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Mics Don't Excite Me
Old 28th January 2021
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
Mics Don't Excite Me

As someone who has dabbled for years but has just come into the opportunity to have a room that is properly treated and some nice middle of the road gear, I have to say that microphones are the least exciting part of all of this.

When I listen to shootouts on vintage king or on this forum... I honestly cannot hear a single difference between Mic's that cost $10,000 and something like a Miktek.

Why isn't there more discussion about this on this forum?

It seems idiotic to spend more than $1500 to $3k all in on mics.

If I plug an old AKG dynamic into the Chandler germanium preamp, it will make anything sound like gold... And again one Miktek (CV4 or 3) has you covered for LDC
Old 28th January 2021
  #2
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
So?
We often hear “trust your ears”. So do that. Trust your ears and save your money. Don’t buy anything, including mics, because other people say you need those things.
You absolutely don’t need a different, “better” mic if you don’t hear a need for it. And if you and any clients are happy with your audio work, you win. End of story, at least for now.
Old 28th January 2021
  #3
Lives for gear
A really good micpreamp and a dynamic mic can be a great formula for some vocals or electric guitars.

If you want to record a pristine sounding acoustic guitar, piano, or something else like that then other mics (condensers) just might end up being appealing.

The clean clear sound of digital recording does have many people looking for things like warmth, color, and grit. Dynamic mics, transformer based preamps, and compressors that aren't all that transparent (1176, LA2a, Distressor, ect) are all ways to get there.

I have certainly eyed the Chandler preamp, it looks like a very interesting beast. Not exactly Low End Therory at $1195 plus $320 for the required power supply that they don't mention all that clearly but if one channel is all you need and you are happy using it with just a dynamic mic then I suppose it's a bargain to some.

Not sure how it stacks up but the new Useful Arts Hornet micpreamp which goes for less than the cost of the Chandler power supply is more appropriate to this forum for those looking for some color.
Old 28th January 2021 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
I paid $800 for the Germanium pre and PSU second hand on eBay.

Quality piece for sure though.

That, an ISA 110 and my Berlants which have the mod work from Analog Domain are all I need for sure.

Sorry if the thread wasn't posted right from the start, I'm always excited to get opinions and never sure where to post what here.
Old 28th January 2021 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by rorohello ➡️
Sorry if the thread wasn't posted right from the start.
Your mics are somewhat low end, and mics were your subject, so you ARE on the correct forum (although your ISA 110 on the low end forum is like a a tuxedo at a tractor pull).
Old 28th January 2021
  #6
Gear Nut
I don't own any expensive mics. I have some nice dynamics. You know, standard toolbox type stage mics. I've spent a lot of time lately listening to mic shootouts. Mostly LDC microphones. I'm learning a lot. I put my headphones on & listen. The differences are pretty obvious.

My goal, eventually, is to find a decent studio condenser mic that I can use for certain vocal situations that are really beyond the capabilities of a dynamic. Something with a nice proximity effect. Something with a big full range.

The problem I'm running into is that most of the lower price range mics($1-$400) seem to be missing something or another. Too smooth, terrible proximity or great proximity & thin at 6". Quite often they are too thin sounding altogether or they just "almost sound good enough", but not.

The mics with a big reputation have earned their price tag because they check all the boxes for a certain situation. So much so that they have become industry standards.
Old 28th January 2021 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
Sorry that's an ISA Two!! Crap I'm not making a good impression here...

What I was trying to stimulate debate about was more shootouts between "classic" mics and newer cost effective stuff.

I thought that there would be way more...but it seems like maybe the old established brands pull weight here and don't want these shootouts done.
Old 28th January 2021 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
Try the Rode NTR. Second hand for $600-700 and I think ticks the boxes you are describing.

None of the ears here could pick out $10K Neumanns in a mix versus Mikteks. That's why they don't try it. So your argument is flawed...
Old 28th January 2021
  #9
Gear Addict
Mics don't excite me much either. In fact, my first impression of audiotestkitchen was "wow, these really all sound the same." I think that's because the app would break periodically and seamlessly switch over into playing the same audio for every mic mid-shootout (might have been a bug with the 'mystery mic' feature). But after a week or two of critical listening (with a mindful eye on the app's functionality from moment to moment), I now have my druthers figured out. The differences have become clearer and bigger to me. Still not very exciting, but I'm understanding some of the $4k and $6k and $9k mics on there now.
Old 28th January 2021
  #10
Lives for gear
 
robotchicken's Avatar
 
dont listen to internet shootouts. do shootouts of your own
Old 28th January 2021
  #11
Gear Maniac
Yeah, I also don't hear much difference when listening to mic shootouts. Where I do hear a bigger difference between different microphones is in the mix. Once the mix is polished up nicely, a microphone's deficiencies will start to stand out.
Old 28th January 2021 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by robotchicken ➡️
dont listen to internet shootouts. do shootouts of your own
You are saying we can't trust shootouts from Vintage King??

I think there are plenty of well established places for shootouts without bias, and as I said earlier...a reason why they don't appear in this forum.

By making a statement like this...or the ever so common "Oh just trust your ears" statement that was made earlier...you are negating the democratization through technology that the Internet affords...which is exactly what people in Low End Theory should be coming here for.

There should be more shootouts...and there is a reason (deep pockets) that they are not happening.
Old 28th January 2021 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnalogOverdose ➡️
Yeah, I also don't hear much difference when listening to mic shootouts. Where I do hear a bigger difference between different microphones is in the mix. Once the mix is polished up nicely, a microphone's deficiencies will start to stand out.
It would be awesome to find a place where they are shooting out $1K versus $10K vintage LDCs built up and layered in a mix. Where is such a thing possible?

Whenever I land on anything from Vintage King or Sweetwater that shoots out vocal mics or mics on drums...I cannot hear any difference.

My reproduction system and room are def well above "Low End Theory" so I'm confidant on calling BS on all the posters before who say they can hear this difference.
Old 28th January 2021 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
The same thing just happened in guitar land that should be happening here IMHO with regard to mics.

Everyone use to crap on Behringer pedals and say they could easily hear the difference between a tube screamer clone from Uli and the real deal. Then Josh from JHS posts a video saying "Actually it's pretty spot on..." and BAM total sea change with how boutique pedal sound quality is viewed.

People here need to WAKE UP
Old 28th January 2021
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
I'll probably get kicked out of this form for spilling the beans...but If you got yourself a room and the time, the order (and excitement level) for next steps should be:

-Room treatment
-Mic Pre (I use all that I previously mentioned and a Heritage Audio 1073 Anniversary)
-Converter
-Character compressor (1176 & Sta Level Clone)
-Clean VCA compressor
-Otari/Revox second hand tape machines for real saturation because plugins just can't get you there and you will end up spending just as much chasing it...

Mics should be DEAD last on where you spend money. And you SHOULD listen to Internet shootouts.
Old 28th January 2021 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by rorohello ➡️
Sorry that's an ISA Two!!
That’s so not-high-end that I have one. The ISA pres are excellent.
Old 28th January 2021 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by rorohello ➡️
It would be awesome to find a place where they are shooting out $1K versus $10K vintage LDCs built up and layered in a mix. Where is such a thing possible?
No, nobody does that. And even then, I still might not hear much difference. For me, I can hear the difference when I'm in my studio, and I know from experience how certain things should sound. For instance, this happened a while back, I was mixing a song I recorded, and I was thinking, why does this hihat sound like trash? I looked over at the drum kit, saw the 57 still on it, and said to myself, oh ya, that's why.

Microphones have character. And from using various microphones on different sources, over time you get to know their individual traits. Those traits are subtle, and not really something that's easy to hear on a single A/B comparison. It takes time and experience using the various mics to really notice what's different between them. And it gets personal too, because these microphone differences are so subtle, different people will hear and interpret them differently. Also, it's next to impossible to describe with words what these differences are.
Old 28th January 2021
  #18
Lives for gear
 
the fxs's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by rorohello ➡️
When I listen to shootouts on vintage king or on this forum... I honestly cannot hear a single difference between Mic's that cost $10,000 and something like a Miktek.
you might want to redo/rethink your room treatment and speaker positioning then.
Old 28th January 2021
  #19
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
It is logically inconsistent to call BS on “trust your ears” when you are doing exactly that, trusting your own ears that tell you there is no meaningful difference between microphones.
Also, you seem to say that you hear better than others, because you hear the lack of difference, while you elsewhere imply that others are being dishonest because they CAN’T hear the difference and are lying when they say they hear a difference.
This is drifting from “I’m better than all of you” (which is ugly enough) toward conspiracy theories regarding the motives of all the people you regard as liars.
Cue Patsy Cline as exit music.
Old 28th January 2021
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
I admit I'm trying to stir the pot. I like doing that here. But I don't want to offend anyone or be disrespectful.

I of course can hear the difference between a 57 on my hats versus my Miktek C5. What I'm trying to zero in on is the Pelusos/Mikteks of the world versus the mics fetching 10-20K...

Again...I feel that analogy of the JHS channel (which also famously just threw a huge middle finger to gear sluts all over the world by listing a Klon for $500k) should be brought in and more debate should be happening around why honest discussion about American designs with Chinese parts are just fine.

We are seeing Reverb listing for vintage gear go absolutely nutso, and this forum has the power to reign that in. A vintage mic is not better than the C214s/421s/57s you can buy today on Sweetwater. They will also have to be babied and possibly even have mods done (I had to take the transfomer out of my 55B and lost that gain) just to stay in normal signal to noise ratio. The whole thing around vintage collecting and the engineers who say stuff like "Every U47 sounds different and I paint with them like paintbrushes..." is just stupid.
Old 28th January 2021
  #21
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Can’t hear you. Patsy’s coming back to the part where she sings...
Old 28th January 2021
  #22
Here for the gear
 
T.Martin's Avatar
 
Overall this debate appeals to value judgements, so there really isn't going to be a solution or right answer, as fun as it is to discuss

I'm not made of money and I don't work in the industry. I've never had access to most of the microphones some folks speak casually about in some of the other forums, and unless I chose to spend money just to rent one, I likely never will. I've watched the shootouts, the unboxing videos, the test runs, all of it. Can I hear differences? Sure, a bit. Do I personally think those differences, say compared to a microphone 10% it's cost, are worth the cost of that unit? Not usually.

OP made mention of a bunch of other gear being more important. I can get on board with the idea of investing in a bunch of equipment to make a small but complet-ish home studio and the use of that equipment covering up for less-than-great mics. But even if you were to buy the cheapest component of all those items, you're still over a grand. When I think low end, I remember wanting to record some acoustic songs and being broke as hell. I had a box of beat up dynamic mics from my band days and a small tascam hand recorder. I wasn't thinking about buying 10 cheap items to make my dented dynamic sound better, I went out and bought a Studio Projects B1 and plugged it into my tascam. My personal experience aside, I think when we're talking low end theory, the typical user who needs bang for buck is going to have a better experience and product by investing in a decent low end mic than a handful of cheap components, the later just to justify having a "studio."

Personally, I just stand behind the wife excuse. She sets the limit, and most of the time 500 bucks is where it's at.
Old 28th January 2021
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
Okay well rather than having this turn into a rudeness match. I'll just say that I'm happy to share more about myself and photos of my room in the interest of transparency. I've been recording for over 20 years... but as I said dabbling until I just got into this room.

The way I see it... I can benefit from some of the knowledge in this forum when it comes to how to structure my room and treatment (my Rab studio desk is coming in the mail from Sweetwater today) and others might benefit from clips I'm happy to post from various mics
Old 28th January 2021
  #24
Lives for gear
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I certainly could never justify spending thousands on a single microphone, and like many here, I've listened to countless shootouts over the past two decades that conduct a/b shootouts between the boutique mics and the budget friendly mics. What is painfully obvious to me is that price is NOT the biggest factor in determining how good, bad, or variant to either a microphone sounds. As with all things, there are price point factors when considering LDCs in the modern era, and it's one of those markets that probably has the largest price point spread than any other I can think of.

Twenty years ago the notion that you could find a sub $300 LDC that's usable was unheard of. Ten years ago the notion you could find a sub $100 LDC that's usable was unheard of (maybe with the MXL 990 being an exception when you could find them on sale. Note, not everyone would consider the 990 "usable"). In contrast, today, there are countless examples of pretty good sub $100 LDCs, and the gap between $100-$300 market is closing, as is the gap across the various price points within 300-500 dollar increments.

The key to figuring out which mics you like and you want/need is to just listen and do your research. Miktek, Stellar, Warm, Rode, Blue, MXL, Warbler/3U Audio, Aston, Lauten, SE, Neat, Shure, GAP, Universal Audio, et al. all make great options for just about anything you could want at a reasonable price. And I agree completely that if you compared a GAP 251 (around $1,500 MSRP) or even a Warm WA 251 (around $800 MSRP) to the original Telefunken version (which has been known to fetch 50-60k when you can find one) that 100 out of 100 people wouldn't be able to tell the difference UNLESS you pointed it out to them, and even then, half of those people still wouldn't be able to tell the differences, which would be marginal at best in terms of how they actually translate to the end product.

And then you have this other factor, which is there can be relatively substantial differences in the sound between two Neumann U87s, U67s, and U47s of the same make and model. As far as I can tell, this is true of any boutique manufacture's respective series of the same mic across the spectrum because hand wired point-to-point production isn't going to yield the consistency of modern software specs interfaced to hardware machinery-type production. That's not a judgement on which is "better<" as much as it is a statement of fact regarding consistency. There certainly is a certain "magic" that happens when any instrument is built by hand and dialed in or tuned by a human hands and ears. Still, when people say "I hear 'this and that' difference between the Neumann U87 and the WA 87," I can't help but think to myself, "yeah, but in that other shootout between two authentic Neumann U87s I heard a similar difference." So, where does that leave me.

Is there a tangible reason any microphone should cost 5k, 10k, 60k? Maybe 5k, but I can't really think of any actual reason outside of market perception that would truly justify a microphone costing upwards and over 10k...maybe if it was owned by one of The Beatles...I don't 'know....I think in decades past it was somewhat necessary because there were only a handful of companies building LDCs and SDCs; so, they could set their prices and dictate the market price points. Those who have ben able to maintain and insist on higher price points do so with successful market branding, but i don't know how they can continue to stay afloat for much longer with the market being flooded with better and more financially accessible options.

I'm just going to say it. You can easily make world class commercial ready recordings with mics under $500. Above that, the margins of difference are there but in small increments until you get up around the $1,000 range. If you're buying a mic that's $1,500 or more then God bless you, and that mic should be considered a work of art IMO.

That said, I've been eyeing some north of 1k mics myself, but that's because I'm interested in a specific sound and specific sonic fingerprint. If/when I decide to pull the trigger on something like that it'll be a one and done thing...Then again, I may just buy a Shure KSM 32 and be done for a long time....I've got enough mid level to inexpensive mics in my collection to keep me busy for many many years to come.

I do believe in buying good stuff and not going cheap for the purpose of going cheap...Buy the tools that you need to do the job and that will help you do that job easier...don't buy stuff that's going to work against you just to save a few pennies...luckily, these days you don't necessarily have to compromise quality for price....

Also, to the OP's point, Guitars, drums, basses, etc. are definitely sexier than microphones....there, I said it!
Old 28th January 2021
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
It's a huge spectrum of spend in our current age of home recording. I honestly had no idea where to post this because tons of people here spend upwards of $250-500K on a home studio setup.

I'm only approaching a quarter of that...but I'm learning my room quickly -- which happens to have great dimensions being 23X19 with 11ft pitched roof -- and I have over 20 years collecting great middle-of-road hardware.
Old 28th January 2021 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by rorohello ➡️
I admit I'm trying to stir the pot. I like doing that here. But I don't want to offend anyone or be disrespectful.

I of course can hear the difference between a 57 on my hats versus my Miktek C5. What I'm trying to zero in on is the Pelusos/Mikteks of the world versus the mics fetching 10-20K...

Again...I feel that analogy of the JHS channel (which also famously just threw a huge middle finger to gear sluts all over the world by listing a Klon for $500k) should be brought in and more debate should be happening around why honest discussion about American designs with Chinese parts are just fine.

We are seeing Reverb listing for vintage gear go absolutely nutso, and this forum has the power to reign that in. A vintage mic is not better than the C214s/421s/57s you can buy today on Sweetwater. They will also have to be babied and possibly even have mods done (I had to take the transfomer out of my 55B and lost that gain) just to stay in normal signal to noise ratio. The whole thing around vintage collecting and the engineers who say stuff like "Every U47 sounds different and I paint with them like paintbrushes..." is just stupid.
So what if vintage gear is "going nutso" ???

Then don't buy it.

Some people have a lot of disposable income whether that's a commecial studio or for private use and vintage gear has limited quantities to it. This leads to high prices for what are deemed desireable items in a free market.

While it is true that vintage mics, say a U47 for example sound different due to variations (different transformers, capsules, slight circuit changes, and even the body itself) on top of that because they were amazing mics most have been maintained by people for decades who are damn good at what they do but in unequal ways.

Mics with original capsules are long gone, if you could find one and it was intact it wouldn't sound very good. In spite of this many of these mics have been kept going by some very intelligent people who build capsules. wind transformers and have figured out how to make use of tubes that are very similar to the original VF14 which is pretty much unobtanium at this point.

Saying there is no difference between a well maintained U47 and a AKG C214 is ridiculous. It shows that you either don't know what you are talking about or you are a sh!t stirrer or possibly both.

Yes, one should be able to get a great vocal using even a lowly C214. Assuming of course that you have someone with a great voice and the talents to know what to plug that mic into and to do all the technical things it takes to make a great vocal recording. This doesn't mean that such a person wouldn't prefer another mic, maybe even a vintage one to get the job done.

That an SM57 built today sounds like a new one did back in 1965 or 1975 is arguable. That a 60's grey MD421 or even a black on from the 80's sounds like a an MD421 II just isn't, they are very different mics.

Sure vintage gear is not the only path to great sound but playing Don Quixote with a lot of oversimplification of what is actually some pretty complicated stuff along with some things that are just plain wrong to supposedly save people from themselves is rather painful to watch.
Old 28th January 2021 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gretsch 6120 ➡️
if you compared a GAP 251 (around $1,500 MSRP) or even a Warm WA 251 (around $800 MSRP) to the original Telefunken version (which has been known to fetch 50-60k when you can find one) that 100 our of 100 people wouldn't be able to tell the difference UNLESS you pointed it out to them, and even then, half of those people still wouldn't be able to tell the differences, which would be marginal at best in terms of how they actually translate to the end product.
Bingo

All I'm saying is...let's determine on this forum where we can asses that market level and brands by listening. The INTERNET can do that for us.

The other thing I find interesting (I contribute to Tape Op FWIW) is the countless albums out there (for instance Stephen Malkmus' first solo record) that were recorded with very average mics and hardware and sound STELLAR. Let's stack those back to back against some of the high end guys here who think it takes 10K vocal mics!!
Old 28th January 2021 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JLast ➡️
Saying there is no difference between a well maintained U47 and a AKG C214 is ridiculous. It shows that you either don't know what you are talking about or you are a sh!t stirrer or possibly both.
That's not what I said. Let's not get nasty!
Old 28th January 2021
  #29
Deleted 49e1b71
Guest
there are major differences in sound and quality.

the cheaper stuff can yield professional recordings, but the high end stuff is better (all things being equal). i have a u87 and cu41... i paid about $2800 for each brand new. They are SUBSTANTIALLY better than the 4040, sm7, nt2, 4050, 4047, tlm102/103/49 and its not even close - though i was able to have some nice recordings with the cheaper stuff. The sanken in particular just has no harshness whatsoever.

*just because the end listener cant hear the difference doesn't mean they cant FEEL it

most people cant identify the instruments playing in a song... that doesnt mean it doesnt matter in the end

Last edited by Deleted 49e1b71; 28th January 2021 at 07:02 PM..
Old 28th January 2021
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
Never heard of Sanken! This is all I am talking about and trying to stimulate.

Do they have an LDC?

Do you want to throw down and shootout?

My chain would be Miketek CV3 --> Heritage 1073 Anniversary -->BLA 17

Again, Im happy to post more for anyone curious about my room and experience.

--Edit--
Just looked it up on VK, and hit your Bandcamp. Your stuff is great, but the world I'm in is acoustic-based singer songwriter. So instead of needing flat/neutral, I'm looking to shootout things that color and bring presence to acoustic sources.
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