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So I've started building up a tiny home recording set up, and one purchase has been holding me up.

 

Basically I'm looking for a microphone. The only thing is I don't really have the budget at the moment for 10 different specialist mics. So ideally I want one (for now) that is a decent all rounder, ie, able to record vocals AND instruments to a semi decent demo quality.

 

Been a graduate of music tech I know that's kind of a stupid question (nothing is going to be perfect in EVERY situation after all)... but in the interest of getting started now rather than in a year's time, I was wondering if anyone has any recommendations.

 

I was considering just a good ol' sm58 or similar. Thoughts?

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Is it safe to assume you already have an audio interface with phantom power? Also, much depends on how much you want to spend. Do you have a budget? And what instruments do you want to record?

 

 

 

 

 

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I do indeed.

 

I don't really want to spend more than £100 if I can help it, but I have enough in the way of savings if it's needed to get something more fit for purpose.

 

The main thing is practicality. I want to be able to capture vocals and acoustic guitar for starters but certainly sound from amps to avoid too many nasty DI'd tones, etc.

 

The more situations it could be used in the better really. Just to keep the costs down.

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Maybe look at the AT2020 - you should be able to get it for around £85. It's a large diaphragm condenser and should be fine for the purposes you listed. It's well built and it's hard to beat for the price.

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The SM58 is principally a live vocal mic.  IF you've only got budget for one mic, that would not be my choice.  Beware of buying use Shure mics, there are many copycat clones around.

 

If you want a mic for both vocals and amps, you need something with a switchable pad.  The AT2020 does not have that, but the MXL 770 does: https://www.thomann.de/gb/mxl_770.htm

 

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33 minutes ago, Mike B said:

If you want a mic for both vocals and amps, you need something with a switchable pad.  The AT2020 does not have that, but the MXL 770 does: https://www.thomann.de/gb/mxl_770.htm

 

 

Forgive my lack of knowledge but why is this necessary? I get the concept of different instruments needing different levels of gain and so on to avoid clipping. Is that basically what's going on here with the 10dB attenuation?

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There's also a preamp in the mic itself and the attenuation could help prevent very loud sources from distorting before it even hits your interface preamp. I guess it depends on how loud you play your guitar amp when recording as to whether you think a pad would be useful.

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I would probably go with an SM 58. Especially for acoustic guitars and vocals. If you're going to be mic ing up a guitar cab, especially if it'll be of higher gain/distortion. I'd go with a SM 57. The 58 is better for vocals, 57 better for mic ing instruments close up. Both around  $100 American. Both standard mics that have been around for a very long time. Both old school like me. Lol

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5 hours ago, Onewholovesrock said:

I would probably go with an SM 58. Especially for acoustic guitars and vocals. If you're going to be mic ing up a guitar cab, especially if it'll be of higher gain/distortion. I'd go with a SM 57. The 58 is better for vocals, 57 better for mic ing instruments close up. Both around  $100 American. Both standard mics that have been around for a very long time. Both old school like me. Lol

 

Both are good stage mics, and the 57 can be great on loud sources - but I think it would be disappointing on an acoustic guitar.

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5 hours ago, Alistair S said:

 

Both are good stage mics, and the 57 can be great on loud sources - but I think it would be disappointing on an acoustic guitar.

No, I recorded my acoustic guitar with my 58 for a good while before getting a Rhode N1A (I believe it's called). Honestly I thought it sounded really good. In fact I would record vocals and guitar simultaneously using the Rhode on vocals and 58 on acoustic. Good results. I didn't have as much luck with the 57 on acoustic instruments or vocals. As I also didn't have much luck using a 58 for a mic'd up cab. 

For acoustic guitar and vocal recording I would highly recommend the Rhode N1A. I believe it was around  $160. But it's been awhile. Otherwise yeah, for around  $100 I believe the 58 is a great deal. It worked well for me.

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17 hours ago, RepeatingZERO said:

 

Forgive my lack of knowledge but why is this necessary? I get the concept of different instruments needing different levels of gain and so on to avoid clipping. Is that basically what's going on here with the 10dB attenuation?

 

Condensor mics are more sensitive, so can internally distort with a loud source.

 

SM57 and 58 mics used to have exactly the same internals, but no longer, so there is a difference in how they sound (but not much).  But for recording an acoustic guitar, they are lacking a lot of high end definition (above 12K) that a condenser mic can provide.  If your ears are old like mine, its hard to discern a difference.

The biggest reason I would stay away from the Shure mics as opposed to a condensor mic - for recording - is proximity effect - the closer the source is the Shure mic, the more it picks up the low end frequencies.

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Yes, with that all being said. I agree a condensor mic is definitely better for recording acoustic instruments and vocals. But be careful and read reviews. You don't want a cheap piece of shit. 

 I like the Shure mics because they're work horses and last forever. They can work double duty as performance and recording mics. I'm not shure (lol) there is a better deal out there for musical equipment as a SM 58 or 57 mic for about 100 bucks. It almost sounds like I work for Shure microphones as a salesman. Maybe they're hiring. Lol

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Those Shure mics are fine and the SM57 is a real workhorse - but maybe not what I would recommend for what RepeatingZero is going for right now, and at the budget he has set himself.

 

Neither of the other two suggested are bad mics. They are both solid and well-built and both have great feedback. Both would handle the requirements set out quite well, I think. The AT2020 has no pad but does handle a higher SPL (max sound level than the 770). Yes, there are better mics out there but you would likely have to pay considerably more.

 

The Rode NT1A is also good. I have one and it's quiet (doesn't create much self-noise), which is nice. I don't use it much these days because I have mics I prefer - and it could hype the highs a little for my taste - but it has a lot of fans.

 

The truth is that there are lots of mics that will do the job and will do it perfectly adequately. You can spend a fortune if you want but, if I was to spend at this stage it would likely be on the interface and decent monitors (and pay attention to room treatment). There will be lots of calls on money and I would recommend taking time, spending once and focusing on the weakest link in the signal chain.

 

That will probably not be the mic if you go for one of the suggested mics. When upgrading (which will happen) both would still have a place in the arsenal and the focus is likely to be on being able to select different patterns (figure-8, for example) to enable stereo recording and mid-side. That can all come later.

 

For a good while, the AT2020 or the MXL770 (or the Rode NT1a) will absolutely do the job. Just be prepared that they are sensitive and you will be amazed at what you hear through them - like every sound in your house!

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There's another one to consider! And HoboSage gets great results :)

 

I have to say I also love my Shure SM7B, which is a dynamic mic but also outside the price range ... and not sure it's ideal on an acoustic - but it may depend on how often you record an acoustic guitar (which can be a bugger to record - finger-picking especially - let's be honest!)

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I have a Perception 220, another LDS that's a little above the OP's price range.  It came with a shock mount and a metal carrying case.  With the shock mount, no way to accidentally knock it off the mic stand - but it is heavy, an I have had the stand tip over and the mic go 'boom' against the carpet or desk, but with no effect (knock on wood) yet.

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8 hours ago, HoboSage said:

With most every recording I'm making, I'm literally singing my praises for the Shure Beta 87A handheld condenser mic that was designed for stage/studio double duty.  I have to record in a fairly noisy room.  I used to have a large diaphragm condenser, and even though it had a cardiod polar pattern, the large diaphragm had it picking up all the environrnmental noises.  Then one day I accidentally knocked it off the mic stand and it hit the floor, and that killed it.  That's another downside to larger diaphragm condensers, they're not very durable.  The Beta 87A is a supercardiod mic with a small diaphragm, and it does a great job of keeping out noises that aren't directly in front if it.  It's also tough as nails.  I think I could throw it against the wall and it would still be fine.  I also think it has a great sound for recording both my vocals and my acoustic guitar.  It's more than one hundred pounds bought new.  But, I think it's worth every penny - or pence - or shilling - or whatever the hell y'all on that side of the pond say. :)

 

That actually doesn't sound like a bad call. There's no way I could get absolute silence without resorting to a few dodgy tricks (and even then...) 

 

Then again a little bit of sensitivity could go a long way!

 

Incidentally does anyone have recordings available for listening that use some of the mentions mics?

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While there are a bunch of videos on YouTube that use each of these mics, I'm not sure they will tell you much. All of these mics are accurate and clear and will do a very similar job. The main differences you will likely hear will be because of mic placement, the room and the amount of gain - and any effects/EQ used.

 

That said, here's some examples:

 

AT2020

MXL 770

Shure Beta 87A

Rode NT1A

 

 

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Yeah, lots of effects and stuff going on there. Excessive reverb is a pet hate of mine haha. 

 

BUT the videos were informative. I definitely think I'm looking at something more directional given the space I have to work with for the time being.

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Adivice on didgital mics for a PC please around the ton price

all the best

Mike

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What do you mean by a "digital" mic, Mike? 

 

Are you looking at USB mics? If so, look at the Blue Yeti. It has 3 patterns to choose from and I was quite impressed with it. It's around £100, as I recall.

 

 

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Hi Alistair 

 

I have heard of a blue yeti but was'nt sure if it was ok to sing into,

over here in France we haven't the access to the gear you have in uk

but I'll have a look at reviews on this mic, and hope it will do the job ok 

Thanks for taking time out to reply, you seem To know your recording gear

All the best.

mike

 

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Before you jump on any gear ...  Consider how you may want to use it in the future, or what you may want to do IN ADDITION in the future.

 

With a USB mic, you are limited to that one mic, and your monitoring options are restricted to what that mic has (if anything).

 

What do you mean by 'ton price'?

 

Your best option is going to be a USB audio interface and a standard (not USB) mic.    You have Thomann there, best large source in Europe for equipment. 

Interfaces:  https://www.thomann.de/fr/usb_audio_interfaces.html

Mics:  https://www.thomann.de/fr/microphones_large_membrane1.html?oa=pra

 

 

 

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Thanks Mike B

I have a giging mic, but's it's a studio mic that I was thinking of for my IPad 

i have read somewhere that a digital mic is better for pc's as it cuts out a lot of 

the cracking and popping that you can experience with a ordinary mic.

Like you say an interface would connect a mic to an iPad or PC would be better,

So now I would like anyone that knows about a suitable interface that would 

Do the job.

I'm a poor pensioner and haven't a lot of spare cash so a price 

around the hundred pounds, ( or a ton ) please let me have your idea's

Thanks for your help and time

All the best

Mike

 

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There are a whole bunch of interfaces and mics out there, Mike, and most of us only have experience of a couple. At your price point, maybe look at the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2? They go for around 130 euros, which is a little over £100. Or the Steinberg UR22 at around 120 euros. Either would do what you want n a PC but it may take some fiddling with a Mac (and you may need a powered USB hub if you want to connect to the ipad)

 

Do remember that you will need other equipment too, especially a mic. However, if you are happy with your current mic (and have cables and some headphones), you may be good to go. Can your existing mic be used on the guitar or, if not, how would you plan on recording that? Also, pay attention to what you will play back through (for mixing, for example) and ensure that whatever you are using will connect (both of the above use TRS outputs but, if your monitors only have unbalanced connectors, you may need adapters). 

 

And be prepared for a learning curve (and some frustration) because recording is a whole new skillset!

 

Alternatively, if you just want to do something simple - i.e. recording yourself playing and singing at the same time (not separately), a usb mic may be sufficient.

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Hi Alistair 

thanks again for your time and trouble,

my problem is That I suffer from using gear that is a bit difficult to understand I have a low tolerance threshold and anything with a steep learning curve is not suitable, which is why I thought a simple iPad or PC mic would suit,

but I will give you're suggestions consideration, thanks again 

All the best

mike

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Maybe it would be best if you told us a bit more about what you wanted to do with it, Mike? What would you want to record? 

 

It could be that you would be better off with something simple, portable and dedicated - like the Zoom H2N, which you could likely pick up for around 100 if you shop around.

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Hi Alistair

thanks for the Zoom recommendation I looked at it on Amazon

and it seems great,so it goes on my April birthday list, now I need to 

Convey to Linda it's vital for my happiness and well being!

Or if I can make it seem like it's her idea it's plain sailing😀 Job done.

 

I have an iPad, with garage band app on it,

it works easily but it needs a decent mic, To sing on it properly

thanks for your time and effort

All the best 

Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Zoom may indeed be a good option for what you want to do at this stage.

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There is a Blue Yeti Pro model, which has both USB and standard mic cable adapter.

 

I have the USB only Blue Yeti and love it, simplicity at its finest. Direct into my Mac and Logic Pro, it has its own headphones out for direct monitoring. 

 

The sound quality is excellent and it is very sturdy. I bought the shockmount and have it on a boom stand no problem.

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Hi Murphster

Great and thanks for your info, 

I'll take a look at it,

i like the idea of connecting headphones

all the best

Mike

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On 6/23/2017 at 08:05, Mike B said:

 

Condensor mics are more sensitive, so can internally distort with a loud source.

 

SM57 and 58 mics used to have exactly the same internals, but no longer, so there is a difference in how they sound (but not much).  But for recording an acoustic guitar, they are lacking a lot of high end definition (above 12K) that a condenser mic can provide.  If your ears are old like mine, its hard to discern a difference.

The biggest reason I would stay away from the Shure mics as opposed to a condensor mic - for recording - is proximity effect - the closer the source is the Shure mic, the more it picks up the low end frequencies.

All cardioid (i.e, unidirectional) mics have a proximity effect - regardless of whether they are condensor or dynamic - due to having a single diaphragm. Omnidirectional mics have back-to-back diaphragms and thus (getting the sound from both directiuons) don't have a proximity effect. I prefer recording guitar amps with condensors. I use low wattage amps at reasonable volumes - most modern condensors are pretty rugged. The traditional way to record a gtr cab is to stick a dynamic almost in the speaker. Of course that doesn't sound anything like what your amp/speaker sounds like when you are listening in a room - whereas a condensor a little farther away does. That said, many fine recordings have been done on electric guitars, acoustic guitars and vocals have been done using dynamics like  SM 57/58/7(b). It is a poor carpenter that blames his tools.

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On 6/23/2017 at 12:16, HoboSage said:

With most every recording I'm making, I'm literally singing my praises for the Shure Beta 87A handheld condenser mic that was designed for stage/studio double duty.  I have to record in a fairly noisy room.  I used to have a large diaphragm condenser, and even though it had a cardiod polar pattern, the large diaphragm had it picking up all the environrnmental noises.  Then one day I accidentally knocked it off the mic stand and it hit the floor, and that killed it.  That's another downside to larger diaphragm condensers, they're not very durable.  The Beta 87A is a supercardiod mic with a small diaphragm, and it does a great job of keeping out noises that aren't directly in front if it.  It's also tough as nails.  I think I could throw it against the wall and it would still be fine.  I also think it has a great sound for recording both my vocals and my acoustic guitar.  It's more than one hundred pounds bought new.  But, I think it's worth every penny - or pence - or shilling - or whatever the hell y'all on that side of the pond say. :)

Interesting.  I bought one of these a while ago and I hate it.  It does a great job of minimizing unwanted noise, but the sound quality is dreadful, and doesn't work for anything aside from tracks that are going to be buried anyway.  Essentially, the only time I bust it out is when the kids are running around and I still want to record backing vocals.  :)

 

The other problem (which is presumably tied into the outside noise advantage) is that it even marginal changes in distance can diminish the signal substantially, which forces me to damn near eat the thing if I want the tracks to be useful.

 

Am I doing something wrong?  How can the same mic make my stuff sound as awesome as yours?  :)

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I totally gotta hit up the Muse when it's time to rebuild a proper home studio. Lots of great advice. Maybe in... 5 years? 
ooooo-kami-samaaaaaa  良くなりますように〜〜

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