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Rode NT1a Alternative? Condenser Microphones
Old 27th December 2010
  #1
Gear Head
 
tanders12's Avatar
 

Rode NT1a Alternative?

Pretty much decided on the NT1a for my first home studio, recording violin, acoustic guitar, and vocals, but before I pulled the trigger I wanted to see if anyone could recommend a cheaper alternative that has similar performance. Granted it does come with a shockmount, cable, and pop filter so that has to be taken into account.
Old 27th December 2010
  #2
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uncle duncan's Avatar
 

The NT1a is a very bright mic. It may sound nice on your guitar, but it may make your violin sound like nails on a chalkboard. For violin, you'd probably have better luck with a more neutral mic, like a MXL 2003a. If the 2003a sounds too bland on your vocal and guitar, and you can't wake it up with EQ, then get a second, brighter mic like the NT1a and get the $60 mod from the ebay dude who advertises mods for Rode mics. The $60 mod guy smooths out the high end by changing some of the electronic components. The mic remains bright, but with a smoother top end.

In other words, a neutral mic that sounds good on a violin is probably not going to sound good on an acoustic guitar - unless the guitar has a really bright and thin tone like a violin. That's why studios have a collection of mics - to match them to the source. Bright source is complemented by a dark mic. Dark source is complemented by a bright mic. It also depends on your genre. If you're doing acoustic music, you may want a more natural sound. If you're recording music the incorporates drums and bass, you may want a thinner sound, since there will be more for that sound to compete with in the mix.
Old 27th December 2010
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle duncan View Post
The NT1a is a very bright mic.
+1 on this one.

I bought a NT1 as my first studio mic many, many moons ago. And while I still have it I only use it sparingly.

I would look into something more neutral.
Old 27th December 2010
  #4
Lives for gear
Yeh the NT1a is pretty bright, it works better on those sources that are lacking a little top end. That being said, for the price, there aren't a lot of other mic's out there that don't have a hyped top end. The NT1a will probably sound great on your guitar, but like its been said, probably not so much on your violin, and maybe even too bright on your voice if you're voice is particularly bitey. As far as a cheaper alternative with similar performance, i'd probably be looking at the used market. The Rode NT2a is leaps and bounds a much better microphone. The top end is a bit smoother.
Old 27th December 2010
  #5
Gear Head
 
tanders12's Avatar
 

On another forum someone recommended the Naiant XS:

Naiant - Microphones

Never heard of them, but it's only $40.
Old 27th December 2010
  #6
Gear Head
 
tanders12's Avatar
 

MXL 2003a is looking really good.

This seems like a super sweet deal:

MXL Pro Pac Plus - Condenser Microphone Kit PRO PAC PLUS B&H

At that price I'd be fine waiting for it to get back in stock.
Old 27th December 2010
  #7
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GYMusic's Avatar
CAD GXL3000. 3 patterns.
NT-1a single cardioid pattern.
Old 27th December 2010
  #8
Gear Head
 
tanders12's Avatar
 

Will the multi-pattern functionality benefit acoustic guitar/violin/vocal recording?
Old 27th December 2010
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

Around $200?

The Blue Spark looks interesting. The Frequency Response graph is crazy, but it looks like there's a little dip around 400 Hz (That's where alot of vocal low-mid "tubbiness" sits)

AT 2035 are pretty flat up to 6 or 7 kHz.

The AT 2050 should sound pretty similar to the 2035 and give you figure 8 and omni modes in addition to cardioid. That might be especially cool on the violin.
Old 27th December 2010
  #10
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by tanders12 View Post
Will the multi-pattern functionality benefit acoustic guitar/violin/vocal recording?
Probably not...it'll be different, but you'll probably find you'll always be using it in cardiod mode anyway...

Traditionally omni will have less proximity effect, but as the name suggests, it picks up from all around the room, so it will be harder getting a direct sound than with cardiod.

Figure 8 can also be useful in that it picks up directly from the front, and directly from the back in a tightish sort of pattern, so it will pick up the direct sound and the reflections coming from the back, this can be a more natural sound in some cases, but unless your room sound is up to scratch, it may cause more harm than good.

Situations where multipattern mic's are really useful though are if say you have a group of singers, set it to omni and put it in the middle. Or if you have another cardiod mic, you can set the multipattern to figure 8 and use it for mid-side recording...but if you're only using 1 mic, probably better getting just a cardiod one at this price point.
Old 27th December 2010
  #11
Gear Head
 
tanders12's Avatar
 

2 questions about the Pro Pack Plus:

MXL Pro Pac Plus - Condenser Microphone Kit PRO PAC PLUS B&H

1) That mic is the 2003a, not the 2003, correct? (it said that in another thread).

2) Would the 603S be any good for the violin. I'm assuming they're throwing it in there for some reason...
Old 27th December 2010
  #12
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uncle duncan's Avatar
 

Fig 8 mics are useful in a live guitar/vocal situation. You aim the vocal mic up, so that the null of the fig 8 pattern is aimed at the guitar. In other words, the vocal mic hears no guitar, only vocal. You aim the guitar mic down at the guitar, so it does not hear any of the vocal. If you're in the middle of the room, and the room is treated to take away some of the liveness, the reflections from the back side of the fig 8 pattern will be minimal.
Old 27th December 2010
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Damn that sucks- So you can't get a 2003a with the full case and all unless you buy the 603 combo? I just bought the 603 pair and don't really need three (haven't even had time to mod the other two yet ). Looks like the single 2003a is only about thirty bucks less there and it's barebones with the shockmount.

Take Care

PS- @tanders12- I think a rep verified in another thread here that they should all be 2003 'A's now. Not sure on the violin question though.
Old 28th December 2010
  #14
Gear Head
 
tanders12's Avatar
 

Maybe you could sell me the extra 603s. The general consensus seems to be that you can never have too many mics but im still trying to find out what the 603s are good for. How would a 2003a and a 603 set up in stereo on a guitar sound?
Old 28th December 2010
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

The CAD M179 used to get a ton of good talk around here.
Old 29th December 2010
  #16
Gear Head
 
tanders12's Avatar
 

I think id order the pro pack right now if it were in stock, but im still open to suggestions.
Old 29th December 2010
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by tanders12 View Post
Maybe you could sell me the extra 603s. The general consensus seems to be that you can never have too many mics but im still trying to find out what the 603s are good for. How would a 2003a and a 603 set up in stereo on a guitar sound?
For an SDC/LDC combo, I've always been a fan of pointing the SDC at the 12th fret and positioning the LDC over my right shoulder, around ear level, aimed at the bridge of the guitar. The CAD M179 is multipattern and so you could do even more with stereo micing in the fig8 pattern--though you'd probably want an SDC that did omni.

One more point, and not to beat the horse any further, but the NT1A was one of my first LDCs and I'm glad to be rid of it. Not just bright but very cagey sounding. You can barely see the capsule through the headbasket. That just doesn't seem right. I would go with the MXLs. The ones I've played around with sounded pretty good.
Old 29th December 2010
  #18
Gear Head
 
tanders12's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangeland View Post
For an SDC/LDC combo, I've always been a fan of pointing the SDC at the 12th fret and positioning the LDC over my right shoulder, around ear level, aimed at the bridge of the guitar. The CAD M179 is multipattern and so you could do even more with stereo micing in the fig8 pattern--though you'd probably want an SDC that did omni.

One more point, and not to beat the horse any further, but the NT1A was one of my first LDCs and I'm glad to be rid of it. Not just bright but very cagey sounding. You can barely see the capsule through the headbasket. That just doesn't seem right. I would go with the MXLs. The ones I've played around with sounded pretty good.
Hm the 603s omni capsules are cheqp on amazon right now...
Old 29th December 2010
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangeland View Post
For an SDC/LDC combo, I've always been a fan of pointing the SDC at the 12th fret and positioning the LDC over my right shoulder, around ear level, aimed at the bridge of the guitar. The CAD M179 is multipattern and so you could do even more with stereo micing in the fig8 pattern--though you'd probably want an SDC that did omni.

One more point, and not to beat the horse any further, but the NT1A was one of my first LDCs and I'm glad to be rid of it. Not just bright but very cagey sounding. You can barely see the capsule through the headbasket. That just doesn't seem right. I would go with the MXLs. The ones I've played around with sounded pretty good.
I use a very similar combination to record my Martin D35 - an SM81 pointed at the 12th fret, 45 degree angle, and a Studio Projects C1 pointed straight at the bridge from about 18" away. In this case, I think the C1's brightness works really well with the very dark D35 sound...
Old 30th December 2010
  #20
Gear Head
 
tanders12's Avatar
 

Ok well I got my AF4 in the mail and now I'm itching to start recording, so I don't know if I'm patient enough to wait for these to come back into stock:

MXL Pro Pac Plus - Condenser Microphone Kit PRO PAC PLUS B&H

:D

Is it worth waiting for or should I just get something else? I could walk into guitar center right now and get an NT1a for $230. So tempting...
Old 30th December 2010
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Tanders-

I'm headed to Guitar Center in a bit for the "CR" version of that kit that was mentioned in the "Heads Up" thread here yesterday. They're holding one for me. It's actually about thirty bucks less with the sale price if you can get it where you are and you don't mind the weird black finish.

Take Care

George
Old 30th December 2010
  #22
Here for the gear
 
David Araujo's Avatar
 

MCA SP1! Great cheap mic!
Old 31st December 2010
  #23
Gear Head
 
tanders12's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jidis View Post
Tanders-

I'm headed to Guitar Center in a bit for the "CR" version of that kit that was mentioned in the "Heads Up" thread here yesterday. They're holding one for me. It's actually about thirty bucks less with the sale price if you can get it where you are and you don't mind the weird black finish.

Take Care

George
Link to that thread plz :D

EDIT: Is the CR-24 the same as the MXL 2003a?
Old 31st December 2010
  #24
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Series75's Avatar
 

I thought the NT1a was the alternitive?
Old 31st December 2010
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
bpsrepair's Avatar
 

Not a bad choice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tanders12 View Post
Pretty much decided on the NT1a for my first home studio, recording violin, acoustic guitar, and vocals, but before I pulled the trigger I wanted to see if anyone could recommend a cheaper alternative that has similar performance. Granted it does come with a shockmount, cable, and pop filter so that has to be taken into account.
I've been working with the NT1-A for a couple of years now. I have to eq a lot to get acceptable results, but for the $$, its not half bad. I disagree with the guy who said it's really bright. Mine tends to require a boost in the 5 kHz range to sound right with vocals. It's not excessively warm and it isn't the perfect mic for all applications, but if you're looking for inexpensive versitility, you can't go wrong with the NT1-A.

I just bought an MXL Genesis that sounds much better to me for vocals, but I think I'll still go back and use the NT1-A for acoustic guitars.

Overall I think you get a little more than you pay for with the NT1-A which is unusual in the world of recording. Go for it.

Last edited by bpsrepair; 31st December 2010 at 01:07 AM.. Reason: Adding the quote
Old 31st December 2010
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tanders12 View Post
I could walk into guitar center right now and get an NT1a for $230. So tempting...
NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't do it, man. I know it's tempting but for $230 you could pick up a used quality SDC like a SM81. For $250 you might be able to snag a used SM7B if you're patient. You could get an AT4040 for around $200 used--I have its older brother 4050 and it's certainly a quality mic. Get the best mic you can! Seriously, consider going used, more bang for your buck, holds its value, and all that great stuff...
Old 31st December 2010
  #27
Gear Maniac
 
bpsrepair's Avatar
 

NT1-A: not the end all, but it'll get you recording.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangeland View Post
NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't do it, man. I know it's tempting but for $230 you could pick up a used quality SDC like a SM81. For $250 you might be able to snag a used SM7B if you're patient. You could get an AT4040 for around $200 used--I have its older brother 4050 and it's certainly a quality mic. Get the best mic you can! Seriously, consider going used, more bang for your buck, holds its value, and all that great stuff...
The dude's right of course, you might happen across a great used mic. That could happen tonight or three years from now...

I believe in inspiration when it comes to music. You have to do something or you'll lose everything. You could hold out for a couple of years and save your money and you might be able to get a Neumann U87...but who wants to wait their life away like that? If you need a mic to get you started you can make the NT1-A do the job. You will not want it to be the last mic you ever buy, but if you had the $$ to buy a U87, it wouldn't be the last mic you ever wanted either.

Get something in your price range and start recording. You have to start somewhere and If you can afford the NT1-A it's not a bad place. It's the kind of mic that you'll still use even after you have upgraded and upgraded and you have a full cabinet of mics to choose from.

And by the way, I could very likely get 230-250 for my NT1-A on ebay or craigslist or even right here on GS if I wanted to sell it, so don't worry about the resale value. If you get the NT1-A its more than likely that you'll want to keep it even after you upgrade so that you'll have another mic for the situations that it shines in.

If we all waited around till we could afford the studio of our dreams, we'd never create a thing. Get a mic and get started, dude.

The first mic I used on a recording was a Shure SM58. I don't tell everyone that because from where I am now, it's just damned shameful, but by God I recorded. I was able to hear what I'd only been imagining till then. No it wasn't the highest quality, but I'd never trade for the fact that I recorded those songs.

Besides it's 230 bucks. Probably not even a quarter of a paycheck. If you hate it, you ebay it and get something else. Keep looking and learning. Start saving $.

But you don't want to be looking back when you're eighty years old and saying, "Damn, I wish I'd recorded just one of those ideas I had."
Again I say Go for it.
Old 31st December 2010
  #28
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tanders12 View Post
Link to that thread plz :D

EDIT: Is the CR-24 the same as the MXL 2003a?
Oops, sorry. Should be here:

Heads up! GC has the MXL Cr24 set (2 mics, shockmounts, and case) on sale for $149!!!

Yeah, it's supposed to be the same mic rebranded and painted differently for GC or Mars or something. I need to go thank that guy now. heh

George
Old 31st December 2010
  #29
Gear Head
 
tanders12's Avatar
 

Thanks man. If I can track one of those down that's what I'm gonna get.
Old 1st January 2011
  #30
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GordZilla's Avatar
 

Along with the other great suggestions posted here...

Check out the Kel Audio HM-7U. It is a bit more at $350 than an NT1-A but for recording all three sources you mentioned...vocals, acoustic guitar and violin... it does a fantastic job. Also Kel Audio have a generous return policy, so in the unlikely chance you don't like it, you can send it back for full money refund.

There are some clips posted on the Kel Audio site.
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