Small vs Large condenser for instrumental acoustic guitar

jbarry

New member
Just curious about everyone's opinion.

I record now with two AT-2035 mics (LDC). I have a couple of SDC, a Rode NT-5 and a AKG Perception. I also have a MXL 991. I haven't recorded with my SDC mics in over a year, but I'm going to work with them soon. I'm pretty sure I was mic'ing too close and with the input gain too low back during the time I used them. I ended up just increasing the room "noise" and had proximity effect as well. I don't have a treated room, just a spare bedroom to record in, so there's that too.
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
I go back and forth, but lately have been using just a single SDC. But I'm just recording me strumming along to something with a vocal part. Really, either works, but it seems the majority of folks recording pure acoustic tend to a pair of matched SDCs, or at least one pretty good one.

Part of the appeal of the SDC is the lower sensitivity, or tendency to pick up the entire room along with bleed from vocals, assuming you're working with a cardioid pattern on everything. I just find them a little easier to place and work with, but my room is reasonably treated so I do not have to get the mic that close to worry about proximity. But even that can be somewhat managed by placement and angle, which are (IMO) slightly more effective with an SDC.

You should consider figuring out how to at least mitigate the room "intrusion" and you may have less worry about SDC vs. LDC.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
I've used both LDC and SDC mics for my acoustic recording. I think my NT1 is probably the most accurate sounding mic, but I've got AKG Perceptions and Lauten 120s that sometimes just sounds "better". It depends on my mood.
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
I've got a couple of low price CAD SDCs, and a side-by-side trial with my AKG P220 didn't reveal any less 'room' in my sound. Build/buy a couple of 4" thick traps that you can set up in front of you when recording acoustic guitar to absorb some of the 'outgoing' sound before it bounces around your room.
 
Hmm... The thing is that an recorded acoustic guitar can have many different roles and it can sound in a thousand different ways - and still sound good. Even one recording can sound bad, but sit perfectly in the mix - and vice versa. There is really no way to say what is best and what is worst. This has probably been stated a million times on boards like this, but you will have to try for yourself and see (hear) what works best in the context you intend on using the track.
I used to use the U87 for acoustic (steel stringed) guitars. The U87 really shines on acoustic guitars, but sometimes it sucks. Lately I have been using a pair of DPA 4011A's (cardioid) or a pair of DPA 4015A's (wide cardioid). They usually make me happy.
I do believe mic placement is the key to this issue, tho. Often moving the mic 4 inches will make way more difference than the choice of microphone. I'd suggest you don't worry too much about the size of the diaphraghm, but focus on the placement of the mics you use instead. I will add this tho; gennerally speaking a small diaphraghm tend to reproduce the transients more naturally (less distortion / less phase issues), but any of those might work for you :-)

Remember, it's a microphone - not a miracle.
 

CoolCat

New member
yeah moving the mic, its wild influence. im sure theres apps and plugins now to move the mic for us. :)
move mic stands and move traps around to get variety of sounds can be like changing mics and often is why "shootouts" dont really say anything at all.

as a hr hobbitist i think back of Les Paul and how he moved all over the house, stairwells, kitchens, and used all sounds and rooms for his craziness recordings. I read he even dug a tunnel in his back yard for reverb .... but today we have plugins and simulations at the fingertips which is great...though doesnt help for burning calories digging holes...seems moving some mics around hasnt been obsoleted and having some traps to play with sounds like solid logic and cheaper than buying a bunch of similar mics.

to the point of OP, over the holidays I meant to do full backup to usb/hd but that didnt happen because I got distracted listening to years of half baked recordings etc....

my favorite acoustic tracks were found to be done with a L & R , using SM81.

However, I also ran some rabbit hole tests purchasing New SM81 vs Old SM81 vs PG81 and they all were very similar, and then a few SDC I had around which sounded nice but....a version of the 81 seemed to win out for me over my LDC's. Then I found the Shure SM849 cheaper, sounded very similar too, and they work with a standard mic holder which is nice when swapping mics out not needing the small holder for the 81. So thats what I kept.. the pair of 849 for like $100+/-$. ...sold the others.

note: room was a closet/booth minimal foam and acoustic work so maybe SDC work better there?

YMMV
 

Mickster

Well-known member
Over the years I've had better luck with a matched pair of SDC mics on acoustics....but that's just me. I lean toward a warmer acoustic sound and my Oktava MK012 pair is warm yet really detailed. I'm not saying to buy them...(lots of them are fake by the way)...I'm just saying they're better than a warmer dynamic like an SM57 or the like.

Just my preference.

Mick
 
.(lots of them are fake by the way)...

The entry level budget microphones , are they comparable to the real expensive ones? Most claim to be a copy of the km84 or U67..

If you were to make a list of entry level microphones, I think the MXL 990/991 would be a good start. What else?

I want to get a bunch of budget microphones to do comparisons.

A shit list if you will.

MXL 990/991 SDC/LDC
MXL R40 ribbon
EV Co7 dynamic or Nady Starpower SP1

..
 

CoolCat

New member
yeah but...the MXL 990 made it on lead vocals on a # 1 Billboard tune...OAR....Shattered
OAR SHattered - Google Search

so though it is the entry level...it can work really well on some sources (maybe with the help of a QUAD 8 pre and real 1176 blackface)

kind of stuff that keeps me shopping in circles.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
I would rather just buy a good mic than to start buying replacement parts to try to make it into a something it isn't. Modding a 991 would cost you $130 for a new board that you have to solder together, and $150 for a replacement capsule. You've spent $300 and you still have to assemble it.

You can buy a new Shure KSN137 for $300, an AT 4041 for $300, an SM 91 for $350, a Warm 84 for $380. I bought a pair of Lauten LA120s with both cardioid and omni capsules this year for $350.

How is it that the Chinese supposedly can't make a capsule that's any good (they are GREAT at imitating known products) but a guy in a metal building in the mountains of Virginia can make a capsule as good as Neumann? It doesn't make sense.

With the right machinery, you can build things to incredible tolerances. Folks like 797Audio have the machinery. Rode has the machinery. Reverse engineering a mic capsule should be childs play compared to some of the things that are out there. There's no magic or mystery to it. Mylar is a standard material, gold sputtering is well known, teflon, brass. These are standard materials that anyone can buy. Stick the parts under a laser and have the CNC machine crank them out to .001mm tolerance. Yeah, it's precision work but no more than building a 14nm microprocessor with millions of transistors that's the size of a postage stamp.
 
I would rather just buy a good mic than to start buying replacement parts to try to make it into a something it isn't. Modding a 991 would cost you $130 for a new board that you have to solder together, and $150 for a replacement capsule. You've spent $300 and you still have to assemble it.
.

Nahh,the one im talkin about is cheap. Its 3 pieces. like $8 bucks.

Screenshot 2021-01-09 003031.jpg
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Somehow I don't believe that changing 3 capacitors will suddenly transform a microphone into something magical. Maybe I'm just skeptical, but it it was that easy, they would do it and just charge $30 more for the mic. Styrene and polypropylene capacitors aren't that expensive, maybe 50 cents worth for the whole package.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
People have been modding things for years, and swapping a cap or two often makes a dull mic, brighter, or a bright one more mellow - it doesn't make them better or worse - just different, and if you like the different version - that's great. Modding is great if you like the result, but I'm not sold on special 'audio' capacitors or other silly components. In fact, over the years, some products I've used have a different sound - and rather than something special, I often suspect it's just components out of tolerance, or even the wrong value, and a happy accident. If you buy the same mic from a different era - like SM57s, they sound a bit different. It doesn't matter - it's only important if you have two.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
See my comment in the Would you buy a Used Mic thread....

Certainly change the value of a cap can change the frequency response. That's what capacitors do. I'm not convinced that changing to a polystyrene cap will make a huge difference.

I heard guitar players go on and on about needing PIO capacitors in their tone circuits. I've compared ceramic/polypropylene/polyethylene/PIO caps and I heard no difference as long as the value was the same. Change the values and it changes everything. It's the known electrical property of an R/C circuit.

I remember when Gibson got LOTS of bad press about their "vintage bumblebee caps". Everyone thought they were paper in oil reproductions. Then someone broke one open and it was nothing but a metalized film cap in a black plastic case! Its a great way to make money, put a 25 cent capacitor in some plastic and sell it for $75.
 
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keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
If people spent 1/2 the time actually recording that they do searching for different ways to spend money in the hopes that there's a new/old/modded whatever that will make them sound better, they'd probably be better at recording and have more money in their pocket... (Note, I did not say that getting better at recording makes you sound better, though repeated recording of yourself can have that effect - no new equipment required!)
 

Gtoboy

Active member
The entry level budget microphones , are they comparable to the real expensive ones? Most claim to be a copy of the km84 or U67..

If you were to make a list of entry level microphones, I think the MXL 990/991 would be a good start. What else?

I want to get a bunch of budget microphones to do comparisons.

A shit list if you will.

MXL 990/991 SDC/LDC
MXL R40 ribbon
EV Co7 dynamic or Nady Starpower SP1

..

I have many MXLs and most of them are useful in one way or another. I say this because i am picky about how a mic sounds with a particular source as i found long ago that the idea of a swiss army mic is (for me)a silly myth. But i am not precious about using the "wrong" mic if i have to and knowing the sound of each mic makes it possible to do so efficiently.


That said, the 990's are very bright and even harsh on some sources to my ears. The 991 is a very um, plain sounding. It is a perfect substitute for a dynamic in many situations. Both of them can make an acoustic guitar sound boring somehow, which might be perfect depending on the arrangement.

The R40 is one of my favorites for micing small guitar amps and making them sound huge. I put it about 15 inches from the cone, throw a packing blanket over the amp and mic. Little eq needed, though it is not the bright open sound of a LDC.

My talkback mic is a 990 since it does spoken voice very clearly
 
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