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MusicDFW.com Mic Shootout: 17 Mics (Vocals) Condenser Microphones
Old 23rd December 2010
  #1
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MusicDFW.com Mic Shootout: 17 Mics (Vocals)

Thought that I'd post this in case anyone was interested. Over at our Dallas musicians forum, Dallas/Ft. Worth Musician Forum, we did a mic shootout last weekend. We had a great singer, Michael Schaefer, sing the same two verses seventeen times. I level-matched as best as I could.

I won't list the order/names here but here is a list of the mics:
  • Blue Baby Bottle
  • Rode NT2A
  • Cascade Fathead
  • Sennheiser MD421
  • Shure Beta 58A
  • MXLV67G
  • Shure SM7B
  • ATM41A
  • Neuman TLM49
  • Sennheiser e825 S
  • Beyerdynamic M160
  • Shure SM58
  • Rode NT1A
  • Nady RSM 5
  • AT4050
  • Royer R 121
  • Rode K2
Some are not "classic" vocal mics but we had them and we had time so we through them in the mix!

Files are WAV and can be downloaded here:

MEGAUPLOAD - The leading online storage and file delivery service

I wasn't engineer so I can't tell you anything about pres/converters. Just thought some folks might enjoy and wanted to share!
Old 23rd December 2010
  #2
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Forgot to mention that no reverb/EQ or compression was added - just the raw vox
Old 23rd December 2010
  #3
What a fun test. Took a break from mixing to take notes on each of the vocals before seeing what mics they were. My favorites were pretty surprising.

Loved:
Sennheiser e825s
Shure Beta58
Beyer M160

Hated:
MD421
TLM49
Nady RSM S

It's pretty startling to see that my notes on the MXL V67G and the TLM49 were pretty similar (nasal with presence peak vs. just plain nasal), and that some dynamic mics such as the MD421 had the most offensive presence peaks out of the whole bunch.

Regardless, I'd get a useable vocal out of just about any of these clips. You won't see me running out to the store anytime soon.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #4
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Glad you enjoyed it - I love stuff like this too

I was surprised at the results too in many cases. Here's my original notes:
  • Rode NT2A was my favorite
  • Blue Baby Bottle was my second favorite
  • MD421 would be awesome in a hard/heavy rock song - it had a very up front, nice sound
  • Rode NT1A was really nice as well
  • I didn't like any of the ribbons (no surprise)
  • The MXL V67G sounded great in the studio monitors when we were tracking them but, on mine, it sounded a bit nasally. I'm wondering if it would be a better fit for a different vocalist. Same thing w/ the Neumann TLM 49
  • Least favorite was a surprise: the SM58!
  • Second least favorite was the e825 S
Old 24th December 2010
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You know what else I was surprised by? How boring the SM7B was on my friend Michael's voice. Just wasn't great, certainly not as good to my ears as others that I thought it should beat.
Old 24th December 2010
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Whigham View Post
You know what else I was surprised by? How boring the SM7B was on my friend Michael's voice. Just wasn't great, certainly not as good to my ears as others that I thought it should beat.
I agree. My notes for the SM7 were: "Essence of vocal" meaning mostly mids. It didn't have much top-end air, and no real character on the bottom. Funny thing is, I own an SM7B also and I find the "boring" factor contributes to it taking compression really well. It took me a year of learning how to use it to start liking that microphone.

So, maybe that says something about the test. Since each mic is really meant for different applications, excels at different distances from the source, etc, we can only achieve so much from a test like this. I think it's best to take the mic home and use it for a few months.
Old 25th December 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eascholz View Post
So, maybe that says something about the test. Since each mic is really meant for different applications, excels at different distances from the source, etc, we can only achieve so much from a test like this. I think it's best to take the mic home and use it for a few months.
I know that Michael (the singer) has a lot of live experience but I'm not sure how much studio experience he has. Specifically with respect to the SM7B, that thing needs G-A-I-N to work great - you really have to be up on it. We had the wind screen on too. I wish we could go back and try two of the mics - the SM7B and the TLM49 - but have Michael a little closer to each. I was in the control room and don't know what settings they had on the SM7B. It could be that they had it flat yet it might have sounded better with the bass rolloff and presence boost.
Old 27th December 2010
  #8
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Sinocelt's Avatar
 

To my ears, in that order:
  1. Royer R 121
  2. Rode NT2-A
  3. Neumann TLM 49
  4. Cascade Fathead
The Royer is my favorite. Clean and powerful, without any of the harshness that I find in most other mics. The Cascade isn't like that, of course: it is boxy and wooly; it doesn't have the clarity of the Royer, nor of course of the condensers. But it has kind of an "old recording" vibe that sets it apart.

The Neumann could have beaten the Rode, IMO, if not for some weird frequencies at times. The Rode was more even, while also having great tone; it is clear without being too bright.

And I was really impressed by Michael Schaefer! thumbsup
Old 27th December 2010
  #9
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For me it came out like this:

Loved
1) Blue Baby Bottle
2) Neuman TLM49
3) NT1A
4) NT2A
5) MXLV67G

Didn't Like
1) Sen e825 S
2) Cascade Fathead
3) SM58

I think my next mike just might be the Blue Baby Bottle.
Old 27th December 2010
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdvmi View Post
I think my next mike just might be the Blue Baby Bottle.
I posted this on Dallas/Ft. Worth Musician Forum too that has been pretty common statement there as well!
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