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First Vocal Recording Mic Selection

Member for

21 years 2 months
(Hope it's ok that I posted this at HR also)

7 Years ago I decided to get a paying job instead of pursuing the passion of music recording and production. I figured that I would eventually start building a personal studio and fulfill my desire as a hobby.

At this time I lead a small praise and worship group. We practice at my house in the garage. I have 4 Audix OM2s and a Roland VM3100 that I am learning to record to PC Hard Drive with.

I'd like to get a Vocal recording mic that will complement my voice. I'm not very talented. I've always considered myself a baritone but that might be more of a limited range issue. I can't sing as low as a bass or as high as a tenor. As a result, my low notes are thin and the high ones are sung through gritted teeth and a few tears. (Probably not just mine)

To the point: I figure that if I can start recording my voice and learn how to make recordings with limited talent, I would eventually be able to start inviting gifted friends over for some fun recording sessions.

I'm not sure where to start for a mic. I read a lot of the posts here and the Studio Project stuff sounds really exciting. Also I like that Alan Hyatt personally posts and responds to emails; even if he is understandably biased.

I have a short clip of me singing in the garage with an AT3035. It’s nothing to brag about. Again, my talent is thin and I’ve only used this mic a couple of times and it’s the only L/D condenser mic I’ve ever used. It's done in a 3-car garage with tall cealings and nothing soft in sight. Also, I did it on my own so I’m sure that I made a lot of technical mistakes like gain and mic placement. I did use a bit of compression but otherwise it's dry. I even used the board’s pre.

Don't know if anyone will be interested or if it would help, but I could email an MP3 of this clip to whoever might care or feel that they have experience matching voices to mics. Maybe this is an ineffective exercise. All I’m really looking for is a starting point. A direction, then I can demo and know what to listen for.

P.S. The clip is from a worship song, so if that offends you, you won’t want to hear it.

Sorry that this ended up so long...


Member for

20 years 8 months

RecorderMan Tue, 07/23/2002 - 08:19
Mark Coburn:
If you have a music store near your house, I'd suggest spen some time, singing into a few differrent mic's. Pick the best few contenders, and take them home to demo, prior to purchase.
If your voice is thin, do not get a mic that is excessively bright, ect.

Member for

20 years 1 month

ahyatt Tue, 07/23/2002 - 15:53
Originally posted by Mark Coburn:
I read a lot of the posts here and the Studio Project stuff sounds really exciting. Also I like that Alan Hyatt personally posts and responds to emails; even if he is understandably biased.
Hey Mark,

Well, I am not sure if biased is the right word...opinionated is more like it. In either case, the best thing to do is to decide on how much you want to spend, and what you hope to get for that money. What I mean is do you want a fixed cardioid, or maybe a multi-pattern mic, or even a tube mic.

After you narrow that down, find out what is available in your price range. I suggest that you consider to be willing to go 15 to 20% above your budget if you find the right mic.

So, when you have it narrowed down a bit, find a dealer who will work with you to let you take one or two home at a time. A credit card will help you with this, but at least you can bring them back until you find the one you like best that works in your room.

Going to a store will not help you decide on what to buy. Buy two mics that are on your list. Return the one you don't like, and get another. Pick the best of those two, and return the one you don't like. Keep going until you are happy. If you hit on a mic right away, then fine. You are the one that needs to be satisfied.

Good luck Mark! :D

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 07/23/2002 - 21:08

I usually spend all my money at a Guitar Center in Beaverton, OR. But, they don't do their usual 30 day return thing for mics. It's a real shame because I have a sales guy there that I really like. Also, they don't have many of the ones that I'm interested in.

Maybe if someone in my Portland, Oregon area knows of a good place, they will chime in.


Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 07/23/2002 - 21:36

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

I initially wrote that first post for the HR Forum and then cut and pasted it here. So the part about "even if he is understandably biased," was in preparation for replies I thought I might get for just mentioning your name over there. I hope you find it a complement that I think you have good reason to be biased or opinionated.

The amount I want to spend is variable. I want to find that point where adding $50 does not get me $50 more mic. Many people say that you get what you pay for, but there is also the principle of diminishing returns. I'd like to find a mic that sits right at that point where you get a lot and paying more wont buy you much more.

I'm not sure what a figure-8 pattern will gain me. Will an omni pattern be wasted on me because I don't have an acoustically good recording room yet? I think that I do want a pad and I’m stoked to read that the C1s have this now. I found that my singing was at some times loud enough to clip the input of my Blue Tube preamp when using the AT3035. The Blue Tube has a pad, but it is 40db and when you engage it and then bring the gain up to compensate, the noise becomes an issue.

Does paying more for a tube mic get you more or does it just get you different? Can a tube pre-amp take a solid-state mic and ad the character of a tube mic? I guess that’s rhetorical because logic tells me that it's not the same or people wouldn't be buying tube mics. I assume it makes a difference to get the tube amplification right there at the capsule and not amp it first with solid-state.

Isn't solid-state more accurate and tube color basically a favorable form of distortion? If that is the case; wouldn't it be easier to make the signal from a solid-state mic sound like a tube, than make a tube miced signal sound solid-state clean again?

If I found the right mic, I'd be willing to go up in price; even if I have to wait and save or buy used.

I like the method you describe for auditioning mics. I plan to apply it to my search. I already hope that I end up with a Studio Projects piece one of these days, because it's a bonus to read opinions and receive advice from you. You must not have much of a home life. No time left over.


Member for

19 years 5 months

Kurt Foster Sun, 07/28/2002 - 07:54
If your concerned about you voice coming off as thin you should think about using a (gasp, heresy!) dynamic mic for tracking. There are many fine dynamics available out there but the one that come to mind for me (re; your situation) would be a shure SM7A. These have been discontinued but you should be able to find one in good shape used under $300. They are marketing a SM7B now but I have never used them so I can't speak as to the sound of these. Other mics that come to my mind are the EV RE20 (big bottom and sweet silky top) or the Steadman or Rode dynamics. I personally don't like to buy the newer issues of mics like the Steadman and Rodes but this is a snob and resale thing, they may work great for you and your situation. Oregon Rules! I'm about an hour south of you here in Cedar Flats....
Good Luck, Fats

Member for

19 years 4 months

Midlandmorgan Tue, 07/30/2002 - 12:38
Unless I KNOW the vocalist's preference, I usually start with a Beta 58. I used 58s for many years for live work, and I have usually been able to use that as a reference to find what mic would be best for a particular job...sometimes the 58 IS the right mic; all depends on the job.

As far as the AT3035: used one this past weekend on some radio ads...the vocalist has a powerful upper baritone timbre, and running the 3035 thru a Focusrite Octopre, we found the tone of his voice to be very warm without overpowering...perfect for this job...

Moral? I guess it is to let the circumstance dictate what tool you will use, not the cost of the tool itself.