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Help me gear up for my next project (Bluegrass/Folk)
Old 10th March 2014
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Help me gear up for my next project (Bluegrass/Folk)

Hey guys, I have small home studio that I began to record a homemade album for a friend last year and I'm going to start a new project this Spring and I need some help with gear ideas. I was fairly satisfied with the new project but I want to achieve a better sound this time. The first thing I'm doing is applying some DIY acoustic treatment to my spare bedroom as it was completely untreated for my first project and I'm learning a lot about that from this forum. The 2nd thing I want to do is get some better microphones and possibly some outboard gear for tracking and mixing.

This new project is going to be a fusion of bluegrass, folk, and acoustic rock styles. I love the warm, clean, smooth sound of Alison Krausse's stuff but I also like the feel of some of Adele's records, specifically the drums and simplicity of the mixes. Hopefully that's not too confusing, but I'm really going for warm and acoustically intimate versus the sizzle of the big pop records. I will be tracking vocals, acoustic guitar, acoustic bass (not upright), fiddle, mandolin, some electric guitar through a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. All in a small bedroom.

I have a Mackie Onyx 1620 tracking into SawStudio Lite. My only outboard gear is a headphone distro and an ART reverb unit I've never used. I used primarily free VST plug ins (Ambience, TAL stuff) and Ozone 5 for mastering my own stuff (yeah, I know).

My current mics: Blue Bluebird, AT 3035, Studio Projects B1, Behrenger LDC (can't remember the model), Audix D6, Audix D2 (x2), SM57.

I purchased the Bluebird as my main vocal mic but I want a higher quality vocal mic that won't be as harsh on the higher end. I had a really hard time controlling the s's even with a de-esser. I also don't currently have anything for a stereo pair although the Bluebird and AT3035 weren't terrible for acoustic guitar or drum OH. I don't own a SDC.

This are some of the options I'm considering for purchase, let me know what you think (I will be purchasing all used). I have basically around $1000 to spend. I will be recording a Martin acoustic and the fiddle/mandolin player has his own AKG 414c.

Option 1: Oktava MK-012 or Shure KSM 137 + AKG 414c xlii or Neumann tlm 103 - This would give me a SDC/LDC combo for acoustic guitar, a good vocal LDC, and some better drum mics, albeit still not a stereo pair. The 414 would give me multiple patterns and probably more versatility.

Option 2: Pair of Oktava MK-012s or Shure KSM 137s + Rode NTK or K2 with tube upgrade - This would give me a stereo pair for acoustic guitar and drum OH and a specific vocal mic that would hopefully give me some of the warm sound I'm looking for with a Rode tube mic.

Option 3: AKG 414c xlii or Neumann tlm 103 + value priced mic pre/compressor (ART Pro MPA or ART Pro Channel II or ART Pro VLA II or????)

I do like the idea of tracking the main vocals with a tube compressor to help warm up the tone and bring out some of the in your face nuance but I've never done that before. I've looked at the ART Pro VLA II for that. I'm familiar with the ART stuff because I've used my church's live sound department quite a bit.

Sorry for how long this post is! I'm interested in any and all feedback. Thanks!
Old 10th March 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
for me it would be hands down the shure ksm and the akg.
Old 11th March 2014
  #3
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks for the reply. For some reason I have this affinity for the AKG. It's probably because on my last project I recorded a fiddle with the guy's AKG 414 and also tracked my Bluebird next to it for an A/B and the AKG was light years better than the Bluebird on fiddle. Its versatility is also attractive.

I actually just got an ART Pro VLA II in the mail but I haven't opened the box yet because I was considering sending it back.

Would running an AKG 414 xlii through the Pro VLA II during tracking degrade the sound of the AKG or do you think that could give the lead vocals some warmth and nuance by quashing the signal a little?
Old 11th March 2014
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
the trick with the art is to chain the channels, so put the first channel into the second channel in series.

set the first channel as a limiter taking off the peaks and then set the second channel as a compressor doing about 4:1 and adjust the threshold to suit.

my vla lives on my parallel vocal buss. for tracking I use a dbx160sl

i pretty much never compress drums or electric guitar during tracking. vocals and electric bass get slammed and acoustic guitar i lightly touch.

another cheapish mic you may also want to consider is the akg d202 and the d224. they are dynamic mics but really do have a smooth and detailed sound to them. the 202 has a very even off axis sound to it. just be sure to get a working version.
Old 12th March 2014
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
How about a good
ribbon mic? First thing that comes to mind when you say "warm, clean, smooth".
Old 17th March 2014 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimS ➑️
How about a good
ribbon mic? First thing that comes to mind when you say "warm, clean, smooth".
I'm very ignorant when it comes to ribbon mics. Any particular recs in my price range?
Old 17th March 2014
  #7
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Have you considered a pair of fatheads?

I've used them on overheads, upright bass, and guitar cab for my rockabilly band and it gives me a very nice warn sound. I've used the oktava's for the same applications and they also sound great, but I would tend to favor the Fatheads II for a bluegrass folk style project.
Old 18th March 2014 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oh Henry ➑️
Have you considered a pair of fatheads?

I've used them on overheads, upright bass, and guitar cab for my rockabilly band and it gives me a very nice warn sound. I've used the oktava's for the same applications and they also sound great, but I would tend to favor the Fatheads II for a bluegrass folk style project.
I've never heard of the Fatheads until just now but I'm looking into them and they look like sweet mics.

I've been looking at the Royer R-101 but I don't know if I want to spend that much cash on something that may be more of a specialty mic, without different patterns, etc.

Thanks!
Old 18th March 2014
  #9
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
I prefer the SM81 to both the KSM137 and the MK-012 and I've spent extensive time with all 3 (albeit in a live setting). The MK-012 would be a close second. A pair of SDC's and a Multi-pattern LDC would cover a LOT of ground. Perhaps a GA Pre73 or other budget preamp to warm things up? A good preamp is the secret to making budget mics sound good.
Old 18th March 2014 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by godofmetalguita ➑️
I prefer the SM81 to both the KSM137 and the MK-012 and I've spent extensive time with all 3 (albeit in a live setting). The MK-012 would be a close second. A pair of SDC's and a Multi-pattern LDC would cover a LOT of ground. Perhaps a GA Pre73 or other budget preamp to warm things up? A good preamp is the secret to making budget mics sound good.
I was really impressed with the sound of the SM81 on Alison Krausse's fiddle (and drum OHs, I think) on her live album. Sounded really smooth and I was actually looking. However, after listening to some samples and reading reviews on this site, I just picked up a KSM141 on ebay for $200, which gives me 2 patterns to choose from. I just got it and haven't even had a chance to use it yet but I'm looking forward to hearing it on acoustic guitar. I would like to pick up another one if I like it so I can have a pair.

I did just pick up an ART Pro Channel tube pre for $50 on craigslist. I don't know if that's a good enough pre to give me some warmth on the front end as well as a little compression, but I'm going to try it out. I know I could do some tube replacement to make it sound better as well.

The price point of the Cascade ribbon mics is quite attractice. I have never used a ribbon mic, however, I don't even know how they sound. I need to listen to some samples, I guess.

Sheesh, I've been doing some digital recording for about 10 years now and this forum (that I just discovered) is opening my eyes to so many new ideas... and purchases. Got a lot of rack spaces on my desk that I need to fill up!
Old 19th March 2014 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by FriarTuck ➑️
Sheesh, I've been doing some digital recording for about 10 years now and this forum (that I just discovered) is opening my eyes to so many new ideas... and purchases. Got a lot of rack spaces on my desk that I need to fill up!
Welcome to the addiction!!!! This forum and others like it have made me spend way more money than I had originaly anticipated!!! At first I was supposed to get a 2 input interface and a Rode NT1.........that was 3000$ ago!!!

Now I just need the 10 years of experience to get my stuff to sound good.
Old 20th March 2014
  #12
Ah yes "welcome to the addiction" so true. Friar as someone who is an all acoustic country type myself, seems you are on the right track with your choices. I have a fathead ribbon and it really is a specialty deal unless you go all the way and get the Lundahl transformer (I have a Fathead for sale if that interests you). The only other thing I'd say is that for acoustic really take a hard look at Neumann TLM 103. I know it gets some "mixed" reviews around here but once you learn its little idiocyncracies, you could use it for a ton of acoustic applications imo. Caveat is that it wants a good preamp but that "warm" sound you want-that mic will deliver. The other one I depend on is a modded tube mic by Brian Fox. I could do an entire album probably with just those two mics-I'd miss some of my other mics yes, but you could probably do it with those two and get a nice warm folky acoustic sound imo assuming the room is decent and you do some of the other things you mention.

Paul Ryan
: R y a n T u n e s
Old 20th March 2014
  #13
Here for the gear
 
codywalkerjr's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Long time reader , first time posting here...I have a very similar setup as you..even down to the Hot Rod Deluxe..I also run sound for small bluegrass festivals all around the southeastern United States..It's my understanding that many GEARSLUTZ hate the AKG C1000S,,but it is a great mic for guitar amps and stringed instuments ( Any Bluegrass instrument, even upright bass but really shines on mando/guitar, banjo) in fact I tracked an electric guitar part with this mic on the amp tonight and got a nice clear,reproduction of what I had just played..FWIW I read on a forum a,while back thaf Alison used a C1000S on her fiddle in the early 90s, though I cant verify it...if you can pick one up on craigslist for a good price, I would recommend it.
Old 20th March 2014
  #14
Here for the gear
 
codywalkerjr's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Many will disagree with me, but I would spend your money on better mics and not even bother with a budhet pre....you may not even notice the difference with a budget preamp..I have an ART pro channel that I only use for BASS DI.nothing else.....I prefer the Preamps in my Allen and Heath board over the ART..
Old 20th March 2014
  #15
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
I second the fatheads. There somewhere is a folk video recorded with ONE fathead and a UA pre. Sounds pretty great.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pl-WCsP3pZk
In fact, it's so cool, Cascade even used it on their own website.

Perhaps you can get hold of Mr. Jenkins and ask his opinion?
Old 21st March 2014
  #16
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
A pair of ksm137 will be no slouch for many purposes. I agree with the above poster that you may not notice a huge difference with any budget pres. The mackie onyx pres are decent and you really have to spend some money for a noticable step up.

You may want to look at the Rode K2. Multi pattern tube mics have many uses.
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