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Hey everyone, I've been looking to upgrade from a good to a great vocal mic that doesn't break the bank. I've been wanting a tube mic but I haven't found a good one for under $500. Any suggestions?


Davedog Mon, 03/19/2012 - 16:04

I'm not sure you will.

I could go on and on about how the quality of a mic for a specific voice cant be measured by price or even by specs. I could talk for an hour about the only person being able to make this decision would be the user in their own room doing their own music or whatever it is they're doing with a mic. I could point out how the acoustics in an environment have a direct effect on the overall sound of a source and how this is translated by the equipment being used. There's the four page dissertation on the signal chain and how its effected by the source. And then there's the inevitable questions about style of music, type of voice, whether or not the mic will be needed for other types of sources, why a certain type of mic might work better in one environment than another, discussions of the reasoning of choosing a tube mic instead of an FET condenser as opposed to a dynamic or a ribbon....etc etc etc....

But you dont really want to hear all that do you? It might help you in making an expensive decision.......

And another point is this......."good" and "great" are relative terms and can be speculative at best and as varied as the number of people and their experiences. AND, "breaking the bank" is different for anyone reading this.

So consider these points and hopefully use them as a guide to describing your real needs. I'm sure than someone can answer your questions and make responsible recommendations based on more information than what you have provided.

Davedog Tue, 03/20/2012 - 16:33

Vanityxstrikes, post: 386704 wrote: Hmm... Touché sir. I appreciate the reply but I'll try and generalize the question a little more. Could someone, from experience, tell me any vocal/general purpose condenser mic under $500 that they would personally suggest to someone browsing around?

Absolutely. ADK Vienna/ Hamburg II's. All the Avantone line. The Miktek C7 is a bit more money but worth the extra. Dave Thomas at Advanced Audio knows a bit about mics and sells his line direct. I havent used any of them but the reviews are very very good. Right in your budget. Over the years the QC at Octava has gotten much better and a bit more trustworthy as to what you're going to get out of the box. The MK319 is a very good sounding mic.

The reason I choose to shill these particular mics rather than one of the myriad of bigbox company mics is because these all have a certain build quality to them and performance to match. You wont find any really hyped high-end that sounds nice and crisp in gittargets room but sounds like crap at home, you wont find any loose parts floating around inside a mic, and the service is second to none with these builders.

There are used mics that can be had at your price point. If you are patient you might be able to score an AKG 414 B/ULS. Perhaps a Groovetubes GT67. Theres always the possibility of a used Shure KSM44 at that price and for sure (see what I did!) a KSM32 which is one of the best utility mics made.

All of these mics are staples in many studios and will enhance any source you apply them to.

But. Like any mic for vocals, this is a very very personal choice and must be made with auditioning in your room with your gear in order to make the correct choice.

RemyRAD Wed, 03/21/2012 - 20:30

I'm a little concerned by this question you're asking. Dave is one of our best guys here. I am as are others. You're taking a peculiar stance in your request. Just give me the gold record already dammit! Here's my $500! I want the best! Yeah? Really? I could assume something nasty but I'll ask where do you plan to stick this microphone? Now the reason for that STUPID question is because... I'm a smartass and I'm wondering whether this guy is asking about a USB microphone or just a microphone to begin with? Obviously, he thinks he wants a condenser thingy, CUZ they all cost more than those cheap PA thingies which you can't plug into a computer any which way CUZ they put the wrong plug thingy on it. So instead, if you blow your nose and sit down, we might be able to help you better.

AKG 214, there, does that help?
Mx. Remy Ann David

RemyRAD Thu, 03/22/2012 - 13:04

Phil, rent to own? 1/10 of a Neumann? I think my brain damage is preventing some kind of synapse connection problem here? This guy doesn't seem to be particularly articulate other than the fact that he wanna have it. Sounds like mostly he's barking at us to provide him with a microphone? I can rest assured you are not a customer here sir. You could simply open up a catalog and look at microphones in your price range. There is no "Best". It's all in what kind of color socks you want to wear today. And we can't make that decision for you. We don't just all have a single microphone, we have tons of them. Each one different and each one special and each one gets used in the applications we feel best to use them in. We don't put microphones on voices are instruments thinking, " I have to use my most expensive microphone for this thing ". We don't think that way or like that. Sometimes that $100 microphone can far outperform and outshine a $3300 microphone. So how do you make that decision? You listen that's how. You can't listen to anything because you don't have anything and you haven't shopped for anything. So you are pissing into the wind. I indicated AKG 214. Quality reputation, quality manufactured, a staple of the industry and in your price range. But unless you have a proper microphone interface in which to plug that into, you're going to have to acquire that also. Conversely, a USB microphone may be your best option and you will find those generally less expensive than what your stated budget is. You have given us no information as to the application or usage of said microphone. Somehow I think you are incapable of articulating that? In fact I don't think we'll hear from you again? And that's because you didn't get your drive-through burger answer.

Phil is such a nice guy. Look at that picture... only a mother could love it.
Mx. Remy Ann David

soapfloats Tue, 05/01/2012 - 00:24

SM58. For value and versatility.
Yes, there are wonderful condensers you might get a sniff at in that price range. But no guarantee they'd be better than the 58.
I actually use my 421 for male vocals more (~$300 US). Sometimes a 414 and sometimes a ribbon.
Which is better? It depends. On everything - the song, the singer, the room.

I think both Remy and Dave would agree with that notion. After all, I arrived at that approach from listening to them (and others here) and listening to my mics.
And most importantly, doing it.
Ever done a DIY cheap fix that worked better than the expensive box product? Much the same.
Not to say you might get better results with a U87. But you'll never get those results until you learn how to get the best of an SM58.

Learn to use the tools you have / can afford before getting more tools.
I love tools, but also understand I have no business operating a bulldozer. So I use my shovel, and a lot of sweat.
But I still sometimes wish I had a bulldozer...


My $0.02...

Nutti Wed, 07/04/2012 - 07:28

I've got a buget studio myself, and I figured to get many different mics instead of getting one expensive one. eg. I got an oktava ml52, a behringer b1 and a behringer b2 pro. With those mics I have one ribbon and two condensers witch are very different in sound. For guitar amps I also got an audio technica mb 2k and a t.bone mb75. With all these mics I can get great soundcombinations to mix them later togeather as one.

If you get one mic, you just got one choise and as many has said before: sometimes a cheap mic can sound better than a expensive one for a specific vocal performer.

Anyways, personally I'm saving up for the Rode N2-A seems to be a somewhat decent mic at a decent price.

dj sym Sat, 01/12/2013 - 20:45

Sometimes, people don't know enough to be able to ask appropriate questions. I would say the response to Dave's (Hi Dave! I love your input!) initial response rather begged for Remy's. But I think maybe the op was looking for a a starting point from which to proceed through trials and research. And many people do argue to start with the mic. And with your second comment, again Dave, much appreciated. I'm not quite as much of a beginner as the op, but for all us n00bs, you gave a relatively safe starting point from which to branch out. I actually started with a usb mic because I only had a laptop. Then found out why that wasn't a great idea. Still got a MXL V88 simply because it looked nice and had some interesting sales pitch. Eventually built up to what I think is a decent setup to really get started and will use that mic for all it's worth while adding more responsible choices as finances allow.

OtherExacerbater Wed, 07/10/2013 - 13:26

For just an experience based answer in have heard alot of good recording using the AT4040, on the cheap cheap look for an MXL9090 its essentially the colorless v67i with headbasket mod already, i never liked the mxlv69 tube but the newer v69xm is much nicer. For alot of my vocals especially male vocalists or hip hop/rap/rock i love my re-20 and you can never go wrong with an sm7b if you have enough gain for it. Most other low end mics are too skewed or have harsh top ends from cheap parts. If you like ribbons my favs i've used under the $500 mark are the beyerdynamic m160, golden age r1 mk3, and the shinybox 46u. at the end of the day the search function or google can be helpful as this has been discussed 10,00 times before

Matt Hepworth Sat, 07/13/2013 - 20:06

The AT4040 is a very safe mic, but...

Under $500 you'd be THRILLED with an AM62. They were around $2k, but have no resale value. I've owned 4. Still have 2. GT67 was a successor, but a bit bright.

C414ULS would be my second choice.

SM7 would be my fourth (behind the AT4040).

A Neumann TLM103 for under $500 would maybe be my 7th or 8th choice.

I have tens of thousands invested in mics and have experience with all the mics in this post.