Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Get that song on tape! Errr... disk?
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Larry Mal
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:28 am

I have a 4050 and I do not know if I like it. I might roll it into something I like better.

I wish I still had the 3035, I kept it at work and it was great for that. I would buy another.
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by mbene085 » Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:00 am

Consider the Studio Projects B3.

Yes, it's a Chinese LDC. No, it's not a Neumann. But it's a serviceable LDC with three selectable polar patterns (cardioid, omni, figure-8), a pad and high pass filter.

Worth the money just for the amount you will learn about figure-8 and omni polar patterns and mitigating proximity effect. On top of that you get as usable a LDC as you'll find in its price range.

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by eggwheat » Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:38 am

Also don’t automatically think LDC if on a low budget. I’ve almost always found SDC’s more impressive overall in the low budget range.

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:32 am

That's true, the original poster was asking about a microphone for vocals, so that's why I've been talking LDCs.

Not like you can't use an SCD for vocals, though.
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by eggwheat » Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:52 am

Yep..just throwing it in. I was so conditioned into thinking 'LDC for vocals' that I wouldn't ever reach for an SDC. If you have a pro, expensive LDC then that thinking works a lot of the time...however when transferring that thinking into the low budget range it doesn't seem to be true.

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by somanytoys » Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:24 am

Steadyriot. wrote:
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..
You can go with Mac's advice, but take mine with a grain of salt. I'm by no means any kind of an expert on mics. For the money, my MXLs works well enough for my purposes (mostly room capture), and seem to be pretty well made. Again, not a lot of experience - the best mic I own (out of 7) is a Sennheiser 421 II.

As an aside, I bought 2 Audix i5 mics instead of SM57s to record guitar amps with. I've read that some people prefer them over the 57, others don't. But the SM57 is the original standard, and even that has its fans and haters. I haven't really compared them yet to my Sennheiser e609s or my e906, or paired any of them with the 421, which is supposed to be pretty nice, as things go. I haven't really recorded much in a long time, actually, but I should.

BTW, the 990 comes with a shock mount, I'm assuming that any MXL mics that need it would, but can't say for sure. I saw it mentioned above that some other mics don't come with a shock mount, and I have no idea what those cost. Probably not too costly, since they threw one in with the mic for less than $100.

But no matter what you get, I fully agree on getting a pop filter if you will be using the mic for vox at all. They're only about $5 or so anyway, from what I remember, but they're a great, inexpensive investment to protect your mic investment. That's good advice.
-David

It's a boost booster, to boost your boost - it makes your tone much muchier.

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by cpeck » Sun Dec 15, 2019 6:09 pm

I think what Brad is saying is that there aren’t really any sleepers in that price range, and especially that nothing in that range is going to hold its value/be useful if you want to take recording seriously. If his tastes range towards the GS high end forum, it probably has much to do with the fact that he is a professional musician who has also helped build a highly-regarded professional recording studio/is actually engaged in the music business. He is one of very few OSG members in that position (AFAIK). Take from that what you will. If he’s recommending that AT mic, I would seriously consider it. You’ll note that he did not state you needed a $6000 microphone to start recording.

There are active recording fora that will convince you that you can tinker with junk and beat a U47 in a blind shootout, and since most people can’t afford old German tube mics without significant life rearranging, it’s kind of fun to daydream about the right combination of resistors and capacitors and plugins and DIY acoustic treatment that will make your bedroom sound as good as Studio 3 at United Western. There are a lot of “experts” in this domain — and usually, since recording is usually a hobby for these people, it becomes more of a thought experiment than anything else. I say this as someone who spent a lot of time dreaming of signal chains and closely adhering to rules of recording that are widely passed around as “truth” (ie: only cut, never boost!) by people who are adept at posting authoritatively on message boards (on myriad topics) and seemingly incapable of recognizing their own blind spots/desire to argue online/antagonize. I have a friend who is convinced the Alesis Micro Limiter is the Distressor killer...but with very little provocation, he will openly admit to being against sacred cows and will go out of his way to not use anything classic. My friends who like to tinker with stuff tend to do very little recording and a lot of tinkering/hypothesizing/talking. That’s fun in its own way. I just don’t find it terribly productive. It depends on what you want to do.

I think if you want to fuck around at home, any $100 LDC will do something different than your 57 and might help learn a few things as someone else mentioned up thread. For my money, I’d save and get an SM7B which is not a condenser, but serviceable for vocal recording and could be used for multiple other sources.

(I started with a Studio Projects B3. It sounded “amazing” and “clear” compared to my 57 to my 2005 ears. I think I still have it.)

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Steadyriot. » Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:11 am

mackerelmint wrote:
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.
I actually have one of those off brand-off brand mic's laying around.
One of these:
Image
Maybe I'll mess with that a bit. It doesn't sound bad; just a bit generic.
Larry Mal wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:28 am
I have a 4050 and I do not know if I like it. I might roll it into something I like better.

I wish I still had the 3035, I kept it at work and it was great for that. I would buy another.
I'm currently looking at a 2035 (the successor to the 3035). Seems like a good sounding mic for a good price and a step up from the 2020 (the 2020 is an electret mic vs the 2035 being a "real" condenser, for whatever that means). I can pick one up for a pretty good price I think so that one's on the top of my list right now.
eggwheat wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:52 am
Yep..just throwing it in. I was so conditioned into thinking 'LDC for vocals' that I wouldn't ever reach for an SDC. If you have a pro, expensive LDC then that thinking works a lot of the time...however when transferring that thinking into the low budget range it doesn't seem to be true.
It is easy to jump to LDC's indeed. I just feel it's a more "logical" mic than getting a SDC even though they can work just as well. Hell NPR does some of their vocals with a shotgun mic and they come out great almost always.
Being in front of an LDC just feels more "right" than standing in front of this:
Image
Especially since I'm used to stuffing these things into piano's.
It's not a logical thing, just a feel thing... ;)
cpeck wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 6:09 pm
I think what Brad is saying is that there aren’t really any sleepers in that price range, and especially that nothing in that range is going to hold its value/be useful if you want to take recording seriously. If his tastes range towards the GS high end forum, it probably has much to do with the fact that he is a professional musician who has also helped build a highly-regarded professional recording studio/is actually engaged in the music business. He is one of very few OSG members in that position (AFAIK). Take from that what you will. If he’s recommending that AT mic, I would seriously consider it. You’ll note that he did not state you needed a $6000 microphone to start recording.

There are active recording fora that will convince you that you can tinker with junk and beat a U47 in a blind shootout, and since most people can’t afford old German tube mics without significant life rearranging, it’s kind of fun to daydream about the right combination of resistors and capacitors and plugins and DIY acoustic treatment that will make your bedroom sound as good as Studio 3 at United Western. There are a lot of “experts” in this domain — and usually, since recording is usually a hobby for these people, it becomes more of a thought experiment than anything else. I say this as someone who spent a lot of time dreaming of signal chains and closely adhering to rules of recording that are widely passed around as “truth” (ie: only cut, never boost!) by people who are adept at posting authoritatively on message boards (on myriad topics) and seemingly incapable of recognizing their own blind spots/desire to argue online/antagonize. I have a friend who is convinced the Alesis Micro Limiter is the Distressor killer...but with very little provocation, he will openly admit to being against sacred cows and will go out of his way to not use anything classic. My friends who like to tinker with stuff tend to do very little recording and a lot of tinkering/hypothesizing/talking. That’s fun in its own way. I just don’t find it terribly productive. It depends on what you want to do.

I think if you want to fuck around at home, any $100 LDC will do something different than your 57 and might help learn a few things as someone else mentioned up thread. For my money, I’d save and get an SM7B which is not a condenser, but serviceable for vocal recording and could be used for multiple other sources.

(I started with a Studio Projects B3. It sounded “amazing” and “clear” compared to my 57 to my 2005 ears. I think I still have it.)
I know Brad's a professional musician and I respect his opinion. Hell I'm grateful that he even took the time to reply to my question.
The thing is; I'm not a professional musician and I'll probably never be one either. I just want to be able to record passable (demo) songs at home.
Ofcourse I'm not against investing in good gear but for now I don't feel that I'd get the full use out of a 200+ mic. If I ever decide to take the next step in the recording process towards more professionalism I bet I'll slowly expand my "mic locker" to keep it in GS terms... ;) For now I'll just "fuck around" with something that sounds passable.

Surely there are mic's out there that sound amazing on any and every source but I'm not at that level of recording nor do I aspire to own such things (right now). I like using what's available (and financially achievable) and I don't believe that every path is already set. I'm just set out to explore this new world of audio within my means and luckily this thread has given me a lot of good advice for which I'm grateful. I tend to research things to death and then move on because there's so many options and opinions out there. I'm at the point that I need to force myself to just buy something and see where it goes from there before I go even deeper into the rabbit hole and never come out of it owning a mic.

In the end it's all just about having fun.
"If someone duetted with a Bald Eagle, they could rule the Country charts from here to eternity." ~shadowplay

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by cpeck » Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:44 am

Steadyriot. wrote:
Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:11 am
In the end it's all just about having fun.
This is 100% the truth. Good luck!

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by somanytoys » Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:37 am

It seems to me that moving from being a musician to becoming any kind of an effective recording engineer, at least without some education, tutoring and/or practical hands on experience, is difficult and hugely time consuming - mostly because I have zero.

I feel I'm pretty good at using playing styles, pedals and amps to produce a lot of different sounds with both guitar and bass, but I'm sure in almost any situation, someone could always show me better ways. I've learned so much on this website, it's amazing, especially looking back to the time before - I'm actually kind of surprised that I haven't fucked more shit up over the years due to ignorance.

Just producing good sounds can be a complicated rabbit hole - guitar (wood, shape, strings, pickups, setup), pedals (circuit, type, order, impedence, settings) and amp (circuit, tubes, speakers, impedence, settings). There's so much to know just in the chain from your fingers to the speaker. I feel like I have a pretty decent grip on things now, but as I said, I know that I will continue to learn more, because there's just so much to know.

But to then take the leap to recording (the other side) seems to be an ocean of rabbit holes unto itself - room dynamics (size & shape, acoustics, treatment/traps), mics (type for application, placement), mic preamps (circuits, transformers, settings), interface, routing, tracks, outboards/plugins, levels, mixing, mastering...each one of those alone is a ton of information and variables to learn.

Kudos to Brad and Larry and Mac, and everyone else that has taken this dive and can at least tread water in these various aspects of recording.; But what's really cool is that with their knowledge and experience, are kind enough to give some advice and guidance to other people (like me) who are barely wallowing in a puddle of just one or 2 aspects. And drowning.

That's why I like this site so much, and the more posts the better. Because somewhere between all of the differing knowledge, experience, opinions and suggestions, you can figure out a much better path to what you're seeking than when you started.
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It's a boost booster, to boost your boost - it makes your tone much muchier.

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by soggy mittens » Mon Dec 16, 2019 6:45 pm

sm58 and/or sm57
If OSG has tort me anything...

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Lamar Fandango » Mon Dec 16, 2019 7:35 pm

I've had a pair of Audio Technica 4040's forever. The first one started as my first studio vocal mic. Even though I've moved on to other vocal mics, I still find uses for the old budget LDCs. Room mics, hi-hat mics, whatever. The Shure SM7b was my second "real" vocal mic, and now it has graduated to kick mic duty. When you get a budget vocal mic (Audio Technica, Röde, Blue, etc.), you may just find that it serves it's purpose well then moves on to fill other needs. By the way, some of my best demos were done with SM57's. It's ALWAYS about the performance.

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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by postchrist » Thu Feb 27, 2020 11:45 pm

brad’s advice makes sense to me, at least assuming as i’m sure he did that you’re looking to get into recording somewhat seriously (and if not, there is still a lot of value to his advice) - buy something that is good at what it does, or make what you have work for you. microphones are not inherently expensive, but within that category, there are complex/expensive technologies and simple/cheap technologies - both do the job, and an ldc is a more expensive and complex microphone to execute well.

my advice.. in your price point, you can buy a rode nt1, or cheaper, an mxl 990, and have a microphone that does a sort of okay job and will do the trick, or you can go up a bit in cost and buy a used and stellar dynamic, like an sm7b, re20, or md421, and have a mic that will do a lot of things incredibly well and last you the rest of your life. the at series can be really solid as well, good workhorses.

also, any of the aforementioned dynamics will hold their value better than a cheap condenser will, should you decide to change it out later down the road.
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Maggieo » Fri Feb 28, 2020 9:55 am

Bono uses an SM57 as his studio vocal mic, and everyone uses them for guitars.

The AT2020 & AT2021 large and small condenser set gets dumped on a bunch, but I've gotten some pretty good sounds out of them.

That said, I jumped on an Oktavamod 902 as soon as I could.
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Re: Looking for my first "studio" mic.

Post by Dok » Sat Feb 29, 2020 3:00 pm

In my never-ending quest to get a passable Neumann U87 clone, I got a Warm Audio WA-87 a few months back. It is a GREAT microphone for acoustic guitar and mono drum overhead, and very decent on vocals. I haven't tried it on anything else, but I assume it would be totally fine on electric or bass guitar. It's definitely not a U87 (I happened to pick one of those up too a couple of weeks back :w00t: :w00t: :w00t: ), but might be my favorite acoustic guitar mic that I've used.
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