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low low end. one all-rounder mic?
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mutetourettes
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#1
23rd January 2012
Old 23rd January 2012
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low low end. one all-rounder mic?

Hi, well the best laid plans, i was looking at some nice stuff, but cash has a way of suddenly disappearing.

so now I'm looking for max bang for my very threadbare buck, and will be recording onto nice tape (nakamichi now, and revox r2r when i get the damn thing fixed) and then dumping some bits 2496 into PC for editing and footling about with.

alongside doing some diy bass trapping my room, i'm intending to get a soundcraft 124 (£60) for preamp duties. now, how about a CHEAP mic... I can't even decide between dynamic, SDC, slightly LDC.. i'll be recording voices, guitar amps, some acoustic instruments and various individual drums and cymbals (but not a kit).

I'm looking at the tbone sc140 SDC, behringer C3 LDC (which is actually a pretty small diaphragm), tbone mb75 (sm57 clone) and behringer xm8500 (58 esque) dynamics.

all four seem to be well regarded, considering their dirt-cheapness. We're talking under £40 here.

the sc140 has a Joly upgrade path, and I'm also considering it's potential for room measurement..

the behringer c3 has a nice multipattern potential, if i can find a decent shockmount to work with it for cheap (tbone ssm6?).

the mb75 is a blatant sm57 clone, which i'm told does a reasonable sound-alike job...

the behringer xm8500 is even cheaper, and i'm sure someone was singing its praises way back there...

I think I'm right in thinking that any of these could do all the jobs i ask, with a little care. What would your thoughts/experience be, dearest cheapslutz, on the all-rounder-ness of these, accepting the regrettable financial restriction?
Cheers for any suggestions.
#2
23rd January 2012
Old 23rd January 2012
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I would suggest an ADK mic due to their high SPL capability and their clean sound. I recently picked up two ADK S-51 5.2 models and I have been very happy with them for both drums and vocals. I was able to get 2 new in box for $173 each: ADK S-51 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone | Spectrum Audio

I have tried Rode NT5, Audio Technica 2035, and a couple Behringer and CAD models, but the ADK is my favorite all around so far. The AT2035 was good, but the ADK just sounds better to my ears. I have also seen some good reviews of their entire series of mics.

For what it is worth, I was in a professional studio this weekend with my son and asked the engineer if he thought there were any newer mics in his closet that compared to his Neumann... and the first one he mentioned was an ADK.


*** Don't forget to drop $60 and get an SM57 as well. You should always have one because a condenser just doesn't work for all instruments/mixes.
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23rd January 2012
Old 23rd January 2012
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cheers i'll keep that rec in mind for when there's more cash floating around - at that level I'm also attracted to the CAD m179.. and I used to have and like the At4033a. but here I'm looking at about a quarter of the price... too low-end for some I think! A real sm57 here is about £74. half that and we're talking...
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24th January 2012
Old 24th January 2012
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My recommendation is that everyone's first mic should be a Beyerdynamic M201. It's relatively cheap, extremely versatile, and sets a benchmark for what a high quality mic should be. You'll probably want a second one before you find yourself looking at other mics.
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24th January 2012
Old 24th January 2012
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cad m179 for sure, adk if you can find one locally (or if you are willing to buy mics withotu hearing them first online.... personally I'm not willing to do that unless I know the model of mic well already).

MXL 2003A is also really good

easy to find, the AT 2035, 3035, are both great.

there are MANY others.... but those are good starting points.

for REALLY cheap the AT2020 is cool but not as warm as some others (not a great vocal mic either imho).
#6
25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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Shure 57.

For a few dollars more: Beyer M-69
a little more: Beyer M-88, EV RE20, Sennheiser MD-441.
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#7
25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
My recommendation is that everyone's first mic should be a Beyerdynamic M201. It's relatively cheap, extremely versatile, and sets a benchmark for what a high quality mic should be. You'll probably want a second one before you find yourself looking at other mics.
Is the M201 worth double the CAD M179 and is it better than a Sterling ST77? Perhaps you haven't experience with those, but what have you compared it to?
#8
25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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I've been using my Apex 205 ribbon on everything lately. Sounds great.
#9
25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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I don't think I can list every mic I've used here. However, I will say that you won't see much press on the M201, because it's just a classic microphone, and a staple in studios and on-stage around the globe. You might say it "needs no introduction". It's a dynamic, so it has that smoothing and color that dynamics tend to have, and it also has a wide, even frequency response that works on just about everything. It has a tight pattern, so it's off-axis rejection is friendly for less-than-ideal recording environments, i.e. a stage, or your living room. You could record all day with it and then gig with it in the evening. It's also very easy to aim because it's frequency response is fairly uniform across that pattern.

I hate to make a "prosumer/professional" comparison, because categorically, it doesn't mean anything. There are uses for every mic out there. But some mics are just classics, tried for decades, and it's a bonus if they're still in production and affordable as well. The Beyer M201 is one of these. Honestly, everyone starting out should get an M201, and spend no less than a year learning how to point it before buying a second mic.


*The mics that Bill@WelcomeHome mentioned are all top-quality dynamics. I've used them all, and I still stand by my recommendation that the M201 gets the prize for affordability/versatility. The M88 was my first Beyer, and it also gets a lot of use.
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25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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#11
25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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Why not a used 57?
#12
25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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I am with Kafka here. That Beyerdynamic mic can do everything well and will retain value unlike some other low dollar mics.

I have a MXL2003A and it is a decent mic, but it gets very little use. In retrospect, I wish I had not pulled the trigger on it but instead had saved the money for something else to fill another niche like the wonderful Beyerdynamic M88TG (also mentioned in this thread).

Based upon some of the stuff the OP was saying he intends to record, a great dynamic mic makes sense for the individual drums.

That said, there are a lot of great condensers that could do the job. I certainly do love, love, love my modded Oktava MK-219 microphones. But they take extra effort and the low dollar part of their ownership requires a DIY mod. If you have to pay someone else to do the mods for you, they are not all that cheap. But they have the most beautiful midrange and actually sound very, very good on percussion.

SM57? Ummm..... not my choice. In fact, if considering an SM57, why not look at an Audix i5 instead? This is coming from a guy who has owned and used SM57 mics for more than 20 years. I still own them and use them all the time. But primarily in live settings. For recording, for my tastes, there is nothing an SM57 is doing that an i5 will not do better---for MY tastes. Of course other folks will beg to differ.

Anyway---OP, please at least look up those Beyerdynamic mics. The 201 and M88 are very special. I wish I had known about them a long time ago. I honestly think either one of those would be mics you'd keep forever. Well, at least as long as you ever do anything with audio. And yes, they are more expensive than many other dynamic mics. But as I said, to me they are something special.
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25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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For an all-around mic.. the M179 is tough to beat. Multi-pattern, unhyped, high-spl handling.. reminds me a bit of a 414.
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mutetourettes
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25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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OP here - thanks guys (and gals?) for all the recommendations, especially the M201, which i'd never heard of! As always, if I had *Just that little bit more cash* I could go up to the next level of quality, or access that giant-killer that's an incredible bargain for just a few more quid.... ahhh twas ever thus as every slutz in every field knows (as does every marketing department)....

I've been trying to work a "Pay more up front and cry only the once" policy for a while, but I keep buckling because, well, it works out expensive, and right now i'm without the means'! I guess your recommendations are helping back in that direction.. maybe I'll find a used M201 for not too much..

I do very much like the idea of "buy this one mic and learn for at least a year how to point it" cheers for that. I'm definitely in the seasoned but still fairly clueless hobbyist and dabbler category, so a good all-round mic to refine my technique with is exactly what i seek (that's part of the reason i'm resistant to racking up a fat debt).

Still, i'm aware that there's a category of ultra low enders here too, who've yet to coment, for whom £30 is what you can spend on a mic, and a £90 mic is but a fantasy (and asking for trouble)! Is the lack of comment because, in the end, those kinda mics are annoyingly bad?

and yeah, the recording's in my living room, even tho i intend to put some trapping and absorbtion in.. does that scream out "get a dynamic! don't get a LDC/SDC!" to you? Should treating the room be a lesser priority than the right mic (or at least equal)?

once again thanks for all your input.
Mark
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25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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ah ok - the beyer m201 is similar to the revox 3500 - i *had* noted that one as worth looking for (a nice match for my R2R deck). In that price range there are quite a few interesting beyerdynamic mics.. m300/m400/soundstar II..
#16
25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mutetourettes View Post
ah ok - the beyer m201 is similar to the revox 3500 - i *had* noted that one as worth looking for (a nice match for my R2R deck). In that price range there are quite a few interesting beyerdynamic mics.. m300/m400/soundstar II..
I wouldn't necessarily go for the 3500. I suppose mine could be broken, but it doesn't *sound* broken, and it also isn't all that close to the m201. Dunno. I think the foam behind the capsule is rotted out, and maybe that's making the difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Adkins View Post
Why not a used 57?
Well, for a *long* time, pretty much all I had were a couple of SM57's. And one thing I can say with authority is that the SM57 isn't a very versatile mic. It has a very characteristic sound that either works, or it doesn't. I have one gritty, tight guitar tone that I use, where an SM57 shoved right up in the grill cloth is THE ONE. But that's about it. When it doesn't work, it really doesn't work. For instance, I've never liked the sound of an SM57 on acoustic guitar. Never. Not once. I'm not a real big fan of reading charts, but compare the response of the SM57 to an M201. The M201 is neutral. The SM57 chart just screams "vocal mic".

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutetourettes View Post
and yeah, the recording's in my living room, even tho i intend to put some trapping and absorbtion in.. does that scream out "get a dynamic! don't get a LDC/SDC!" to you? Should treating the room be a lesser priority than the right mic (or at least equal)?
Treat the room, sure. I guess the questions that always brings to my mind are "why?" and "how?". Yeah, there are things that you can do that will affect the sound. But are they really helping in the end, or are they just changing things? That's why I recommend narrowing down your variables in the beginning. By sticking with one versatile, easy-to-control mic, you'll get to understand the directional nature of sound. Once you have an ear for that, you'll be able to make better recordings in worse rooms. And that ear will tell you what treatments are needed. But treating without understanding is just another rat-hole.
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25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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yes - i've been reading deeeeply into the room-treatment forum..... i figure a lot of diy bass trapping to bring bass reverberation (waterfall plots) under control, because you can't have too much (trapping) it seems, and that will bring some reduction in higher frequency reverbs, some first reflection absorbtion for my mix position, and eventually some diffusers too, for fun.

I'm much persuaded by the M201 argument, even if it is twice my budget IF I'm lucky!

just to share the knowledge, here are uk prices (new where uk available, used from a quick scan of ebay completed) for all the mics mentioned so far. M201 looks good here:

above £100 (ie well out of reach at the mo):

md441 £723
re20 £380
at4033a £330 used availability good, £140ish
adk s-51 £265
beyer m88 £245 used availability good, £130ish
mxl2003a £195
beyer m69 £160 used availability ok, price ?
at2035 £160
cad m179 £140
studio projects B3 £115

below £100:

beyer m69 £160 used availability ok, price maybe under £100?
beyer m300/400/soundstarII used availability ok, £90ish
beyer m201 £150 used availability ok, £85ish
at2020 £80
audix i5 £75
sm57 £74 used availability good, £50ish
sm48 £50

under £40

behringer/tbone stuff: £15-£39

not found in uk - apex, sterling ??
#18
25th January 2012
Old 25th January 2012
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can't beat the SM-57 for all around IMO. I heard somewhere (may or may not be true) that lenny kravitz uses a 57 for everything from guitar amp mic to vocal mic in the studio.
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30th January 2012
Old 30th January 2012
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+1 on the sm57 but I don't have to tell you that!

Apex 205s (with self done headbasket mods, stock tranny) are just unbelievable. Horns overheads, kickdrum, drum room, percussion, blumlein stereo stuff even the odd vocal (not my favourite place though).
Should be even better with a tranny swap, which I will do when I can prioritise the funds and suss out which trannies I want, but just can't fault them as they are at the moment.

Oktava 319 was our only (pair) of LDCs when I first set my studio up in 1996. We used them on everything with great results. Still use them stock on allsorts. Kickdrum outside is nice, horns etc. So when I got the chance.......

Over $100 I love love love my oktavamod 319. just killer!! Favourite on most vocals, sax, mono drum overhead/room (only got one!)

MD421 and RE20 get a whole heap of use.

There y'are

long
#20
31st January 2012
Old 31st January 2012
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+1 for the M201 love-in. I learned to love 201s in my first job with a hire company, we had 20+. They were the 'go-to' all rounder because of their tight pattern and neutral sound - you can make a 201 sound like a 57 with a bit of 6k3 boost, try doing the reverse though. In emergencies we even used them as signal chasers for checking line level outputs (you can't do that with a condenser...). They are however above your (and mine) current budget.
I'm also in the UK and have just ordered this:
SE Electronics SE2000 & Free sE Studio Pop Shield | DV247 as it seemed like a bargain at £77.50
Another cheaper option I considered was this:
SAMSON C01 / C02 CL STUDIO KIT - Thomann UK Cyberstore
Which seems like good value at 55EUR delivered for mics that get passable reviews for their cost.
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2nd February 2012
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The older version of the SC140s were the first SDCs I ever bought (without the Mods), and despite the fact that I've spent thousands on mics since then, I still find uses for them. For the money, they're great on piano, drums and bass amps, I've never tried them on guitar amps but I'm pretty sure they'd work well a few feet back. I once engineered a live show with about 25 acts using only the SC140s positioned either side of the stage where they proved great on everything from acoustic guitar to a lute to double basses to a hammered dulcimer! On voices they're pretty transparent - definitely usable. I don't personally think you can do better for the money.
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3rd February 2012
Old 3rd February 2012
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'older version' sc140? oh.. how do they differ from the current ones?
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8th February 2012
Old 8th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mutetourettes View Post
'older version' sc140? oh.. how do they differ from the current ones?
Different windscreens, different shockmounts, no -10dB pad, no 75hZ lo cut and a lower maximum SPL. There might be other differences as well, but those are all the ones I know of without having access to any of the newer ones
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#24
8th February 2012
Old 8th February 2012
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thanks everyone... so, predictably, i murdered the budget and got a s/h m201, which i'm enjoying experimenting with.
#25
8th February 2012
Old 8th February 2012
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I used the MXL V63M mic ($50 on-sale) and the art tube mp pre-amp ($29) on all the vocals and acoustic guitars I played at the below soundclick site. If that ain't low, low-end budget, I don't know what is!

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8th February 2012
Old 8th February 2012
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Cheap dynamics are better than cheap condensers.

Electro-Voice 635a (used). About $50 and works well for everything. Try it before you knock it!
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9th February 2012
Old 9th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mutetourettes View Post
thanks everyone... so, predictably, i murdered the budget and got a s/h m201, which i'm enjoying experimenting with.
You won't regret it. And honestly, it'll end up being the cheaper solution.
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9th February 2012
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Quote:
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it'll end up being the cheaper solution.
That's possibly the truest thing I've ever read on the internet
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10th February 2012
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10th February 2012
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This isn't really true anymore. Cad M179, MXL 2003a, MXL V67, Kel Hm2D are terrific condensers under 150 bucks. I'd take any of these over a cheap dynamic mic for recording vocals. EV's are nice,though. And I suppose in the 50 dollar price range can't be beat. Still, you can get an MXL V67 used for 50 bucks. If that's all the cash I had, that's the mic I'd be going for. Later on, for 200 bucks, that mic can be modded into a world class mic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by donnylang View Post
Cheap dynamics are better than cheap condensers.

Electro-Voice 635a (used). About $50 and works well for everything. Try it before you knock it!
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