Best Large condenser for Under $1200
I've yet to purchase a high end large condenser for vocals for my studio.
I already have a SM7, so I've got that area covered, now.. what do I get for the a "go to" for vocal, room mic for drums, and other things.
Heres the list I've compiled. (Tube or Solid State isn't big deal to me)
Neumann TLM 103
Audio Technica AT4047
I'd rather not spend $1200 on a TLM103 but If it's "that" much better than I will..
Personally, my 414 has done well as an all-arounder in the price range. It's not the 'best' on vocs too often , but it never sounds bad and anything, unless the source is bad. It's gotten the vote over an an 87 a couple times, male/female vocs. It's my LDC sm57. There's just sooo many mics in the price range to be definitive. try them all. i liked the 103 in the store demo, and my boss uses the ksm 44 as a room mic all the time.
Most of those will be excellent room mic's. For me the TLM-103 is a little nicer but before going there I would make sure I have a good pre, hardware compressor, and eq in place.
If I had to choose one mic in that price range as an all around LDC, it would be the C414 because of the multiple polar patterns = versatility. It wouldn't be my FIRST choice for many specific uses, but I know that it will almost never disappoint.
Love my AT4047's work on vocals - male and female - and they do well on many instruments.
When you talk about the AKG C414, there are 2 versions - the XLII (has a gold-colored grille) and the XLS (silver grille). I have the XLS, this has a smoother, less-hyped presence peak than its' sibling. Both have their places, depends what material you're dealing with.
The TLM103 has the reputation of being a lackluster mic, the one I tried was so-so. Not really up to the name.
If you have only one mic to buy, the Shure KSM44 might be your best bet. Very smooth, good off-axis, and a few patterns to play with. Also, it stands up to "eating" better than the AKG, IMHO. I have a KSM32, it rocks on overheads and lots of acoustic instruments, like it better than the XLS. Not as good on vocals as the 44, though.
Confused ? Welcome to the world of microphones, mon frer!! LOL!!!!
The Miktek CV4 is an awesome mic. It is tube. The CV7 is the solid-state mic. It is less money but still a very very nice mic. I also recommend the ADK line of mics. There are several in your price range and if you go towards the upper end of their line you will find mics you will never sell. All of their mics are very well constructed and are not voiced like most of the budget lines of condensers. There is an Area 51 TT on ebay right now with a buy-it-now price and an offer also. I have two of them and find thm to be as valuable to me as my vintage U87.
I also agree about the 4047 as well as most of the 40 series AT mics. Great stuff! The 414 is a mic that will do a lot of things like an SM57. There are better mics just not a versatile. The KSM series Shures are unspectacular perfect recording machines. They dont color stuff up, are excellently made (they're a frikin Shure!!!) and will be a mic you keep for a lifetime.
The Miktek stuff is outstanding. Made in Nashville. Contact my friends at superdigital.com in Portland for deals on the Mikteks, AKG's. ADK's , Shures etc. They are the same price as the big internet package stores only you get to deal with a single real person who has probably used the piece of gear you're asking about.
Shill. But we gotta keep this kind of service in business.
You might have indicated that you have a $1200 budget. I try to make it a point when purchasing microphones to always buy them in pairs. So your entire budget is $1200 or $1200 each? You didn't specify that. $1200 each is an average price for a good Studio microphone. $600 each is an average price for a Studio good microphone. Everything everybody has suggested are good microphones.
I love my Neumann's. Any of them. All of them. I love the TLM 103 though I don't own one. Used them plenty of times. The TLM-170 sounds awesome and I don't own those either but have used those plenty.Those both put out so much output level, you can almost run them into a line level input with phantom. Not really but almost. And with those even mediocre microphone preamps fare much better because of their higher output levels requiring less gain on what might otherwise be a slightly noisier more lackluster preamp. In fact some of those microphones actually have built in pads on their output, since they can easily swamp the inputs of most any microphone transformer input into some kind of severe transformer saturation.
I've loved my C414 P48's. Ended up swapping them out for new 414 B ULS's which I found to be a little more versatile because of their flatter response overall. I've used them for operatic solo vocal microphones & rock 'n roll solo vocal microphones. It's my preferred drum overhead microphones. Unfortunately, I only have one now of those also. I swapped it for a pristine Neumann U-67 that comes real close to matching my other one. With the 414 microphone, sometimes not all vocals work out well. When that has been an issue, I'll switch from cardioid to perhaps figure of 8. If that doesn't work out either, I'll turn off the low-frequency cut switch and switch the microphone into Omni directional where, just like Goldilocks, it ends up sounding just right not too hard not too soft. Which then turns it into one of those AHH, HA instances, "by Jove I've got it". A versatility you only get with a multi-pattern microphone. I've never used it for many announcers for commercials. Though I use them for that purpose also, not my favorite. Sometimes I just want an announcer to cut through a little better which does seem to be able to do more readily than say a U 87/67. Those are darker and much warmer sounding. They are even much smoother than the 414 in any variety. That's why announcers love 'em. So today, when doing drum overheads, I'll frequently just reach for that cheap $80 Nady over my + $3000 87's. And use those since they have more brightness in tonality like the 414's did. And another reason why I should swap out that transformer. Which would most likely make them sound and compete with other $200 LDC's (if I put a $100 transformer in each microphone). Not all Chinese condenser microphones are terrible but most are awful because of those simply miserable transformers they use. Many of those are available with optional $100 each cinemag transformers which I believe to be a worthy option to obtain a better microphone for a lot less money than the good ones cost. Again that's thinking outside the microphone box. Especially within a limited budget. But with inexpensive microphones expensive options can turn in to diminishing returns. Use the stock microphone first to determine its basic viability. If it's close but no cigar, you might want that option. If it's just something you plain don't like, no reason to waste your money on an option. Then your only option is to replace it.
I would be intrigued to try an ADK, Sterling, SHURE LDC KSM series and others but my go to has generally been the 414. Hey, I even have a pair of $80 each Nady's. They're not great. They're not completely horrible. They work where you want a microphone you are not as concerned about getting ruined during a gig. At least you can laugh over one of those when they fall on the floor and are destroyed. It's a lot different when someone knocks over your Beyer M-160 and it smashes onto the floor (which happened to one of mine of a jazz program I was recording at the National Press Club in DC. The destruction costs of that microphone was what I was making on that entire job. Well at least close to that cost of that microphone. So instead of having four of those now, I've got three along with my M-130. So I can still have an MS pair in the center with two flanking. Just no more XY/ORTF, with two flanking. C'est la vie, over $700 lost on that. That's why some good cheap condenser microphones from China can be so lovely. I had some Guy step on and break one of my Radio Shaft Pressure Zone Microphones. This guy was very upset. I told him it was going to cost him a lot of money. He broke out in a cold sweat and James Brown was nowhere to be seen. I told him it would cost him well over $29.95. Which garnered a quick look of relief on that gentleman. Whereas the dumb waitress that knocked over my M-160, I certainly couldn't expect any compensation from. And I never actually asked that guy for the $29.95 (original retail price later $10 higher) either. It's the cost of doing business, in this business. So take all of that into consideration when choosing what microphones you think will best serve your purposes.
It might be interesting to note what I actually don't like about that Nady for $80 is a little bit of that boxy sound that it seems all Chinese transformers exhibit? I'm sure swapping out that transformer for a better one would vastly improve the sound and quality of that cheap Chinese condenser microphone. But I've never bothered. And that's because basically, it already works. It is what it is. Some of its sound is correctable through the use of equalization where you can suck a little of that boxy sound out of it. I actually purchased those just on a whim of curiosity. It was interesting to discover once I opened up the case of the body of the microphone to find a base cut switch that was not mentioned nor conveniently available to switch on. So I drilled a hole in the round case of the microphone to have easy access to that switch without disassembly of the microphone. Not sure why they just didn't do that themselves since the switch is inside and it works. Go figure? No mention of it in the microphone manual either. I guess it may have cost them an extra $.10 to drill a hole?
A microphone without a hole is like orange juice without a glass.
Mx. Remy Ann David
So many helpful people on here, with so much great information, thank you everyone.
I'm not looking to get a pair, just one.
No props to any of the large condenser Rode mics?
I do like the K2 Rode and the Classic I and II. What Remy was saying about a majority of the budget Chinese capsuled mics is true and was TRUER a few years ago. Now there are companies like ADK, Miktek, Advanced Audio, Kel, and others who strive to use parts that make a mic affordable without sacrificing quality or sound. I own ADK's, Kels and have used the Mikteks. The Advanced Audio I only know due to their creator coming here from time to time to help us all understand mic technology. I also own Neumann's. I have had more than the one I still own. A pair of pristine KM84's, a TLM 193, and the vintage U87 I now have. All are outstanding. All have that 'Neumann sound' All are over your budget. Although you might find a used TLM193 for less than 1200.......maybe.
Whan you get to this level, all the mics are pretty darn good. Of my list the Miktek CV4 is the most expensive but you can get it new, discounted, for your price. The ADK's I mentioned are about $900 or so new, discounted, and again you can buy a used one a lot cheaper. I have two and would recommend them to anyone recording anything on any gear. They're that good. Equal to my vintage U87 in every way...... simply sounds different. The Kel mics are without a doubt some of the best sounding for the money of any out there. And the Miktek's are outstanding!
The Rodes are really good too, but I found them sorta dependent on what they're plugged in to. Quality though, is high and the price is in your range.
I own an nt1-a that's just plain awful on everything besides hand drums, or as part of an array on acoustic guitar. I hate that mic, and am taking a financial loss when someone else likes it enough to buy it. The nt2 we have at the studio gets a fair amount of use on ride cymbol, although i'd prefer anothe sdc for the cause like an sm81, but i don't pay the bills there so... What surprised me about the nt2 was how well it performed on a kinda 'husky' type male vocalist ala' bog seger. i threw it in one of the booths cuz we were cutting 3 vocalists live as well as a full band and was just out of mics. It to me has an 87ish response, if not exxagerated a bit, it doesn't take EQ as well, but for 10x less, i'd be very ok w/ it if an 87 wasn't available.
The only kel audio i've tried forgot the model, sounds very very dark/dull, haven't liked it on anything yet, but some source will be bright enough eventually.
Forgot to mention the AT 3035, discontinued, they're about $100 and sound decen't on most things. I prefer our 414uls's on overheads, but the guy who has much more cred than me at the studio likes the 3035's. I personally own a 3035, and 414xls. They can get touchy in the highs, so care should be taken, but they never dissapoint.
For $100 used i doubt anything could beat the 3035. get a pair and you still have enough for a stereo pre, or two affordable, nice transformer based channel strips. no mods needed.
Still on the search.
Added a couple mics to the list
Blue Bottle Rocket Stage 1
Anyone had experience with these mics?
How about the bock 195? Vs a blue bottle rocket
You simply cannot go wrong with the Bock. Before they were Bock they were Soundelux. Same builder, same mics.