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Author Topic: Recommended mic for acoustic?  (Read 4217 times)
Nealtor
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« on: August 18, 2013, 05:25:19 PM »

What brand and model of microphone would you suggest for recording acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, etc?

My mandolin, ukulele, banjo and two acoustic guitars have no pickups. 

I'm looking to spend $100-$200 for something used. 

Thanks,

N.
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2013, 07:22:01 PM »

Do you have a sound board with XLR inputs and phantom power?
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Nealtor
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« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2013, 07:52:25 PM »

No sound board, yet.  That's my next question.  I saw some Mackie 8 and 12 channel mixers.  Any advice on those or others?

From the initial research I think I'd prefer soundboard/PA system over an acoustic guitar amp.  

This is also because I have a Boss Looper and other instruments (mando, uke, banjo, dobro) plus percussion (cajon, etc.) to incorporate.

I'll be quiet and absorb the knowledge now...     bowdown        

N.


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Larrivee LV-?e
Larrivee OM-03 MT
Ibanez Floral  F300-CS
Seagull S6
The Loar LO-16 Bk (small body acoustic)
Oscar Schmidt nylon string
Lanakai LU-21T (tenor ukulele)
Cordoba Guilele CE (guitar ukulele)
The Loar LM 220 VS (mandolin)
Republic Steel Resonator (parlor, single cone)
Deering GoodTime Banjo
Ibanez Artcore AF-105 hollowbody
Nealtor
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« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2013, 12:27:31 AM »

I have a Boss BR-800 Multitrack Digital Recorder and a Shure SM 58.  I'm in the market for a condenser mic as I've gathered that the SM58 is not ideal for miking up an acoustic. 

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Larrivee LV-?e
Larrivee OM-03 MT
Ibanez Floral  F300-CS
Seagull S6
The Loar LO-16 Bk (small body acoustic)
Oscar Schmidt nylon string
Lanakai LU-21T (tenor ukulele)
Cordoba Guilele CE (guitar ukulele)
The Loar LM 220 VS (mandolin)
Republic Steel Resonator (parlor, single cone)
Deering GoodTime Banjo
Ibanez Artcore AF-105 hollowbody
Nealtor
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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2013, 12:38:04 AM »

Wow!  That's inspiring.  Sounds like I should just mic up and try out some different positions and listen for the differences.
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Larrivee LV-?e
Larrivee OM-03 MT
Ibanez Floral  F300-CS
Seagull S6
The Loar LO-16 Bk (small body acoustic)
Oscar Schmidt nylon string
Lanakai LU-21T (tenor ukulele)
Cordoba Guilele CE (guitar ukulele)
The Loar LM 220 VS (mandolin)
Republic Steel Resonator (parlor, single cone)
Deering GoodTime Banjo
Ibanez Artcore AF-105 hollowbody
Nealtor
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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2013, 12:48:16 AM »

Great idea.  Coincidentally I just bought two boom mic stands even though I only have one mic right now.  I misspoke earlier.  I forgot it's not an SM58 that I have but a Sennheiser e838.  

So would it be smarter for me to get another one just like it to record in stereo?  Or get a condenser mic?

I'm guessing it's important to get a comparable mic if the purpose is stereo recording.  

Thanks again for all your help.
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Larrivee LV-?e
Larrivee OM-03 MT
Ibanez Floral  F300-CS
Seagull S6
The Loar LO-16 Bk (small body acoustic)
Oscar Schmidt nylon string
Lanakai LU-21T (tenor ukulele)
Cordoba Guilele CE (guitar ukulele)
The Loar LM 220 VS (mandolin)
Republic Steel Resonator (parlor, single cone)
Deering GoodTime Banjo
Ibanez Artcore AF-105 hollowbody
CJ
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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2013, 12:59:40 AM »

One of my friends over on the Tacoma forum posted this recently, about recording AG, complete with sound clips to show the result. It's a nicely done page / demo.

http://www.cakewalk.com/Support/kb/reader.aspx/2007013311?utm_source=bronto&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Read+this+new+tech+tip&utm_content=Buy+SONAR+X2+Studio%2FProducer%2C+get+Z3TA%2B+2+free%3B+10+mic+tips+for+acoustic+guitar%3B+Javier+Colon%3B+more&utm_campaign=July+3+-+All

I read one like that years ago, which demonstrated just 4 techniques, the best of which I thought was the "spaced pair", for picking up the guitar in stereo. At least, that sounded the most authentic to my ears.

Numerous other articles about microphones, there's one that sticks out in my memory. The one that recommended using an OMNI pattern condenser mic for capturing guitar, as the cardioid patterns (et al), often yielded a nasal sound. At least, that was his conclusion of the half dozen budget mics he tested.

So I picked up a large diaphragm vocal mic - the MXL V67G (don't ask - it's green - I can't resist anything that comes in green), and that mic came with an MXL 603 pencil condenser. I bought a 2nd MXL 603 and later found a pair of (interchangeable) OMNI capsules on eBay for $50. So for about $150, I had a decent pair of OMNI pencil condenser mics.

Those I run through an Alesis Multimix USB FX 8 channel mixer (which sends a stereo mix out of the USB port for recording to PC). It handles 4 mics with XLR cables and has phantom power to run the MXL V67G and pair of MXL 603 OMNI mics. The Alesis replaces a bunch of gear for me and simplifies my recording / practicing setup, with outputs for powered monitors and stereo headphones, with decent digital FX. They also produce a more expensive USB 2.0 version that transmits more channels out the USB 2.0 port if you're multitrack recording. Me, I like the 2 tracker - putz with the mix until I like it in the headphones, then hit the record button on my laptop (Adobe Audition 1.5 or the free Soundforge Audacity software for Windows).

For hearing some nice AG recordings, which compares dozens of UST, soundboard transducer pickups, etc., and provides a reference recording with good microphones, there's this site: http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/pickuptests/   ... might be you can hear / learn about mics and techniques there.

Used to be, I owned a Roland VS-840 stand alone digital 8 track recorder, which I modified to use a flash drive. It didn't have XLR inputs, nor phantom power, so external mic preamps were required, with preamp tubes for warmth / tonal character, which set me back a lot of money when they first came out. It was a steep learning curve for that machine, and that was Roland's "user friendly / EZ routing" machine ... gads. What I found over the years is, I love to play and sing, and I HATE the process of recording and sound engineering / mixing / mastering. So most of that stuff sits in the basement and hasn't been turned on in years.

Then I found the Zoom H2 pocket recorder, which has internal mics and records to an SD card. Set it up on a mic stand, turn it on and play. It's blessedly simple and after awhile, I forget it's there and it does the job of capturing me being spontaneous ... the big multitrack setup always got in the way - something about that blinking red light and 'hit record' for all that equipment just made me clench up and make mistakes. The H2 is the old model, the new new one is the Zoom H2n and can be had for about $175 street.

A track recorded to the Zoom H2 needs only to be dropped into my PC recording software, trimmed for the start and end of the song, faded out, EQ'd, volume normalized and compressed - perhaps with a little reverb and it's done. Such a much more simple approach to recording than multitracking ...


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CJ
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« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2013, 01:22:56 AM »

For me, it's about honesty ... when I was multitracking with the VS-840, I typically recorded 8 takes for every track (it has 8 v-tracks for each of the 8 tracks), then auditioned them to identify the best one. From the remaining 7, I copied sections to replace any errors in the best track, to render a track that was near perfect. But where to stop? Using a de-esser to tame finger squeaks, replacing single notes because of a little fingernail rasp? In the end, I got rid of everything I considered a mistake, which gave me a final track that wasn't an honest representation of how I play - I make little mistakes every time/song I play.

So then comes the day I'm helping make Thanksgiving dinner with my wife and mother-in-law, standing at the sink peeling potatoes like my mom (RIP) taught me and showing frustration at trying to remove every single eye and dark spot. M-I-L tells me "Jack, don't bother with all of that - those little imperfections give it character" ... so I've applied the same wisdom to my music and recording, which makes it so much more enjoyable for me.

Looking back, it seems so absurd to me now, to have spent nearly a year recording, mixing and mastering my first CD, which has a total running time of 40 minutes. It's so much more a joy now to just sit down in front of the H2 after warming up for a half hour, turn it on and record a live performance. Drop it into Audition, do some editing, kick it over to Har-Bal and do some EQing, kick it back to AA for some reverb, mastering compression and call it good.

But what do you expect from a guy who used to call his web site music page "klinkers and sour notes" ;)
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ducktrapper
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« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2013, 01:23:44 AM »

I have a BR-1600. I use an SM-58 lots. I also have invested in a couple of insanely cheap MXL mics from Musician's Friend. I know  they're not Neumanns and you couldn't possibly  get a Chinese knockoff even close to as good for that  price but seriously? $49.99 with case, spider mount and mic cord? Really? The more expensive MXL condenser mic that I bought came in a nice wooden case with a bonus pencil mic. How do they do it?

Will 3D printing really eventually be able to do it better and cheaper? There's another industrial revolution coming. Keep your eyes on the prize!        
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CJ
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« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2013, 01:28:48 AM »

The more expensive MXL condenser mic that I bought came in a nice wooden case with a bonus pencil mic. How do they do it?



I imagine they make the wooden box large enough for both of them?
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ducktrapper
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« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2013, 01:37:17 AM »


I imagine they make the wooden box large enough for both of them?

Heck no! It comes in its own little box. Plastic, however.
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Nealtor
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« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2013, 01:48:01 AM »

The more expensive MXL condenser mic that I bought came in a nice wooden case with a bonus pencil mic. How do they do it?

What was the model of that more expensive MXL if you don't mind my asking?

I've found a pair of MXL 603's for what seems like a decent price.  Would it make sense to use those for stereo instrument recording?  I also found the upgraded capsules for another $50.  It'd be about $150 for both mics and both caps. 

Thanks,

N.

 
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Larrivee LV-?e
Larrivee OM-03 MT
Ibanez Floral  F300-CS
Seagull S6
The Loar LO-16 Bk (small body acoustic)
Oscar Schmidt nylon string
Lanakai LU-21T (tenor ukulele)
Cordoba Guilele CE (guitar ukulele)
The Loar LM 220 VS (mandolin)
Republic Steel Resonator (parlor, single cone)
Deering GoodTime Banjo
Ibanez Artcore AF-105 hollowbody
CJ
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« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2013, 01:48:08 AM »

You ever price your BR1600 on eBay, Duck?

I'd about have to pay someone to take my VS-840 ... and I bought it new when it first came out - $1200 plus s/h. When I was seriously multitracking, I bought a 2nd VS-840 for under $100, flash upgraded both of them to EX, installed laptop hard drives, and slaved them over MIDI to give me 16 tracks ... man what a headache that was. Though I admit we had some serious fun figuring out how to hack the 840 over on VSPlanet back in the day ...
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ducktrapper
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« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2013, 02:14:13 AM »

You ever price your BR1600 on eBay, Duck?

I'd about have to pay someone to take my VS-840 ... and I bought it new when it first came out - $1200 plus s/h. When I was seriously multitracking, I bought a 2nd VS-840 for under $100, flash upgraded both of them to EX, installed laptop hard drives, and slaved them over MIDI to give me 16 tracks ... man what a headache that was. Though I admit we had some serious fun figuring out how to hack the 840 over on VSPlanet back in the day ...


Heck I bought it used for $400.00 ... from eBay a few years ago! 
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ducktrapper
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« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2013, 02:16:50 AM »

What was the model of that more expensive MXL if you don't mind my asking?

I've found a pair of MXL 603's for what seems like a decent price.  Would it make sense to use those for stereo instrument recording?  I also found the upgraded capsules for another $50.  It'd be about $150 for both mics and both caps. 

Thanks,

N.

 

This one.   

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/mxl-3000-mic-bundle
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« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2013, 02:23:47 AM »

What was the model of that more expensive MXL if you don't mind my asking?


FYI, the Behringer C3 mic is multi-pattern selectable. Omni, Cardiod, Figure 8. http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-C-3-Dual-Diaphragm-Condenser-Microphone/dp/B000KUA8EI

With a pair of those, you could capture your guitar in stereo (omni spaced pair) in one take, then switch one of the mics to Cardiod to capture the vocal to a 3rd mono track. They'll need +48v phantom power though.

BTW, I recorded a couple of my goofy songs with a Zoom H2, spontaneous live performance - used a Recording King RP-06 parlor guitar.

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Barefoot Rob
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« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2013, 03:02:09 AM »

Don't forget that condenser mic's need fathom power for them to work,in most case's 48 volts.Like Duck I really like the MXL's.
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« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2013, 03:51:20 AM »

Your question begs a couple of other questions that in my opinion, need to be answered before recommending that you buy another microphone.

1.  What is your end goal for recording?

2.  What does your current recording space look like, and what does it sound like when you clap your hands in it?

3.  Are you comfortable with a PC, or do you want a standalone recorder?

These questions, in my opinion, need to be answered before someone can recommend a mic that will actually work well in your situation.  It could very well be that your existing microphone is ideally suited.


If the answer is for #1, to be able to multi-track, one-track at a time, with your various instruments - you don't need a 2nd mic.

If the answer is for #2, that the room is pretty 'bright' with a bit of a ping echo in it, then stay away from the condenser microphones until you treat the room or at least a portion of the room, where you can control early reflection sound - which most cardioid condenser microphones will pick up much easier than dynamic microphones.

If the answer is for #3 that you want to be stand-alone, then that limits your choices somewhat and how you want that goal to interact with #1 and what you are going to do with all of it.

I've been actually steering away from my condenser microphones at home for recording my acoustic, because I can get a really nice recording with either my bargain basement Samson (SM 58 wannabe) or the slightly more expensive EV PL80 mic.  Both of these mics are supposedly 'vocal' dynamic microphones.  Both have pretty good off-axis rejection and I can make a really nice recording with them right in my living room, without much care for reflections.

I do have a thread posted here where I made some stereo recordings with both mics, then doing some double-tracks by using the individual mics from two different takes: http://www.larriveeforum.com/smf/index.php?topic=39074.msg353852#msg353852

These mics are about the same as what you have, likely.  You can get the same kind of good recordings in a typical living room - which is where I made these recordings.  The Samson mic I bought at Target, of all places!  I saw it on a clearance rack with a set of headphones for $39.  It's actually a USB mic (has a recording interface built in, with headphone monitoring) and it has an XLR connector so you can just use it as a normal mic.  In some respects I like it better than the EV mic.

I say use what you have until you think you've taxed it's capabilities, then go looking.

Post some recordings with what you have right now if you can.
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« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2013, 04:30:00 AM »

Very interesting thread.  I'm enjoying reading it and learning lots.  Thanks folks.
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« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2013, 06:23:48 PM »

If the answer is for #1, to be able to multi-track, one-track at a time, with your various instruments - you don't need a 2nd mic.

If the answer is for #2, that the room is pretty 'bright' with a bit of a ping echo in it, then stay away from the condenser microphones until you treat the room or at least a portion of the room, where you can control early reflection sound - which most cardioid condenser microphones will pick up much easier than dynamic microphones.

#1, you need a 2nd mic IF you want to record an AG in stereo. There are tricks to duplicate a track then offset one from the other by 10-20ms or so to simulate stereo, or record the guitar's onboard pickup at the same time and mix the 2, but none of those will give the realism or fidelity of a pair of condensers.

#2, I wouldn't buy a recording mic depending on (small) room characteristics - as room character is easily altered for a home recordist. A throw rug over hardwood floors, and a couple of sleeping bags or blankets on the walls will tame any reflected sound. No need to drive nails or hooks in a wall for hanging blankets - just go to the garden center and buy a few 1"x1"x8' bean poles - or rip some 1"x2"s down the middle - and cut them to 1-2" longer than the distance from the floor to ceiling, and wedge beanpoles between the floor and ceiling to support the blankets at middle and corners. By the same token, some rooms are too dead for sound and can be brightened up by strategically placing a couple of sheets of thin masonite hardboard - on the floor beneath the guitarist/vocalist and against the wall(s) behind them.

I remember a discussion over at VSPlanet years ago, where everyone was pitching their favorite LD condenser mic to someone who asked about them; typically the "favorite" mic was the only one they owned  Most of the recommendations were for one of the LD Studio Projects or Rode mics. Every last one of the recommended mics showed a prominent rise in the upper freq range. They were billed as either a vocalists mic with a 5-10dB boost from 3-6kHz, or great for AG or cymbals with a boost from 8kHz-15kHz. I had auditioned about 30 mics before settling on the MXL V67G which as it turned out is relatively flat from 20-20kHz ... I'm happy with it because I don't care for the 'sizzle' a lot of mics add to the sound and because I prefer to do my own Eq while mixing, not have a mic apply (amp up) the EQ for me.

The Shure SM57 dynamic mic is one of those with a significant (up to 6dB) presence boost from 3kHz-12kHz, then plummets at 14kHz. I mostly used them live, but recording with them was unsatisfactory because there's no high-end captured ...  what few times I did record with them, I pumped the tracks through an Aphex Aural Exciter 103A - that I've long since sold. It's far better to use a mic intended for recording and able to capture the sound from 20Hz-20kHz.
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