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When do you buy two of the same mics?

I'm trying to figure this out: When you guys buy mics, when do you buy a pair, matched or otherwise, and when do you buy only a single mic. From what I've read, I understand it's great to have a pair of mics for overheads, but is it better to make sure you have two of a mic to begin with just incase?

Are there times where it is better to just buy a single mic? (Other than financial reasons, obviously)

Are there certain mics that you only need one of? For example, if I were to buy a U47 or another expensive LDC, why would I want/need a pair?

I'm trying to figure out if I need to buy two of every mic I ever get, or if it's just a waste of time and money. When do I need to buy two and when do I only need to get one?

Thanks for the help - I hope this makes sense, too. I tried searching for this in the archives, but trying to figure out what to ask the computer isn't always the easiest. ;)


p.s. - I really don't need to start a whole flame war on whether you need a matched pair, et. al. I just mean two of the same mic - plain and simple. Thanks again.


John Stafford Thu, 10/07/2004 - 22:01
Hi Jean-Pierre.

M/S is fairly easy to set up in a Daw, provided you can put tracks out of phase in your software. I use Sonar, but I'm sure most other programs will allow you to do this.

In M/S you add the signals of both mics, and pan the result to one side. For the other channel, you subtract the figure 8 mic signal from the cardioid and pan the result to the other side. Subtracting a signal is the same as adding a signal with its phase inverted. So you send:

Cardioid + fig8 to one side, and
Cardioid + inverted fig8 to the other.

It's not necessary to use a cardioid by the way. You can replace it with an omni.

One of the greatest advantages is that you can change the image width by changng the cardioid level as you mix.

John Stafford

Member Mon, 10/04/2004 - 18:36
Hello JP.

Perfectly valid question.
It all depends on what you want to do with the mic(s).
If you are going to use them as overheads to mic a drum set, it is always best to get a matched pair.
If you can afford to get two, get two. But most of us can't afford to have two of everything. There are some mics that having one of is great to use on vocals, because they have a distinctive character to their sound and you can add more colors to your pallate.
You generally will want a few of the same kind of dynamic mics that are standards, such as SM58s, and 57s. These are "workhorse mics, and most any record you buy today will have been recorded at least partially with these mics.

I also like to have small-diaphragm condensers in pairs.

Depending on what your demands are, what you are recording and how you want to record it, your need for pairs of mics will vary.
If you are simply recording mostly your music, I would say to get a pair of small-diaphragm condensers, a pair of large-diaphragm condensers, a pair of 57s (or two pair), and a pair of 58s. This should cover you quite nicely as far as "pairs" go, unless you regularly record drums.

Then if you want other mics for their signature sound, you can just buy them one at a time. Of course you'll need a kick mic, and other "specialty" mics depending on what you are recording, but if you have the above mics, you'll be pretty well equipped to record in style.

Member Tue, 10/05/2004 - 06:03
Cool. Thanks for the answer Chris. Does anyone else have any other advice on this?

Also, I've seen people talk about using things like U87's and 414's on drum overheads. How do you choose a LDC for overheads, to buy it I mean? Is there a reason people don't use U47's on overheads?

I'll be recording both myself, and some bands, mostly worship but also straight up rock.

Thanks again for the help.


Cucco Tue, 10/05/2004 - 07:02
I'd like to echo what Chris said and add a little.

Whenever possible, I try to budget to by a matched pair of mics with every mic purchase. Sometimes this isn't practical or even necessary. (Such as the AKG D112) All of my small diaphragm condensers are matched pairs, except for the Oktava MK012. (I have 5 of those - why not, they're so friggin cheap!) Many of my large diaphragms in pairs too.

My reasoning is quite simple. I primarily record classical music and just about everything in classical is done in stereo pairs. Also, when I'm doing a choral/orchestra piece such as Mahler 2 or Beethoven 9 and there are multiple soloists, it helps when you have, say the two sopranos, singing into similar or identical sounding mics.

I find that this is a pretty expensive approach at purchasing microphones and when I do record rock bands, I very rarely think "gosh, I wish I had a matched pair here!" The exception to that is of course over head on the trap set. (Which is almost always done with small diaphragm.) If someone is using U87s as drum overheads, I'd like to borrow some money from them - they obviously have some to throw around.

The reason that SDs are used for drum overheads is that, as a general rule, SD mics are more accurate across the sound spectrum and do not exhibit the same frequency anomolies as LD mics. I personally use a pair of Schoeps omni mics as overheads on drums, mainly becuase I often find with omnis that I don't need to mic each individual piece to get great sound. However, I have been known to switch to a pair of Audix or AKG SD cardioids for the same application.

So, to sum up, no, if you are recording rock/worship, you probably don't need to get mic pairs everytime you purchase. If you are doing classical, yep, you do. Know the music you are recording, buy the mics that will work for the job and get a couple extras so that you can experiment or grow if you need to.

I know everyone here loves the SM57 (and rightly so) but try the Audix OM2 also. It's the same price and sounds excellent - very versatile mic with a different flavor than shure.


Member Tue, 10/05/2004 - 08:15
J, thanks for the input. I appreciate it. This makes it easier to look at what to buy. I was looking at things, thinking it should be better to buy two of each. When I looked at how the prices jump and how few mics you get for the same money, it just becomes too difficult for someone starting out.

Thanks again for the help. :)


John Stafford Thu, 10/07/2004 - 00:05
Don't forget about recording using M/S. You can do good stereo recordings using unmatched mics if one of them has a decent Figure 8 pattern. If the mics are very different, it's quite hard to predict the results though! The small diaphragm AKG Blue Line fig 8 capsule apparently works quite well when paired with some large diaphragm cardioids. I have found M/S very satisfactory in solving some problems I've encountered while recording double choirs.

John Stafford

Member Thu, 10/07/2004 - 07:24
Thanks for the idea, John. I've only ever used XY for overheads/stereo. I checked on the 'net about M/S, and what I found wasn't all that clear as to how to actually do it. From what I understand you take a Cardioid mic, place a Figure-8 underneath it (?) and then run them both into the preamp and then through a "matrix decoder." Does this sound right?

What is the "matrix decoder" and where do I get it? I found AEA has one for sale ... if I'm recording into a DAW, do I need this external decoder, or should my software already have it built in?

Just a little mystified about this. Thanks again for the help.