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When to use LDC vs SDC?

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by took-the-red-pill, Jan 9, 2016.

  1. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    I couldn't find this specific topic covered.

    If you choose to mention brand names, that's okay, but I'm not here to ask what kind of mic I should buy.

    1-What does one typically use an LDC for? What about an SDC? And why?

    2-I'm a guy on a budget, don't make my living in a studio, and I have one good multi pattern LDC. Would I be better off scoring one matching LDC for the pair? Or would I be better off getting a pair of SDC's and use the LDC for mid-side, vocals, etc where only one is required? I'm trying to maximize versatility with the fewest number of mics/least cash outlay.

    Cheers mates
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

  3. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Thanks. That's a very comprehensive article.

    So would you score one more LDC, or just add a pair of SDC's to the locker? (I know, you probably have both, and a lot more).

  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    that's self defeating from the start. you're never going to be able to meet that type of goal. you can't get the best on the cheap. just buy what you need.
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    The one thing I've never skimped on is mics. I've always chosen what I wanted, based on the quality -in both sound and build - along with the particular need, and its versatility; and then I've either bought what I wanted - if I had the money - or, if I didn't, I saved up for what I really wanted.

    I never spent a couple hundred here or there on cheap "get by" mics for the interim. I'd rather have one great microphone, than several "okay" microphones.

    Mics are the most important link in the chain of recording - and that's for any type of recording, to any format. It's the first place the sound goes on its way to its ultimate destination, and if that sound is degraded in any way from the start - by cheap components, dicey quality, noise or distortion, or just "cheap sound in general", then there's nothing you can do from there to make it sound any better.

    But, as you mention, you don't make a living at this, and I do, so I've had to take my purchases more seriously - or at least I've had to make sure that the quality of those pieces have been high, because if I don't do that, there are a multitude of other area studios to choose from that will.

    You didn't mention a budget, or even a ballpark figure, so when it comes to SDC's, I don't know whether you are talking about stepping into something like a pair of Shure SM81's, or are only able to afford a pair of cheap AKG C1000's.

    You also didn't mention what LDC you currently have, so I don't know what features it has in terms of patterns, pads, HPF, etc. I can't recommend another LDC until you tell us what you have now.
    Having a matched pair of good LDC's can certainly be very useful; besides the obvious applications; like recording two mono sources at the same time, they are also nice for things like OH drums, sectional recording uses, stereo mic'ing acoustic guitars, etc..
    If you choose a mic that has certain patterns, you can get into mic techniques, like M-S and Blumlein pairs.

  6. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    I didn't say I was going to go out and buy a pair of used Behringers or a Samson LDC, or that I was afraid to spend money, only that I want to maximize my cash outlay. So if I'm spending eight or ten bills I want to know I will be happy with the purchase for a long long time(read: forever)

    Donny, current LDC: AT 4050(3 polar patterns, HPF, and pad) So I would either a) purchase another 4050, or b) get a pair of SDC's. I'd say SM81's or AT4041's or whatever equivalent AKG would be in my range-not that we're talking brands until I've figured out the better route.

  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    If you are patient and buy used you can score some serious mics for the price of a decent quality new mic. I would look for mics that have a multiple number of uses. Pattern choice does not necessarily mean something you 'need'. A great sounding, quiet, tight patterned, sensitive LDC is always going to help the locker.

    So, you already have a multi-pattern LDC in the 4050. I assume its the newer model. Those are really excellent all-purpose mics. A utility knife for certain. Having a pair of SDC's will only be necessary if you are looking for a serious stereo capture on something. Most people simply will never use their SDC's for this purpose. More likely a non-coincident pair for drums or acoustic guitar. I have eight pairs of SDC's. I hardly ever use a single pair for anything other than what I mentioned. I frequently use an SDC as a 'spot' mic on an acoustic guitar while using a great LDC on the main sound. I have fast preamps and really like the big sound I get from the LDC style of mic. I use a single SDC on hihat a lot although lately I've kinda fallen back in love with the Beyer 201 for this which is a dynamic mic. I was using it for snare top but I just can't really get past the old SM57's I have for this. I have three really old ones and they all are a bit different but when they are on ANY snare its like instant "there it is, next"..

    So looking at it as a needs thing, I think you should find a really nice used SDC as your main one. SM81, AT4051/4041, AKG C451, Josephson C42, Neumann 184, Miktek C5 is decent, Audix ADX51. The low end of this list being the Miktek and the AT4041. There's always lots of used Neumanns floating around as well as SM81's. Both great at what they do. I have two pairs of the AT4041's. I like them quite a bit. They are electret condensers, not true condensers.

    The other need is a solid Vocal mic. The 4050 is a GREAT mic. I love mine. If I had a pair they would wind up being the permanent drum overheads for everything. The 4033's do a fine job as do the AKG C460's (thanks Kurt). I personally don't like the 4050's on a vocal. They are a little too....honest....

    There's a huge amount of used LDC's to be had. But buy one great one and then you don't have to buy again other than for taste not performance. A vocal mic does not need to be a tube mic but the tube does things harmonically to the voice that can't really be dialed in from somewhere else. However....MY personal number one requirement from a vocal specialty mic in the studio is a really tight pattern. If you move off of the mic's polarity a bit when you're really into the take, if the pattern doesn't retain all its frequency and sensitivity out to its edges, you get an uneven capture. I hate that. Another thing is mics that are "pinched" somewhere in their frequency response. Nothing worse than a mic that doesn't "open up" the capture with air and still have a robust sound in the range of the note fundamentals. I have six very serious vocal mics. It makes a huge difference in the mix. When you mix the voice in and it stands on its own without a lot of futzing around, you've done your job as an engineer.

    This mic will be closer to 4 figures used than not. But as I said, buy once.

    There are some serious bargains still out there. Brands and models that have lost any initial luster they may have had when they came out and some of this can be attributed to simply there being too many choices. I bought my son-in-law an old Groove Tubes GT55 for his birthday last year and he loves it. Its also made his recordings sound more polished simply because he isn't having to add things to make the vocals stick out. The total on that mic was $125 shipped on Ebay. But you have to know about these.......

    Older Soundelux mics are incredible. Not to say that David's newer mics aren't....they are. My next purchase of a mic of any value will be the Cathedral Pipes Saint Jean Baptiste. It is a U47 fet design with Charles' own incredible craftsmanship going on. Look it up. It'll give you something to shoot for.
    DonnyThompson likes this.
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Dave's given you quite a bit of info, all of it valuable.

    I will add one suggestive word of warning, though ... don't buy the AKG C1000S SDC.
    I'm not sure that I've ever heard a worse-sounding SDC mic... no foolin', man ...they sound bloody awful ... and that opinion is coming from a guy who is normally a big fan of AKG mics. But boy oh boy, did they ever drop the ball with that model.
    My opinion isn't based on just one experience with them, either. These particular SDC's are very common in budget-level home studios, where I'll occasionally be hired in as a consultant (because these particular AKG mics are so cheap, but because they have the "AKG" name on them, guys buy them thinking they're getting a great deal on a great mic from a respected mic manufacturer).
    Harsh, brittle, and cold are three words that immediately come to mind when I think of my own experiences with the C1000S mics. ( IMO, of course... I'm just offering a suggestion based on my own experience).

    When it comes to SD's, having worked with both 184's, 185's and Shure SM81's, my personal preference is for the 184/185 over the SM81; the best description I could give about the 185/85's, would be that I find it to be a "faster" mic, ( I would assume that the 183 is also similar) and to me, this equates to a nicer, silkier - and perhaps most importantly - a "more-even" sounding top end; they are wonderfully consistent, without the "peaky-changing" sonics that seem to plague most budget SDC's from manufacturers like Samson and Behringer; but then again, we're talking about comparing $ 50 - $ 100 Chinese-made SDC models, to $ 850 Austrian-made mics here, so of course, we expect a high level of quality from Neumann...

    Depending on what their intended use will be, some might instead choose to get a pair of SM81's for the price of one Neumann 184, and still for others, they might not be able to hear the differences between the two at all, and to that you can't really argue; it's something that you either hear, or you don't.

    All that being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Shure SM81. Plenty of studios have used SM81's on plenty of commercial recordings, for things like vocal section recording, drum OH's, acoustic guitar and mandolin spot-mics, hi hat, snare bottom-head, cymbals, wind chimes, percussion rigs; I've personally used them for brass-horn sectional recording, set up in a coincidental array , and I thought they sounded really nice... although I should probably also mention that this recording was done in an old church cathedral, and it had a beautiful sound to start with.

    Like Dave, ( perhaps because of him, LOL) I've also been looking at Cathedral Pipes microphones lately, particularly their Seville Ribbon mic.
    I can't afford one right now... right now I can barely afford my mortgage - but they have caught my eye (and my ears), and the next time I do add another mic to my collection, I'm headed to CP first.

  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    There is a mod available that makes the C1000 AKG the life of the party......but then the cost of the mic originally plus the cost of the mod puts it up where an already decent mic can be found.
  10. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Thanks gents,

    Coincidentally, I went on kijiji(Canada's Craigslist) and scored a used pair of SM81's, with no visible signs of wear, in cases, with clips and wind sock, for...sticks out tongue as he converts Canadian Pesos to USD... 3 3 5 bucks for the pair. I just couldn't pass them up.

    Darn about the 4050 on vocals. I was hoping to get a Swiss Army Knife that would do everything and never need another. I did recently record some female vocals with it, and something seemed not quite perfect, but that's almost certainly my fault and not the mic.

    The John-The-Baptist-Our-Lady-Of-Giant-Cathedral-Pipes is more than my current commitment. And really, it seems that the difference between 700, and 1300 is about 1/2 or 1%. Then from 1300 to 3000 is another 1/2 or 1%, and it can only be determined by you guys. I've listened to all the mic shootouts I can find, from a hundred bucks, up to U87's and the like, and there's a bit of difference, but never an, "OMYGOD I HAVE to have THAT mic, because it so outshines all the rest."

    So now I think I will hold off on mic buying for a while. I only have a modest mic drawer, but should be able to do most things with it, or at least if I can't, it's not the mics' fault, it will instead be me, the room, the instrument, the vocalist, the phase of the moon, sock colour, etc.

    2-KEL HM-1
    2-Audix OM2

    This thread has almost run its course, but have any of you ever used sm 81's to record vocals? I want to try it once my studio is out of the 'bomb site' phase, but just wondering peoples' impressions.

    Cheers mates
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Excellent purchase. Well done. I own a few Kel mics too. They are really surprising. Of course Kelly has moved on to newer stuff now. If you ever run across a used Kel HM-7 I highly recommend it as a vocal mic. Probably THE best budget vocal mic I've ever heard. As for using an SM81 for vocals....been there, done that.....It will surprise you how good they sound for that. Back in the oldern days there was a pop filter made for them that was a larger basket. You screwed off the top and used the larger one for vocals and things like that. I don't think the newer SM81's allow this but it is a suggestion that you really popper-stop one when you are trying it for a vocal. All SDC's suffer a bit when confronted with such dorect assault on their diaphragms.
  12. pcrecord

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

    I've got 4 c1000s I don't use much. I wonder if we can find schematic for a mod I can do myself ??
  13. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Nice score on the SM 81 those things rule. I used a rode NT5 for vocals one time I set it up higher then the vocalist head aiming Somewhat downward to ease up on the pops etc. I wasn't too thrilled with it, but each vocalist is different. Haven't tried it since.
  14. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Thanks guys. I'll try to keep y'all posted on the results of that.

    We dipped into the education fund and bought our boys a 3D printer, and my oldest designed and printed a pop filtre holder that can put it 4-5" away, so I'll use that.

    kmetal likes this.
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I know I've said it here many times before, but I'll mention it again in case someone might be doing an internet search on this subject...

    If you are looking for the "swiss army knife" of LDC condenser mics, the AKG 414 is tried and true. I've also used it with great success on sources that probably should have called for an SDC instead of an LDC, and it didn't matter, it still sounds great, on any source.

    The newer the model/series the more features there are.

    I haven't kept up with the latest series, so I don't have the specifics off the top of my head, but even a standard XL model from ten years ago is going to give you a plethora of features; 3 HPF settings, Cardioid, Omni, Fig 8 and Hyper Cardioid patterns, 2 pad levels; and to my ears, when paired with a good pre, it sounds every bit as good as a U87 on vocals and acoustic instruments - and if you're curious what source I'm using on that statement, I happen to own several 414's, a late 80's U87, and a mid 80's U89i.

    As with any nice mic, when used with a budget level pre, it sounds very good. When paired with a good preamp, that can provide the gain and quality level to match the mic, it sounds great.

    Used prices on XL's and ULS's run anywhere from $600 - $800, I've seen some go for as low as $500 U.S.
    (You won't find the older pre 1980 models in that price range though, as those older models - EB and before - had the original CK12 brass ringed capsules, and are now considered to be collectable because of their very rich and silky sound) but I've seen the aforementioned newer models - including going back to the P48 Series - sold used on eBay for reasonable prices. The thing about the 414 is that it will sound just as great 20 years from now as it does today, and IMO, it falls into that "buy once and don't worry" gear category. As long as you treat it well, You won't ever need to "upgrade" it. It's not one of those "I'll get by with this mic for now" kinda microphones... it will suit your needs for years and sound great doing so.

  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    +1 on the 414. Love mine (xls). I'm not sure exactly if there's 3 or 4 HPF settings but it doesn't matter. I call it the sm-57 of condenser mics. Not the best for everything, not bad on anything. My only regret is not having a pair.

    These mics are investments in a sense that mine is 8 years old, perfect shape, and sells for around $100 less than what I paid for it new. And it's got thousands of hours on it. My only complaint is the shock mount is cheap as hell (not durable) and I cracked mine by squeezing it a bit too tight while removing the mic from it. Still works tho. Maybe I'm the one who's cheap as hell :) You will see the prices on certain gear, like Gibson les Pauls, 87s, creep up in cost over time. They don't go 'on sale' either. The sm57 has been $100 since I started recording 17 years ago. I own 3.

    I wonder why they don't make small diaphragm dynamics? Or maybe I missed them.
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    An example of a small diaphragm dynamic would be a Beyer M201. There are others but most will be European.
    kmetal likes this.
  18. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm still using an SM57 that I bought brand new in 1977/78 for $79.
    As far as being solidly built, this is the exact same mic that once spent an entire winter under ice and snow, and then was run over by a lawnmower that following spring.

    I used it just the day before yesterday. ;)
  19. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Lmao!!! "I knew I put that thing somewhere" blame it on the bassist, it's always the bassists fault.
  20. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    I've heard that about the 414, and I'd also heard similar things about the 4050, they seemed similar, but the 4050 was a few hundred cheaper. I shall have to rent a 414 at some point and try it out.

    I suppose in the interest of having different flavours, my next mic ought to be a ribbon eh?

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