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rent vs buy nice mics for personal project studio
View Poll Results: Is it better to rent or own nice mics for occasionally recording different vocalists?
rent the mics you need when you need them
1 Votes - 7.14%
own a couple of nice microphones
13 Votes - 92.86%
Voters: 14. You may not vote on this poll

Old 19th February 2020
  #1
Lives for gear
 
JES's Avatar
 

rent vs buy nice mics for personal project studio

I'm not sure this is for High End or for general, but here we are.

If you're only doing vocals 1-2 months a year, at what point is it worth owning vs renting high end mics for vocals, assuming you can rent them easily? (I can). Owning means I'm sort of committing to 1-2 mics. Renting means I can shake it up a bit more from project to project, but I am dependent on availability (and it's a couple hours of a day getting and returning the mics).

More details:

I have a small project studio setup, mostly just for me and the projects I'm involved in--a couple bands, some sound art, electronic music, voice for interviews and podcast. When I record with bands, we do the drums etc at a proper commercial studio so I can focus on playing. But we overdub vocals at my place since there is proper acoustic treatment and vocalists can take as long as they want. I do a couple projects like this every year, give or take.

I'm not buying for my own voice. I'm buying for other people, some of whom I know will be regulars, and then for some unknown future collaborators. For my own voice I've been happy with a SM7, but I don't sing, I just talk on podcasts and stuff. But it's not enough for the singers I work with. I've been using a borrowed U87AI with singers this time, and they all like it. Yes, there are other good mics but that's not what this thread is about.

I would be tempted to buy one, or buy something like it (maybe one of the $1000 +/- copies and a nice tube mic for the same money and now we're out of high end territory), but upon reflection I'm wondering if it's worth it.

Maybe I'm better off just renting when I need it? The thing is that because everyone has non-music jobs, it takes about 4-5 weeks to get vocals done for a project because it's not an every day thing, so I have to hold onto the mic. Over 3-4 years the money I spend renting would add up to the purchase price of a good U87AI. But then I bought this amazing thing that mostly just sits there.

How do others think about it?

I have good pres, conversion, monitors and acoustic treatment, and all the software I will ever need until it gets broken in the next OS update. So it's really just about mics.
Old 19th February 2020
  #2
Buy famous brands, buy used and you most likely won't t loose any money. Sure it will be sitting there like you said but renting is money down the drain. Except if you're thinking of renting vintage highend then the money spend will be quite absurd then rental might be a better option.

I own quite a few nice mics and i see them both as an investment and something I enjoy using even if its not a daily business.
Old 20th February 2020
  #3
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
If you're not using the mics all the time, it might be worth it to buy and rent them out to others like yourself.
Old 20th February 2020
  #4
Lives for gear
 
JES's Avatar
 

Thanks. Keep the replies coming. I definitely am not looking to run a business on the side, so no opening up a rental shop on my end, though you're right that it could work.
Old 20th February 2020
  #5
Lives for gear
I wouldn’t know where to go to rent a high end microphone. And what is the rental fee and security for a real 251 or Sony 800?
Old 20th February 2020
  #6
Lives for gear
 

IMHO you may just want to get a nice/used U87ai, for around $2K...
Chris
Old 20th February 2020
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
IMHO you may just want to get a nice/used U87ai, for around $2K...
Chris
This is the direction I would, and ultimately did, go. No regrets.
In fairness it’s not my only “high end” mic, but it’s a very small collection.

Of course renting you’ve got the flexibility to try out new options, tho you can still do that if you buy, but also, you might find you don’t need, or care to, if you’ve got a good option that tends to work well in most or even all cases, and for your budget, an 87ai might just be that mic.

When it’s yours you don’t have to worry about getting a bum unit (damaged, abused) or something that doesn’t work as well for your needs, and after some time it’ll pay for itself vs the cost of the rentals, after which it’s free, and in between, it might just come in handy, or it might afford you the time to really get to know it.

I fiddled around with mid-priced mics before settling on my current options, and while I could have kept going (67, 49, c12.. on and on) , I’m quite happy with where I landed, and probably could have skipped the middle tier entirely...

.. on the other hand, can you ever really have too many?

I’ve got a LOT of songwriting to do to catch up with my gear purchases

Thankfully I ran out of money
Old 20th February 2020
  #8
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JES View Post
Thanks. Keep the replies coming. I definitely am not looking to run a business on the side, so no opening up a rental shop on my end, though you're right that it could work.
In that case, you can store it at my place, and I'll use it when you're not.
Old 20th February 2020
  #9
Lives for gear
 
paul brown's Avatar
Difficult to give an opinion when you give no details about how much it would cost you to rent a microphone under the conditions you describe. Have you costed it out fully? Can you share that cost analysis?
Old 20th February 2020
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
Digiplex's Avatar
 

Use what you have that’s what we all have to do at one time or another. If you wish to invest and have clients to support a 1k mic then at that time buy it.
Old 20th February 2020
  #11
Lives for gear
 
JES's Avatar
 

Thanks for the additional replies and survey responses. Drumsound: I'm the sharing type, but the commute would be brutal.

Cost: I did explain this in the original post but maybe it got buried--given exchange rages, it's 4-5 rentals for the purchase price of an U87Ai. I'm figuring cost of renting one at $575 for 4 week including taxes. There are several companies in Montreal that rent.

Again, I'm not a business, so clients won't be a consideration.
Old 20th February 2020
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by JES View Post
Thanks for the additional replies and survey responses. Drumsound: I'm the sharing type, but the commute would be brutal.

Cost: I did explain this in the original post but maybe it got buried--given exchange rages, it's 4-5 rentals for the purchase price of an U87Ai. I'm figuring cost of renting one at $575 for 4 week including taxes. There are several companies in Montreal that rent.

Again, I'm not a business, so clients won't be a consideration.
Like I said if you're not going into super highend just buy one used. U87ai can be have for less then 2k.

Different thing if you want something special say u67, u47. U87 is good enough if you got a nice channel strip.
Old 20th February 2020
  #13
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JES View Post
Thanks for the additional replies and survey responses. Drumsound: I'm the sharing type, but the commute would be brutal.

Cost: I did explain this in the original post but maybe it got buried--given exchange rages, it's 4-5 rentals for the purchase price of an U87Ai. I'm figuring cost of renting one at $575 for 4 week including taxes. There are several companies in Montreal that rent.

Again, I'm not a business, so clients won't be a consideration.
I've been looking for an excuse to move to Canada...
Old 20th February 2020
  #14
Lives for gear
I drove into Canada a bit last year. Beautiful country. As we approached Montréal, the traffic became horrible (even from a Californian’s perspective) and the clerks at the 7-11 were speaking only French. We turned right and drove into Maine. Beautiful country. There were almost no people speaking any language at all. There seemed to be more Dunkin’ Donuts than churches, (and there were a lot of churches).
Old 20th February 2020
  #15
Lives for gear
 
mattcollen's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
IMHO you may just want to get a nice/used U87ai, for around $2K...
Chris
For what you’re doing, I 100% agree with Chris. ^^^
Old 21st February 2020
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Since it can be expensive and time consuming to buy, then sell and ship to find mic(s) you love, and you will either want more mics or be tempted to upgrade:

One suggestion is to enjoy a trip to a city/shop that will let you try mics.

If a trip is not feasible to figure out what to buy, a few rentals of top candidates makes a lot of sense.
Old 21st February 2020
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Personally, I prefer the BLUE Kiwi to the 87ai.

I've seen them second hand in mint condition for $1400.

What's that, just over 8 weeks of renting!

My advice .... buy your own mic!
Old 21st February 2020
  #18
Lives for gear
 

FWIW Guitar Center Online, has two for sale right now, under a grand.

I've tested/sang through the Kiwi, but being prone to sibilance, it wasn't right for me.
Within the Blue line, the Mouse or Baby Bottle were better.

But IMHO the Mouse and Baby Bottle are both "character microphones" (like my Oktava's), not vocal all-rounders-like the U87ai.

If budget was a concern for the OP, a safe alternative would be the AT4050.

FWIW I have the new version of the Soundeluz U195, which is effectively very similar to a modded U87ai (flatter midrange/no upper mid "bite"/"air bump" ala C12 around 12KHz) That also has the FAT switch, which can come in handy for thinner sounding vocalists. Set either flat or FAT, quite full sounding.
Quite "present" on flat.

For the more adventurous, the Chandler TG is also a great vocal mic-with tons of settings.
I was super impressed by how well this microphone, handled my sibilance.

Sounded like an expensive tube mic, on my voice-very thick/full.

I also love how the Heiserman K47 capsule based microphones (47FET & AL-19), along with the UT 47FET microphone sound.

But if anyone "needs" to see that Neumann badge. U87ai final answer!
Chris
Old 21st February 2020
  #19
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
Years ago I rented various stuff and learned a bunch in the process.
Old 21st February 2020
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
I've been looking for an excuse to move to Canada...
At this point, the excuses are writing themselves.
Old 21st February 2020
  #21
If you’re always going to rent the same thing, it makes sense to buy one. Like you say, 5 rentals and you’d be ahead; it doesn’t make sense NOT to buy.

However, if you’re likely to want to mix and match, it’s less obvious.

And yes - a good 2nd hand 87 isn’t going to lose money, so it doesn’t matter if it sits there getting used 1 month in 6 and you sell it after 4 years - you’re still ahead!
Old 21st February 2020
  #22
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle View Post
At this point, the excuses are writing themselves.
No joke.
Old 21st February 2020
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
As we approached Montréal, the traffic became horrible (even from a Californian’s perspective).
Can confirm. Yet I continue to drive there, occasionally to buy gear. Love visiting there.
Old 21st February 2020
  #24
Lives for gear
 

Cue Bob Seger's "Down On Maine Street"...
Chris
Old 21st February 2020
  #25
Lives for gear
 

Or the OP could just get a few AA microphones and send me the re$t.
Chris
P.S. They're actually very good!
Old 21st February 2020
  #26
Lives for gear
 
JES's Avatar
 

The roads are bad, French really is the majority language, and the music scene is wonderful.
Old 22nd February 2020
  #27
Lives for gear
 

In Maine?
Chris
Old 22nd February 2020
  #28
Lives for gear
 
JES's Avatar
 

I can’t speak for Maine, but I’d bet the roads are better and the French is worse.
Old 23rd February 2020
  #29
Gear Addict
 

maybe rent a few times with high-quality, but very different mics. then buy a used one once you know what you like best.

if you think you will need more than one microphone sound: this one is under $1000, and can morph itself into lots of mics with specialized software:
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...ne-matte-black
Old 23rd February 2020
  #30
Lives for gear
 
JES's Avatar
 

Thanks. The Slate does seem like a good way to try out a lot of different "vibes" for mics. I am not keen to own a microphone that requires software updates tied to a computer OS, though.

Also, forgot to follow up on this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
Or the OP could just get a few AA microphones and send me the re$t.
Chris
P.S. They're actually very good!
I see AA are a GS budget favourite. And as a Canadian business, I don't have to pay duties. My questions are, as someone who's used a lot of mics, do you feel they line up with the more expensive ones you mentioned in terms of quality? Specifically: both sound quality and physical build quality? I also notice they do not recommend their own 87 version as a vocal mic. What would you get in terms of 1, 2, or 3 AA mics to cover a range of singers? I've got male baritone and tenor, and female mezzo-soprano (warm, not too sibilant voice), plus an unlimited unknown number of future collaborators I haven't yet recorded.

I guess this moves the thread from "should I buy" to what should I buy" but it's GS and that already happened.

Last edited by JES; 23rd February 2020 at 04:30 PM.. Reason: went for two!
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