1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

Recommend a good Small Diaphragm Condenser for $100-$200

Discussion in 'Recording' started by JoshuaD, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. JoshuaD

    JoshuaD Guest

    I'm looking for something to record acoustic instruments and probably act as a drum mic occasionally. Acoustic instruments are by far the more important use for me. Guitar and Violin mostly. Thanks!

    My other mics are a Rode NT1A and an SM58.

    These are the two I'm looking at right now:
    Buy Audio-Technica PRO 37 Small Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone | Condenser Microphones | Musician's Friend
    Buy Rode Microphones M3 Multi-Powered Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone | Condenser Microphones | Musician's Friend

    I'm hesitant to go with the Rode just because my LDC is a Rode NT1A. Seems like I probably shouldn't have both my condensers be from the same manufacturer. What do you guys think?
     
  2. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    I use the Rode NT3 quite a bit for this type of thing. It has a good high output and a pretty uncolored sound. I have even used it on vocals (though not my preferred mic for that). I own three of them and find them very versitile.
    You can find them new for under $200 if you shop around.
    I don't see anything wrong with having two mics from the same manufacturer. Rode has a good reputation for quality products.
    Jeff
     
  3. JoshuaD

    JoshuaD Guest

    A friend of mine just recommended these, and said surprisingly he loves their tone:

    Buy CAD CM217 Condenser Mic - Buy One, Get One Free | Condenser Microphones | Musician's Friend
     
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Rode NT55 or AKG C391 or AT4051.
     
  5. JoshuaD

    JoshuaD Guest

    Each of those mics are listed on sweetwater for over $300, some as high as $500. Is there somewhere where these are available for under $200? :confused:
     
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    You didn't give a budget of any kind in the original post. I'm also not shure (ha) that I buy your premise that you should avoid Rode because you already have one. At your level of purchase you really really shouldn't be worried about the flavor of the mic but more about the performance quality and build quality.

    Classical violin and classical guitar? Or folk/western? If the former then just nail your wallet to the dresser with a fire extinguisher pointed at it. My original list still stands with a grudging nod to the AT4041. For non classical guitar and violin then why not get a pair of Shure SM57 or unscrew the ball on your 58? No they aren't condensers but still quite usable. Also, Audix might have something worth looking at too. I'm just not very familiar with their offerings. Also haven't heard the Beyer Op53 but the brand itself is quite reputable. Of the mic's you listed originally the M3 is the better option. Although I like AKG and AT microphones, I'm not a fan of the low end of either brand necessarily. Either are better than MXL for the most part.
     
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    If you can stand it, I'd wait until you can spend a little more money. Most inexpensive SDCs can sound pretty shrill. (They may not seem that way when you first listen to them, but after you start layering multiple tracks... ) The lowest priced one I've liked is the Rode NT5. (Have not heard the NT3.) But even there you are better off with the NT55. The pad, rolloff, and extra omni capsule are very useful. (Though admittedly, you might be fine with the NT5 for guitar and violin.)
     
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Also, I'll second John's comment on not worrying about having too many Rode mics. Good mics for the price. I'm also with him on either using what you have or (if you need a third mic) getting an SM57 or an Audix. That is, if you are short on cash, a good dynamic is a better long term investment than a bad condenser for the same money - even if a condenser is the "right" mic for the job.
     
  9. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    I'll throw the Cascade M39s into the mix. Cheap, yes.
    Since I don't own the Rodes or the others mentioned, I can't compare.
    I do use the M39s as a stereo pair for acoustic guitar all the time.
    All right big boys, tell me why I'm wrong!
     
  10. Aural Reject

    Aural Reject Guest

    The Rode NT5 / NT55 are nice mics and punch fairly well above their price point....personally I'd save the money until I could get one or two of them....which is what Bob Rogers said above, I guess.

    If you're happy enough up front to go cardioid only, you could get the NT5 and add the NT45O omni head later.
     
  11. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    I've been drooling over the Oktava Mk-012's for quite some time. I've heard they sound fantastic for the $.

    Oktava MK-012-01 Condenser Microphone with Cardioid Capsule in Wood Case (Black)

    Certainly have heard great things about them, I would buy them in a heartbeat if I needed them.

    BTW, you can get the omni caps for these down the road if need be as well making them 2 mics for the price of one really good one.
     
  12. JoshuaD

    JoshuaD Guest

    It looks like I'll be happy with a pair of Samson c02's. They've been getting great reviews and they're going on amazon for $120 for the pair. I think that's probably my best bet.
     
  13. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Samson C02 Sound on Sound review.

     
  14. JoshuaD

    JoshuaD Guest

    Yea. The problem is I can stretch my budget pretty far if I want to, it's just not a good idea. I don't want to go broke buying recording equipment. :) I've already stretched from $1000 to over $1500. I think for the price I'll be able to get a lot out of these mics, and it sounds like they'll have a place in my studio for a long time, or if not, that they'll be able to keep some resell value. If I get these I'll have a pair of small condensers, a large condenser, and an SM58. It seems to me that that'll be a good platform for a while.

    Thanks for the help everyone.
     
  15. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Well, I am one of the big boys, though the first week if the diet isn't going too badly.

    I can't tell you you're wrong since I haven't used the M39, but I'll make a comparison with the Cascade Fat Head. (I'm a happy owner of a pair.) If you will check out the Ribbon Mic Shootout in the Microphone forum you can hear it go up against a lot of other much more expensive mics. On most sources, I felt that it did great. Distressingly good compared to mics costing 5-10 times as much. But when we hit the female vocals I felt it didn't hold up. Sounded like a cheap mic. So one characteristic of a good mic is that it works well on a wider variety of sources - and sometimes you have to pay for this quality. (And if you can't afford to pay, you can listen carefully and only use your cheap mic on the sources it genuinely does well.)

    Another problem particular with cheap condensers is harshness in the top end. Of course, the top end is often why we buy them in the first place and it's one reason that someone who has been recording with a 57 picks up a cheap condenser and has a great first impression. However, as you go up the price/quality curve you gain a smoothness in the top end. (There should be a better way to describe it, but I don't know one.) Now on an individual track, this can be pretty damn subtle. But it's pretty easy to hear if you compare mics in very different price categories and focus on the most difficult sources, but usually it's not all that easy to hear. Unfortunately, what is pretty subtle on one track can build up annoyingly on ten. If you use your SDC on guitar, drums, tambourine, vocals, etc. you can have a lot of the same problem areas build up.

    Of course, a good engineer can work around problems like that, but I prefer the strategy I suggested above.
     
  16. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Good response Bob.

    I am also a happy owner of a pair of Fatheads. Unfortunately I'm cursed there as well as I haven't had a chance to hear a better ribbon mic on female vocals.
    I will say that compared to my other mics, it's a better choice in most cases.

    But back to SDCs:
    Like you alluded to, mine don't get used more than twice (two acoustics), and I pay careful attention to placement.
    The only other place I might use one is as a spot mic on percussion.
    I noticed the layering effect when I upgraded my preamps, and I try not to use too much of the same mic in any song - as much for the fact that I prefer the flavor of different mics for different applications, than the added unpleasant tones.

    In the end, the M39s were an improvement on my MXL 603s, and since they came w/ the Fats, I made use of them.

    To the OP:
    I know it seems like we've gone off on a tangent, but try and think hard about what's been said.
    You're better off w/ 2 pairs of great mics than 4 pairs of mediocre mics, in the long run.
    Both for resale value and lifetime usage.
    See this thread:
    http://recording.org/home-project-studios-newbies/40393-buying-my-recording-stuff-tomorrow.html
     
  17. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    I know I'm jumping in a few days late here but maybe not.

    You mentioned the Pro37 and to be honest, you really can't lose with a pro37. it's a solid mic you'll always use and for multiple app's. Self-noise is classic AT, meaning some of the quietest mics in the industry IMO. They're crisp without being spikey or bitter, the mids are nice and hot without being grainy or spitty and they're capable of handling bottom end nicely. They capture transients really well (super-fast) depending on the pre you power it with so you also get a good representation of the rooms character and early reflections (if any exist). They're just as happy on a mounted tom as they are in front of an acoustic guitar and don't suck on OH applications. A Great buy altogether.
     

Share This Page