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need mic help

Hi. I am putting together a home recording studio and I wanted to get some professional opinions on microphones. I'm going to list what I have:

2 Shure SM57's
1 Shure SM58
1 Shure Beta 58
2 Oktava MK012's (w/o the 3 capsules)
1 Oktava MK319
1 CAD Equitek E-100

We plan on experimenting a lot but I want all bases covered. I figure we can use the CAD for kick drum, the 012's for overheads, the 57's on snare and guitar amps, and either the 319 or the 012's for acoustic guitar.

I'd like to hear opinions on a good vocal mic. I know we can use the 319 sometimes. I've even gotten a good vocal sound with an 012. But we'd like to get a mic that is a standard vocal mic. We were looking at the Blue Baby Bottle mic since Guitar Center's got a deal on them right now ($500).

In addition, what are some good mics for toms? How about piano?

Also, what are some recording applications for the 58 and Beta 58? I know they're primarily used as live mics...

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.

The Kris Special



sign Thu, 12/19/2002 - 13:11

Hi Nick, welcome here.

It's not only what mic you use, but also how you use it and what mic pre you put it in.

Good mics for toms? There are many mics that will work great on toms. How about piano? Some engineers will not get a decent piano sound even with great mics, some will get a super sound with $50 Radio Shack mics.

Try the search function of these forums and you will find very much info. Feel free to put any question here, many guys here to help you!


Profile picture for user Kurt Foster

Kurt Foster Thu, 12/19/2002 - 13:48

First off don't use the E 100 for kick. It is a condenser and thereby more sensitive to damage than a dynamic. If a large diaphragm condenser is ever used on a kick, the capsule should be turned 45 degrees off axis to prevent blowing it out! A standard for kick would be an AKG D112 or a Shure Beta 52. I cannot speak to the Oktava MK012's or Oktava MK319 as I have no experience with them. I see them mentioned quite a bit here but the one thing that is said over and over is they are not consistent from one mic to the other. If you are using them as singles and you have one that sounds good then that's ok. I should contact Oktiva and ask if they would let me use a couple for a while to review. The Blue mics are very well received but I never recommend them due to a bad experience regarding service I had with this company several years ago. ('Nuff said about that.) I recommend the ATM 4033 all the time and now they have the ATM 4040.

A standard for toms is the Sennheiser 421. Lots of mids and a semi hyper cardioid pattern keeps the cymbal spill to a minimum without gates. I also have had a good amount of success with ATM Pro 35 clip ons for toms and snare. These also work great on trumpets and some woodwinds and are relatively inexpensive. One thing though, Pro 35's are very hot.. you will need to purchase some inline pads to use with them.

I really like Audio Technica as a company. All their stuff sounds great, is well built and service with this company is top notch!

Overheads are usually miced with a pencil cardioid mic like the AKG 460, 451 or the Shure SM81's although large diaphragms like the 4033's, 414's or U87's may be used in some instances. It all depends on the drum kit and the style of music being recorded.

Piano is a different story every time you mic it. It will depend on playing style, instrument and the type of song you are recording. One of my favorite piano tones is on an old recording by T' Bone Walker called "Mean Ol' World". It actually sounds as if there was no direct mic on the piano but rather a room mic picking up a number of things in the room. That being said, favorites for piano range from pencil condensers like the 451, 460 and SM81 to mid and large diaphragms like ATM 4033's, Neumann U87's or U89's, AKG 414's or if there is budget, vintage Tubes like the Neumann 47 or AKG C12 or C12a's. That's a lot to digest but those are the standards. Just have fun with it and remember it's more in what you're recording than what you record it with. ............ Fats

It's my opinion, I'll play with it if I want to!

It's my opinion, I'll play with it if I want to!

Doublehelix Fri, 12/20/2002 - 03:54

Fat's has got it right, and I second most of what he says, especially the bit about the Sennheiser 421's. Best tom mics around!

I am a big Rode fan, and although they are not in the same class as a Neumann, they are certainly of a higher quality than the Oktava's imho. Try an NT1000, or an NT2 for vocals. They also make a great tube mic, the NTX that is really nice!

The Shure large diaphragm mics have been getting some good press lately too...check them out for sure! (or is that "for Shure"!!! :) ) There is the KSM44, and 2 others (can't remember the model numbers at the moment).

As far as the BLUE mic goes, they are really nice mics, but *not* if it is the only vocal mic you own. They add color, and have a distinct sound and frequency response that works with some vocals, but not with others. They are a nice mic to have in your cabinet, but only as an option, I would not recommend it as my main vocal mic.

Good luck!

SlideMan Fri, 12/20/2002 - 07:44

The AKG D112 is the most over-rated kick drum mic ever. Do yourself a favor and get an EV ND868 instead.

Sennheiser 421's are great tom mics usually. The old ones sound better though. They are seriously versatile and also good to great on e. gtrs and vocals and kick.


Profile picture for user Kurt Foster

Kurt Foster Fri, 12/20/2002 - 08:11

I have to disagree with Jeff (respectfully) about the D112. It is a fave of mine and I have found it useful for micing bass and guitar cabs, as a vocal mic in some situations and also killer on floor toms. I never cared much for EV mics with the exception of the RE20. I find them generally to be lifeless although I have to state I have never used the NV868. That is another I will have to put on my want to try list. I have had great success with the D112. I am a big German mic fan and not ashamed!!! :D ......... Fats

It's my opinion, I'll play with it if I want to!

silent_nick Fri, 12/20/2002 - 11:14

First of all let me thank you for your help. It's greatly appreciated.

Fats, the CAD E100 comes with a 20dB pad, enabling it to take up to 148 dB SPL. It was recommended to me as an excellent mic to use for getting the most natural sound out of the kick drum. I heard that the Beta 52 and D112 are both good for very low frequencies but I would rather have the option.

From reading the specs and hearing your opinions, the 421's look to be really good. However, they're awful expensive to be used as just mics for toms. This is punctuated by the fact that in most of the songs that are going to be recorded, there is not much tom action happening. Usually the toms are just used during fills. There are no regular beats that incorporate the toms. However, someone said they could be used on electric guitars and vocals as well. My question is they COULD be? or they SHOULD be? Based on their applications, could they be considered similar to a 57?

I've decided that we need a default vocal mic, one that we use first because it's generally the best one, even though another mic might be better for a different song, etc. Most of the vocals are going to be done by a female singer with a voice that i'd describe as a mix between PJ Harvey and Bob Dylan, only with a warmer tone than PJ Harvey. Are the mic choices different for female singers as opposed to male? if a band walked in with a female singer, what mic would you reach for first?

Once again, thanks so much,

Profile picture for user Kurt Foster

Kurt Foster Fri, 12/20/2002 - 12:09

I would try the E100 and the MK319 as defaults on the vocals. That is what they both were primarily designed for. The E100 may have a pad but that just attenuates the output of the mic ... it doesn't protect the capsule from plosives. It's your mic, if you want to blow out the capsule don't let me stop you ... Condensers on a kick, bad idea (unless you place it a foot or two from the drum and off axis as I mentioned. Then you have to deal with all the spill). The diaphragms are much thinner than those found on dynamics and more susceptible to damage from strong blasts of air. Just goes to show you can't believe everything a salesperson tells you. Most of the time they have no real world experience and will say or repeat almost anything to make a sale. I would ask the individual, that said it was a good mic for kick drum, if they would be willing to replace the mic if it gets damaged using it for that application. My bet is they won't. In addition, the natural sound of a kick drum usually isn't what one would go for anyway. On pop music, kick drums are usually one of the most modified of sounds. Remember that the only way any mic is going to get a natural sound from any source is to be at least a few feet away from it in order to capture the sound of the whole source. Anytime you close mic something you are going to only get a small portion of it.

The 421's work great on kick drums, toms, bass cabs, guitar amps, some vocals, horns, etc. 421's and SM57's have similar applications but the sound of them is nowhere similar. 421's have rise at about 2K and employ a five position roll off switch while 57's have a presence peak at about 6K and no roll off switch. Very different sounding. I know the 421's are expensive but they are a studio standard and are an investment that will last for years and retain resale value. I have one I have had for 15 years. It's beat but it still works like a charm. ... Fats

It's my opinion, I'll play with it if I want to!

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Kurt Foster Fri, 12/20/2002 - 17:50

The Shure Beta 91 is a Pressure Zone Microphone (PZM)... A completely different method of converting sound pressure into an electronic signal. It has no diaphragm like the E 100. Totally different animal. Hey, if you want to kill your mics, be my guest.. all I can say is I have about 30 years at this stuff and If I were to say something wrong on forum, I am sure there would be about 50 replies almost instantly pointing out my error. Just go ask the person who sold you the E100 what I said about replacing it and its use, they will tell you the same thing I did. Really, you can trust what I have told you. I'm sorry if I sound snippy, I just don't like having to defend good advice I have given. Fats

It's my opinion, I'll play with it if I want to!

suspec57 Fri, 12/20/2002 - 23:13

Yes I would agree on the D112 for kick and 421 for toms is the best way to go. For vocals I use a blueberry. Great for vocals.

sign Sat, 12/21/2002 - 03:04

Nick, look what happened, I told you; lots of guys to help you here :)

I'm a bit surprised nobody mentioned the geat Beyer mics, like the M88 or M201, an underrated mic, great mic for snare and many other applications, not to mention the M88, what a versatile mic that is!

For micing a guitar cabinet I would prefer an M88 over a MD421 anytime, especially when recording a band together in one room.

As for the condenser for kick recording: I never record kick with any condenser, I simply don't risk my expensive condensers getting damaged. But a while ago I've read on the Neumann pinboard that you can use an M149 for kick, as long as you don't hit it with your beater it wont get hurt!

I have eight MD421's and use them only for toms and kick (outside). The 441 is a much better mic for horns and winds than the 421 IMHO and again I'm surprised nobody mentioned the MD441.

The 421 is a hot sounding mic compared to the 441 and the 441 is really a hyper cardioid but has a very nice off axis response.

The D112 is indeed an overrated mic, the D12 is simply much nicer. Try the D12 on the bottom of a big Djembe and you'll know what I mean.

The famous SM57 is almost never used in my place :p

Peace, Han

Rumblemix Sat, 12/21/2002 - 05:15

I've been sticking an AKG 414 in figure 8 inside kick drums for YEARS and I haven't blown one yet. D112 and D12E. Apples and oranges. Both good mics. D112 is cheaper and easier to find. 421's, EV408's, Sennheiser 504/604, Shure SM98's(little condenser guys) 57's on toms.... Whatever.

It's why I have an $85k mic locker. No, I'm not bragging. It's sad really. I should have went boating or something... God, what an idiot I am... Anyways.

It's what you know about the mic, the sound source, placement, pre's... etc. etc. Every mic I listed above can be JUST the right thing under certain circumstances.

Buy whatever the hell you can find/afford and get going.

Later, you'll be broke, addicted to buying gear, on the road to hell and hating your life.

But you'll have lots of great mics.



Profile picture for user Kurt Foster

Kurt Foster Sat, 12/21/2002 - 07:12

Rumblemix said:

I've been sticking an AKG 414 in figure 8 inside kick drums for YEARS and I haven't blown one yet.

I have a number of things to say about that, some of which are not fit for public consumption. *%#@*%# ! In figure 8, right? With the diaphragms facing sideways at the shell of the drum? If that's the case, that is what I've been saying. To point a high quality element directly at a head and beater with that much air moving and those kinds of transients, is suicide for a condenser, or rather "microcide". :D If you're pointing the elements directly at the head, Ohh, I wouldn't want to purchase one of those used. I just think it's bad practice. But some people will do anything. I don't get why this is even necessary. There are a lot of other ways to get a good sound from a kick drum. I can't imagine why anyone in their right mind would risk a nice expensive condenser doing this. I stand by my statements. The next thing you know someone will be chiming in on the benefits of using a RCA 44 or 77 ribbon on kick drums. I didn't mention the 441 because they are so much more expensive and not as common in use. Also a bit more fragile and not as much of a multi purpose mic. The D12E has been out of production for years with the D112 being the replacement. The D12E is definitely a better looking mic. The Beyers mentioned are ok, a bit overpriced. I personally don't much care for them.
It's my opinion, I'll play with it if I want to!

audiowkstation Sat, 12/21/2002 - 07:53

Anyone tried an RE20 on a desk stand right beside the drummers foot? :D :eek: :d: :w: I like to hear the workings of the pedal as well..but 25dB down.

sign Sat, 12/21/2002 - 08:01

Rumblemix, nice to see you here as well! You posted the the funniest post ever (I'm still laughing) on PSW which you deleted (I'm still pissed about that).

Welcome here bro!

silent_nick Sat, 12/21/2002 - 08:51


I wasn't posting the thing about the 91 to try to be like "oh yeah, if you're so smart....." I was just wondering. You're obviously very very experienced with microphones and recording equipment. I just wanted someone to explain that to me because it says nothing about a "pressure zone microphone" on the shure website... I'm sorry if i sounded like a little whiny 15 year old (nothing against any 15 year olds...)

So the D12 is better than the D112? How do you go about finding a D12? How much should one sell for? I checked ebay and there were none listed.


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Kurt Foster Sat, 12/21/2002 - 09:46

This is a quote from the Shure website.

"The Beta 91 condenser cartridge combines superior "attack" and "punch" for studio quality sound -- even at the extremely high sound pressure levels encountered inside a kick drum. Its boundary effect design (this is the same thing as a pressure zone mic, just a different phrasing of the description in order to avoid legal complications) produces a strong, solid low-end response that has been specifically tailored for heavy bass applications. $436.80"

At that price you could buy 2 D112's… That is the way to go.. I have 3 so if I come upon a kit with double kicks I can handle it and still have 1 left for the floor tom or a bass cab. The D12 isn't so much better that it would warrant searching it out. D112's are fine, just ugly! :D Now that you know about the D12, wait and keep your eyes open. If you find one at a decent price, buy it. They are fairly rare.
A very good source for used high end gear is Pro Audio Marketplace. They charge $25 per year for a subscription but I think it's well worth it. …………. Fats
It's my opinion, I'll play with it if I want to!

sign Sat, 12/21/2002 - 12:54

Buying used mics has some risk. I bought two D12's from a music store and one had a different sound in the low end.

It turned out there was a dent in the membrane and a new capsule was required.

If you find a D12, try it. There is no other microphone with such a low end as far as I know.

A good D12 should go for some $150.

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Kurt Foster Sat, 12/21/2002 - 13:42

Maybe in Europe, but here in the States they are little rare and the cheapest one I have ever found was $350. (It was beat to sh*t) If you see one in good condition for a buck and a half, let me know. I'd buy it in a heartbeat. I like them as a v/o mic. That's what they were designed as .... Bastardus Fatsus