I would recommend used AKG 451s, which you can find on eBay for under $800. Also, you might look at Studio Projects C4s which are less expensive. I know Kurt Foster has been checking out a pair, including comparisons to the 451s. David
I like the AKG 451s. Always have. I own a matched pair of these that are originally from ORTF (French Radio). I also have a couple other variants of this mic. I recommend that you try to find a used pair of the vintage "originals" or their variants, like the C451LB. These are true condensers while the new reissues are an electret design.
Also of interest is the AKG C460. These are quite a bit warmer than the 451. I have a pair that I use for o.h.'s all the time with success. These are no longer in production so you will have to find a pair used.
My preliminary impression of the STUDIO PROJECTS C4 is very favorable. They compare well to the 451. I feel these mics present the home recordist with a good value, in that they come as a pair with a wonderful hard case, shock mounts and interchangeable omni and cardioid capsules. At $400, this is a product that is hard to beat from a company that is responsive to its customers. Even though these mics are aimed at the "prosumer" market, they are finding their way into pro rooms around the world. An absolute "best value". Kurt
Do you have an opinion in regards to C4's vs. 4041's?
>>My preliminary impression of the STUDIO PROJECTS C4 is very favorable. They compare well to the 451. <<
Are you referring to the original as in warmer than the new 451B's?
I have never used or heard the AT 4041 that I know of. I will say that every mic I have used that was from Audio Technica was exceptional in both build and sound quality. They also have very good customer service. I am a fan of the 4033 and the Pro 35 clip on drum mics.
I was referring to an original pair of C451's. I have not heard the new ones, I am relateing info I have read in product overviews of the newer ones. The only comment I made was that the new ones are of the electret design rather than a true condenser. I feel this is a significant difference.
I also said that the AKG C460 was warmer in comparison than the C451. The SP C4s are not as warm as the 460s in my judgment. There will be a full review of the SP C4s, with audio comparisons to the AKG C451 posted soon.
I know it's over your budget by $150 or so but do consider the Josephson C42 pair. I played with the C42 idea here a long time and almost bought it but went up price range and got the Gefell M300 but thats way over your price range. Dang it was a hard choice to give up that much money for a pair of either mics so I know how you feel.
Someone linked you to another thread and in that thread a post suggested AT 4033. I've had a pair of those here for some time and they've been almost as universal as the SM57 for me. They've performed well on everything I've throwed at them but they are not a magic mic just versitle.
I've been extremely impressed with the Josephson C42's. But for me, any random mic I could get by throwing a dart at a mic catalogue will probably sound significantly better than the C1000 to my ears, so it is sort of a no-lose situation no matter what you decide.
All of the above have their merits and should be looked at...You should also try an ADK SC-T...This is a Small D true condenser that @ less than $300 street price will sound every bit as good as many of the mics mentioned...I own a pair of the little brother mic to the SC-t's and have not been disappointed at all...Plus I've had the pleasure of a matched pair of older 451's the last month or so.While the 451's are exceptional in every way, the ADK's have more than held their own.They have simply become a different flavour dujour.