RODE NT2-A, Audio-Technica AT3035, Studio Project C1 or Sterling Audio ST55,66 etc?
Hi, I'm in the market for a condenser mike and am trying to decide which one to get. I've read a lot on here and reviews on musians friend and sweetwater about the ST55, 66 etc. Today I went to a music store and had the chance to listen to the RODE NT2-A and the AT3035. It seemed as if the AT was a bit brighter maybe, the RODE had some neat features like dual diaphram, and other knobs. A friend of mine that I met today recommended the C1, said he'd tried it before and really liked it, but it wasn't in the store as I guess they aren't importing them into Korea anymore or something so I couldn't have the chance to listen. The guy in the store said the C1 was made in China and he wasn't all that excited about that, while he said the RODE was made in China. Also the ST mikes I'd need to order online as they are not available here in Korea apparently, though I've read good things. I'd be interested in the differences between the ST55, 66, 77 as well.
I'd be recording mostly vocals and sometimes acoustic instruments like guitar, maybe some hand percussion from time to time. I'm currently using Garage Band on a MBP with a MOTU 8-Pre interface, and for vocals I use either a 58 or sometimes my D112 as it seems to be a bit more warm with my voice.
Can anybody help me with opinions on these mikes? By the way, I already asked some questions about the ST55 as a reply to the Sterling Audio Thread, but figured that since I now was looking at some other mikes as well that a new thread might be better and easier for people to spot since I didn't know how current that thread was. I apologize if anyone has to wade through some of the same stuff twice.
This is a case of choosing the right color for your room. They're all 'colors', just different yet the same.
These mics are all in the same relative price range. I assume this is your budget and this is why you have chosen this particular level of mic.
All of them should be decent in build quality. All of them should easily capture sound in a way that you will like in terms of clarity. All of them will retain some sembalance of their price point if you decide to sell in the future.
I know you dont have the ability to test them all.
THIS is going to be the problem for you. They all have a somewhat distinctive sound pallette. And they're all different.
Think on the differences you found in the two mics you did test. The others will be that much different than the others in small but definate ways.
I guess a good question would be, are you replacing the two mics you use now with this for vocals?
I'm not sure, if this is the case, that this is what you should be looking at. If you like your voice on the 58 or the D112, then why change it?
Perhaps a better preamp will be what you are looking for... though at these prices, its not likely you'll get something noticably better than what you already have.
Choosing gear is much like peeling an onion.
First, I'm not a big fan of this price point for condenser mics. I feel that if you can live with good dynamic mics until you have save enough to spend about 2-3 times as much you will end up spending less money for better sound in the long run. Of course, that assumes that there will be a long run and you will be buying better mic eventually any way. Everyone has different circumstances and one of these mics may be the best choice for you.
So suppose you are set on getting one of these. I haven't owned any of them though I've owned Rode and AT mics and liked them. So here's a general audio decision-making ranking. (I'm assuming here that all products have a reasonably good reputation for quality and service.)
1) Try them all head to head. Get them all in one place. Try them all out. Pick the one you like the best.
2) Try them all at different times and places. Not nearly as good, but sometimes it's the best you can do. Try to be honest about the factors that can influence you.
3) Pick on features. If you are choosing without being able to try them out, features can be the deciding factor. In your case, the NT2-a stands out as the only multi-pattern mic. Right now you are only interested in cardioid. What are the chances of you eventually doing stereo configurations like MS, Blumlein, or AB?
4) Pick on looks. Sometimes this is the only solid thing you have to go on. Don't knock it. If you have gear that looks and feels cool it's more of a pleasure to work with. You'll make better music.
5) Read the reviews. It's better than nothing, but this is not a great way to pick gear. As Dave said, most of this is a matter of taste. What do you know about the taste of some random reviewer? Reviews are sometimes good as an indication of reliability and service, but this is a crap shoot as well. Is the reviewer someone who babies his gear? Does he treat it like crap? Who knows.
Thanks for the suggestions. I'm leaning towards the Rhode as the dual diaphram and different direction thing seems like something interesting to experiment with. I guess really it's sort of an experiment and just want something different to play with, and want to have at least one condenser mike. I do understand your points about not necessarily needing a condenser, but I just want one, and don't want to spend the big, big bucks right now, now know when or if I would. I'm mostly a hobbyist and want a new experience. I have had the chance to demo both the Rodes and the AT, but not the others, so think I'm going to leave them out of the equation unless I can find a way to demo them over here. The Rodes has a 10 year warranty, that's got to count for something. Also as mentioned, the different patterns. That could be very useful for some of the different home recording projects I might be in, for instance I'm drumming with group that does a lot of duet stuff, so I'm curious about trying that figure 8 feature and compare doing that with doing track by track stuff. Another thing, since I'm not doing this professionally but mostly as a hobby, though someday I might like to try taking a recording course in the future (that's another topic) right now I'll be doing my best to convince my wife that the spending double what I initially mentioned (first off looking at the ST55) is justified. Anyway thanks again for sharing your advice, I feel pretty lucky that people like you folk who have all this expertise are willing to take time to give advice to amateurs like me, and watch us often disregard your advice even afterward if we can't justify spending the big bucks. And maybe it's just a bit of GAS but there are much more destructive ways I could be experimenting with my money.
BobRogers, post: 357781 wrote: First, I'm not a big fan of this price point for condenser mics. I feel that if you can live with good dynamic mics until you have save enough to spend about 2-3 times as much you will end up spending less money for better sound in the long run. Of course, that assumes that there will be a long run and you will be buying better mic eventually any way. Everyone has different circumstances and one of these mics may be the best choice for you.
Just another thought, you mentioned, or was it someone else, that those mics would somewhat retain their value for re-sale. In general do mikes retain their value? Where I'm going with this, is would another good strategy be for me to perhaps consider going 1 1/2 times as much as the most expensive on my list (about 400) and try to get something that was a more upscale mike second hand. Would be unheard of to get a pretty respectable mike (in your opinion) for about $600? And if so, what would be some of the brands and models that I might consider keeping my eye out for? For example, one of the cheaper Neuman's I saw on Musician's Friend new was around $1000, so would a slightly older model, or something not quite so famous but well respected be able to be found for around $600 possibly if I waited for the right situation? And as a subset of that line of thought, what are the signs I'd look for to know that the mic was in good condition other than simply cosmetic things. What might I listen for? What would be big warning signs? Are mics often like cars that can work well one minute and crappy the next?
Perhaps I could approach some studios here in Seoul, and see if they have anything they are wishing to get rid of either because of the crappy economy, upgrading to something more expensive or going whatever? Hell, business in general seem to be here one day and gone the next. I might find some poor sod who has to close down his dream studio and cut his losses. Not that I wanna be a vulture, lol. If I do find something, is there any approximate rule of thumb for how much cheaper that the listing for a new one might be?
So basically, could $600 and a bit of patience to look around be a good strategy?
Saw the Neumann TLM 102 for $699? Thoughts on looking for a second hand one of these maybe?
Hmmm, my wife's thoughts are buy it and I'll go live with my mother, and something about me not understanding when she wanted to buy an expensive handbag. I didn't try to explain why a mechanical object like a mic that has electronics is different than a bag that carries things. Maybe there should be a thread on how to convince your significant others that's it's a good idea to spend lots of money on good stuff.
I'm just a home studio kind of guy, so my budget is rather thin - perhaps like yours. I own both the AT3035 (made in Japan, but discontinued) and the Rode NT2-A (made in Australia).
I agree that you should try all of your microphone choices and every recording situation may need a different mic. Hopefully you already own a SM57 or other workhorse dynamic microphone.
My experience with the AT and Rode are very positive. The 3035 is very clear and open with a bump in the upper range for a little presence - not as brittle as most of the Chinese-made large diaphragm mics out there. The NT2-A is very similar sounding, but more neutral overall with a slightly warmer tone compared to the 3035. Additionally, the NT2-A has three polar patterns: omni, cardioid and figure-8.
Just to throw in another microphone line, check out ADK. They may be hard to audition, but maybe you can find a dealer who will let you demo one and send it back if you don't like it. If you search YouTube you will find a video by their CEO, Larry.
But like everything in life, you get what you pay for. Remember a good preamp can make a world of difference as well.
I've heard the pre-amp thing a few times too. My Motu 8-pre has built in pre amps. First I'd like a condenser, and then maybe someday, like a year or two later when my wife has forgiven me . . . but seriously, do folks on here consider the Motu pre amps not very good? If I did buy a pre amp in the future, how does it work with the interface I have? Would I plug the mike into the pre amp and then the pre amp into the Motu? I have no knowledge in this area at all.
The way I understand it, the preamps in most modestly priced audio interfaces (I own a Presonus Firepod) are clear and neutral at best, maybe a little underpowered for mics with low output (thereby generating a higher noise floor). Good for recording, but if you are trying to push things to great you will want to upgrade to a preamp (or preamps) with better ability to capture more of the nuanced sound, more power, and "character." This is where things get very subjective (like picking microphones). One person's pill is another's poison.
Also I'm thinking of taking my interface and computer and 58 into the music store and recording a tiny little bit of something with each one so I can go home and listen and get some other input from friends as well. Oh, and which models from ADK would you suggest checking out?
I own the original ADK Hamburg Edition and I've been very happy with it - I'm not sure if it still available; I use it mainly for vocals. Accurate overall sound; warmish tone, but not dark. On the budget side, I've read good reviews of the A6 and S7. YMMV
I can't give you total guidance here, because only you know all your needs. I'd stick to the "A" line unless you intend to record some loud sources. Personally, I enjoy using my SM57 on guitar cabs, so I don't need another mic for that right now.
Thanks Fly. Still wondering whether I'm better off to look at second hand stuff?
Looking used you will encounter one of two things.....someones mistake or someones problem.
For $600 budget you will find AKG 414's by the truckload, an occasional Neumann 103, and many $1k plus mics. THIS is your best bet and will last you throughout your time you wish to spend in semi-pro usage as well as far into professional.
Look into this and get back to us with your findings.
BTW. Love the ADK line. I own several.
Thanks Davedog, by the way, am I reading this correctly, when you say I can find those in the $600 budget, did you mean second hand? I was a little unsure based on your words of caution for buying used, ie., mistakes and problems.
Oh, and has anyone anything to say about the Neumann TLM102. I've seen it new for $699 on Sweetwater. It's a lot cheaper than the other Neumann mics. Is it still up to quality or have they lowered their standards to make an affordable mic? I'm still thinking that the 414 might be my best choice though, since the different pick up patterns would make it more versatile and perhaps save me money in the long run because of that. Still I'd like opinions on the 102 from anyone who has used it and compared it to some of the standards like other Neumanns or 414s and such.
My suggestion is about buying used. While its not always true, theres a better chance of a used $600+ mic at new retail price being well cared for than not....Its the with real cheapies that generally are bought and abused by real novices that you'll find problems in the used market.
I've tested the cheaper AT3035 from Audio Technica. Has anybody here had a chance to hear that and the 414 next to each other? What difference in sound might I expect from the 414? I'm starting to lean towards saving a bit and going for the 414 as it seems to have a good reputation and as a multi pattern mike might be useful in more ways.