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I'm looking at purchasing a mic solely for vocals. I've had some experience with U89s, U87s, TLM140, Geffals etc. recording in other studios (with great results), but as I am buying this for my own studio I want to make sure I purchase something amazing (as I'll probably only start with 1 mic). After a bit of research the options I have so far are M129, Manley Reference and Brauner VM1. I think these are what I'm after, but I've not heard any of them. The words I'd use to best describe the sound I'm after would be smooth, warm, a bit coloured, full (but not flabby), and something that works well up really close.
What mics make you drool?

Cheers, Marc.


Ang1970 Wed, 10/04/2000 - 18:07

Haven't heard the Brauner, but Manley Gold Reference and M149 are the best I've used.

If you can't get a good vocal sound on someone with either of those, you just can't.

Also bear in mind, it would be a waste of your money to put mics that nice thru a cheap pre. And even pre's in this price range can drastically affect the tone of the mic. If you have a lot of them, you can use this to your advantage, swapping pre's the same way you would swap a mic to match a particular vocalist.

Happy Hunting!

Angelo Quaglia
AQ Productions

Marc Edwards Wed, 10/04/2000 - 21:08

Thanks Ang, I have an old Focusrite Green pre, but I doubt I'd use it in this situation. I have access to a Trident Producer box and Oram pres in the mean time until we get our new desk (Oram pres again!). We also have an Oram Hi-Def for EQ, and Oram Sonicomp2 compressor. I love the sound of the Avalon 737 -- so we’ll have to get one of these too .. now all we really need is a good room ... oh, yeah, we might need some good performers too!!
I agree with your point re swapping mics/pres for different vocalists, but it seems no matter how much outboard you have for this, you’ll always come back to only a few bits of gear -- what would be your main vocal pres?
Thanks for the help.

e-cue Thu, 10/05/2000 - 00:16

For vocals, it's all about the Sony 800G. Sounds great, and the big-ass heat sink impresses clients. On a lower budget, the new Behringer mic kicks ass. The manley ref is pretty dope, depending on the vocalist. I'm starting to move away from past faves' the U87, C12, Telefunkin's etc because they're so old - they all sound different.

anonymous Thu, 10/05/2000 - 10:10

Mic pre's can make all the difference in the world. We don't have any of the really high end mic's yet, but we do have great pre's. API, Avalon, Neve, Amek, Tube-Tech, Daking etc. These will make the average mic sound very good.

I have 103, 4050, 4047, NT2, 414, KM184 etc, and we just got the BLUE Mouse but we haven't had a chance to use it. The one that really amazes me is the AT4047, it sounds good on every thing you put in front of it. Vocals and drum overheads are my favorite, plus it is rather cheap. I do hope to have and use some of these "jewel" mic's but I also know that it's the same way I learned about the pre's, you won't really know the difference until you use them for yourself in different applications, it's an ear thing.

Good Hunting

David L. Black
Owner, Engineer , Producer
Old House Recording Studio - Gastonia, NC

Marc Edwards Thu, 10/05/2000 - 19:15

I'm trying to avoid spending 3 months with each mic (out of the 10+ listed here), just to find out which I prefer -- not that I'd do it to my supplier!! So really I'm trying to make an informed guess to limit it down to only 2-3 mics, so I can ask to listen to them all and A-B them. I really don't mind spending the extra cash if it's worth it.

So no one has used the Brauner VM1?

Ang1970 Fri, 10/06/2000 - 15:33

I like the avalon on most vocals. It's fairly versatile. Occasionally I'll use SSL or Neve, depending on the style. (rap, in face pop, metal, etc.) Or whatever's in the room.

I'll try anything. Sometimes a cheap piece of **** happens to be exactly the sound that is needed for the song.

Angelo Quaglia
AQ Productions

Greg Malcangi Thu, 10/12/2000 - 15:30

Sorry Marc, I realise you have probably seen this already but one of the moderators asked if I would re-post my two messages on this thread from the ProTools forum. So, once again. :^)

<< I'd love to know what is the very best mic >>

A number of years ago one of my first lessons about mics turned out to be one of the most important. My wife was recording a solo album at the Hit Factory in London with one of London's most respected engineers. My Wife was playing a marimba which is a nightmare to record because of it's very wide frequency and dynamic range. I was stunned that after playing around with the millions of dollars worth of mics they've got, we ended up using 4 SM57's! I've repeated the exact mic'ing positions in my own studio and it sounded as I would have originally expected, like it was recorded on cheap mic's.

I subsequently had a long discussion with the engineer and learnt a great deal. Mike Ross (the engineer) used to have favorite mic's but after a couple of decades he now sees each make and model of mic as a tool with individual sound characteristics. Mike is completely unconcerned with the reputation or cost of a mic. He listens to the characteristics of the sound being produced in a particular acoustic and chooses mic's and a mic'ing pattern to compliment it. This is what lead Mike to the radical solution of 4 SM57's when I only wanted to play around with their collection of multi-thousand dollar mic's. Recording another solo album about a year later in a concert venue rather than the studio, Mike did infact use a mic set-up worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

The moral of this story? Even with all the same signal processing equipment a $100 mic can sound better than a $10,000 one and that relatively minor changes in the sound source or live room are enough to alter the suitability of a particular mic. An SM57 isn't better or worse than say a U87, it's just a different tool.

If you are looking to record the same voice, in the same style, in the same acoustic and with the same signal processing equipement then obviously you just need a single mic. Unfortunately for you no one can tell you which mic that is. All the mics listed in this thread are good mics but whether they are suited to your recording studio, the frequency or dynamic range of your vocals or the sound quality you are personally looking for, is a completely different matter.

My advice would be to pick some of the mic's mentioned in this thread along with one of those seriously expensive gold plated type valve mics and an SM58. Then hire them all for a day to A/B them.

Hope this is useful,


Something that does surprise me is that in threads relating to mic types the Beyer MC740 is rarely mentioned. To my ear it is less coloured than a U87, which is either a good or bad thing depending on your standpoint. However, there is no doubt that it is a very good mic and has an added advantage for 24bit ProTools users: The MC740 has a very good signal to noise ratio. It is substantially quieter than the aforementioned U87 for example. Very useful if you are recording an instrument or voice that needs a lot of gain.


Marc Edwards Thu, 10/12/2000 - 17:34

Thanks Greg -- of course I don't mind the re-post, as this is for everyone interested in the subjuct (not just me). Thanks also for your advice.
I'm sure you understand my situation. I'm not saying you can't get good results with less expensive gear, and i'm sure if you have a wide range of mics/pres/comp/eq available to you you'd use different combinations for different situations. All i'm trying to do is narrow my selection down a bit. I really don't mind spending the $$ if I need to. I'm sure I could buy an SM57 or 58 as well.
You mention that you didn't end up with the same results when using the SM57s at your studio, why's this??

Greg Malcangi Mon, 10/16/2000 - 10:58

Hi Marc,

<< You mention that you didn't end up with the same results when using the SM57s at your studio, why's this?? >>

Ah, sorry I didn't explain very well. The whole point I was trying to get across was that the natural acoustic of the live room you record in has a tremendous effect on the sound. Two of the SM57 were placed a couple of yards away from the marimba, as virtually all acoustic instruments (and the voice) need some space for their sound to develop. This means of course that you pick up a certain amount of the natural acoustic of the recording room itself. The acoustic of my live room is totally different from the massive wood panelled Studio 1 at the Hit Factory. So the recorded sound was completely different. The sound characteristics were different therefore the mic requirements were different. This also explains why Mike Ross used a completely different mic set up when recording a subsequent solo album in a different venue.

<< I'm not saying you can't get good results with less expensive gear >>

Once again, I'm sorry I didn't make it clearer. I'm not talking about getting good results with less expensive gear, I'm saying that depending on the acoustic of your live room and the other variables of your signal processing etc., it may be the case that you can get better results with less expensive mics than with expensive ones.

An expert, highly experienced engineer might be able to come to your studio, listen to the vocals, the natural acoustic, your signal chain and what you are personally looking for and be able suggest the model of mic that will work best under those conditions. Unless you are able to call on the services of such an engineer your only realistic alternative is to hire a bunch of different models and A/B them. The only danger with this approach that I have found is that it's very difficult not to be slightly biased towards the expensive mics. The way I try to deal with it is by thinking about cars: I would love to own a Ferrari and they are obviously better than the average car but regardless of this, if I need to take the family down to the mall and do the shopping a station wagon is in fact the better tool for the job. In other words, it's great to own and use an expensive large diameter capacitor mic and the chances are that it may well be the correct tool for the job but without being privvy to your acoustics and your other variables it could be that the correct tool is in fact a relatively cheap dynamic mic.


Stephen Paul Mon, 12/11/2000 - 23:48

Thanks Joel... we try!

Hey gang, thought I'd stop by and say howdy... I guess I'll be moderating a forum here in the next day or two it should fire up.

Focus will be on these exact questions and on pro recording in general. If you want to hear some of my own work with our mikes, drop by my artist page, and I think you'll be surprised at how far a 128k MP3 can go when you have a few secret tricks up your sleeve, many of which I'll be happy to share.

See you soon...


hollywood_steve Wed, 01/03/2001 - 13:54

What mics make you drool?

The only single piece of audio gear in the world that can actually cause me to drool is the Brauner VM1. It has as much to do with the level of craftsmanship as it does the sound performance. It's nice to know that the "best in the world" is actually within reach of most of us. Few can afford the best console (mid 6 figures) or the best recorder (nearly 6 figures), but a VM1 is only a little over $3K. Not cheap, but attainable.


Guido Thu, 02/15/2001 - 14:42

The post by e-cue said " I'm starting to move away from past faves' the U87, C12, Telefunkin's etc because they're so old - they all sound different." That is exactly why I use them. If you have any nasty old mics you wanna' sell.......d'oh!
For new mics...try the Coles 4038 on vocals with a killer And I also think the BLUE U47 refurbs are an incredible value and lovely sounding. I do think vocal sounds are getting too thin again...anybody agree? As for the Sony w/ the heat sink....tried it and thought it was uneven and had too much proximity effect...just my opinions...I hated the heat sink "look" too....sorry :)

Dan Popp Wed, 02/21/2001 - 14:39

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Ang1970:
Haven't heard the Brauner, but Manley Gold Reference and M149 are the best I've used.

Dear Angelo,
I found the Manley to be strident and bright with my Millennia pre. I later heard it through a Manley pre (on the 3D pre CD II) and "got it." The darker pre with the bright mic worked fine.

So maybe the pre/mic combination has to be thought of as a "system."

Personally, I love the M149 because it will sound good through just about anything. Haven't heard the Brauner.

My Stephen Paul 87 is my #1 mic, by far.

Dan Popp
Colors Audio

Dan Popp Thu, 02/22/2001 - 12:59

I had totally forgotten about that. Was that another v/o processing discussion? My current chain is: SPA U87 - Monster Cable - Millennia HV-3 - Millennia NSEQ-2 - Crane Song Trakker.

I am trying to add a de-esser, but there is not much available that won't be the weak link in the chain.

I would like to have one more limiter at the end; this is something I learned from "Kooch". The "Rock-'Em-Sock-'Em" radio spot guys will use several stages of EQ, limiting, and/or multi-band limiting. They are shameless! ;) I have my eye on the Purple or the Alan Smart.


Ang1970 Fri, 02/23/2001 - 00:03

Originally posted by Dan Popp:
My current chain is: SPA U87 - Monster Cable - Millennia HV-3 - Millennia NSEQ-2 - Crane Song Trakker. I am trying to add a de-esser, but there is not much available that won't be the weak link in the chain. I would like to have one more limiter at the end; I'd still suggest that you giveplug-insa try. You can't beat limiting in the digital domain. Unless you want to add a delay to your analog path. One more noise maker. And you'd be adding another stage of AD/DA.
I'll try to put something together for you on Monday.