Author Topic: Affordable Condenser Mic  (Read 17417 times)

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Offline Hollywood

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Affordable Condenser Mic
« on: August 30, 2015, 12:50:18 am »
I'm sure this has been asked before, but any recommendations on an affordable (preferably under $200) but high quality condenser mic?


I'm thinking maybe I need to just suck it up and get one of these.
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Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2015, 11:34:08 am »
Second hand/demo/NOS (it's been discontinued for years) Audio Technica AT3035.

Or a CAD M179, they should be $149.

The latter is more flexible due to its multiple pick-up patterns but I doubt it has that much value for you at least right now.

The former is actually my personal favorite.

Both are very flexible mics, they do everything pretty well, including vocals and/or guitar.
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Offline Rossco01

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2015, 12:23:53 pm »
Surely the Rode NT1A would be on the list somewhere.
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2015, 03:21:52 pm »
I would stay away from an NT1A for your voice,, or anything else RODE in your price range. I'm pretty sure it has peaks in the upper range right where you don't want them.

For your $$$ and your voice, I think it would be interesting to hear you sing through this....
http://www.ebay.com/itm/MXL-V67i-Microphone-Studio-Cardioid-Condenser-Recording-Vocal-Mic-Case-/271196392614

The "Warm" side response is very flat. You can get it at B&H for same price.

But,, if you did like that sound... you could get the V67G which has same response and it's under $100

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/423685-REG/MXL_V67G_V67G_Cardioid_Microphone.html


All these LDC mics are going to make your recording environment (bad) even more noticeable.  AC running, TV on in LR, people talking in other rooms, etc...



Notice it sounds slightly thinner on guitar than that first mic but seems to hold up much better on vocal. There are several YT vids on that mic....






here is what a pro in a pro situation sounds like....






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Offline shadowscott007

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2015, 05:18:19 pm »
Found this generic article regarding condenser vs. dynamic mics interesting, if over my head a bit.

http://www.dpamicrophones.com/en/Mic-University/Tech-Guide/10-Statements-on-Condenser-Microphones-vs--Dynamic-Microphones.aspx

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Offline Scooter Trash

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2015, 06:38:35 pm »
I agree with TB. The NT-1 is a great mic for the price, but it might not be the best choice for you.
I think a ribbon mic might be better. I've heard a couple recordings of the Cascade Victor ribbon mic on female vocals and was very impressed... especially considering the affordable price in comparison to other similar ribbon mics. If you can find a music store that carries them, maybe they'll let you evaluate one.
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2015, 06:43:40 pm »
I thought about a ribbon and then thought about her situation with plosives and figured she might blow the ribbon out by accident.

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Offline Hollywood

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2015, 09:58:26 pm »
Yeah but don't you use a pop filter with ribbons like you would with a condenser?
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2015, 01:08:11 am »
No, not necessarily.

Inexpensive Chinese ribbons can have qc issues as well.

I honestly don't think you will notice a difference between a LCD or ribbon IF it's the mic for your voice. --Maybe-- a certain ribbon might be just what works for you, but who knows.

Ribbons are more 'care oriented' than other mics.

go to 4:00 minute mark
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tWbwcS_9sA

Also you can watch Apogee or Magnapan ribbon speaker rebuilds. It's the nature of the beast.

In that video that's about a $150 transformer so when you get a whole mic for $170......

Is it for you? May be. But you are really not at the point of having 'your mic'. You should be able to sound good on many mics. Different but good.
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Offline LBro

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2015, 06:24:39 am »
Hi,
If you look at the Rode NT1 or NT1a I would go for the NT1 kit. A bit more than your stated budget but the included excellent pop filter and mic shock mount are probably worth at least $100 or more by themselves. So if you buy a $200 mic and then have to pay for those items you will spend more on the total setup. The pop filter is a metal double screen deal and is very nice. Best pop filter in my collection. A dual Lyre suspension system offers superior resistance to vibration, with none of the drawbacks of conventional rubber-band shock mounts. Also this mic is a complete redesign of the NT1a and is better IMHO. Not here to advertise, but in the interest of education, check out this link:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/NT1Kit

Good luck, you will be sounding better soon no mater what you get!
LB
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Offline 12-string_Doug

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2015, 09:43:57 pm »
For your $$$ and your voice, I think it would be interesting to hear you sing through this....{V67i link}
  How about a V67GS with a pop filter and cable, for $129.95? It's from a place in Grand Rapids. https://reverb.com/item/122491-mxl-v67gs-condenser-microphone-bundle-w-pop-filter-and-microphone-cable

  There are used V67s on eBay with some accessories, but I didn't know if buying a used one would be too much of a "pig in a poke" deal. (Although an open-box one from Pit Bull Audio might be okay, if one turned up.)

Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2015, 10:27:29 pm »
And if you want to get more from a V67G (or many other budget mics) at some point, you can send it to Michael Joly Engineering. He has various mod services and his modifications are very well regarded. One day I'll get my MK-319 modified by him as well, but sending a heavy mic over to the US is not an option for me right now, that's why I haven't gone for it myself yet.
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2015, 01:01:38 am »
Cue, you can do it yourself. It's not hard at all.

Mostly those mods get the greatest gains from a new capsule... and they're not cheap. More than the price of a mic.

Most mods that are affordable simply make a different sounding mic. I have a mic I modded. and a $75 Chinese right out of the factory. I think I like the $75 better for my voice but then I'll listen to the one I modded and I like it too. It's like saying do I like a Fender or a Gibson. You like them both.

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Offline Hollywood

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2015, 01:11:50 am »
Thanks for the recommendations, guys!  I'll start checking those out.

Definitely want one that also works well for instruments. 
Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
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Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2015, 08:34:18 am »
All of the aforementioned mics should work fine for instruments as well. I use my 3035 on mandolin and banjo as well. Some people may classify it as 'dark', like the V67 while they're in fact very flat.

The above has to do with old microphones having increased highs to compensate for recording medium (through tubes, onto tape) quality. While the recording technology and quality increased, the mics remained the same. Orso I was told. Makes sense.

TB,
The mods include changing components on the PCB and the transformer (if any) and adding acoustic absorbtion to the body. On my Oktava MK-319 I already removed the plastic resonator discs and removed a layer of mesh from the headbasket. The capsule is in fact very good.
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Offline Hollywood

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2015, 02:41:25 am »
One thing I need to clarify - my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 has phantom power and will work with a condenser mic, correct?


Any experience with any of these?

http://www.guitarcenter.com/MXL/910-Voice-Instrument-Condenser-Microphone.gc

http://www.guitarcenter.com/MXL/990-Condenser-Microphone-with-Shockmount-273156.gc

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Behringer/B-1-Large-Diaphragm-Cardioid-Condenser-Mic.gc


There's a million of them on GC's website but I kind of have no idea what to look for other than good reviews and a cheap price tag.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2015, 03:01:19 am by Hollywood »
Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
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Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline 12-string_Doug

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2015, 03:51:06 pm »
One thing I need to clarify - my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 has phantom power and will work with a condenser mic, correct?
  There should be 48 volt phantom power on the XLR contacts of both of those "combo" XLR/phone (¼") jacks on the 2i2. I think I saw something about the power being switched; dunno if power becomes available when you plug in an XLR, or if there's a separate control for that.

  That 2i2 is a neat little device.

Offline LBro

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2015, 04:11:34 pm »
  There should be 48 volt phantom power on the XLR contacts of both of those "combo" XLR/phone (¼") jacks on the 2i2. I think I saw something about the power being switched; dunno if power becomes available when you plug in an XLR, or if there's a separate control for that.

  That 2i2 is a neat little device.

If you look in the docs there is "48V - phantom power switch for mic inputs - enables +48 V phantom power at the XLR contacts of both Combo connectors". The switch is just above the [Direct Monitor] slide switch.

Rachel - at least a couple of those $50 mics you posted are really cheap. One is in fact a small diaphragm capsule!!! One has no pop filter or shock mount. You will have to have those in MHO.  By the time you add those on you might well be over $100 and still have a low end cheap mic. Save a little and aim a bit higher would be my advice. Otherwise down the road you will likely end up replacing the cheap mic with something better and the combined price of both will be the more expensive route to go.

LB
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2015, 04:32:15 pm »
The frequency response on them are all boosted in the highs as well. One of them looks like a steady slope up from 1K. another starts at about 3K with a strong rise from there.


Also if by chance you did buy a ribbon... you don;t want 48V on them so you need to learn when, where, and how to turn 48v on and off on any interface you may use your mics with.


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Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2015, 06:15:12 pm »
From those 3, I'd personally go for the B1 as it's a popular choice.

This should be within your budget as well, and I'd like to have thys myself as well:
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Avantone/CK-6-FET-Cardioid-Condenser-Microphone.gc

I'm surprised they don't have the M179 from CAD, but there's plenty on ebay (got mine there as well):
http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAD-M179-Variable-Pattern-Condenser-Microphone-/261992343947?hash=item3cfff5e98b
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #20 on: September 05, 2015, 07:23:52 pm »
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/tube-microphones/mxl-9000-tube-condenser-microphone?rNtt=tube%20condenser&index=9

That would probably work well with your voice too. I think that's the same mic I have under a different name and I really like the way it sounds with my voice.

I also have this under another name.
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/condenser-microphones/avantone-cv-12-multi-pattern-large-capsule-tube-condenser-microphone?rNtt=tube%20condenser&index=1

That sounds good too, but they sound totally different.

BTW... this is that same mic....
http://www.amazon.com/Apex-Electronics-460-Tube-Microphone/dp/B000OV4ZRY

What everyone does is buy that mic, then modify it. So when you see that mic for anywhere from say $1,500 down to whatever, it's the same mic. Now what they will do is swap out the transformer ( ~$100), the capsule ( ~$100-$300), and you can modify the circuit to emulate a specific vintage microphone.

These are simply a basic Chinese mic... been around for years. The Chinese capsules have gotten better too so you can use this mic just as it is. If something goes wrong, almost anyone can fix it. ( there are some delicate wires inside and the Chinese don't always pay attention to that. Unscrew the shell, solder the wire back on 5 seconds. )

The other good thing is that mic comes with a variable polar patter power supply. It is also a tube mic so you try various tubes to alter the character a bit perhaps.

This would probably be the most versatile, inexpensive, up gradable, multi-purpose mic you could possibly buy.

« Last Edit: September 05, 2015, 07:40:30 pm by TB-AV »
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Offline Hollywood

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2015, 09:45:10 pm »
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/tube-microphones/mxl-9000-tube-condenser-microphone?rNtt=tube%20condenser&index=9

That would probably work well with your voice too. I think that's the same mic I have under a different name and I really like the way it sounds with my voice.

I also have this under another name.
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/condenser-microphones/avantone-cv-12-multi-pattern-large-capsule-tube-condenser-microphone?rNtt=tube%20condenser&index=1

That second one is also the same one Cue mentioned.  Okay. So, do those both look like they would work with my voice in terms of where the peaks are?

I'm going to look up some videos of both of these, but I really wish I could try these out first... oh well.
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Offline TB-AV

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2015, 10:10:33 pm »
That second one is also the same one Cue mentioned. 

Yes..... but it started life as this.....

http://www.amazon.com/Apex-Electronics-460-Tube-Microphone/dp/B000OV4ZRY

and you just never know what people do to them. One of the most expensive version got caught doing nothing, except putting their name and $1,500 price tag on it.

So the question is, can you hear a difference in the $500 one and the $250 one. AND... even if you do, would you like one over the other. Probably not.

That mic, the Apex 460 and incarnations has a variable polar pattern and the response varies, but yes, it's not as peaky in some patterns, flat in others and actually dips in others.

The 460 is the most versatile, there is simply no two ways around that. That is because of the varied polar patterns. You see that black box it has with it? That is a power supply. It supplies high voltage to the mic. That dial you see that looks like a volume knob. That varies the polar pattern between Omni and Cardioid and everything in between. It kinda acts a little bit like an equalizer as it changes the pickup pattern. It's subtle though.

Again, none of these are going to be like magic happening... there's simply more to it than that.

You should wait until you can hear some.

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Offline Hollywood

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2015, 10:47:13 pm »
I was just talking to my mom about it and trying to figure out what I should do.  What I'd like to do is record 4 songs to the best of my ability and do an EP, which I could put on itunes, get copies to try selling at gigs, and be able to take it to some of the smaller radio stations and see if I can get any airplay.  College stations and small country ones, probably. 

I had figured a condenser mic would do a lot better with recording to try to make it a higher quality, more professional sounding.  But there's really not a huge difference in quality between the dynamic and condenser mics in the YouTube videos I watched.  It's noticeable, but is it worth-$200-noticeable?  I can't decide.  I've got some birthday money I can use, but I'm just not entirely sure if a condenser mic is a good purchase at this point or not.  (I turn 21 this week.... when the heck did that happen??)


That being said, if I decide to wait on the condenser, is there any way to make my dynamic mic recordings sound a little better? 
Frontwoman of alt-rock band Lighting Matches - debut album "Against The Flame"
www.LightingMatchesMusic.com
www.Facebook.com/LightingMatchesMusic

Debut solo EP "Destination Sunday" (Rachel White)

Offline Cue Zephyr

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Re: Affordable Condenser Mic
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2015, 12:12:18 am »
Here's the Audio Technica AT3035 (but you'd have to ebay it probably):




Here's a production of a friend of mine with a CAD M179 on vocals:
(incidentally, I"m in this video as well with mandolin and the small Nashville-tuned guitar)


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