Well...mics do make a difference

swervinbob

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jul 10, 2018
Posts
2,948
Location
Texas
I've been in a "Stop spending money and just use what you have" mode for a while with mics and recording equipment. The other day, just for the heck of it, I got a WA12 preamp just to mess with. But the only condenser mic I've had is a Sterling ST59 which I got on clearance four years ago for about $100. It has been ok, but never sounded...right (like I know what that is) and will pick up the dogs barking in the next county. Today I just picked up a Shure KSM32 and it's making a huge difference. The noise floor is so much lower. I could barely hear the A/C blower while I was playing with it. And my acoustic direct into my Apollo with a couple of UAD plugins sounded great, even in my loud, very reflective, tile floored apartment.

I kept reading and thinking the design of this may work in my situation. And so far I like what I hear.
 

klasaine

Doctor of Teleocity
Silver Supporter
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Posts
10,510
Location
Los Angeles, Ca
Don't write off the Sterling ST59 too quickly. IMO it's a really nice FET condenser. Make sure you have it in the Cardioid position.
 

swervinbob

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jul 10, 2018
Posts
2,948
Location
Texas
Don't write off the Sterling ST59 too quickly. IMO it's a really nice FET condenser. Make sure you have it in the Cardioid position.
In a much quieter environment it wasn't that bad. But where I'm living at the moment, it picks up way too much. I'm not getting rid of it. In fact I'm thinking about sending it to Signal Art Electronics and letting them mod it.

 

Ben Harmless

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Mar 10, 2003
Posts
5,310
Location
Salem, Mass
The Shure KSM32 is a good choice. It's a modern classic right up there with the AT4050s and such. I first used them at a live sound gig with some pretty substantial acts. They were great for overheads, because they just do solid-but-not-harsh pickup of whatever you need. Once in awhile we used them for other things, including vocals (which was different, in a live setting) and they never failed us.

If you're really focusing on the "use what you have" thing, then take the KSM32 and your new preamp, add a dash of creative recording practices, and you could make fantastic records.

Mics absolutely do make a difference.
 

loudboy

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
May 21, 2003
Posts
1,415
Location
Sedona, Arizona
The Shure KSM32 is a good choice. It's a modern classic right up there with the AT4050s and such. I first used them at a live sound gig with some pretty substantial acts. They were great for overheads, because they just do solid-but-not-harsh pickup of whatever you need. Once in awhile we used them for other things, including vocals (which was different, in a live setting) and they never failed us.

If you're really focusing on the "use what you have" thing, then take the KSM32 and your new preamp, add a dash of creative recording practices, and you could make fantastic records.

Mics absolutely do make a difference.
They're in that category of "solid, but not exciting" that sits above the $49-$399 Chinese stuff.

Like all the A-T mics and others in that price range, they're workhorses and you can make great recordings with them - they'll never sound bad. They're probably not going to bring the magic that a real high-ender can bring to the correct source, but they work just fine.
 

Dismalhead

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Feb 16, 2014
Posts
10,047
Age
59
Location
Antelope, California
Just went to a jam last Saturday and my friend used a large diaphragm condensor mic to record the jam with as a whole room mic. I've never used one before except my two times in the studio years ago. The recording actually came out surprisingly well; we just need to put the mic in the right place next time to balance the volumes a bit. At home I've always done everything with dynamic mics.
 

beyer160

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 11, 2010
Posts
5,594
Location
On Location
You got a good one, there. Mics do make a huge difference.

I've been using Shure mics professionally for two decades- they make solid tools that always deliver. For studio work I have a pair of KSM32s that live as drum overheads, and my go-to male vocal mics are the KSM44 and SM7 (I HATE bright mics on singers). If you told me to outfit a studio with just Shure mics, I could do it easily (I'd miss by Beyers, though). Other than the SM57, Shures aren't as popular in studio work as they are in the concert sound world, which is a shame.
 

Ben Harmless

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Mar 10, 2003
Posts
5,310
Location
Salem, Mass
I’m a fan of the blue collar Shure mics.

57, 7B, 81, etc..
The 81 is still a fantastic microphone, and I don't fully comprehend why it's no longer cool. It's solid and clean and I'd point it at pretty much anything. One of my top three best mic moments was having a last-minute drummer at a fundraiser and throwing up an '81 on a mono overhead, right above the drummer, and pointing down and slightly forward, augmented with an RE-20 on the kick. I never even needed the kick mic, because the '81 did the whole job on its own. It helped to have a fantastic drummer, of course.

If you told me to outfit a studio with just Shure mics, I could do it easily (I'd miss by Beyers, though).

I'd miss my ATs and EVs since I've grown attached, but I have zero doubt that I'd get over it, since Shure doesn't have gaps in their product line. Plus, while so many mics are described in terms of being "SM57 killers," only Shure actually has SM57s. They may not be for everything, but they often make the sound in people's heads.
 

Esquire Jones

Tele-Holic
Joined
Sep 22, 2020
Posts
704
Age
56
Location
Scottsdale
Well, the SM81 is a slight bit noisier than some modern SDC mics. And less sensitive.

So you’ll need to turn up preamp gain on some quieter sources.

Even my less expensive AT4041’s are less noisy.

However, the 81’s have great smoothness and natural sounding pickup characteristics relatively.

For me, it’s a first choice for many tasks including acoustic guitar.
 

matman14

Tele-Holic
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
Posts
503
Location
London
I recently downsized and relocated my studio. The only things I never even considered selling were mics. I now have too many for the purpose of my new setup but I'm keeping them anyway.The endless combinations and choices you can make with them to tweak how a recording will come out has always been fascinating for me.
 

FortyEight

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jul 1, 2020
Posts
2,297
Age
51
Location
Southeastern Wisconsin
I like mics. But I don't have nearly as many as others.

Lately, I've been trying to incorporate different mics into one song. That's kind of my focus right now. But one song I did everything with a PG81 and it turned our really well. I've become a fan of my SM57 and I think I could make a good recording with just that mic. But.... I prefer it when it's balanced with a condensor somewhere in the mix.

I have an MXL990 and that PG81 for condensors and they sure seem to do a good job on a lot of things.

What's weird is at the beginning and in the 90s, my favorite was an SM58. I have a borrowed on on hand and I can't seem to like it for anything I try it on, lately. I'm even sort of that way with my Beta58. I use my Beta for live vocals but it's not doing it for me in a recording. So my go to mics are the SM57, PG81, and MXL990.

The drummer I was working with had an SM81 and that was always hands down a clear winner with whatever he was recording with it. Mostly overhead. But it sounded soooo good. I think you could hang one in the right spot and get a pretty darned good drum kit sound.
 

beyer160

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 11, 2010
Posts
5,594
Location
On Location
The 81 is still a fantastic microphone, and I don't fully comprehend why it's no longer cool. It's solid and clean and I'd point it at pretty much anything.
It's a great utility mic, but back in the day I had access to a pair of AKG 451EBs with the CK1 capsules, and now own a pair of Beyer MC930s so I never had a need.
 

Ben Harmless

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Mar 10, 2003
Posts
5,310
Location
Salem, Mass
It's a great utility mic, but back in the day I had access to a pair of AKG 451EBs with the CK1 capsules, and now own a pair of Beyer MC930s so I never had a need.
You know what's funny, and I think illustrates the subjectivity of this stuff? The same place where I first encountered SM81s also had a pair of 451s - I can't swear to the capsule, but they were older and we had the swivel joint attachment, which was great. I never liked them as much as the 81s. They sounded I desireably bright to me on the same sources. We actually also had a blue-stripe AKG 391 that thought was a little sweeter, but only one. These days if I want bright, I'll reach for my pair of AT4033s.

Obviously, both mics are legendary, but I think this kind of supports my philosophy that mics are basically never "right" or "wrong" on a source - they just have a more or less a color, and you either embrace it or you change it. Picasso had a blue period - presumably meaning he used a lot of Blue microphones. The art is respected, and most people don't say "eh, too blue."
 

beyer160

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 11, 2010
Posts
5,594
Location
On Location
You know what's funny, and I think illustrates the subjectivity of this stuff? The same place where I first encountered SM81s also had a pair of 451s - I can't swear to the capsule, but they were older and we had the swivel joint attachment, which was great. I never liked them as much as the 81s. They sounded I desireably bright to me on the same sources. We actually also had a blue-stripe AKG 391 that thought was a little sweeter, but only one. These days if I want bright, I'll reach for my pair of AT4033s.

Obviously, both mics are legendary, but I think this kind of supports my philosophy that mics are basically never "right" or "wrong" on a source - they just have a more or less a color, and you either embrace it or you change it. Picasso had a blue period - presumably meaning he used a lot of Blue microphones. The art is respected, and most people don't say "eh, too blue."
Absolutely. Mics are critical, but the rest of the signal chain plays a part, too- when I used the AKGs, I was running them through a Tascam 600 series console to a Tascam MS16 1" tape machine. That was actually a decent setup for the time, but the console was a bit mushy and you always want to print lots of high end to tape because you start loosing it every time the tape goes over the heads. So, the AKGs were a good match for that system.
 

klasaine

Doctor of Teleocity
Silver Supporter
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Posts
10,510
Location
Los Angeles, Ca
Absolutely. Mics are critical, but the rest of the signal chain plays a part, too- when I used the AKGs, I was running them through a Tascam 600 series console to a Tascam MS16 1" tape machine. That was actually a decent setup for the time, but the console was a bit mushy and you always want to print lots of high end to tape because you start loosing it every time the tape goes over the heads. So, the AKGs were a good match for that system.
I have an older silver, late-80s AKG C-1000. It's actually (I think?) a field recording mic as it has a battery compartment (9v) or uses phantom power. I loved it when I was recording on cassette 4-tracks and bouncing but now in the digital era, I find it generally too strident in the upper mids. I still use it on darker or duller sources though.

*I see that there's an AKG 'mod' for these (at least the current version) that boosts the high end, which is odd to me because there seems to be plenty of top on mine. Maybe the newer version is different - ?
 




Top