best vocal mic under $1000

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by overlookfran, Mar 10, 2005.

  1. overlookfran

    overlookfran Guest

    perhaps this is a tired topic, but my searches didnt bring up too much.

    right now my setup is a digi 002 r into a Mac.
    I use a TC Electronic Gold Channel, which is REALLY digital, but Ill be dammed it can produce some killer sounds when tracking.
    I have a solid AKG 414. When doing live, Ill use a Presonus Digimax into the Digi. I have the normal mic arsenal (SM's, Beta 52, 414...)

    Im looking to upgrade a bit: I have my eyes on a Grace Design 101, which I have heard nothing but amazing things about for its price.
    As for the mics, I want a good vocal mic. Not so much a one-trick-pony, but something more warmer than the 414, which I think it a bit too "tinny" for vocals.

    my list, which you can feel free to add to, is:

    Neumann TL103
    Audio Technica 4060
    Rode NTK
    Studio Projects C1 (or any C-series)
    Rode K2

    any thoughts?
  2. JoeDj

    JoeDj Guest

    I think you should go for the Neumann TL103 but also consider Audio Technica 4033 or 4050. I have them all and so far so good...
    Good luck! :)
  3. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    If you are even considering a Studio Projects C1, you should consider their T3. Rarely hear anything bad about it, nor the NTK.
  4. amg1

    amg1 Guest

    Reggie from I've heard about the Grace 101 her in this forum and others, yes it's a good pre but very transparent, so you would kind of want to steer away from mics with a prominet boost in the upper freqs. Like the C1, a good mic which I own and use, but I would guess it's upper end boost would really be exxagerated through the Grace.

    I would look for a little heftier mic. Of those you've listed maybe the K2 or NTK. Even the 4060. The TL103 just didn't work for me. If I did a Neumann, it would have to be an old school U87.

    I would take that $1000 add $200 to it and shoot for the Soundelux U195. Something with a little girth to offset the Grace.

    Also, what style of music you doing?

  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    I am personally not that fond of the TLM103 for a vocal mic.That being said, its one of those things that could be the golden chalise on your particular voice.So if its more of a personal choice rather than a main vocal mic in a working studio thing,then you should try it out and decide.In your search dont count out the high-end ADK mics.They all have a particular sound and can hang with the best from Rode,SP and even the transformerless Neumanns.The two Audio Technica mics mentioned, the 4033 and the 4050 are great mics...not go-to vocal mics per se, but then its once again subjective...I would try the 4047 as a vocal mic.The K2 is getting a lot of play and from people whose opinions I would trust...The X-man in the 'Vocal Booth' area here at RO swears by his and they do vocal oriented music..Whatever your choice, remember in marrying this new mic to the new pre youre talking about, the Grace,you should consider the sonic pallette of that particular pre.Its clean clean clean!It will be big and upfront, but it wont impart any personality of its own.Its pure short-path mic pre.So if you're doing rock, or have a rock kinda voice of really any expressive type of voice might want to consider a mic thats a bit more grainy and aggressive in its sound.Like LeRoy was saying....a Soundelux U195 will be something you could put in front of 98% of singers and get it right.
  6. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    I have a K2 and a grace and the sound is really clean and clear for vocals- so much so that I prefer some of my other pres with the K2- the grace is jut way too clean for me with this mic. actually I have the hi gain grace model and I use it with my old RCA D77 for stellar results- Mostly with female vocals-
    you have to understand though that the D77 is a very dark mic and IMO needs a pre such as this to come out of the dark a bit-
    I like the K2 with a sytek with the burr brown options, which I own too. Phil, my co-mod at the vocal booth, has a K2 he runs through a sebatron and loves it.
    I also find the grace very crisp for snare and very defined for kick- perhaps a bit too clean for some tastes The grace should also do good with your c414, I would think, and like the dawg said, I imagine it would be grand with a u195 (would not mind getting one myself)
  7. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Yeah man, I wasn't recommending the C1 with the Grace; that was just one of the mics on his list, and I was just saying the T3 would be much better. Quite warm I hear. That or either of the Rodes would be a good bet. If warm is what you are trying for with the Grace, I would steer towards tuuuube on the mic.
    Peace out
  8. overlookfran

    overlookfran Guest


    you guys rock for the great responses.

    well, the music is rock with a Radiohead-ish/ Jeff Buckley the high's can get REALLY high. My thought pattern was something that wouldnt be too brittle in the highs. Maybe the Grace 101 is too clean for this? as for music...were talking Tele's and P-basses...analog synth-sounding things...

    i mean, hey, if you guys would offer up an entire recommendation for pres, comps, and mics for this type of music (which I would imagine is a very "common" music type), im all ears!

    thanks again!
  9. overlookfran

    overlookfran Guest


    and now I just read another thread about converters...

    if i buck up for a nice mic and a great pre, will it mean anything at all if im still using the 002 rack's converters? I simply cannot afford an Apogee or something....yikes!
    i do have the TC Electronic Gold Channel, and I know that TC has surprisingly great converters. My friend, who is in an amazing band and has his own studio for a living, uses the TC Finalizer for the converters alone! and his recordings are staggering...

    i know i know...your only as good as your weakest link in the signal path. I think im leaning towards the Rode quality for the price it seems...lots of good things being said.

    those sebatron ads up top look dellicious as well... :lol:
  10. amg1

    amg1 Guest

    Having said that OverlookFran, from what I hear the 002 is a hot piece and pres if I'm correct are the same as in the Control24 which I've heard. Okay and can make it happen but their are numerous better choices. As far as the conversion I think your okay for now.

    But here's the thing, with the 002, you want to look for a pre with some form of digital out to bypass the pres in the 002, run straight digital. Otherwise you'll be taking away from whatever pre you run through the 002's pre. Basically you want the straightest shot to the recorder without introducing any other flavas. Unless that's the sound you want.

    Don't know to much about the TC joint, but I believe I've heard their conversion is pretty good. A friend had the Finalizer for while and it seemed to handle conversion very well to my ears.

  11. Oddity

    Oddity Guest

    If you want Apogee grade converters, but without shelling out thousands for the 8/16 channel rigs, look at the Mini-ME. This has 2 A/D the goes into the SPDIF on the back of a digi 002. They are much better then the stock digi converters and also have two really clean sounding preamps (also better then the digi). On top of this, I'd recommend the TLM103, I've had reallt good results. But like others say its really just trying to find a match for the vocalist. It may sound great, it may not, but I've found you usually can't go wrong with a Neumann.

    Also, the RNP from is a nice preamp, another option besides the Grace.

    Oh, and if your handy with a soldering iron, check out for some really high end preamps, cheap (DIY).
  12. Dave62

    Dave62 Guest

    The Neumann 103 can be a bit strident on some vocalists, I have had excellent results with those types of singers with a Neumann 89 which has a bit of a dip around 8khz and can be had used for 1-1.5 k.. Plus it is a five pattern mic and has a highpass and a -6db pad. On the way cheap side a friend had bought a CAD mic for about $100.00 . It's only cardiod but it was almost identical in sound of the 89 on a male singer.
  13. overlookfran

    overlookfran Guest


    yea, ive heard the pres in the 002 arent great, and, having used them, I agree. the gain is on the weak side...kind of colored, dark, etc...
    I run kick and snare into the TC Gold Channel, and then out to 2 analog inputs into the 002, so in essence, I am bypassing the pres in that manner, correct?
    The optical input is already being used up by the Digimax, which handles the overheads, sm57's on the gtrs, etc...when were cutting live jams.
    When i have the chance to overdub, I run almost everything through the Gold Channel right now. This is why i want a good pre and vocal mic--hence, which started this thread.
    The Grace Design everyone tells me is almost ridiculously clean. my lead vocalist, like I said has a Buckley-esque range, often hitting the highs. So i guess I look for a warm vocal mic, and a clean pre I would imagine. but alas, once the signal comes out of the pre into the 002...if I use an analog input (channels 5-8 on the 002), I am getting the signal directly to the converter, then onto hard disk, right? if this is the case, im all go. if not, buying a pre seems silly, since Ill still be hearing the color of the 002...or at least its converters.
    here's where my concern/confusion lies...
  14. Oddity

    Oddity Guest

    By running through your Gold Channel, you are bypassing the pres on the digi, but like you said you still hit the converters. This is ok, but if you want at least one great chain you may want to look into another converter. Your digimax is going to be using ADAT/Lightpipe, not the SPIDIF. The digi has 8 ins for adat, and 2 ins for SPDIF (SPDIF the one that looks like an RCA jack, but its actually digital). So you could still chain off a higher end A/D converter/pre like the Apogee mini-me (which uses SPDIF). You may not notice the difference so much with a track or two, but when you start mixing all your tracks down is when you'll hear the rough stuff from the pres and converters come out. The Grace preamp would probably be great too (I've never used one myself, but I hear only good things), but you still have those digi converters as the weakest link (assuming you get a good mic and cable).
  15. overlookfran

    overlookfran Guest

    this is great

    great info everyone!

    so, it comes down to the converters. I wonder how much difference one would hear between an Apogee converter and the 002's. I'm sure its apparant...but are we talking semi-pro sound with the 002 to pro sound with an Apogee. In other words, can you make a radio quality recording by using the 002's converters.

    and one more question: if you use an Apogee with an 002, how do you bypass the converters in the 002? if your plugged in via SPDIF, the 002 will know not to use its converters? or is there an option in PT that will allow one to delineate that?

    you all rock!
  16. Hey AMG1 im sorry but what's in your pipe? The control 24 is a 12g piece of equip. Digi would be crazy to packadge a 12g equip and a 1g equip with the same pre's. and secondly he does not need a digital output from his pre because only the 1st 4 inputs on the digi have pre's (8 inputs total).

    just my $20
  17. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    when you go in through the spdif your alreeady ending a digital signal, there fore the 002 is not converting the analoge to digital. so yes your converters in your 002 are then being by passed. the same would hold true with the adat light pipe.
  18. yes...what was said was that you cant
    so he was talking about the pre's there...but yes. lightpipe is the way to bypass the ad converting in the 002
  19. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Jul 20, 2004
    I've had great results with my TLM 103. I've also had a few vocalists that just can't work with the TLM. Those vocalists I find usually sound good on the 4050 or R-121. The TLM is great for Ac gtr, elec amp, percussion just about every thing. I usually run it thru a MP2NV with lots of color, gets real juicy and I think the brightness of the mic is kinda tamed down by it. I seldom add or cut top end eq----it's just about right. To me the 4050 is kinda "plain" compared to the TLM.
    I do music much like you talk about and I have excellent results with the gear I mentioned above. I compete with some pretty heavily equiped studios around here and always get compliments. Honestly, its as much about what you do with the gear as it is the gear you have to use. My .02 cents would be to stay away from the Grace/RNP for this type of music, just too clean (plus it uses wall warts). Try someting like Daking, Great River, Amek, API, UA etc.
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