View Full Version : Microphone or Mic Pre question
03-24-2004, 01:49 PM
I record singer/songwriters pretty much exclusivly. This involves recording acoustic guitars and vocals. There are usually a few other tracks (sometimes an electric guitar, synth patch or bass).
My sound just isn't as good as I feel it could be and I think it may have to do with the mics or pres I am using. My mixes sound good as far as balance, use of space and eq but I feel that the guitar and vocal sounds (mainly guitar) are not as good as they could be.
I have experimented to death with placement and have definitly improved the sound as much as I can with my current equipment. I think I need a couple of new mics and a mic pre. My budget is very limited and I expect to spent about 500-1000 to begin upgrading my mics and pres.
Ramsa DA7 Mkii with 3 ADAT cards
MOTU 2408 Mkii
PC running Sonar 3, Soundforge 6 and GigaStudio 160
Universal Audio UAD-1
1- Rode NT-1
2- MXL 990's
1- Audio Technica ATM-10a
1959 Martin OO-21
1964 Gibson J-45
1994 Gibson J-45
1975 Guild D-55
What would be a good place to start? Would you suggest upgrading my mics or pres first?
Here is the equipment I am looking at:
TL Audio 5001 (page 174 of 2004 Sweetwater catalog) - 4 channel tube pre.
ART MPA Gold (page 176 of 2004 Sweetwater catalog) - 2 channel tube pre.
I am intriged by the Studio Projects VTB-1 pre (pp 175) as it is inexpensive and I could buy 3 or four of them
For mics I am looking at:
- Shure SM-81
- Neumann TLM-103
- Audio Technica 4040
I recently upgraded all my gear and am really kind of clueless when it comes to the higher end stuff. I have been a tascam/fostex guy for the past 15 years.
Again - I have not been getting complaints form people I record - I just know that I could be getting much better sounds.
03-24-2004, 03:15 PM
I'd start with some good mic's. Maybe look into a 414TLII and a good pencil mic. It might be a tad overbudget as the 414 is $1000 on it's own..but down the road you could get a good pencil mic to use also.
The AT 4040 is a good mic..and would also be a good option. I wouldn't buy a TLM-103..I don't like that mic..especially for what your doing. The SM-81 is a little grainy for your taste..maybe something cleaner like a KM-84/184 or the AKG C451
Then after getting some good mic's you should look into a good pre. Buying a good pre won't do any good if the mic's are less than desirable.
03-27-2004, 07:16 PM
something I go by is to try to update the equipment that's closest to the source first. For instance...the preamp is more importnat than the converters. The microphone is more important than the pre...and the instrument is more important than the mic. Now if you're lucky you might be able to find a way to replace/upgrade the player...which would be more important than the instrument. This is just something that I believe and purchase gear according to...
this theory is somewhat skewed for monitoring. buy the best you can in that department.
03-28-2004, 11:08 AM
Man, I'm crabby today, but the problem is probably with the acoustics of your room first, and then with your mics and the placement thereof.
Preamps and converters (and I own quite a few of my own, by the way) are often seen as a panacea for issues which in reality are a lot closer to the source, namely things like the instrument itself, the player, the room treatments, and so on. Someone says "my sound sucks." Someone else invariably answers "well, you need new preamps or converters." Not so fast, I say.
Your mics may be a weak point. My favorite budget acoustic mics remain the Audio Technica 4033 and 4041, both of which are quite good on many other things as well.
If you haven't sunk at least $600 or so into room treatments, well, then you need to. I don't know if that's the case. But if it is, no amount of gear buying can compensate for it.
Most of the potential gear you list as purchase possibilities isn't very useful in general on acoustic, anyway, with the possible exception of the 4040.
03-28-2004, 01:37 PM
I have spent about $2000.00 on room construction over the past few months. I have also invested in some real traps, auralex foam and a few 'area rugs' on the hard wood flooring.
As I said, I have upgraded all of my equipment (aside from my mics) recently and feel my sound could be improved upon.
The MXL's and Rode are decent sounding mics. I am using very nice instruments, a good board and interface, decent monitors and have a well designed room.
I am looking to improve both the vocal and guitar sounds, as the people I have been recordeing lately are all competant players. I haven't had any complaints about mixes or sound, but I am trying to improve my sound.
I have narrowed it down to a few mics now:
Vocals - Neumann TLM-193
Guitars - Neumann KM-184 or AKG C451b
This will be a bit over my budget, but I can afford to buy either the pair or the 193 at the end of the week, then upgrade the other mics in my studio in about 8 weeks.
Does anyone have these mics and if so, how do you like them? Pros/Cons? Any mics better suited to what I am trying to do?
03-28-2004, 05:49 PM
Have you worked with, rented, or at least auditioned any of the mics you mention?
Just did an acoustic track today with an old KM84 and a 4033, running through my trusty Great River MP-2NV. Sounded great. The 184 is too brash for my ears on acoustic, but other people seem to do just fine with it.
Seriously, if you're hell-bent on buying mics, give the AT 4041 and 4033 a listen. You might actually like them more than the 184 (I do), and you can buy both of them together for the same price as a 184.
03-29-2004, 12:19 PM
One of the mags (Mix, recording musician, or eq) did a sd shootout in a recent issue. It had a picture of all the mics on the cover. They did the Pearl, 184, 4051, 451, scholps, johanson, and THE, I think. It read as very objective, and the reviewer used them as stereo pairs and singly on drums, a-gtr, violin and chello, and some other stuff. That should give you the info to make an informed decision.
It was on the coffee table of the studio I was tracking in this weekend. I will be back Thursday night. If you don't find it by then, post and I will go look for it.
03-30-2004, 05:28 AM
That was Electronic Musician - I read that too. Thanks for the heads up.
03-30-2004, 05:24 PM
Given what you already have, your mics appear to be the weak link. Your budget is $500 to $1,000. You can't do much with that, particularly for three mics (2 SDs and 1 LD). I would suggest one LD for now, and add the SDs later. In the $1,000 range, there are numerous LDs that could work well. Here's a partial list in no particular order (some would be new, others used):
Microtech Gefell UMT 800
Neumann TLM 193
There are others, but the idea is to get a keeper LD for now. Save more $$ and get your pair of SDs later.
03-30-2004, 05:29 PM
Read what they said in the descriptions of the AT vrs the Neuman and the AKG. That should help you in you decision a lot. As to getting a pair of SD's or one LD first, that is your agonizing decision to make. Just think about what you presently have, and what will be upgraded the most, and what you use the most.
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