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Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

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Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby jkielq91 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:18 pm

Hi,

I just joined this site as I need advice.

I need to buy a large diagram condenser mic for home recording. It will be used mainly for vocals (both male and female) and acoustic guitar, and probably some harmonica to.

My budget is preferably around £100 up to £150 maximum. But I would prefer to be closer to the lower budget if I can. Ultimately I want quality though.

I have done tons of research and found loads of options, read forums, read reviews and have ended up completely overwhelmed by the high number of options. I just dont know what to buy.

Again I want quality. I would like to make an investment here (that is inside my budget of course...)

Here are some that I have looked at:

Audio Technica AT2020
Se X1
Samson CO3
sE Electronics SE2000 MKII
Shure PG27
Shure PG42
Rode NT-1
Sontronics STC-2

I already have:
Focusrite Saffire 6
Ableton

I will get the stands and all needed extras. But some comes bundled in with the mic.


Any help will be greatly appreciated,
Thanks!

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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:16 pm

You will get as many different recommendations as there are replies, I expect, but I'd recommend the AT2020 because it is excellent value for money and a great all-rounder mic that will suit your requirements well.

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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby The Elf » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:25 pm

I'll recommend the MXL V67G...

...but you're going to have to be realistic about that budget/quality balance. If you aspire to greater things an LDC at that price point is not going to represent 'an investment' - but it will do a decent job for you right now at a fair price.

For harmonica I wouldn't be looking at an LDC anyway.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby Dave Rowles » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:35 pm

I'd go for the AT2020, or the sE2200a.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby jkielq91 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:16 pm

I'll get a proper harmonica mic at some point.

Interesting that you are all voting for the under £100 mic's.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:40 am

jkielq91 wrote:Interesting that you are all voting for the under £100 mic's.

Isn't that what you were asking us to do?

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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby jkielq91 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:00 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
jkielq91 wrote:Interesting that you are all voting for the under £100 mic's.

Isn't that what you were asking us to do?

hugh

Yes. But I was expecting some answers saying 'no, you wont get any thing good at the low end of the budget, spend £150'.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby The Elf » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:07 am

The technical advantages of a 150 pound mic over a 100 pound mic aren't going to be enormous. For an additional outlay of 50% you would hope to see something that overtly represents that price difference - which is unlikely.

So it's not so surprising to favour a VFM 100 pound mic over a 150 pound mic to my way of thinking.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby John Willett » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:32 am

With microphones it's always best to get the very best you can afford.

Microphones are a mature technology and a wise buy will last very many years.

My first decent microphones were a pair of Beyer M67 that I bought around 1970 - and I am still happy to use them today.

If you buy too cheap, you will end up selling in a little while and will have to buy again, which will cost more money in the long run.

The Sennheiser MK4 is one of those inexpensive mics that will really last - but, unfortunately, is almost double your budget.

Audio Technica have always made mics that are good value for money and sE seem to be good mics at the price as well (and both these have been mentioned above).

But - unlike equipment that is based on computer technology that goes out of date very quickly and needs changing every couple of years or so - a good mic. can last forever.

My top 5 microphone manufacturers have always been (alphabetically): DPA, Gefell, Neumann, Schoeps and Sennheiser. SO if you really can't afford a really good mic. now, I think I would choose one that you would be happy with as a "B" mic. later on when you do upgrade.

I hope this helps.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:39 am

John Willett wrote:If you buy too cheap, you will end up selling in a little while and will have to buy again, which will cost more money in the long run.

While I agree with the generality of your post, there are some very good value mics at the budget end today that stand up to comparison with the established high-value mics -- and the AT2020 is a specific case in point.

Regular readers of SOS will know that this mic has proven itself repeatedly in shoot-outs against mics costing ten times as much. I'm not suggesting it is better in all situations, but it has proved itself a better match for female voices quite often, and is a very good all-rounder generally. At the asking price, it's a bit of a no-brainer and you'd have to pay substantially more to get something significantly better. So for someone at the start of their recording hobby/career, workign on a very limited budget, this is a good place to start that won't prove an embarrassment in years to come.

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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:57 am

John Willett wrote:
My first decent microphones were a pair of Beyer M67 that I bought around 1970 - and I am still happy to use them today.

I have one of those! Curious things, like an overgrown SM57. Never seen much information about them, though. What do you like to use them for?
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby jkielq91 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:11 pm

So what kind of difference do you think there will be between the Audio Technica AT2020 and the Sontronics STC-2?

I am reading a book right now called Guerrilla Home Record, which is about recording at home on a low budget. I really like the book and it has really improved my recording and music making in other areas already (even though I am not even half way).

In the book he says that in a home recording environment with out acoustic treatment a mic around $100 is fine. As long as you know how to use it, position it, EQ it etc you can get great results. Judging from other successes I have had from this book I am really trusting his opinions right now.

What do you guys think of his ideas here?
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby The Elf » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:30 pm

jkielq91 wrote:In the book he says that in a home recording environment with out acoustic treatment a mic around jkielq9100 is fine.
In the context of simple home-recording then I can agree. What he seems to be implying here is that the $100 mic is not going to be the weakest link, which in a home recording setup is likely to be true. But there's a reason that $2000 mic's exist...
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:59 pm

jkielq91 wrote:So what kind of difference do you think there will be between the Audio Technica AT2020 and the Sontronics STC-2?

I've not used the STC-2 personally, but comparing the published frequency response plots for the two mics, the STC-2 appearas to have the typical, pronounced presence peak common to so many large-diaphgram mics. The AT2020 is, in comparison, far more flat and neutral -- the absence of a strong presence peak is why it tends to work so well with female vocalists, and what makes it such a good all-rounder -- it doesn't add a lot of its own tonality.

In the book he says that in a home recording environment with out acoustic treatment a mic around jkielq9100 is fine.

The three most important elements of a recording are the material, the musician, and the environment. You need good music, played well, and in an appropriate acoustic. If you have those, you can record it with a cheap portable cassette recorder and have somethign that people will want to listen to.

Without those, the most expensive recording equipment on the planet will only give you an accurate recording of rubbish that no one wants to hear.

So yes, a cheap mic really isn't the weakest link in a typical home recording setup -- the recording environment will probably be the weakest link, and that's why we spend so much time and trouble on our Studio SOS articles trying to help people address some of their room acoustic issues in a cost effective way.

Budget recording equipment -- whether we're talking microphones, preamps, mixers, converters, DAWs, plugins -- is generally of a quality that is comparable in most ways to the bespoke high-end equipment used at any time between the 1950s and 70s -- certainly in tersm of noise, distortion and bandwidth. So the recording equipment really isn't the limiting factor. Cheap 'monitor speakers' remain a weaklink to some extent, but room acoustics are the big issue, and that's why the professional recording studio will never die compeltely.

The AT2020 mic has been preferred over mics costing £3000 in some of our shoot-outs, and it will take a lot of improvements in the rest of your recording equipment and recording environment before you would have any validity in complaining that the mic is no longer 'good enough'.

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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby jkielq91 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:24 pm

Where can I hear these shoot outs with the AT2020 you have referred to?

Are the differences you mention between the Sontronics and other mic's at that price worth the extra money in my situation? In the long run.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:21 pm

Also, don't be afraid to buy second hand. As has been said, if a mic is treated well it will last many years, and that also makes it a good candidate for resale. Plus if you buy a second hand mic then if you ever decide to sell it you should get most of (and occasionally more than) your purchase price back.

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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby John Willett » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:52 pm

Sam Inglis wrote:
John Willett wrote:
My first decent microphones were a pair of Beyer M67 that I bought around 1970 - and I am still happy to use them today.

I have one of those! Curious things, like an overgrown SM57. Never seen much information about them, though. What do you like to use them for?

When I first bought them I used them for everything.

They are actually good general purpose dynamics.

To be honest, they have remained in the flight case for quite a while as I have mostly used condensers of late. But they are still good mics and I would still be happy to use them for a wide range of applications.

In a live situation I would use them for anything that you would use an SM57 or MD421 for - I have even used them for recording an upright piano in the days when I had less mics.

A good mic. that Beyer only stopped making when the tool wore out and it would have been too expensive to re-tool.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby Sam Inglis » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:23 am

Thanks John,

Yes my impression was that it was quite similar to an SM57 in sound, with the same sort of mid presence boost, but I wasn't sure whether I was just inferring that from the similarity in appearance! (It looks like this) Must wheel it out on something other than guitar amps one of these days.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby jkielq91 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:07 pm

I just found a price drop deal for the Rode NT1-A vocal pack on Amazon. Price dropped from £169 to £133.99.

The pack includes:
Rode NT1-A Microphone
SM6 shock mount with pop shield
High quality XLR cable
Mic dust cover
Instructional DVD

The accessories that are included I would have bought any way, on top of my budget. Though I would still need to buy a stand.

What do you think? It is still most likely more than the cost of a AT2020, stand and shield.

How urgently would I need a shock mount? I could always buy it in a month or so on a futrure pay day.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby James Perrett » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:59 am

Given Hugh's recommendation of the AT2020, I wouldn't bother looking at anything else. In fact, I'm tempted to get one myself.

James.

PS - I've never had shock mounts for my Neumanns. I just tell the singers not to stamp their feet while singing!
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby Guy Johnson » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:49 am

I've come across bluegrass bands using a single AT2020, and they do a good job indeed.

As for tapping feet, or live stage-noise coming up the stand, 3 bits of sponge under the feet work well. I find those all-in-one hard sponge sanding-blocks good for this.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:58 am

Another very happy AT2020 user here...
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby dickiefunk » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:34 pm

I'd also consider the Audio Technica AT2035.
If I'm right in thinking, this is basically a AT2020 with improved technical performance by offering a flatter low-end response and significantly lower noise. It also has low-cut and pad switches and includes a shockmount (which the 2020 doesn't).

The AT2020 now costs £69 new which is a bargain for a mic of this quality and the AT2035 costs £129.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby jkielq91 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:01 pm

I have decided to go with the AT2020. It seemed like the obvious choice from what every one has said and what else I have read.

Thanks for the help guys. I am sure I will be around on this forum some more.
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Re: Help! I am Overwhelmed by microphone choice!

Postby JohnanP » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:41 pm

For myself i got AT2020 and its not dissapointing in any aspect.
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