In the world of audio, there are certain axioms that hold true year after year, regardless of whether you're talking about analog or digital recording. Things like: "Your sound will only be as good as the weakest link in the signal path." And, of course: "Every studio needs at least one really great microphone."

As a matter of fact, given the quality of today's squeaky-clean digital multitracks, you'd better have a great-sounding mic. Of course, every top studio engineer has his or her favorite mics, sometimes several; there might be one mic they like for vocals, another for acoustic guitars, and still another for brass.

It's great to have the luxury of having a number of quality mics to choose from, but many of today's home project studios just don't have the huge budgets required to stock up on specialized mics. So it's all the more important to have at least one exceptional mic that you can count on in just about any application from vocals and acoustic pianos to strings, brass and percussion. That means you need a mic with wide range, natural-sounding frequency response, as well as the ability to stand up to some high sound pressure levels.

Just so happens that the audio pros at Beyerdynamic offer two microphones in their Studio-Group series that are specially designed and engineered for the studio professional, as well as the home recording artist. The MC 740 Multi-Polar Pattern carries a list price of $1599 and features a large diaphragm, gold vaporized double membrane condenser element with five switch selectable polar patterns: Omnidirectional, Wide Cardioid, Cardioid, Hypercardioid and Figure Eight. It also ships with a switchable 10dB attenuator pad, as well as a three position low frequency roll-off filter. The mic boasts near-flat 20 20,000 Hz frequency response that remains true independent of directional characteristics.

The MC 834 Cardioid Condenser lists at $999 and also boasts the same wide frequency response, along with truly exceptional signal-to-noise ratio and extremely high SPL capabilities. The mic also features a switchable 10 and 20dB attenuator and three position low frequency roll-off. Both mics are phantom powered.

Which mic is right for you? Well, both sound great and are extremely transparent and very quiet. We'd probably lean towards the MC 834 in situations where you know you'll need high SPL capabilities (like for brass and percussion). The MC 740 would probably be a better choice for more critical acoustic instrument recordings and vocal work thanks to its multi-polar pattern and large diaphragm.

You can't go wrong with either mic; both will provide years (if not decades) of superb sound and dependable service. So call your Sweetwater sales engineer for additional information and your special low pricing on either mic. By now you know these people "know their stuff" and will help you pick the perfect mic for your specific application.