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Thread: Microphones

  1. #1
    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Default Microphones

    Perhaps some people who do some home recording can recommend me some mics to pick up.

    I mostly record electric guitar, bass, keyboards and other electric instruments. Depending on where I'm recording I use either an SM57 into the DAW or a Zoom H4 pointed at a speaker cab. I want to record some acoustic instruments like a kalimba, harmonica, violin, sax, and general percussion sounds. For these quieter instruments I really need a condenser mic.

    So two questions. What's a decent condenser mic that'll cover most bases, and since I'll need phantom power and something to get the signal up to line level, what would you recommend for that?

    Since I use effects and a looper a lot, I'm thinking of feeding the mic signal into all my FX units, then sending it to the amp, and recording the amplified sound from the speaker. Would this work or would I be better of with something like a piezo to pickup the violin/mbira signal?

    Or people can just share their recording setups if they want.

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    No one here does any recording then?

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    I have a bit but can't afford the really good mics so it's been sm57's and 58's for me.

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    The Sennheiser e914 is a great mic (for the price) for recording a variety of orchestral instruments. I've used it a lot for strings, piano and woodwind and been very happy with the performance. It gets glowing reviews for recording percussion but i don't have much personal experience of it in that domain. The e914, I'm told on good authority from someone inside Sennheiser, goes a long way in terms of performance towards their top-of-the-line mics but for much less cost. I've got quite a few recordings on my website made using this mic. I use a MOTU interface that supplies phantom power. Although it does a good job it's not the ultimate interface but then it's far from the most expensive, all depends on what sort of money one is willing to put there.

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by altiste View Post
    The Sennheiser e914 is a great mic (for the price) for recording a variety of orchestral instruments. I've used it a lot for strings, piano and woodwind and been very happy with the performance. It gets glowing reviews for recording percussion but i don't have much personal experience of it in that domain. The e914, I'm told on good authority from someone inside Sennheiser, goes a long way in terms of performance towards their top-of-the-line mics but for much less cost. I've got quite a few recordings on my website made using this mic. I use a MOTU interface that supplies phantom power. Although it does a good job it's not the ultimate interface but then it's far from the most expensive, all depends on what sort of money one is willing to put there.
    I have actually seen some mics that look like e914's at the Darbar festival. (Yes I am sad enough to notice mics) A bit pricey but still reasonable, and it appears versatile enough to make it worth it.

    What configuration do you use with it? One mic on its own or two in an X-Y or A-B position.

    As for the money-to-quality issue, personally at the minute, I'd go for lo-fi and cheap but it all depends on what kind of music you are making and you're financial position. Some styles need to be sharp and pristine, others there is more leeway.

    As for interfaces, how much of a difference is there between the mid-range and the top of the line models? I can't see it being as crucial as in microphones.

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    Default interfaces

    I'll always use a couple of e914 together, and as they are cardioid, in either X-Y or ORTF. About a year ago I discovered the Metric Halo ULN-8 interface; sound engineer Andrew Levine recorded my Diversions with one of them. They're very pricey, but I now appreciate the difference. ULN = ultra low noise; it is exactly that, it makes the MOTU seem very noisy by comparison. I was very happy with the MOTU until hearing the MH, and still am really, but that's serious money for an interface, so for the moment I'll let someone else with one do the recording of my music if I can organize it. Before then I thought that if I was ever going to upgrade my system the money would go into mics, but not now. When I bought the MOTU I was told the RME was clearer, I'm sure it probably was but one has to draw the line somewhere....

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by altiste View Post
    I'll always use a couple of e914 together, and as they are cardioid, in either X-Y or ORTF. About a year ago I discovered the Metric Halo ULN-8 interface; sound engineer Andrew Levine recorded my Diversions with one of them. They're very pricey, but I now appreciate the difference. ULN = ultra low noise; it is exactly that, it makes the MOTU seem very noisy by comparison. I was very happy with the MOTU until hearing the MH, and still am really, but that's serious money for an interface, so for the moment I'll let someone else with one do the recording of my music if I can organize it. Before then I thought that if I was ever going to upgrade my system the money would go into mics, but not now. When I bought the MOTU I was told the RME was clearer, I'm sure it probably was but one has to draw the line somewhere....
    That Metric Halo interface does seem to have done a good job judging from that recording of yours but for £4.5k you'd expect that.

    What model is the MOTU, by the way, because some of those are in the same price range as the RME interfaces.

    I do think there is a point where striving for a perfect noise free recording enters the overly **** territory. When I listen to a recordings from the 30's or 40's with sheets of hiss and fuzz in the background, I just accept the noise as part of the performance and it melds into the overall sound. Obviously, I don't want noise on most of my recordings but I can live with some, and in the case of distorted guitars quite a lot.

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    Senior Member Kontrapunctus's Avatar
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    I think the AKG C-1000 is a good value. Yes, there are better mics, but they cost a lot more. Diminishing returns, you know? The AKGs sell for about $199 ea, but often I see pairs for around $250-300.

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    When I got into home recording I tried the fairly inexpensive Behringer C-1 condenser microphone. I was using this with a Behringer Mixer for the preamp and phantom power supply. It's a very low-cost studio microphone.

    I was so pleased with the results that I bought a second one to have "stereo" inputs.

    I've been using these two mics for years now and I'm quite happy with them. I have nothing to compare them with (except the dynamic mics I had been using previously). They are far better than the dynamic mics in just about every way imaginable.

    I'm happy with them. That's all I can say. I can't offer comparisons with more expensive mics. All I can say is that these suit my needs and didn't break the bank.

    I don't recall the exact price, but I think they were only about $50 a piece or less.

    (yes I just looked on Amazon, they can still be had for less than 50 bucks)


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