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Could use microphone advice from resident gurus.

Member for

21 years
I may have mentioned this before.... but my studio is changing the way it does things from recording primarily vocals only, to recording all manners of bands and genres of music. Basically, anyone who walks in the door, I'll record them if they are not too "high maintenance"...because we need the money and what we were doing before wasnt really paing the bills. This of course, now necessitates that I expand my pathetically limited microphone collection.

So... I have very little microphone experience. Anyone whos a microphone guru here and has usedmany types and knows what the various models are good for, I would appreciate your opinion.

Basically, I'm looking to add maybe 3 - 6 microphones on top of what I have now... but the budget is somewhat limited. Trying to cap my costs at roughly $3500. I'm not sure if I should get fewer mics but focus more on quality or expensive models (i.e. $1,000+ range), or should I stay away from more expensive and just get a higher quantity of more diverse cheaper ones (in the under $650 range).

This is what I currently have:

(1) x Audio Technica 4050 condensor
(2) x SM-57's
(2) x SM58's
(2) x Audix OMD-5's
... a few miscellaneous crap ones that are of not worth mentioning.. but I would use them if I ever had a project where I just needed that many microphones.

I've been searching these forums...so many opinions.. so many options. I'm lost.

These are models I have been thinking of getting... but can you tell me what they would be useful for?

I cannot tell you exactly what I will be using them for... since I dont know that answer a priori... so I'm just going to say... I'm looking for diversity.

Soundelux U195 ($1,000). I've heard its very diverse. I was kindof thinking thatthis could be my "flagship" microphone, replacing my AT4050.
Unfortunately, it also strains my limited budget. I personally think the AT4050 I have is a nice condenser, but I have no reference to judge that by since I've never used anything better. The 4050 has done its job over the years. I wonder of the Soundelux U195 would just be redundant since I already have a decent condenser?

Beyerdynamic M130 and M160 ribbon microphones ($600 each)... A lot of people have been saying nice things about this.

I am pretty convinced I want a ribbon microphone for diversity in sound as I have never had one before... and the Royers are totally out of consideration ($$$)... so I may want these... but I really dont know what the difference is between the two models, or what they are supposedly good for. I just know they are regarded as good for the price... so I trust peoples opinions on that.

Sennheiser MD421 ($350). I hear its good for drums and the price is reasonable.. So howmany do I need for drums? 1? or 2? I dont want to buy more than I need... godda'keep tp the budget.


Some other microphones I have heard touted on these forums are:

AKG 414 ($950)
Shure SM81 ($350)

Not really sure if these are redundant. I think people said you coulduse these on overheads.... but will one of the previous microphones I mentioned be useful for overheads... I'm trying to eliminate redundant stuff.

Any help in my quest for knowledge would be appreciated.

Comments

Member for

21 years

Member Tue, 02/13/2007 - 00:59
I'm not a guru, but, hey, anyone can play one on the internet...

Personally, I think you will be best served by getting four or five top quality, but non-boutique, mics. In your situation, you probably aren't getting paid for glamour, you are getting paid for versatility and reliability, along with with good sound.

The 414 and SM81 (pair) are great recommendations. The 414 is somewhat in the general neighborhood of your 4050, so I might put that second. Here are some other things to look at:

A highly accurate, very small diaghragm omni, such as an Earthworks QTC-30.

A Royer 121 ribbon. No one who has used one can live without it.

A Shure SM-7. This can be a real problem-solver.

-k

http://kkantor.spaces.live.com

Member for

19 years 9 months

Davedog Fri, 02/09/2007 - 11:14
Its good that you have a plan of sorts and are interested in fleshing out the particulars.

A good way to go about this is to decide what tasks you might be confronted with and , worstcase sceneario, how you would deal with them.

Lets start with the case of drums being recorded. These generally take the most mics as far as numbers but generally can be done for the least amount of outlay per piece.

Since you already have 2 SM57's and 2 SM58's you have the ability to do a snare and at least three toms. Now ,granted, there will be discussion on there being better mics for this, trust me when I say you can produce excellent results for these drums with what you have bearing in mind mic placement techniques and become an expert on the tuning of a drum kit. More studio owners would se their budgets shrink in this area and their results multiply simply by learning.

You will need a kick drum mic.

Here's where selection is both a blessing and a curse. There are GREAT kick drum mics available for not a lot of cash. Unfortunately some of these have one function only. This is where you look to the future of your business and try to project what style of projects you may possibly attract. If you arent going to be doing a LOT of metal or doom type rock, then the best choice for you in kick mics is the EV RE20. Not only is it a fine mic for kick, its also the defacto horn mic as well as one of the best voiceover mics in the world. Its also a mic that for some singing voices, no condenser is going to give you what it will.

Then we need to discuss the overhead mics for the drumkit.

Again, so subjective and everyone has an opinion that will work.

But we're talking budget here. You have a fine mic in the 4050. Another one will give you the ability to do MANY recording techniques due to the multiple patterns and the fact that this particular mic has such a nice sound and all the patterns are tight and focused. Two of these as overheads on a kit and you're done.

However.....The need for a small diaphram condenser then becomes the question. SM81's are one of my favorites and they give you something for acoustic instruments in the process. There are so many SDC mics out there that some quality to them that it would take three pages to go through them all.

For versatility, I would, with that budget, get another 4050, 2 SM81's an EV RE20 and 2 Sennheiser 421's. A bigtime condenser is not necessarily the beall doall mic even though the Soundelux is one of my personal favorites.
In all of this you have a street of around $2200. Looking used and being a smart shopper puts this lower. You have a mic closet that is both versatile and quality. Enough left in the budget for quality stands,cables, any clips you might need and not get with a used unit, and enough left over for a nice 8 channel mic pre for the drums.

Stayaway from Focurite platinum series. True systems is nice on drums or even the new Mackie Onyx.

Realize that all these could be replaced with something else and do the job. These are simply industry standard stuff. These mics didnt become industry standard because they look cool.

Member for

21 years

Member Fri, 02/09/2007 - 22:41
Davedog wrote:

For versatility, I would, with that budget, get another 4050, 2 SM81's an EV RE20 and 2 Sennheiser 421's. A bigtime condenser is not necessarily the beall doall mic even though the Soundelux is one of my personal favorites.

In all of this you have a street of around $2200.


Thanks for that informative reply. The more that I think of it, the more pleased I am, because you just shaved about $1,000 off my budget which I can now use for mic stands which I didnt really factor in before..

I suppose I can do without the Soundelux U195... at least for now. The AT 4050 has served me well, so I suppose I can just get another one of those as you suggested.


Whats the primary difference between small condensers versus large condensers? Are small condensors mainly or almost exclusively for instruments because they have a higher frequency response and can also handle higher SPL's so you can stick them very close to loud sources (in front of guitar amps, etc,..)? ... and large diaphragms are mainly for voice?

Member for

21 years

Member Sat, 02/10/2007 - 02:08
I definitely have no good experience with mics and that's why i had quite a hard time when i needed to buy one for vocal recordings mainly.

I was searching around and reading everything possible about mics on the higher range($1000 and more). Finally i decided to risk and buy the recently presented at the market(at that time) M-Audio Sputnik. I was very concerned about it since M-Audio has no mentionable background in mics, especially in higher quality ones.

The Sputnik turned out to be at least great. It records perfectly and with great quality. A few more reviews are out there now and they all agree that it's a superb tube mic for the money, being able to record every source with amazing results.

The suggested retail price is $699, and i think it's worth giving it a thought.

Regards,
Alex.

Member for

15 years 5 months

BobRogers Sat, 02/10/2007 - 07:54
I think Dave's suggestions are excellent. Using the EV RE20 for kick is a great idea. The one question I have for Dave: how would you distribute the two 57s, two 58s, and two 421s on a standard five piece drum set? Is it preferable at all to use the same mic on all 3 toms?

My one additional suggestion to what Dave said (speaking more as a pilgrim than a guru) would be to keep your eye open to pick up a few more 57s to replace the nameless mics. Might not be the right move on this initial purchase, but if you are recording full bands there will be situations that call for a lot of mics and another 57 is always nice to have.

Member for

15 years 5 months

BobRogers Sat, 02/10/2007 - 08:07
I think Dave's suggestions are excellent. Using the EV RE20 for kick is a great idea. The one question I have for Dave: how would you distribute the two 57s, two 58s, and two 421s on a standard five piece drum set? Is it preferable at all to use the same mic on all 3 toms?

My one additional suggestion to what Dave said (speaking more as a pilgrim than a guru) would be to keep your eye open to pick up a few more 57s to replace the nameless mics. Might not be the right move on this initial purchase, but if you are recording full bands there will be situations that call for a lot of mics and another 57 is always nice to have.

Member for

19 years 9 months

Davedog Sat, 02/10/2007 - 12:39
Mises wrote: [quote=Davedog]

For versatility, I would, with that budget, get another 4050, 2 SM81's an EV RE20 and 2 Sennheiser 421's. A bigtime condenser is not necessarily the beall doall mic even though the Soundelux is one of my personal favorites.

In all of this you have a street of around $2200.[/quote


Whats the primary difference between small condensers versus large condensers? Are small condensors mainly or almost exclusively for instruments because they have a higher frequency response and can also handle higher SPL's so you can stick them very close to loud sources (in front of guitar amps, etc,..)? ... and large diaphragms are mainly for voice?

SDC mics are not exclusive to any particular source nor are LDC's. What SDC's do that, for the most part, LDCs' cannot do, is have a tighter pattern for particular sources. An acoustic guitar , for example, has so many frequencies resonating from the top that even the slightest movement of a mic can completely change the sound. An SDC used in this case would allow the recordist to narrow the point of focus and isolate a particular sound for the needs of the song. An LDC , while having a 'larger' sound (very relative BTW) would tend to add the room into this equation. Sometimes this is a good and wanted thing....other times not so much.

I generally record my acoustic guitars with both as well as a room mic for size. I dont always use all these sounds at the mix but it gives me options.

This same situation is true for drum overheads. In an untreated room, a pair of LDCs in the overhead position would allow all sorts of anomolies associated with the room to fool with the sound. Thus, a pair of SDCs would tend to eliminate SOME of these problems though not all. Certainly to a more managable level.

As for SDC's and vocals, heres a real time experience secret. With the factory windscreen in place, an SM81 is one of the finest sounding vocal mics there is. Those of you who have one with the screen and have never put one up should try it. It may not be right for the vocalist at hand.....a lot of mics can claim this....but it'll not sound bad because of the mic.

And to Bobs question.. Two 57's and two 58's as well as two 421's for a drum kit gives you an immense variety of selections for the drumkit at hand. I would start with a 57 on the snare. In my room that is the defacto mic with Audix D series as second choices and ADK SDC's as thirds. If its a particularly difficult snare I'll borrow a friends Beyer 201 and be done with it. In this case the 57 OR a 421 on the snare will work wonders. The 421 being a little more difficult to place simply because of its size. I would have the 421's, however, slated for the toms. Any extra toms could be mic'd with the remaining 58's and this leaves a 57 for a guitar amp. This is only if you are doing the entire band all at once.

I do this, but usually replace tracks once the 'feel' is in place through recording everyone together. This includes a scratch guide vocal. He has OM5 Audixs' which are hypercardioid and perfect for this task.

I will also itterate the importance of leakage control in an all-in-one recording situation. Booths, goboes, plexi barriers, packing quilts, anything to dampen the travel of the instruments to other open mics will help tremendously. Knowing your mic's polar patterns helps here as your placement becomes one of not only capturing what you put it on, but also placing it in a way as to use its null to reject other instruments in the room. Some bleed will always be present, but if its done properly can be simply something to enhance the recordings' realism rather than being a detriment to its quality.

Member for

17 years 6 months

Cucco Sun, 02/11/2007 - 06:19
Dave's advice is good.

Here's another perspective.

The U195, to me, is one of the greatest values in microphones in history! It's wonderful as a vocal mic for both male and female. It is THE perfect kick drum mic (seriously!!! The best sounds I EVER got on kick were with the U195 about 8 inches in front of the resonant head). As a stereo pair, they would be AWESOME on piano.

The Beyer M130s and 160s are also a GREAT addition. One of my favorite drum mic setups has been M130/160 M/S pair in front of the kit and the U195 on kick. Sounds awesome!

If you were to get the M130/M160 and the U195, you're gonna want a "bright" microphone too. The Beyers are a tad "rolled-off" and the U195 is flat as my sister-in-laws chest...(mesquito bites only...)

A Blue Baby Bottle or BlueBird would be a good addition to that combo as both of those have a rather clear top end with a slight bump.

Another mic you might want to consider for a SDC would be the MBHO 440. It's about the same price as the Shure but it sounds as good (or almost as good) as a pair of Schoeps. Forget those "imitation" schoeps, the MBHO is almost the real thing.

And as Dave says - you CAN use a SDC for vocals. It's not all that common, but it does work. It usually is for back-up vocals or non-screamers, but it works.

Oh...and of course, the dynamics mentioned already are no-brainers! Every closet should have some standard dynamics.

Cheers and good luck!

J.

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