Condenser Microphone - Opinions

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ghettosynth
KVRAF
11097 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Post Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:57 pm

kgdrum wrote:IMO preamps in most i/o's are not really "up to snuff".......
See if you can borrow or rent a good preamp for a day.
Well, for me, I just don't find this to be that true. Differences in microphone were always much more dramatic than differences in preamps. Don't get me wrong, you do need more oomph and it needs to be quiet oomph for the SM7B, or even a modified SM57, or a ribbon mic, but I don't think that preamps are going to wake up the budget condensers that we're talking about. Of course I'm assuming that your interface has at least decent preamps with sufficient gain. Yes, they will be clean, so if you're looking for color a different preamp might give you that, but, assuming that you have enough gain, there are other ways to get preamp color.

https://www.recordingrevolution.com/you ... d-nor-bad/

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RichieWitch
KVRian
531 posts since 15 Jun, 2015

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:08 am

miketurn wrote:@RichieWitch
Funny you mention that you have some MXL ribbon mics, because I was just looking up the MXL R144, is that one of the ribbon mics you have?
Yes, I have the MXL R144 and the MXL R40, and while they are perfectly serviceable if you need a figure 8 mic for mid/side configurations, they really aren't up to the task of being the main mic.

Good ribbon mics are expensive for a reason--they are difficult to manufacture and hard to maintain to get equal pick-up on both sides of the mic. I've already replaced the ribbons on my MXL ribbon mics because the ribbons start to sag, and it's something that requires learning a whole new skill set and a bunch of unique, hard-to-find tools to do. The transformers in those mics are cheap too, which means very low output signal. You are going to have to boost the signal even more (so more noise)--and ribbon mics already require an extra boost to use anyway.

This still makes the MXL ribbons a good choice for basic figure 8 duties, but I've never liked them for vocals. If you want to use a ribbon mic, spend the extra money and get something good.

ghettosynth
KVRAF
11097 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:19 am

RichieWitch wrote:
miketurn wrote:@RichieWitch
Funny you mention that you have some MXL ribbon mics, because I was just looking up the MXL R144, is that one of the ribbon mics you have?
Yes, I have the MXL R144 and the MXL R40, and while they are perfectly serviceable if you need a figure 8 mic for mid/side configurations, they really aren't up to the task of being the main mic.

Good ribbon mics are expensive for a reason--they are difficult to manufacture and hard to maintain to get equal pick-up on both sides of the mic. I've already replaced the ribbons on my MXL ribbon mics because the ribbons start to sag, and it's something that requires learning a whole new skill set and a bunch of unique, hard-to-find tools to do. The transformers in those mics are cheap too, which means very low output signal. You are going to have to boost the signal even more (so more noise)--and ribbon mics already require an extra boost to use anyway.
So, whichever one of these I have, and no I don't recall, is the one that I use. I agree with this, but, it's still better for my vocals than the condensers that I have.
This still makes the MXL ribbons a good choice for basic figure 8 duties, but I've never liked them for vocals. If you want to use a ribbon mic, spend the extra money and get something good.
Which is why I wasn't really recommending the cheap MXLs, only suggesting that looking at a decent ribbon might be better than a middle of the road condenser.
Last edited by ghettosynth on Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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RichieWitch
KVRian
531 posts since 15 Jun, 2015

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:41 am

ghettosynth wrote:Which is why I wasn't really recommending the cheap MXLs, only suggesting that looking at a decent ribbon might be better than a middle of the road condenser.
Yeah, I can relate to that. I've often wondered if something like an sE Electronics Voodoo VR1 might sound even better than the Baby Bottle for vocals, but I don't do enough vocal recording to justify the price to find out.

I've certainly come across enough folks who swear by ribbon mics for vocals, so it still nags me from time to time.

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Mister Natural
KVRAF
2256 posts since 28 Oct, 2007 from michigan

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:43 am

I also only record male voice and acoustic GTR and here's what I found. I tried several and I don't like working with condenser mics in my modest home studio. They're too sensitive. What I mean by sensitive is that they hear too much.
example : I did a recording of my acoustic and I couldn't help but hear this really weird sound in the background of the recording. Tried the take again, and there it was again. It took me 2 frustrating weeks of fussing and really digging into the recordings to determine that the sound was . . . of my breathing; holding my breath during the tricky parts and then exhaling. No amount of mic placement, slow and steady breathing, EQing could prevent that from my takes thereafter with that mic and a couple of other LDCs that I tried.
The only solution was using a cardioid dynamic. Lately I'm having terrific success with the Shure Beta 57a for both vocal and GTR & have sold everything else in my mic "locker".

Best of luck to you
"the digital photo of that guitar just doesn't have the same warmth as an analog photo for me"
https://soundcloud.com/mrnatural-1/tracks

Scotty
KVRAF
1657 posts since 23 Dec, 2002

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:01 pm

THere is some truth in that. I tracked a delicate solo finger picked acoustic recording using 3 mics and the breathing and soft whistles from my nostrils sounded like a freight train coming through the middle of town. I actually put on a filtered breathing mask to control it. I did get the sound I was chasing in the end but you are right... they are very sensitive.

Mister Natural wrote:I also only record male voice and acoustic GTR and here's what I found. I tried several and I don't like working with condenser mics in my modest home studio. They're too sensitive. What I mean by sensitive is that they hear too much.
example : I did a recording of my acoustic and I couldn't help but hear this really weird sound in the background of the recording. Tried the take again, and there it was again. It took me 2 frustrating weeks of fussing and really digging into the recordings to determine that the sound was . . . of my breathing; holding my breath during the tricky parts and then exhaling. No amount of mic placement, slow and steady breathing, EQing could prevent that from my takes thereafter with that mic and a couple of other LDCs that I tried.
The only solution was using a cardioid dynamic. Lately I'm having terrific success with the Shure Beta 57a for both vocal and GTR & have sold everything else in my mic "locker".

Best of luck to you
Asusp9712Core,RayDats,OASYSPCI,Cubase9,KorgLeg,Avalon737s+2022,UA4710D,6176,DCS,LA610MK2s,Neve, ARC2, Soundtoys,UADOCTO,AdamA7X, SphereMics, BCF+R2000s, DrmBrut,MiniLog,Volcas,MoogSubPhat,EnsqDP4,VirusC,Scope,MinBrut,Plugiator,NIS61 Ultimate,ComposrsCld.

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RichieWitch
KVRian
531 posts since 15 Jun, 2015

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:22 pm

@Mister Natural and Scotty,

I'd be interested to hear what mics you were using. Pencil-style small diaphragm condenser mics are your friends for these applications. Placed a few inches from the strings at an angle to the sound hole gets you a lovely tone and avoids any noise from the player. And the smaller diaphragm picks up the sounds of acoustic strings better too in most cases due to the higher-frequency harmonics of the instrument.

I record local singer/songwriter types in my home studio, using a pencil mic as I've described, and I've never picked up the guitar player's breathing. My "sound booth" is two sets of folding canvas screens from Pier One, so I'm not talking fancy, expensive sound isolation either. LOL

Those cheap screens keep the sound of my computer, the air conditioning, and the refrigerator out of my large diaphragm mics too, in case anyone is looking for ideas... :phones:

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Mister Natural
KVRAF
2256 posts since 28 Oct, 2007 from michigan

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:30 pm

RW - you may be right with regard to small diaphragm mics, your experience with mics is perhaps more successful than mine(AT, MXL, Shure LDC and SDCs) . . . but I've found a simple solution, for me : for now - with the b57a > Tascam uh7000 very carefully gain-staged > ASIO > LIVE9

peace
"the digital photo of that guitar just doesn't have the same warmth as an analog photo for me"
https://soundcloud.com/mrnatural-1/tracks

ghettosynth
KVRAF
11097 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:26 pm

RichieWitch wrote:
ghettosynth wrote:Which is why I wasn't really recommending the cheap MXLs, only suggesting that looking at a decent ribbon might be better than a middle of the road condenser.
Yeah, I can relate to that. I've often wondered if something like an sE Electronics Voodoo VR1 might sound even better than the Baby Bottle for vocals, but I don't do enough vocal recording to justify the price to find out.

I've certainly come across enough folks who swear by ribbon mics for vocals, so it still nags me from time to time.

That's one fashionable microphone! I don't record enough vocals to justify anything else either, so there we are.

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Hermetech Mastering
KVRian
933 posts since 30 May, 2003 from Paris

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:41 am

Look at Advanced Audio for great, hand built mics on a budget. I recently got a CM48T and it's the best tube condenser I've owned, very vintage and smooth sounding. I'm gonna pick up their DM20 soon (RE20/SM7 clone), crazy cheap:

http://advancedaudio.ca/products/dm20

JCJR
KVRAF
2342 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:13 am

I have not used a shure beta57 for a long time. Do not know if the modern versions are the same sound. I recall Beta 57 being one of the better dynamics for vocals, to my taste for vocals. In the past I worked a long gig with dozens of decent singers over the years and Beta 57 seemed to capture their individual tone better than most dynamic mics.

It should be noted however that many singers did not especially consider it a favorite. I think it is because a lot of singers somehow wanted to sound "larger than life" with more bass or high mids than are natural. The beta 57 has some presence boosting but the boost peaks are higher in frequency than many live dynamic mics. So it tends to have a nice flat sound.even with some presence boosting almost high enough to be in the "airy" frequency range.

It is also a good mic for horns and drums.

Beta 57 sounds entirely different than sm 57. Sm 57 is a good cheap mic but is peakier and less-flat sounding than beta 57. The sm 57 peaks make it useful for many tasks but are lower frequency than beta 57.

If looking for older cheap mics, if you can get a good price on a shure sm 59 its worth a try. 59 is slightly lower output than typical but not too bad. It is a very flat response dynamic. Many singers thought it didn't have enough bass or mids, but that is because it has balanced freq response rather than being an exaggerated caricature.

Old EV omni dynamics, broadcast or instrument mics are also good on vocals if you find one cheap. I got real good tracks on some good vocalists long ago with an EV PL 9. Unfortunately some of those old omni dynamic models have got expensive as "collector vintage items".

Ain't recommending dynamics above condensers for vocal. Just mentioning some dynamics that I recall sounding better than average.

Beyer m88 and RE20 and such were already mentioned.

AT makes some large diaphragm dynamics not real expensive. Some of em look like baby RE20. Sold as not too expensive instrument mics. Always been curious how they might sound. Never tried one.

miketurn
KVRist
155 posts since 22 Jun, 2015

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Thu Mar 23, 2017 5:50 pm

Hey guys, wow love to see the interactions that are going on here, I have read through the posts quickly, once I can read through them with a little more focus, I will respond more properly.

@IIRs
Crazy little tidbit I came across, the Aston Microphones you mentioned are actually made by the two founders who started sE Electronics which I coincidentally mentioned one of their mics in my original post. Both of these UK companies get great reviews. As I mentioned was there a reason you prefer the Spirit over the Origin other than it has the multi pattern option? Thank again for your recommendation, I am still looking into them.

Scotty
KVRAF
1657 posts since 23 Dec, 2002

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:05 am

Good point.. my small diaphragm condenser mic selection is limited and they may not have been up to the job. I did try them in all the standard guitar micing layouts and didn't like the sound ( the guitar sounded boxy or tinny ) but they aren't in the same league as my other mics. I sit in a classical guitar posture with the neck of the guitar angled up toward my face.
RichieWitch wrote:@Mister Natural and Scotty,

I'd be interested to hear what mics you were using. Pencil-style small diaphragm condenser mics are your friends for these applications. Placed a few inches from the strings at an angle to the sound hole gets you a lovely tone and avoids any noise from the player. And the smaller diaphragm picks up the sounds of acoustic strings better too in most cases due to the higher-frequency harmonics of the instrument.

I record local singer/songwriter types in my home studio, using a pencil mic as I've described, and I've never picked up the guitar player's breathing. My "sound booth" is two sets of folding canvas screens from Pier One, so I'm not talking fancy, expensive sound isolation either. LOL

Those cheap screens keep the sound of my computer, the air conditioning, and the refrigerator out of my large diaphragm mics too, in case anyone is looking for ideas... :phones:
Asusp9712Core,RayDats,OASYSPCI,Cubase9,KorgLeg,Avalon737s+2022,UA4710D,6176,DCS,LA610MK2s,Neve, ARC2, Soundtoys,UADOCTO,AdamA7X, SphereMics, BCF+R2000s, DrmBrut,MiniLog,Volcas,MoogSubPhat,EnsqDP4,VirusC,Scope,MinBrut,Plugiator,NIS61 Ultimate,ComposrsCld.

transmetropolitan
KVRist
281 posts since 24 Nov, 2014

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:18 am

I've only partially read through the thread.

Immediate observation would be that your budget will buy you a world class dynamic mic but only an average (at best) condenser.

SM7b plus a quality pre is a combination that is versatile and will last a lifetime.

No it's not all things to all men but covers a lot of bases well.

The other advantage of a dynamic mic is that you don't need to worry nearly as much about how the room sounds/is treated. If you're working in a space that sounds less than great, don't underestimate this benefit.

Funkybot's Evil Twin
KVRAF
5667 posts since 16 Aug, 2006

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:31 pm

Check out the 3U Audio Warbler. They can be had on E-Bay for $299 and I believe cheaper if you just email them directly. There's a few different versions with different voicings. If you email them and let them know the type of sound you're looking for, they'll tell you which to get.

From what I understand it's an Australian company, where the chief engineer was a Rode designer, but left to do his own thing. Microphones are made in China to keep costs down, but are very highly regarded. I just picked up their GZ67 (U67 style microphone) but that one particular microphone is out of your budget, so stick with the Warblers.

Website here:

http://3uaudio.com/chanpin.asp?dh=1

Here's a Gearslutz thread with a TON of audio examples of the various microphones, sometimes compared to some other high-end microphones. Check out Ragan's posts particularly:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/low-end ... demos.html

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