#1
Hey,

So I bought myself a shiny new Steinberg UR824 interface and I'm looking for a mic or two for vocals and drum overhead use since my band's going to start recording soon. It's going to be a ROCK album. Not 80's rock, not indie rock, but rock and roll.

For vocals I've been considering:

Shure SM7B
Audio Technica AT4040
Neumann TLM 103 (absolute TOP of budget, would have to use as an overhead mic)

Now I have used the AT4050 in the past, but I found that my voice was too widespread in the recording (too much in the mix, not standing out). It's kind of concerning. Maybe because my voice is really midrangey to begin with.

For a mono drum overhead I've been looking at:

Audio Technica AT4040
Beyerdynamic M160 (could also use on guitar amps)
Electrovoice 635A (this is more of a specialty thing but...if the Beatles can do it....)

Any opinions or ideas?

Thanks!
Guitars:
Fender Highway One Stratocaster
Gretsch G5120
1973 Japanese Les Paul

Amp:
Vox AC30C2

Effects:
MJM Brit Bender MKII tonebender clone
Boss Blues-Driver
Fulltone Clyde Standard Wah
EHX Holy Grail Reverb
Catalinbread Echorec
#2
I love the SM7. Great mic for vocals, especially if your singer is loud, or particularly dynamic. I've had success with it on a wide range of singers. I usually default to a Mojave MA201 but if I don't think that's working on someone's voice I always go straight to an SM7.

The AT4040 is an awesome mic but I don't think it'll do what you want for a rock vocal mic. You could make it work, of course, but I think you'll have to do less work on the SM7. As for the TLM103....it's a decent mic but it's not great for the money. Neumann slapped their name on it but it doesn't sound like a Neumann to me.

Why a mono overhead, though?
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

Protools HD
Lynx Aurora 16/HD192
Mojave, Sennheiser, AKG, EV etc mics
Focusrite ISA828 pres
Waves Mercury
Random Rack Gear

65 Deluxe Reverb
PRS CE 22
American Standard Strat
Taylor 712
#3
Thanks for the info! Yeah I'm a loud singer so it seems it would work out well.

Also really good to hear an opinion on the Neumann.

I'm thinking of going mostly mono with the overheads because it's simpler, and I can use a great mic for it. If the song calls for lots of fills or a necessity for being mixed wide-spread I could add in another mic like my AT2050. I don't think I'm ready just yet to shell out $2,000 for a couple C414's just for the purpose of drum overheads.
Guitars:
Fender Highway One Stratocaster
Gretsch G5120
1973 Japanese Les Paul

Amp:
Vox AC30C2

Effects:
MJM Brit Bender MKII tonebender clone
Boss Blues-Driver
Fulltone Clyde Standard Wah
EHX Holy Grail Reverb
Catalinbread Echorec
#4
Honestly, I've made some killer drum recordings with a pair of Oktava Mk 012s as overheads with SOMETHING on the kick. I've found that having stereo overheads, especially when toms are involved, makes your mix sound way wider. It's always cool to hear the toms move and the cymbals crash on opposite sides.
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

Protools HD
Lynx Aurora 16/HD192
Mojave, Sennheiser, AKG, EV etc mics
Focusrite ISA828 pres
Waves Mercury
Random Rack Gear

65 Deluxe Reverb
PRS CE 22
American Standard Strat
Taylor 712
#5
If you're doing rock, I'd really consider two overheads. TBH, I don't even think I'd record drums if I had to use a mono track on overheads.

As for the mics, I've owned all three at one point or another:

Shure SM7b - This has been my favorite male vocal mic for the past few months. I wouldn't suggest it to just anyone, though, because it's a gain-hungry microphone that requires a preamp with lots of headroom to power it adequately... you will NOT get the most out of it with your typical interface preamps. That being said - I've heard the Steinberg units have enough gain to power one nicely, but I'm still hesitant... The MR816 was claimed to have 84 dB of gain on its pres, but Sound on Sound's latest review of the UR824 says:

Possibly due to a misunderstanding of Steinberg's stated specifications, a myth has circulated that the MR816's preamps offered a humungous 84dB gain; this figure was widely quoted (including in SOS's own review) but actually referred to the total system gain from mic input to line output rather than that of the preamp per se. The UR824's preamps are identical to those of the MR816, and as just stated, top out at around +60dB gain.


I'd see if you could try out the SM7b first through your preamps, before committing to it.

Audio Technica AT4040 - I suggest this mic a lot, for people on a budget, as you can pick these up for like $150 new and they are a huge bang-for-your-buck at that price... but it's really more of an all-purpose mic, than a specific vocal mic, and since you have the budget to buy something more specific, I'd probably pass. However, two of them would work nicely on overheads... I'm just not sure I'd use it as my only vocal mic, if I could afford something in the range of the Neumann TLM103... It's a pretty flat mic that isn't going to be flattering on many things, but it will give you a nice representation of the source. It does have a presence peak at the top of its range, but most LDCs in this price range do. If you're looking for an AT mic for vocals, I'd suggest the 4047 or 4033. All of the 4000 range of AT mics are pretty different, so you might end up hating one on your voice and loving the other

Neumann TLM103 - This mic gets a pretty bad rap, but I actually quite liked it when I owned one. However, I ONLY got to try it on my own voice, so it's possible that I just really liked it there and might hate it on other voices. I would buy one again as a mic for my own voice alone, but since so many people hate this mic, I'd be hesitant to buy it if I hadn't already tried it. If you're looking at Neumann's range, the TLM102 has a MUCH better reputation for vocals... plus I hear it's killer on overheads; of course... it also helps that it's $400 cheaper than the 103! Be aware though, that mic is freaking TINY... freaked me out the first time I tried one

Something else to consider:

I recently picked up a Stellar CM-5 and CM-6 to replace my Audio Technica AT4060, which I'd grown out of love for... I'm VERY impressed with both of them, so much so, that I may actually be preferring them for singing over my SM7b now, which is a pretty big feat. The CM-5 is a clone of the AKG C12 and the CM-6 is a clone of the Neumann U47. To be fair, I've never used either of these microphones, but TBH, I don't care. I shot these out against a friend's Neumann U87 and Peluso 2247LE (both $2400+ microphones), as well as a Mojave MA-200, AKG C414-EB, Neumann TLM49, Shure KSM44a, Miktek CV4 and Bock 195 and we both chose the Stellar mics over the rest on about 75% of the tracks. For mics that cost $415 and $499, respectively, I'm quite astonished by the results (considering every single one of the mics we put them up against cost 2 or more times more). Granted - Mine both have NOS tubes in them, so I'm not sure how they sound stock (I bought mine used), but you can pick up each tube for ~$30 online. Just something else to add to your radar
Quote by Dave_Mc
I've had tube amps for a while now, but never actually had any go down on me
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maybe you're not saying the right things? an amp likes to know you care.





www.SanctityStudios.com
#6
Thanks so much!

Yeah I'd probably have to rent the SM7 first just to make sure it'll work out with what I've got.

I was also thinking of getting 2 AT4040's for overheads. The Beyer M160 is tough to find online to ship to Canada, and I also wouldn't know exactly what it could do until I got it. And since it's a ribbon mic it'd be even more risky bringing it in from the east coast.

I'm EXTREMELY interested in the Stellar CM-6. The U-47 is THE Beatles mic. $500 is a great price too. Also since they're on the west coast it's a little less risky than shipping it across the continent. Definitely something to think about.
Guitars:
Fender Highway One Stratocaster
Gretsch G5120
1973 Japanese Les Paul

Amp:
Vox AC30C2

Effects:
MJM Brit Bender MKII tonebender clone
Boss Blues-Driver
Fulltone Clyde Standard Wah
EHX Holy Grail Reverb
Catalinbread Echorec