Looking for my first "studio" mic.

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Steadyriot.
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Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Steadyriot. » Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:16 am

I've been thinking about getting a microphone for some home recordings for a while now and I think it's time to take the step!
Problem is: I don't know what to get; there's so many mic's out there and everybody seems to rave about another one that I'm just not sure what to get.

Live I use a Shure SM57a which works great with my voice.
The mic I'll end up buying will be used mainly for male vocals, both clean and with some grit (think Taking Back Sunday and the Menzingers) but mic'ing guitarcabs etc. isn't out of the question too.

Budget wise I'd like to stay beneath a 150 Euro's and I'm not scared to go onto the used market. Ofcourse there's some stretch for the "best microphone ever".

The interface I run is a Behringer UMC 404 into Garageband.

Mic's I've been considering:
Audio Technica AT-2020 (or one of it's bigger brothers), this seems to be the go-to "first mic" for many people.
Blue Spark, Blue is known for their great mic's but this one gets mixed reviews, especially for gruff male vocals.
SE X1-s, SE has a pretty good track record so their more budget friendly mic seems like a good bet.
Rode Procaster, I'm used to dynamic microphones so this seems like a safe bet though maybe not as versatile.

Do you have any other suggestions? Other ideas? I'd love to hear them!
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by mackerelmint » Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:29 am

Skip the spark, it's kinda boxy. Same with any Rode mic, there's something unpleasant about the hi mids that I've heard in several models personally and everyone says is just part and parcel with Rode since they make their own diaphragms, I guess, and that's just how they make them.

I have an MXL 57 that I did a little modding to and it sounds fantastic. It sounded surprisingly good prior to upgrading it, too. Really, any condenser mic you get at that price point under 200 bucks or so is coming from the same factory in Shanghai. QC varies a little, and some models have a bit of a resonant peak, but a couple of capacitors swapped will smooth it out.

Get a Shanghai special and don't spend more than 100 on it, is my advice. Even if you get a dog, you can massage them into shape if you're willing to spend an hour with a soldering iron. Guts can be done for a few bucks' worth of parts, and you can stick a really nice condenser element in there if you're willing to spend a little more on that than you did the microphone, and then have a really nice mic. It can grow with you, as it were.
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by somanytoys » Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:22 pm

I bought a couple of MXL 990 mics (midnight version), and while they aren’t vocal mics, I’ve been pretty happy with them.

They’re probably not fabulous by any means, but I don’t have a lot of experience or knowledge with mics, and for less than $100 (each) and for my measly home purposes, they work well. I assume that this is the case with other MXL mics as well, and many new paths are about starting out small or reasonable, and working your way up, whether that’s upgrading what you have or selling and buying better.

I saw a YouTube video where a guy modded a 990, replaced 2 or 3 components (2 caps & the condenser? Can’t remember) and ripped out the inner screen. I may try it one day on one, and see how much of an improvement it is over the other one, and go from there. Maybe it’ll just be different, which can also be cool.

Good luck on your new rabbit hole!
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by nanamour » Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:37 pm

Of the mics you mentioned specifically, I have some experience using an AT2020 on vocals for some demos and the like. I find it a bit on the bright and harsher side (especially on the high end), but perfectly serviceable. Note (if you are buying new) that the 2020 doesn't include a shock mount, which may be something you should budget for down the road.

If you can stretch your budget by just a hair and do some prowling on the used market, the AT4033 is pretty well respected among the low-cost large diaphragm condenser mics, and a friend of mine has gotten some very nice results on a range of vocals and acoustic instruments with hers.

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Larry Mal » Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:00 pm

I sold an AT3035 for about $90 and that was a good microphone.
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by øøøøøøø » Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:11 pm

In your price range, I think it might be okay to stick with the SM57.

I frankly can’t think of a condenser in that price bracket that I’d consider worth owning. Maybe a used Audio Technica 4033, if you could stretch the budget just a tad and find a used one?

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Larry Mal » Thu Dec 12, 2019 7:07 pm

Somehow, Brad, I'm skeptical to think that you bought a Shure SM57 and then never owned a large diaphragm condenser microphone until you could afford your Neumann U87 or whatever.

I mean, I know you used to use a Digidesign 002, so it's not like you sprang fully formed out of Zeus' head with your Neumann microphones or anything. I'll bet anything that you cycled through an assortment of prosumer large diaphragm microphones, learning from them each step of the way about what they could provide and what they could not.

I've never known what to make of your advice to people to keep using a Shure SM57 until they hit the $1500 range, and I'll wager anything that you didn't actually do that yourself, either.

I'll just bet anything.

.
Last edited by Larry Mal on Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by MT » Thu Dec 12, 2019 8:36 pm

What does a Heil PR30 cost on the used market in your part of the world? Mine is great on a guitar cab and are good for vocals also from what I’ve read. It’s not like a 57 though. It’s a dynamic mic that sounds kind of like a condenser mic. If you already have a 57, they’d make a great pair. I’ve got a Beta 57 and the PR30 on my cab at the moment.

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Steadyriot. » Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:12 am

mackerelmint wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:29 am
Skip the spark, it's kinda boxy. Same with any Rode mic, there's something unpleasant about the hi mids that I've heard in several models personally and everyone says is just part and parcel with Rode since they make their own diaphragms, I guess, and that's just how they make them.

I have an MXL 57 that I did a little modding to and it sounds fantastic. It sounded surprisingly good prior to upgrading it, too. Really, any condenser mic you get at that price point under 200 bucks or so is coming from the same factory in Shanghai. QC varies a little, and some models have a bit of a resonant peak, but a couple of capacitors swapped will smooth it out.

Get a Shanghai special and don't spend more than 100 on it, is my advice. Even if you get a dog, you can massage them into shape if you're willing to spend an hour with a soldering iron. Guts can be done for a few bucks' worth of parts, and you can stick a really nice condenser element in there if you're willing to spend a little more on that than you did the microphone, and then have a really nice mic. It can grow with you, as it were.
Yeah I figured as much with the spark.
I'm not opposed to modding but if I can find something off the shelf that works I'd prefer that. I'll keep it in mind though!
somanytoys wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:22 pm
I bought a couple of MXL 990 mics (midnight version), and while they aren’t vocal mics, I’ve been pretty happy with them.

They’re probably not fabulous by any means, but I don’t have a lot of experience or knowledge with mics, and for less than $100 (each) and for my measly home purposes, they work well. I assume that this is the case with other MXL mics as well, and many new paths are about starting out small or reasonable, and working your way up, whether that’s upgrading what you have or selling and buying better.

I saw a YouTube video where a guy modded a 990, replaced 2 or 3 components (2 caps & the condenser? Can’t remember) and ripped out the inner screen. I may try it one day on one, and see how much of an improvement it is over the other one, and go from there. Maybe it’ll just be different, which can also be cool.

Good luck on your new rabbit hole!
I'll look into those MXL's some more if you both recommend them! They just seem so.. off-brand. It's easy to gravitate towards the more "mainstream" brands but I guess I should keep an open mind!

A rabbit hole it sure is..
nanamour wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:37 pm
Of the mics you mentioned specifically, I have some experience using an AT2020 on vocals for some demos and the like. I find it a bit on the bright and harsher side (especially on the high end), but perfectly serviceable. Note (if you are buying new) that the 2020 doesn't include a shock mount, which may be something you should budget for down the road.

If you can stretch your budget by just a hair and do some prowling on the used market, the AT4033 is pretty well respected among the low-cost large diaphragm condenser mics, and a friend of mine has gotten some very nice results on a range of vocals and acoustic instruments with hers.
Larry Mal wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:00 pm
I sold an AT3035 for about $90 and that was a good microphone.
I'll look into those AT mic's some more! I see them mentioned quite a lot online and I have a few friends and relatives that own one (2020) so trying one out should be easy. They seem to pop up on the used market too every now and then.
øøøøøøø wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:11 pm
In your price range, I think it might be okay to stick with the SM57.

I frankly can’t think of a condenser in that price bracket that I’d consider worth owning. Maybe a used Audio Technica 4033, if you could stretch the budget just a tad and find a used one?
Really? Nothing out there that tickles your fancy?
I'll check out the 4033
MT wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 8:36 pm
What does a Heil PR30 cost on the used market in your part of the world? Mine is great on a guitar cab and are good for vocals also from what I’ve read. It’s not like a 57 though. It’s a dynamic mic that sounds kind of like a condenser mic. If you already have a 57, they’d make a great pair. I’ve got a Beta 57 and the PR30 on my cab at the moment.
New they run at about 350.
I can't find any online but a used pr40 runs 275 so I'd bet they'd be around the 200-250 mark.
I'll keep an eye on the pr30!
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by mackerelmint » Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:00 am

Bear in mind that Brad's idea of "worth owning" and subsequent input is more at home in the hair-splittingest areas of Gearslutz where people seem to get genuinely angry at each other about the least consequential of minutiae. I doubt there's a condenser mic for less than a grand that he'd consider fit to record so much as a bout of flatulence with.

Sorry, Brad, but you weigh in on "looking for meat and potatoes" with "caviar or death" almost every time.

As for MXL being off brand, that's the funny thing. They are, a bit. But like I said, at the low end of the price spectrum, condenser mics are all coming from the same factory in Shanghai. Same schoeps-derived circuit, same small selection of a few condensers. They slap different labels on them. If you really wanna get off brand Shangai mic, get a Nady, those seem to go for like 25 bucks used and they're the same as the rest.
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by eggwheat » Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:27 am

One mic I've really liked on vocals recently is the Oktava MK-012. I've had one for years that's been used here and there(mainly on snare) but never tried it on vocals....it's exceptional for the money. Plenty on ebay secondhand within budget.

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by øøøøøøø » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:40 am

Larry Mal wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 7:07 pm
Somehow, Brad, I'm skeptical to think that you bought a Shure SM57 and then never owned a large diaphragm condenser microphone until you could afford your Neumann U87 or whatever.

I mean, I know you used to use a Digidesign 002, so it's not like you sprang fully formed out of Zeus' head with your Neumann microphones or anything. I'll bet anything that you cycled through an assortment of prosumer large diaphragm microphones, learning from them each step of the way about what they could provide and what they could not.

I've never known what to make of your advice to people to keep using a Shure SM57 until they hit the $1500 range, and I'll wager anything that you didn't actually do that yourself, either.

I'll just bet anything.

.
I mean... I suggested a $200 (used) condenser mic in my post?

All I’m saying is: You can get a very good dynamic mic for only a few hundred dollars, or less.

Some people don’t like the SM57, but it’s self-evident that it’s at least a real thing—a professional recordist with a great mic locker will usually still find it useful, at least occasionally.

When you can afford other mics, you will keep the 57 because it will still be useful. I think that makes it a better investment than most cheap mics.

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:07 am

Sure, and while that's a good thing, at the same time, spending years with a Shure SM57 does not teach you what LDC microphones are all about and how they can be useful, but even a low level prosumer LDC can do that.

I would say that anybody interested in recording would do well to explore the world of the large diaphragm condenser, same as the other kinds of microphones. And if the budget only allows for the AT2020, then you should get one of those.

That's all I'm saying- if you have the Shure SM57, and are looking to learn more about recording, then you should get the best large diaphragm condenser that your budget allows for, unless you are looking to get into a small diaphragm condenser, or a ribbon, or what have you. You should get the best one you can afford in any case and get to learning.
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:20 am

And for the record a 4033 would be a good choice- better than the 2020, that's for sure. I did like my 3035 but I didn't really use it a lot, since I have better microphones, I ended up selling it.

At that price point, I like Blue Baby Bottles, also.

The Rode NT1 microphones are also pretty popular and can be found used.

You also mentioned sEelectronics, and I've never used any of their large diaphragm condenser microphones. I have used some of their other stuff, though, and I will say that I feel it represents very good value for the money.
Last edited by Larry Mal on Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Dok » Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:24 am

Larry Mal wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:20 am
And for the record a 4033 would be a good choice- better than the 2020, that's for sure. I did like my 3035 but I didn't really use it a lot, since I have better microphones, I ended up selling it.

At that price point, I like Blue Baby Bottles, also.
I've had a 3035, a 4033, and a 4050. I still have the 3035. It is a GREAT microphone for the price, just get a good pop filter.
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