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ribbon or multi pattern LDC?

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by took-the-red-pill, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Hello all,

    I'm looking to expand my capabilities by getting a multi pattern mic, and am leaning toward either an AT 4050, which I can get for $700, or a Royer r-101 which will run me $800. Because of their construction, they're different animals, so I want to get some opinions on which direction to head.

    I'm a singer/songwriter type. Vocals, AC guitar, Electric guitar, shakers, and other noismakers. Most of the other instruments are done in Reason. I have built a studio-one room is done and the other in progress-and it's sounding quite good.

    I'm looking to expand my capabilities through a mic purchase. I'm going after a multi pattern workhorse. To start with I'll be recording the following, in order of importance/frequency:

    -my voice(baritone-esque male).

    -my acoustic guitar.

    -I would like to be able to combine with an SDC to do m/s recording, hence the multi pattern capability.

    -I will be recording some alto-soprano female vocals in the next year or so.

    -I also record through my tube amp, but I absolutely dig my KEL for that.

    I'm on a budget $800>$1000, but I do want to make sure I can use the mic on many sources, for decades.

    Thanks all,

    Current gear, all acquired on a limited budget:

    2-KEL HM-1's-SDC's-, my go-to mics, to be replaced by a pair of SM81's in the near future.

    2-Audix OM-2 dynamics-Cucco recommended these and yes, they are blowing away my 57 every time I test them side by side.


    2 channels of Altec Lansing 1567 from the 50's or 60's

    16 channels of Tascam M216-hey, for $200 how could I go wrong?

    8 channels of Presonus Firepod-nasty low mid action going on here.

    After this mic purchase I will be picking up either the 2 channel Black Lion Audio Auteur or the 4 channel Sytek, but that question will be for another day.
  2. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    I'd say the 4050, they are great mics, and imho a ribbon is a good alternate to have but for recorded male vocals the LDC 4050 is the way ahead. Its closer to top in its manufacturing chain than the Royer also.
  3. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    This is probably a totally dumb comment for me to make, but you're aware the ribbon is not multi-pattern? Like I said, probably a silly comment and I'm sure you knew that, but the way you phrase a few times that you specifically want a multi-pattern mic made me think I should at least throw that out there!
  4. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Its a figure-8, making it a valid second mike in a M/S array. It works fine as a front-address, making it 'multi-pattern' in the scope of the question.
  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I will throw out an idea the OP may not want to hear. I always advise purchasing microphones in pairs. You get much more versatility with this method. If one already had a pretty complete mic locker I might advise differently for a purpose specific mic, but especially when building up the locker one really needs to take the long view.

    The AT4050 is an excellent choice in any case. I also happen to have a matched pair of R101's and find many uses for them but I think a pair of 4050's would be a better starting point.
  6. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    True enough, I hadn't thought of it that way. I think I was just thrown off by the wording.
  7. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    4050 is my choice too for a first mic. The Royer is great on electric guitar, but 4050 is more versatile.
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    If you have the chance to try these out I would base your choice on what sounds best with your voice. The Royer will sound better on some of the sources your mention on some songs - the 4050 in other situations. Vocals are almost always the most important element of a song, so base the choice on that.

    If you are looking at ribbons in the price range try the Beyer 130/160. I have not tried the Royer r-101, so I'm guessing based on other Royer mics, but I do know the Beyers well and they are worth a look.
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    That is the conventional wisdom, and if I was judging on vocals first (as I suggested above) I'd probably end up with the 4050. But I have to say that I have been using my ribbons more than any other type of mic lately - and if I had more I'd probably use them for drum overheads as well. Surely this is a matter of taste and the type of music I've been recording lately. But I just want to throw out that it's not a unanimous decision for the 4050.
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    +1 which may seem to contradict my post but perhaps just makes it nuanced ;-) I use the R101's on classical recordings (string quartet, brass quintet, piano) quite a bit since I purchased them in October. They aren't just for breakfast anymore.
  11. song4gabriel

    song4gabriel Active Member

    i have a rode k2 which is a multipattern LDC which I love. i have a small room (like you) and get a lot of uses out of its variably adjustable patterns to offset poor acoustics.

    i also sing in your range :) and find it swweeet on my voice.

    i think its about 600 bucks. i was set to buy a 414 when the salesman told me to try this one and i have never regretted it.

    also- would a ribben versatile enough for "workhorse" duties? I do not speak from experience as i have never owned one (anyone can feel free to correct me)

    just my 2 cents.
  12. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Thanks for the helpful opinions, folks

    yes, I was looking at the figure 8 aspect to the Royer, for my m/s uses, when I considered it a contender. I can understand the desire for a matched pair but that's not in the cards right now, and I'm hoping that AT's quality control is close enough that if I choose to get a second one in the future it will be close enough for my purposes.

    As I'm trying to get maximum capability here with minimum expedature, I think I'm better off with one at4050, and then as I've stated, score a pair of sm81's. Then i have an ldc which can be the second mic I a m/s config, and if I want to specifically go to a stereo pair I would choose the 81's.

    Thanks again all.

    Good beans
  13. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Some advice to you, stick with the pairs.

    You can get the Beyer ribbon combo (may not be best for your voice, but nice for anything else - especially female vox), or a pair of 414s, or a pair of 4050's if you're willful and save a little more.

    Specifically, I'm also torn between the ribbons and the multi-pattern condensers.
    I love my Fatheads (cheaper than the Beyers or Royers), but they are not right for everything.

    The nice thing about mics from good companies nowadays - the QC is pretty good, so you don't necessarily have to concern yourself w/ getting serial pairs.
    Buy one ribbon and one multi-pattern LDC, and complete the pairs later, if you must.

    Take none of what I say as gospel - just offering my experience and some alternate approaches.
    Hope that helps.
  14. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    It would look kind of silly hitched to a plow...

    More seriously, To me the definition of "workhorse" depends on the type of work you do. We all have a range of sound sources and desired styles. A versatile mic for me might only work for one or two things for you and vice versa. For my tastes, with the music I am recording now, the ribbons are the workhorses - used on more sources. But my Mojave 200 is still the star. It's on the vocal track. In a lot of music that's the A track. Everything else is gravy. ("Workhorse" and "gravy" is about as bad a mixed metaphor as you can get.)
  15. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I love mics...they are paintbrushes in my book. I recently acquired a used AT4050 in great condition for only $300, and it's turning out to be pretty good. It is a tad brighter than my 4047's, but I like them both. The downside to the LDC thing is that the room really does need to be decent or else you will be picking up a lot of crap that you will have bouncing around in it.
    I also have a couple of Beyer M160's and a 130. I have had a love-hate relationship with Beyer mics of the past 30 years. They sound great on so many sources, and they are built with precision, but they are rather fragile (not cheap or whimpy, just delicate). They also eat up as much gain as you can possibly give them, so you have to have a really good preamp to do them justice. This is something that you don't seem to have (no offense, just what I see from your list). Unless you are ready to commit to a nice pre (Grace, True, etc), I would be hestant to do the ribbon thang.
    Just some more food for thought added to the already good insights posted. Doesn't make it any easier to decide, does it ? :)
  16. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    The QC on the 4050 is fairly good, I understand from the fact its top in the AT manufacturing line and they need to make sure its good, every time, together with the fact I have never heard a bad word on here about it. For me, I've never been in the position to be in possession of a matched pair of LDCs, although I have matched pairs of many different SDCs, and I haven't missed it, perhaps for that reason.

    The K2 is a valid alternate choice, but for me, although I relied upon it for years, its sadly been overtaken with better purchases. QC I think is great on Rode and they are good mics but it just doesn't have the reproduction of other mics.

    For me LDCs are single, mono mics, although thats just the habit I have got into.

    When you come to SDC pair take a look at the Charter Oaks. QC was not quite there yet when I bought but although customer service was painfully slow, I have ended up with a pair of mics that are very very nice.
  17. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    song4gabriel- Thanks for the heads up on the K2. I'll stick with the 4050 though because they're similar dough and I have yet to ever hear a bad word spoken about the 4050.

    moonbaby-good point on the mic pre. It's true I have nothing that I can turn the gain knob to '11' and not have it sound like a leaky tire. Actually I can with the old Altec, but it adds a lot of 'colour' in other ways that aren't always flattering. As i've stated, a good pre is on my hit list for next time.

    Soapfloats-One more vote for buying pairs, but I'm really a recreational user here-case in point, my mic 'locker' is a very small drawer-, so I'll probably spring for one good LDC, and then get the SDC's in pairs.

    Actually when I think about it, if the budget allows in the future, instead of buying another 4050, I would probably buy an entirely different mic altogether that sounds nothing like the 4050, to get more colours in my pallette.

    Bob-I agree. The vocal is king, but that I think it has 85% to do with the vocalist, 10% to do with the room, and 5% the 'perfect' mic. Since I'll never be a great...or even good vocalist, I'm still going to go for a mic that has a pretty decent chance of sounding good in front of anything instead of specifically auditioning for vocal mics. Remember-weekend warrier only, I don't have the resources to have a specific "vocal" mic into my "vocal" pre, a "guitar" mic which matches to my "guitar" pre, etc etc. I have to deal in generalities so far.

    Thanks guys, you have all been very helpful.

  18. Paj

    Paj Member

    "I'm on a budget $800>$1000, but I do want to make sure I can use the mic on many sources, for decades."

    Pick up a CAD M179 (currently available for $110, new) and you'll still have your bundle to spend on the other suggestions.

  19. moresound

    moresound Active Member

    A friend of mine just purchased a M179 and had to send it back for it was noisy as heck.
  20. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Right. Cad is not a desert island mic.

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