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Thread: Looking to buy a mic

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    Looking to buy a mic

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    So, I'm looking to buy a condenser microphone, I don't know much about it, I just know these are the one that record with better quality. I'm aware that it needs phatom power. I'm not looking into something expensive, mic + phantom power 150€ tops. I found "PERCEPTION 120 – AKG" in a store near where I live, seems cheap (around 75€) and has good reviews. I want to make some experiences and some indie/lo-fi/rock accoustic music, I'm not a great singer, that's why I think I don't need anything fancy, I'm really average to be honest. I want to make something that has quality, someone can hear it, but it's not overly produced. I want to make a good quality raw sound, just guitar and voice, not much editing, since I'm not really good at it either.

    What are your thoughs and advices on good products for me? Thanks in advance.

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    You might want to consider a USB mic, which doesn't require buying an adapter.

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    Which raises the question, do you have any equipment at all yet, other than a computer?

    The mic choice in that price range comes down to whether you start with a kind of standard dynamic, like an Shure SM57, or go with an inexpensive condenser like that AKG. In that price range, you're looking at a commodity product with components which probably are not unique to that particular mic. I'd consider the brand and the reviews, and just get a mic that a lot of folks are happy with.
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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    WTGR rfpd, your post would seem better posted in the newb section? However to make things clear, you need a microphone (more later) an Audio Interface and some means to listen to things. The latter can be headphones and since you are probably going to be wearing them AND using the mic you need 'Closed Back' types. These are generally, $ for $ not quite as good sound quality as Open Backs but at this stage, not really a concern.

    You mention Phantom Power, any AI you get will have that and you can get a very decent device for $150 or so. Look at the Steinberg UR22 , Tascam products, others are by Focusrite, Audient, Presonus and Zoom but these tend to be more expensive. N.B. The cheapest ONE mic input AIs SEEM good value but believe me you WILL regret not paying that bit more for two mic channels. The Behringer UMC range are very good value and SO far I have seen no complaints.

    I have two AKG P150 Small Diaphragm Capacitor mics and they are pretty good. The P 120 is an LDC and unless you have a very quiet, pretty acoustically 'dead' room I would avoid it. Nothing WRONG with the microphone but a dynamic worked very close might be a better bet. Or look for an SDC but get one with a 10 or 20dB attenuator switch (the P150, now 170 has such a switch). SDCs are the Swiss Army Knife of mics, very suitable for recording all manner of acoustic instruments and generally have a neutral character, i.e. they don't add any colouration to the sound. LDCs and especially dynamics tend to do this and you might like the result..might not!

    Lastly (for now!) you seem to understand that you need some recording software? Known as a Digital Audio Workstation. Almost all AIs come with something, the Steinberg with a light version of Cubase, an excellent DAW if one of the hardest to learn. But! ALL DAWs demand application but a dedicated evening should get you recording and building simple tracks.

    Oh yes! USB microphones? Handy, seem a cheap, good solution? Well they are for the Podcaster/Skype freaks but for general recording? VERY limiting.

    You are in EU? I see Thomann do the UR22 for 115E . The AI has been around a few years now, got good reviews initially and is now in Mkll guise. I have never read a single bad thing about it.

    Dave.
    Last edited by ecc83; 01-13-2018 at 00:40.

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    Thank you all for the feedback, and sorry for not being aware of the noobie section.


    Quote Originally Posted by ecc83 View Post
    You mention Phantom Power, any AI you get will have that and you can get a very decent device for $150 or so. Look at the Steinberg UR22 , Tascam products, others are by Focusrite, Audient, Presonus and Zoom but these tend to be more expensive. N.B. The cheapest ONE mic input AIs SEEM good value but believe me you WILL regret not paying that bit more for two mic channels. The Behringer UMC range are very good value and SO far I have seen no complaints.
    Why would I need the two mic channels? Wouldn't a simple input/output work? What are the advantages in buying a 30$ phantom power (if there is) and 100$, in audio quality I mean, aren't they just feeding the mic?


    Quote Originally Posted by ecc83 View Post
    I have two AKG P150 Small Diaphragm Capacitor mics and they are pretty good. The P 120 is an LDC and unless you have a very quiet, pretty acoustically 'dead' room I would avoid it. Nothing WRONG with the microphone but a dynamic worked very close might be a better bet. Or look for an SDC but get one with a 10 or 20dB attenuator switch (the P150, now 170 has such a switch). SDCs are the Swiss Army Knife of mics, very suitable for recording all manner of acoustic instruments and generally have a neutral character, i.e. they don't add any colouration to the sound. LDCs and especially dynamics tend to do this and you might like the result..might not!

    Lastly (for now!) you seem to understand that you need some recording software? Known as a Digital Audio Workstation. Almost all AIs come with something, the Steinberg with a light version of Cubase, an excellent DAW if one of the hardest to learn. But! ALL DAWs demand application but a dedicated evening should get you recording and building simple tracks.
    I already have cubase, because I bought a digital guitar pedal from zoom.

    My room is quiet, I have isolation with pladur walls from the exterior, but I guess it would pick up the noise from the computer.

    So you would recommend a dynamic? Like the Shure SM58, I would still need phantom power?

    There are things that a pro like you might notice, but I really wouldn't . I don't want to buy something expensive that I don't need, that's just my concern. I just want to experiment, and my computer/phone mic is not the way to go.

    Would there be a significant difference in audio using the Shure SM58 or the AKG P120/150?

    Again thank your the answer.

    EDIT: I didn't find the akg p150, but I found the p170 which is an SDC aswell.
    Last edited by rfpd; 01-13-2018 at 04:31.

  6. #6
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    "There are things that a pro like you might notice, but I really wouldn't . I don't want to buy something expensive that I don't need, that's just my concern, since, like I said, I'm not really a good singer, I just want to experiment, and my computer/phone mic is not the way to go. "

    I am NOT a 'pro'! Just an electronics tech with a lifelong interest in music (used to play guitar and bass) and in the last 12 yrs or so an interest in computer recording for a very musical son (who has since buggered off to France)

    Believe me, you WILL notice the nasty honky sound of your room unless it is treated or you build the 'duvet' den to cut down reflections and 'noises off' will bug you proper!

    Apart from the duvets, you improve the recordings by getting close, like 50mm (pop shield!) from the mic and keeping the gain* low. An LDC starts off some 20dB hotter than a dynamic and if you suck that you will likely blast the mic and almost certainly what it plugs into...which is??

    An Audio Interface! A $30 phantom power supply does NOT include a mic pre amp nor any means to get the analogue mic signal into the PC, that need an Analogue to Digital Converter, found in the AI. Two mic inputs?
    Several reasons.
    1) The one lunged AIs are often (not always) THE cheapest form of the device, not looked but I bet Ebay is LITTERED with them at 1/10th their original price.
    2) EVERYTHING is stereo! Ok, you want a single input..FOR NOW but I am sure that will change.

    No, you don't need 'pro' grade equipment but the AIs I mentioned are vastly better spec' than say the Stones were using 40yrs ago. Go cheaper than I indicted and you will produce rubbish you are not happy with and have all sorts of hassles with hard and software. I mean, 100? A good weekend on the lash and a ruby?

    A dynamic mic does not HAVE to be an sm57/58! There are plenty of very good dynamics around now at 1/2 the price, especially in Europe. The SDCs can also be found well under 100 but look for models with a 'pad' switch. Capacitor mics are more 'hi fi' than dynamics and come across rather smoother and 'crisper' but, VAST, subjective area!

    *Gain. The measure of an amplifier to increase the voltage of a signal. Dynamic mics generally put out ~ 2mV for close up singing and this needs boosting by about 100-200 times to get a signal recorded. That is a gain of 40-46dB and most AIs deliver that easily.

    Dave.

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  8. #7
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    Ok, you need an interface and a microphone.

    For interfaces, the Behringer U-Phoria line is the only one that I know of that gets decent reviews that is cheap enough to still allow you to have some money left over for a microphone. The reason most of us would say get one with 2 microphone inputs (like the Behringer UMC202HD) is because it allows you to record both guitar and vocal (e.g.) at the same time. Even if you didn't have 2 mics, you might have an electric guitar or an acoustic that you (or someone else) can plug in. Or, you might record guitar and bass at the same time. Any of those options are not available if you have just a single input.

    So, for a microphone, an interface that has phantom power can work with either a dynamic or condenser microphone. If you want to record both vocals and acoustic guitar, a condenser is an obvious choice, but with the drawback that at the lowest price point they typically have some faults like higher "self-noise" and a response curve that can be a little brighter on the top end. Also, they pick up *everything* so that, along with the response curve, often means they capture more room noise than a dynamic, resulting in a recording that doesn't sound as good as you would hope. BUT that depends a lot on the room, the mic, and how much time you spend figuring out placement, experimenting with some movable baffling, etc. Your call, but I just feel a good dynamic can require less fiddling because it doesn't capture as much. Whichever you choose, if you want to use it on acoustic guitar or a guitar amp, I'd lean more toward something like an SM57 (or a cheaper clone) than one specific for vocals like the SM58, though, honestly, you can use either. I just have found the 57-ish mics to be more versatile in the long run, with uses from guitar amps to drums, as well as vocals.

    Good luck.
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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    OP challenges with the 150euro? tops...

    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-H.Gerst

  10. #9
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    "
    For interfaces, the Behringer U-Phoria line is the only one that I know of that gets decent reviews that is cheap enough to still allow you to have some money left over for a microphone."

    Worryingly Keith, Thomann have dropped the entire U-Phoria range. Will check back to see if they have bumped any other Behringer products.

    If OP can find one the Alesis i02 Express is a great little AI. I had one for a while and it worked fine with an SM57. Well under 100.

    Dave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecc83 View Post
    ...
    Worryingly Keith, Thomann have dropped the entire U-Phoria range. Will check back to see if they have bumped any other Behringer products.

    If OP can find one the Alesis i02 Express is a great little AI. I had one for a while and it worked fine with an SM57. Well under 100.
    Interesting. It would be interesting to know why.

    So, the Behri wouldn't be my first choice, but acting solely on reviews they seem to be the best option for price-sensitive shoppers. Still, I'd want to get one from a big online place so returns wouldn't be a problem.

    As @CoolCat says, the budget is a bit of a hurdle, though.

    Short list under 100 at Thomann site (4* rating or higher)
    • Steinberg UR12
    • Presonus Audiobox Audiobox 96k (which we discovered lacks line-level input)
    • Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2
    • Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2nd Gen
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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