Multipurpose LDC pair with a vibe? Low end ribbons?

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Multipurpose LDC pair with a vibe? Low end ribbons?

Post by alexevansohio » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:23 pm

Hey all,

I don't post over here too often, but I'm getting a bit sick of the negativity on Gearslutz, and have always found the members of the TapeOp forum to be really informative and helpful. Hopefully you guys can help out with this query.

This summer, I'm hoping to start doing freelance work on a bit of a more regular basis. I'm interning in one of the bigger studios in my city (The Monastery in Cincinnati, OH), and doing a fair amount of live sound work, and would really love to start tracking more regularly.

I'm working right now on getting my gear in order to be tracking a variety of projects fairly regular, both in a mobile setting or in a rented studio setting. Right now I have a 003, a few decent mid/low end mics (MK012s, 57s, AT3035, etc), and a pretty solid monitoring/headphone system. I'm running ProTools and Logic on a MacBook. In the next few months I will hopefully be building a couple CAPI preamps and buying a pair of Neve 511s, so I'll have some options in terms of pres.

I'd really like to get a versatile pair of large diaphragm condensers. My Oktavas sound awesome on a lot of stuff, but I could use some LDCs for variety and for a little different sound. The LDCs will be used on everything from vocals to overheads to strings to piano. I love the Oktavas on acoustic and piano, so I'll probably keep using them there, but it would still be nice to have options. I tend to go for big, natural, vintage-y sounding things- I really love the work Phil Ek did with Fleet Foxes, totally dig the last Arcade Fire album, etc.

C414s seem to be the stock answer for versatile LDCs, but I can't decide if they're too transparent for what I'm looking for. I've used the AT4050 with API pres in the past and dug it. I've also heard good things about the OktavaMod mics and the Shure KSM series as good mid-level LDCs. A while back someone offered to sell me a pair of Advanced Audio CM87's, which seemed cool. I've even been looking at the Stellar tube mics, though I don't know if they'd be versatile? I'd really like to stay in the 'around $1000' area for the pair. Obviously less would be nice, but I wouldn't be totally against going a little over.

I'm also interested in getting my first ribbon mic (or pair of ribbons maybe). I don't have as much cash for this, so any good options in ribbons for around $300 or less?

Thanks so much for your help,

Alex

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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:57 pm

You really can't go wrong with a 4050 or 2. They're mics you'll keep using long after you have more expensive options.
You might also want to look at a pair of modded Oktava 219s. They're not as versatile as the 4050 (cardiod only) but they're a great sounding mic. I have a pair that still get used on almost every session.

For ribbons you really can't beat the Apex 205 or 210. Unfortunately they're more expensive to re-ribbon than buy a new mic, but you'll get 4 or 5 years out of it before it craps out on you.

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Post by vvv » Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:00 pm

I love the AT4040 for overheads and also vocals, and at US$300 new it's a little cheaper than the 4050.

I think the slutz is on a big CAD M179 kick, and I like those, too, especially the multi-patterns.

Seems like I just posted about this stuff?

Anywhat, I have a single Blue Spark and a single KSM27, and think they be very cool if I had a pair of each.

Finally, I have this weird thing for ADK mic's (vox and amps, A-51 V especially), and even the MXL R144 ribbons (guitars, room, some vox); each are actually pretty cheap.

Of the above, the R144's may be the most vibey (do pull out the windscreens and pack the body) while still being flexible, the 4040 or M179's the most neutral, altho' I think they do kinda have a "sound".

Know what I really want for OH's, tho? I think a pair of M-Audio Luna's would rock - I have one and just love what I think is the transformer sound.
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Post by dfuruta » Fri Mar 22, 2013 7:09 pm

I have a Cascade Vinjet ribbon that I rather like. Not too expensive.

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Post by E.Bennett » Fri Mar 22, 2013 7:10 pm

shure ksm44 is an often overlooked microphone. a pair would serve you well.

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Post by Nick Sevilla » Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:42 pm

I would still recommend the AKG 414s.

The reason is that you state they will be used on a lot of different sources.

Thus why you do need a more transparent mic set.

You can always add the vibe later on with effects.

But you cannot remove bad vibe once it's on.

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Post by ott0bot » Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:50 am

gotta agree with Nick...transparency is not your enemy, especially on piano, vocals, and strings. vibe is more about performance, room sound, and what is added in the mix. that being said, maybe you are just looking to avoid the vibe-killing, terrible, over accentuated high frequency, cheap LDC's on the market.

for about a grand, here are my suggestions that will avoid that sound:

used pair of AT4050 - I agree with the the fellas. multi-pattern!! you will never outgrow them! not exactly vibe-y...but that's ok. make the music vibe and just capture it.

pair of used shure ksm44 - bassically...same comments as the 4050, but this one is a bit more clear...and super low self noise. great for piano and anything acoustic, but sounds great in vox and guitars.

used pair of Mojave ma201 fet - not multi pattern, but maybe a little more vibe-action. but again...will always be useful. I can't hunk of a source these dont flatter. these just make drums sound right in a world of wrong.

also look at new pair of Oktava MJE-K47H capsule heads...hearing lots of good stuff about them. comparisons to the Gefell umt71s...which rules. I have a pair of umt70s (multi pattern version) and I can't say enough good things about them, but that's way over your budget.

for ribbons look at the Cascade Fathead...you can pick up a single for cheap if a pair for around your budget. you can get transformer upgrades, but the stock ones so just fine. or maybe a modded Apex 210. check out the Oktavamod site for other mods and cheap ribbons.

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Post by alexevansohio » Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:55 am

Thanks to all of you for your responses!

Definitely some cool options being brought up.

I'm really mixed on whether I want to go for a really transparent pair of mics. As much as I would like something versatile, I find that most of my mixes currently sound good and balanced, but don't have a whole lot of character, which I attributed to transformerless (other than my SM57) microphones going into the fairly bland pres on the 003. I'd really like to get a bit more vibe and character right off the bat, rather than trying to add it in post with saturation plugins, etc. I do think the RND and CAPI preamps will definitely help to add some of that character, but it might be good to have mics with some character to them from the get-go, especially for vocals.

I'm really intrigued by the two Michael Joly options proposed (the 219 mods and the K47 capsule heads). It doesn't look like he's still offering the 219 mics new, but I found a number of used ones on Ebay very affordably ($300/pair in good condition), and the mod is $300/mic, so that seems totally doable. The K47's are a little more difficult, as I'd like to be able to use these mics alongside my MK012's, rather than instead of. Buying a pair of mics and bodies is $1600, so that's a bit out of my budget. I could potentially go with stock bodies and then just buy the capsule heads though.

I'm also intrigued by the Mojave 201fet mics, as I have a few friends using Mojave mics and getting great results. I'm still considering C414 variants, AT4050s, and KSM44's, but I can't decide if super-clean multipattern is what I'm going for.

I think for ribbon mics its in between the Fathead 'Bare Essential' model or the Apex 205s. I'll probably end up retensioning the ribbons and swapping transformers in either of them.

Please keep the opinions coming- Thanks!

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Post by themagicmanmdt » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:17 am

so, i love super vibey stuff.

414's have been some of the least favorite mics i've ever used. good for close mic toms, though! (that's a good bearing).

the AT stuff sounds good, but after extended time with them, i'd say a little non-3d sounding with kinda hashy treble that at first seems 'gently accentuated' and open. i like their turntable needles, though. still good LDC's.

shure mics have this... sound... tight right there bass and extended treble but not too hyped. eh.

honestly... i used to really dig the karma k-58. amazing on kicks and bass cabs or other pseudo bright-to-open LDC can offer. it's in the name and the story... something about the patents... just swap out the tube...

try forum member scott helmke's alice mic. i had a big 24' ceiling concrete studio with smooth echo. the sound of the 'grain' of helmke's mics feels big. it's like... a SDC with that LDC funkiness... instead of an LDC reaching for that SDC openness... i really have been trying to save up for one. http://www.scotthelmke.com/alice-mic.html


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or, try a DIY mic from the groupDIY forum. they're AMAZING for the same price... like... AMAZING.
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Post by James Anderson » Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:38 am

I also agree on the 414's - i picked up a used pair of $500 each. not my favourite - but certainly versatile and reasonably priced so that I don't mind traveling with them or using them in crazy places. i haven't found a love for the AT or Shure condensers that i've tried.

for ribbons the apex 210 (cleaned out of all the film) are pretty great. a pair of those will do you well if the mounts don't strip out.

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Post by James Anderson » Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:40 am

I also agree on the 414's - i picked up a used pair of $500 each. not my favourite - but certainly versatile and reasonably priced so that I don't mind traveling with them or using them in crazy places. i haven't found a love for the AT or Shure condensers that i've tried.

for ribbons the apex 210 (cleaned out of all the film) are pretty great. a pair of those will do you well if the mounts don't strip out.

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Post by alexevansohio » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:22 am

themagicmanmdt wrote:so, i love super vibey stuff.

414's have been some of the least favorite mics i've ever used. good for close mic toms, though! (that's a good bearing).

the AT stuff sounds good, but after extended time with them, i'd say a little non-3d sounding with kinda hashy treble that at first seems 'gently accentuated' and open. i like their turntable needles, though. still good LDC's.

shure mics have this... sound... tight right there bass and extended treble but not too hyped. eh.

honestly... i used to really dig the karma k-58. amazing on kicks and bass cabs or other pseudo bright-to-open LDC can offer. it's in the name and the story... something about the patents... just swap out the tube...

try forum member scott helmke's alice mic. i had a big 24' ceiling concrete studio with smooth echo. the sound of the 'grain' of helmke's mics feels big. it's like... a SDC with that LDC funkiness... instead of an LDC reaching for that SDC openness... i really have been trying to save up for one. http://www.scotthelmke.com/alice-mic.html


pocket change from the modern mic miser
(helpnessness blues sounded great. makes me want a 67!)

or, try a DIY mic from the groupDIY forum. they're AMAZING for the same price... like... AMAZING.
Thanks for your reply!

Your opinion on the C414 seems to really echo what little experience I've had with them. We used them as room mics on a project a while ago and they were super bland till we threw a bunch of saturation and compression plugins on them. We tried them on acoustic guitar and had similarly bland results. I did see them on toms in one of the 'Audiotree Live' sessions at Audiotree Studio in Chicago for a band called the Soil and the Sun, and they sounded awesome in that position.

The Karmas look interesting, but I'm reading a lot online about them having a pretty tinny sounding and slightly harsh high end. I'm really going for something fairly mid focused (a pair of U67s would be sweet...), or at least not too present.

I love the look of Scott's mics, plus the price is great. I may have to pick up one or two this summer! I'm intrigued by his other models as well- really interesting stuff.

Helpless Blues is such an excellent sounding album. Reading the interview with Phil Ek in Sound on Sound was such severe gear envy... U67's and 47's for days...

__

I think at this point, its looking like the OktavaMods are probably the best choice, since they have character but seem useable all over the place. I'd be intrigued to see how they stack up against the Stellar CM5 or CM6 models, which seem to be getting a lot of press as versatile, multipattern tube mics at a good price. Or even against the Advanced Audio mics, as they have U87 and fet47 clones that seem to get some good reviews. Any opinions on these? Thanks again folks!

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Post by The Scum » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:01 pm

Also, keep in mind that 414's have been around a long time, and evolved considerably. Not all 414's are similar.

A B-ULS is a pretty nice, somewhat colored mic. I just did a record with these on overheads, and was very happy with the sound.

A TL or TL-II, or the newer XL_ mics are more clinical. They don't excite me nearly as much. I'd just as soon use an AT4050.
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Post by alexevansohio » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:05 pm

The Scum wrote:Also, keep in mind that 414's have been around a long time, and evolved considerably. Not all 414's are similar.

A B-ULS is a pretty nice, somewhat colored mic. I just did a record with these on overheads, and was very happy with the sound.

A TL or TL-II, or the newer XL_ mics are more clinical. They don't excite me nearly as much. I'd just as soon use an AT4050.
That's definitely what I've been hearing- though it seems that the C414's with more personality tend to be more expensive used than the XL and XLS series. I think if I were to go for C414s, I'd want to go for the EB models, based on what I've read, but they sell for way over my budget.

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Post by Nick Sevilla » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:21 pm

alexevansmusic wrote:...I find that most of my mixes currently sound good and balanced, but don't have a whole lot of character...
Hi again.

This I am afraid to say, has more to do with how you are mixing.

I get a lot of material that I did not record, and I have to make it fun and exciting no matter what I am given.

In my experience I always prefer a good clean recording, to one which is compromised in some way by too many transformers / tubes / "vibe" that cannot possibly be undone nor mixed into another artistic direction. Artists change their minds often enough, so a clean recording allows me to change the vibe of the audio much much easier, without having my hands tied to a particular sound type or quality.
It is sad, but that is how it is. Most artists nowadays really do not have their
own sound vibe together in their heads, never mind their gear. Especially newbies,
or ones that are always "reinventing" themselves, or worse yet, the ones who
believe that you the engineer are there to "make it happen".

Cheers
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