Mic sale... which to choose?

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Mic sale... which to choose?

Post by hummingbird » Sat May 27, 2006 5:46 am

Hey my local musical instruments etc supply store is havin' a big sale. They have some mics on sale -- I particularly want something that is suited to female vocal recording (my voice in particular is very sweet & high sounding).Which would you recommend.... please talk in layperson's terms, all these technical cardioid terms leave me comotose Here are the choices (in CA funds, slightly more expensive than US)Apex 410 Wide Diaphram Mic ($74)Sennheiser E840 Evolution Cardioid Vocal Mic ($75)Marshall Electronics MXL770 Condenser Mic (99)Audio Technica AT2041SP Studio Microphone Pack-contains 2 20 Series condenser mics ($195)CAD E300 Equitek Multi Pattern Externally Biased Servo-Condenser-transparent, airy uppers and mids, coupled with a rich silky smooth low end ($299, marked down from $459)(On the wish list - Neumann TLM49 Studio Microphone, $1,795)thanks!cheersVikki
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Re: Mic sale... which to choose?

Post by nickbatzdorf » Sat May 27, 2006 6:52 am

You have to try the mics on your voice, Vikki. There's really no way to predict which one is best.Cardioid is a heart-shaped pick-up pattern, meaning it picks up sound mainly in front, rejects it on the sides, and picks up a little on the rear. What's more relevant is whether you choose a character mic with an opinion or a flat mic that attempts to be more purist. My general opinion of budget mics, which of course have compromises, has sometimes been that you tend to focus more on the flaws in flat models and on the color in character models. But you shouldn't go into this with that kind of prejudice - I'm just alerting you to the possibility.Some things to focus on when you listen are detail/clarity, whether the sound is larger than life, and whether it sounds strained/brittle or natural. If the mic sounds like it's adding body, it's good; if it sounds woofy and undefined, that's not good. Be sure to trust your impressions in the first 20 seconds or so, because after a while your brain starts compensating. If a mic sounds too bright at first, trust that; in a minute it will sound normal. Similarly, your brain fills in missing detail after a minute. But don't make the mistake of being seduced by the brightest-sounding mic. Brightness can be good, but it's not always what you want.Also listen for undue noise, which is either a symptom of bad electronics or too weak an output level. That's not usually an issue with condenser mics, but it can be. Finally, check for the proximity effect, which is a build-up of bass freqs when you get close to a directional mic (which cardioid mics are). If the proximity effect sounds uncontrolled at the distance from the mic at which your voice sounds best, then spike it.That's a crash course in micology. Other people may have some other suggestions to add, because I haven't mentioned everything there is to know about mics.

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Re: Mic sale... which to choose?

Post by ernstinen » Sat May 27, 2006 10:14 am

Hi Hummingbird,Nick knows his stuff. Definitely try mics out with headphones you trust at the store. Or if you can, rent them before you buy.You own a Shure 57/58, correct? If so, buy a large diaphragm condenser. The Sennheiser you mentioned is a dynamic mic meant more for the stage.The price you quoted for the CAD E300 is REALLY low! I checked it out online, and something jumped out at me that might be a problem for a female vocalist: "Enormous upfront presence." The Shures have a similar presence peak, which often is a detriment to female vocals. I used to engineer audio for band videos, and if a female singer had a powerful voice, a mic with a presence peak would about blow my ears out. --- I myself always sang into a 57 when gigging, but it fit my smooth, masculine voice. One trick when testing out condenser mics at the store is the "keys" trick. Dangle your ring of keys near the mic, listening for clarity and any frequencies that are artifically boosted.Also, I've read really good things about the Rode NT 1-A. Street price for that mic is about $199. It's got EXTREMELY low self-noise, especially for a mic at that price. I'd definitely check that out as well.Good luck --- let us know what you decide!Ern

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Re: Mic sale... which to choose?

Post by nomiyah » Sat May 27, 2006 2:40 pm

I have heard raves about the Studio Project mic (http://www.zzounds.com/prodsearch?form= ... &cat2=3750), supposedly incredible for the price (under $200). I like what I heard on a male vocal but never tried it on my voice. Has anyone used it or know any useful info? (Sorry I'm squeezing in on your thread Hbird).Nomi

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Re: Mic sale... which to choose?

Post by andreh » Sat May 27, 2006 3:01 pm

H'Bird-You'll hear all kinds of rave reviews and opinions about various mic's, but in the end the only thing that really matters is how the mic sounds on your voice.I was mic shopping awhile back, and I listened to a bunch of mic's. The one that seemed to compliment my voice the best was a Shure KSM32; it had a nice, creamy mid-range and smooth top end. I fell into the TLM103 hype, though, and bought one of those instead...a Neumann for under $1000? I'll take it!Since then the TLM103 has served me well on many occasions...but now that I have more confidence in my own ear, I know that I should've bought the Shure. On my voice, the TLM103 imparts a nasal midrange and a brittle top-end...but on a female singer I recently brought in, who has a Kate Bush-like airy timbre, it was magical.When you audition microphones, try to use a neutral set of headphones whose sound you're familiar with, and monitor through an analog mixer, not a DAW. A DAW can introduce a delay in the signal, so when it mixes with the sound of your actual voice it changes the sound.Also, try to bring someone with you for a subjective opinion. And try to buy from a store that allows returns in case the mic isn't working for you in the context of your recording environment.Good luck!Andre
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Re: Mic sale... which to choose?

Post by nickbatzdorf » Sat May 27, 2006 3:08 pm

Just to be an ass: it compl*e*ments your voice - it doesn't say nice things about it. (I can't help it - this is one of those things that drives me nuts.)And while agreeing 100% with what Andre says, I have to say that I reviewed three Studio Project mics for Mix a couple of years ago and was really impressed. They have none of the cheap mic sound. But they're pretty bright and airy, if I remember right, so you really do have to see whether they work on your voice.Also note that you need to record your voice through a mic to hear what it sounds like, since the sound conducting inside your head makes it impossible to tell what's going on while you're singing.

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Re: Mic sale... which to choose?

Post by andreh » Sat May 27, 2006 4:19 pm

Quote:Just to be an ass: it compl*e*ments your voice - it doesn't say nice things about it. (I can't help it - this is one of those things that drives me nuts.)My mom thanks you, Nick...that would've driven her batty as well. Can we just call that one a typo (even though the "e" is so far away from the "i" on the keyboard)? Andre
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Re: Mic sale... which to choose?

Post by nickbatzdorf » Sat May 27, 2006 5:40 pm

Typo is fine. (I'm an editor - I can't help being this way...)

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Re: Mic sale... which to choose?

Post by nomiyah » Sat May 27, 2006 5:54 pm

That's funny, I always thought the word was compliment (like the potato salad says really nice things about the ribs...).A couple months ago I bought mics at Guitar Center and they don't allow returns on mics. So it's better to know what you're buying.Do any stores let you record yourself on one of their systems so you can listen back? I never tried asking that but I it's a good tip.Thanks for the answers.Nomi

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Re: Mic sale... which to choose?

Post by andreh » Sat May 27, 2006 6:59 pm

Quote:A couple months ago I bought mics at Guitar Center and they don't allow returns on mics. So it's better to know what you're buying.Do any stores let you record yourself on one of their systems so you can listen back? I never tried asking that but I it's a good tip.Thanks for the answers.NomiI've found that GC reps will let you do pretty much anything if you make it clear that you're going to spend some dollars there...or, more, accurately, that you're NOT going to spend any dollars there if they don't let you do what needs to be done to make sure about the gear you're buying.I've even gotten them to say they'd take back a used mic if that's what it'd take to make the sale.Andre
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