Condenser Microphone - Opinions

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Winstontaneous
KVRian
1387 posts since 15 Feb, 2006 from Berkeley, CA

Post Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:11 pm

transmetropolitan wrote: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.
I was gonna write pretty much the same thing...a good dynamic mic like SM7B/RE20 would be a lifetime investment rather than an "OK for my present budget now but will soon outgrow it" LDC. Definitely wouldn't recommend a SDC if the NT1A is too bright for OP.

JCJR
KVRAF
2345 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:13 pm

I have nothing against SM7 or RE20. If I was gonna buy one of the two, it would probably be RE20. But that is a prejudice based on partial ignorance-- I've used RE20 quite a bit over the years and really like it, and so far a I know never set eyes on an SM7. So for me it would be a choice of buying a "known good" product rather than an unknown with a reputation for having a rather low voltage output.

You can download the spec sheets for the shure and ev mics which have factory frequency response plots. Yesterday I compared the factory-published frequency plots of SM7 versus Beta 57. There are differences, but I suspect the differences are only a twitch of the EQ knob away from each other. Could be a wrong suspicion of course.

The Beta 57 is "very affordable" and has at least an average live mic voltage output, possibly negating the need for a fancy high gain preamp. If working the mic close, probably need to use a cheap pop filter and/or cheap windscreen. But pop filters / windscreens are necessary for most studio vocal mic uses anyway. It would be a shame to buy an SM7 if the only "real advantages" for the extra money might be a giant built-in windscreen and possibly-better shielding, which is especially desirable for radio broadcasting if the transmitter is near the station. Nowadays it seems rare to put the studio right in the shadow of the transmitter tower, but in such cases shielding is an important consideration.

The SM7 frequency response has two choices, "rather flat" and "presence boost" which boosts upper-mids "similar" to live vocal mics such as SM57 or Audix OM5 and such. The Beta 57 has one choice, with mild bumps above 5 kHz. Odds are good you might be boosting the highs anyway, and if the slight high boost isn't desired, just back off the treble knob a little bit and its gone.

I think that some dynamic mics such as SM7 and the old SM59 manage to minimize bass-boosting at close-mic distances with the simple trick of "very long windscreen". The windscreen is so big that even if you eat the mic, the diaphragm remains several inches away from the singer. It helps minimize proximity effect bass boosting, with a couple of disadvantages-- The max output of the mic is diminished because you can't get real close to the diaphragm, and also makes it impossible to get proximity-effect bass boosting if you really want that effect. Some singers use the proximity effect to great advantage.

Beta 57 is "quite flat" over the mids, has a mild, easily defeatable high freq boost, and you can control the bass response with singer distance. If you want lots of bass, get closer to the mic. If you want a bass rolloff, back off the mic to a foot or bigger distance. It is cheap, and useful for many other tasks even if you decide it doesn't work good enough for vocals! Possibly worth a gamble before spending big bucks on dynamic mic-zilla. Or maybe not. Just an idea.

transmetropolitan
KVRist
281 posts since 24 Nov, 2014

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:28 pm

I wouldn't ever pick a mic based on frequency response charts myself.

The SM7 has a track record that speaks for itself. There is a reason that, for example, Michael Jackson and Anthony Keidis are using this mic when they could use anything on the planet.

Sure you could buy a beta 57 for a bit less, and if you don't have a mic and that is what you can afford it's a good choice.

If what is a good investment/will be a mic you will always use and never outgrow is a consideration, I would personally buy an SM7 over the beta 57 any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Ymmv of course. :phones:

JCJR
KVRAF
2345 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:51 pm

transmetropolitan wrote:I wouldn't ever pick a mic based on frequency response charts myself.

The SM7 has a track record that speaks for itself. There is a reason that, for example, Michael Jackson and Anthony Keidis are using this mic when they could use anything on the planet.

Sure you could buy a beta 57 for a bit less, and if you don't have a mic and that is what you can afford it's a good choice.

If what is a good investment/will be a mic you will always use and never outgrow is a consideration, I would personally buy an SM7 over the beta 57 any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Ymmv of course. :phones:
Thanks Transmetropolitan

Well, I've never used an SM7, so would basically be buying one based on specs and reputation. Online one can find plenty of folks who don't like SM7, so it would be weighing good opinions versus bad. Though that is the same for about any mic.

Microphone judgements are one of the most subjective thangs we can find. It can be more complicated (IMO) if the singer is buying the mic. Because of "lack of objectivity" of the singer. Not condemnation of singers, just that singers tend to be so close to the issue that it is hard to be objective.

I've seen many cases where singers prefer mics that do not flatter their voice, at the same time rejecting mics which (IMO) made them sound a lot better. So if a singer finds a mic he likes, then maybe its the best choice or maybe not. Hard to say. Though if some engineer picks a mic for the singer, then even if the engineer is happy with it, the singer might be so bummed that he can't do a good performance on that mic.

I was just examining the frequency response of SM7 vs Beta57 because I've had experience that Beta57 seems to work real well on many male and female vocalists, working better than average compared to other models of live-performance mic. But it could still suck for some individual vocalist, and even if it sounds good on the singer according to "objective opinion" the singer himself might not like it. :)

ghettosynth
KVRAF
11113 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Sat Mar 25, 2017 3:01 pm

JCJR wrote: Microphone judgements are one of the most subjective thangs we can find. It can be more complicated (IMO) if the singer is buying the mic. Because of "lack of objectivity" of the singer. Not condemnation of singers, just that singers tend to be so close to the issue that it is hard to be objective.
Spot on. This is why I actually did a shootout with the MXL Ribbon vs my condensers as best as I could. Granted, I still have the problem of being objective with my own voice, but that's really all you can do when you don't have the help of another engineer. I will say this, that if you don't actually record some material with multiple mics that you are very likely to be biased by your own memories which could be shaded quite heavily by reviews, and even things like "which mic is prettier."

I also think that dynamics (and ribbons) are more functional in home studios where background noises and unwanted reflections are going to be more troublesome.

I also have to remind myself that great records were recorded with much less and that the mic is often the least of the actual problems.

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morelia
KVRAF
4190 posts since 16 May, 2002 from Brisbane , Australia

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:40 pm

If I was an amazing vocalist I'd probably sweat about the mic I use more. Maybe if I was even ok. But I'm average at best so I bought a Rode NTK as good as I could afford at the time 10 years ago. It's a great mic and between that and my SM57 I record everything. I could be wrong. Maybe a worse voice make mic selection even more critical. But I'm happy with what I have and the general consensus seems to be in this ball park:

The Rode NTK gives users the best of both worlds with its classic and modern music characteristics. It does so by combining rich, powerful and natural sounds and bringing them into one classical beat. With the gentle presence boost, the sound quality is excellent, especially the vocals, and the rhythm enhances as you hit the capsule with more level. The NTK is specially designed for experienced musicians who desire only the top-of-the-line merchandise
My Music >>> °morelia ° Intel Core i5 750 2.66GHz, 12gb, Windows 7 (64), Focusrite Saffire 6 USB

transmetropolitan
KVRist
281 posts since 24 Nov, 2014

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:15 am

Music comes down to compromises. We all must choose what things to prioritise and which things are less valuable in terms of our attention.

What I'd say in any discussion about singers and mic choices is that doing what it takes to get the best possible take should be the last thing anyone deprioritises. I'll give a couple of examples...

The legend has it that Sinatra liked to sing into a mic that he held in his hand rather than one in a stand. So the engineer gave him an SM57 that wouldn't generate handling noise over the many otherwise superior mics available. It worked because everything else in the chain, and most importantly the singer himself, was the 'best of the best'.

Similarly Anthony Keidis doesn't like monitoring with headphones. So they can set him up in the control room with an SM7. He's more comfortable this way and his takes are better.

It's easy to get lost in a narrow discussion about relatively minor sonic considerations and miss the more important goal of getting things as good as they can be at source.

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Unaspected
KVRist
430 posts since 4 May, 2012

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Sun Mar 26, 2017 12:31 pm

miketurn wrote:Condenser
MXL V67I
MXL 990
AT4040
Sennheiser MK4
SE Electronics sE2200a II C
AKG C214
Shure SM86 (not sure if this one is more for live use)

Dynamic
SM57
SM7B (but now way too expensive, was $300, then $350 and now $400!)
Electro Voice RE-20 (also expensive, out of my price range)

If anyone owns any of these and have anything you would like to share, please do so.
What would be the best is comments from people who have or have owned a Rodes NT1A and now have one of the mics from the above list, or have another mic to recommend.

Thank You
Out of those on the list, I own a pair of AKG C214s and have an SM58 (rather than 57). I've used the Electro-Voice RE-20 but don't have experience with any of those other mics.

I've tried the RE-20 on a bass cab once and that failed. I guess it is best suited to voice recordings but I wouldn't select it as a vocal mic as it is quite unremarkable to me.

The SM57/58 is solid. Literally. You can throw those things around and they'll be fine. Good workhorse mics. I've tracked foley with an SM58 and Rode NTK tube mic and preferred the results of the SM58 - though, for an expressive vocalist, I would choose the NTK over the SM58 any day.

I've used a broad selection of AKG mics and love this brand. I favour the C414 (Swiss Army Knife of mics) over the C214 but then the price is a touch higher and certainly out of my current price bracket. The C214 can be quite sensitive to transients but this mic will convey all the character of a voice.

Out of the mics in my personal collection, the AKG C214 is my go-to vocal mic when tracking my own voice.

deastman
KVRAF
6756 posts since 7 Aug, 2003 from San Francisco Bay Area

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Sun Mar 26, 2017 12:41 pm

I have an SM7b at work for doing video voiceovers. It works brilliantly for that- just the right amount of presence and makes any voice sound great. It does require a pretty powerful preamp though- I forget how much, but I want to say at least 60db of gain. I might have that number wrong, so check for yourself.
Incomplete list of my gear: 110V AC to 12V DC 1.5A power supply (+ tip)

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

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:17 pm

Yes, you'll need a good pre with at least 60dB of clean gain to get the best out of an SM7b for voiceover/narration work. With loud singing you could maybe get away with a bit less. It is a gorgeous sounding mic , I miss mine. Gonna order an Advanced Audion DM20 soon , which can supposedly sound pretty close to an SM7b and an RE20 with all it's various filtering options, and is way cheaper than either. I've not used one yet though.

http://advancedaudio.ca/products/dm20

JCJR
KVRAF
2345 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:40 am

Hermetech Mastering wrote:Gonna order an Advanced Audion DM20 soon , which can supposedly sound pretty close to an SM7b and an RE20 with all it's various filtering options, and is way cheaper than either. I've not used one yet though.

http://advancedaudio.ca/products/dm20
That looks very promising!

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

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:54 am

Their stuff is great. The AA CM48T I bought about a month back is just stunning.

miketurn
KVRist
155 posts since 22 Jun, 2015

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:54 pm

@ghettosynth
SM57 Mod Conversation
The switch idea I mentioned was more of an idea that would hopefully allow you to not have to go through the process of boiling out the transformer, and was more to have the switch on the inside (rather than having to drill a hole in the casing). This way if you don't like how it sounds you can unscrew the casing and just flip a switch. I don't have the mic so it is hard to say what would be easier to boil or to add switch?
(If I bought the mic for $100 and I went through all that you remove the transformer and it sounded worse that would be upsetting, at least with a switch you can reverse the process)

As far as the fakes without transformers, it was more of just a joke like imagine you buy what you think is a real SM57 with the intention of removing the transformer and you open it up to realize that it isn't there to boil out :)

miketurn
KVRist
155 posts since 22 Jun, 2015

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:57 pm

I am currently from the US, it seems that a couple of the companies suggested, I have looked into them but they seem to only be available in Europe.

But I Thank You for your responses

ghettosynth
KVRAF
11113 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Re: Condenser Microphone - Opinions

Post Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:03 pm

miketurn wrote:@ghettosynth
SM57 Mod Conversation
The switch idea I mentioned was more of an idea that would hopefully allow you to not have to go through the process of boiling out the transformer, and was more to have the switch on the inside (rather than having to drill a hole in the casing). This way if you don't like how it sounds you can unscrew the casing and just flip a switch. I don't have the mic so it is hard to say what would be easier to boil or to add switch?
(If I bought the mic for $100 and I went through all that you remove the transformer and it sounded worse that would be upsetting, at least with a switch you can reverse the process)

As far as the fakes without transformers, it was more of just a joke like imagine you buy what you think is a real SM57 with the intention of removing the transformer and you open it up to realize that it isn't there to boil out :)
Ah, I see, sure, that's potentially possible. The cleanest and simplest way that I can think of would require a very small three pole double throw switch where the third pole is just used to break one side of the connection to the transformer.

That said, there's probably still some risk because no matter what you do you're going to have to get wires through the wax. How do you plan to do that without damaging the transformer?

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