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What Should I Upgrade First in My Home Recording Studio?

Hi, so I've got a pretty cheap beginning setup right now in my home studio. I have a chance to get some new gear for the holidays, so I'd like to know what you recommend I upgrade. I currently have a MXL 990 Studio Condenser Microphone (I don't have a shockmount though, is that bad?) and my USB interface is a Line6 Pod Studio UX2. I don't have any external preamps or compressor or any of that stuff, but I have tools like that through the recording software. What should I upgrade? I was thinking maybe a RODE NT1-A, or something else under $600. Or should I instead first get a separate preamp? Is there any point to having a preamp besides for more volume. Because if so, I don't really need more volume. What would be the best investment at this point? I feel like the microphone itself is what I need, but you tell me what I need. I'd like to stay under about $600 for anything, but it doesn't apply if I am able to find a really good deal on it somewhere. An example of my current setup can be found at http://www.youtube…"]"Fix You" - Coldplay (Cover by Josh H-P) - YouTube[/]="http://www.youtube…"]"Fix You" - Coldplay (Cover by Josh H-P) - YouTube[/]

Thanks!
-Josh

Comments

kmetal Thu, 11/22/2012 - 22:22
get an sm57. it's a killer mic for everything. pre-amps basic function is to boost the small elctrical signal of a mic into a larger signal. high-end i.e, expensive pre's are known to impart a tonal character to the mics sound, or present it extremely accurately not altering the sound of the source/mic.

the best upgrade you'll get if you want to delve into a great mic, and a nice piece of outboard gear. Get a shure sm57, and a presonus eureka channel. not the other chearper 'studio channel' it's not the same. If you want to real, professional level pieces of gear, of that nature, in the price range, it is very very tough to beat that combo.

i have an nt1-a, it's crap, it's all hype, it's a cheap sounding mic, i like it on handdrums, thats about it. it's a paperweight, and has less than 6 hrs on it. pm me if your still intersted lol. you've already got one condenser mic you don't like don't get another one. there is no reason to buy the cheapest budget minded mic from a famous company, just cuz of the name. is like buying a BMW 3 series, its a BMW corolla that cost ten times as much.

when your ready for an akg, or Neumannn, you'll know why you don't want there budget stuff.

Every engineer remotely worth their salt knows how powerful the 57/58's are, and at 100 bucks, you cannot beat them. If and only if, you have your heart set on a condenser, trade your mxl, for an audio technica 3035, again this mic kills for the price and for 3 times the price.

so now you've got a world class dynamic, a decent channel strip, and a fun large diaphragm condenser, to play around w/. all w/ enough money for a nice set of headphones, or a nice mic cable left over if ya go used!!! yes this will work! it'll take the gear out of the question, and let you make some recordings and work on your chops. best of luck.

JoshHPMusic Thu, 11/22/2012 - 23:13
Thanks man, I'll look into that stuff. Even though I've heard from multiple sources about how good the NT1-A is, I'll still take your word for it. Is the Neumann TLM 102 really worse than the Audio Technica 3035? That would be surprising to me. I mean yes, it's their cheapest mic, but it's still their mic and I've heard some pretty good reviews. Also, I've got Bose AE2's, I'm pretty sure they're good enough, I mean to me they sound amazing but maybe there is more out there.

Davedog Thu, 11/22/2012 - 23:14
JoshHPMusic, post: 396573 wrote: How about acoustic treatment? I think that could help a lot. Take a look at that video to see what I've got. Pretty much nothing. Any tips?

This is where the money should go first. Now you're talking serious. Gear is gear. With highly developed skills and a good sound room even your meager collection will sound twice as good.

The secret to buying gear is always endeavor to increase the quality exponentially by the cost of doing so. Its no value to spend if it doesnt sound any better.

RemyRAD Fri, 11/23/2012 - 15:27
Acoustics for pop music, in a recording studio like environment, is basically a misnomer. You don't need any stupid acoustical junk. Your room already has a nice sound to it. Nice wood and brick. Reasonable diffusion throughout the room. So don't waste your money on stupid acoustic foam or even bass traps. Not necessary. Completely superfluous.

Your current microphone sounds quite nice. I think it actually complements your voice since you don't really like to breathe much? You don't also have Erectile Dysfunction too? Because it certainly sounds that way? Guess you didn't sing in the school choir either? I mean don't you want to sound like a man? You sound like a kid crying on your mother's shoulder? No guts? No glory. So let's try it with some more air, a little more guttural and try to sing in chest voice not head tone. Girls sing in head tone because that's all they can do. A guy can get it down with chest tonality. So while it is a sweet and somber song, you still have to sing it as a man and not as a child/kid. Your voice has already changed, so you need to explore what it's actually capable of doing. This requires support. This requires proper breathing. Your singing everything on stale available air, in your lungs. That's not enough.

Choosing any other microphone similar to the one you are currently using, is really not a smart move. It's simply a lateral move to something that will be very similar to what you already have. A microphone that can provide some more guts would be the SHURE SM58, with an additional foam pop filter on top of the metal ball. This microphone actually outperforms what you are currently using. It's also what you should be using unamplified electric guitars, drums, even keyboard instrument amplifiers. This is where you can take advantage of your acoustics in your room. So not only can you take a keyboard from the DI outputs, you can mix it with the feed from an instrument amplifier with a microphone, for an extra level of acoustics.

The Pod line of equipment is really quite good, first rate. If you want one of those classic hit making preamplifiers, that's going to set you back from between 300+ dollars to more than $1500 for a single channel preamp. And there's not too many that I would recommend. Seventh Circle, makes some nice API/Neve style kits in that $300 region. Warm Audio, also offers similar cloned API/Neve style preamps. These all have input and output transformer coupling along with discrete transistor circuitry. Nothing else much compares. Don't bother with any tube nonsense.

The Neumann TLM-102, is one hell of a beautiful sounding microphone. Everything they make sounds gorgeous. That coupled with a transformer coupled all discrete transistor preamp, is a hit winning sound. And what you've heard actually on countless hits since the late 1960s. TLM-103 is also a great sounding microphone. But Rode? Come on now! Certainly not a improvement nor a step in the right direction. A waste of your money. MXL is not much different.

While at the same time, condenser microphones sound like condenser microphones and dynamic microphones don't but can. An SM58 (57 is the same without the metal ball), slightly restricted bandwidth, can actually improve your recording. It gets rid of a lot of low-frequency noise. It's quite insensitive to higher frequency noises. And it ignores a lot of acoustic aberrations in nonideal rooms. You certainly don't need any microphone that goes beyond 17,000 Hz, as most online music downloads such as MP3's only go out to 15,000 Hz, at 128 kb per second, 16-bit. The same with FM radio. Television used to be the same, until it went digital. BFD! Watch any televised rock 'n roll event and what do you see everybody singing into? And how does it sound to you? Right. Fantastic. And it's a $100 microphone. Plug that $100 microphone into a nice transformer coupled all transistor microphone preamp and magic happens, just like that. But that also assumes that you understand how that preamp can color your sound, just by adjusting its gain trim settings. For a smooth vocal sound, you will be pad off on the preamp with the gain up. For a more open and slightly more aggressive sound, you will be pad on, with the gain cranked up even more. And ZAP! It will sound unbelievable! And you can't get this from cheap or IC chip style preamps.

I find that most inexpensive condenser microphones, with inexpensive, transformer less preamps, get metallic sounding and crispy thin. And that only accentuates everything that we don't like about PCM digital recording. Though one might consider it when recording symphonic, orchestral, operatic work? Where everyone wants color, out the window. Go figure? WTF with that? Not me. Not what I go for. Half the time, you don't even need any equalization, when you choose and position correctly, the right microphone. Equalizers do more to to harm recordings, when it is not implemented correctly. I don't grab for an equalizer until I changed microphones. Change the positioning of microphones. Only then, might I add or subtract some equalization. Just to get the vocal to complement and sit properly in the mix. That's also where you add some dynamic range compression and/or limiting. Then some downward expansion to electronically remove room acoustics, breaths, other extraneous background noises, that maybe increased, exaggerated and accentuated, with the use of dynamic range compression and/or limiting. The downward expansion requires that you set, very carefully, a proper threshold, beneath the lowest level vocal range. And you don't need much more than say, 10-20 DB. This is the difference between downward expansion and gating. Gates sound relatively unnatural on vocals. You keep hearing this door opening and then slamming shut. And that will detract from the vocal. We're downward expansion is much smoother sounding and can be adjusted to only downward expand to a preset range such as 10 DB, 15 DB, 20 DB and not off. It also cleans up residual preamplifier and amplifier noise. And that's how ya get a clean vocal without the room boom.

The Rumba is completely different.
Mx. Remy Ann David

RemyRAD Fri, 11/23/2012 - 23:35
Well I will say that for 14 you're already heading in the right direction. I recorded someone else for a demo when they were 14. Her name was Ellen Amos, later known as Tori Amos. She was only 14 when we cut her first demo and remove shoes and going to be famous just by the delivery of her performance in the studio. It's not just about the lyrics. It's about the delivery. She didn't take any singing lessons and you don't necessarily need any singing lessons. Though her father was a Methodist Minister and she may have performed and sung in church?

Watch and listen to performers on television. And listen to how they split their lyrics out. Listen to the energy. Listen to the air they are moving. And imitate them. Emulate them. It will help you to develop your own style. Right now your style is sort of fat-free. So it's certainly not bad but it certainly is rather lightweight. And you came here to learn something, didn't you? Like people who have been doing this longer than your parents have been alive LOL?

You really do have an advantage over a lot of people already. You're obviously multi-talented. You've got a reasonable technical command of your equipment. You already know how to produce a good product. And it takes years to refine one's technique. You've already got a head start on those kids coming out of high school. You certainly haven't made any gnarly technical errors. In fact on the contrary. I was very pleased with your sound and your production. So maybe all you really need is some coaching from a good producer/engineer? And you can get that frequently, from the best studios in your town. Go in with the intention of cutting, say, two songs. Every step of the way, you keep picking the engineers brain (not many have them) and ask for explanations as to what he's doing and why. You not only get yourself a decent recording, you've just gotten a couple of hours of private tutoring, for the low, LOW Price for a couple of hours of studio time. Much less expensive than going to specialty schools and universities where you'll end up spending 10,000-$40,000 to learn how to twiddle volume controls and plug-ins microphones. What a bunch of rear end horse feed that is. This is just another example of thinking out of the box. Or the continuing saga of how to accomplish things with little or no budget. I mean you can even ask the engineer who might be putting that $3000 Neumann on you, to also set up a SHURE SM58, to cut to an additional track so that you can hear and compare. And the most amazing thing you might find? Is that that $100 microphone might actually sound better than that $3000 microphone, no foolin'. And you can learn that within $10 worth of studio time in an hour looking. And you don't go to your buddies basement studio. No. Ya find the biggest and best in your region. You might elect to just cut tracks there, taking your session home on hard disk, memory stick, DVD-ROM/CD-ROM. And with that scenario, you're going to learn a much greater degree of professional recording techniques and performance improvements. And ya get to do this without any other kids taking up your time. This is a real one on one way to get much better, much quicker.

Whereas I've also been booked into my musicians friends home studios. They invite me in not only to record them on their own equipment, to find out, if their equipment is worth diddly squat? And to show them how to get more professional recordings out of their own equipment. So you might want to inquire some of the engineers at the bigger studios if they would be willing to make a house call? After all, the TV repair man does for those large LCD displays everybody has today in their living rooms/bedrooms/basements. Just tell him... you'll buy him some beer LOL. 14-year-olds know how to purchase beer don't they? Good. I would hope so. OK so you don't quite look like you're the same person on your father's driver's license? Tell them you have "verbal I go". And that it's the same condition that Michael Jackson had not changed his appearance. If they respond with " that only happens to African-Americans ". You can say " Well, yeah, DUH. Look at me! See what I'm talking about? Now give me the God damned beer! " And then you can have a professional session.

People tell me I shouldn't be around children? I don't know why?
Mx. Remy Ann David

JoshHPMusic Sat, 11/24/2012 - 00:19
Thanks, that's some really helpful advice. I'll look into that stuff at some point, at least after I've started vocal lessons. Also, I know this doesnt have to do with knowledge or skills much, will I will DEFINITELY be working on, but at this point I'm leaning towards buying a SM58. Or should I get the sm7b instead? And the Warm Audio preamps look great, but which would you recommend?

Thanks again,
-Josh

kmetal Sat, 11/24/2012 - 01:22
the baby bottle is nice, but again it's a low price condenser, you already have one. w/ you mxl, and a 58, you'll be fine. don't sleep on the eureka channel in addition to a transformer based pre-amp, it's got a nice compressor, and decent eq. and more importantly, bypass switches so you can learn what each is doing, and just use the pre when you don't need the other stuff. it has beaten out api stuff a reasonable amount of the time, down at the studio. you have to try these things before you buy them, it's like a pair of shoes, they may look cool, or be perfect for someone else, may be completely wrong for you.

i've heard good things about warm audio, and 7th circle, too. i havesn't used them so i can't say much about 'em. just go w/ what you like the best, but your in the right ball park.

the sm7b is a great mic, tho i dunno if it'll do ya any better than the 58. the Tlm series is killer, Neumannn doesn't put their name on crap. the reason i suggested you get the other things instead is because it would eat up your whole budget, and i think a nice pre/channel strip and mic, would go alot further both sonically and educationally for you. again just a suggestion

kmetal Sat, 11/24/2012 - 04:17
i cannot stress the importance of trying the mic first. there have been many, many times, when we used a shure, or a sennheisser dynamic, over a Neumann 87, or akg c12. that's 8k worth of mics, that didn't sound as good on a vocalist as a sm 58, or sm-7. we're not talking about micing a marshall cab and a les paul.

the differences in human voices vary so much more. think of a mic as an EQ. if your voice is say boomy, then you don't want a mic the accents the low end even more right? if your voice is shrill you don't want a mic that accents the top end. Basically you want the mic to neutralize any exaggeration in the voice.

mics like the the 58 or the sm-7 do this much better than most condensers barring price. i used the Neumann 87 as much as a kick acoustica guitar or room mic, as a do on vocals. it sounds great on a great singer w/ a voice that that mic complements it.

there is a reason people have been using the shure sm58 for over thirty years, and even still, all the time. i haven't seen anybody use the blue encore onstage, live, on tv, or in any studio i've been to, or seen pictures of. and it's the same price as a 58.

if your going by reviews, or your buddy who has one's opinions, you may want to think twice. the mxl 990 got great reveiws and i have a buddy who loves his. doesn't mean it's any good for me, or that i even like it very much.

i'm just wondering exactly why you keep insisting on a condenser mic? and why another entry level one, comparable to the one you have?

if you really want a condenser how bout trying the shure beta 87? that plus an sm58, still cheaper than the blue package. and much more widely used in professional applications. Try the mics at the store, really try all of them, then do a blind test, you will be surprised at the one you pick.

i had an 87 up 2 weeks ago on a male vocalist, and it was too much sssss kkkkkk's just too much. so i put a sennheiser 441 dynamic mic, and woolllaaaa all the definition, the nice air in the top, but smooooth. it wasn't exhaggerated, it just right.

mic choice/placement is a huge part of engineering.!!! my first mic was an sm48 it came w/ my 4-track tape machine. 8 years later i got an AT3035, and Nt1-a on the same day. then i got a 414. at that point i was able to work w/ mic choice. and then further when i started working where i work, w/ a bigger selection.
Still, we use dynamics all the time on vox. don't be fooled by price, or adds, or because it sounded good on someone else. again it's like a pair of shoes, some fit "just right".

oh yea, your not gonna be able to get a pre any better than what you already have, for your used mxl. not trying to be mean here man, just trying to help you learn from my mistakes.

Quick story, i was doing live sound for a platium selling hip hop guy one night and i had an akg, and sennhiesser wireless set up for him. 3min before he took the stage he made me hookup up my $50 peavey pv.1 dynamic that i brought for backup. so it ain't the name or the price. it's what works. sm 58's work.

JoshHPMusic Sat, 11/24/2012 - 10:15
Actually you stand corrected, the blue encore 300, the 200's big brother, has been used on American idol. And some other performances obviously. And I'm not saying I hate my mic right now, but it's the bottom of condensers, I mean they're down to selling it at 80 bucks. But it's not like every condenser is exactly the same mic, why put them down? The blue baby bottle is the top of their line of more affordable mics, they have a great reputation, and the mic did actually get better reviews than the MXL 990. I'll still test them out, but it's looking like a great option. Plus with recording acoustic guitar, the shure sm58 was beaten by the blue baby bottle in a sound comparison. Don't worry, I'll still try things out.

JoshHPMusic Sat, 11/24/2012 - 10:28
So this means that even if the blue baby bottle isn't 100 percent perfect for my voice, the encore is a dynamic mic, like you said I should get. I've seen it compared to the SM58. Sometimes it's better actually, sometimes they are almost the same. It doesn't have as wide use though since it hasn't been around for 30 years like the SM58, but it could be competition. If the blue baby bottle isn't right for my voice, I'd STILL have a dynamic mic I could use on my vocals, and use the baby bottle for guitar. Sounds good to me.

musicmachineshop Sun, 11/25/2012 - 13:32
JoshHPMusic, post: 396713 wrote: What do you guys think?

I think you're a little too concerned about what you've read or what others say or think (including opinions on forums) about this mic & that mic. You obviously have good ears because your recordings sound really solid. I think the best advice you've gotten here is about trying mics out & deciding for yourself. If you can get into a local studio & try a few that would be an awesome experience for you. Have your parents call a local studio for you if need be. Tell them you want to try some mics. Send them links to your video/blog. Be persistent. They might even get a kick out of helping you & not charge you for the time. Or another option is a local retailer.

kmetal Sun, 11/25/2012 - 23:48
yeah i don't watch idol much so i missed that one, corrected i stand :) so it has been used once, on tv. time tested mics you won't go wrong w/. did you do a blind test? or did you just watch a you tube comparison, on the computer? ya gotta check this stuff in person.

who cares if your mic is worth 80 bucks, it sounds good on you. do you think paying 3x the price will make a mic 3x better for you? maybe, maybe not. probably not. I disagree that the blue encore's lack of widespread professional usage is due to it's young age. the empirical labs distressor has been around for less than a third of the time as an 1176, but is just as common.
i'm not saying just use what everyone else uses all the time, but any engineer will tell you that an sm57/58 is a great sounding extremely reliable mic, both in sound consistency, and durability, you can throw them at the floor, or the bass players head, pick it up and keep singing. if you only have one dynamic, the sm57 is a no-brainer. if you intend on being and engineer, you have to know how to use these mics. why? because you will see them everywhere all the time, everywhere, from a tiny club, to a huge festival.
Not all dynamic mics are the same. i'm not saying buy "a" dynamic, i'm saying buy the shure thing dynamic, especially if you don't try them, and are going purely off hype, and other peoples opinions. most people will agree. if you love the blue for it's sound on your voice, awesome, that's a good thing.

you seem to have your heart set on equipment you have never in person, and for that i say the safe bet is an sm.

what exactly is it you don't like about,your condenser? why do you want one? what advantages do you expect the baby bottle to have, over others? have you considered the akg 214? ever heard a 57 on an acoustic? it rips. want a sweet condenser for acoustic in your budget? the rhode nt-5. how bout a shure sm-91? those are small diaphragm condensers.

Don't be fooled by price. who says the baby bottle is the top of the class in the range? an audio professional(s) or a reveiw. again i have used it, it is a nice mic, but it is no better than any other mic in the class. they've all got small differences, but nothing is gonna blow the other out of the water. especially when the benchmark is a plain ol 58.

nobody says condesners aren't awsome for vocals. i'm just saying they aren't as necessary as alot of people think. what is your hurry? your talented, why don't you put the money your talking about towards a big step up from what you have? a used 414 is like 500 bucks. or one of those tlms? if you feel you;ve outgrown mics in the $300 range, like the adequate one you already own, why by another? it's like outgrowing your corolla, and buying a civic. it's a lateral move like remy stated a while ago. it's "new" but not necessarily better.

i'm not just spitting out the same stuff, just cuz other people would tell you the same thing, i'm telling you this from experience. and your mxl isn't bad on acoustic. like any mic, put it in the right place on a decent instrument, and it'll sound nice. there are so many other places to put your money than another mic. the mxl, and a 57/58, w/ a nice pre will go soo much further. 6hrs of studio time will go way further, than a new budget condenser. what makes you want these blue's so bad, w/ out hearing them in person?

The reason i'm not letting you of easy on this is because i wasted money on hype, and products i didn't need or even end up liking very much, when i was around your age, (oh god i'm sounding old) and i wish i had some guidance by people who had no interest in selling me a product, but rather just to help from their experience.
Blind test my friend, test blind, whatever mic you end up liking best get it. but don't cheat.

RemyRAD Mon, 11/26/2012 - 14:45
Josh, are you trying to sell us on the microphone? Because if you are, it's obviously not working. The microphone that is. It doesn't work, in most situations. The 58 is virtually appropriate on anything. You're telling me somebody else's microphone beat out a 58 and that's all whole lot of BS. That's advertising hype. You're being a gullible child. Grow up. You're talking to professionals who have done this all their lives. And people like myself that are recommending the 58 have things like Grammy, Emmy, Soul Train Music Awards nominations in 20 years spent doing this for NBC radio and television. So you think you know more than I do because you read some stupid advertisements are watched some stupid comparison on YouTube? What? Are you serious? How old did you say you were? Because you're not learning anything. You've heard our recommendations. There's a reason for that 58 that works on virtually everything and anything. Very few other microphones are as valid as a 58. The 7, costing over $300, is virtually identical to the 58. How many dynamic microphones of you seen that cost over $300? There's only a few. And that 58 for $100 is virtually no different. Condenser microphones are highly overrated in many applications. Especially today in the digital world that already sounds so harsh. Condenser microphones only make that worse. It was more applicable in the days of analog tape when we needed to cut through the mush that analog tape caused. We don't have to do that anymore we have digital. So recording techniques have changed along with the technologies. And many of the older technologies are being embraced again because of this such as Beautiful sounding dynamic microphones and a huge proliferation and resurgence of ribbon microphone technologies, one of the oldest dating back to the late 1920s. The reasons for using these kinds of microphones over the condenser microphones is quite valid. It's quite professional actually and cheap condenser microphones are not. I saw one of those Blue microphones used on the last Star Trek movie. The scene is that courtroom scene because of him changing the rules of a no-win scenario and having to answer for it in a court like hearing. And those microphones weren't actually used and were nothing more than a prop. They are perfect as a prop. But that company has also been bought out and is now manufacturing their microphones also in China. And how long do you think a Chinese thingamajig is going to last for? So don't be stupid because you're being stupid. But that usually comes in one's younger years. Many of us had mentors. Learning from a mentor is unlike learning from a magazine advertisement or YouTube video. You're learning from a highly experienced and mature master. But as they say, something for nothing is worth nothing and perhaps that's all our advice is worth to you? And the microphone that you will purchase will be as about worthwhile as our recommendations have been to you, worth nothing. Not an improvement. Not a step up. And underwhelming and needless expense with only disparity as your prize. I mean have ya ever found a good microphone in a box of Cracker Jack's? Of course not and that's about the value of the microphone you want to purchase. It's all marketing BS to be sure or, you might want to just be SHURE, that it's not? See how nicely that brand works into that sentence? And that's how it will work for your audio as well. But your stupid kid and you'll probably buy the stupid microphone?

I think you flunked? You'll have to repeat basic audio 101 to graduate.

Why did you even bother to ask?
Mx. Remy Ann David

JoshHPMusic Mon, 11/26/2012 - 15:24
Ok RemyRAD, I may not be some 60 year old "expert" on audio, but that doesn't mean you can talk to me like that. You should be GLAD that I'm trying to get into the audio world this young, and I'm trying. I was grateful for your advice initially, despite your rudeness even then, but at this point I'm not. I don't care how expert or professional you think you are, but you can't just go around calling people who want to learn "stupid" or other insults. Even if you have been in the industry for a while or whatever you say, you are NOT professional. No professional would be this rude and harsh to a youth trying to learn what's best, getting into the world of music and audio; they would try to teach and understand. But you think you're the best thing that ever happened to this forum or something, despite disrespecting anyone else who disagrees with you. You can't just say that EVERYONE who has said something different than your beloved shure microphone is unprofessional or knows nothing. You're clearly just a huge shure fanboy. And you're probably angry I didn't put 'shure' in all caps. The thing is, you can't just say that there's only one good microphone out there or microphone brand, and put down everything else. That's not reality. Yes, the SM58's have been around for a long time, which is a big reason for their wide use, but that doesn't mean there isn't or will never be a better microphone. It's not like there NO good microphone out of the hundreds of microphone companies out there. And I've heard real audio PROFESSIONALS say that the Blue encore 200 is in fact clearer than the SM58. And the SM58 is NOT the ONLY mic used live or by professionals. This may be hard for you to understand in your alternate reality, but the blue encore mics have in fact been used by professionals, live, with other professionals commenting on how good they sound. And if you insist that nothing on the internet is true, how can I believe what YOU say? Many TRUE PROFESSIONALS willingly post advice on things like this to the internet, because they actually care and want the best for people, since they are professionals. Not what you did. And finally, you say I shouldn't have even asked the question here in the first place. If you didn't like the question, then you shouldn't have tried to answer it. Even worse, you should never put down someone who's trying to learn who simply asks a question. That is the absolute worst way to help.

Thanks.
-Josh

RemyRAD Mon, 11/26/2012 - 17:14
Let's be honest here, you really don't know what you're doing. I do. What? You've never had a teacher come down on you in school for being idiotic? Well tough. Sorry. Sorry you have no ability to understand the abstract we call audio engineering? Not your fault. Just because you want to be an engineer doesn't mean you have the ability to be an engineer. I certainly can't be a brain surgeon like Jethro Bodine can. And I know that. What do you know about yourself so far? You know you can't get this right. Because you don't have the insight. Because you don't have the understanding. Because you don't have the experience. Go do this for a living for 40+ years and tell me what you think after that. But not until then.

So what the hell was the reason for your posting if you're not interested in any experienced engineers recommendations? We don't need to be sold on BS equipment by a bozo like you. So stop asking questions if you know so much. You obviously already have the answers. Nothing you purchase will be a waste of money. You're paying for your own education is what you will be doing. I thought you came here because you wanted to make some better decisions? I guess you don't? You only want to make naïve stupid decisions and tell us why your decisions make sense to none of us. And what are you to gain from that? Go find out for yourself. That's the fun part of this business. You're never done buying equipment, ever. So this certainly won't be your last microphone purchase. You obviously already know that most recording studios only use condenser microphones and not dynamic microphones. Really? I did not know that? Funny... I guess I made a mistake by using SHURE SM57/58's on all of my rock 'n roll recordings? And I guess I did all of the other hit making engineers like George Massenburg, Elliott Shiner, Ed Cherney, all the rest of those guys that don't know that they're supposed to be using only condenser microphones in the studio. I'll ring them up and tell them what you said they are doing wrong.

I guess you know at all?
Mx. Remy Ann David

RemyRAD Mon, 11/26/2012 - 17:24
Ya know that's really laughable? Studios only using condenser microphones. Yeah, right. Like you've been there? You're such an expert. You know. Of course no studio owner in their right mind would use a $100 microphone much less a whole lot of $100 microphones. Not when they have those beautiful $3000 + Neumann's just lying around. You're an idiot! Yeah, I said it. I might be a bit pompous, just like those 30-40 year veterans that I had to work alongside at NBC television for 20 years. What did they know? Obviously they did everything wrong because it wasn't high fidelity enough. That's right it wasn't. It wasn't because it didn't need to be, high fidelity. But you didn't know that, did you? You think, it's supposed to all go up to 20,000 Hz. So one should never use a microphone that only goes out to only 17,000 Hz (as per the printed specifications). Of course that microphone doesn't go to 20,000 because it only says 17,000. Like hell it doesn't. So screw your naïve beginner flawed knowledge. You really have absolutely no clue whatsoever as to the real world of professional audio, none.

Read my lips... no new taxes. That was also good marketing advertising BS that worked. You are probably one of them?
Mx. Remy Ann David

JoshHPMusic Mon, 11/26/2012 - 17:46
First of all, you're at it again, calling me an idiot and a bozo. Thanks. Also, I'm not dismissing anyone's suggestions at all, I came here to get advice. All I did was ask about a few more options that I found out about, because I wanted to know if they were good options. I'm not trying to be some master audio engineer, that's not my main goal. My goal is to be a musician. In my current situation, it is easier just to be my own audio engineer and producer. I'm not trying to produce some hit record, I'm just trying to make some music, get it out there, and improve myself. Anything wrong with that? And for being 14 and only started doing this a few months ago, I don't think I'm so terrible at it. I'm not saying I know everything or am better than anyone hear, I was simply asking about specific microphones. I think anyone here would know who the real know-it-all is here; you. Or at least you think you know it all. You need to stop putting down new people simply trying to learn, and stop being so self-centered. Ask anyone to look how you responded to my posts, and I think they'll know who the real bad guy is. In the end, I'll probably end up getting the shure sm57/58 anyways, because its cheaper and is widely used with good reputation. I never said I was for sure getting the 400 alternative. But still, professional studios DO often use condensers and that's a fact. They don't always use them, I know that, but they are pretty much mad for studio use. And yeah, the shure dynamic mics are great, if that makes you happy.

RemyRAD Mon, 11/26/2012 - 18:46
And you've got your answers about specific microphones. Yeah, condenser microphones are used more in the studio then at your local bar where the local band plays. Nevertheless, I can assure you, that more 57 & 58's are used in studios, more often than any condenser microphones are. So like I said, you don't know squat. They have those microphones because they need to have those microphones. They don't use those microphones on everything, hell no. Every microphone technology has its place and its use. There is no best. There is no one. There isn't anything you are supposed to be using. You simply use what needs to be, used. And that can be lots of dynamics, lots of ribbons, lots of large and small diaphragm condenser microphones. Stick that in your memory slot and smoke it. You're asking these questions because the only Diddley you know is Bo. So you're asking us questions and then providing us your answers. That's really smart. I applaud that. Where did you learn how to do that? The bathroom?

In fact I find you as offensive as you find me. I love clueless beginners like you. Go ahead an engineer some live broadcasts with over 48 simultaneous inputs and find out what works well for you. It might take you a little while to figure out how to make 48 microphones play well together if they are all condenser microphones? So maybe I am a bit of a redneck, smartass, audio engineer, that gets a little obtuse when you CAN'T FIX STUPID.

So what you really need to know is, condenser microphones are good. All of them. But only good for the right applications which you don't quite know yet. And you don't know how to select microphones properly, yet. You're a very intelligent and educational intellect has already worked these problems out for you in your head. Then you come here to get other points of view, opinions, suggestions. Then you don't like it. You don't like to be told by experienced engineers who aren't sales dweebs in their 20s making minimum wage all pointing to advertisements in magazines and demonstrations on YouTube. And those demonstrations are by folks who are being compensated by the companies to demonstrate their wares. The other demonstrations are by folks like yourself with two months experience that already know everything there is to know about recording. Good. Follow that and see where it takes ya? People who know me, know that I am brutally honest. I don't mince words. So you either do what the teacher tells you to do or you flunk. Your posts here are is if you were trying to teach us. Well we don't need to be taught by the likes of you because you have nothing to offer. I was taught by some of the masters in this business. Who taught you? A sales dweeb? A magazine? A YouTube video? Right.

So wouldn't you think that an engineer with 20 years working as a first call, A 1, live radio and television network engineer with Grammy, Emmy & Soul Train Music Awards nominations... might know a few other things that you don't? Oh but you heard a YouTube video of what's actually better.

Go play in traffic
Mx. Remy Ann David

JoshHPMusic Mon, 11/26/2012 - 19:04
Ok, so I like that sentence where you give some constructive advice. But the very next one after it was not at all helpful in any way. I don't know squat. Ok fine, think whatever you want to think. No, I am NOT a professional audio engineer, I don't think I am and I'm not saying I'm better than you or anyone here, and I'm not trying to be the best. So please stop constantly saying how incapable I am and that I should try doing some audio engineer work or whatever, that's not what I want to do or be. I DO like the feedback given by everyone just, and I do in fact pull out useful parts of your feedback, except thats only about 10-15% of everything you say. The rest is just defensive, mindless insults. So thank you for some of what you've said, it really is helpful. Some of it not though. And clearly through everyone's feedback I have learned a lot, that condensers are not always perfect, and $100 mics can be more useful. And I was just trying to get verification of an idea I had, nto say I'm smarter than anyone else here or answer my own question, I was building up the question. Just wanted to know more. And stop bragging about being the greatest audio engineer ever, I get it, many people here are very experienced, and it is painfully obvious that all of you are more experienced than YouTubers. But what if you had a YouTube channel, could I believe you? I know its not good to believe any other person on YouTube, but there are some who are in the same situation as you; experienced audio engineers. Again, not trying to teach anyone anything, just saying what I've heard and found out, so you all can validate or contradict my info. And that has proven to be a useful strategy, since I've learned a lot from everyone's responses. So thanks, but seriously, lay off the negative comments and insults, they aren't helping. The real information and tips and advice are though. So seriously, thanks.

RemyRAD Mon, 11/26/2012 - 19:59
Maybe it's because I haven't eaten yet today? Sorry. No really I'm sorry. Thank you for your compliments.

I understand that you don't actually want to be an engineer. I understand what your question was about those microphones. And from what you just indicated, you are learning, is sinking in. But even as offensive as I may have appeared to you, it certainly got you to think, to reevaluate, to investigate further. Did it not? Good. So you are coming away from here knowing a whole lot more than most of the sales dweebs at Guitar Box.

I used to find a lot of those old engineers at NBC, to be rather crotchety. Now I'm crotchety after doing this for 40+ years. And in many ways, the great Engineer/Producer, George Massenburg, was a lot like you. That's a complement. LOL... George used to argue with his Electrical Engineering Professors at Johns Hopkins, University, because he knew better than they did. As a result, he dropped out after three years and went on to become one of the most famous engineers on the planet. So perhaps you are all out like George? And at times, even George didn't know what he was doing and I did. I knew how to record Baroque Harpsichord and George recorded it as if it was rock 'n roll LOL. We both made recordings for Shirley Mathews, the principal harpsichordist for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. I used spaced Omni's in a small early 18th century chapel. He stuck a couple of KM-84's in his completely pink fiberglass lined dead studio, with the microphones right over the harpsichord pluckers. The dumb plucker, LOL! Shirley, thought it was the worst recording ever made of her. She let me listen to it. I told her that she was wrong. I told her, it was a fabulous rock 'n roll recording of her playing Baroque Bach. And it was. Completely appropriate for rock 'n roll not for Baroque music recording LOL. George is very good at what he does. George is not necessarily as good for what he doesn't do. I mean he was a trombonist and if anybody should know what Baroque music sounds like, I would think he would? But is recording, as far as I was concerned, indicated to me, he did not understand proper fine arts recording technique. I mean he might have plenty of Grammy awards for recording Earth Wind & Fire, Little Feat, Linda Ronstadt. But he doesn't have a Grammy or, Emmy nominations for fine arts, operatic/symphonic recordings, like I do. And of course, I think his rock 'n roll recording is spectacular. While I love his technique, my technique is not quite the same. And I actually love my own rock 'n roll engineering quite a bit. Does it sound like George's? Hell no. It sounds like mine. And like George, I too have my own signature sound. Being able to produce a signature sound of your own engineering, takes many years of cultivation. It's not something that happens overnight or just through educational training. I'm also, personally, not interested in making my engineering sound like everybody else's engineering sounds today. Because I don't follow trends. In fact, I really don't follow anything or anyone. I stand apart. I stand on my own. And that should be the goal of every engineer. You want to do your own thing. You don't want to do somebody else's thing. Unless, of course, a producer wants you to. And if you are a good enough engineer, you may even learn how to emulate some of the signature sounds of other engineers? I've had to do that for some of the live rock 'n roll broadcasts I've done for numerous mega group's.

Trying to emulate another engineers technique when the acoustics don't match, certainly can present problems. Case in point was the Counting Crows at Meriwhether Post Pavilion, back in 1997. It was a delight for me because it was one of the few live jobs I've done for broadcast, where I actually had a proper rehearsal and microphone check. I had already been provided with their most recent release CD. Adam was adamant (pun intended) about NO REVERB AT ALL. OK. So I switched off the 6 digital reverb and effects processors. So I didn't use any. After the rehearsal, Adam got back into the truck to listen to the playback. He was really upset about all of the reverb he heard. He told me " I SAID NO REVERB!" Well I didn't add any. But the stage and the acoustics did. And this was at a large outdoor wooden performance pavilion. The ambient reverb on this stage was really quite something. He was very surprised to hear about what he was hearing LOL. Funny enough, when I play my ambient mix, back to back with his dead sounding CD, everybody loves the sound of my cuts better. Because it just sounds, more real. Back in the day it would be more reel, upon reel, upon real LOL. So what's real, dead or real? Want to hear a cut? I've got a cool one where I spliced together one of my mixes with one of theirs from their CD. It's really quite fascinating to listen to. Especially when you realize that they probably spent an entire day or more mixing this one song and I spent 20 minutes. In fact not even that as the cut was only 5 1/2 minutes long LOL. Considering those studio condenser microphones were used on my recording in comparison to his CD, it's really quite shocking to listen to the differences. Yet at the same time, they are so much alike. And all I had to use where 57's, 58's, a couple of 421's and a pair of SM-81's overtop the drums. Oh and a couple of Radio Shaft PZM's taped to the front of the stage to pick up the crowd.

I'm sorry I didn't mean you should play in the traffic. I meant you should play some Traffic. (You know the bitch is lying) So let's make nice. You're on your way to making good recordings for yourself. You understand some fundamental differences for which we are extremely passionate about. You've gleaned a great deal for, such a deal in that, it's free. And all I want for you, is for you to make fabulous recordings that you can be particularly proud of. And I know now, that you're going to do it. Because I have harassed you into thinking this through. And that's all any good professor, teacher or psychiatrist can do for their clients. And that's to make you think. And to provide for you more complete information than any salesperson or magazine can offer up, including YouTube demonstrations. Because you'll really never learn until you really start doing it and doing a lot of it. And all of the experimentation and taste tests that you will be making in the coming days/weeks/months/years. Especially since I know you are putting so much thought now into this. So if you do purchase is microphones and they work well for you, that's great. Where you could actually record your vocal with that tube microphone and alongside it, that 58, going to a secondary track. Then when you play them both back and you A-B, them back and forth, you may go through an epiphany? And then you may know better, when the dynamic microphone is appropriate or, the condenser microphone is appropriate? But really not until you work this out for yourself. We're giving you the tools you cannot purchase.

You'll do well now. My job is over. It's Miller time. And well, something good to smoke also.
Mx. Remy Ann David

RemyRAD Mon, 11/26/2012 - 20:27
I actually forgot to mention that in that recording of Shirley Mathews, George used tightly placed KM-84 Neumann condenser microphones, which were modified to his specifications. He was almost 30. I was only 15. I used those old Electro-Voice 636 Slimaire, Omni-directional, dynamic, microphones. They were dynamics which are much smoother sounding than those ultra-Brite, ultra-Crispy, custom modified KM-84 SDC's. And of course and there is ultra bright, ultra crispy microphone preamps. Which really doesn't work well on harpsichords LOL. But that's all he knew how to do. And on other numerous occasions in the past, I've shown up other world authorities. One that even called to apologize to me the following day after he hung up on me and called me all sorts of nasty names LOL. But you see, unfortunately, I make sense and I'm right much of the time. And part of this business is relying upon your instincts.

I can smell my instinct. So I guess it's time for a shower?
Mx. Remy Ann David

Davedog Mon, 11/26/2012 - 20:34
Well Josh, I have some advice and you should take this to the bank.

Listen with an open mind.....react to nothing. This is a business that will give you leather in places you didnt think it would matter. You're only 14? GREAT! seriously. Good start and you've come to the right place. No one here is selling anything and there isnt a general trend amongst the membership. By this I mean there isnt a piece of gear du jour. So the only reason anyone agrees with anyone else is because it works not because it costs some amount of money.

You have to stop considering the price of things. Things cost money for many different reasons. A Shure SM57/58 only costs less than $100 because they engineered it correctly 45 years ago. Not a lot has changed on them since then and with good measure. Other mics cost thousands of dollars. There's a fellow who lives in my area that is a master mic builder/modder/refurbisher. Anything he touches is automatically twice as much as the sales tag. But his work is all over the professional mic world and people will pay for his genius.

The point is, does something like a customized high-end condenser mic rate as "better" than the lowly $100 Shure?

Not if the Shure is the tool for the job. A gold plated hammer is still a hammer.

They are all only tools. Better tools make the job easier for the craftsman. The wise craftsman knows his tools and their capabilities as well as their limits and chooses according to what is needed to complete the task. The apprentice learns about the tools as he/she studies the craft at hand. The apprentice learns which question is appropriate and when to ask it. The apprentice learns how to listen and how not to react to things that arent part of the lesson.

It makes a better craftsman.

You are the apprentice. Listen. Smile. Accept. And get me another beer.

JoshHPMusic Mon, 11/26/2012 - 20:34
Well, that's better! Thank you! Lol yeah I get what you're saying about the harassment thing, I sort of get that, even though it's still messed up. But yes, you did help, and I've got to thank you for that. I'll take your advice. It is cool to get advice from someone like you, and get some primary-source advice like this. Maybe George just has a belief that a little rock n roll can be applied to anything as part of his signature style! Maybe I could listen to some of yours and Gary's stuff. I just hope I'll get to spend my career in music. But honestly I'm aiming more towards being a musician instead of audio engineer, but who knows, maybe I'll help out a bit with the audio engineering in my music!

Thanks,
-Josh
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