Author Topic: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!  (Read 2394 times)

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Offline Cue Zephyr

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Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« on: October 27, 2009, 02:06:30 am »
Greetings everyone.

I've been looking for a condenser microphone for quite some time now.

I'll be using the mic for acoustic guitar and (probably) vocals too.
My budget is around $600-$700 max.
The Audio Technica AT40xx line seemd pretty nice to me, I'd still have to go and try some sometime.
The preamp that I own is an E-MU 0404 | USB audio interface, it has 48V, so I can hook up a condenser.

If you own any condenser microphone that you use for the purpose stated above, and is around my budget, please share your personal experience, or even a recording.
If you've got any other microphones I could check out, do tell.

Thanks in advance.
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Offline Wishbone

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2009, 07:19:19 am »
Can't say I have a load of experience with mics but, when I was shopping around for one to go with my recording interface (the EMU 0404 USB), I landed on the AKG C1000S. It's more than well within your budget and is very well thought of for recording acoustic; I know a couple of sound and dubbing engineers who love having a couple of them lying around just for that purpose. There's a review (old-ish) of them here

Rode NT-1 is similarly well thought of for vocals.

Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2009, 12:02:00 pm »
That seems pretty decent, I could get two of those. :P
I'll definitely check this one out, thanks WIshbone!
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Linsen

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2009, 12:27:41 pm »
Considering that you want to to record your guitar and singing at the same time, and have a pretty big budget, wouldn't it be a good idea to get two microphones? One that's geared towards acoustic guitars and a dedicated vocal mic?

I would think that you could get quite decent mics for $300 to $350. Those won't be absolutely pro level recording studio quality, I reckon, but do you really need that? Do you have a recording studio with near perfect acoustics? If not, I would think that you're never going to be able to use a $600-mic to it's full potential anyway. It may even be that your recordings will sound better with less sensitive gear.

I would also assume that even at that price point, pretty much any microphone will still be a compromise for either vocals or your guitar. So also from that point of view you may get better results with two less expensive specialized mics.

And then there's the problem with placing one mic so that both sources are recorded well. As Zapped wrote in your other topic, that's apparantly almost impossible to do. Therefore, one single $600-mic will not be able to really shine and the end result will probably be worse than if you were using two different less expensive mics.

Disclaimer: I have absolutely no practical expereince in the field and am just going by what I read on the topic and common sense, so take the above for what it's worth.

Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2009, 02:38:56 pm »
You have some good points there, Linsen.
For $300 I could get the AT4040 (at least from SweetWater.com, for example, local price is $600 converted from euro).
I've seen people use it for a single-mic setup, it will be good enough for me, also heard/read people using it as vocal mic too.
I don't have perfect acoustics, neither do I have a dedicated recording room (yet!).

The AT40xx of Audio Technica seem pretty equal in performance, but very different in sound coloration (I think none of them has a flat response).

As a vocal mic I would probably need an SDC or a dynamic (SM58/C1000S/whatever).
To be really honest I don't mind so much using one microphone for two purposes just for now, as my first microphone. If I'm serious about recording I will pretty surely

I was wondering that other question (guitar+vocal w/ 1 mic) because I've seen it done somewhere on another forum, and to me that sounded pretty decent (some Groove Tubes mic being used).

I apprecieate your replies.
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Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2009, 06:39:50 pm »
*bump*
Should I be worried about self-noise levels?
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Offline Wishbone

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2009, 07:25:17 pm »
CZ-

AKG C1000S £99......for guitar
Rode NT1-A  £ 135.....for vocals

Total £234......... Which runs to about 262 Euros or thereabouts. Well within your budget, will give you endless hours of fun learning how to use the buggers, will give you very nice recordings. Most importantly, they're not crap gear for that price range; very well spoken of mics that will last you a long time.

Look at it this way: Right now, you wouldn't know the difference between these and something three times the price and more. You need to learn how to use your gear before you start deciding that you need to spend more on specific equipment for a specific purpose. Until then, buy these quality proven mics and start having fun.

Or don't.............

The choice is yours........ But the C1000s and the NT1-A would be a good choice for now :)

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2009, 08:12:48 pm »
Quote
Should I be worried about self-noise levels?

I guess that depends on how much noise your self makes.


For your kind of money have you considered a tube mic.

Rode NTK maybe. A bit more cumbersome but a nice mic.
No need for phantom but you have two cables and a big power supply ( and a special cable if you ever break it, not that you can't fix or get new one, but it's not a 3 pin XLR )
http://www.zzounds.com/item--RODNTK

or... and I have heard good things said about this mic from someone that actually builds and sells a mic.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/K2Tube/

btw- the Rode NT-1000 is supposed to be one of the quietest mics out there but I don't think you will find mic noise an issue. Whatever you record is going to be well above the noise floor of any mic you buy.

But for your money I would really be looking at a tube/valve mic. You can even get a tube mic and have it modded with new transformers and maybe capsule for that kind of money.

I can tell you this is a nice mic. Or I should say, the one I have that looks - EXACTLY - like it, is a nice mic. I can tell you that mine came from China and that there is quite literally a boat load of them here in the states being used by the biggest names in the business. they are also being upgraded at a reasonable expense by a few people by various means as well. THIS IS A BLEM but you can find that same mic if you look around

http://cgi.ebay.com/Carvin-CTM100-Tube-Condenser-Vocal-Microphone-Mic-BLM_W0QQitemZ170402156356QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item27acc28f44

But that mic is being sold and or modified by many many people for a wide range of prices. I have never heard -anyone- say it didn't sound good right out of the box.

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/gear-shoot-outs-sound-file-comparisons-audio-tests/415414-mic-mod-madness.html

You can here it there as the TNC1200 same mic. also known as Apex 460 ( prior to the MJ mods) and evidently the Carvin CTM1000 because I can tell you when I say -EXACTLY- I mean the mic, case, pop filter, power supply, everything. Plus I have seen the insides of most of them as well.

There is another guy that modifies them with Peluso capsules and a few parts changes http://www.pelusomicrophonelab.com/capsnmnts.html. Sorry can't recall his name right now. Might be in Canada.

and then there is the AMI/Lucas mod ( transformer and new circuit to somewhat emulate various vintage circuits )


BUT... it still sounds great right out of the box and is all you might ever want/need. These mods are an attempt to diy it into something that competes with multi-thousand dollar mics.

There are no bigger names in the industry than those that are using these mics. They may not use them for what you will use them for and I'm not saying that's all they use, but they do get used so they are proven to be at a level that is certainly good enough for people like us.

hope that helps, btw, I just saw that Rode K2 on ebay for $500+/-.

But you could get yourself a couple of nice mics for what you are willing to spend.









 
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Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2009, 09:36:56 pm »
Thanks for your reply, TB.
I have indeed seen that NTK, read about it too.
Apparently it blows the 4050 (heard a demo, sounds pretty full) away, read that on some forum.
I wasn't really sure about it, because I'm not familiar with tube microphones and how they work and perform as opposed to the 'normal' mics.
I'll look into it.
Had also been looking for a GrooveTubes GT-series microphone, these seem pretty nice too.
Another thing that kind of shocked me, is that the tubes have to warm up for quite a bit of time. :P
I'll go read about it now, thanks!

Edit: The NTK and K2 are both €500 here.
Edit #2: The NTK is $529 at SW, and the K2 is the same price as an Audio Technica AT4050 ($699)
Conclusion: AT mics are overpriced.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2009, 09:58:27 pm by Cue Zephyr »
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2009, 10:24:15 pm »
Quote
Another thing that kind of shocked me, is that the tubes have to warm up for quite a bit of time.

That can be true. Another consideration aside from the power supply deal.


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Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2009, 10:54:35 pm »
It's a hard choice, because they are much better priced than my initial candidates.
I assume these mics do use XLR, but without 48V?
The K2 isn't that much more expensive than the NTK here (bout €30).
Another attractive deal is the NT2000.
The Audio Technica AT4050 still seems to be the versatile mic, read that the NTK appears to be better for vocals.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2009, 11:14:24 pm by Cue Zephyr »
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2009, 12:32:56 am »
The use a 7pin XLR from Mic to Power supply. Then from power supply to preamp / mixer they use a regular 3 pin XLR.

They don't need 48V because the Power supply supplies all that. The high voltage ~ 120V and the heaters 6.5v and the signals. From the power supply the balanced signal goes to the mic pre.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with many of the other condensers either and for any given mic you might not notice the difference. Probably won't notice the difference.

An engineer friend of mine did a test way back on a saxaphone. The NTK and ?( maybe /NT1 ). What you could hear was one certain note that was played was just richer, fuller, more lifelike. Now that was from listening to the recorded files and it was subtle. Something you, me or anyone else are not easily going to pick up on.

So don't get the tube if you think the power supply, warm up, cables etc will be a problem ( and they can be ). Another mic can do just as well if not better.

I've seen NT1's for $50. They can/do have a little sizzle on top but nothing turning it a 1/2" might not cure. I serious for your budget you could get several mics that all sound good in different ways.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000JRPYGE this has a darker sound than the Rode NT-1. I don't know what the NT-1a sounds like.

This is about the way I hear it as well.
http://homerecording.about.com/od/microphonereviews/gr/mxl67g_review.htm

I think you will be sorry if you spend a lot of money on one expensive first mic when there are so many good inexpensive ones. and especially since it will depend on the entire chain as well.

A lot of what you hear is not simply the mic. It's the D/A converters and the mic pre. They are often coupled to a really nice compressor and sometimes a nice EQ too. I mean you could have a $500 mic plugged into $5000 of hardware and -then- to the computer track. It's not going to sound the same going mic to $200 interface to computer.

....and here's something else to think about... (3:45 too).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLtleYMFX3s

another "announcer mic" being used here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yZBE5qLw8Y&feature=channel
EV-RE20



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Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2009, 01:17:22 am »
Yeah, you've got a good point with the pre-amp, I had totally forgotten about it.
I indeed have a $300 interface, so not necessarily a pre-amp only.
I'll still keep the NTK and K2 on my list though.
Power might pose a problem, but I'm willing to muck around with my power lines a bit.
I'll re-add the AT4040 to my list, since this is a pretty good mic and so much cheaper than anything else in the line ($300).
Another one I could go for is the AT2035.
Both have a decent self-noise level too (I don't like de-noising recordings, it takes away some of the quality).

That MXL seems pretty decent too, is in the same price range as the 2035.
I could only find the V67i and the V67N SDC, though.
I also ran into the Shure SM27, which floats somewhere between the ones above ($239).

Seen the Shure SM7B before, I was a bit puzzled when I read it was a broadcast mic.
Anyhow, I read good things about it, so I'll consider this one too.
Cam't seem to find that other 'announcer' mic though.

I'm gonna ask the guys at the store if I can take some for a spin, somehow (with my pre would be great).
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2009, 06:07:03 pm »
Just happen to run across some discussion on this mic. Several people have the opinion that this is a very nice mic for vocal AND acoustic guitar.

They are pretty high profile people but for the $200 range several thought it was a very good choice.

http://www.fullcompass.com/product/349960.html?gclid=CJDk_5HA_p0CFYdd5QodzVMhpQ

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Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Condenser microphone, ideas/experiences/opinions please!
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2009, 07:37:59 pm »
Thanks, but they don't seem to ship internationally.
I can't find the ADK brand around here.
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