#1
I have an SM57 and PG48 that I use for most of my recording. Both work great especially with guitar, I can blend the crispness from the SM57 with the shoddy-ness from the PG48. Anyway.

Curious if I should have a condenser in my arsenal as well. I recorded some vocals the other day and they sounded okay but I had to have a lot of gain on the mic. Need a pop filter as well I think.

Any suggestions for a reasonably good condenser mic? Sub $150 dollars USD. If nothing is worth it in that range please let me know.

Also, I presume condensers are better for low-volume sound sources because they are more sensitive. Is that right?
Last edited by Will Lane at Nov 26, 2015,
#2
Mics are just tools. A condenser mic brings flat response and lots of detail to your recordings but it depends on what you are recording. Sometimes a male vocal sounds better with a 57 than a cheap condenser mic. It depends on the music and the vocalist. Condensers are often-but-not-always a hotter signal than a dynamic, but a hot mic or turning up the gain bring you to the same place... 0 VU. Unless your vocalist is standing 20 feet away from the mic, you should always be able to reach 0 VU with a SM57. What job do you need to do that requires a condenser mic?

If cash is burning a hole in your pocket and you just "want one" for no particular reason, buy it.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#3
I work at a radio station and I love using condenser mics for voice recordings because of the clarity you get from them. Idk if they would work as well for singing as they do for spoken voice however....
#4
Quote by Will Lane
Sub $150 dollars USD. If nothing is worth it in that range please let me know.
Nothing is worth it in that price range if you already have a 57.
I mean one would sound a bit different, but I sure as hell won't spend $150 for a sidestep.

If you want to get a condenser mic (or whatever nice mic really) save more money than that.
Name's Luca.

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#5
Quote by Spambot_2
Nothing is worth it in that price range if you already have a 57.
I mean one would sound a bit different, but I sure as hell won't spend $150 for a sidestep.

If you want to get a condenser mic (or whatever nice mic really) save more money than that.
Thanks. Where should my budget be and what do you suggest?
#6
Also have to ask this... What are you plugging it into? You will need phantom power to use a condenser mic. Does your interface have this? Most do, but if not, then you'll need a separate phantom power supply box... probably about $40 or so.

Also, low volume sources can be tricky. By adding a lot of gain, you potentially also add a lot of noise. Dynamics CAN be quieter in that regard, but some condensers are shockingly quiet too.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#8
To answer the question "as is" though, I would suggest getting one. Mics are tools. You've got a couple of screwdrivers. But you still don't have any pliers, saws, wrenches, etc. I think in the time I have been recording (probably 15 or more years now?), I have only kept a lead vocal recorded with an SM58 once. Once. But it was the best mic for that singer in that situation, and for that, it beat the pants off everything else I put in front of her. (and I am NOT a gear snob)

I think you WILL notice a difference between something like a Rode NT1 (to pick something in that price range.... it is one of the "ridiculously quiet" mics too) and the SM57. "Better" and "worse" are subjective and context-dependent, but you will certainly notice a difference, and that difference will be one that you will probably choose fairly often for vocals.

The only caveat I would say there would be that you should expect to grow out of it. It's a good mic, but there are others out there that will beat the pants off it - though they will cost many times the price. It was good enough for Amy Winehouse.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#9
Quote by Will Lane
Thanks. Where should my budget be and what do you suggest?
You want versatility on the cheap?
Get an sE2200a II.
Less cheap?
AKG C414 or sE4400a.

You want to record male vocals and want something warm?
Get an avantone CV12 or an sE2200T.

You want to get a very good result and record an acoustic guitar?
Get a matched pair of neumann k184.

Depends what you wanna record and how much you wanna spend.
Name's Luca.

Quote by OliOsbourne
I don't know anything about this topic, but I just clicked on this thread because of your username :O
Quote by Cajundaddy
Clue: amplifiers amplify so don't turn it on if you need quiet.
Quote by chrismendiola
I guess spambots are now capable of reading minds.
#10
AT2020 is great at its price point, that would be my first suggestion. AKG C3000 if you can still find one either new or used, they're great mics for vox and sound good on amplified guitar as well. I record my Orange Tiny Terror with it all the time, mixing SM57 and that one. Great on vocals and acoustic guitar as well!
#11
you can hear ice melting in your drink with a condenser mic you don't get to record level with a sm58,. I got a cheap CAD condenser mic with a set of headphone to find this out but it was abit too bright so got a samson C01 much better warmer there pretty cheap ,.

( but i use a Shure SM7B now it's great of vocal, I use the C01 for room recording)
Last edited by T4D at Dec 1, 2015,
#12
Quote by Will Lane
I have an SM57 and PG48 that I use for most of my recording. Both work great especially with guitar, I can blend the crispness from the SM57 with the shoddy-ness from the PG48. Anyway.

Curious if I should have a condenser in my arsenal as well. I recorded some vocals the other day and they sounded okay but I had to have a lot of gain on the mic. Need a pop filter as well I think.

Any suggestions for a reasonably good condenser mic? Sub $150 dollars USD. If nothing is worth it in that range please let me know.

Also, I presume condensers are better for low-volume sound sources because they are more sensitive. Is that right?


My experience is that any cheap condenser mic ( i.e. any mic under $500) is a basically waste - you get better results with an sm57 or any other decent dynamic mic, especially if you are recording in a room that isn't properly treated.

I burned through and rented a bunch of condenser mics in the $150 price range and they are basically all terrible and shrill. Save your money.

Cranking the gain on your mic doesn't mean it's not a quality mic. Don't be afraid to crank the gain to ten as long as your interface doesn't have noisy preamps.
Last edited by reverb66 at Dec 2, 2015,
#13
I have to beg to differ. I had a Rode NT1 in a room that wasn't properly treated when I first started out. The difference between that and recording with, say, an SM58 was night and day.

Now, that doesn't mean the NT1 is a much better mic on all things. I had a singer once who sounded strident through the NT1, so I tried her with a Sennheiser e835. Still strident. I tried her, honest to goodness, through an EV RE-20 (for kick drums, and for that "big radio voice.") She still sounded strident. I tried a couple others. Strident. As a last resort, I said a quick Hail Mary and threw up the SM58 and it was *perfect.*

That said, it is the only time I have ever did a keeper vocal using the SM58.

Anyways, that was years ago. You can get more "bang for your buck" these days than you could ten years ago.

Even the "dynamic vs condenser for vocals" is a loaded conversation. I sometimes choose a dynamic mic (SM7 or Sennheiser MD441) for keeper vocals over my tube condenser mic. (I no longer have the NT1)

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#14
Quote by axemanchris
I have to beg to differ. I had a Rode NT1 in a room that wasn't properly treated when I first started out. The difference between that and recording with, say, an SM58 was night and day.

Now, that doesn't mean the NT1 is a much better mic on all things. I had a singer once who sounded strident through the NT1, so I tried her with a Sennheiser e835. Still strident. I tried her, honest to goodness, through an EV RE-20 (for kick drums, and for that "big radio voice.") She still sounded strident. I tried a couple others. Strident. As a last resort, I said a quick Hail Mary and threw up the SM58 and it was *perfect.*

That said, it is the only time I have ever did a keeper vocal using the SM58.

Anyways, that was years ago. You can get more "bang for your buck" these days than you could ten years ago.

Even the "dynamic vs condenser for vocals" is a loaded conversation. I sometimes choose a dynamic mic (SM7 or Sennheiser MD441) for keeper vocals over my tube condenser mic. (I no longer have the NT1)

CT


I'm not saying they don't sound different, they do - but mostly in a bad way. The problem is that cheap condensers sound brittle and shrill, even on instruments they supposedly excel at, like acoustic instruments. With proper mic placement an sm57 or 58 will be acceptable on just about any source.

On a given singer you can get better results with certain mics, but it's splitting hairs because if a singer can't get a decent tone out an sm57/58, then the singer is the problem. Those mics have been used since the 60's and are still used on professional vocals today. For example, Lana Del Ray tracked the Ultraviolence live of the floor with an sm58.

In any event, that's just my opinion. I sold all of my cheap condenser mics because they didn't hold up.
#15
Maybe we're differing in what we consider a cheap condenser. I've not actually used any of the *really* cheap condensers - Samson, Nady, etc. Even among Behringers, I've only used the ECM8000's, and for what they do, they're very good. Perhaps if I had experience with those, I'd be more critical of them.

The sound of the Rode NT1 - which I would consider a cheap condenser - is very usable. IMHO, much more usable on most lead vocals than a 57/58. Every time - except that once - it was the mic chosen for keeper vocal tracks. Sure, there are better mics. I outgrew mine some time ago. But I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to get into the market for a fairly low-cost condenser.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#16
I have no qualms about the AT2020 - $100 condenser, very good and balanced sound. I guess that would be the "cheap" condenser I am using as a reference.

Personally I actually hated the NT1A on most sources but it worked for some things as it had a cheap harsh thrashy sound. If you want dirty cymbals, or rock vocal it was good. It also sounded good on guitar cabs. Now, far that mics price, there are a lot better options.

I'm also using some cheap MXLs that I bought strictly on a budget, they've worked well on vocals, strings, as room and OH mics, you just have to eq some of the overhyped frequencies.

In some instances I've used SM57 on vocals and it worked better on condensers.

The main thing is to listen with an open mind. Mixing condenser and dynamic is a no brainer, I think. I do it on guitar cabs all the time.
#17
You may want to consider a ribbon mic like the Cascade Fat Head ($129). You can hit these a lot harder than a cheap condenser without the shrill top end.
#18
"why doesn't he just get what we suggest and that be the end of it"

We have an SM86 in the store. It sounded pretty crisp and clear, very little noise. I can get it for about $172 w/tax. Think it is a good deal? I was not able to compare it extensively with the 58, but it sounded about $172 worth of difference. Maybe not, though.
#19
You can buy a used Audio Technical AT4040 for that price and it's one you'd likely keep forever (much better than the plastic sounding Rode NT1A). I've always been surprised when I see people recommending the AT2020 so much, it's a piece of junk IMO. Another one worth looking at would be the MXL V67G, it's half your budget (brand new!) and they are real sleeper mics. One of the few you'll find under the $750 mark that's actually going to have any kind of warmth to it. Plus, a pair of them sound great for drum overheads.
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#20
Quote by axemanchris

Even the "dynamic vs condenser for vocals" is a loaded conversation. I sometimes choose a dynamic mic (SM7 or Sennheiser MD441) for keeper vocals over my tube condenser mic. (I no longer have the NT1)

CT


A lot depends on the singer. I use ribbons on my voice, but not many other people. I also change mics depending on if Im doing lead or backing vocals. It really depends.


I would say try to up your budget a bit and save for a nice condensor. They are SOOO worth it. Theres some great ones 250-400 range. I have a matched pair of M5s that work well for 600-800. Also many stores do rentals so you should try some out. I've rented $500 microphones for a day or two for $20-50. Its a great way to try different equipment.
#21
Scour the used market. You'd be surprised what shows up sometimes.

AT 4050s can be had for just shy of 200 used, which is a surprisingly decent microphone.

To be fair though, it's rare to find a good sounding microphone in the sub 200 range. There are a few outliers, like the AT2020, the Blue Spark, or the sE X1, but the majority will not be optimal. You may not notice it right away but you'll find after time and experience that these mics don't settle well, and have limited uses.
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