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Old 11-18-2019, 11:04 PM
foxo foxo is offline
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Default Low budget recording

So my friend and I are recording another album. I think his vocal mic is perfectly adequate but the instrument mic is a cheap £20 Stagg one that leaves a lot to be desired. Weíve been using my Baggs Anthem pickup combined with the Stagg mic aimed at the 12th fret but I still think the guitar sounds a bit artificial.

Is there a mic around the £100 mark that could offer a significant improvement? Even better if it can be used for vocals too - I donít know how this works really, my friend is the recording buff. Iím just trying to help out by coughing up towards the recording costs but it would be nice if I could get some use out of it at home too.

Hereís an example of our recordings where I think the guitar audio quality isnít up to scratch:



I think on the fingerpicked stuff I get away with it somewhat:

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Old 11-18-2019, 11:28 PM
foxo foxo is offline
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Forgot to mention thinking Shure SM57 perhaps? I don’t really know whether I need a dynamic or a condenser mic.
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Last edited by foxo; 11-19-2019 at 02:33 AM.
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:42 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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What are you plugging into to record? Does it have phantom power?

A LDC (large diameter condenser) mic will give you the most 'bang for the buck' and can be used for both vocal and guitar.

Assume you are in the UK, I looked at the Thomann website.
AT2020: https://www.thomann.de/gb/audio_technica_at2020.htm
XE 1XS: https://www.thomann.de/gb/se_electronics_x1s.htm
A little more than your budget:
AT2035: https://www.thomann.de/gb/audio_technica_at2035.htm
AKG P420: https://www.thomann.de/gb/akg_p420.htm
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:44 AM
Ncbandit Ncbandit is offline
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A large diaphragm condenser mic works good on vocal and acoustic guitar recordings. I have had good results using a $50.00 Behringer C-1, but the difference is definitely noticeable when I moved up to the AKG C-214.

There is a lot you can do to improve it with EQ and reverb etc. once in your DAW.
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:12 AM
foxo foxo is offline
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Thanks for advice. I’ve actually already ordered the SM57 after talking to my friend, he seemed to think it would do what we’re looking for. I don’t know about the phantom power issue, in all honesty it’s the first I have heard of it today having never researched microphones before.

I notice absolutely all the recommendations are condenser mics - why is this? Should I be using two condenser mics in your opinion, one for vocals and one for guitar? Did I screw up getting the SM57? I do not want to record vocals and guitar separately ever. As I say the mic he is using for vocals is good as far as I am concerned.

I’ll probably pick up a condenser mic later on so I now have my own home studio but this will require a lot of research as I will need an audio interface and probably a decent laptop to be honest as I don’t have space next to my desktop, so we’re talking well over a grand to get it all setup.
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Last edited by foxo; 11-19-2019 at 08:30 AM.
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:56 AM
Ncbandit Ncbandit is offline
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The SM57 is a dynamic microphone and doesn't need phantom power to work. I have never used one for recording vocals but I know that some people do. They are also good for recording amps and snare drums.

A condenser mic will not work without phantom power. You can buy a phantom power box on Ebay for under $10.00 but most audio interfaces have them built in.

Condenser mics are super sensitive which make them great for acoustic guitars because they pick up everything, but since they do it is hard to get a clean recording. Pick noise and finger slide noise etc. become a problem.

This is why I always record the guitar and vocals separate so I can get many takes of each to get a perfect final result.

You can get a decent audio interface for under $200.00. I use a Line 6 UX2. I also use my 10 year old desk top and have no problems running my DAW Reaper. It works fine even though I also have a lot of MIDI tracks.

Last edited by Ncbandit; 11-19-2019 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ncbandit View Post
The SM57 is a dynamic microphone and doesn't need phantom power to work. I have never used one for recording vocals but I know that some people do. They are also good for recording amps and snare drums.

A condenser mic will not work without phantom power. You can buy a phantom power box on Ebay for under $10.00 but most audio interfaces have them built in.

Condenser mics are super sensitive which make them great for acoustic guitars because they pick up everything, but since they do it is hard to get a clean recording. Pick noise and finger slide noise etc. become a problem.

This is why I always record the guitar and vocals separate so I can get many takes of each to get a perfect final result.

You can get a decent audio interface for under $200.00 I use a Line 6 UX2. I also use my 10 year old desk top and have no problems running my DAW Reaper. It works fine even though I also have alot of MIDI tracks.
Some very good condenser mics have battery compartments built in and work just fine without phantom power. The AKG C1000 and Rode NT-3 are two that come to mind.

The SM57 is a great mic to use for live performance but a small diaphragm condenser will sound significantly better in many situations. If you're using a mic that sounds "better" because it rejects background noise then it will also be less sensitive to your instrument.

I recommend the AKG Perception 170 as a very good small diaphragm condenser at the low end of the price spectrum.
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:24 AM
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Ok, you’ve talked me out of the SM57, cancelled the order and I am going to get a condenser mic. One capable of guitar and vocals at the same time would be a bonus for my own home use, budget maybe £150? Recommendations much appreciated, thanks for those already posted.

Was thinking of pairing with the Focusrite Scarlett 2I2 possibly
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:50 AM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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Expanding on some of the things brought up already in the thread:

Information on what you are plugging the microphones into would be helpful--that is: the rest of the recording chain.

The SM57 is a very durable and versatile microphone. No one should ever feel bad about having one around.

I listened to the first cut you supplied and it was very listenable. Would someone with different tastes and more equipment have it sounding different? Yes, they could. Would some of those someones make it sound more like an example/goal commercial recording? Also yes. But bottom line (other than a desire to improve one's recording craft, which is admirable but not everyone's desire) is how much improvement brings how much reward in the goals for your music/recordings.

One thing that I'm personally unsure of (so this is not "expert advice"--far from it) is that in common lower-budget situations a less sensitive dynamic microphone might be a better overall choice. As mentioned already, condenser microphones are more sensitive: picking up subtle nuances and better they have a better high-frequency response. So there is an expectations that for vocals and acoustic guitar they are the first choice. And that sensitivity also makes them an expected choice in many "one mid-distance mic" picking up all vocals and instruments.

However, in many situations here (and elsewhere where recording advice is given) we are cautioned that treatment of the room is of paramount importance. A less-sensitive dynamic mic doesn't remove this issue, but I think it may reduce its impact, and also mitigates issues with outside noise, like street traffic outside the room. For the kind of strumming plus electric guitar music of that first song I don't think you loose that much with a decent quality dynamic like the SM57. Again: opinions, some informed by more experience than I have, differ on this.

If you're going to use only a single or a few mics, mic placement is also key, and overrides questions of what mic and what budget for improvement in that area in importance. If you're going to use one mic, it would be best if someone (else, ideally) could fill the "engineer" and/or "producer" role and concentrate on that while the musician(s) concentrate on what is most important: the music itself. In low-budget situations that may not happen. Personally, as I'm the "engineer" and "producer" on nearly all my recordings, I use multiple mics/recording channels* so that I can "fix it in the mix" for things that should never have been an issue in the first place.


*I actually use as few microphones as possible. I almost never mic any keyboards, bass, some guitars, use electronic drums primarily; and other acoustic instruments that would be mic'ed in a "real studio/real recording" like cello, arco bass, violin, sitar, tampura, viola, etc are MIDI tracks. I do like to use microphones on featured acoustic guitar, but I hate to track them live with other instruments, even my vocals (because my vocals are often not very good, and leakage into the guitar mics makes re-tracking them difficult).
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:54 AM
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I would recommend the MXL V67g. You can get it for around $100 and it does a pretty good job on vocals and guitar. Do you have an audio interface for your computer that you like?
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:58 AM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxo View Post
Ok, youíve talked me out of the SM57, cancelled the order and I am going to get a condenser mic. One capable of guitar and vocals at the same time would be a bonus for my own home use, budget maybe £150? Recommendations much appreciated, thanks for those already posted.

Was thinking of pairing with the Focusrite Scarlett 2I2 possibly
The Scarlett 2i2 will power a condenser mic. You'll have two inputs, so you can mic vocals and acoustic at the same time with two mics (or vocals and some other instrument "live" at the same time, or record in stereo, or add the acoustic guitar pickup to the mic'ed acoustic judiciously)--but if you place your one mic right and balance your playing appropriately, you can record both with one mic in one pass.
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:12 AM
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BoneDigger BoneDigger is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxo View Post
Ok, youíve talked me out of the SM57, cancelled the order and I am going to get a condenser mic. One capable of guitar and vocals at the same time would be a bonus for my own home use, budget maybe £150? Recommendations much appreciated, thanks for those already posted.

Was thinking of pairing with the Focusrite Scarlett 2I2 possibly
Send me PM if you don't have an interface. I have a couple sitting around that I don't use. I would be happy to send one to you.
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:26 AM
foxo foxo is offline
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Quote:
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Send me PM if you don't have an interface. I have a couple sitting around that I don't use. I would be happy to send one to you.
Seriously? That is incredibly kind, thank you.
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
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Seriously? That is incredibly kind, thank you.
Yep, just send a PM.
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Old 11-19-2019, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
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Seriously? That is incredibly kind, thank you.
Here's what I have. Since you are out of the states, you'll just need to pay shipping.20191119_122052.jpg
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