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I'm planning to venture into the world of sound engineering on a purely amateur basis and I'd like to have a starting point.

I play classical violin and a bit of electric blues guitar but I can predict that most of my recordings will be acoustic.

I'm on a low budget and I plan to record using a computer (USB preamp interface and Adobe Audition software...unless someone suggests otherwise).

When I went to a pro recording studio last summer, the engineer told me that price does not eqaul quality when buying preamps and mics. if this is true, can someone here reccommend decent budget priced mics or preamps? Also, I'm not sure if Adobe Audition would be an idea programs to start with.


anonymous Tue, 11/07/2006 - 09:21


[I'm still a beginner, so I don't know it all, but I have been through all this myself in the last couple of years]

I would start simple.
Because it takes some experience to understand what YOU want/need.

The first question is: how many channels would you like to record in one go?

Because of budget I would think 2 or 4
Get yourself for example (no experience myself) a m-audio usb soundcard
It comes with some kind of recording software, learn it.
Get yourself a pair of small diaphradm condensers (I use: Oktava MK012-06), even Behringer would do while you're still learning.
A couple of dynamic mics, f.e. shure sm57
Some sort of playback system (your hifi may do for now)
And then ofcourse cables and stands

Get everything of ebay or something similar

Start reading and practicing
f.e. mics_for_music_studio.pdf from the shure site

Everything will ofcourse be less then ideal at first, but that shouldn't stop you.

If you want 10 channels (and some experience of me) then this may be informative
(Dead Link Removed)

And most of all:
Have fun


anonymous Tue, 11/07/2006 - 14:20

thnx for the advice...and yes, I am looking at 2channel recording (I'm not going to be a serious recording engineer....just need something to record with).

I have an idea of how to setup a simple computer recording setup with a USB preamp and two mics. I've been looking at the M-Audio Fast Track Pro and Alesis IO preamps (both are 2-channel preamps that record at up to 24bit and 96khz).

My concern is not the setup...I just dont want to buy preamps and mics that don't suit my purposes, which is to recording acoustic music.

anonymous Tue, 11/07/2006 - 15:24

Ah, ok

both usb soundcards have built in mic preamps + 48V phantom power (?)
then any of them would be fine, check their forums for possible technical issues (drivers, compatability)

if you're only recording accoustics then I'd go for condensers
which leaves the choices of large diaphragm vs small
and types of polar pattern.

If you're also planning to record chamber music or small orchestra's in a decent to good sounding room:
I'd go for small condensers with multiple polar patterns (again, I like the Oktava's)

For small spaces without a decent room sound, you'd have to close mic the instrument (that's a mortal sin on the accoustics forum, check out the other forums) I have absolutely no idea how this can be best accomplished.


RemyRAD Tue, 11/07/2006 - 16:41

BuzzLiteBeer! You have been given some excellent advice by some of our better informed newbies.

I know you think you don't need more than 2 microphone inputs but in fact, you'll probably find, in a short period of time, that you want at least 2 more inputs. And then two more inputs followed by two more inputs. Forget about the other two more inputs as you probably won't need those until Friday?

A couple of general-purpose Shure SM58/57/56 (all the same capsules) are a wise investment. They are good on everything including the things you think that they're not good for. And although condenser microphones both large and small capsules are also good to possess, you may want to look into some of the new Cascade Ribbon microphones that are being advertised here on for $159 each! Nothing will sound nicer on your violin than a ribbon microphone but they are fragile and you should never blow into one when testing it as they can be destroyed by wind and so should never be used outside or in a windy environment. They are just luscious and smooth and will highly complimented any violin.

Highly experienced Ribbon lover
Ms. Remy Ann David

anonymous Tue, 11/07/2006 - 19:58

My first recording was with a ribbon mic, but the tech told me that although they are great on strings and acoustics, they can cost alot....I guess budget ribs exist...thnx for the advice and heads up.

I've also looked into those Oktava MK012's and they seem to be somewhat rare. They dont seem hard to get, but it took a lot of searching. I found factory matched small diaphram condenser MK012 for 375 bucks....not sure if I should go with this or with two ribbons mics.

JoeH Tue, 11/07/2006 - 20:48

I suggest this to everyone just starting out and looking for a couple of good cheap mics: Get the SP C4's. They're sold in pairs, and they each come with a cardioid and omni capsule. (So nice, you can almost buy two sets of them.) I think they're up to about $350 for a pair now; they USED to be about $289 or so at most wholesale houses.)

for a starter pair of condenser mics - plus the interchangeable capsules, you can't find a better deal to start out.

Simmosonic Fri, 11/10/2006 - 01:31

BuzzLiteBeer wrote: When I went to a pro recording studio last summer, the engineer told me that price does not eqaul quality when buying preamps and mics....if this is true, can someone here reccommend decent budget priced mics or preamps?

I just felt the urge to chime in here with a different perspective...

Firstly, I take issue with the broadly dismissive and generalised comment that "price does not equal quality". In my experience, it usually does - ESPECIALLY with microphones. You can get good stuff for low price, but you can get *much* better stuff for more money.

When I hear that kind of comment being made, it is *usually* being said by some condescending engineer who can't be bothered offering any real help. Or, it is coming from an engineer who has tried to offer some genuine advice but it has fallen on deaf ears because the person asking the questions just wants to be assured that they will be okay with cheaper stuff. (I'm not saying that this applies to you or your engineering friend, by the way, I'm just countering a generalisation with a generalisation.)

Having said that, you must also put such comments in perspective. An experienced engineer can probably get a better result from a cheap microphone than an inexperienced engineer...

And also, it is important to consider what kind of sound/music that engineer records and its relevance to your situation; i.e. there is little point asking a pop/rock close-miking multitrack studio engineer for advice regarding recording chamber music direct-to-stereo.

Secondly, if you want to keep it simple to start out with, I'd suggest something like the Rode NT4 stereo XY cardioid microphone. A good starting point...