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On Microphones
Old 4th February 2009
Here for the gear
🎧 10 years
On Microphones

Hi All - I'm rather new to this but thought I would share my recent microphone experience, and echo what others have said.

I was in the market for a fairly cheap LDC for male vocals only, for home recording. I read a number of reviews and forum postings etc, and ended up taking two on test, being an Audio Technica AT4033a for £200, and a SE5600 mkII for £400. I also wanted to test a Rode NTK, but they didn't have it in at the time.

Anyhow, I got them home and A/B'd them with our singer, and compared them to some recordings we had done on a vintage U87 (£3,000) at a studio recently and found a number of things:

1) They both sounded very different, with the U87 striking me as something of a middle ground in sound between the two, having the good parts of both.
2) They both suited different mixes and songs differently (without EQ that is)
3) The U87 mic sounded the best, and sat "right" in the mix straight out of the box with no EQ, whereas the other two needed some EQ to get them to sit right, however once it was there, they sounded fine in the mix and you would not say that the Neumann was better, just different (and easier to work with)

I am going with the AT4033a - which is irrelevant for the point I am making, which is:

You have to try the damn things out!

Whilst admittedly if you buy a 3 grand mic, it is likely to sound great, this is also a function of the acoustics of the recording space.

But, if you are not able to buy such a mic or record in such a space, you really have to experiment to see how they perform with not only what you are recording and where you are recording it, but also I find in the context of the mix which you are trying to sit them in, which is a function of your musical style, other instruments in the mix, and also how you want your end result to sound.

At this level of cost, you are not going to find a perfect mic for every situation (which is why studios have racks of the things), and also you will getter a much better result with a well matched mic than a less well suited one, irrespective of price.

I don't mean this thread to be any kind of flame, but hopefully this will be useful to all the posters who ask which cheap mic they should get to get a vintage Neumann sound.

I would suggest you ask yourself:

Do I actually know what a vintage Neumann sound is in the context of my mix? How much of it is EQ, reverb, etc?
Do I really actually want that sound?

And then get a bunch of mics on demo, test them on your source, play with EQ, and test them in the context of your mixes. I think then there will be clear winners and losers, and I suggest that this may not have anything to do with how much like a vintage Neumann they truly sound.

Anyways, ended up being a long post - comments appreciated, and happy to share why I preferred the AT if anyone cares!

Old 4th February 2009
Lives for gear
cavern's Avatar
🎧 10 years
why did you pick the 4033?
i have 2 of em and although they get bashed quite a bit here, i love those mics.
Old 4th February 2009
Here for the gear
🎧 10 years
Hey Cavern,

To be honest, neither of them blew me away straight out of the box (we live in hope right?!), but I felt that the highs on the SE were very abrasive, whereas the AT had a good oomph and body.

It seemed to sit better in the tracks we do, and suited our singer's voice best. Also, with a bit of EQ to give it a bit more air it started sounding pretty decent.

What were your thoughts?
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