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Upgrade condenser microphone
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Upgrade condenser microphone

Hi evereyone,
I am a italian indipendent singer songwriter, 7 years ago I started writing, recording and mixing my own songs, trying to learn as much as possible about music production, and beside that I found my self with 5 millions streams on Spotify, recording and mixing everything myself, with this gear:

iMac 2013 with Logic & Cubase
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
Audio Technica AT 2035
Audio Technica AT50X Headphone
Kali Audio LP6 monitors
Partially acoustically treated room

By the way I feel it's time to upgrade my gear, in particular I was thinking of a new mic, in order to give to my vocals that "pro-sound" that I'm looking for.

I've done thousand of researches to try to figure out what was the best mic for me but i'm still not sure about what to buy.

I will MAINLY use this microphone for Vocals and also some acoustic guitar, and this is the list I have for now:


- AKG C414 (I heard the XLII is better than the XLS)

- Neumann TLM 102 (but it is mainly suggested for Rap vocals or Voiceovers, right?)

- AT4050 (I now have an AT2035 and it has been great to start learning music production)

I have a budget of $1000,00 , I mainly do pop music, something like Ed Sheeran or Charlie Puth, nothing too complicated,
This is the link to my song so you can figure out what kind of voice i have:

My Song

Unfortunately, I can't go to a shop and test the mic myself because I don't live near a big city so I have to choose from home, I hope you guys could help me

Feel free to add some more suggestion, apart from those I mentioned, what do you think would be the best mic for my voice?


Thank you!!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
edva's Avatar
Hello. You sound pretty good already, and it's not the mic which creates a "pro sound", it's a large combination of many things.
But, better is always better, and there are many nice mics available in your price range.
I do not have personal experience with them, but Lewitt and Austrian Audio are two European manufacturers that I would check out if I were in your shoes.
I do have a pair of Neumann 102's, they are very good sounding mics, certainly not just for rap or voice over, really a good all 'rounder in terms of sound, useful on many things. You should try to hear one for yourself of course, but it is regarded as a good sounding mic by most people who have heard it.
Audio Technica make some fine mics, I own a few, but somehow the 4050 just does not do it for me. Some people like it so maybe you would too though.
i have nothing good to say about current generation AKG 414's, I'll leave it at that.
If you wanted a mic from a company based in the USA, in your budget Miktek, Roswell Audio, and Mojave all have nice offerings worth checking out. Personally I am a big Miktek fan, I think they have a fantastic sound, and I have several.
Shure makes good mics, such as the KSM 32, KSM42, and KSM 44, which can be found in your price range. I have a pair of 44's, great mics IMHO.
On the budget end, as someone mentioned, hard to beat ISK. I am lucky enough to have a 2B Beauty, it is all that they say it is, sonically.
A properly modded Oktava 219 or 319 can be a great sounding, great bang for buck microphone. The modded 319 I have is one of the nicest sounding mics I have, regardless of cost.
Another fabulous sounding Russian mic is the Nevaton, you might find one or two of their models within budget, but at any price they definitely have the sound of very expensive mics IMHO. I have the stereo version, and it sounds glorious.
Keep your head in the music though, don't obsess over the mic. Good luck.

Last edited by edva; 4 weeks ago at 10:44 PM.. Reason: +
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Nut
 

According to a Sound On Sound article from a couple years again, Ed Sheeran (at the time) used a U47, which is way out of your price range, and a Sontronics Aria (around $1200). So you may want to put the Sontronics on your list.
Charlie Puth apparently prefers the Blue Kiwi (out of your price range new but often around or under $1000 used), but has also used a U47 and Shure SM7.
Hope this helps.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Head
 

Check out some ribbon mics too. AEA, Golden Age, Royer, etc.
Also, if you're looking at $1000 it's probably a good idea to spend a little of that on a train ticket and visit a store/city where you can try some mics. You really want to find one that matches your voice and has the sound you like.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
dickiefunk's Avatar
I had a TLM102 but didn’t like the highs on this mic. My current mics are :-

Vanguard V13
Shure KSM32
Miktek MK-300
JZ V11
Audio Technica AT4040

My favourite vocal mic of the bunch is the Vanguard V13 (though it costs 2-3 times the price of the other mics). This is my newest addition and so far it’s been my favourite mic on every vocalist I’ve used it on. The highs are smooth and detailed but not hyped like a lot of mics I’ve tried and the midrange sounds rich with excellent clarity. The lows go deep but sound well defined and not boomy. I can see this being my go to vocal mic from now on.
The Miktek MK-300 is another favourite despite being the cheapest of the bunch. It is a little brighter than the Vanguard which can be flattering on certain sources. The highs sound clearer and less smeared than the AT4040 (though the AT4040 is still a great sounding mic). The mids also have more clarity. Based on my experience with Miktek cheapest offering it would be worth checking out their higher end offerings.
I still really like my other mics and they will probably get used from time to time. The Shure KSM32 was the least flattering of all the mics but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It could be a good option for a really harsh source. The JZ V11 sounds like a slightly more flattering version of the KSM32. The highs and lows sounds slightly more enhanced. The AT4040 sounds similar to the MK-300 but lacked a little in clarity and punch by comparison.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
I would get the tlm102 and don't look back, it has the most neutral sound of that list you provided and will work well with lots of sources, voice, ambient mic, acoustic guitar, and is great on guitar cabs so will cover everything you need.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gians View Post
By the way I feel it's time to upgrade my gear, in particular I was thinking of a new mic, in order to give to my vocals that "pro-sound" that I'm looking for.
What is it about your recordings so far that you don't think are "pro sounding" enough?

As someone else mentioned, only a relatively modest part of the mic (if that) is responsible for a "pro sound." I'm not in front of good enough speakers to know for sure, but I think what you have sounds good and I don't hear anything in your song above that makes me think you need a better mic. Don't fall into the foolish trap of thinking better gear is the answer. Recording technique, room treatment, mixing and mastering all make far more difference.

Quote:
I will MAINLY use this microphone for Vocals and also some acoustic guitar,
What works for one doesn't always work for another, so if anything I would do some research on a mic for your guitar. Of course it depends what kind of guitar, what kind of songs, etc. Not being a guitar player I can't speak to that, but I'm sure there are plenty of articles online you can read and search this site for opinions as well.

But IMO do yourself a favor for now and save your money.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
What is it about your recordings so far that you don't think are "pro sounding" enough?

As someone else mentioned, only a relatively modest part of the mic (if that) is responsible for a "pro sound." I'm not in front of good enough speakers to know for sure, but I think what you have sounds good and I don't hear anything in your song above that makes me think you need a better mic. Don't fall into the foolish trap of thinking better gear is the answer. Recording technique, room treatment, mixing and mastering all make far more difference.

What works for one doesn't always work for another, so if anything I would do some research on a mic for your guitar. Of course it depends what kind of guitar, what kind of songs, etc. Not being a guitar player I can't speak to that, but I'm sure there are plenty of articles online you can read and search this site for opinions as well.

But IMO do yourself a favor for now and save your money.

it's not a 'foolish trap' the quality of microphone should be a very high priority, everything starts at the microphone, it really matters, the better the source the more it matters. e.g not worth recording a world class guitarist with a £20,000 guitar in a tiny box room through a behringer mic.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 

It's a question of degree. I'm not saying the quality of a mic doesn't matter at all; obviously the quality of all gear matters, again to a point. But even low-end gear has gotten so good, more and more it's a point of diminishing returns, if that. And no, it doesn't really start with the mic; it starts with room treatment and the skill of the person(s) responsible for the recording (and mixing and etc). Again all of these things matter, including the mic. But you can get far better results with inexpensive gear and someone who knows what they're doing and a well-treated room than you can with the reverse. Now if someone can afford to wipe their butt with $50 bills, have at it. But that describes very (very) few people out there making music.

The foolish trap I meant was people who think "I want this to sound better; more expensive gear is the answer." I'm not saying that's never true, but I think it's safe to say that most of the time it's not, and they will get extremely little if any improvement by "upgrading." It's not a criticism; it's human nature. I think we've all been bitten by that bug or temptation, eyeing that Neumann mic or whatever. "It must be better, look how much more expensive it is!" An awful lot of confirmation bias out there IMO.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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esldude's Avatar
I've some experience with KSM32 and KSM44 which I like. Especially the KSM32. I have some Lewitt LCT 540's which are a bit flattering to voices and stringed instruments. They now make the LCT 540 Sub-zero. However, they claim the LCT440 Pure is the same parts in a smaller body without the filters or pads of the original 540. Those are available for 1/4 your budget. If they sound like the 540 which they should, then maybe that is an in between route where you get an improved microphone without spending so much.

I also have an LCT640 TS which is very good. For vocals I'm not sure it is a large improvement over the 540. Its multiple patterns and dual outputs are what make it worthwhile.

The suggestion of a ribbon might also be worth considering for a different kind of sound. I don't have enough experience with various ribbons to give any useful advice. My only ribbon is an inexpensive one which I do like for some purposes.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Wow, thank you all guys for your answers!

I know for sure that a new mic is not like a magic stick which will make my records sound better, and I know that mixing and mastering skills, room treatment and obviously good songwriting and singing are important elements that make a song great.

However, I was not expecting to get that "pro sound" I'm looking for just by buying a new microphone, but I feel like it's time to upgrade mine. I bought it 6 years ago when I didn't know anything about recordings, and I noticed my self that as my mixing skills improved also did the quality of my songs, regardless of the fact that I was using the same mic.

I know that I have A LOT to learn when it comes to master and mix a song, and I love this forum because I learn something new everyday, but I wanna do my self a little gift and buy a new microphone, as I feel the one I have now does not have the warm, rich and "in your face" sound that I'm looking for. I feel like my vocals are really thin, they do not sit in the mix, probably I'm not mastering or mixing them properly, but I think a new microphone could help.

So, i was almost sure with the TLM 102, but for what I noticed on the forum, everyone is praising the AKG for its versatility, and so my doubts began.

I also consider the AT4050 because the AT2035 I have now served my greatly for 6 years,I've never regretted it, but for what I heard it is a pretty neutral mic, so it is probably not what I'm looking for.

I want a mic with character, something that can really give that sense of warmth and richness, that pop sound I always wanted.

So is the TLM 102 my best bet for the budget, or do you guys think there is something better for my price range ($1000) ?

Thank you alla again
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
here's the thing with mics, the worse it is, the more time you'll spend chasing your tail, the better the microphone you have the less frequencies you'll want to change/correct in the mixing stage, so it makes practical and logical sense to pay more upfront, that's why in pro studios you only see certain microphones, they don't have the time to mess around, just get it recorded, job done, should need very minimal EQ and compression and all of a sudden it's 10x easier, you want it to make your life easier and easier for anybody that works with you like a mix engineer or mastering engineer, they will appreciate it.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gians View Post
I want a mic with character, something that can really give that sense of warmth and richness,
Then I agree with the earlier post about checking out ribbon mics. There are many good ones well under $1000. In fact, probably most of them are.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 
edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gians View Post

I want a mic with character, something that can really give that sense of warmth and richness, that pop sound I always wanted.

So is the TLM 102 my best bet for the budget, or do you guys think there is something better for my price range ($1000) ?

Thank you alla again
The 102 is not a "character" mic. It has a slight touch of "warmth", and a clean, elegant sound, but it will basically give you a nice, clean capture of what's in front of it, without adding much coloration to it. It's a fairly neutral mic.
The current AKG is also in the neutral camp. Less nice.
A mic such as the Miktek or Mojave on the other hand will enhance the source somewhat in the manner I think you are describing. So will a nice ribbon mic, but with less high frequency emphasis, usually (although modern designs are getting brighter). Whether you need or prefer an extended top end for vocals is subjective. Personally I use ribbons on many things, but not lead vocals. YMMV.
Since you like AT, their 4047 is also a bit of a "character" mic, with some added warmth etc. I haven't used mine in a while, but it is a beautiful mic, built to a very high level of quality, and might be very good for you. Good luck.

Last edited by edva; 4 weeks ago at 05:14 AM.. Reason: +
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
The C414 XLS is way better than the XLII IMO. The XLS is a decent all arounder. The XLII is really only good for instruments and really bright vocals. I'd pick any of Lewitt's multipattern LDCs over a current C414 though. The CAD M179 can get you a pretty similar sound as well.

A used KSM44 could be a nice choice too. I'd have gotten one if I could find one for cheap in Canada.

The AT4050 is nice too, so is the sE Electronics T2. Oktava MK-220s are pretty nice too (they have a sound similar to the AT4050 though, but they're a couple hundred bucks cheaper).

As far as LDCs go I have experience with the sE Electronics T2, Lewitt LCT441, and AT4050. I like them all on vocals (but I'm not a singer, I like them all for spoken word).

I'd avoid the TLM102 personally, but I don't really like the cheaper Neumanns. I find it severely overpriced for what it is. You can get a used pair of AT4050s for slightly more than the price of a TLM102.

For small diaphragm condensers, I'd get the ISK Pearl if you want just cardioid. Maybe the Oktava MK-012 if you need multipattern (or the KSM141 if you have enough left over after buying a large diaphragm condenser).

There are a lot of good clone mic manufacturers now too. 3U Audio's Warbler MKID gets you really close to a vintage U87 tone for cheap ($380 I think).

I definitely think you should have a couple SDCs as well as a good all around LDC.

Last edited by Dohreetoh; 4 weeks ago at 03:00 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dohreetoh View Post
...I'd avoid the TLM102 personally, but I don't really like the cheaper Neumanns. I find it severely overpriced for what it is. You can get a used pair of AT4050s for slightly more than the price of a TLM102....
I agree that at full list price the 102 is over-priced, even though it is a nice mic.
But I bought three used ones in excellent condition for about $500 USD each.
Haven't looked lately, but when I was buying, good used models were easy to find. YMMV.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Thank you all guys for the answers.

I think the decision is between the TLM 102 and the AT4050. I also heard loads of good things about the AT4047, everyone is talking about it as a really warm microphone. What do you think about it?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gians View Post
Thank you all guys for the answers.

I think the decision is between the TLM 102 and the AT4050. I also heard loads of good things about the AT4047, everyone is talking about it as a really warm microphone. What do you think about it?
I prefer the AT4050 myself. They're pretty similar though. The single pattern version of the 4047 is pretty close in price to the 4050 so I'd grab the AT4050 myself. Better yet, grab 2 used if you can find them for $400 each.

Last edited by Dohreetoh; 4 weeks ago at 02:23 AM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
Lives for gear
 
dickiefunk's Avatar
4047 is a very nice mic but the highs sounded slightly odd on the particular vocalist I tried it on.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
Lives for gear
 

With a budget of $1000,00 there's ample choice, especially if you include used microphones.
You could even find a nice tube microphone if that tickles your fancy.

In any case, from a low end point of view (the section we're in) this could even be called a luxurious position.


TLM102?
Nah.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by legato View Post

TLM102?
Nah.
why though?
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