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#936033 - 12/10/11 04:55 PM Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 57
genalewis Offline
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genalewis  Offline
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Lafayette, Indiana, USA
Wow, I haven't been to this site in a while. It's had an amazing facelift! Nice. smile

I'm in the market for a new mic. I would like something relatively affordable, but go ahead and recommend mics in any price range. I'm willing to pay a little more for great sound. Right now I have an MXL 990, but it's not really capturing the richness of my voice. All my vocals sound a little thin, even after EQ-ing. I want a mic that's going to give me a really accurate, full sound.

Thanks in advance for your help!

#936039 - 12/10/11 05:35 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: genalewis]  
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 7,804
Colin Ward Online content
Colin Ward  Online Content

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Saint Petersburg. FL
Here is one - Audio Technica

Here is another - Neumann

I am not convinced that the mic is necessarily the problem once you get into good ones (your MXL is pretty good). You might benefit more from a good preamp/compressor or plug ins in your DAW.

Others will tell you otherwise!


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#936044 - 12/10/11 05:49 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: Colin Ward]  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,823
Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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I listened to a bit of your first song on your site WON'T DO. Your Vocal sounds perfectly good to me.

Last edited by Ray E. Strode; 12/10/11 05:50 PM.

Ray E. Strode
#936045 - 12/10/11 06:10 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: Colin Ward]  
Joined: Aug 2005
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genalewis Offline
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Thanks, guys! Colin, this is the preamp I currently have, and I wondered if this might not be cutting it.

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-...82491000000000?src=3WWRWXGB&ZYXSEM=0

Can you recommend something better?

And thank you, Ray. Maybe I'm just being too picky. I've been away from recording for a while, so it's possible I'm just not hearing things the same anymore.

#936050 - 12/10/11 06:51 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: genalewis]  
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Colin Ward Online content
Colin Ward  Online Content

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I have never heard the Behringer pre-amp so this is a guess based on the price and reputation of the manufacturer. I would upgrade the pre-amp first!

My recording studio owning buddies use Universal Audio pre-amps which sound fantastic but are very expensive for the home studio. I have been considering the ART Pro Channel channel strip which has dropped in price from $300 to $180 recently (probably clearing them out). A channel strip has a pre-amp plus a compressor and EQ built- in. A little more complicated to use, but you can by-pass each section if you choose.

Another guy on JPF likes the ART MPA stereo pre-amp for about $260.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#936053 - 12/10/11 07:38 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: genalewis]  
Joined: Apr 2001
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Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


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Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
Hey Gena,

Mic choice is a very personal thing. A mic that sounds good on your voice, might not sound as good on mine and vice versa. So it's really difficult to make recommendations. As a rule, you are best served by going to a store or a studio that will let you try several mics to see what ones fit your voice best.

For my voice, I've tried several mics. The best one is a Neumann M47, run through a Neve 1073 mic pre amp. I've tried these out at friends' studios. They are way too expensive for me, though, so after experimenting, I ended up with this mic, an MXL V69 ME tube mic, which I bought for my studio:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-...271017000000000?src=3WPGWXX&ZYXSEM=0

It sounded decent out of the box, but had a very noticeable improvement when I removed the tube it came with and replaced it with one of these:

http://www.tubedepot.com/nos-12at7-mullard.html

Then I found this alternative to the Neve 1073. It's a Golden Age Pre 73 MKII preamp that is engineered to be similar to the Neve:

http://www.zenproaudio.com/goldenagepre-73.aspx

To my ears, this combination has gotten very close to the Neumann and the Neve. Not as silky on the high end, and not as open on the bottom, but warm and clear, and it sets well in a mix. When I record other voices, I try out different mics. I've settled on this combination for several voices in the studio. Here's a female vocal, Sandi Kay, with the MXL V69 ME, but using a TFPro preamp:

http://029a1b9.netsolhost.com/

Other mics I have that worked well with female vocals have been ADK Vienna, ADK 51, Audio Technica AT 2020, Rode NT 1, MXL 1006, Sterling Audio ST 55, and the old standby, Shure SM 57. Preamps I have include Focusrite, and the ART Pro Channel. Lately, the MXL, Golden Age Pre 73 combination gets used most often, with the Vienna and AT 2020 close behind. Lately, I never use my other preamps.

In the old days, the AKG C12 was one of the top choices for female singers. The ADK Vienna is designed to be similar. that might be a good one for you to try. The AT 2020 has won microphone "shootouts" for female singers, even over many far more expensive mics. There's another one you could try. Also, maybe you could bring your MXL over to a store that has demo pres set up Sam Ash and Guitar Canter will let folks do that here, I don't know if being such a large music community, that only happens here, but it wouldn't hurt to try. Then you could listen to it with other pres.

Try before you buy.

Hope That Helps,
Mike









You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#936058 - 12/10/11 08:41 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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Posts: 6,823
Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Brunswick, Ga. USA
It may be what you are playing back your recordings thru that is giving you a less than expected quality of sound. Mic Preamps are very basic devices that are easy to build to perfectly good specs. You can spend a lot more with no appearent improvement in sound quality.


Ray E. Strode
#936249 - 12/12/11 12:25 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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James Perrett Offline
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I'm going to stick my neck out here and suggest you think about your mic technique. The first track I heard I felt that you were too far away from the mic. The second track sounded like you were closer but singing into the mic rather than across it which was causing problems with plosives. It might be worth spending some time working on one of your tracks with a good vocal producer - you might be amazed at how much difference a well produced performance would make - even with your existing gear.

I would also suggest using a good quality straightforward mic preamp rather than a dodgy starved plate design like that Behringer which is basically a subtle version of a distortion pedal. While Behringer don't have a great reputation, they actually know how to make decent preamps (like the ADA8000) but their marketing people seem to think that stand-alone preamps should change the sound rather than just amplify what is there.

James.


James Perrett, JRP Music http://www.jrpmusic.net

Della Perrett's Sweetedge http://www.sweetedge.com
#936277 - 12/12/11 03:10 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: James Perrett]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
BIG JIM MERRILEES  Offline

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Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
Each voice is different so what is best for one person might not be for another.....The specific application and your budget also plays a big part in what mic is best for a prticular situation.....I would agree that perfecting a good mic technique can sometimes solve problems better than switching brands and models. Each person must find the optimum performance position for their mic...I suggest experimenting by standing at different distances and as suggested singing across rather than straight into the mic....till you find what is best...it will reduce pops, distortion and breathing noises...using a good pop shield is also preferable....If I was to stick my neck out I would say Audio Technica and a Neumann if you can afford one..that is what I use

#936487 - 12/14/11 01:44 AM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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genalewis Offline
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Lafayette, Indiana, USA
Thanks to all who replied! You gave some good advice, and I wanted to update you on what I ended up doing.

Musician's Friend had a ridiculous deal on the MXL V250 mic. This appears to be a new-ish affordable model from MXL, and I thought I'd go ahead and order to give it a shot. It advertised "the right mix of power and polish," which is exactly what I wanted. In addition, I picked up an ART Tube MP Studio, as I never really got the performance I was looking for from my Behringer preamp.

Well, the V250 was a good gamble. I did a test run singing the same verse with the old mic and the new one, and the V250 has a far cleaner, crisper sound than the 990. It's exactly what I was looking for. It seems it will require much less EQ-ing to get the right sound. Also, without much tweaking, I was able to get just what I wanted from the new preamp.

Thanks again, guys! If you are in the market for affordable vocals mics, you might want to give that MXL a shot at $49.99. I'm not sure for how long the sale is running.

#936532 - 12/14/11 08:35 AM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: genalewis]  
Joined: Nov 2006
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
BIG JIM MERRILEES  Offline

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Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
Glad you like the mic...I checked out and could not find the model number listed so therefore no detailed specs.....it seems that this mic is a special made to order mic exclusive for the Guitar Centre and certain other retailers.....and is deemed a lower end of the market piece of kit. That said the reviews are pretty good.....
My advice still would be to watch the mic placement.....it is crucial to a good recording to find the optimum distance and angle...especially when using bottom of the range equipment.
I have a huge collection of mics covering a spectrum of price range and specs......price means little to me as it is the end product that counts.
The most expensive studio mic I own is a Neumann tube which cost more than some spend on their whole studio BUT is not my favourite for MY voice by a long chalk....it is far too sensative, rich and full for my liking.... One of my favs that really suits my voice is a cheapy Chinese SE mic cost around 200.... it is thinner yet still retains a natural bottom end.

#936698 - 12/15/11 12:00 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
Joined: Nov 2009
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James Perrett Offline
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James Perrett  Offline
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Hampshire UK
According to Jim Williams it uses the same capsule and electronics as the MCA SP1 mic which he says is very upgradeable if you don't mind a little soldering. It is probably similar internally to your SE mic Jim but with a smaller capsule.

You can't go wrong for $49!

James


James Perrett, JRP Music http://www.jrpmusic.net

Della Perrett's Sweetedge http://www.sweetedge.com
#936725 - 12/15/11 02:42 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Mark Kaufman Offline
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Minneapolis
Originally Posted by Colin Ward
considering the ART Pro Channel channel strip which has dropped in price from $300 to $180 recently


Wow! That right there is a very good deal...an excellent sound-shaping tool. That would do the trick quite nicely.

I have both the ART MPA Gold Preamp and the ART VLA II compressor...but the Pro Channel combines both of those and also adds EQ. Really good deal if you just record one thing at a time.

#936740 - 12/15/11 03:42 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 7,804
Colin Ward Online content
Colin Ward  Online Content

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Joined: May 2006
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Saint Petersburg. FL
Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
Originally Posted by Colin Ward
considering the ART Pro Channel channel strip which has dropped in price from $300 to $180 recently


Wow! That right there is a very good deal...an excellent sound-shaping tool. That would do the trick quite nicely.

I have both the ART MPA Gold Preamp and the ART VLA II compressor...but the Pro Channel combines both of those and also adds EQ. Really good deal if you just record one thing at a time.


Just pulled the trigger here.... http://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-ART-215-LIST

Last edited by Colin Ward; 12/15/11 03:54 PM.

Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#937186 - 12/18/11 05:24 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Dak Lander Offline
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Dak Lander  Offline
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LoCal
Information from someone who works for MXL Mics.
The MXL V250 is a fixed cardoid condenser mic with fet output, and a frequency response of 30hz to 20khz. It is an OEM microphone, commissioned by Guitar Center/Musicians Friend. All OEM manufacturing by MXL is carried out in accordance with the customers requirements and specifications, and is subject to non disclosure agreements with the customer.
The MXL mics with those specs are the MXL V63, 990, 991 or 2008, all of which are transformerless FET designs with a frequency response of 30hz to 20khz.
So, it's quite possible you have the same capsule you already have but in a different body.


Get My Gear Here!

"That ol' dog's so mean, he ain't done nothin' but eat nails and [naughty word removed] nickels ever since he was born"
#937192 - 12/18/11 06:23 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: Dak Lander]  
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Kolstad Offline
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Kolstad  Offline
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I'm with Colin on the mics here, and Mike on the pre, but great you did find a good bargain and it worked out!

Wow a bargain on that pro channel!


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#980284 - 10/16/12 04:17 AM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: Kolstad]  
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bobbyearlray Offline
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bobbyearlray  Offline
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Nashville, Tn.
Hi- I have been using the same things Mike Dunbar is using. I have the ART voice strip. With this, you also need to replace the stock tube with something like the Mullard he showed. Also as Mike said, replace the tube in the Mic itself. Before I record, i give each of them time to warm up and get the tubes fired up. With the tube changes, you will hear a big differnce, and you can find both pieces for relatively cheap. The MXL 69 has a nice hard case, shockmount, power source, and comes with Mogami cables. It's hard to beat in the lower end price range.-Bobby

#986281 - 12/01/12 12:45 PM Re: Best affordable mic for capturing richness in vocals [Re: bobbyearlray]  
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 2
BGilbertSound Offline
Casual Observer
BGilbertSound  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 2
Chattanooga, TN
Hi All:
Here's another low-cost preamp alternative... the Crest iPro One preamp. I bought this one because I needed a cleaner preamp to test my ribbon mics that I'm building. (I'm really into designing and building mics, but it's turning out to be an expensive habit!) I was ordering parts to build my own preamp based on a THAT1512 chip, which is one of the better chips available for preamp work. Then I found the Crest for $140, so I jumped.

The key spec for me was EIN, or equivalent input noise of -129dB (a lower number is better). This is the amount of self-noise that a preamp has. My other pres have quite a lot of self-noise, and the output of ribbons is typically very low, so you've gotta really crank the gain to get a good signal.

I wrote a more detailed review on my website at www.bgilbertsound.wordpress.com

Overall, I'm very satisfied with it, considering the cost.

Best
BG


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