Microphone for soft vocals

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by ofjoydivision, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. So here's my situation:

    I've been using a cheap $30 computer mic for recording and finally decided to use buy a real mic. I also own two mics which I used for live performances (Sennheiser e838 and e835), and I should mention that I've never actually tried recording with them.

    I also took some time looking through forums to see which mic I should buy and naturally stumbled upon the SM58's, SM57's, 7's Shure mics. When I inquired a music store, I was told that condensers were the way to go (over dynamic mics) for vocals/acoustics.

    Money-wise, I have's the $150 to spend.

    So here's my style of music:

    Simply just acoustic and vocals. When I say 'softer vocals', I'm just implying non-rock. I guess 'alternative' is an easier way of generalizing my style of vocals. Here's a few songs I recorded for a better understanding.

    So here's my question:

    Should I just stick with the two mics I already have and hold off buying a new mic? If not, can I use either of the two mics for anything?

    Which mic should I look into buying if I was to buy a new mic for recording vocals? Considering my style of singing.

    I was under the impression that condensers were the way to go when it came to vocals/acoustic. Are dynamic mics being suggested in the forums because cheap condensers aren't worth it?
  2. NorrisS

    NorrisS Guest

    I'm a relative 'newb' compared to a lot of people on here, but here's my 2 cents. (tried to listen to your songs, but your myspace won't load for me).

    For most professional singers, recorded in studios, they use some form of condenser mic. One exception might be 'screamo' type singers or very high volume singers who shout into the mic... they may/may not use a dynamic mic.

    For me personally, i used to have a couple of cheapo dynamic mics, then i upgraded to a very entry level condenser mic (but spoke highly of - for it's price range) the AT 2020. I actually bought the studio pack, and use the second one on my guitar. http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/AudioTechnica-AT2041SP-AT2020-AT2021-Microphone-Pack?sku=270455

    For my experience, the improvement that mic made over my cheap dynamic mics was HUGE! I found that i needed a bit more gear after that... compression if you don't already have it, and a good windscreen/pop filter.

    ...and of course, if you have more money to spend.. . the sky is the limit with condenser mics...
  3. iamfrobs

    iamfrobs Guest

    AT3035. Get it off of ebay. Easily worth 3x the price they go for.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Great information if you like to cut mediocre vocals?

    So get smart, SM58 will give you a quality & recognizable sound that works for most everyone.

    Don't believe that crap about most folks use condenser microphones, blah blah. That's bull. There are plenty of big timers that utilize the SM58 & SM 7 as their primary vocal microphones for their Platinum studio recordings. I'd rather have a rock-and-roll vocalist on a SM58 than most anything else. They sound particularly great through wonderful preamps. The best microphone you'll ever own. There's a reason why Chinese studio condenser microphones cost less than a SM58. Don't let a higher octave of response make your decisions. Bandwidth limited dynamics sound very nice on vocals, drums, guitars. Wider response doesn't necessarily mean better.

    So it's nice here that one of our blind members wants to educate you about his vision. Get yourself some 57 & 58's. Then you'll make recordings that sound good. Not that sound cheap.

    Not serving McDonald's audio
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Indianapolis, IN
    Home Page:
    Here's a link to one of my very first digital recordings. This, in fact, is the recording that prompted me to launch into recording as a side business.


    This was recorded with two old shure mics - similar to the 57 and 58, but older - into a Mackie mixer - and recorded as a single channel mono mix through a Soundblaster Audigy card. I tweaked it and added reverb in an old version of CoolEdit.

    Another of my very early recordings
    Vocals on this were recorded with a dynamic stage mic - Beyer M300. FWIW, the guitar on this was recorded with an AKG C1000.

    IMHO, there is nothing wrong with the vocals in either of these recordings. If you're on a budget, a reputable dynamic will serve you better than a cheap condenser.
  6. NorrisS

    NorrisS Guest

    Ya know Remy, it is possible to help someone, give a different opinion without insulting everyone else trying to do the same.

    You may be a great engineer/producer, but as a human being, your kindness sucks and your condescension makes you despicable.

    Reply if you'd like, i wont read it. You just annoy me. Seeing as you are a mod for this forum, you'll probably just delete this comment anyway.
  7. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    PG58s maybe?
    I record church services every week into some sort of unlabelled soundblaster. Works for me. Then again my idea of quality is 160Kbps mp3.

    NorrisS, yes, Remy is harsh. Harsh like crappy condensers.
    Only, her advice is free and doesn't leave you with useless Chinese junk.
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    NorrisS (hopefully not Chuck... afterall, the reason he uses a night light is because the Dark is afraid of Chuck Norris!)...

    I can see why you feel as though it was an attack on Remy's part - whether it was or not is up to Remy to declare, not for me. However, I'll say in her defense, IMO, this wasn't an attack. It's a simple statement that is pretty true overall. A mediocre condenser is in no way an improvement over a good ol' fashioned SM57 (or the Sennheisers mentioned in the OP). There are very few exceptions in which "cheap" condensers actually are worth anything at all. While I would agree that the AT line is a pretty notable exception, given the choice between a 57 and a 2020 for pretty much any kind of vocals, I would still reach for the 57.

    Allow me to add a little bit regarding the etiquitte and protocol and maybe a little history on the forum here. Props to you for caveating your statement up front that you're a relative newbie and that based on your personal experience...etc. However, you have to understand (well, you don't "have to" but I'm asking you to) that so many posters come around on a regular basis and make recommendations and authoritative statements that really have no basis and do not help but hurt. Unfortunately ,your post in this case served as one of those...

    "For most professional singers, recorded in studios, they use some form of condenser mic. One exception might be 'screamo' type singers or very high volume singers who shout into the mic... they may/may not use a dynamic mic."

    Overally, this statement *may* be true. However, in a studio that has a true choice of mics and knows how to use them, they'll use the best mic for the job - not just reach for a condenser. They'll reach for a dynamic, ribbon, tube, condenser or even crystal mic if necessary. Using a cheap condenser because "pro" studios use AKG C12s and u47s makes about as much sense as buying a Hyundai Elantra to compete in road races because the Formula 1 drivers use 4-wheeled vehicles with combustion engines to race.

    Please don't take this as a negative post or in anyway angry or rude. I'm merely explaining where some of us come from when we come across as "rude."

  9. NorrisS

    NorrisS Guest

    Thanks Cuccos. Yeah, i understand how things work, and i'm really not upset at what she said, but like most humans, when someone attacks you, you feel a need to defend yourself.

    I'm not even convinced Remy wants to help. She just wants to rip others apart and maybe that makes her feel superior. That is mean, malicious, and a lot of things that really suck. I doubt she has ever even used either the AT 2020 or 3035 because she just knows they suck.

    But that's cool. The OP hopefully had his question answered. I've gained a lot from here over the past year, recently posted a few questions and thought i should contribute to the community if i expected anything. I'll go back to lurking, and leave the pros post.

    Thanks Codemonkey... but just a slight correction. Audio Technica products are manufactured in Japan. Japan has been able to put out some quality products over the past decades, just ask anyone in the American auto industry.
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Please don't take it that way. I don't think you should go back into lurking. Participate. Please.

    I understand your points. I just can't speak to them since I'm not Remy.

    Best wishes-
  11. Cool beans. Thanks for the replies. I'll probably look into the Shure mics (57/58) as well as the the Audio Technica (2020/3035/4040) mics. And since the thread's about being under a budget, I won't feel all that bad if I buy the wrong mic for my specific needs, but simply learn from it.

    I also appreciate this whole defensive waltz going on. It just means that the people here knows their stuff and are willing to step up to show it. I'm glad that I'm not talking to some care-bear engineer that agrees with everything that a moderator says, or writes.

    Also I have two quick questions I wanted to ask before any investments are made:
    1) Are there any key differences between the SM57 and SM58? Which instruments/situations are suitable for each of these mics when recording?

    2) And when it comes to recording vocals/acoustic, will I ever find a use for the Sennheiser mics (e838/e835)? Or is it better for me to find out for myself?
  12. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    The 57/58 are virtually the same mic, the 58 designed for vocals has a built in wind screen that affects tone slightly, but more importantly (because of the screen) usually changes the distance that a singer places his/her mouth away from the actual capsule- which affects sound a lot more than anything else.

    I've had much better luck using the 58 on an instrument than a 57 on a singer. YMMV.


    If you want to try a large diaphragm condensor (and I'm not at all suggesting you need to, but you should hear the differences for yourself) another mic that I would put into the excellent "Bang for the Buck" would be the Studio Project B1, and once you get into the AT4040 area you are at a different level of microphone.

    The simple fact will remain that you will NEVER outgrow the 57/58.
  13. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    I wasn't insulting the AT series. Since, apparently, they're quite good.

    Most crappy condensers however, come from China and such.
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Phil is spot on - as usual.

    Let me add that, if you're considering the AT 4040, also consider the Blue Bird. Both are great affordable mics that are very affordable. While they're relatively similar, the Bluebird is a little brighter with a bit more presence peak in the lower mids. I've got them both and like them both.


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