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WorksInTheory
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« on: March 02, 2007, 02:31:16 AM »

Hi - I want to get some mics to use for when I get either a multitrack or an audio interface to the computer. I have seen that Shure's are good and teh SM-57 and SM58 seem to pop up alot. I want to record guitar and record voice.

1) What are good mics that you recommend and for guitar or for voice?
2) I see these for some good pricing on eBay but I also read that some of them are fakes - any tips on how to buy?

Thanks!
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expatCanuck
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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2007, 04:31:53 AM »

SM57 and SM58 are fine mics.  I own one of each.
I prefer the Audio Technica AT2020 for home recording tho', as I find that the latter sound more open.

The song 'Unconditional' on my site used an SM57 & SM58; the rest used an AT2020.

The AT2020 is a condenser mic which requires phantom power, something that my inexpensive M-Audio MobilePre preamp (which plugs into my PC's USB port) provides.

As far as avoiding fakes on eBay goes, make sure the seller has a track record, and check the feedback, check the feedback, check the feedback!
(I bought one of my AT2020s via eBay -- and also my treasured 00-19).

The other thing you may wish to check is craigslist.org.  You can sometimes find good deals locally.

 - Richard
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WorksInTheory
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2007, 04:47:57 AM »

SM57 and SM58 are fine mics.  I own one of each.
I prefer the Audio Technica AT2020 for home recording tho', as I find that the latter sound more open.

Thanks for the tips - I listened to your stuff and you are right I like the AT so much better. Your recordings sound great - what's your set up?
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maxferry
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2007, 05:29:31 AM »

While I agree that the Shure SM 57 and 58 are great mics, they aren't necessarily the best for recording acoustic guitar. They aren't "bad" per se; they just don't capture nuance as well as condensers. Their best studio application seems in my experience to be recording loud speaker cabs or other high-transient sources, with the SM58 having the better high-mid response of the two, IMO.

If you were to have 2 mics for recording, your best choice for at least one of these will be some variety of large diaphragm condenser, as these will give you a great deal more detail and wider frequency response and dynamic range. Condensers have become less expensive than I've ever seen them, and good ones are available for about the same price as an SM58.

You might also consider getting a dual diaphragm condenser (with multiple polar patterns) for recording in stereo or trying to capture room ambience. I've seen some good deals on Behringer, MXL, Rode, couple other brands at places like zZounds and Musician's Fiend for both single and dual diaphragm. Carvin also makes a couple of great single diaphragm condensers, including a very good tube condenser for about $300.

Pay some attention to what comes with the mic, because you'll need things like a phantom power supply, shock mount, pop filter, etc. with a condenser. If you want to record stereo "mid-side" you will also need a phase-reverse mic cable, presuming that your mixer won't have this on board.
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expatCanuck
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2007, 12:42:28 PM »

Thanks for the tips - I listened to your stuff and you are right I like the AT so much better. Your recordings sound great - what's your set up?

Appreciate the feedback.

Mic into the MobilePre USB preamp, into my boy's PC (a home-grown AMD2700 w/ 512MB of RAM I built), recorded w/ Audacity (freeware).
I do shockmount the condenser -- a Samson mount that fits the AT2020 just fine (the 2020, by the way, costs the same as an SM57).
New shockmounts aren't cheap -- if you can find a decent one used, that's likely the way to go.

Right now, it's just one mic at a time.  As Max points out, recording w/ a stereo pair sounds better, so my plan is to get a second 2020 and record stero tracks.

I find that the preamp (at least I *think* it's the preamp) does add a bit of hiss, so it's best to record w/ relatively loud levels.

Cheers,

 - Richard
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WorksInTheory
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2007, 03:39:16 PM »

So it sounds like condenser is the way to go for BOTH voice and instruments? Or just instruments? I read somewhere Dynamic was good for Voices since it didn't capture anything past right in front of it.
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2007, 04:01:26 PM »

I would suggest small diaphram condesors for guitar, because they are easier to work with and more detailed than LD condensors. But if you are just buying one mic, I'd recommend a LD condensor. Dynamics are usually prefered for live work, cause they are less prone to feedback. However they do work well in a home setting on voice when the room is untreated. The worst is vocals with the 'bedroom boogieman' all over it.
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maxferry
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2007, 05:44:53 PM »

As far as vocals are concerned, the decision whether to use a dynamic vs a condenser is largely a matter of personal taste. Dynamics are a bit easier to control and less prone to accentuated low-end response from proximity effect, however by the same token,  condensers can be used to beef up low frequencies where needed, without resorting to EQ. I personally prefer the way condensers sound for vocals in a recording situation, and they can always be rolled off if found to be too sparkly or detailed; you will need a pop filter for vocals though.

I've also found that recording with stereo pairs, while possible when combining a dynamic with a condenser, usually sounds best when using two mics with similar or identical frequency response...otherwise it sounds somewhat phase-incoherent. Also, it's usually necessary to use an external phantom power supply for the condenser, since using on board phantom power will destroy a dynamic mic (unless this is selectable by channel on the mixer). Positioning is also crucial so as to avoid unwanted phase interaction between the two mics. My preferred stereo method is 'mid-side' micing, where an off-axis figure-eight polar pattern is combined with an on-axis cardioid, with one or the other placed out of phase. This gives a very natural and accurate stereo image without panning. You need condensers to do this well, and one of them has to be dual-diaphragm.

The hiss levels are usually associated with noise generated in the electronics of mixer/preamp/eq/op-amp...in short, signal path electronics. The best thing you can do to reduce this noise floor is to always run your channel levels as close to 0dB as possible (best signal to noise ratio) and use as little EQ as possible (keep the signal path as uncluttered as possible). I always start with channel level at 0dB and then add the appropriate amount of gain with the preamp and ease in small, incremental amounts of EQ until it sounds flat to me. This is all a matter of maintaining control over the gain structure; if it becomes too lopsided...too much gain from a given source, not enough from another, it will generate noise.
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WorksInTheory
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2007, 06:01:14 PM »

maxferry,

And I thought the blizzard amounts of snow that just fell was the only thing over my head today! Thanks for the advice - I will slowly digest...
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2007, 04:28:02 PM »

Also, it's usually necessary to use an external phantom power supply for the condenser, since using on board phantom power will destroy a dynamic mic (unless this is selectable by channel on the mixer).

Phantom power will not hurt a dynamic mic, so be sure to get a pre-amp that has it.


"Phantom power shouldn't hurt a professional dynamic mic that has an XLR fitting on it, either, contrary to some popular opinion."
http://homerecording.com/mics.html

A big question that hasn't been asked yet, is whether you are recording both guitar and vox at the same time??
If don't know you'll need 3 main pieces of hardware...  A mic, mic pre-amp, and a audio interface (soundcard). Sometimes the interfaces have pre-amps built in. If you go that route look for firewire instead of USB(usb is not meant to record with).
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ronmac
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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2007, 05:37:30 PM »

Dynamic mics will not be damaged by having them connected to a phantom supply, although some will have very slight variations in frequency response when used with phantom power supplied. Never connect a ribbon mic into a phantom source.

Quote
Dynamics are a bit easier to control and less prone to accentuated low-end response from proximity effect, however by the same token,  condensers can be used to beef up low frequencies where needed, without resorting to EQ.

Sorry, the above statement is not true. Proximity effect is present when using any microphones, including dynamics, with a cardioid polar pattern.

Quote
My preferred stereo method is 'mid-side' micing, where an off-axis figure-eight polar pattern is combined with an on-axis cardioid, with one or the other placed out of phase. This gives a very natural and accurate stereo image without panning.

Sorry again, but this is not quite accurate. MS, or mid/side, recording does use two microphones, one with a bi-directional (commonly called figure 8) pattern and another with a cardioid pattern. The signal from the bi-directional mic needs to be sent to two individual channels, with one being 180 degrees out of phase with the other. They are normally panned hard right/left, although one of the advantages of this method is the ability to change the stereo spread by altering the panning.

More info on MS recording here: http://emusician.com/mag/emusic_front_center/
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maxferry
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2007, 08:23:40 PM »

OK, a couple things: while it is true that a properly balanced dynamic mic through a pro audio balanced XLR connection will not “see” a current from a true phantom power source (hence the name “phantom”) it is by no means certain that a consumer audio device or soundcard that supplies this voltage is in fact a true phantom source. There is also a risk where cables are concerned if they are shorted or improperly wired. The fact remains that if a dynamic mic, for whatever reason, sees voltage from a phantom power source, it will be damaged.

As to proximity effect, yes it is present to one degree or another in all directional microphones, however it is far less of an issue in a dynamic, because the attenuation patterns on most dynamic are plain cardioid patterns, while most condensers are HYPER-cardioid, having a much tighter attenuation pattern. It is this far higher degree of directionality in hyper-cardioid microphones that causes a level of proximity effect that has to be taken into account. It is rarely necessary to pad or shelf dynamic mics, however most better-quality large diaphragm condensers come with 10dB pad and/or lo-frequency shelving EQ built in. Any hyper-cardioid microphone will have far more exaggerated low-end response and sensitivity to transients, including most condensers.

As to mid-side stereo miking, I think there may be some confusion here between acoustic phase and electronic phase. The opposite lobes of figure-eight (or bi-directional) polar patterns are not (nor can they be) out of phase with each other electronically, nor do the signals from the two lobes of the pattern get sent to independent channels; only the individual mics are sent to different channels, and they are not panned.

When bi-directional mics are used on-axis (pointed at) to a sound source it is to cancel out reflected sounds from a room by throwing them out of phase acoustically from the direct sound. The sounds picked up by the 180-degree off-axis lobe are cancelled out because they occur out of phase with the direct sound. The lobes of the pattern are, however, still phase-coherent electronically.

In the mid-side technique, one or the other of the two mics, one with a 90-degree off-axis bi-directional and the other with an on-axis cardioid or hyper cardioid pattern, is electronically phase reversed so that there is an add/subtract attenuation value at the places where the patterns intersect/overlap, rather than the phase cancellation that would occur otherwise. The phase reversal can be achieved either with a phase reversed XLR cable or in the case of a high-end pro-audio mixing console it can be reversed on the board. The phase interaction between the attenuation lobes of the bi-directional and cardioid patterns is what gives the accurate stereo image, as sounds emanating from areas other than that of the direct sound are phase-attenuated to a degree determined by the values present in different areas of the polar pattern.
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ronmac
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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2007, 09:18:20 PM »

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I disagree with almost everything you have stated here. I guess my 30+ years of experience in this field must have been earned in a different world than yours.
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maxferry
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« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2007, 09:27:52 PM »

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I disagree with almost everything you have stated here. I guess my 30+ years of experience in this field must have been earned in a different world than yours.

I guess it did, since everything I stated here is not an opinion, but demonstrable fact.
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ronmac
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« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2007, 10:01:36 PM »

Where to begin?

Let's start with MS recording.

Have a good read through the link I provided, or any other factual source on mic technique, and you will see that you do not simply phase reverse the bi-directional (side) mic. The signal from the side mic must be sent to two different channels, one of them in phase, one switched to put the signal 180 degrees out of phase. During playback you will start with the mid signal panned to the centre. You then add the two different side signals(original panned hard left; out of phase panned hard right) to the mix, generally 6db down from the mid signal level. By altering the level and panning of the two side channels you will be able to manipulate the stereo width of the recording.

MS recording is not an easy concept for everyone to understand, but it can render some very realistic imaging.
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« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2007, 10:13:05 PM »

Phantom power will not hurt a dynamic mic, so be sure to get a pre-amp that has it.

"Phantom power shouldn't hurt a professional dynamic mic that has an XLR fitting on it, either, contrary to some popular opinion."
http://homerecording.com/mics.html

Perhaps - but I've found that my preamp sends phantom power to both mic inputs when engaged, and when that happens, only the condenser signal will feed.  So I can simultaneously record either 2 dynamic or 2 phantom-powered mics.

 - Richard
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2007, 10:15:35 PM »


When bi-directional mics are used on-axis (pointed at) to a sound source it is to cancel out reflected sounds from a room by throwing them out of phase acoustically from the direct sound. The sounds picked up by the 180-degree off-axis lobe are cancelled out because they occur out of phase with the direct sound. The lobes of the pattern are, however, still phase-coherent electronically.

I think if that were true it would make them uni-directional wouldn't it.
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2007, 10:20:49 PM »

Perhaps - but I've found that my preamp sends phantom power to both mic inputs when engaged, and when that happens, only the condenser signal will feed.  So I can simultaneously record either 2 dynamic or 2 phantom-powered mics.

 - Richard

Something is probably wrong then. Cause I do that alot with my pres (1 dynamic and 1 condensor on the same pre).

Where to begin?

Let's start with MS recording.

Have a good read through the link I provided, or any other factual source on mic technique, and you will see that you do not simply phase reverse the bi-directional (side) mic. The signal from the side mic must be sent to two different channels, one of them in phase, one switched to put the signal 180 degrees out of phase. During playback you will start with the mid signal panned to the centre. You then add the two different side signals(original panned hard left; out of phase panned hard right) to the mix, generally 6db down from the mid signal level. By altering the level and panning of the two side channels you will be able to manipulate the stereo width of the recording.

MS recording is not an easy concept for everyone to understand, but it can render some very realistic imaging.

Ronmac is right, the signal from the bi-directional mic has to be decoded and sent to two channels.

"Otherwise, you will hear the direct image in one ear and the room sound in the other." http://emusician.com/mag/emusic_front_center/
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sdelsolray
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« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2007, 01:45:46 AM »

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I disagree with almost everything you have stated here. I guess my 30+ years of experience in this field must have been earned in a different world than yours.

+1

I'm with Ronmac on this.  Sorry MaxFerry, but you're a bit off on this stuff (e.g., most condensers have a hypercardioid pattern).
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ronmac
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« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2007, 03:25:25 AM »

Sorry folks, I didn't intend to steer this thread off topic..

What was the question...?
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Ron

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