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Learn me some mics!!
Old 29th May 2003
  #1
Here for the gear
 
HaB's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Learn me some mics!!

Moved to a separate thread after Jay's suggestion.

I am putting together a studio, but am currently on a tight budget as far as the "big" gear goes (desk, DAW, recorder, etc) So I am going to go ahead and start buying mics, but I need some suggestions.

I have: 3 SM 57s and 2 SM 58s, plus some other ubercheap odds and ends I bought before I knew what I was doing. heh

So here's the question at hand:

Tracking a full rock band: drums, bass, two guitars, keys, vox. Studio, not live. (Portability is a plus, but not neccessary)

Let's put responses into 3 categories:

1 - The bare minimum. Assuming you are a God at placing mics, and getting a good sound with mediocre equipment, this is what you would HAVE to have to do it.

2 - It'd be nice if I had this, but since I'm on a medium budget...
The mid range. Not the top top top of the line, but decent stuff, with perhaps a rare gem or two tossed in for good measure.

3 - Hi, my name is Donald, this is my girlfriend Marla. You can cal me Mr. Trump, if you'd like.
Money is NO object. The band wishes to be able to hear the sound of a fly landing on rice paper from 20 yards away, and I'm just the guy to do it, here's my mic collection:


Thanks!

Old 29th May 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 
littledog's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Forgive me if I don't try to take on the whole question, but let me just make a few general responses. Assuming that you are aiming at eventually being a "pro" studio on at least some level, you will need enough mics and enough variety of mics to cover the usual bases, or else no one will want to use yuor facilities.

So, assuming we are starting from your existing 57's and 58's and nothing else, I would say the bare minimum additions would be:

•A decent sounding large diaphragm condenser mic for vocals (as well as many instruments like saxes). If you are broke maybe look at something from Studio Projects or Marshall. If you have a little more money look at the Audio Technica 4050 or 4060, the Shure KSM 44, or a Neuman TLM 103. If you've got some serious bucks look at something from Lawson, Soundelux, Brauner, or maybe a Neumann M149.

•A pair of small diaphragm condensers for stereo mic'ing (acoustic guitar, piano, etc.) and/or drum overheads. Cheap would be the Oktava MC012 (sometimes called MK012). Make sure you try them out if you get them from Guitar Centerl, as there are a lot of bad ones. If you have more money, look at the Josephson C42's.

•A large diaphragm dynamic mic for kick drum. There's not a big difference in prices here between the usual suspects: AKGD112, ATM25, etc... almost every mic company has at least one "kick" mic in their catalogue (Audix, Sennheiser, Beyer, Shure...)

I would say covering the above three categories in some way shape or form is a minimum requirement for a recording studio. After that?

The next step would be:

•more of the above to provide enough mics to do larger ensembles and/or provide a variety of choices.

•a pair of small diaphragm omnis (Cheap: Behringer. More expensive: Earthworks QTC)

•ribbon mics (Cheaper: Beyer. More expensive: Royer or Coles)

•PZM or Boundary mics (Crown makes some decent ones)

•some higher quality DI's (Demeter, Avalon U5, Aguilar, etc.)

•add some variety to your dynamic mics: Shure SM7, Sennheiser 421 or 441, EV RE20, etc.
Old 29th May 2003
  #3
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
So you want three different mic setups? If you hunt for used mics you can come up with great stuff for about $6 or $7K that will give you plenty of options. I don't think I've ever used the exact same setup on any two projects (in about 7 years of AE'ing) but I do have things that I start with. If things aren't sounding right I'll start swapping out mics. This is the one place you can't skimp. Use one set of monitors, eat mac & cheese for 6 months, don't buy new Playstation games (well, do get Vice City) whatever. The sound starts with the mics and the mics matter way more then whatever preamp they're connected to.

I'm sure there's really no surprises here. It's the same stuff that
everyone else uses. Also, anything in the higher priced rigs already includes the lower priced stuff. When you see multiples it's because I can interchange them or it's my backup if the first isn't working. It's really a case of whatevers working at that day, on that session with those players.

Budget rig;

Kick inside - 421, Beta 52
Kick outside - AT4047, 414B/ULS
Snare - SM57, MD504, Oktava MC012 (cardiod)
Toms - SM57, MD504
Floor tom - D112, 421
OH - Oktava MC012, AT4041 or similar like CM700, SM81
Room mic (mono) - anything that fits, SM57 to a U87
Bass DI - whatever
Bass Amp - SM57, 421, D112
Gtrs - SM57, 421
Scratch vocal - SM58

Mid-price rig;

Kick inside - 421, Beta 52
Kick outside - U195, U87, 414B/ULS
Snare - SM57, M201, MD504,
Toms - 421, E609
Floor tom - 421, TLM103
OH - 451 or 452, KM184, TLM103's, 414 TLII, Blue Dragonflys,
Room mics - TLM103, AT4047, Blue Baby Bottle
Bass DI - Countryman, BSS or similar
Bass Amp - 421, TLM103, AT4047,
Gtrs - Baby Bottles, E609
Scratch vocal - SM58

High end (includes all of the above but adds)

Kick inside - same as above. Maybe a 47Fet or M147
Kick outside - U67, U99, M147,
Snare - KM184, KM86, 414
Toms - KM184, 414's
Floor tom - 414, U87
OH - C12 (original, not the crappy VR), U87, Royer SF12, 251's, Earthworks omni's
Room mics - RCA 77, C24, U87, R-121, Nuemann Binaural Head, Earthworks omni's
Bass DI - Avalon, Demeter, Auguliar or similar
Bass Amp - U195, 47Fet, M147
Gtrs - 414, U87, 409,
Scratch vocal - Still just an SM58. I'll use something cool if we can
stick the singer into an iso booth. Never happens in my place because I don't have a booth big enough to stick a singer into.

There's a bunch of stuff I'm leaving out that's cool because I've
either never used it or rarely used it. Like the Wright omni mics,
Lawson, M149's etc. Just remember, there's no such thing as a bad mic. There's just the wrong mic for the wrong application.

Even a C1000 can hold a door open.
Old 29th May 2003
  #4
Lives for gear
 
covert's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I can't really say anything about the no limits rig, since I'm far from that. Here are some additional comments on Jay's list.



Budget rig;

Kick inside - 421, Beta 52

ATM 25

Kick outside - AT4047, 414B/ULS

Not currently doing this.

Snare - SM57, MD504, Oktava MC012 (cardiod)

AKG D1000e

Toms - SM57, MD504

The Rat Shack ones that look like Sennheisers, when on sale run about $30.

Floor tom - D112, 421

AT kick/tom per Harvey Gerst's suggestion.

OH - Oktava MC012, AT4041 or similar like CM700, SM81

MXL 603

Room mic (mono) - anything that fits, SM57 to a U87

Studio Projects B3 in fig 8. AKG "the tube."

Bass DI - whatever
Bass Amp - SM57, 421, D112
Gtrs - SM57, 421
Scratch vocal - SM58

I've been using a Beyer M500 for this lately. Chick singer, a bit on the screechy side. The M500 is a cool mic to have for trying almost anywhere except inside the kick. Sometimes works where nothing else does. I'm told the other Beyer ribbons are also useful in this fashion, but I haven't managed to afford any yet.

Some of the 70's Sony electrets are also quite nice. They seem to work in all sorts of places. You have to watch out for the ones that have lost charge and died.

The EV 1776 condensors are also pretty hip, and can be gotten quite cheap. There's info around on coverting them to phantom power, which is recommended as the batteries are really hard to get these days.
Old 30th May 2003
  #5
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
What do people think about the Beyer M201?

I've found a cheap source & thinking about getting a pile for toms, amps etc. Any preference over the Beta57?

I have a ATM25 & was thinking of a couple more of those too.

P.S. I'm very wary of secondhand mics, dynamics lose their clarity over time (& are not worth repairing). I just had a D12E go down & I haven't had it long, I think it's a goner which is a PITA.
Old 30th May 2003
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
fishtop_records's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by crispy
What do people think about the Beyer M201?

I've found a cheap source & thinking about getting a pile for toms, amps etc. Any preference over the Beta57?
I really like my M201s. I have three. And a Beta 57,
and the usual collection of non-beta 57s.

It depends on the day, drummer, etc. but
I really like the M201s on toms and Marshall stacks.
Snares are more of a toss up.
Old 30th May 2003
  #7
Lives for gear
 
littledog's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Jay's not the first to suggest the TLM103 for close mic'ing drums. But I'll be damned if i could figure out how to do it with mine - combine the lack of a built in pad with an output that is so hot that anything close to a drum would max out any of my preamps even with their pads engaged and the gain pot full counterclockwise. I guess I'd have to use inline pads PLUS the preamp pads.

That's why I love 414's (b/uls or EB) for that: the built in -20dB pad makes them perfect for the job. TLM103 is probably the last mic I'd want on a high SPL source, but maybe that's why I'm only a peon...

So, do I have an unusually potent 103, or is there some secret technique involved?
Old 30th May 2003
  #8
Lives for gear
 
cashewcupcake's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What does the room you record in sound like? Does it sound good or is the ambience unpleasant? How do the drums sound when played in there?

Personally, I don't like close mic'd drums very much. Kick generally needs to be close micd unless you're lucky, and occasionally toms depending on the tonal part you want them to have in the song.

I prefer just kick, maybe snare, overheads, and a room mic. Fletcher wrote a mini opus on micing drums with 3 mics. If you haven't read it, I'll find a link for you.

The reason I bring this up is that iIt can be very difficult to close mic drums and have them sound good because of leakage, phase, positioning etc. Usually I find that it's easier to get a better sound with room and overheads with compression.

What is your actual budget?

Oh and last thing. IMO, 57s can get you very far. They have a very flat tone and auto compress (to my ears), which works well on drums.
Old 30th May 2003
  #9
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by littledog
Jay's not the first to suggest the TLM103 for close mic'ing drums. But I'll be damned if i could figure out how to do it with mine - combine the lack of a built in pad with an output that is so hot that anything close to a drum would max out any of my preamps even with their pads engaged and the gain pot full counterclockwise. I guess I'd have to use inline pads PLUS the preamp pads.
Usually a -20 or -30 inline pad works fine with a TLM 103 on a drum. I use in-lines all the time on the 103's and the Baby Bottles, most things are way too hot without them including some singers. You could also try using an outboard phantom supply and patching the mic right into the tape deck. There's no rule that says it HAS to be plugged into a mic pre. I also use pres that have a ton of headroom, something like a cheap IC console pre might crap out or not take the transient as well.

FWIW, the 3-mic drum thing is great when it works. I'm mixing a project right now that was cut that way with close kick & snare as a saftey. But, it doesn't work for "modern" rock. Roots rock and alt-country are totally different.
Old 30th May 2003
  #10
Here for the gear
 
HaB's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by faeflora
What does the room you record in sound like? Does it sound good or is the ambience unpleasant? How do the drums sound when played in there?

Personally, I don't like close mic'd drums very much. Kick generally needs to be close micd unless you're lucky, and occasionally toms depending on the tonal part you want them to have in the song.

I prefer just kick, maybe snare, overheads, and a room mic. Fletcher wrote a mini opus on micing drums with 3 mics. If you haven't read it, I'll find a link for you.

The reason I bring this up is that iIt can be very difficult to close mic drums and have them sound good because of leakage, phase, positioning etc. Usually I find that it's easier to get a better sound with room and overheads with compression.

What is your actual budget?

Oh and last thing. IMO, 57s can get you very far. They have a very flat tone and auto compress (to my ears), which works well on drums.
Don't have a room yet, or an actual budget. I am just trying to start collecting mics now that I will still have use for when I am to that point.

I have read the mini-opus on micing drums with 3 mics. Some great info in there. I already have a drummer who wants to help me experiment with that.

I am just looking for a set of "must have" mics, since everyone here seems to have their favorite pieces. I know 57s will get me far, since that's what I currently have, and have been using them for many years for damn near everything. Now I am to the point where I want to make the leap into some nicer equipment, so I'm just looking for suggestions.

Thanks!

Old 30th May 2003
  #11
Gear Nut
 
jmusic3's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Hey HaB,

You may want to look into that mic we once discussed. Let me see, what was it called...ah yes, the "Horlandifica" model.

Hope that helps,

J
Old 30th May 2003
  #12
Lives for gear
 
cashewcupcake's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Have you read about the Rad Shack PZM mod? I think people use those for room mics and it's cheap.
Old 31st May 2003
  #13
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by HaB
I am just looking for a set of "must have" mics, since everyone here seems to have their favorite pieces... so I'm just looking for suggestions.
That's easy. Get at least three 421's, a pair of KM184's, EV635A's and a pair of either KSM44's, AT4050's or 414's. Those mics will always do well for you. After that you can expand into the exotic and weirder stuff. The first mics are really the building blocks of a decent studio.
Old 31st May 2003
  #14
Here for the gear
 
HaB's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by jmusic3
Hey HaB,

You may want to look into that mic we once discussed. Let me see, what was it called...ah yes, the "Horlandifica" model.

Hope that helps,

J
Oh yes....I had forgotten about that entire series of mics. I am amused to think of them once again.

I seem to remember a session we did long ago, and that one guitar player - Jake. I remember as we were recording that record thinking "man...he's really going to make the DAKE on this one."
Old 31st May 2003
  #15
Gear Nut
 
jmusic3's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
ROTFL!

That's awesome. I remember that comment inspiring some eye rollery from a gentleman named Curtis.

Late
J
Old 4th June 2003
  #16
Lives for gear
 
alanhyatt's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
There are a good deal of great suggestions on this thread, however one thing that should also not be overlooked is the monitors. Monitors can make great mics sound bad, and bad mics sound good.

I think the monitors play a big part of the chain as does the mic, mic amp, and room conditions. I have heard some bad monitors that killed what I knew was a good mic, so keep doing your research and make sure the room where you place your monitors is not throwing you standing waves, bass traps, or other extremes that will mess with your sound.
Old 4th June 2003
  #17
Gear Head
 
JoHoozaFats...'s Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
hey y'all... i'm kinda in the same situation. i'm seriously contemplating the studio projects B1 or C1. Any owners of these? what do y'all think of them?
Old 5th June 2003
  #18
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by alanhyatt
There are a good deal of great suggestions on this thread, however one thing that should also not be overlooked is the monitors. Monitors can make great mics sound bad, and bad mics sound good.
Yeah, monitors are also really key. Without good monitors that you can trust your shooting in the dark. That's why I've never understood people who use nothing but NS-10's.
Old 5th June 2003
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
fishtop_records's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by JoHoozaFats...
hey y'all... i'm kinda in the same situation. i'm seriously contemplating the studio projects B1 or C1. Any owners of these? what do y'all think of them?
Well, Alan will probably be biased, since he had a hand
in designing and importing them...

The C1 has a well known reputation as being a great
deal. Only $200 and sounds much better.
Probably a good choice for a first LDC.
And they seem to hold their value well,
so you can use it, and resell it on eBay if it
ends up not suiting your vocals (or vocalists).

But do you really need an LDC first?
Only you can answer that, but you should
first get at least a couple of SM57s.

And as the recent posts on this thread point out,
you have to have at least decent monitors before
you can hear any differences in what you are doing.
Old 5th June 2003
  #20
Lives for gear
 
alanhyatt's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by fishtop_records
Well, Alan will probably be biased, since he had a hand
in designing and importing them...

But do you really need an LDC first?
Only you can answer that, but you should
first get at least a couple of SM57s.

And as the recent posts on this thread point out,
you have to have at least decent monitors before
you can hear any differences in what you are doing.
Well, I hope that I can be seen as being neutral in many situations, and I am not hyping my mics here, but but now that several LD mics have approached the $79.00 mark, I am not sure there is any dedicated order of what mics to buy first.

Most beginners tend to have a need for vocals, and acoustic guitar, with some guitar amps and some drums. For those applications, I really believe an LD mic will not only sound better, but it will do as well or better than a 57 on these "type" of applications.

The LD you choose must be a real LD mic and not an Electret hiding inside a fake LD capsule. If you get a real good LD mic that is not very colored, then it has always been my experience that using an LD will provide better results most of the time given certian parameters.

In the end, you do need both SD and LD mics, but pricing has brought the market more flexibility now where several years ago, a decent LD mic was $1K.
Old 5th June 2003
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
fishtop_records's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by alanhyatt
Well, I hope that I can be seen as being neutral in many situations, and I am not hyping my mics here, but but now that several LD mics have approached the $79.00 mark, I am not sure there is any dedicated order of what mics to buy first.

I see you as amazingly neutral, and you are even allowed to be
a little bit biased (IMHO) since you do try
to earn a living with these things.

I agree that the $80 price point for starter LDCs
has changed things. Even just a couple of years ago,
the Shanghai mics were a lot more than that.
Since $80 is the street price of a SM57, it is much
more of a wash now. Before, I strongly believed
you should get two SM57s before worrying about
a Shanghai. And probably ten mics before worrying
about a Neumann.

I think that there is probably a non-trivial jump in
quality between even a started LDC and something
like Alan's SP C1 at $200.

I still hold that every studio needs a handfull of SM57s,
I'll let people argue about whether to buy them first
or second. If for nothing else but to put on drums
where the drummer is likely to whack them with a
stick. Condensers don't like being whacked, and
there is the long standing joke about using SM57s as
hammers if your truck is too far away to walk to.
Old 5th June 2003
  #22
Gear Head
 
ddavid's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
for grins I bought a Studio Projects B1 to find out what all the fuss was about...the fuss is correct...($79)
I reach for that sucker a little more than my 57....i love both of em...
Old 6th June 2003
  #23
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
A few thoughts...

I'd rather have small diapraghm condensors then large if I could only have one type. Small diapragms are more accurate with respect to off-axis sounds. They also have more low end then a large diaphragm IF you disregard the proximity effect.

Alan, has there been any feedback yet on the new SDC with the swapable capsules? They look pretty sweet for the cash.

The problem I've run into with most of the cheap-o LDC mics is that they can't take any kind of real level. I've shoved them in front of semi-loud guitar amps and the diaphragm or electronics are distorting way before they ever hit the preamp. If you have a really loud singer you'll hear the same kind of electronic fizz on peaks, but you'll never have a problem on acoustic guitar or as room mics on a drum kit.
Old 6th June 2003
  #24
Lives for gear
 
alanhyatt's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
A few thoughts...

I'd rather have small diapraghm condensors then large if I could only have one type. Small diapragms are more accurate with respect to off-axis sounds. They also have more low end then a large diaphragm IF you disregard the proximity effect.

Alan, has there been any feedback yet on the new SDC with the swapable capsules? They look pretty sweet for the cash.
Jay,

We have had very good response. Here is one we just got!

Here is his comments:

I just put the C4s and the LSD2 through a major work out and I wanted to let you know how thoroughly impressed I am. These mics are incredible! I did a reasonably involved recording in a large church - Christmas music for Organ and Organ & Choir. I used C4s about 100' away as ambient mics and the LSD2 about 20' away in an M-S technique. Everything went straight in to my Pro Tools Digi 002 rig - no eq, no compression, no limiting at 24/96 - and that's the way it will come out. Absolutely no processing is required. The mics are accurate and true right across the spectrum. For spot mics I used a C-3 and a T-3 - so it was a Studio Projects session all around, however we probably won't need them as the C4 / LSD2 combination produced a wonderful image. The bottom end on the C4s is stunning (and neutral) and that large capsule has proved again what a rich sound and versatile performer it is. I have never been more satisfied (with respect to recording that is...)

Adam Plante
Power Group Ltd.
Tel 905-405-1229 x 22 Fax 905-405-1885
Old 6th June 2003
  #25
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
With the obligatory mesh pop screen, have tortured tested
both the B1 and C1 for very LOUD vocals (in volume not tone!) which they both passed with flying colors.
And if the C1 works well enough for Tina Turner :-)...

I tested some other inexpensive microphones like the Oktava 219,
and they didn't do near as well.
You'd almost swear someone opened a can of soda pop in the background!

Chris

P.S. Jahooza, as the B1 and C1 sound so different,
it's an excellent learning experience to get both IMHO.
Each is a fine vocal microphone, though one can
work "better" on a given singer/song than the other.
Old 7th June 2003
  #26
Lives for gear
 
pounce's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
i forgot if anyone had mentioned the shure sm81's yet with respect to small diapragm condensers. might be a good thing to consider. also, shure has a few new ones out worth looking in to, but i haven't used them yet. i know the cm700 was mentioned, but i never liked them as well.

ps: using a pair of akg 451's in an xy config for a small chorus and it sounds great. i'm a happy camper with that, but it's a jump up in price.
Old 9th June 2003
  #27
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Alan, has anyone put them up against the standard stuff? SM81, 451/452, KM84 or 184 etc.
Old 9th June 2003
  #28
Lives for gear
 
alanhyatt's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
Alan, has anyone put them up against the standard stuff? SM81, 451/452, KM84 or 184 etc.
Yes, and we have done so against Schoeps as well, but putting my opinion up does not mean anything. The C4's did very well next to the Schoeps, so I am confident that at $369.99 for this entire package, no one will be dissapointed.

More time will tell as more opinions come in, but so far, so good.
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