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Still worth to pay for the brand names?
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Gerax
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23rd June 2010
Old 23rd June 2010
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Exclamation Still worth to pay for the brand names?

With so many manufacturers and options for good sounding mics in the sub 1000$, is it still reasonable to spend a premium for the name brands? I mean, I know that boasting Neumanns, Schoeps and the likes in you mic locker is kind of "useful" when you want to market your business as pro and high quality, because you are offering tried and true standards musicians and producers can relate to. I also know that for the same reason resale value holds up better. That said, I just recently got some pretty exciting results from mics that cost a fraction of these classic names I've saved over the years to purchase. So, in your opinion, nowdays, does it all come down to marketing hype (as pro quality results can easily be obtained with lesser "name" mics) or there's still a substantial difference between name brands and so called "budget" mics?
I'm considering spending some pretty pennies on some new mics, but then I'll have to justify these new expenses in my day rate for my clients...and you all know far to well that it's just not the best time frame to "ask for more money"...
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23rd June 2010
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I've used a lot of different mics. You can (and I did) get some great results from more budget-oriented mics. However, in general, it just seems easier to get really great results from really great mics, and you pay a pretty penny for them. And certain mics just have a "sound" that you just can't replicate.

I can understand not wanting to raise your rates. I raised mine recently and I haven't had any problem. Assuming you don't double them most people understand, and those that don't might not have been the best clients anyway.
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23rd June 2010
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IMO Basically no!

Though I realize there are exceptions and also circles where a big expensive (preferably old) Neumann is a "must".

Performance wise there are budget alternatives that is up there with the big names.

I did pay the extra for small size and slightly lower noise from the Sennheiser MKH8000 line myself. In many situations I feel I would have just as good results from mic's like for ex. Beyer MC930 and Line Audio CM3.


/Peter
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Thanx for the reply guys

I hear what you are saying...I did consider the fact that yes, a big guy mic will have its own distinctive sound, but as we step into the realm of remote recording where 50% of the time (when you are lucky) rooms and conditions we're recording in are less than ideal I wonder if the uniqueness of these mics is just as effective as in a controlled studio environment...if you understand what I mean...plus, I'm a somewhat afraid to bring a 3k mic into the wild...
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23rd June 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerax View Post
With so many manufacturers and options for good sounding mics in the sub 1000$, is it still reasonable to spend a premium for the name brands? I mean, I know that boasting Neumanns, Schoeps and the likes in you mic locker is kind of "useful" when you want to market your business as pro and high quality, because you are offering tried and true standards musicians and producers can relate to. I also know that for the same reason resale value holds up better. That said, I just recently got some pretty exciting results from mics that cost a fraction of these classic names I've saved over the years to purchase. So, in your opinion, nowdays, does it all come down to marketing hype (as pro quality results can easily be obtained with lesser "name" mics) or there's still a substantial difference between name brands and so called "budget" mics?
I'm considering spending some pretty pennies on some new mics, but then I'll have to justify these new expenses in my day rate for my clients...and you all know far to well that it's just not the best time frame to "ask for more money"...

I got one question for you. Have you used a Vintage Neumann that was up to spec? Like a U47, U87, U67 or M49? And that is only one piece of the puzzle. High end studio has it all to make it sound "high end" Not just a mic. You need all the other gear that goes with it at the same or more or less level.

In my experience, cheap mics on the most part are cheap mics. You get what you pay for. And another aspect. It all depends what you are after. Are you trying to compete with other platinum selling engineers or just doing home audio stuff? If doing the local scene/making band demos will be your highest level. Cheap mics will suffice. If you going to the major league (shooting for a grammy award) you better get some major league tools.. Just my opinion.
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23rd June 2010
Old 23rd June 2010
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I gotta say that the only people who have ever asked me what gear I would be using, and sat there waiting to hear a brand name they recognized, were... how do I say this... idiots?

The point is (and this would be one of my favorite Warren Dent paraphrases) EVERYTHING that's made today is pretty damn good, because manufacturing has become so streamlined and competition is fierce, and then the tiredest of my own tired cliches: the game is won or lost with the last few EQ tweaks or compression jiggles you do at the very end of your mixdown, that's where you cement the entrancingness... not at the capture.
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23rd June 2010
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to the OP

You know, I've thought about this. Nobody will dispute that one needs good reliable microphones. In the end, IMO, nobody cares which brand name they carry, though. So whatever works works. BUT. There are a couple of things I personally consider to be important which have led me to use brand name mics exclusively.

I do a lot of music for TV, so I need inconspicuous SDs. A lot of TV directors are really into the Schoeps active series for their sleek unobtrusive looks, The Sennheiser 80 series is serious competition, a few rungs down the ladder I see my old Neumann goosenecks. But what else is there? DPA maybe, not exactly a budget brand. (mostly talking about jazz and classical here.)

Then there is compatibility and flexibility: for large projects I often rent additional mics. It's just a lot easier to complement what you have with the same type and not worry about pairings and arrays. I know of no place in my town that rents out any other SDs than the brands I mentioned, though.

Then there is actual client demand for brand names in the studio. Mostly unbacked by actual experience (as in "idiots") but I am not going to argue.

Then there is my own lazyness. I am happy with the mics I have at my disposal and don't want to spend time trying out stuff. Mics I'd like to test if I wasn't too lazy: josephsons, chinese reverse enigneered schoeps, mercenary SD, maybe behringer SDs, avenson and earthworks. Mics I have tried and was unhappy with in the past: AT SDs, MBHO, Beyerdynamic SDs, different chinese mics, rode.

Seems kind of stupid that the most important point is looks. It isn't really, it's just what I have to deal with most these days. I could also mention I am happy with Neumann's customer support, but that isn't easily transferrable I guess.
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23rd June 2010
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Excellent Topic

The biggest difference is made by the gear that is at the acoustic-electronic boundary: mics and speakers (for monitoring). Once it is in electronic form, the technology for transmission, conversion, storage and recall has become so good and standardized that the only remaining issue for these items is reliability (and after sales service).

Therefore, I think of mics, speakers - and tape if you continue to use it - as character devices. One has to pick the character they want and like; if there are choices that give you the same character as you desire, at lower prices, by all means go for it. For doing live sound that means in addition to the tone of the mic, we have to worry about off-axis response, rejection an so on. While two mics may sound similar on axis, in actual use there can be a huge difference especially if the performance is multi-miked.

Baithak
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Yes...I also have to add that not all the gigs I do are major league and would have the budget to cover, say, full Schoeps or DPA or Neumann arrays...
I did an orchestra gig last november where I rented Schoeps for my mains (ORTF and outriggers) and I used a bunch of different mics for spots (KM184, NT5, various AT, Baby Bottle, 414...). The acoustics of the room were far from ideal (a good Italian opera theater, but not really good for symphonic music) and budget and time constrains forced me to really work on a tight spot. Pres were good (HV3D, ISA428) and in the end the recording came out sounding good, but I wonder how much of the Schoeps went in the actual result...would've my mains been Rodes or AT or other budget mics how different would've the result come out considering that I had to do some EQ and convolution to make everything fit?

BTW you can find a sample of the recording here: http://www.acquariorecording.it/Down...es/Sample1.wav
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23rd June 2010
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Pay for the quality, not the name. With Schoeps, I don't worry about the sound quality, and appearence in the video. So that I can place them at the spots I like everytime.
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The most important part of your recording chain is the source.

The source includes the playas, the room and the sounds they make picked up my YOUR choice of microphone.

Therefore it is always worth it to have the best microphone you can afford.

Put your money in to mics first.
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23rd June 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
The most important part of your recording chain is the source.

The source includes the playas, the room and the sounds they make picked up my YOUR choice of microphone.

Therefore it is always worth it to have the best microphone you can afford.

Put your money in to mics first.
That almost goes without saying and given the fact that a great part of the sound we're recording is the room and the players, I'm asking if there is still a perceiveable difference between top of the line mics and more "ordinary" ones for quality and professional work; according to my recent experiences this difference still exists, but it's a lot thinner than say, 10 years ago, and great quality work can be done without having a 20k mic locker if the rest of the chain and engineering skills are also there (then again there's room and musicians, but that's out of our control).
I belive there's a "line" over which every piece of gear is good sounding. Above that line the price/quality ratio becomes very steep. Finding where that line is I think is a moving target and different for everybody and from gig to gig.
This is what I would like to discuss with you.

Thanx
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23rd June 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop View Post
I did pay the extra for small size and slightly lower noise from the Sennheiser MKH8000 line myself. In many situations I feel I would have just as good results from mic's like for ex. Beyer MC930 and Line Audio CM3.


/Peter
But Peter, what about those OTHER situations where the Sennheiser's are in fact better? Would you want to be without them?

I know for a fact that many of my clients wouldn't be able to tell if I used Schoeps or a cheaper alternative but I can. When I was using Earthworks mics and some okay but not great pres/conversion, I could hear a lot of congestion in the lower mids at louder passages. I decided to do some upgrading because of that problem, even if I was the only one that really noticed.
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An area in which the big names win out is in offering very compact versions with similar specs and quality as their standard sizes.

On a more superficial but also reality oriented side of things, it
cannot be denied that the recording industry as a means of
livelihood is in part a fashion industry, some brand names having
a similar power and mistique not altogether different than top clothing brands, which function to discriminate and/or define social categories, fashions and esthetics, all of which can become
jumbled together.
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23rd June 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran View Post
I've used a lot of different mics. You can (and I did) get some great results from more budget-oriented mics. However, in general, it just seems easier to get really great results from really great mics, and you pay a pretty penny for them. And certain mics just have a "sound" that you just can't replicate.

I can understand not wanting to raise your rates. I raised mine recently and I haven't had any problem. Assuming you don't double them most people understand, and those that don't might not have been the best clients anyway.
I agree with this previous post, there are a lot of good cheap mic's that can be useful but the sound of the High end mics is unique most of the time.
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23rd June 2010
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My only comment about this is that it is really the skill of the operator much more than any one specific piece of gear. It's the same reason I hire a great finish carpenter rather than try to do it myself. I have most of the tools, but mine never looks the same as his.
I've made plenty of great sounding recordings with a Mackie 1640 with the Firewire option. Would I rather have a Studer console with (Insert expensive Mic Preamp Here) and (Insert Expensive Converter here)? Yea, but did it keep me from making a good recording? No.
I'd say that time spent honing your skills is much more important.

As always YMMV.
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23rd June 2010
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I don't think we can get around the fact that cheap mics are designed to be cheap, expensive mics are designed to sound good. Sure there are examples of inexpensive mics that sound great, but high priced brands like DPA, Schoeps, and Sennheiser are not just expensive because of the name, but because they were created with great care and attention to quality without compromise. They sound great because they were made to sound great.

I think it is okay to start cheap though. Most music students will not begin learning on a $30,000 instrument. They will sound universally bad on just about anything. A new engineer will probably make universally bad recordings with any mics. But just as the music student will do with their instruments, the engineer should upgrade mics to maximize his/her results when the time is right.
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I appreciate your comments, but I think we are kind of missing the point: I'm not denying the fact that brand mics are designed with no compromise to sound good. I say that while a few years back cheap mics sounded cheap and expensive mics sounded good I found that today this is just not the case anymore and that there's lots of good sounding options in the gap in between the two extremes. You used the right word: compromise. If yur gigs are always of the "no compromise" type then by all means I agree with you. What about the rest of the gigs? How much is reasonable to "compromise"? I've been in both high profile gigs and low shelf ones...so I'm used to work with different kinds of budgets. When I'm allowed I certainly prefer to work with the best tools I can get, but we all know this is not always possible, so I have to maximize the quality within a given budget to bring a quality result home. This is the focus for what I'm concerned.

I absolutely agree with the skills over gear statement.
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Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by 9sbean View Post
Pay for the quality, not the name.
Yes, I agree, with the top names you are *not* paying for the "name", you are paying for the *quality*.

The cost of R&D and high quality manufacturing - for reliability and back-up, etc.. Not the name itself.
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23rd June 2010
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I agree that the quality gap has dramatically narrowed between "cheap" and "brand name," but even with great cheap gear, it won't get you that extra little something you can get with a big name product. This is why I am doing a complete overhaul of my remote rack to bring it from mid-range to more big name stuff (RME, Soundcraft, yada yada yada).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WVUtubadude View Post
it won't get you that extra little something you can get with a big name product. T\
that comes from skill. not equipment.... there is a lot of incorrect thinking on GS, that fancy gear=fancy sound.


Tony Faulkner summed it up best in the Rode vs Schoeps thread.
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It is a comfort for me to use good mics. It eliminates one possible area of disappointment. It makes one less thing to worry about. That is worth a lot to me. Primary is the room, players and mic location as Plush says. There is some control over that quality. The control I have over the mics is the quality of sound from the best I can afford.
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Re: Still worth to pay for the brand names?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teddy Ray

that comes from skill. not equipment.... there is a lot of incorrect thinking on GS, that fancy gear=fancy sound.
Then I guess everyone should buy clones and let the big names die off.
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24th June 2010
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To me, fancy sound = bad sound.
I concluded after years of audio industry, that most audience doesn't appreicate good sound, but they aware bad sound. When audience notice "audio" means something wrong with that. Such as: feedback, no sound when someone use microphone, muddy sound, distorted sound, interferenced sound, noise, out of phase, ...

When the sound is really good, audience enjoy the performance of the artists, not the work of audio engineers.

Quality microphones sound nautral, sounded as the source shall be. So I need constant sound on-axis and off-axis, extreme low noise and low distortion, and no colored sound.

After all, when you average out the cost difference between buy and sell a good microhone with the uses, each use is not too different from the low cost microphones.

My 2 cents.
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24th June 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WVUtubadude View Post
Then I guess everyone should buy clones and let the big names die off.
people should buy whatever they want and are able to and rest with the knowledge that pretty much any equipment out there is capable of amazing results. the burden is on the engineer...not microphone brand names.

some folks think that buying a schoeps or a gefell or a whatever gives them a leg up..that isn't the case at all.
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There are some very good cheap mics out there; the challenge is in finding them. The Oktava MK 012 has a very good reputation as a sub-$500 mic, as does the Studio Projects B1. No longer can anyone make the blanket statement that cheap gear always sounds "cheap".
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Even if Oktavas are usable, even good and great for the money, the difference between using mk012 omnis or Senn 8020 in a same space in same configuration was quite amazing...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petrus View Post
Even if Oktavas are usable, even good and great for the money, the difference between using mk012 omnis or Senn 8020 in a same space in same configuration was quite amazing...
ok, but you cannot paint all budget mics with the same brush..and id dare say that many folks that rag on budget equipment simply haven't used it to its potential.

like I said, Tony Faulkner summed it up best...
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I just watched a recording tutorial on Youtube where Abbey Road Studios engineer uses an ADK mic on the guitar amp...not bad for a "budget" mic...
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Re: Still worth to pay for the brand names?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WVUtubadude
Then I guess everyone should buy clones and let the big names die off.
Then there is no more R&D and quality goes down and down and down and.....................



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