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One to rule them all - mid range condenser mic help
Old 15th May 2019
  #1
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One to rule them all - mid range condenser mic help

Hi guys, I am going to build simple home studio, with basic JBL 305P MK II monitors, Steinberg UR22 MK II DAW and Cubase Pro. Last thing I need to choose is one and only condenser mic.

Mic will be used mainly for:

- recording electric guitar (2x12 cab), clean, overdriven and heavily distorted
sounds

- recording acoustic guitar

- occasionally vocals - mid range, no very low or high pitches

Room is not acoustically treated, it is just my humble living room. Maybe I will buy some micscreen, which will be placed behind the mic for at least basic treatment (not sure if it will help much though).

I have no real experience with condenser mics. I narrowed selection to the four models in similar price range with regards to the reviews and their popularity. However, I cannot decide and choose one.

1) Audio-Technica AT 2050
2) AKG C214
3) RODE NT2-A
4) Sennheiser MK4


I dont want to make it complicated and analyze every single nuance and aspect - I cannot tell it yet, I do not even have taste for mic personalities. It is too soon for that.

I just want good, as much as possible noiseless mic, which will be equally good on clean and distorted guitar and ideally vocals as well. Maybe neutral sounding mic with smooth high end and good definition is something I am looking for. You know, the one bitch for all. Switchable patterns are not a priority for me, I guess dB pad and other features are not either, since it will be used at home.

Thanks a lot for your help and sorry for my english.

Vasek
Old 15th May 2019
  #2
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Take your choice. Chances are a single mic isn't going to be ideal for all situations, especially condensers which have allot of top end.
A mic with a 40~20K response may be OK for vocals or capturing drum cymbals, but for other things like Electric guitar, you'll
continually have to overuse an EQ to roll off unnecessary frequencies which only produce noise and hiss. An electric guitar usually fits between 150 to 5Khz.
A Guitar amps speaker often produces far less. Something like an old Celestion greenback tops out at 5K and is strongest at maybe 2~4Kkz. Its been a favorite for taming a Marshall's treble response for over 50 years.

On the other hand something like an SM57's frequency response captures most of the frequencies you need to make an electric guitar sit in the mix without allot of EQing so the track isn't going to have the life sucked out of it trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole.

Compare this Celestion Greenback frequency response curve to a SM57 response curve. It gives you some idea of what engineers deal with when making gear decisions. Its not always the key to making wise decisions, but it can help you understand when someone tells you you'll be better off recording with 2 or 3 mediocre mics vs trying to make one mic do it all.


Celestion:
One to rule them all - mid range condenser mic help-01a1celestion.jpg

SM57
One to rule them all - mid range condenser mic help-01a1shure-sm57.jpg

These condensers have a bump up in the 10K+ ranges which are fine for vocal presence, acoustic guitar and cymbals etc. Totally useless for midrange instruments like electric guitar which need a boosted mid presence to sound right.

Rhode NT2


AT2050 Condenser
Attached Thumbnails
One to rule them all - mid range condenser mic help-01a1celestion.jpg   One to rule them all - mid range condenser mic help-01a1shure-sm57.jpg  
Old 15th May 2019
  #3
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Thanks a lot for your response. This is the thing I have never thought of. I mean you can see demos where condensers are used for nearly everything and results are quite good - for example the Rode nt2-a demo. I am aware there is a lot of post-production effort in this demo, yet one can easily think a mic like this should work +- well for regular situations.

Lets say I will add classic Shure SM57 or Sennheiser e906 as a starting point for electric guitar recordings - can be switched later for something else, but I guess one will not step in bad direction with this choice as a first mic.

So now the acoustic guitar and vocals left. Can these two be covered by one condenser mic without too much hassle and if so, which one could be a viable choice?
Old 15th May 2019
  #4
I'd look at some other options like a CAD M179 or Lewitt LCT 441, or one of the multipattern 3U Audio Warblers. Maybe get the MK4 if just cardioid is okay. The mics I mentioned will probably be a lot more versatile than the C214 (IMO that things pretty bright, and not in a good way).
Old 16th May 2019
  #5
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KickDrum's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theriak View Post
Hi guys, I am going to build simple home studio...
...- recording electric guitar (2x12 cab), clean, overdriven and heavily distorted sounds
- recording acoustic guitar
- occasionally vocals - mid range, no very low or high pitches...
...Room is not acoustically treated, it is just my humble living room...
...I just want good, as much as possible noiseless mic, which will be equally good on clean and distorted guitar and ideally vocals as well. Maybe neutral sounding mic with smooth high end and good definition is something I am looking for...
I’d recommend the Beyerdynamic M201 in your situation. It sounds great on all the sources named above, everything else, and it rejects the room really well for quality home recordings.
Old 16th May 2019
  #6
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Aston Starlight... It has a very flat “vintage” setting that is excellent for guitar amps and some vocals. It has two other settings that are brighter and seem to suit acoustic guitars and vocals that need a little sting on the top end. I have two of these mics and they are my smartest purchase ever.

I have not tried the Aston Stealth, but it is a dynamic that also has settings that would seem to suit your needs. Read up on these mics and how they are designed.
EDIT: I looked at the mics you mentioned and I seem to be recommending mics above your intended price range.

Last edited by Bushman; 16th May 2019 at 07:01 AM.. Reason: Pricing
Old 16th May 2019
  #7
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Thanks for the responses. That Beyerdynamic looks realy interesting, I checked more about it and people are using it as a general purpose mic with good results. There are some issues with pslosives on vocals, but I guess thats not that uncommon on instrument mics. I am leaning towards the two mic solutions now, one dynamic for instruments and something different for vocals, which will be bought probably later.

These Astons are unfortunately out of my price range, but thanks for the tip anyway.
Old 16th May 2019
  #8
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One man's "midrange price" may be expensive to another, and bottom dollar to another.

Two mics I'd reach for when I want basic capture... nothing added, nothing removed... TLM-102 and C414. $600 and $1000... ish.

The C-214... MAY do this for you for less.

I could probably get thru a month of sessions with a pile of SM-57s, a pile of SM-58s (or Beta -58s), and a coupla 102s or 414s.

I could get thru a month of breakfasts, lunches and dinners with a pile of eggs and a pile of hamburger.

So... you looking for basic survival?

Or do you prefer to... enjoy exploring... mealtime?

:-)
Old 16th May 2019
  #9
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KickDrum's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theriak View Post
...That Beyerdynamic looks realy interesting, I checked more about it and people are using it as a general purpose mic with good results. There are some issues with pslosives on vocals, but I guess thats not that uncommon on instrument mics....
Just FYI, it comes with a pop filter that fits over the end of the mic.
Old 16th May 2019
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayTee4303 View Post
One man's "midrange price" may be expensive to another, and bottom dollar to another.

Two mics I'd reach for when I want basic capture... nothing added, nothing removed... TLM-102 and C414. $600 and $1000... ish.

The C-214... MAY do this for you for less.

I could probably get thru a month of sessions with a pile of SM-57s, a pile of SM-58s (or Beta -58s), and a coupla 102s or 414s.

I could get thru a month of breakfasts, lunches and dinners with a pile of eggs and a pile of hamburger.

So... you looking for basic survival?

Or do you prefer to... enjoy exploring... mealtime?

:-)
The CAD M179 might be a better budget option for them to get something like a C414 than the C214 would. Or any one of the Lewitt large diaphragm condensers. Or they could probably find a used C414 XLS on eBay as well if it has to be AKG (though they could also get a pair of CADs for the price as well).
Old 16th May 2019
  #11
Plenty of solid recommendations so far. I think your interface and monitors are going to be just fine (I have a UR22 and I think it's great, particularly for the price). Microphone-wise, for your specific needs (which tend to be similar to my own for home-studio single-tracking) I'd really strongly recommend a trusty SM57 for the guitar cab, as others have recommended. For vocals and other acoustic instruments, I would pick an Audio Technica AT4033, 4040, or 4050 over the condensers you listed. Quality, durable, affordable, versatile, good predictable results, made in Japan. The 40xx series is much better than the 20xx series, in my experience, and you should be able to find a 4033 or 4040 used for around $200. With the 57 in there, that's about $300 for two extremely useful mics that you probably won't ever want to get rid of!
Old 17th May 2019
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Progger View Post
I would pick an Audio Technica AT4033, 4040, or 4050
The 40xx series is much better than the 20xx series
That’s an important point. The 40 series are real LDCs. The 20 series have a smaller diaphram.
Old 17th May 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
Advanced Audio CM67se, or CM47ve, or a few other choices.
The advantage is remote controlled pattern on the tube mic.
Old 17th May 2019
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Progger View Post
Plenty of solid recommendations so far. I think your interface and monitors are going to be just fine (I have a UR22 and I think it's great, particularly for the price). Microphone-wise, for your specific needs (which tend to be similar to my own for home-studio single-tracking) I'd really strongly recommend a trusty SM57 for the guitar cab, as others have recommended. For vocals and other acoustic instruments, I would pick an Audio Technica AT4033, 4040, or 4050 over the condensers you listed. Quality, durable, affordable, versatile, good predictable results, made in Japan. The 40xx series is much better than the 20xx series, in my experience, and you should be able to find a 4033 or 4040 used for around $200. With the 57 in there, that's about $300 for two extremely useful mics that you probably won't ever want to get rid of!
The AT4050 can be found for $300-$400 used as well. It could end up being a bit more than something like a C214 which I think goes for $350 USD but the AT4050 much nicer mic.

Last edited by Dohreetoh; 17th May 2019 at 01:32 PM..
Old 17th May 2019
  #15
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subspace's Avatar
I just finished mixing a male/female duo's EP that was tracked on a pair of MXL Revelations. The 414B/ULS and TLM103 were tried out at tracking as well but we went with the MXLs for their voices. Most of the demos available online seem to be acoustic or electric guitar, I'll try them there next.
Old 17th May 2019
  #16
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I tried to find as many as possible recordings and samples of most of the mics mentioned here and for now, I gotta say the Sennheiser MK4 and some mid range Lewitts were the most pleasant sounding mics for me for the price, with A-T 40XX series slightly behind them. There was something with highs in Rodes which I didnt like, AKG C214 sounded little bit...regular, or how to say it. Some of the mentioned mics are not available in my country, some are above my price limit.

I definitely get that with more money you will get more fun and some Astons and cheaper Neumans could be something different, but it would be really overkill for me right now. I am new blood in this field, I will have to learn how record things from a scratch, how to position basic instruments in mix and how to produce simple song in the end, in addition to how to place mics, how deal with my particular conditions and so on. So for now i dont aim on something more than simple demos, drafts, references for me and for a tool for composing as well - being able to hear what you compose from recordings instead of guitar pro or other midi sources is much more inspiring. When (if) I will know what I am doing and the time for homemade record will come, there is not a problem to look for something better and I will be probably back for more advice, hopefully with more wisdom and experience :-).

I am pretty sure I will buy e906 and Beyerdynamic m201, compare and try them and keep one. Shure SM57, I dont know, these two are better/more interesting sounding for me. With condensers it has to be the same - I will just pick one of the above mentioned - Senn, some Lewitt or AT, probably compare them in my conditions somehow and decide for one. Unless you throw in some additional tips, which I will definitely check.

Thanks a lot again :-)
Old 17th May 2019
  #17
Here for the gear
[QUOTE=Bushman;13985804]Aston Starlight... It has a very flat “vintage” setting that is excellent for guitar amps and some vocals. It has two other settings that are brighter and seem to suit acoustic guitars and vocals that need a little sting on the top end. I have two of these mics and they are my smartest purchase ever.

I wanted those mic but my wallet settled on used oktavas. However, the Astons did inspired me to buy a dollar store laser pointer for dialing in my recorder-man. Just hold them along side any mic or electrical tape it right to the mic if you want to get fancy. It amazing how off my buddies and I were when we were just eyeballing it. Instead of dead center, I was lucky to hit the rim of the drum without it.
Old 17th May 2019
  #18
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I too suggest considering the Cad M179. I use one in a blumlein pair with a C414B and I can't hear which is which.

The M179 is pretty flat, and it's multi-pattern design gives you a lot of flexibility.
Old 17th May 2019
  #19
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For the OP-regarding a condenser, put the Oktava 219 and 319 on your shortlist.

Used, they can be had for well under $200 used. Guitar Center has a 45 day return policy on used ones, FWIW.

Thomann USA has new 319's for around $260, when I checked last.
Also there is a new Model, the MK-119, you could check into.

Many top pro's get surprised (positively!) when they try these out.
They are commonly dismissed otherwise, due to their low price.

I would classify 219/319's as "ribbon-ish" LDC's-they take EQ/Processing very well.
Chris

P.S. These Oktava's are smoother than anything, in your original list. No "Chinese style" capsule zing!
IMHO they're easier on the ear-especially using digital recording.
Old 17th May 2019
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dohreetoh View Post
The AT4050 can be found for $300-$400 used as well. It could end up being a bit more than something like a C214 which I think goes for $350 USD but the AT4050 much nicer mic.
I would agree the AT4050 or better yet AT4060 sound marvelous with a guitar.
Old 17th May 2019
  #21
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
For the OP-regarding a condenser, put the Oktava 219 and 319 on your shortlist.

Used, they can be had for well under $200 used. Guitar Center has a 45 day return policy on used ones, FWIW.

Thomann USA has new 319's for around $260, when I checked last.
Also there is a new Model, the MK-119, you could check into.

Many top pro's get surprised (positively!) when they try these out.
They are commonly dismissed otherwise, due to their low price.

I would classify 219/319's as "ribbon-ish" LDC's-they take EQ/Processing very well.
Chris

P.S. These Oktava's are smoother than anything, in your original list. No "Chinese style" capsule zing!
IMHO they're easier on the ear-especially using digital recording.
At some point I started hearing discussion about Chinese made Oktavas being much lower quality than Russian ones, but I've had no experience with either. Do you think there's any significant difference to worry about, or are you having good luck with Chinese ones?

The descriptions and prices seem too good to be true, but I've always been kind of interested, and just a little scared of the inconsistent quality rumors. If you don't think that's anything to worry about, I may give them some more serious thought.
Old 17th May 2019
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
For the OP-regarding a condenser, put the Oktava 219 and 319 on your shortlist.
I had a couple 319's but prefer the MK012. I've got Neumann KM86's, Sennheiser MKH40's, sold a pair of Beyer MC930's, but still always find uses for the MK012's.

I would always recommend those as a starting point.
Old 17th May 2019
  #23
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Both my 219 and 319 are "mid period" production run, when the most tonal variances happened.
If you think of these as semi-custom, it may ease your mind!

The 219 is a "bright/clear" specimen. The 319 is the darkest-yet still (way) more than usuable 319 (or 219), that I've ever heard.

There are no known 219 fakes, and I'm certain there are no MK-119's.
Only a small percentage of 319's are Chinese.
And Thomann would only sell genuine 319's.
Chris
Old 18th May 2019
  #24
Gear Head
I have a sort of out-of-the-box idea. Instead of a budget priced LDC how about a high-end dynamic? The Heil PR40 can be had new for under $300. The PR40 is truly excellent on electric guitars and can handle high volumes easily. Additionally, it is a smooth vocal microphone and very good on acoustics when used correctly. I have two of these and very highly recommend them.
Old 18th May 2019
  #25
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Miktek C1 all day for $600
Old 18th May 2019
  #26
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People with money can't discern the difference between 300 and 600. When you don't have money, even 100 might as well as be 1000.

Last edited by LPXRH; 18th May 2019 at 05:42 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 18th May 2019
  #27
The Oktavas would be a nice option as well. You could get a couple if you buy used since they go for $150 or so used.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MickeyMassacre View Post
Miktek C1 all day for $600
Most of the stuff they're asking about is below $400 USD. THE MK300 might be a good option for them, but the C1 might be over budget since the stuff the most expensive option they were looking at was the NT2A @ $400 USD.
Old 18th May 2019
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LPXRH View Post
People with money can't discern the difference between 300 and 600. When you don't have money, even 100 might as well as be 1000.
One of the hardest things to learn when you have a little money, is that very often there is nothing you can afford right now that will make the difference you want to hear.

NOT spending $300 on a mic that makes a lot of seductive promises, when you already know in your heart that the mic you really need is an $1,800 mic... that is a very hard choice that a lot of us get wrong before we get it right.
If you have the self control to stay with that 58 or 835 until you get your hands on the cash or credit to get a very special mic... well, Rudyard Kipling wrote the rest of my sentence a long time ago.
Edit: And Aston hasn’t made an $1,800 mic yet.

Last edited by Bushman; 18th May 2019 at 08:22 PM.. Reason: not much
Old 18th May 2019
  #29
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Well as Dostoevsky wrote EVEN longer ago...

"Comrade, my People's Oktava's will eat your British Aston's and Japanese AT's for lunch!"
(those Russians were always hungry back then!)

Chris
Old 18th May 2019
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
Well as Dostoevsky wrote EVEN longer ago...

"Comrade, my People's Oktava's will eat your British Aston's and Japanese AT's for lunch!"
(those Russians were always hungry back then!)

Chris
Firstly, this made me genuinely laugh.

Secondly, I hadn't even considered the Russia-versus-Japan angle here... getting into some pretty dark Manchurian war territory.
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