Looking for a ~$150 (around or less) cond. mic as an upgrade

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Xpred, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. Xpred

    Xpred Guest

    Hi everyone! I'm looking to buy a new condenser mic as an upgrade to my current system. I'm currently using a MXL 990 condensor mic with a PreSonus Firebox preamp. The mic will be mainly used on me with an emphasis in recording vocals in a small home studio (aka budget studio). I have a baritone vocal range, and I tend to record a lot of pop/rock music genre (sometimes slow or soft, sometimes faster & edgier, but not too much howlin' screams).

    The only condensor mics I have ever used are the MXL 990 & GrooveTube GT55. I found the GT55 (which was my friend's mic) to be relatively crisper and cleaner than the MXL990. It also seemed to push the vocals as front and more clear as possible meaning it cut through the mix better, which is my main factor in choosing quality mics. But I have not used enough mics to truly say which other mics out there would be suitable for my tastes. The MXL 990 (as cheaply as it is, maybe like $25 when I bought it) was my first mic that I purchased along with the preamp to really get that 'recording sound.' As I've stuck with the MXL 990 for a few years, I wanted to upgrade to maybe something a little bit better, if possible. I have searched through several places online and some review sites to try to find what I need. My main budget is around $150 or less. So far I've compiled a list of mics based on price and reviews.

    List to consider (always able to consider others):

    AKG Perception 200 (~$160)
    Behringer B2 Pro Studio (~$150)
    Kel Audio HM-2D (~$150)
    Marshall MXL2003 (~$150)
    Studio Projects B1 - "version 2 w/ -10db & -20db pads" (~$120)
    Behringer B1 Pro Studio (~$100)
    Marshall MXL2006 (~$100)
    Audio-Technica AT2020 (~$100)
    Samson C03 (~$99)

    My questions are basically: what do you guys recommend and why (if based on your experience of the following mics)? And in your opinion, are they better than my MXL 990 (if you've ever compared them or even looked at the mic specs)?

    You can also recommend me something not on the list as I'm always open to more mics... I just don't know what mics are good, and I want some more opinions or suggestions. Just make sure the mics are compatible with my equipment (ex. a cond. mic, 48v phantom or not, tube or not, etc.) Again my price range is $150 (the less, the better of course ), and I know with that price range you can only get so good of a budget sound, but I'm still up for it. Thanks!
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I think that's an interesting and challenging question. A condenser microphone upgrade for $150. In that respect, I believe most of the microphones you have on your list are large diaphragm condenser microphones similar to what you currently have? My suggestion you look into the small diaphragm condenser's? Certainly, plenty of variety there. You want something with a more substantial difference rather than a nuance difference. But then you can also go for a Cascade ribbon microphone starting at $160. Now that's a completely different texture. What you are asking about is like comparing a McDonald's double hamburger to a quarter pounder. It's the same amount of meat but you get sesame seeds with one and not the other. So maybe a Kentucky fried microphone would be better?

    I'll take the original recipe
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    90+% of the cheap LDCs on the market are crappy mics. They are Chinese-made and tend to have a "harsh", "splatty" response. An LDC will always, due to it's nature, have poorer off-axis response than a smaller capsule will. This means that the mic will pick up more of the room that it's in, with an undesireable coloration. That's OK if the room is treated and "neutral". It's not OK if the room is a bedroom, garage, or basement with parallel walls and little/no treatment. This is why a simpler dynamic will many times yield better results when you're in a "bad room".
    Of the mics you listed, MAYBE the A-T 2020 will fare a bit better. The MXLs all exhibit erratic quality control issues, and I've had to deal with a couple that were too noisey. Behr^&%r-NO! The SP I dealt with ended up being replaced by a Shure SM58. A-T does have exceptional quality control and engineering behind their products.
    One mic you did not list, and that is in your price range is the Kel HM-2d.
    I just added one of these to my mic locker, and it doesn't add that nasty, over-the-top brightness that the other cheapo's do. The shock mount is as good as my more expensive A-T's have. It is much smoother in response on my deep bari voice. It works great on horns and even kick. It set me back $149.95, you get them directly from Kel. Trust me, it puts all of those other under-$300 mics to shame. Kel Audio.
  4. Gedulous

    Gedulous Guest

    I have a Studio Projects B1 in my kit locker and haven't had any major issues with it. I've found the sound reasonably warm and not had too many issues with background pops and hisses - at least - none that Sonar Producer 6.22 hasn't been able to get rid of with minimal effort.

    I shopped around in the price range for a while and the B1 looked to have the best physical specs of the ones I could find for a similar price. I'm a little wary of Behringer's gear - they're a bit hit or miss... that said - I picked up a pair of C2 SDC's for micing up drum overheads the other day and they weren't too offensive. ;)

    Hope that helps.
  5. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    Mar 3, 2006
    stay away from the perception series... they're kind of harsh and brittle on the high end. of the list, i'd look into the AT2020... find a dealer who will let you bring it home for a few days and try it out before you buy.

  6. Xpred

    Xpred Guest

    Oh... the Kel HM-2D? It looks very tempting. I'll add that to my list. Thanks!
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Maybe you should drop the dime and add it to the mic locker.
  8. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2003
    Look at the AT3035, about $135 street these days. It's one of my favorite budget mics for vocals.
  9. Xpred

    Xpred Guest

    Actually, I had looked at the AT3035... but the cheapest I could find was ~$200... perhaps this was used or refurb. you were talking about it?
  10. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2003
    Here ya go:


    BTW, the shockmount (included) costs over $100 if you buy it seperately ;)
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