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$300 Microphone Advice - AT4040, SM27, or?
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SevereWX
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10th February 2011
Old 10th February 2011
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$300 Microphone Advice - AT4040, SM27, or?

Howdy, I'm looking to buy a microphone for recording my voice for spoken word. Story-telling, narration, and similar things. I have a Charlie Daniels type of voice, if that helps any.

After doing a little bit of reading, I've come across two particular microphones that catch my attention within my $300 budget, being:

Shure SM27
audio-technica AT4040

I live way out in the swamps, and there aren't any supply stores that sells either brand within 100 miles of my home that I could audition both microphones. At this time, due to health issues, travel to anyplace that might have both is out of the question. With that in mind, I am here seeking advice of those more experienced than I.

So, my question would simply be which mic, in your opinion, would be the better choice, or would the difference be negligible enough that I should just flip a coin?

Perhaps alternative suggestions that you feel would be a better fit?

Thanks for your time.
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10th February 2011
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RE-20 or SM7b
both can be found used for $300
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10th February 2011
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Thank you, hellopsycho, for your suggestions. In an effort to better understand, what is your reasoning behind making these suggestions?
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10th February 2011
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Almost every radio studio I've been in has a RE-20... they seem to be the "spoken-word standard" ;-)

SM7 would be a good choice too.
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10th February 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellopsycho View Post
RE-20 or SM7b
both can be found used for $300

Good advice, imho, for spoken word. I prefer the RE20, but that's for 'me'. If kept in good shape, both will hold their value, as well.
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Shure SM7B
Heil PR40
EV RE-20

all of these are pro radio station staples for spoken word. Large diaphragm dynamics, great response across frequencies, cool bass boosting proximity effects.


SM7B will need a preamp with more clean gain, but has a few more options and switches. i have a PR40 - great mic. Lots of applications.
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10th February 2011
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FWIW, Charlie Daniels uses a Heil mic live. I have had great luck with a modded Oktava 319, total cost $300. SM7b or RE 20 both excellent here also, both a bit more pricey however.
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10th February 2011
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Some good choices with the Re 20 and Sm7b.
I have them both but with the SM7, you will need a pre with tons of gain.
My vote would be look for a used AT4050.
Next to my U87, I think that's the best mic under 1k.

I personally would get a LDC instead of a LDD.
You will be able to get off axis of the mic and still be picked up.
Very good for dramatic story telling IMO.
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10th February 2011
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"Next to my U87, I think that's the best mic under 1k."

I'd be very surprised if someone can get an U87 under 1k, most of them go for over 1.5k
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From the looks of everything, the consensus so far leans towards my not using a condenser microphone, but towards using a broadcast dynamic for my particular application.

I admit have looked into the Shure SM7B, I'm not sure I can feed it enough clean gain with my current equipment. All I have at the moment is a compact Mackie 402-VLZ3 mixer, which goes up to 60 dB of gain, though starts to display audible preamp hiss at around 3-O'clock, which by my best guess is somewhere in the ballpark of 52-54 dB. While I'm sure this is acceptable for louder sources, I question it being enough for spoken word applications. This is one of the main reasons I was leaning towards a condenser microphone. I read somewhere that this wouldn't be a big issue in the digital realm when recording in 24-bit format, but I have no idea if this is hearsay or truth.

I understand that the RE20 is one that doesn't exhibit much in the way of proximity-effect. While this can be a positive or a negative, to me I would consider it more of a con, especially when wanting to read slightly more intimate passages, or perhaps try to acheive the voice-of-god effect. This is the main reasoning I had in not considering a used RE20 from the begining.

I will look more into the Heil PR40, though if it's anything like the PR20 I had, it it might not be the best match for my voice, as it sounded too scooped in the midrange on my voice, and slightly grainy on the high end. (Yes, I believe Charlie Daniels started using Bob Heil's PR35 on stage when his association with Shure came to an end.)

So with that, I have been leaning towards picking up my first condenser microphone, instead of an dynamic. However, if everyone feels that a dynamic would be better suited for me, I will start to reconsider the dynamic broadcast mics mentioned instead.

Thanks for everyone's input. I feel more comfortable making a decision when knowing there is an overall consensus between folks with more experience than I, which isn't a difficult feat considering that my experience is close to nil when it comes to this.
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10th February 2011
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I'm a big fan ov my Heil pr40 for many uses. When it's a match for spoken word duties, nothing can touch it. However, It doesn't seem to be a fit for a wide variety ov voices like the re20 or sm7. I wouldn't suggest getting a pr40 unless you can try it first. It could wind up being stellar, and possibly the best match for your voice, but the odds are lower than other choices. I second the re20(1st) or sm7(2nd). If you want to go the LDC route, a 4040 or 4050 would get my vote. I'm curious about the sm27. I have never used one but I have never met a sm series mic that I didn't like.
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10th February 2011
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I will post some clips I have from the AT 4047 in a few minutes so you get an idea how it sounds
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How are we supposed to judge what each converter sounds like without know which is which? I don't want to be unfairly influenced by blind listening.
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11th February 2011
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vocal chain :
AT 4047
>ART PRO MPA II>Tascam FW 1082
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 Una Ilusion.mp3 (2.28 MB, 338 views)
File Type: mp3 Sexo Seguro.mp3 (6.65 MB, 283 views)
File Type: mp3 Amor Platonico.mp3 (3.40 MB, 1088 views)
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11th February 2011
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The SM 27 is basically the new & improved KSM 27 (lower self-noise and 6dB more dynamic range than the original KSM 27). I have the KSM 27 and really like it - a very clean neutral mic that does a lot of things well. It is basically 1/2 a KSM 44 - single diaphragm cardiod vs. dual diaphragm multi pattern - for considerably less than 1/2 the price of the 44. If you like the KSM 44 you will like the SM 27. Depending on what you have for a preamp, ribbon mics or an SM7B will require a pre with more gain than the condenser mics would.
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11th February 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fzit0 View Post
vocal chain :
AT 4047
>ART PRO MPA II>Tascam FW 1082
Not my taste in music but well done. I thought that was a great vocal sound. thumbsup
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11th February 2011
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As appealing as the Shure SM7B sounds after reading so much about it, it certainly seems enticing. I'm just not sure my little Mackie 402-VLZ3 has enough clean gain for it. With my current budget contraints, picking up a better preamp for one is out of the question right now. Would 52-54 dB be enough for it when recording spoken word?
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12th February 2011
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I think you need about 60db for the SM7b...
The RE-20 is less demanding, and sounds better imo...
I don't think you'll miss the non-proximity effect of the RE20.
Also, I've yet to hear a cheap LDC that sounds good.
They always seem harsh and cutting in the high frequencies...

I'd really go with an RE20 (used from ebay), and if it doesn't fit for you, you can always re-sell without problem
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12th February 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellopsycho View Post
I don't think you'll miss the non-proximity effect of the RE20.
It still has some, just enough to work with. I love it on my voice. I like being able to eat the mic.
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Eat the mic? Like this?

(1:30) Lol
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12th February 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellopsycho View Post
Eat the mic? Like this?
Funny thing is after I sent the post I thought ov how I sometimes jokingly refer to the re20 as the donkey d***. lol
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13th February 2011
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I'd go AT4033 over the AT4040 which might be a little more but performs better as swiss army mic.
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14th February 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hgen View Post
I'd go AT4033 over the AT4040 which might be a little more but performs better as swiss army mic.
+1.
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Quote:
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Funny thing is after I sent the post I thought ov how I sometimes jokingly refer to the re20 as the donkey d***. lol
LOL!
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17th February 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hgen View Post
I'd go AT4033 over the AT4040 which might be a little more but performs better as swiss army mic.
4033 is nice !
You can get close to the mic like 2" away and sounds warm and nice.
It has very usable low cut filter that even you get close to the mic, it doesn't become wooly. This also helps for non treated room because you can get close to the mic and avoid room ambient.
You can hear the samples here.
at4033 » Search Results » The Voiceover Boblog

SM7B is nice as well.
You can get close to this mic as well because the diaphram of this mic is backed off like 2" from the tip of the mic. Low end is very controlable. This mic is not so sensitive like some condensers so it is easy to use. It takes tons of EQ and comp very well. You do need good pre to supply good 60db gain.
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17th February 2011
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I hear good things about the Rode NT1a

Rode's NT1a, supposedly the "quietest mic in the industry", speaking directly to low self-noise it generates would be a good fit for what you want. In spoken word I personally would want two specific things in the microphone I choose: low self-noise, and a pleasing sonic character that works with the voice I'll be recording. I think it's likely this microphone would be something you'd be absolutely happy you got. I won't tell you about the mic, you can just look up reviews for yourself. I think it's just one you should be keeping in mind.
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17th February 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mowmow View Post
4033 is nice !
You can get close to the mic like 2" away and sounds warm and nice.
It has very usable low cut filter that even you get close to the mic, it doesn't become wooly. This also helps for non treated room because you can get close to the mic and avoid room ambient.
You can hear the samples here.
at4033 » Search Results » The Voiceover Boblog

SM7B is nice as well.
You can get close to this mic as well because the diaphram of this mic is backed off like 2" from the tip of the mic. Low end is very controlable. This mic is not so sensitive like some condensers so it is easy to use. It takes tons of EQ and comp very well. You do need good pre to supply good 60db gain.
Thanks for this, I'll definitely check out the AT4033. Being able to close-talk the mic is going to be a really big selling factor for me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jon_ethos View Post
Rode's NT1a, supposedly the "quietest mic in the industry", speaking directly to low self-noise it generates would be a good fit for what you want. In spoken word I personally would want two specific things in the microphone I choose: low self-noise, and a pleasing sonic character that works with the voice I'll be recording. I think it's likely this microphone would be something you'd be absolutely happy you got. I won't tell you about the mic, you can just look up reviews for yourself. I think it's just one you should be keeping in mind.
The low 9.5 dB self noise of the Shure SM27 was one of the reasons I was looking at it, in particular. I'll add the Rode NT1a to my list of mics to check out too. Thanks!
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