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Author Topic: Most versatile LDC between $300-$500  (Read 1857 times)

Jack Schitt

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Most versatile LDC between $300-$500
« on: September 28, 2005, 08:36:53 PM »

In my case I'm concerned with about everything but vocals. I don't sing and do 95% instrumental things. I want something that will work on horns, percussion, drum kits etc and particularly acoustic and electric guitar. If its decent on voice then thats a bonus. I know nothing works on everything but a 5 figure mic closet isn't in the cards at the moment.

If it helps the current closet consists of SM57's, Senn609 Silver and a matched pair of Kel HM-1's. Preamps are Grovve Tube Bricks and a Mackie 1402VLZ if I need more channels. Thats pretty rare though. I prefer the Bricks by far.
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R Geoff Ruby

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Re: Most versatile LDC between $300-$500
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2005, 12:55:36 AM »

first off, I'd like to ask you why you're looking for an LDC in particular. I see you have a few dynamics, and the mid-sized Kels. I suppose that it might make sense to add an LDC as you don't currently have one. But, would that be the best choice for you? I dunno.

You've specified a budget, which is fine. Is this your budget for the next few months? Or, could you wait a while and put a bit more $ into something like a good ribbon mic? Do you need a stereo pair?

Perhaps most important, you say that you do mostly instrumental type stuff, but that is such a wide variety of sty;es it's hard to suggest possibilities for you. What is similar to what you're trying to achieve?

Given your needs as expressed, the mics you've listed can often fit the bill. The Kels are supposed to (I haven't heard them yet) be pretty good on drum overs, acoustic guitars and guitar cabs, among other things. 57s are decent on things that are thwacked or swatted (ie drums) especially if they don't need to capture too much thump. They can, with the proper pre, be good at a lot of other stuff too. They, and the 609, are often heard on guitar cabs on recordings that could afford any mic on the planet.

Not sure about either on horns, but the 57 or the 609 can be decent on percussion (depending). Some love, and some loathe, the 609 on guitar cabs. (I'm more to the loathe side, but can be ok on a cleanish kinda tone).

It sounds to me like the mics you've got, while budget, are pretty ideal for your needs, or at least a real good start. Might there be better mics for a particular situation? Perhaps. But for what you're doing, it sounds like you've got a solid foundation to work from.

However, you don't have a dynamic that captures the lows well with smooth(ish) highs. These can also be good vocal mics (real good vocal mics) as well as gtr cabs, horns, bass cab etc. Mics like a Shure Sm7 or EV RE-20 or Senn 421 or 441 might fit the bill as much as any low to midbudget ldc. Depends. Not often the choice for acustic gtr but, it depends.

Well, small diaphragm condensors might fit the bill too. Don't shut them out either, although they may be less amenable to vocals etc. Depends what you're looking for though.

You don't have a "modern" scooped (low) mids, hyped highs mic. Do you want/ need that? If so, there's a bazillion of 'em. I honestly wouldn't know which to recommend. (this may be exactly what your question was asking?) But, do you think patterns other than cardioid would be useful? If your room isn't too good, that's always a consideration (even if your room is good it should be a consideration). A multi pattern mic can be agreat thing in your arsenal.

How about a ribbon mic? Totally different sound from the 3-5 bills condensers. Depends what you need.

Shoot us a bit more detail what you're looking for. The mics you have now are a good start. If I was to recommend 1 all around mic for everything (if I could name only one) it would probably be the Senn 441. Its a plain jane, though pricey, dynamic. Doesn't sound like one though.

But, if you're only looking to record your voice, as you said, nothing works on everything. Use your ears etc etc blah blah blah. What's lacking (if anything) with the mics you currently use? Is there anything in particular tha's bugging you, or do you just want to expand your palette?

Ok, enough jabbering from me. Hope this helps rather than comes across as a harangue (it's not). You have good mics. There's a bunch of ways you could go though, and all could be valid. Jeez I've typed a buttload and haven't come close to even attempting to answer your question. Uh, I'm gonna go have another beer. Give a bit more detail about what you're trying to achieve, and hopefully you won't have to wade through this kind of tripe again!

Cheers,
Geoff Ruby
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Jack Schitt

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Re: Most versatile LDC between $300-$500
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2005, 06:43:42 AM »

Thanks for all of that feedback. It actually touched on some points I hadn't considered. I was looking at LDC's because I thought that would be the most flexible option. I certainly considered the idea of a pair of SDC's but thought the kel's might cover that need adequately. Never thought about a ribbon though because I felt that would be too pricey to get a good sounding model

Let me see if I can narrow the parameters a bit. Genre wise, think Eric Johnson or Robbin Ford blended with some funk and jazz aspects.(editors note: I can only dream of having that level of talent but I do what I can!) Steely Dan is a big influence but more from  production standpoint than actual musical style.

I don't have a 'hyped high' model at this point because I have felt that anything pushing the high end would be problematic on a digital platform. My working theory has been that those types of mics have contributed to the "digital is harsh" phenomenom because they introduce a boost that isn't needed on a digital platform. Do you think this has been an erroneously thought process? So with that said, I would say I would prefer a more neutral mic but I would love to hear opinions on this point.

A stereo pair probably wouldn't be a bad idea and SDC's may actually be a nice solution as well. Still learning on the job.  
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R Geoff Ruby

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Re: Most versatile LDC between $300-$500
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2005, 09:49:24 PM »

OK. Just a little more jabbering from me.

Given your comments on the other thread you recently started (if I may paraphrase: you didn't hear a whole lot of difference between the various $3-5 hundred LDCs you've tried). I have a few thoughts/ observations.

First, where are you auditioning them - your space, or at a store where you might notbe able to hear them or monitor them properly. (Also, how's your room and monitoring chain. That might be an even more important place to sink some $$. Not sexy and fun like mics, I know, but important).

Second, are you hearing much of a difference between the LDCs and your KELs? If not, and the KELs are covering that ground adequately for you for now, maybe look into SDCs or some of the dynamics I mentioned. Ribbons (good ones) are more $ than you've budgeted for. Most are a grand (+ or -) but are a different flavor. I'd suggest comparing one of the $500 LDCs with something a step or two up like the Soundeluxe 195. I'll bet you'll hear a big difference there. Whether you'll think it's worth it to save up for that or you can best spend your budget elsewhere is a different matter.

I guess at the end of the day, if you like the Kels for acoustic, they're supposed to be decent on overs and electric cabs (and some vocals). The 609 and 57 are decent on guitar cabs and percussion. You've covered most of the areas you want. With your remaining mic budget you could get an ok, but not spectacular pair of SDCs, a middling (but perhaps perfectly adequate) LDC or 1 or even two top of the line, used in top end studios all over the world every day of the year dynamics. I guess what I'm saying is: if the LDCs you've tried out don't bowl you over, don't think that dynamics can't be used on vocals or even acoustic guitars. I've heard of SM7s being used as overheads. I'm not saying don't buy an LDC either though. If you do find one in your budget that stands out for your purposes and your ears, I say go for it. Hey, maybe even try the real budget LDCs - the $100 jobbies, and get a 421 and an SM7, for example. I'm not really a fan of suggesting stuff you're going to grow out of (which is part of why I've suggested considering options other than the budget LDCs) but who knows, some of them may be usable. Maybe try some things just a bit outside your budget. The Rode K2, the AT 4050 and the Shure KSM line are all worth trying out. (Oooh, I wasn't gonna recommend LDCs - and I haven't even heard the K2 - but maybe stretching another hundred bucks or so will give you more of what you're looking for).

At the end of the day, you don't have a big mic cabinet. You want to grow it, and right now, your desire for a versatile mic is spot on. Just consider some options other than LDCs.

And by the way, when I was in a relatively comparable situation equipment-wise, I bought a budget (at the time pretty much the only one) LDC. (AT 4033) It still gets used. So, that hasn't clarified anythinghas it?

Oh, on your other thread, can you tell us what you have tried?

Good luck with your search.

Cheers,
Geoff Ruby
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Weird Geoff

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Re: Most versatile LDC between $300-$500
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2005, 10:21:14 AM »

I got good results when I had mackie as my only means of amping mics with the shure brothers ksm27 LDC's..I got a pair and if the material wasn't too dense, just a few tracks, and with creative planning it sounded very very good..I made an album with mackie pres and 2 ksm27's and thats it..you can listen to it in mp3 format here:

http://helstab.com/music/index.php?q=f&f=%2Fbees%2FGolde nBats

its a bit over the top but a lot of acoustic and electric sounds..it might give you a good idea of what that mic can do on different material with similar preamps as your using..hope this helps..

-Another Geoff
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R Geoff Ruby

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Re: Most versatile LDC between $300-$500
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2005, 12:18:05 PM »

The pres in the Mackie are actually quite decent. Especially for the $. In case you were wondering about pres as well.

OK, over to somebody not named Geoff hopefully.

Cheers,
Geoff Ruby
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Jack Schitt

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Re: Most versatile LDC between $300-$500
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2005, 03:02:16 PM »

More information as requested:

The room is 9w x 11L x 8h. I have LENRD bass traps floor to ceiling  in all 4 corners and across the back wall/ceiling. Most of the front 30% has absorbtion as well as 2x2 panels at all first reflection points not already treated including the ceiling. I have a diffusor array on the back wall. Floor is carpeted.

Monitors are Alesis M1 Actives. Pre's are GT Bricks and Mackie VLZ

Mics I have tried in my room not including what I own are an AT4033a and a couple different CAD mics(Don't remember the models) I borrowed from my drummer. Things I have tried in various places include Studio Projects B1, Shure KSM27, AKG C3000, Rode NT1A, AT4050, U87, AKG414, CAD 3000. I'm sure I am forgetting a few as well.

The U87 is just a classic and easily recognized sound but out of my price range. The 414 would take longer but would be a possibility. The different variations both current and past make that one more difficult to sort out though.

Overlooking the U87 and the 414 for the moment, the NT1A, the SP B1, and the AT mics were the slight favorites out of the group. The SP really surprised me but all of them are perfectly usable mics. This is why I thought I may may have lost a little perspective. The mics in this range had differences but weren't night and day. I was concerned that I was even more tone deaf than I thought! Smile

I definitely heard a very noticable difference between the 87 and the rest) but other than that the differences were a lot more subtle. Must have been a slow day at the store I guess, I got to blind test a few mics and picked the 87 out blind as the far superior mic of the group. Clear why its a standard.
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Jack Schitt

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Re: Most versatile LDC between $300-$500
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2005, 07:52:03 PM »

Just to conclude the thread, I went with an AT4050. So far it seems to be working out quite nicely.
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