Help on Choosing Microphones

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

Ryan H.
audio school
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2005 6:45 pm

Help on Choosing Microphones

Post by Ryan H. » Sat Nov 12, 2005 7:21 pm

So, I'd like your opinion on really good but fairly cheap (under $300) microphones for somebody just beginning their recording career. Is the AT2020 as good as the hype suggests? Is it worth paying 40 bucks for a used Marshal MXL 603S or $99 for an Oktava MK219? Would these be useful additions to a mic collection or a waste of money? What about the Rode NT3? Any good?

How can I get the most bang for my buck with a budget of around $500? I'll need mic's that are good for vocals, guitar (acoustic and electric), bass, and drums. Please keep in mind that I already know about, and own, the SM57...

Thanks in advance!

Professor
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3307
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 2:11 pm
Location: I have arrived... but where the hell am I?

Post by Professor » Sun Nov 13, 2005 1:53 am

Believe it or not, that's a pretty diverse array of instruments to try to record, and there really isn't one microphone that will do it all. Heck, most people try to have at least four mics at once when recording drums.
My usual recommendation is to focus on the kind of mic locker you'd like to eventually develop, and work your way there a step at a time. A good basic starting recipe is to have a pair of multi-pattern Large Diaphragm Condensers (LDCs), and a pair of Small diaphragm condensers (SDCs) in either cardioid or omni depending on the quality of the room(s) you typically record in, and at least one medium-to-large diaphragm dynamic (Sennheiser 421, Shure Beta-52, RE-20, etc), and a handful of smaller dynamics like your SM-57. You don't have to buy them all at once, but drawing out a plan and working towards it one or two mics at a time will help get you there faster. And a mic locker like that will allow you to toss up 8 mics to record a typical drums, bass, guitar, vocals, live to multi-track session, as well as damn near anything that might come your way. These are all the basic food groups, with the multi-pattern LDCs that allow you to hit all the basic stereo mic configurations, the SDCs to handle detailed instrument duties when the LDCs are busy, the big dynamic for kick, bass or hardcore vocals, and the small dynamics for drums, amps, and other utility applications.

As for which brand to purchase, well damn near anything in that low price point is going to be built in either China or Russia. If price is your primary motivating factor then get a couple of those MXL project packs with the LDC and SDC mic packaged together, then you've got your two pairs of condensers with some change left over. If build-quality, reliability or sound are your primary factors, then you might choose to buy one better quality SDC (AKG, Audio Technica, Shure, etc.) and another '57 now, then make the same purchase in a few months when you have more cash, then add one LDC, then pair it, and then add your large dynamic. Then in a year's time, you'll have the whole basic package, you'll know those mics really well, you'll have learned about placement and patterns and standard setups, and you might choose to add more colorful choices of LDCs, SDCs and dynamics, or you might move towards more esoteric colors like ribbons or tubes - or you may decide you have everything you'll need for a while and will concentrate your efforts in other directions.

-Jeremy

Cyan421
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 192
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2005 3:56 pm
Location: Idaho (On The Causeway to Neverwhere)

Post by Cyan421 » Sun Nov 13, 2005 2:03 am

thats some good advice there.

But i would suggest that you try your hand at a an audio tecnica 4050. Thats microphones are fabulous. I like you would get a lot of use out of it. If you look hard enough you could find one used for about 5 bills. I thats probly about the best mic in that price range.
"What a wonerful smell you've discovered"

Professor
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3307
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 2:11 pm
Location: I have arrived... but where the hell am I?

Post by Professor » Sun Nov 13, 2005 2:10 am

Cyan421 wrote:But i would suggest that you try your hand at a an audio tecnica 4050. Thats microphones are fabulous.
I agree thoroughly which is why I own two personally and four for the school studio. But it would blow the whole current budget on just one microphone, which is something to consider as well.

-Jeremy

Cyan421
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 192
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2005 3:56 pm
Location: Idaho (On The Causeway to Neverwhere)

Post by Cyan421 » Sun Nov 13, 2005 2:16 am

yeah your probly right. I woiuld buy more cheap mics before the more expensive ones. But im also a bad impuse spender, so if i had 500 bucks lying around and need a mic it would be the 4050. But you are right about the blowing the budget thing.
"What a wonerful smell you've discovered"

User avatar
transmothra
gimme a little kick & snare
Posts: 87
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2003 12:21 pm
Location: Columbus, OH
Contact:

Post by transmothra » Sun Nov 13, 2005 6:46 am

i love the Marshalls. they sound great for being so cheap. i got my MXL990 for about $100 new. it's no-frills, for sure, but it's cheap and it does its job nicely.

like [just about] any condensor mic, you'll need phantom power if you get one.
...do you believe that?

jeremyjarratt.com | bandcamp | soundcloud

KennyLusk
dead but not forgotten
Posts: 2037
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2004 10:22 am
Location: Ramah, New Mexico

Post by KennyLusk » Sun Nov 13, 2005 9:19 am

I agree with the others that the AT 4050 is a great mic.

But you can pickup the AT3035 for $199 each and they are so sweet and versatile. Not bad for mic'ing cab's, really great for vocals and a dream on acoustic instruments. An outfit is selling them on ebay right now for $135 each. I bought one from them just to see if they're legit and yup, they're the real deal. The AT mics have little to no self-noise also.

The AT2020 meets up to the hype also.

I can also say Scott Helmke's "Alice" mic is an incredible buy as well. It has it's own "sound" with a powerful output, freakishly accurate mids, super tight low end and the high's are strong but never brittle.

If you buy anything Oktava I would recommend popping the xtra coin and making the purchase from The Sound Room. No one carries the quality Sound Room does when it comes to Oktava and there's a huge difference between what you get from them and what you get from say...Guitar Center.

User avatar
jca83
carpal tunnel
Posts: 1689
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 2:58 pm
Location: Nashville, TN

Post by jca83 » Sun Nov 13, 2005 9:52 am

a pair of oktava mk-012's.
that devil bastard protools

User avatar
mjau
genitals didn't survive the freeze
Posts: 3933
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2003 7:33 pm
Location: Good Luck, Virginia
Contact:

Post by mjau » Mon Nov 14, 2005 2:44 am

FWIW, a used at4050 can often be found for less than $350. I got mine for $200.

Evergreen
gimme a little kick & snare
Posts: 75
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2004 2:03 pm
Location: Dekalb, IL
Contact:

Post by Evergreen » Mon Nov 14, 2005 12:51 pm

I will second ( or 3rd or 4th...) the Audio-Technica 4050. Excellent mutli-pattern mic for the money. I got 2 for $700. They were B-stock but I got the full warranty so I figured I couldn't lose....and I didn't. But it seems the place I got them no longer has them any more though. I've seen them go on Ebay for about $300-400.

If you can get the MXL 603 you mentioned for $40...do it. It is an pretty good mic...especially for $40. I have one and still use it sometimes.

Also...I have never used a CAD M179 but I have read MANY good things about it. It is a mutli-pattern condenser and goes for about $200. I think it is important to have a multi-pattern if you have a small mic collection because it will give you so many more options as far as placement and sounds that you would normally not have with just a bunch of cardioids.

Tim

janusmusic
pushin' record
Posts: 275
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 9:35 pm

Post by janusmusic » Mon Nov 14, 2005 2:50 pm

Is it worth paying 40 bucks for a used Marshal MXL 603S
Hey absolutely yes it is! where do you see them used for that much.? I need one more
Brian

User avatar
soundguy
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3182
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 12:50 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by soundguy » Mon Nov 14, 2005 10:23 pm

If I had to make a record with nothing but 421's I think I might actually be excited about it. I cant think of too many other mics that are that versatile.

dave
http://www.glideonfade.com
one hundred percent discrete transistor recording with style and care.

User avatar
lobstman
buyin' gear
Posts: 548
Joined: Fri May 16, 2003 12:36 pm
Location: Earth C-137

Post by lobstman » Mon Nov 14, 2005 11:03 pm

soundguy wrote:If I had to make a record with nothing but 421's I think I might actually be excited about it. I cant think of too many other mics that are that versatile.
Gonna have to give a "me too" on that. In the $300 and under category, why do people always forget about the high end dynamics- 421, 441, RE20, RE38, SM7, etc? I'd much rather have one of those than any cheap Chinese condenser.
Steve Albini used to like it

User avatar
theenvycorps
ass engineer
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 4:51 pm

Post by theenvycorps » Tue Nov 15, 2005 12:20 am

Marshall V69me is great. Swap out the tube and it gets even better. I use it on everything. That'll run you about $300. I'd pocket the $200 and wait until you could afford a $300-$400 dynamic as mentioned before. If you're doing drums, check into an RE20 or SM7 as they do a decent job on kick.

junkstar
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 1:16 pm
Location: new york
Contact:

Post by junkstar » Tue Nov 15, 2005 6:18 am

I'll vote for the 421 too. That leaves you with enough cash to pick up a D112 for kick.

That gives you three mics total, right?

57 or 421 for snare, D112 for kick (then when you can, squeeze another $60 out of your wallet and pick up an MXL as a mono overhead).

Then you can use the 57 and 421 for elect or acoustic guitar, the D112 for bass cab, and the 421 for vocals.

An inexpensive solution that may plaese you to no end.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 23 guests