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Help! Recommendations on buying a new mic

Hey everyone,
I've been searching around a bit wanting to buy a new microphone, but I'm on a very tight budget. So far I've only recorded with mics that are around the $100 and down range. I've gotten some pretty good results with these mics. I've used a VERY cheap mic for almost all my recordings for the last few years and have learned to get good results. The one mic I own at the moment is a cheap dynamic, and I feel I've learned this mic well and it's time to add another to my setup and do some more learning. I believe that if I can learn to make great recordings and mixes on cheap gear, that when I'm able to take a step up gear-wise, it'll sound even better because I've learned and practiced with lesser quality tools. If I've learned to make beautiful paintings with old paint and "bad" brushes, than I should be able to make gorgouse breath-taking paintings with better paint and well crafted brushes. Just an opinion, you're welcome to disagree with me here, but I've been convinced that the tools you own aren't always the most key component to making something beautiful. They sure can help, but they may not be vital all the time.
So, I'm on a tight budget of about $150. I know I'll get a lot of laughs here. To make you laugh even more, I'll just be completely honest with you. The $150 is on Guitar Center gift cards I've saved up. I'm a 19 year old finishing high school, have a LOT on my plate, and won't be able to have enough time to hold a good job 'till after graduating. I'm just looking to learn some more skills in the studio and think a new mic would help me in the learning process of capturing great music. I know this probably sounds pretty silly to some of you guys with $1,000s of gear, but hey, you don't normally start real big. I'm willing to work from the ground up, and if I do that by making baby steps, then so be it. :)
Anyway, any suggestions on a good mic to buy at this point in that price range? I'm thinking a condensor would be a good choice since it will be mainly for studio recording. I've found that buying a mic used from Guitar Center can give you a great bargain. Some mics normally costing $200-250 will be $100-150 or less used in good working condition. I guess people might be uneasy about buying a used mic, thus the giant price drops? Anyway, some mics I'm considering: AT2020, RODE NT1A, sE Electronics sE X1, Blue Spark
I'm leaning towards the RODE NT1A. My trouble is that I can't test them out myself. If any of you own one of these and can honestly recommend it, go right ahead. Any help here is greatly welcomed and appreciated! Thank you!
- Jeremy

Comments

paulears Sun, 03/20/2016 - 01:46
Your analogy to good tools is quite correct, but remember the old adage " a bad workman blames his tools". I'm old, and have a very full mic box, but in it I also have many excellent mics that I bought, thinking I'd use them. The NT1 is actually a very decent and useful mic, and somewhere, I have a pair. I don't think I have used them for ten years. Nothing wrong with them, but I started using something else I liked better.

In your case, you have some mics that are cheaper. What do they do badly? Guitar centre, like most big stores cater for the masses, and the staff often are only a bit less green than you, so their recommendations are suspect. Not always, but sadly often. If you need a large diaphragm mic, the NT1 will do the job, but much of what it does really well, needs two of them - as in stereo pairs. One means vocals, or perhaps slapping on a sax, whatever your music needs. Sometimes you will still need your older, cheaper ones. If you said I want to buy a mic for vocal recording, in the studio, I'm sure it will do a great job. It's not a real all rounder, like a 57, that does a reasonable job on almost everything. If you are into acoustic guitars, or percussion, or maybe you record frequently a female with a high thin voice, the NT1 might not be the one for you?

What's your usage going to be? That's the key here.

DonnyThompson Sun, 03/20/2016 - 02:14
Jeremy Dean, post: 437224, member: 49624 wrote: pretty silly to some of you guys with $1,000s of gear, but hey, you don't normally start real big.

No one, or maybe I should say hardly anyone, started out with a Neve and a Neumann U87. I started out in '76 with a Biamp 6 channel PA mixer, a 4 track reel to reel Dokorder, an SM 57, and a pair of Realistic Headphones. The fact that you are doing it is what is most important. The more you do it, the more your ears will become trained to listen for certain nuances and tones, and the more you can recognize where you need to improve. There's not a thing wrong with using a 57 or a 58; especially if you are in a space that is highly reflective, because the dynamics won't be as sensitive to those reflections as condensers will. OTOH, you've said that you have built yourself a small vocal "tent", and this will help to attenuate some of those upper frequency flutter echoes, so you might be in a position to try a condenser like the Rode. If I had to choose, I'd pick it over the AT2020. I can't comment on the SE, as I've never used it.

Tony Carpenter Sun, 03/20/2016 - 02:38
I'm also going to give a plus one for Rode mics. You really can't go wrong with the right one for a job. It's a great starting point for a less expensive condensor mic.

Also FYI, I recently sold a lot of my gear on eBay including a hardly used baby blue bottle. If someone has a good rating on eBay very good chance you'll do fine.

Tony

Sean G Sun, 03/20/2016 - 16:22
Makzimia, post: 437238, member: 48344 wrote: Also FYI, I recently sold a lot of my gear on eBay including a hardly used baby blue bottle. If someone has a good rating on eBay very good chance you'll do fine

I agree with you Tony, I purchased my NT2A from a dealer on Ebay, there are quite a few who do the Rode mics new, unopened in the box and they are pretty competitive on the pricing. I picked mine up off the Australian Ebay site here (just add .au at the end) and with the conversion at around .75 cents USD = $1 AUD Jeremy Dean you may save some money and still come out in front with the postage cost.

Rode mics are made here in Australia, so they all make the trip across the Pacific to the dealers in the US anyway.(y)

Jeremy Dean Sun, 03/20/2016 - 20:37
Thanks guys! Your comments should help me get moving in the right direction. I realized later after posting I left out some important info. I've recorded a pretty wide variety of things: acoustic guitars, electric guitars, pianos, drum kits, random percussion including household objects, male and female vocals, gang vocals, kids choirs, a whole lot of stuff. So, ideally it would be nice to have a very well-rounded mic that will do well with a lot of different intruments and people if that helps you guys any.

miyaru Mon, 03/21/2016 - 00:33
I'm on a tight budget too, as it is a pure sparetime thing for me. I haven choosen the NT1a from Rode to do the duties, and it serves me wel. You can get them in a package with a shockmount, plopfilter and a cable included. With this microphone you can't go wrong. I think it's clear and clean. It can stand up to lot of mics around, and is well build. It will be a big step up from your dynamic microphone, altough they can be good too.

Robin.

pcrecord Mon, 03/21/2016 - 06:43
Jeremy Dean, post: 437258, member: 49624 wrote: I've recorded a pretty wide variety of things: acoustic guitars, electric guitars, pianos, drum kits, random percussion including household objects, male and female vocals, gang vocals, kids choirs, a whole lot of stuff.
Most of those needs call for different mics.. it's very hard to have just one mic to do it all.
Altought I find the NT1a a bit harsh on the HF (depends on the preamp that will be used too) the NT1a is still a nice starter mic.

DonnyThompson Tue, 03/22/2016 - 00:53
Jeremy Dean, post: 437258, member: 49624 wrote: Thanks guys! Your comments should help me get moving in the right direction. I realized later after posting I left out some important info. I've recorded a pretty wide variety of things: acoustic guitars, electric guitars, pianos, drum kits, random percussion including household objects, male and female vocals, gang vocals, kids choirs, a whole lot of stuff. So, ideally it would be nice to have a very well-rounded mic that will do well with a lot of different intruments and people if that helps you guys any.


What preamp/I-O are you currently using?

Jeremy Dean Tue, 03/22/2016 - 19:44
Haha, here's another laugh for some of you guys. My "preamp" is a small Behringer sound board. Here's my recording signal path: Mic ----> Behringer sound board ----> simple Behringer interface ----> DAW. I've looked around at different preamps and it seems anything of decent quality is above my budget at the moment. Any advice on this is definitely welcome here as well.

pcrecord Wed, 03/23/2016 - 03:09
I guess a presonus or focusrite audio interface would have better preamps than your behringer mixer. It could be your next step.
Choosing an interface with digital inputs is a wise thing to do because you'll be ready for some future addition.
For exemple, I got the RME Fireface 800 used for under 1k. It has 4 preamps, and 8 input to converter. It also has Adat inputs that let me plug an 8 preamp/converter unit and a spdif input that I use for a highend converter used with my better external preamps.

It all depends where you want to go with recording in the future.
If recording a full band live is your goal, you'll need something like 16 input ch or more and an equal amount of mics.
If the maximum you will do is tracking a drum alone. You then need to match the mics and inputs to serve that purpose..

We all started somewhere. But if you want to make a bit of money to help you expend. You can aim for voice over and karaoke recording. With all the TV talent show, everyone dream of becoming a start if you advertise and offer a good quality to do this, you'll at least earn a bit of money ;)

My actual voice over chain is : Shure KSM44 /UA LA-610 / Mitek AD96 / RME FF800 / DAW
Depending on the type of voice I have a few mic alternative.

DonnyThompson Wed, 03/23/2016 - 03:10
Jeremy Dean, post: 437300, member: 49624 wrote: Haha, here's another laugh for some of you guys. My "preamp" is a small Behringer sound board. Here's my recording signal path: Mic ----> Behringer sound board ----> simple Behringer interface ----> DAW. I've looked around at different preamps and it seems anything of decent quality is above my budget at the moment. Any advice on this is definitely welcome here as well.

I think that in the hierarchy of the signal chain, your mic is what's most important, but followed in a very close second by your preamp.
So, you may want to gradually work towards improving that at some point. Actually, based on what I know about Behringer through experience working as a consultant to low budget home studios, you wouldn't have to spend all that much more money to get an improvement in your pre amp. Both Focusrite and Presonus offer budget pre's that - IMO - sound better than anything I've ever heard from Behringer. Now, of course, they won't sound like a Neve, or a Millennia, or a John Hardy... those are pro pre's and they sound pro.

But you can improve gradually, and I think you'd hear the difference between these two manufacturer's pre's and what you have now, especially if you end up improving your mic to something like a Rode:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Scarlett2i2/?adpos=1t1&creative=104219197201&device=c&matchtype=e&network=s&gclid=CNqGjZ7I1ssCFQUMaQodbKME7w

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AudioBoxiTwo

I think you've done well with what you have to work with so far. You may have reached the point now where you're going to start hearing the differences between what your level of sonics are, and those of better signal chains.

There's nothing wrong with starting out with budget gear, for several reasons, but if for no other than that doing so allows you to hone your listening skills to where you can start to hear the differences between what you have, and better signal chains.

FWIW

Jeremy Dean Wed, 03/23/2016 - 13:23
Ok, thanks for the advice! Very helpful info on the preamps as well. So as it stands now, I'm leaning toward listening to sample recordings online of some of the mics mentioned above on several sound sources and comparing them since I can't really try them out in person, and then pick the one most pleasing my ears. It seems the popular vote is for the NT1a, but when researching it about 30% of the reviews on it mention the HF being a bit harsh. I would hate to buy it and end up being in the same camp with that 30%.
Anyways, I'll most likely wait to get a new preamp, like one of those from PreSonus or Focusrite, until after choosing a mic. Seems right to make that my next step.

paulears Wed, 03/23/2016 - 15:23
Don't pay too much attention to reviews on microphones. I don't remember mine being harsh - that word I'd ascribe to things like AKG C1000's which I hate the sound of, yet despite continual bad press, and disparaging comments has been a decent seller for AKG for many years now. When Rode first appeared, many people ignored the fact that they were cheap and sounded good, and hunted for things to complain about. I wanted a more mellow sound, and when I bought some Oktava 319s, I stopped using the Rodes. Now I'm using brighter ones again, as my work has changed and perhaps my ears too as I've got older.

The Rodes are good microphones. In isolation, I'm sure you'd like them. Only when you buy more mics can you start to compare the tiny subtle stuff. Hunting for the Rodes today didn;t discovered them, but it did uncover all sorts of mics I'd forgotten about that over 20 years or so have been just stored. I've now got the Oktavas out again, and a pair of other LDCs I don't remember buying, a clip on sax mic and an AT cardioid lav that I've never seen before - so thanks for getting me moving.

kmetal Wed, 03/23/2016 - 19:15
+1 on the rode being harsh. I own one. The NT 1/2 are good mics. The "A" version are not the same mic, and sounds significantly cheaper. The AT 3035 is $60 used and cannot be beat in the sub $300 LDC category. A shure Sm-57 can also be had used for $60. 2 mics that are killer, can be had together, for half the price of a rode. ART makes good low priced pre amps also.

A couple of decent cables, and sturdy mic stands are also necessities. You don't need boutique level items, just don't get the bargain bin cables and stands and you'll likely get a lifetime from them.

paulears Thu, 03/24/2016 - 01:10
Indeed, but he has no cash, just vouchers for a particular outlet which means restricted range. This also shows how we all like what we like. I too like the AT, but sadly, it seems to live in my studio on a stand, never put away - but rarely used. Just not a favourite. That's the trouble with mics - so many excellent ones, few real dogs!

DonnyThompson Thu, 03/24/2016 - 02:42
Jeremy Dean, post: 437312, member: 49624 wrote: I'm leaning toward listening to sample recordings online of some of the mics mentioned above on several sound sources and comparing them since I can't really try them out in person, and then pick the one most pleasing my ears.

You can do that Jeremy, but... know that youtube vids of someone else singing through a mic isn't always an accurate indication of how good - or not good - a mic can sound, or will sound for you.

I wasn't aware of the newer Rode mics having a "harsh" edge, as I've only ever worked with the older original models... but, it may end up suiting your voice just fine.
Recommendations and suggestions from others are always good to at least consider, but at the end of the day, it's going to mostly depend on you and your voice.

Going with a trusted particular mic manufacturer can be helpful; but even that's not always a guarantee... as Paul mentioned:

paulears, post: 437313, member: 47782 wrote: harsh - that word I'd ascribe to things like AKG C1000's which I hate the sound of, yet despite continual bad press, and disparaging comments has been a decent seller for AKG for many years now.

I couldn't agree with Paul more about the C1000 - yet AKG also makes one of the best sounding and most popularly used condenser mics in the history of recording, the 414. You'd be hard-pressed to walk into any pro studio and not see at least 1 of those.
They're fantastic for nearly anything you could ever think of using one for... stellar on vocals, great as overhead or room mics, amps, acoustic instruments of all kinds, percussion rigs and drum overheads... there's very little you could throw at a 414 that wouldn't sound great sonically. But, they aren't cheap. So, perhaps you'd want to look at saving for one in the future.

Obviously, your budget is your constraint, as it is for so many who are starting out... and $150 won't take you very far in this craft, so I'm going to make a suggestion to you that my colleagues might not agree with, but based strictly on the money you have on credit right now at GC, here's what I would do if I were you:

Right now, you are using a Shure 588SDX, which is a cheaper "budget" version of a Shure SM57; it's not a very good sounding mic; and along with the Behringer preamp you are using, you've got a budget-sounding signal chain.
So for now, perhaps what you may want to do, is to pick up either a real SM57 or a 58, both are dynamic mics, both are built like tanks, and both are very good sounding mics for many applications...
You can find either or both in any pro studio. Beyond being respectable sounding for vocals, they're also both great for miking drums, guitar amps, and are also great for live performance.
And, in your case, using a good dynamic mic like a 57 or 58 might end up benefiting you at this point; as you've mentioned that you are recording in an untreated and reflective space, and because these two models are dynamic mics, they will be far less sensitive to picking up the sound of the room you are recording in than a condenser mic would. The downside, is that neither would be quite as sensitive to the sparkle and silk and other nuances of your acoustic guitar as a nice condenser mic would.. but, that's not to say that they would sound bad, either.

Then, as part two of this suggested plan, consider getting a single channel version of either the Focusrite Scarlett or the Presonus Audio Box...
If your Guitar Center credit is $150, you could get very close to being able to get both of these, with maybe another $50 (or so) out of pocket.
One other thing: Don't forget to ask your local GC if they have used versions of the gear you want in stock!

This is a store by store thing, and each store's used gear inventory is constantly changing, but I've seen "slightly" used 2 channel Focusrite 2i2's at my local GC for as little as $70.
Your store credit should apply to any GC, so don't hesitate to get online and check other GC locations to see if they might have used models of what you are looking for in stock.

Here are the two things at normal retail cost:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Shure/SM57-Instrument-Vocal-Mic.gc

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Focusrite/Scarlett-Solo-USB-Audio-Interface.gc

-------------------------------------------------

Here are some used deals I've found for you at various other GC locations...

Focusrite Scarlett single channel USB pre/interface, $69, Ft Wayne, IN location:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Focusrite/Scarlett-Solo-Audio-Interface-111941399.gc

Presonus 22VSL, 2 channel USB pre/interface, $59, Manchester, CT location:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/PreSonus/Audiobox-22VSL-Audio-Interface-111961519.gc

Shure SM57, $50, Plano TX location:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Shure/SM57LC-Dynamic-Microphone-111952195.gc

Shure SM58, $54, Scottsdale, AZ location:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Shure/SM58LC-Dynamic-Microphone-111861568.gc

Rode NT1A Condenser mic, $119, Buffalo, NY location:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Rode-Microphones/NT1A-Condenser-Microphone-111962886.gc

FWIW,

-d.

miyaru Thu, 03/24/2016 - 03:02
second hand is always a financial consideration, and can help to get more bang for the buck!!! I would do that too. Better buy a good thing second hand then for the same price a less classy device.......

Upgrading your interface will certainly improve your recordings. I have an old Presones Firebox, which is really a nice one. I now also own since three weeks a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 - so I can comment on the post above that Donny is absolute right!

So many choices to make, it's not easy for you.......

Sean G Thu, 03/24/2016 - 04:37
Donny makes some wise points worth considering with the SM 57 & 58 models, especially in untreated rooms.

A dynamic mic like the 57 & 58 models will pick up less of the room noise which may benefit your case scenario.

A consideration is that a condenser will pick up anything and everything...right down to the fan hum from your computer if its in the same room.

My NT1A can pick up the neighbours changing their minds...:D

kmetal Thu, 03/24/2016 - 06:39
paulears, post: 437318, member: 47782 wrote: Indeed, but he has no cash, just vouchers for a particular outlet which means restricted range. This also shows how we all like what we like. I too like the AT, but sadly, it seems to live in my studio on a stand, never put away - but rarely used. Just not a favourite. That's the trouble with mics - so many excellent ones, few real dogs!

You have the 3035 paul? I on,y ask because the 3035 is the only, diamond in the rough. None of the other 20 or 30 series are anything more than cheap junk imho. The 3035 breaks the rules, it's only available used now. Also, I could be wrong here, but isn't the OP considering the NT1a? That's $240 usd. I was suggesting two mics that total $120 usd combined.

DonnyThompson, post: 437320, member: 46114 wrote: I wasn't aware of the newer Rode mics having a "harsh" edge, as I've only ever worked with the older original models... but, it may end up suiting your voice just fine.
Recommendations and suggestions from others are always good to at least consider, but at the end of the day, it's going to mostly depend on you and your voice.

It's not so much harsh as it is nasal. The top is ok it's the 1-5k range that's the issue. I would imagine the components have a lot to do with it, so maybe with a $2 ic chip instead of the $0.50 chip it was a pleasing 'lift'. Send it to the suits and plant and a cheaper but "similarly specd ' cap or chip or what have you, is decided upon. then you end up with w mic that is significantly different than the first iteration. That's my hunch here.

Having used a fair amount of mics on a variety of vocals I think the nt1a is a lot more on the fussy side, more so than a lot of others, just due to its peaky response. It's not that it doesn't or can't sound good on some voices, just not something I would expect to work on a lot of voices,mrelative to others like the at3035, or a shure dynamic, or a 414. The 3035's peak is higher up than the rode more in the 8-10 range which is more universal, but it doesn't take eq as well as its much more spnesive peers (414/87) or a decent dynamic. This is to be expected.

Blue makes a nice mic in the NT-1a price range which sounds good too. The model name escapes me.

I said get the 57 and the Ldc, because never know what the voice is going to like. Between the two something should cut the mustard. At the end of the day whatever works is what ya need.

paulears Thu, 03/24/2016 - 08:08
The guys from the band were here during the week - a kind of meet up due to geography, with the intention of setting up some extra features on our X32. I've been a convert from day one, but they're just beginning to see the benefits. The idea was that really the only time they get to see the desk and touch it is at gigs when there's little time, so I set it up in my studio here - as I work from home. So it's working into the studio monitors, and has one mic plugged in, but the mic box is sitting there. On stage we all use Shure Beta 58s, each one labelled up because one of the guys is into hygiene in a big way. In the controlled environment we discovered quite a few things. ALL of the Beta 58s sound different. One is duller (the oldest), and the latest one is the opposite way - quite bright. Looking at the desk eq, the dull one has more HF added and the brightest has some reduced - not by any scientific measure, but simply because that's how the eq done individually worked out. We assumed it was our voices being different, but the mics add things too. One of the guys then plugged in a Beta 86, declared it magic for his voice, and he's going to use that. The bandleader wanted to stick with the Beta 58 but the drummer liked the SM58 instead. He actually liked the EV 320 best, but it would get in the way. We were arguing over an effect for one song on the snare = a gated effect type sound that we couldn't get quite right. They were fiddling and he pulled out a Samson 03, that I bought a pair of in 2005, and stuck it on the snare and declared it the winner. It's too big, but it will just squeeze in. I'd never dreamed of using it on a snare. So after one afternoon, we now have different vocal mics and snare mic - and just as we were finishing up, the guitarist went out to his car, and brought in his guitar and amp, and now he has rejected his usual 57, and is using an AT 2020 (sorry metal)

No doubt after the gig this weekend, many will revert back, but this just shows how we get into habits that stop us experimenting.

In the late 70s, I could afford one microphone. I bought a 57 - at the time, an expensive investment. I've still got it!

kmetal Thu, 03/24/2016 - 15:58
Lol the AT20 series is gross.

I've done work live for a national act and I brought a bunch of ob pres and compressors, nothing fancy, and had sennheisser and AKG wireless. He refused to use anything but the $20 peavy mic I brought for backup. Vocal mics are so particular to the person.

Sean G Thu, 03/24/2016 - 17:40
paulears, post: 437324, member: 47782 wrote: In the late 70s, I could afford one microphone. I bought a 57 - at the time, an expensive investment. I've still got it!

Thats' spot on Paul, I think we are spoilt for choice these days, which can lead to procrastination.

I remember a time in the mid 80s' using whatever mics I could get my hands on, when necessity was the mother of invention.

I was using a Sony mic of some sort, can't remember the model, but it was narrow and long, had a stainless steel brushed metal finish and had what I think was an Amphenol? 4 pin connector. Man, I thought that was the bees knees at the time, crystal clear if not a little bright.
It had a high quality construction and I wouldn't use anything else once I bought that mic.

I think from a pawn shop if I remember rightly too.

Jeremy Dean Sat, 03/26/2016 - 19:17
Alright, sorry I haven't been present the last few days to read your replie. I've been too busy to check much online. First off, thanks DonnyThompson for your very helpful advice. I don't know too many forums where people take the time to offer as much as you bring to the table. I appreciate it and will seriously consider getting a 57 and one of the suggested preamps. Everyone else, your advice is valuable to me as well. Thanks!
DonnyThompson, post: 437320, member: 46114 wrote: Your store credit should apply to any GC, so don't hesitate to get online and check other GC locations to see if they might have used models of what you are looking for in stock.
My plan is definitely to buy used. If the product is in good condition there's not much of a reason to me to buy it new. Whether it's new out of the box or not isn't important to me. I'm a firm believer in buying used gear.
I know what a 58 sounds like on vocals and guitar amps to an extent. We use a lot of them at my church, although I'm usually on stage playing keys, so what I hear mostly comes from my in-ear monitors. There's bleed from amps closer to me and the floor wedges but not too bad. Tomorrow morning during worship service I may pay closer attention to the sources mic'd with a 58. The 57 and 58 are identical besides the casing if I'm not mistaken, correct?
I definitely would like to get my hands on a good condensor mic soon particularly for vocals, acoustic guitar, and maybe upright piano, but you work with what you've got. And if a better preamp will freshen up my whole signal chain than that's a plus for me. It very well may be better to wait to get a condensor.

Jeremy Dean Sat, 03/26/2016 - 19:22
DonnyThompson, post: 437320, member: 46114 wrote: You can do that Jeremy, but... know that youtube vids of someone else singing through a mic isn't always an accurate indication of how good - or not good - a mic can sound, or will sound for you.
I really wish I could just try out all the mics I'm interested in in my studio. I would get a much better idea of what I'm getting that way. Buying online is great, but it has it's set-backs.....

Sean G Sat, 03/26/2016 - 19:40
Jeremy Dean, post: 437379, member: 49624 wrote: I really wish I could just try out all the mics I'm interested in in my studio. I would get a much better idea of what I'm getting that way. Buying online is great, but it has it's set-backs.....
You could if you have somewhere in your area that hires out mics, say like an audio or PA hire company...if they stock the makes and models you are looking for then pick a few that you find meet your budget and needs, and you could then make an informed buying decision on how it generally functions in your environment and to your applications required.

But remember, although they may be the same make and model, no two mics will sound exactly the same, but should give you a good idea of how each performs under your situation.

It may be a long shot but worth considering. (y)

Jeremy Dean Sat, 03/26/2016 - 21:23
Sean G, post: 437380, member: 49362 wrote: You could if you have somewhere in your area that hires out mics, say like an audio or PA hire company...if they stock the makes and models you are looking for then pick a few that you find meet your budget and needs, and you could then make an informed buying decision on how it generally functions in your environment and to your applications required.

But remember, although they may be the same make and model, no two mics will sound exactly the same, but should give you a good idea of how each performs under your situation.

It may be a long shot but worth considering.
Thanks for the advice Sean G!
I've been doing some research and it looks like getting a Focusrite Scarlett would be a bad idea for me. A lot of users say the latency is terrible. At the moment I can run 3ms latency in my DAW when recording and then I'll bump it up to 20ms to save CPU and RAM when I'm mixing and start adding a lot of plugins. I remember using a friend's FS a while back once and had problems with latency. It was for live use. I didn't have a lot of time berforehand to mess with it, but before we started practicing I ended up trading it out for my Behringer USA200 because the latency was so bad. Maybe I could've gotten better results if I had a longer period of time to work on it, but a lot of users who have spent long periods of time working on it haven't gotten past it. It's drivers apear to be a large part of the equation here. So if I can't achieve what I already have as far as latency goes then I would be wasting my money IMO by buying a FS.
At the moment I'm looking at the PreSonus AudioBox iOne. I haven't found nearly as many people reporting having trouble with latency with this one. It seems a lot of pres in it's price range have some latency issues. Any more suggestions here for a good budget preamp with VERY low latency?

Sean G Sat, 03/26/2016 - 21:43
There are quite a few options for a 2 channel interface, the Scarlett, Presonus Audiobox and also Roland Duo Capture EX just to name a few.

They are all around similar price points, are 24-bit with 2 input channels and have hi/lo z switching for guitar line input.

I think for that price point it would be hard to tell the difference between each of these. I have a 2 channel, one of the brands above, mostly for location or portable recording scenarios and it does the job well for the price and situation.

Jeremy Dean, post: 437383, member: 49624 wrote: I've been doing some research and it looks like getting a Focusrite Scarlett would be a bad idea for me. A lot of users say the latency is terrible.

TBH I have not heard about latency issues with the Scarlett, although I don't have any real experience with it myself, but without reading why these users had that latency issue I am really in the dark as to why this could be an issue, it may be drivers, plug-ins front-loaded on tracks whilst recording, etc, etc.

If you use the Asio4All driver latency should not really be that much of an issue.

Maybe a member who has personal experience with the Scarlett may be able to give their testimony on the latency concerns you raise.

DonnyThompson Sun, 03/27/2016 - 03:13
Jeremy Dean, post: 437383, member: 49624 wrote: I've been doing some research and it looks like getting a Focusrite Scarlett would be a bad idea for me. A lot of users say the latency is terrible.

Latency is caused by several things; the software/driver, the computer and its hardware...

I'm thinking that the users you've talked to either never set their buffers low enough, or never got a handle on how to configure the Scarlet Mix Control software that comes with the device...

From Focusrite:

"Our interfaces offer Zero or Ultra Low Latency Tracking and Direct Monitor options to further help circumvent the issue of latency as much as possible.
Zero/Ultra Low Latency Tracking is a Routing Preset in Saffire MixControl and Scarlett MixControl. What this does is assign 'Mix 1' to each of the unit's analog outputs. By default, 'Mix 1' is a combination of all analog inputs and DAW 1/2, mixed together. The analog inputs represent a direct feed from the inputs, and so by assigning Mix 1 to the outputs, this essentially routes the inputs straight to the outputs, meaning that you can monitor your recording source (whatever you have plugged into the inputs) without that audio being passed to the computer first. This means that you can hear yourself without the latency incurred from the computer having to process the audio. Mix 1 also contains DAW 1/2, so that you can hear your backing track..."

source: https://support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/207546885-Latency-Issues-with-Interfaces

As Sean mentioned, the ASIO4ALL driver is also an option, but I don't think you'd need it if you knew how the Mix Control software is supposed to be set up.
I'm not trying to sell you a Focusrite... I don't work for them - but I don't care for unsubstantiated myth, either. If product is bad, then it should be mentioned as such, but that needs to be based on something other than just hearsay alone. ;)

pcrecord Sun, 03/27/2016 - 05:35
Jeremy Dean, post: 437383, member: 49624 wrote: I've been doing some research and it looks like getting a Focusrite Scarlett would be a bad idea for me. A lot of users say the latency is terrible.

The scarlett is a prosumer product, most users are amateur and beginners. I bet they don't even know that having an antivirus running will be killer for latencies.
Also, many uses vsti in realtime and record at the same time.., Guess what, that's not the way to go. It's better to render the vsti tracks or use a freese fonction (like in sonar) then those tracks become a regular audio track and free the computers ressources.

I'm not selling you the scarlett over other products. I had my share of problems with a saffire in the past but it wasn't latencies problem. (was a store demo and the preamps were falling) But I'm sure I could record ok with a scarlett..

I would tend to go with presonus or a used RME, a few here are recording with presonus and get nice results. The RME is a step up regarding converters and the driver is very good. Also RME's real time mixer (Totalmix) is the best I worked with.

DonnyThompson Sun, 03/27/2016 - 07:24
pcrecord, post: 437398, member: 46460 wrote: The RME is a step up regarding converters and the driver is very good. Also RME's real time mixer (Totalmix) is the best I worked with

There's no doubt that RME makes good stuff... I'd also considered suggesting it, but after researching prices of RME's at GC, I don't think he's gonna be able to afford even a used one, and still remain within his very limited budget.

At this point, he needs to do the best he can with the money he has. An SM57/58, along with a Presonus or Focusrite pre/ i-o, would serve his purposes now; it would be a step up from his current Behringer and budget-level Shure 588 mic, and he could get pretty close to getting both with his GC credit, if he went with used models. ;)

FWIW
-d.

Jeremy Dean Sun, 03/27/2016 - 19:13
Ok, well considering some other issues I've heard the FS has had, I would feel more comfortable going with a pre that doesn't have as many reported problems. I know you can't base what you buy all off of other's experiences, but it seems there's a lot of people experiencing different issues with the FS. I would like a model with a better track record. I'm not basing this soley off of what I've read about latency and such, but it just seems to be a little cheaper than what I would like.
Here's what I'm strongly considering buying: Presonus AudioBox iOne(http://www.guitarcenter.com/Presonus/AudioBox-iOne-1399302058931.gc) I can get it used for $60. I would go for the Presonus AudioBox iTwo, but GC doesn't have a used one. :( Question, it only has one XLR in. If I wanted to record two mics simultaneously the quality wouldn't be degraded if I had another mic hooked up to my Behringer mixer and routed it from the mixer's outs into the instrument line channel on the iOne would it?

Sean G Sun, 03/27/2016 - 20:25
Jeremy Dean, post: 437413, member: 49624 wrote: Ok, well considering some other issues I've heard the FS has had, I would feel more comfortable going with a pre that doesn't have as many reported problems. I know you can't base what you buy all off of other's experiences, but it seems there's a lot of people experiencing different issues with the FS. I would like a model with a better track record. I'm not basing this soley off of what I've read about latency and such, but it just seems to be a little cheaper than what I would like.
Here's what I'm strongly considering buying: Presonus AudioBox iOne(http://www.guitarcenter.com/Presonus/AudioBox-iOne-1399302058931.gc) I can get it used for $60. I would go for the Presonus AudioBox iTwo, but GC doesn't have a used one. :( Question, it only has one XLR in. If I wanted to record two mics simultaneously the quality wouldn't be degraded if I had another mic hooked up to my Behringer mixer and routed it from the mixer's outs into the instrument line channel on the iOne would it?
Whilst it would allow you to record two mics, or as many inputs as your mixer would allow, you would be introducing another piece of equipment into the recording chain before the audio interface, so yes it would in theory be a slightly lower quality as opposed to going directly into the interface...buy how much is anyones guess.

You would have to try it to know.

I'm not saying it would not work, because it should, and for all its worth the difference could be negligible.

Its worth noting that you would only have the one channel (or two if it was a two channel interface) then going into your DAW as one track, so you would have to make sure your mix levels are set prior to recording...as you would not be able to adjust these independently once recorded as they would both share the same track and volume level.

paulears Mon, 03/28/2016 - 02:03
People get excited by paper specs. Studios for years have plugged one mixer into another via analog and used it to submix things. The only practical issues are distortion - which is easy to hear when you get the levels wrong, and hiss, which again leaps out at you. Get these two things managed properly and few people would know. Also remember that some people still have very old channel strip components, like the old Neve's and Tridents, that they route in and out via inserts to get the sound they want. Technically, it's inferior, but sonically, they love the result.

When you are cash strapped you can cobble together workable systems and make music that is totally acceptable. Remember a few well known artistes who have all sorts of kit available, and record their entire album through an SM58, because they like the sound. Never let the Hi-Fi brigade's attitude to quality anywhere near music recording.

pcrecord Mon, 03/28/2016 - 02:47
If you want to upgrade from your Behringer mixer, you should get an audio interface that has enough inputs to replace the mixer.
Having better preamps and use a bad preamp mixer output to the makes no sens. At least to me.. Your sound will be as good as your weakest part in the chain ; room, instrument, player, mic, preamp, converter, mix, mastering.

kmetal Mon, 03/28/2016 - 16:55
Jeremy Dean, post: 437413, member: 49624 wrote: Ok, well considering some other issues I've heard the FS has had, I would feel more comfortable going with a pre that doesn't have as many reported problems. I know you can't base what you buy all off of other's experiences, but it seems there's a lot of people experiencing different issues with the FS. I would like a model with a better track record. I'm not basing this soley off of what I've read about latency and such, but it just seems to be a little cheaper than what I would like.
Here's what I'm strongly considering buying: Presonus AudioBox iOne(http://www.guitarcenter.com/Presonus/AudioBox-iOne-1399302058931.gc) I can get it used for $60. I would go for the Presonus AudioBox iTwo, but GC doesn't have a used one. :( Question, it only has one XLR in. If I wanted to record two mics simultaneously the quality wouldn't be degraded if I had another mic hooked up to my Behringer mixer and routed it from the mixer's outs into the instrument line channel on the iOne would it?

Good advice so far. I would hold out a 2ch interface like the 2ch version of the audiobox. There seems to be a $20 difference between models,

The main 'limitation' using a mixer to combine two mics to one input, is the lack of control after the fact. The blend you make when tracking is the blend you have. Not usually a big deal, and often easier with regard to making up your mind. The eq may or may not be an advantage, perhaps maybe some hpf. There's a few more gain stages to handle having channel faders and master fader.

Either method isn't going to make or break audio quality, it's more a matter of workflow. 2ch interface would keep things a lot simpler. Seems like a lot of unnecessary circuitry to go through a whole mixer. Either way keep modest recording levels, to keep a clean full signal. Equipment like that, which doesn't have a lot of headroom, is especially sensitive to this, so be nice and modest with levels, and you can help avoid things from getting harsh, edgy, or farting out.
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