What pair of mics for live recording?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by deadwing, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. deadwing

    deadwing Guest

    Hello all. I am new to live recording and I wanted to look into a pair of mics I could use to record at small clubs and venues. My thoughts are this – to be able to run a signal from the board when the engineer is cool with that and have the pair for additional recording. Or they would be my main recording devices when I couldn't get a signal from the board.

    I'd like them to be able to handle a broad range of music, from folk to rock. My budget is modest. Probably around the $500 range, give or take. As I am able to afford more equipment, I'd still like something that's useful in the arsenal.

    To start I'll be recording to a MOTU 8pre interface to Logic on my MacBook Pro.

    What's your opinions? Thanks for your time.
  2. JasonAlanJohnson

    JasonAlanJohnson Active Member

    Jul 21, 2010
    Get yourself a pair of SDCs and mic bar, and you should be in good shape. I like Shure SM81's as a substitute to the Nuemann KM line. It may be a challenge finding a pair for $500.00, I think they list around $400 a piece. You won't be disappointed tho.

    If you just can't locate a pair in your price range, then I would check out some of the Audio Technica SDCs.
  3. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    That's exactly how I got started in this business - taping my band's (and supporting acts) shows with a stereo pair and a soundboard feed if available.

    Absolutely go with SDCs.
    I made due with my MXL 603s during my formative years, but Jason's suggestions are a better investment.
    If you ever decide to get deeper into recording, those Shure mics would be a lifelong quality tool. I wish I had a pair.
    I've since replaced my 603s w/ Cascade M39s. Also great for the price, not in the same category as others.

    I've never used the following, but see if you can find a pair in your range: AKG, AudioTechnica, and Rode.
    All of these manufacturers are well-regarded here, and may have something in your budget.

    Hope that helps.
  4. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:

    NEVER count on the FOH letting you connect to their console.

    When I'm pushin' faders, I refuse to let ANYONE connect to "my" console. If you do anything to screw up the gig, it's on me as the engineer, and I refuse to put my job security in your hands... especially a newb's hands. I hope that makes sense.

    About the best you can do is to ask the FOH AE to give you an Aux or Matrix.. and often, smaller desks don't have spare Aux's... much less a Matrix feed. So, getting extra lines to your input w/o a splitter is all but impossible in smaller venues.

    If you don't have the connectivity (a splitter snake), then you definitely need to supply your own cables and run independently of either FOH or Mon World... including power.

    SM81's are indeed a good choice. At least you can get most of your money back when you go to sell em'.

    However, I'd recommend that you rethink your plan. I'd say the SM81's are a minimum mic to consider.

    Investing in entry to mid-level mic's aren't really a good investment at all. Mainly because they aren't really an investment, because you'll loose over half the money you spent on em'.

    IMHO, you're better off saving your money and buying mid-level to upper level mic's such as DPA and Earthworks. You'll get better quality recordings and when you go to sell them, you'll get a better resale value.

    That being said, Rode, AKG and Shure offerings are definitely in the mid-level range, and you can get good quality recordings with them. But quite often, they are really only going to shine when they are used with other mic's... which is going to most likely mean you need at least close micing and line signals, as in multitracking.

    To strictly hold yourself to a stereo pair, my experience is that you need to move up to much better quality mic's.

    If you want to get into remote 2 track on the cheap, I'd forget about anything other than an H2, a decent stand and a pair of headphones. For the money, the H2's going to give you a decent enough stereo recording to smoke any entry level junk offerings. And it's so compact, you don't even need power or extra anything. Just stick it on a tall stand, raise it up and locate the best sound in the room... hit the big red button... done.
  5. Shadow_7

    Shadow_7 Active Member

    Mar 22, 2010
    SM81's are good mics, but entirely too directional IMO. Especially for smaller venues. And their max SPL is a little low for rock concerts.

    I have STO-2's, but they're a little light on the low end and the high noise floor isn't always ideal with smaller groups and larger venues.

    I've been looking at AT4022's as their spec is good. Especially the noise floor, while still having some SPL toleration.

    Whatever you get make sure you get a matched pair. Shures and Audio Technica don't sell them matched, except for maybe a few select models. And don't believe their claim that the manufacturing tolerances make any two be suitable as matched pairs. My SM81's which I sold were quite a few dB different in gain between the two. At a minimum, that's a difference in noise floor to compensate. Plus a major PITA when adjusting them as a pair on location.

    If you want higher end. MKH 8040's. DPA 4006's. EW QTC50mp. And others. But not cheap for the most part.
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I've recommended & installed the H 2 for numerous folks. It's one of those pieces of equipment that makes total sense for the eager enthusiast. Hard to beat its new current features and the ability to record 4 tracks simultaneously. So if you can set your mic up on a camera tripod stand and take a stereo feed from the PA board? Now that's a live recording! Direct & ambient is the key. I don't quite agree with Mad Max about people not taking a feed from this console. That's why many of us carry things like Dwight Cavendish distribution amplifiers. I also have op amp labs & Neve distribution amplifiers but the Dwight Cavendish's are lightweight, inexpensive, can take RCA or XLR inputs and if you like, video as well. 1 input 10 outputs in stereo & video. It's basically an active mult-box with consumer oriented RCA -10 DB outputs from a +4 DBm input. This is becoming such a regular thing these days it's crazy not to carry this piece. Even Radio Shaft has an inexpensive distribution amplifier that is considerably more affordable, compact and even though it may not have the ultimate infidelity it still is 100% adequate for those making such recordings. The only time I record PA amplifiers/systems is when I'm doing video. It simply ends up as my reference synchronization track. If by chance my Canon XL 1 provides me with a good recording, I'll sometimes mix a little of that in.

    And when it comes to portable recorders I'm really quite aghast that not a single one utilizes an MS microphone configuration. WTF? The stereo microphone technique has so many more advantages to it then XY or ORTF along with being 100% mono compatible when the Side channels cancel out. But then most people are stupid and would never know the difference. XY already sounds mostly mono. Wow, Great, a lovely mono stereo recording. What a bunch of hooey. With MS, you get an incredible stereo field that is totally adjustable in width. Most consumer camcorders are also of the XY variety but my Cannon XL 1, built-in onboard microphone is actually MS. And with its switchable 20 DB pad & built-in limiter, that camcorder actually can crank out some more than reasonable sound. So I'm doing multitrack audio recording, I'll also slip the XL 1 track into the timeline and any other and camcorders that offer a nice sense of ambience. The biggest problem comes from using the Alesis HD 24 whose 44.1 kHz clock is not accurate. So in many of those situations, I'll run it at 48 kHz. I'll worry about the transfer to 44.1 kHz for CD release later. It's still 100% adequate sounding even if the math doesn't quite work out.

    Sure, I frequently use XY & ORTF if the conditions require it but only if. Otherwise it's MS for me all the way.

    I have MS and I use MS
    Mx. Remy and David
  7. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:

    I was really alluding to the folks who walk in with insert cables and want to tie in to consoles that way... Ain't gonna happen.

    I'll gladly work with folks who bring in splitters/distro amps. That's a different animal.

    If I have an extra aux, or a matrix, I'll gladly push a coupla' xlr's to a recordist.. provided they have permission of the band/promoter/label/venue.

    But tying into the signal path on a live gig... nope.
  8. BusterMudd

    BusterMudd Active Member

    Aug 13, 2004
    New York City
    Slight digression here...

    I certainly understand your concern, but when I'm pushin' faders I'm happy to give someone a board feed off an aux or a matrix...I just make sure I do it in such a way that they can't possibly "do anything to screw up the gig".
  9. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:

    Well... whether you're talking about a local garage band or a national act... I STILL don't give anyone insert points off my console.

    Aux or Matrix feeds, sure. That's NOT gonna screw up a show... An insert can. Which I believe is what I originally said... which you are agreeing with... which really isn't a digression, but more of a confirmation.

  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Generally, with my kind of professional on location recording, we use a transformer isolated 24 x 48 & 8 x 16 splitters. So we share microphones. This can be fraught with its own problems. The only way I would take insert outputs is if my portable HD 24 is sitting right on top of the PA board. This is also assuming that the PA guy is not using any inserts. Although one can still work around that. For inserts I utilize a simple 1/4 inch TRS to RCA adapter, where the tip & ring are shorted together. This allows you to fully insert the 1/4 inch connector instead of punching it into just the first click. Especially since that's the most intermittent way to do it. I don't generally take some groups either or auxiliary feeds. You just end up with crap that way that you have to un-crap. And so when you are using transformer isolated microphone splitters you do have another chunk of wire & iron across the microphone lines. I don't care. It still sounds fabulous through the Neve & API preamps even though it's still going into their input transformers. When you can get the direct split that is pre-splitter transformer, that's the best for recording. But then you're in dealing with confusing issues of phantom power and God help you if you have any of your microphones on a patch panel. Besides, my microphone lines are longer and I'd rather leave the phantom power to the PA guy who is a shorter distance to the microphone. Besides, on my Neve desk, it's either all Phantom on or all Phantom off. Nothing a few more modifications wouldn't help. But I'm lazy.

    Beautifully lazy
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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