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Can anyone recommend a multi-purpose mic for around $500?

I'm dying to get a new microphone now that I can't borrow my old room mate's one anymore, which was a GrooveTubes GT66. I'm kind of a newb when it comes to mics! I want to get something that will suit my needs for recording vocals and occasionally guitars, instruments or random noises. I would even consider two different mics if they stayed within my price range! All help is greatly appreciated


TeddyG Fri, 08/25/2006 - 07:04
I would suggest two or three mics - eventually - but ONE now.

1. One of the world's best dynamics - EV RE20, Sennheiser 421, Beyerdynamic M99, Shure SM7A(Is this the latest?). A good dynamic, no matter what else you ever have, will always be useful AND, this is the only mic category where you can own the world's best for around 500 dollars -- something nice about having at least ONE thing that couldn't BE any better(It will be your "reference mic" for every other piece of gear you own or ever own.)...

2. A fine condenser. Get's real tough here, as there are no "world's best", in this category and surely none I know of are priced as low as $500(US)?
Less pricey but still "pro" contenders include the AKG C414 - the longest around of the bunch, though often updated and my pick as "the world's best" microphone - period, for most of us - you will use it forever. Others are one from Rode(I forget the number - so many 2's and 0's and 1's in their numbers? - but, it costs around 800, like the AKG. There is at least one fine Audio Technica in this category, as well, but, again, I don't know the number. Speaking of Audio Technica, they make so many different mics, which ONE do you buy? I've avoided the issue by not purchasing(Nor even closely examining, I don't have that kind of time.) any of them? There was a good review of this type/price mics in either Electronic Musician or Mix, just a month or so ago - they gave the nod, though too slight to worry much about, to the AKG or the Rode, of those tested. Point? save a bit more for one of these, but buy it as a second addition to the mic closet(Where it will never be!).

3. No tube mic - yet. Not for $500 or less. Just... no.

4. Ribbon mic. These have only recently come back into vogue, but the first "fine" mic I ever used was an RCA BK5 - like a 60 year old ribbon design(?) - made me cry, it was so good. If you'd like to try something "vintage", this would be a good place - however, no ribbon -NOT NOW!

Again, you could have one of the world's best dynamics, now, probably with all the accessories, for around 500(I'm not discounting Remy Rad's Shure Beta's I just don't know them, myself - if she says they're as good or better than the tried and true, maybe go with one of these as it will be cheaper and of far more modern design.). A major point, often overlooked, is that without a high-quality, consistant reference, like one of the mentioned dynamics, how will you know how good anything else you get is? Spend your 500 on a wonderful dynamic now then saveup for something "different" not neccessarily ever "better" no matter what the price, in the future.....


RemyRAD Mon, 08/21/2006 - 19:25
DreamSequencer and Jeremy, I am a long-term professional and because most of my recordings are live on location popular music recordings, for broadcast, both television and radio and CDs, most all of the vocal microphones are Shure SM58/Beta 58, along with most others onstage and although you might think Jeremy, that the Audix are "better" that doesn't necessarily mean that I want that kind of sound. In fact I really don't care for them much. Some of us are Old Curmudgeons and We Know How to Get a Certain Sound with Certain Pieces of Equipment. I don't experiment on paying clients. That's what I do on the freebies. We all do plenty of freebies.

When it comes to my fine arts, operatic and orchestral recordings, I prefer the finer studio microphones which are usually not handheld but rather, generally flown, from the ceiling along with some occasional stand mounted highlight mic's. For singers, I like a broad range of different kinds of microphones. Some of my favorites are the Neumann line of condenser microphones, both old and new. The AKG 414, 451. The Beyer M160/130 ribbon microphones. I like the good stuff. There are many wonderful lower-cost condenser microphones like the Audio Technica, Studio Projects and too many more to mention here.

You must however follow your dreams and don't let old curmudgeons like myself dissuade you from your ambitions.

A great engineer doing terrible TV news sound
Ms. Remy Ann David

I mean where else can you make $35 per hour doing almost nothing for eight hours a day and delivering crummy sound?

Pro Audio Guest Fri, 08/25/2006 - 17:28
Massenburg recommends the Audio-Technica AT 4040. As a third mic for grand piano recording (to compliment our magnificient DPA 4006-TL pair) I've been thinking of an AT 4050 or perhaps an AT 4060, both of which get good reviews. Cheaper than a Neumann U 87 which in recording Diana Krall et al. functions as the third mic along with the DPAs (B&Ks). This weekend or next I'll be experimenting with my poor Audio Technica AT 3035 as the third "wheel". Please post your decision and opinion.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 08/22/2006 - 08:27
Mic Choices

As I said in two other posts:

I recently purchased the T-Bone SCT 800 aka (SE 5500/Feilo 5500) and the T-Bone Sc 1100 aka (SE Z3300/Feilo Z3300/NTEC Z3300) I have two of each. They are in my opinion some of the best microphones in the world bar none at any price point. A couple of disgruntled engineers from Neumann who were fired after Sennheiser bought out Neumann went to China and helped develop these two very fine mics and a slew of others for FEILO China. They far surpass IMO the U87i and the SCT 800/SE 5500 is as good as the AKG C12.

Am selling my Rode mics as a result

I know this may be stretching it for you first time readers of this post. But check out these reviews:

There is a vocal sample of the T-Bone SCT 800 at the first site listed below...

Link removed,idproduit,16866,mao,tbone_sc1100.html

PS..Just go to Gotham Audio Canada and read what they have to say about these microphones. They just dropped Geffel beacause of poor QC.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 08/22/2006 - 11:24
Re: Can anyone recommend a multi-purpose mic for around $500

I just bought a brand new AKG C414B-XLS for $550, in a sealed box with shock mount, pop filter, windscreen, individual cal, etc. Ebay. It's hard to imagine a better general-purpose, flexible studio mic. For about $100 less, you can get an AT4050 package, which is also a great Swiss Army Knife in the studio.

These mics have different characters, but are clean, accurate and low-distortion. Add a few 57's, Beta 58's, SM-7's, ATM25's, SM81's, you have a very workable mic locker.

therecordingart Thu, 08/31/2006 - 13:51
Jeremy wrote: Audix i5's will own a sm57 in nearly every application. Just because somthing has been used for decades, dosent meen it hasnt had somthing come along in recent years that is better.

This provided zero help to the poster.

1. Audix i5's will never own an SM57 and we can debate if you like.
2. The SM57 has been/will be used for decades for a simple has "that" sound. The i5 does not. It sounds good, but doesn't have that something.

Now to help the poster.

-Beyer M88
-Shure SM7b
-A few Kel HM-1

BobRogers Thu, 08/31/2006 - 18:03
therecordingart wrote: [quote=Jeremy]Audix i5's will own a sm57 in nearly every application. Just because somthing has been used for decades, dosent meen it hasnt had somthing come along in recent years that is better.

This provided zero help to the poster.

1. Audix i5's will never own an SM57 and we can debate if you like.
2. The SM57 has been/will be used for decades for a simple has "that" sound. The i5 does not. It sounds good, but doesn't have that something.... I don't agree with this. I think there is a lot of useful info between Jeremy's post and Remy's post. Just have to read between the lines a bit.

1. Some people have A/Bed the 57 with the i5 and have prefered the audix. (Jeremy's post just tells us the HE can use an i5 better than a 57, but so what. Someone else might be the same.)
2. Some people who are used to the 57 have tried the i5 and have not felt it was worth making the switch. (Again, that's limited info, but at least it means that any difference is dependent on the way you use the mic, Remy didn't just plug the Audix in and find nirvana.)

At any rate, since the 57 is one of the few mics that I really KNOW how to use I'm not going to bother looking at the Audix. But if someone was coming at this without experience, I would advise an open mind. (Still think the 57 is the best bet, but that could be an old man talkin'.)

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 09/06/2006 - 14:07

these people have not bad recommendations, the audix ones are good i like them better than the AKG eggshell and what not, and the small d-2's or whatever are pretty good too. same with audio technica, as far as condenser mics the 4033 is probablythe best and everything else is very similar to it and predominantly marketing kind of like the KSM 27 and most of the stuff after it in the shure condenser series. audio technica also makes an old i think discontinued mic similar to d-2 which is nice and thats about it, the atm25

the 421's and the re20's are great. and i agree with the guy who said dont fuck with a tube mic under a couple thousand, because for a Neumannn i would pay $2500 for a tube M147, but i wouldn't pay $3000 for the FET U87 and what not. i mean they definently sound really warm and are accurate in transparency, but for a project studio i'm perfectly satisfied the transistors of the AKG C 414 which is a workhorse. im not into the whole beta series thing.

you need to word what you want more, do you want a dynamic, or a condenser. it sounds like you probably want a condenser so yeah for that price range go with audio technica 4033, or KSM 27 (if you the feel the need to humor the shure brothers' market get the KSM xx#) But the sm-7 is a fabulous dynamic mic.

oh yeah and whoever mentioned the rode NT5's those are tight
but the beyerdynamics the only one i really thing is special is the m201
im not sure how much the sennheiser e609 is either but its nice

csi Tue, 08/29/2006 - 16:45

There is a site that I thought was great...Link removed
they have many pieces of equipment that they have sonically compared, pre's, mic's etc. I liked the Rode NT2-A - thought it sounded how 'all-around' it is may be a different story.

Check it out - think you'll like it.

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 09/03/2006 - 10:08
The RODE NT-2000 is a very good mic and will give you different patterns.

Many people like the Shure KSM 32. I did an album with it and sounded for the male vocalist and a few acoustic guitar tracks.

The CROWN CM700 is a good mic for acoustic instruments and can be had for around $200.00.

If your local store will let you listen to several copies of OKTAVA mics you can come out with some very good ones. I picked up a pair of MC012 and on MK319 that were exceptionals. They were so good that in blind tests they were preferred to microphones that cost 20 times more. But, you do have to listen to many of them because they are not very consistent in sound.

Unfortunately it's next to impossible to have ONE microphone for everything but, if I had to I'd get a RODE NT-2000 because of the variable patterns, low noise and fairly open sound.