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Old 04-21-2010, 03:28 PM
usb_chord usb_chord is offline
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Default Warm and quiet mic(s) for recording acoustic guitar. (approx. 1k budget)

Hi, everyone. Looking into buying a nice mic or two for recording high quality audio for youtube videos. I always read people mentioning how overly bright or noisy some microphones can be. Could you all give me some suggestions around 1k and below? Thanks a bunch, everyone.
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Old 04-21-2010, 05:06 PM
Fran Guidry Fran Guidry is offline
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This may or may not help, but let me offer you a chance to compare some microphones and see how different they sound. These are all recordings of the same performance, with the mics carefully placed as close to the same spot as possible, all using the same preamp, and all carefully level matched.

http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/audio/20090626-F.wav
http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/audio/20090626-G.wav
http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/audio/20090626-H.wav
http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/audio/20090626-I.wav

These mics range in price from $150 to about $1800. Some small diaphragm, some large. All are cardioid.

Do any of these sound amazingly better than any other? Do any of them sound terrible?

Fran
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Old 04-21-2010, 05:58 PM
Bob1131 Bob1131 is offline
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One of the quietest (in terms of internal noise) mics available today is a Rode NT1-A. It is a large diaphragm condenser that delivers a clean, natural sound. It retails below 400 bucks, so it is well within your budget and would leave room for a nice preamp for it!
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:19 PM
dmoss74 dmoss74 is offline
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the mic pre will be as determinate in the "warmth" of the sound as a mic will, maybe more so. if you want color added, there are many options, but if 1k is the budget, then you will have to compromise on one end or the other.

as far as mics go, an akg c 414 is venerable. so is the nuemann km-184. a good pre would be the grace units, either the one or two input models. you could get a grace 101 for about half your budget, and look for a used km-184 or 414. you could get lucky.

another thing. never underestimate the ability of any mic to sound decent, if the recording environment and technique are up to snuff.

Last edited by dmoss74; 04-22-2010 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:25 PM
dmoss74 dmoss74 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fran Guidry View Post



These mics range in price from $150 to about $1800. Some small diaphragm, some large. All are cardioid.

Do any of these sound amazingly better than any other? Do any of them sound terrible?

Fran
to my ears, they appear to get better in quality as they go from top to bottom. i would assume the last one is definitely a LD condenser.

i am curious what guitar you are playing? it sounds a lot like one i have.

nice job for comparative listening. playing was good, and the engineering was very usable for its purpose.
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Old 04-21-2010, 09:52 PM
usb_chord usb_chord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fran Guidry View Post
This may or may not help, but let me offer you a chance to compare some microphones and see how different they sound. These are all recordings of the same performance, with the mics carefully placed as close to the same spot as possible, all using the same preamp, and all carefully level matched.

http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/audio/20090626-F.wav
http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/audio/20090626-G.wav
http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/audio/20090626-H.wav
http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/audio/20090626-I.wav

These mics range in price from $150 to about $1800. Some small diaphragm, some large. All are cardioid.

Do any of these sound amazingly better than any other? Do any of them sound terrible?

Fran
I'm pretty surprised that with such a large gap in price difference, my ear really didnt single anything out as "bad". However, if I were forced to choose, I would say that the 2nd one was my least favorite. The 4th one sounded the best to my ears. If my ears aren't really justifying it, I can't see a reason to buy an expensive mic. .
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Old 04-21-2010, 09:53 PM
usb_chord usb_chord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmoss74 View Post
the mic pre will be as determinate in the "warmth" of the sound as a mic will, maybe more so. if you want color added, there are many options, but if 1k is the budget, then you will have to compromise on one end or the other.

as far as mics go, an akg c 414 is venerable. so is the nuemann km-84. a good pre would be the grace units, either the one or two input models. you could get a grace 101 for about half your budget, and look for a used km-84 or 414. you could get lucky.

another thing. never underestimate the ability of any mic to sound decent, if the recording environment and technique are up to snuff.
Thanks for the info. I learned a few things here!
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Old 04-21-2010, 09:54 PM
usb_chord usb_chord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob1131 View Post
One of the quietest (in terms of internal noise) mics available today is a Rode NT1-A. It is a large diaphragm condenser that delivers a clean, natural sound. It retails below 400 bucks, so it is well within your budget and would leave room for a nice preamp for it!
Thanks, Bob. I'll add it to the list!
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  #9  
Old 04-22-2010, 12:16 AM
landru64 landru64 is offline
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check out the m-audio sputnik
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  #10  
Old 04-22-2010, 03:42 PM
Fran Guidry Fran Guidry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmoss74 View Post
to my ears, they appear to get better in quality as they go from top to bottom. i would assume the last one is definitely a LD condenser.

i am curious what guitar you are playing? it sounds a lot like one i have.

...
I'll send you the key in a PM, I try to keep the key a secret so people can listen without confirmation bias.

The guitar is a Martin OM-18GE.

Fran
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  #11  
Old 04-22-2010, 03:46 PM
Fran Guidry Fran Guidry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usb_chord View Post
I'm pretty surprised that with such a large gap in price difference, my ear really didnt single anything out as "bad". However, if I were forced to choose, I would say that the 2nd one was my least favorite. The 4th one sounded the best to my ears. If my ears aren't really justifying it, I can't see a reason to buy an expensive mic. .
There _are_ reasons to spend more for a mic - things like build quality, self-noise, consistency, reliability, and, for a commercial studio, name recognition.

But for those of us recording at home we can get some pretty wonderful results with a reasonable investment.

I'll PM you the key to the clips.

After studying and experimenting and recording at home for a number of years now, I've come to the conclusion that decent quality switchable large diaphragm mics are good place to start. This style of mic was only produced by a few high end manufacturers a few years ago, and the AKG 414, for instance, was the low priced spread in those days. Now we have decent multi-pattern LD mics under $200.

The reason I prefer switchable mics is the extra flexibility that comes with the multi-pattern feature. The common advice that "SDs are for instruments and LDs for vocals" falls into the category of bad information given weight by constant repetition on the internet. As is the idea that LDs are "warm" and SDs are "bright" as a category.

I would also caution that a preamp might not be the best place to look for a "warm" sound. A preamp at its heart should not color the sound at all, and in my experience it's much harder to hear a real difference between level matched preamps operating in their linear range than it is to hear a difference in mics. I've compared preamps from $150 to $1500 and I'm not hearing any detectable difference in double blind level matched comparisons.

As with mics, this doesn't mean there's no reason for spending more on a preamp. There are issues of build quality, reliability, resale value, ergonomics, and more. But if I were to run across a preamp that has a distinctive sound, I'd call it broken.

Fran

Last edited by Fran Guidry; 04-22-2010 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 04-22-2010, 07:26 PM
DupleMeter DupleMeter is offline
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Warm and quiet:

First thought was the TLM 193 - but I don't know what they go for these days. It is very quiet and is a bit more tame than other Neumanns.

The KM184 is very nice, but has what I consider a gentle rise in the high end. I call it warm, but articulate...but not bright.

The Beyerdynamic MC930 is very warm and flat - and well within your price range. Some may say even a bit "flubby" at times, which is why I prefer the KM184.

If you don't want the hyped top end, I'd stay away from the cheap chinese imports. They all tend to have a strident top end (IMO).

A personal note on the AKG C414s...the new ones (ever since Harmon bought out AKG) have been a bit brighter/harsher sounding to my ears than the classic 414s. Maybe try to buy an older one.

For about $600 look at the DPA 4090/4091. It's an omni, so a good room is must. Definitely warm and detailed, perhaps a bit noisier than some others...but most good SDC omnis have a noise spec that seems high but specs can be misleading. DPA has a wonderful reputation in the high-end market.

HTH
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  #13  
Old 04-22-2010, 08:54 PM
Ty Ford Ty Ford is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usb_chord View Post
Hi, everyone. Looking into buying a nice mic or two for recording high quality audio for youtube videos. I always read people mentioning how overly bright or noisy some microphones can be. Could you all give me some suggestions around 1k and below? Thanks a bunch, everyone.
Get this one: http://www.pssl.com/MXL-SP1-Condense...hone-With-Clip

Regards,

Ty Ford
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  #14  
Old 04-22-2010, 09:07 PM
usb_chord usb_chord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fran Guidry View Post
There _are_ reasons to spend more for a mic - things like build quality, self-noise, consistency, reliability, and, for a commercial studio, name recognition.

But for those of us recording at home we can get some pretty wonderful results with a reasonable investment.

I'll PM you the key to the clips.

After studying and experimenting and recording at home for a number of years now, I've come to the conclusion that decent quality switchable large diaphragm mics are good place to start. This style of mic was only produced by a few high end manufacturers a few years ago, and the AKG 414, for instance, was the low priced spread in those days. Now we have decent multi-pattern LD mics under $200.

The reason I prefer switchable mics is the extra flexibility that comes with the multi-pattern feature. The common advice that "SDs are for instruments and LDs for vocals" falls into the category of bad information given weight by constant repetition on the internet. As is the idea that LDs are "warm" and SDs are "bright" as a category.

I would also caution that a preamp might not be the best place to look for a "warm" sound. A preamp at its heart should not color the sound at all, and in my experience it's much harder to hear a real difference between level matched preamps operating in their linear range than it is to hear a difference in mics. I've compared preamps from $150 to $1500 and I'm not hearing any detectable difference in double blind level matched comparisons.

As with mics, this doesn't mean there's no reason for spending more on a preamp. There are issues of build quality, reliability, resale value, ergonomics, and more. But if I were to run across a preamp that has a distinctive sound, I'd call it broken.

Fran
Really insightful read! Thanks a bunch, Fran.
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  #15  
Old 04-22-2010, 09:13 PM
usb_chord usb_chord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DupleMeter View Post
Warm and quiet:

First thought was the TLM 193 - but I don't know what they go for these days. It is very quiet and is a bit more tame than other Neumanns.

The KM184 is very nice, but has what I consider a gentle rise in the high end. I call it warm, but articulate...but not bright.

The Beyerdynamic MC930 is very warm and flat - and well within your price range. Some may say even a bit "flubby" at times, which is why I prefer the KM184.

If you don't want the hyped top end, I'd stay away from the cheap chinese imports. They all tend to have a strident top end (IMO).

A personal note on the AKG C414s...the new ones (ever since Harmon bought out AKG) have been a bit brighter/harsher sounding to my ears than the classic 414s. Maybe try to buy an older one.

For about $600 look at the DPA 4090/4091. It's an omni, so a good room is must. Definitely warm and detailed, perhaps a bit noisier than some others...but most good SDC omnis have a noise spec that seems high but specs can be misleading. DPA has a wonderful reputation in the high-end market.

HTH
Thanks, Duple. You mentioned having a good room being a must for the omni. All rooms (including the one I'm recording in) are carpeted. Would certain mics tend to work better in this type of environment than others?
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