#1
So, in the near future, I will be picking up new studio gear so I can record my music myself. So far, you guys have been pretty rad and helpful in teaching a recording n00b the basics, and now I ask for more advice.

I will be picking up an SM57 mic by default for recording electric guitar.

But I've decided I should also invest in a condenser mic for vocals and acoustic guitar, as I've heard it it especially recommended for recording acoustic guitar.

The problem is, I'm having a hard time deciding which mic to buy. I'm on somewhat of a budget, but at the same time, also think I should learn more about recording properly before I go buy an uber-expensive piece of gear. I'm willing to spend up to $150 if need be, but am aiming for somewhere between $100-$150. I'm considering mics under that range as well, but kind of feel that the given price range will get me a much better mic than something under $100.

A few I've looked at are the MXL9090 (on sale super cheap right now, $70), the Audio-Technica at2020, and the Nady SCM 1000 (MAYBE the tcm-1100). What would be the best choice out of those?

Also, can anyone comment on the effects of a tube based condenser mic? or tube pre-amp for a mic? does it make a big difference?

And lastly, the audio interface I plan to buy is the Presonus Inspire. This will sound pretty n00bish, but since I hear about it's firewire interface, does that mean it's better for a Mac than a PC? And is there a point in changing my sound card? or does the audio interface take care of that for me?

Thanks
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#2
You do not need to change your sound card. Check out these mics for your condensers good quality for the price.

http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/MXL-MXL-990MXL-991-Recording-Microphone-Package?sku=273166

A mac or PC with firewire will work. They will essentially run the same. However there might be some firewire chipset issues I have heard about with some Presonus products which is actually what made me go with USB. I will upgrade once I have a space to record drums.
Originally posted by arrrgg
When my grandpa comes over to visit, after his shower, he walks around naked to dry off
#3
There's no need to change the soundcard, the Presonus bypasses your stock card and acts as a sound card.

As for the mic, the at2020 you mentioned is a good choice, and I also highly recommend the Studio Projects B1. Inexpensive, with a great sound for the price. I would stay away from Nady, they have a horrible rep.
There is poetry in despair.
#4
Hmm. About the Firewire thing. I only have USB Ports on my computer. Does the Inspire only come in a Firewire version? or?

And what might some of the advantages/disadvantages of some of the mics recommended to me? Obviously, the MXL 990/991 set gives you 2 mics for $100, but is it really going to compare quality wise to slightly more expensive units such as an at2020 or SP B1? I'm pretty much as open to suggestions as possible atm, but I have to say, as tempting as a cheap set is, I'm kind of skeptical, haha. Quality over quantity is my main concern.

And any word on tube condensers or tube pre-amps?

(Thanks for the help so far!)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
#5
If you don't have a firewire port, and you're sold on Presonus, I'd recommend their Audiobox USB. It's basically a USB version of their Firebox, which is a great interface for the money.

As for the microphone, I'll add my recommendation for the MXL 990/991 pack. Certainly there are better mics out there, but for the money, it's a killer set. And regarding the SM57, it's a very popular workhorse mic, but you might also consider an Audix i5, or Sennheiser e609. All three are high SPL rated dynamic mics, and right around the same price, but I personally prefer the i5 and e609 over the SM57.

As for a preamp, it's not a vital thing for you to get if you get an interface with built in preamps. However, an outboard preamp will often provide you with a better overall sound than many interface's onboard preamps. As for tube preamps, if it's a relatively good one with good quality tubes, you should definitely notice some difference.
#6
If you don't have Firewire, then I can recommend the EMU 0404 USB interface. It's USB 2.0, which is fast enough (actually faster than Firewire 400) and is a good unit for the price.

Personally, I'd rather go for the more expensive microphone here. The MXL kit is good for the price and I know you can get some good sounds recording acoustic guitar using them both at the same time, but I wouldn't be so confident in their individual performance as I would the AT2020 OR SPB1.

As for tubes, they really only come into play when the tubes are high quality. I think at the level of your budget, you won't really notice a difference. The preamps on the EMU will certainly be more than accurate. You can always upgrade later if you feel the need.
There is poetry in despair.
#7
Yeah, I'm kinda leaning towards a slightly pricier condenser mic, as this is gear I will probably be using for a little while. Will something like the AT2020 be good for both acoustic and vocals? What's the difference between the large diaphragm condenser pics? and the really thin ones? I'm guessing the large ones give a warmer sound?

Also, I was looking at the Audiobox USB, and the E-MU 0404, and considering them, but I have two concerns with each..

- The Audiobox USB does not appear to have 1/4 inch input jacks (I'd like a unit that can be used to record bass direct-in, if possible)
- Some of the reviews I've read on the 0404 complain about overly sensitive gain controls on the preamp, or people complaining about driver/installation issues (although it seems almost all lower end units get flack for this, especially from Vista users).

If it helps, I'm running Windows XP, a Core 2 duo processor, and 2 GB of RAM
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
#8
The Audiobox actually has combi plugs, which when an XLR plug is inserted, uses the mic preamp, and when a 1/4 is plugged in, acts just like a normal 1/4 jack, so you're covered there.

Between EMU and Presonus, personally I would lean toward Presonus pretty much everytime. Just my opinion.

As for the AT2020, it's a good mic that I'm sure you'd have no complaints about, though it's about on the same level as the MXL990. AT has a 2020/2021 pack, much like MXL's 990/991 pack, and if I remember correctly, they sell for around the same price. And in side by side tests with the AT2020, the MXL990, and the AKG Perception 100, they all performed very comparably.

As for USB 2.0 being faster than Firewire 400, on paper that's true. USB 2.0 runs at 480 mbps, while Firewire 400 runs at 400 mbps, hence the name. However, the bandwidth and the way they transfer is not the same, and Firewire has a distinct advantage, which is why there are many Firewire 400 interfaces available which are perfectly capable of streaming 8 or more tracks simultaneously, while USB 2.0 can only realistically do 2 tracks.
#9
^You're right about the bandwidth, but that doesn't really come into play until you start recording more than 2 tracks. Firewire doesn't really have an advantage for 2 input interfaces, not in the same way it does for 4 or 8 ins.

And the Presonus interface doesn't list itself as being USB 2.0, which makes me think that it isn't (otherwise it would probably brag about it). This would make it less preferable than the EMU, which I know is 2.0. With USB 1.1, you have a lot more chance of latency, which is not desired...
There is poetry in despair.
#10
The Audiobox is a pretty new product, and USB 1.1 has been antiquated for a long time now, so I'd have to assume it's 2.0 by default, but I'll do some checking and see what I can find.

*EDIT* I did some checking and looked at some reviews, and still couldn't find a specification, so I sent an email directly to Presonus to get a definitive answer. I'll post when I hear back from them.
Last edited by Matthias King at Feb 13, 2009,
#11
I own the E-mu 0404 and have not had any driver issues although I am running it on a mac. The preamps are fairly sensitive but overall it is a great sounding interface.
Originally posted by arrrgg
When my grandpa comes over to visit, after his shower, he walks around naked to dry off
#12
Quote by Matthias King
The Audiobox is a pretty new product, and USB 1.1 has been antiquated for a long time now, so I'd have to assume it's 2.0 by default, but I'll do some checking and see what I can find.



There are a lot of inexpensive USB interfaces still using 1.1 though.
There is poetry in despair.
#13
I think I'm just going to buy a PCI card w/firewire ports on it. I checked online, most aren't very expensive at all (and it would probably be cheaper to do that and buy the Inspire than the E-MU, as I've found the Inspire as low as $150).

According to the Audiobox specs I found, it's compatible with either USB 1.1 or 2.0, making me think it's designed as a USB 1.1 unit.

I think it's time to just go firewire already
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
#14
Well, my assumption was incorrect. I got word back from Presonus that it's 1.1. Needless to say, I was pretty surprised to hear that, but what can you do.

Regarding the firewire card, that's probably a very sound investment. They are cheap, and the firewire interfaces are the way to go. At least until we start seeing the USB 3.0 stuff start showing up.