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Your input on the SM57 performance curve

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Seedlings, May 9, 2007.

  1. Seedlings

    Seedlings Active Member

    Ok, since I'm an upfront kind of guy here it is: the SM57 is a practical, handy, inexpensive mic for multi-purpose studio use. Perhaps an industry standard. What's the next step up in practical, handy, but a little more expensive, mics? Those of you who don't like long posts can stop here and reply.


    A mic for (in order of importantce to me)
    1) Vocals
    2) electric guitar amp
    3) Acoustic guitar
    4) drum overheads.

    Here's my wordy way to ask the same question:
    "Budget Gear" in my opinion is gear that has a high performance-to-cost ratio. I've often found that a range of mics (or any other gear) from, say, $60 - $200 would be relatively close in quality. The $200 AT 3035 mic probably isn't a considerable step up from the $60 MXL 990. What is?
    Do you look at a manufacturer's line and say to yourself, "the AT 3035 is the next step up from an AT 2020"? How do you decide? I suppose I could buy a mic from MusicainsFriend, use it for a month, return it for another one, repeat, until I have my own personal library of mics I like based on experience...that doesn't sound great to me. I'll just rely on your expertise.

    I guess what I'm saying is that I have several <$200 mics like SM57s MXLs CADs and I'm looking for the next notch on the performance-to-cost curve.

  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    AT 40 Series
  3. Seedlings

    Seedlings Active Member

    If you don't mind, would you answer this question:

    AT 40 series is _____ better than a $100 MXL condenser.

    a) way
    b) measurably
    c) immesurably
    d) in my opinion

    Seriously, though, thanks moonbaby. I need simple, concise answers!

  4. fourone3

    fourone3 Active Member

    I was pretty impressed with the KSM32. Didn't try it on overheads, but it worked well on hi hats on my last project as well as vocals.

    On electric and acoustic guitar, it was well above an SM57.

    If that's out of budget, I've heard pretty good things about the AKG Perception series - you might want to see if you can get your hands on a demo to try one or all of them out.

    Oh, and I've never been impressed with anything using my MXL 990. It's sat in my closet for the past 8 months to a year.
  5. Seedlings

    Seedlings Active Member

    FWIW, the specs and frequency response for the Shure KSM 32 and the AT 4040 are nearly identical... same cartridge??? just the price tag is different. The KSM 32 is $400 and the 4040 is $300. Remember, I'm looking for performance-to-cost. I don't mind spending more, I just want noticable improvement.

    Any other entries?
  6. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    No, they do not use the same DIAPHRAGM ("cartridges" are for shotguns and dynamic mics). Frequency plots and numbers on a mic don't tell you squat, for comparison. The KSM32 is a very "transparent" mic-what you put into it, you get out of it. The A-T 4040 will give you a bit more "size" and attitude, in a fairly subtle way. Both mics have the ability to sound great on a variety of sources. I use a pair of KSM32's on a Yamaha grand, on horn sections, and (sometimes) on OH's. The A-T is a very good vocal mic, and will work well on horns and rooms, etc., as well. But if your room is not treated well, they'll both sound like $*^t. How's that for being "concise"?
  7. Seedlings

    Seedlings Active Member

    That's exactly the insight I wanted. I can feel your passion, too!

    I wrote "diaphragm" then upon reading on the Shure website, they say the "Cartridge Type" is an "Externally Biased Diaphragm." So I overtyped "cartridge." Sorry to upset. (Other places call it an "element.")
  8. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I thought it was a capsule.
  9. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Touche, sir, touche..
  10. Seedlings

    Seedlings Active Member

    And, moonbaby, I read what's in your MIC closet, and... I appreciate your advice all the more.

    Your 4047 specs are flat as a pancake to 12KHz then rolls off a little. Do you like it pretty well? Better than the Shure KSM32?

  11. jdier

    jdier Active Member

    My thoughts on the next step up in practical, useful mics are:

    Senn 421
    Shure SM7

    If you are wanting to do any kick drum:
    AKG D112

    Got $500? AKG 414.

    Those are all standards, I own one of each and I think they are all very very useful in a variety of situations

    (actually the D112 I only use for kick, but I use it every time)
  12. Seedlings

    Seedlings Active Member

    Thanks, jider. The D112 is quite popular. Look here for a nice list of what many RO-ers use. For what I do, the CAD KBM412 is OK. I'm sure that upgrading my Kick drum would be money better spent.

    The SM7B looks a little erratic in the top couple of octives according to Shure.

    I think I want something more like the AKG Perception 400 only because of the frequency response curves and the versatility of the two diaphrams. But, I dunno yet, especially since there hasn't been anyone to say they use one.


  13. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

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