKG C414 and Neumann U87) but (even ignoring the budget) I don't think they are the answer to your specific question. These are great general purpose mics, and if I owned a U87 I'd probably use it on guitar. But step down a notch or two in price and quality to the C414 and ... well I own two C414s and two SM81s and for guitar I'd go for the SM81. The C414 is a great general workhorse, but if it's exclusively for acoustic guitar, you can do better for the money.
  15. pcrecord

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

    Donny, I'm sorry I didn't know some 414 where going at a low price like that..

    I'd bet on trying some dynamic mics specially if the room is not perfect. The sm57 and 58 are great choices for certain vocals and music styles. But you need to try them to hear if they fit...
    Btw they are not the same it's not the same capsule and shure say the sm58 to capture 50hz to 15k and the sm57 to be 40hz to 15k. I must admit they sound very similar and it may be a gimmick from shure to keep selling both. ;)
  16. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    The SM57 and 58 have the same capsule. The different windscreens cause a (slightly) different frequency response. Put a foam pop filter on a 57 and it will be closer to a 58. Unscrew the globe on a 58 and it will sound more like a 57 (but be more vulnerable to damage.)
  17. pcrecord

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

    Sorry I tought the capsule part number were different

    Envoyé de mon iPhone à l'aide de Tapatalk
  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    alot will get it done a 414 is the 57 of condensrs. just 2 good everything mics/
  19. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I agree that having a few nice dynamics are a great thing to have, and the good news is that you don't need to spend all that much to get either of these, which are two of the most popular, rugged and good sounding dynamic mics ever made...

    As Bob pointed out, the 57/58 is a great mic... not only for the price (I don't think the price has changed all that much on those two mics in quite a few years, and if the price has gone up, the rise has been negligible) but also because they perform great and are very rugged. You can use them on endless applications and environments, from drums (the 57 is still pretty much the go-to mic for snare in even the nicest studios), toms, guitar amps, horns, vocals, and more than once I've used a 58 on a kick drum in a studio setting with fine results.

    While my first preference for acoustic instruments like guitars, mandolins, violins and flutes would be a nice condenser, if all I had to work with was a 57 or a 58, they would still get the job done. My opinion on those two workhorse mics is that they are great mics not only for the price, but are great mics, period.

    Now... a word of caution regarding these two mics.... in the past few years there have been a glut of counterfeit 57's and 58's on both the used and new markets, so stick with buying these new from a reputable dealer.

    At the current retail price - $99 for either of them at places like Sweetwater - it's just not worth the risk of buying from an unknown seller just to save $20 bucks or so and risk ending up with a counterfeit piece of junk.

    shure sm58 | Sweetwater.com

    So, unless you know the seller well or have dealt with someone before that you can trust, don't go used when buying these.

    Regarding the suggestion of the Shure SM81....While I've used the 81 on things like drum overheads and brass sections, I've never personally used one on acoustic guitar, but both Bob and Paul really know what they are doing, so take their word for it regarding this mic as a good choice for acoustic guitar.

    On a final note, as I mentioned several times in past posts, I still think you should look at stereo miking at some point; and on acoustic guitar in particular, an M-S array ( but not limited to only this method). I think it will open your eyes, and ears, LOL, as to how great acoustic stringed instruments can sound when recorded. ;)

    Mid-Side (MS) Mic Recording Basics - Blog - Universal Audio

    IMHO of course.
  20. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    How to Spot a Fake Shure SM58 | This blog post will show you the quickest way to spot fake Shure SM58s

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