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So what's your favorite mic on these vocalists? Any surprises?
Old 1st May 2017
  #1
So what's your favorite mic on these vocalists? Any surprises?

When we let the writers here at Sweetwater take a preview look at the page last Friday, it was amazing to hear all the different opinions and preferences that were exclaimed.

"Man, that ____ mic sounds amazing on Nick!"
"How about that ____ mic? I can't believe it's only $179!"
"Did you have a different favorite on the male versus the female voice? I thought ___ sounded great on him but ___ was the best on her."

It's exciting to give people the opportunity to hear mics they've never heard before. Even for me, there were over half of these mics that I was unfamiliar with. I found a few that definitely interested me.

What was your favorite(s) and why?
Old 1st May 2017
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
The other caveat is that 3 seconds of listening to a mic through youtube is hardly a way to know what the mic can do. At best its a cursory view and at worst useless.
That's why we made the original 24/96K files available at the click of a button. The vocal recordings that are downloadable are close to a minute in length (instead of 10 seconds) and will offer more insight and drastically greater detail when comparing the sound of these mics.

Last edited by Lynn Fuston; 1st May 2017 at 07:41 PM..
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Old 1st May 2017
  #3
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gainreduction's Avatar
 

I quickly listened to many but not all and my conclusion is... I could make any of them work just fine, including the cheapo Behringer.

The Chandler stood out in a good way, as did the Manley ref C.

Dare I say I had high expectations for the 251's and was left underwhelmed.

Very interesting test. Just shows that when the room, placement, preamp and gainstaging are all good... all the mics sound just fine!
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Old 1st May 2017
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by gainreduction View Post
Just shows that when the room, placement, preamp and gainstaging are all good... all the mics sound just fine!
And don't forget the talent. What's in front of the mic is the most important part of all.
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #5
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andersmv's Avatar
 

It's funny. Just for the hell of it, I flipped through a bunch of them just using my macbook speakers. Most of them sounded somewhat similar, but for some reason the chandler mic sounded a lot bigger and better than everything else. Don't crucify me, I'm fully aware it's not how you should do it.... I listened through on Adam's and Barefoot's as well. Just an interesting observation!
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #6
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funka's Avatar
I admit that the bottom end and warmth of the Chandler mic was really nice on male vocals.
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #7
Gear Head
 

Goes to show that any mic can work great in the right hands and right context!

I'm surprised no dynamic mics were used in the shootout? Re-20 vs SM7b anybody?

I didn't like the Soundelux u195 as much as I thought I might. I couldn't find a reliable context for this mic before this shootout and it's one I've been eyeballing. Thank you Sweetwater, although it might have not been in your favor.
Old 2nd May 2017
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thecmarus View Post
I'm surprised no dynamic mics were used in the shootout? Re-20 vs SM7b anybody?
We decided early on to limit the mic selection to just side-address LDCs. That was done to keep the number of mics to a manageable number. Even limiting it to only side-address LDCs, the original list we considered was over 100 mics.
Old 2nd May 2017
  #9
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brucerothwell's Avatar
 

I was surprised that the Avantone C12 sounded as warm and smooth as it did.
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Old 2nd May 2017
  #10
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Plush's Avatar
I was not surprised that a large number of modern mics are in the "very useable" category.

The Chinese mics sounded thinner and more Chinese than the non CHI-COMM mics. Most of the tube mics were remarkably similar.

In short, some of the industry standouts were auditioned and they stood out.

Also many of the mics could be used for a similar result.

Only a few of the best mics in the world were on test.
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Old 3rd May 2017
  #11
Gear Nut
 
Digital Crush's Avatar
Chandler Redd and Ref C on male voc
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Old 3rd May 2017
  #12
I did a blind test for each singer and in the end my favorite between both of them was the Manley Reference.

Last edited by Jediwario1; 3rd May 2017 at 09:39 AM.. Reason: better wording
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Old 3rd May 2017
  #13
Gear Head
 

Did anyone else like the Manley Ref non-Gold better than the Gold?
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Old 3rd May 2017
  #14
I can split my opinion on three categories: unusable, usable, great. Unusable means that I wouldn't use this microphone on this vocalist, not that is unusable in different scenario, but it would just make me work too much to get what I would like to hear. Usable means that I would use it in the mix and be perfectly happy with the results. Great means that I would just have to work less to get it where it's finished. I just listened to the male voice. I'm sure that the result's between usable and great would be mixed if that would be blind test (price tag also forces more radical opinion), but I'm pretty sure "unusable" would stay more or less the same.

So my opinion is:
AKG C214 - unusable - yuck, it's worse than Behringer C1, I used it before and it is really bad sounding microphone
AKG C314 - usable
AKG C414 XLII - usable
AKG C414 XLS - usable
ASTON ORIGIN - unusable - wow that's harsh
ASTON SPIRIT - usable
Audio Technica 4033 - usable
Audio Technica 4047, 4050, 4040 - usable
Audio Technica 5040 - great - dark but not muffled, nice sibilants
Avantone CV12 - usable
Behringer C1 - unusable - but could work great for example on a guitar cab, it sound's like it has built in exciter
Blue Baby Bottle - usable
Blue Bluebird - unusable
Blue Bottle - usable
Bock 251 - unusable - it's too bright to me, I wouldn't like to have to mix it
Bock iFet - usable
Chandler REDD - great - great body, great sibilants, it's quite bright but in a very classy way
Lauten Clarion - usable
Lauten LA-220 - usable
Lauten La-320 - usable
Lauten Oceanus - usable
Manley Gold - usable
Manley Reference - usable
Miktek CV3 - unusable - I don't get the hype behind this microphone, it's very bright but too high in the spectrum
Miktek CV4 - usable
Miktek MK300 - usable
Mojave MA-50 - unusable - eeewww
Mojave MA-201FET - unusable
Mojave MA-300 - usable
Mojave MA-300FET - usable
Neumann TLM49 - usable
Neumann TLM103 - unusable - scratchy sound but midrange is very good, would work on a softer voice
Neumann U47FET - usable
Neumann U87Ai - usable
Rode NT1 - usable
Rode NT1A - usable
Rode NTK - usable
Se 2200 - usable
Se X1S - usable
Shure KSM32 - usable
Shure KSM44 - usable
Soundelux U99 - great
Soundelux U195 - usable
Telefunken AK47 - unusable
Telefunken AR-51 - usable
Telefunken ELAM 251 - unusable - just too bright
Telefunken U47 - great
Warm Audio WA87 - usable

Last edited by cyjanopan; 4th May 2017 at 09:07 PM..
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Old 3rd May 2017
  #15
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brucerothwell's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NJlo View Post
Did anyone else like the Manley Ref non-Gold better than the Gold?
I thought the same thing.
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Old 3rd May 2017
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thecmarus View Post
I didn't like the Soundelux u195 as much as I thought I might. I couldn't find a reliable context for this mic before this shootout and it's one I've been eyeballing. Thank you Sweetwater, although it might have not been in your favor.
I hope that maybe you found one of the other 49 that you might like. ;-)
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Old 4th May 2017
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJlo View Post
Did anyone else like the Manley Ref non-Gold better than the Gold?
I did.
Old 4th May 2017
  #18
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antichef's Avatar
For the female voice I liked the Bock 251 best. I think I liked the Tele 47 best for the male voice, but I need to listen some more.

I was completely sold on the Bock for the female voice when I heard it in the mix. Classy sounding - present and insistent without any harshness, and sits in the mix perfectly, imo. Other mics struggled to some degree with either harshness/stridentness or getting lost in the mix (or both)

I think I'm having more trouble with the male vocal because if I were recording that phrase, I think I would first reach for a good dynamic. I do know the Bock 251 is not my favorite for the male vocal - the highs are too much


And thanks for this - great work!!!
Old 4th May 2017
  #19
Gear Nut
 
beckmule's Avatar
I downloaded the high-res files then compress and eq the hell out of them, that's when you will hear more expensive mic separating them self from the cheap ones IMHO, and I mean the differences isn't subtle. Redd was my favorite,
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Old 4th May 2017
  #20
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I'm either too busy or lazy to do it myself, can't decide which, but someone should download all the files, scramble up the order, name them each for a US State, and repost. Then we'll see. Canola oil is far more popular than rapeseed oil, and I imagine the Chandler Redd would outsell the same exact thing but named New Jersey.
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Old 4th May 2017
  #21
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foldback's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I'm either too busy or lazy to do it myself, can't decide which, but someone should download all the files, scramble up the order, name them each for a US State, and repost. Then we'll see. Canola oil is far more popular than rapeseed oil, and I imagine the Chandler Redd would outsell the same exact thing but named New Jersey.
I agree, a scrambled bunch would be fun, just to let your ears pick out perhaps the three best sounding mic's as you hear them, then find out which they were out of this broad field.

I keep listening and I keep coming back to the Bock 251.

I really wanted to love the Redd mic, it's certainly interesting but the highs sound too far back for me.

None of the Telefunken models grabbed my attention tonally but their ridiculous high prices sure caught my eyeballs.

The Bock 251 is bright but it's also very fat down low, it seems like it would be easy to mix with to me, no need for any high frequency eq at all.

Good music to all!
Old 6th May 2017
  #22
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esldude's Avatar
After listening to the 96 khz downloads:

Chandler REDD by a large margin. Wow. Out of my price range unless I sell all my other mics for this one.

Miktek CV3 is my surprise second choice.

I would mention the SE Electronics XS1 as surprisingly high up my list for such an affordable mike. Also surprised at how good the Avantone CV12 is.
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Old 6th May 2017
  #23
Lives for gear
 

The Chandler Redd Mic that everybody is raving about is too scooped for me on both vocals, but like how smooth and rich it is. I'll check out how it sounds with EQ next. I would like to here it on drums and acoustic guitar too. Still much prefer the Tele 251E which has the right amount of upper mid cut and definition, and is my favorite. (Luckily I own 2 of them ). The Tele U47 is great as a warmer smoother alternative on both male and female. Also like both Manley mics, Soundeluxe 195, and the Mojave 301 is quite nice for a cheaper mic, as are the Rode NTK and Audio Technica 4050.
Old 9th May 2017
  #24
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Sacalait's Avatar
I listened to all of the mics with the female vocalist. Before I listened I figured out the music track was synced so I decided to listen to all the mics with the accompanying track. (I downloaded the 96/24 tracks and listened in my studio).

Like a few have stated, I think all could be made to make a good-sounding recording. I think what set the more expensive mics (not all) apart was the "body" of the sound. Getting a foot or so away from a mic can certainly reduce bottom end. I'd have to go back and identify them but there were a few that had that nice character. I paid attention to the mics I owned and compared them to THOSE mics and was happy to hear there aren't any differences that maybe some eq couldn't bring closer. I'll try the eq challenge later and see if I can get one of my mics close to the top dollar ones.

I guess the real challenge would be if someone could identify a mic just by hearing it and not seeing the label.

Anyway, I applaud Lynn Fuston and Sweetwater for the great work putting this together. It's valuable.
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Old 10th May 2017
  #25
Lives for gear
I'd like to of heard the male demo's done with a vocalist with a really big powerful harmonically complex voice, in my experience it really sorts the expensive LCD's from the cheap ones, because the cheap LCD's on the whole can't resolve the output in a musically pleasing way.
Old 11th May 2017
  #26
Gear Head
Absolutely amazing resource! Thank you Flynn!

Very happy to see the AT5040 included as there is very little media currently available featuring the 5040 and I've been curious about this mic for quite a while. I'm surprised more people aren't raving about it...the AT5040 is my pick for best on the female voc. Stellar clarity and detail despite having a nice, rounded-off feel.

And it's hard to believe the Behringer C-1 came across as nice as it does. Definitely not among the best sounding, but maybe on par with the C214...
I'm also surprised to see the WA-87 getting so much love on these threads...doesn't sound too great to me.
Old 12th May 2017
  #27
Gear Nut
 

I listened to all the mics blindly phrase by phrase with the male vocalist and picked my favorite mics for each phrase. I took the mic names off in my mixer and switched up the order of the tracks every time. I was curious if there would be a common denominator. I ended up picking different mics every time so there was never a clear winner. However, something I was surprised about was not once did I pick a Neumann mic. The other surprise was that I picked the AT4040 as one of my top choices a few times which is one of the cheapest mics in the list. So I may have to pick that one up. It had a high-mid bump that none of the other mics had which was kind of cool when the singer was singing the gentler phrases.
Old 12th May 2017
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcookc View Post
And it's hard to believe the Behringer C-1 came across as nice as it does. Definitely not among the best sounding, but maybe on par with the C214...
Just shows how bad the C214 is
Old 12th May 2017
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacalait View Post
Anyway, I applaud Lynn Fuston and Sweetwater for the great work putting this together. It's valuable.
You're welcome.
Old 12th May 2017
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcookc View Post
Absolutely amazing resource! Thank you Flynn!
You're very fwelcome. It was ffun.

-Flynn Ffuston
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