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Looking for a mic/mics to record a small orchestra for under $200
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trcoburn
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7th June 2013
Old 7th June 2013
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Question Looking for a mic/mics to record a small orchestra for under $200

I have just become aware that I will be recording a small orchestra along with a choir! I am looking for a solid mic option that will be under $200. One mic/two mics? This will be an instance of the orchestra accompanying the choir.

The choir is all good to mic-wise, just need some advice for how to go about the orchestra.

Thanks in advance everyone!
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7th June 2013
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Can you rent mics?
trcoburn
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7th June 2013
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We could look into it, but I have no idea what is available here in Toledo!
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7th June 2013
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You will need to find a stereo pair to use in an ORTF or NOS pattern. Nothing worth buying for $100 a mic. Rentals are your best option or a trial mic from a vendor.
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7th June 2013
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Snag a used pair of Shure KsM137 or 141, they can be had for around $200-250 used a piece. Over your price range, but the only thing I've come across that can be had for that price but still sounds good.

Line Audio cm3 are also very worthy, about 160 a piece new, but there is a rather long waiting list I believe for them. I think the Shures are a better all around option anyways.

Use them in NOS or OrTF arrangements
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7th June 2013
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At $200 renting is your only reasonable option. If this is going to be an ongoing job, then picking up a pair of Line Audio Design CM3s (expect about a 4-week wait for a new pair) for US$ 304 (including stand-clips at current exchange rate) plus shipping, is by far, your best performance per dollar in the long run. These are superb, uncolored mics that are an amazing bargain.

For an orchestra/choral recording you really should be recording in stereo so you need at least (2) mics.

You may see well used Shure SM81's on eBay selling in the $150 to $200 range, but it's difficult to find a pair, and a SM81 doesn't sound as clean as a LAD CM3 anyway.

You will, of course, need a recorder with phantom powered mic inputs.

Caution: you may find "CM3" microphones made by companies named Galaxy Audio and AXIS on eBay at low cost. These are not the mics we are recommending and are very poor quality, don't even consider them for an orchestra recording.

If $200 is your absolute maximum, then you can always try a pair of $99 Shure SM57s in ORTF using a -4dB broad EQ cut from 2 to 10 kHz and a +5 dB ramp boost at 100 Hz. They far from ideal for classical recording, but are better than no recording at all.
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7th June 2013
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I just squeezed in an order for a pair of CM3's this week from nohype audio. Check to see if they have any available to ship now if you're lucky. Mine (with shock mounts) ended up being about $374 at current exchange rates.
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7th June 2013
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I really like what I'v heard about the CM3's but wouldn't you get a better recording from their Omni OM1's? I'm very new to the field recording with choirs and orchestra's.

But on the topic of what I will be doing for the coming concert. We will try and rent some mics for the concert and order a nice pair for the next recording. Which should be till the school year starts back up!
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7th June 2013
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The general thought is if the room sounds good, choose an omni because it will capture the room. If the room sounds bad, choose a card to limit how much of the room is picked up. A related concern would be whether you have a noisy audience that an omni would record versus getting less audience noise with a card.

If you have that much time to shop, look for a shure KSM 141 as previously suggested since you can change it from omni to card.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trcoburn View Post
I really like what I'v heard about the CM3's but wouldn't you get a better recording from their Omni OM1's? I'm very new to the field recording with choirs and orchestra's.

But on the topic of what I will be doing for the coming concert. We will try and rent some mics for the concert and order a nice pair for the next recording. Which should be till the school year starts back up!
The CM3's have a wide cardoid pattern and they have a great off axis response, so they're more somewhere between cardoid and omni, imho.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trcoburn View Post
I really like what I'v heard about the CM3's but wouldn't you get a better recording from their Omni OM1's? I'm very new to the field recording with choirs and orchestra's.

But on the topic of what I will be doing for the coming concert. We will try and rent some mics for the concert and order a nice pair for the next recording. Which should be till the school year starts back up!
I would use both OM1 and CM3 on the same bar to leave me with options in post.
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At retail, 2 cm3 + 2 om1 still slightly less in price to a pair of ksm141's. What's a Gearslutz to do?
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Buy used
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2manyrocks View Post
At retail, 2 cm3 + 2 om1 still slightly less in price to a pair of ksm141's. What's a Gearslutz to do?
If you really need to go cheap, you could probably find a pair of Oktava MC-012s for that price if you look hard enough. Just make sure you're getting the real Russians, and that they've been properly QC'd.

But otherwise, save up for the Shures. I bought a pair of the Oktavas back in 2001, and they've served me well. But if the KSM-141s had been out at that point, I would have gone that route.
Honestly, I haven't been blown away by what I've heard from the Line Audio clips on this site. (Never seen or heard one in the flesh, however.)
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8th June 2013
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I would consider a pair of used AT3031 cards. They are pretty good SDC's which go for a bargain-basement price of around $100 on eBay. They are made in Japan, and were replaced by the nearly identical AT4021, which sell for about $350 each. They are clean and detailed, have reasonable self-noise, and are very well made. Lots of times, I listen to past recordings I did with them and can't tell/remember (without looking it up) if I used them or if I used other SDC's that cost several times as much.

I haven't used the CM3, but keep in mind that it is wide card (somewhere between being cardioid and omni), and may not "focus" as clearly on one part of your ensemble as a true card would.

In any case, if the hall is not great, ORTF or NOS positioning make sense. You will have to play with how far out and how high to place your array in order to capture a balanced orchestra sound that is reasonably distinct from the choir (which you will be capturing separately with other mics, hopefully to other tracks for later mixdown). You might try your stand a little lower than normal if the choir is behind the orchestra and on risers, and maybe a little closer to the podium. That will give you plenty of string sound, fairly distinct from the choir (though your woodwinds might get a little lost - but, hey - it's a compromise however you do it with only a few mics). Strings are the "meat and potatoes" of the orchestra (unless you're a vegetarian, then they're the "tofu and veggie burgers" of the orchestra).

Make sure that you have clean, fast, quiet preamps with a reasonable amount of clean gain for the mics. Preamp noise comes into play with more distant mic'ing , quieter dynamics, bigger ensembles, and larger venues, so a stock audio interface's pre's might not cut it. If you need to pick up pre's as well, cheap options include the M-Audio DMP3, Symetrix SX202 or 302, or a pair of StudioProjects VTB1 pre's (if you go with these, keep the "tube blend" at solid state). I wouldn't overlook the pre's; I made plenty of noisy, smeared recordings with excellent mics before I was finally smart enough and financially able to buy good preamps. Today, it's great that there are decent cheaper options.

Good luck with it,

Joe
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There's the Superlux S502 ORTF mic, also the Cad e70 (a very bright-sounding mic). I have three Shure kSM 109's which I could part with -- send me a PM if interested.
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9th June 2013
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There's the Superlux S502 ORTF mic, also the Cad e70 (a very bright-sounding mic). I have three Shure kSM 109's which I could part with -- send me a PM if interested.
SuperLux Stereo mics ...

This mic was spotty at first and the mfr seems to have the problems fixed. It has gotten good response from users on this board.
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Yeah, S502 maybe is the only solution with this budget.
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Yeah, S502 maybe is the only solution with this budget.
B&H Photo has CAD e70's for $99 each. They come with an omni and a cardioid capsule so he could do ORTF or A-B.
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Garrett's ??? advertises CAD e70's for $82.50 or one can always just place a DR-05 on a music stand and make a "recording". Where do you draw the line?

Realistically, a budget of $200 for a pair of mics is not going to result in a decent recording of an orchestra and chorus, unless one rents or buys used, and is very lucky.
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For your coin, it would seem to be the best deal you can hope for would be a Tascam or Zoom or their equivalent, which would also have usb connections to your computer DAW. I've heard some pretty good guitar tracks from a Zoom H2.
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Originally Posted by Lotus 7 View Post
Garrett's ??? advertises CAD e70's for $82.50 or one can always just place a DR-05 on a music stand and make a "recording". Where do you draw the line?

Realistically, a budget of $200 for a pair of mics is not going to result in a decent recording of an orchestra and chorus, unless one rents or buys used, and is very lucky.
I heard some very decent recordings with a pair of CM3s, which are about 250€/pair here in europe. Personally never used them for orchestra and chorus, only on acoustic guitar and there they keep easily up with mics four times the price...
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I heard some very decent recordings with a pair of CM3s, which are about 250€/pair here in europe. Personally never used them for orchestra and chorus, only on acoustic guitar and there they keep easily up with mics four times the price...
See post #6. CM3s are a viable solution, just not cheap enough to meet the OP's budget.
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See post #6. CM3s are a viable solution, just not cheap enough to meet the OP's budget.
Yes, you're right, sorry
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9th June 2013
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Thought I would update everyone on the progress of my "Mic Hunt" here in Toledo.

I was able to get in touch with a small audio equipment business locally and all they have available to use for a weekend are a stereo pair of AKG C5600's never used them before but for a weekend rent of $30 seems like a decent alternative till my business partner and I can invest in some nice SDC's for the future!

On this note has anyone worked with the C5600's? Hard to find much information regarding them. They have a nice flat response, and from what I have read they are decent mics. But will they work for this application?

Thanks again for everyone replying to this thread and giving me a lot of helpful advice! Really enjoy Gearslutz, you guys rock!
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Quote:
Realistically, a budget of $200 for a pair of mics is not going to result in a decent recording of an orchestra and chorus
Rubbish. Have you ever actually used a CAD e70? I have and my recordings were perfectly satisfactory.

Not a lot of info available on line on the C5600's but you'll be fine. If you can get them into an ORTF configuration you're set.
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Late to the party - Naiant mics used to be well thought of for price/performance but don't seem to get mentioned so much these days - noise specs seem to be better than some mentioned earlier in this thread - Naiant - they would come within the budget, just.
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Late to the party - Naiant mics used to be well thought of for price/performance but don't seem to get mentioned so much these days - noise specs seem to be better than some mentioned earlier in this thread - Naiant - they would come within the budget, just.
Always wanted to complement my CM3s with a pair of Naiant omnis - do you own them? How do they perform?
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10th June 2013
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Rubbish. Have you ever actually used a CAD e70? I have and my recordings were perfectly satisfactory....
Guess it depends on what one's definition of "decent" is.
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I got a CAD M179 for voice over stuff simply because it's cheap and got good reviews. All I can say is, it is just ok and it sounds way too harsh. (It hurts my ears.) I have a hard time believing that frequency response graph.
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