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#473420 - 02/11/07 11:53 AM A Good Mic For Vocals?  
Joined: Feb 2007
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MacRian Offline
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MacRian  Offline
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hi forumers.

i'd really appreciate it if someone could give me decent advice and provide me with information regarding the following...

what's the difference between condenser, valve and tube mics?

am i right in understanding tube mics are better than the other mentioned types?

if so, what tube mic would you recommend for professional studio quality recordings (mainly vocals) within the $0-700 price range?

at the moment, i'm thinking about going for either cad trion8000 or rode k2. what would you say about those, for instance? any other mics that you'd recommend for recording vocals?

thanks in advance.

#473444 - 02/11/07 01:16 PM Re: A Good Mic For Vocals? [Re: MacRian]  
Joined: Apr 2001
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Mike Dunbar Offline
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Mike Dunbar  Offline
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Nashville Tennessee
Hi MacRian,

Welcome to JPF. Here's a good link on the different types of mics.

http://www.dummies.com/WileyCDA/DummiesArticle/id-2509.html

Also if you check this forum, you'll find a lot of info under the post "Condenser vs. Dynamic Mics"

Asking someone what's a good mic for vocals is like asking what's a comfortable style of shoe. It depends on the individual. Are you using it for your voice primarily? Or are you looking for a "one mic does it all" for a studio?

Both the cad and the rode are fine mics.

I did a session recently where we listened to several mics to choose for the lead vocal. We listened without knowing which mics were which and all agreed on a Nady ribbon mic, I think it was a $300 mic, over an $800 AKG and a $3,000 Neumann. Does that mean the Nady's a better mic than the others? No, only that it sounded better on that person's voice in that room and on that mic pre amp (and, for that matter, on those speakers).

Sorry to not have a quick, simple answer. Best if you can try both of these mics out on the type of equipment you'll be using and then make up your mind. If you're buying for a "do it all" mic for your studio, you might not even want a tube mic but a multi pattern large diaphragm condenser mic which will sound "flatter" than a tube mic (tubes...also known as valves...have the reputation of coloring the sound).

If you're set on either the cad or the rode, one simple answer is flip a coin. If you're like me you'll be owning several mics before too long anyway.

All the Best,
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

#473475 - 02/11/07 02:09 PM Re: A Good Mic For Vocals? [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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Ray E. Strode Offline
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Ray E. Strode  Offline
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Brunswick, Ga. USA
Hi All,
Condenser Mics require a boost in the signal before they are fed into the next eletronic stage. Dynamic Mics don't require any boost and are fed directly into where ever they are being used. A tape recorder, hard drive,or computer is designed to require at least 1 volt peak to peak to drive the next stage to full output so there will not be excess distortion or noise in the end result. A dynamic easily fits this requirment, as long as you are plugging it into the right input. If your device has a phone jack and your mike has a phone jack end it will work. You will probably have a level control to adjust the level as so not to have too much signal fed into the circut.

There are tube pre amps and solid state pre amps made for condenser mics and either will work. Some like the tube sound so they buy that type pre amp. You can mix and match all day long and as long as you can adjust the levels you will get good, if not great results.

Before they were called vacum tubes they were called valves probably because a guy called Fleming invented them, or was among the first I think and it was called Fleming's Valve.

Mic Manufacture's usually recemmend different uses for their line of mics. As long as you pick something in the ball park for your intended use you will be all right.

Condenser Mics are mostly used for studio work and dynamic mics are mostly used in live performances.

Mike mentioned ribbon mics. If I remember correctly ribbon mics are supposed to have a much flatter response over the full sprectrum. Experts disagree on which mics are best. I suppose all are pretty good.

Last edited by Ray E. Strode; 02/11/07 02:11 PM.

Ray E. Strode
#473874 - 02/12/07 08:18 PM Re: A Good Mic For Vocals? [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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MacRian Offline
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MacRian  Offline
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thanks a lot for most detailed replies!

would a tube mic work without any specific mic preamp if there's already phantom power on the mixer?

#474016 - 02/13/07 04:21 AM Re: A Good Mic For Vocals? [Re: MacRian]  
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Noiseboy Offline
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Noiseboy  Offline
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Ellicott City MD
Originally Posted by MacRian
hi forumers.
what's the difference between condenser, valve and tube mics?

The diaphragm in a condenser microphone is one plate of a capcitor. When sound waves strike the diaphragm, it moves proportionally. The other half of the capactior is a fixed back plate. This mechanism enables diagphragm movement to generate a corresponding voltage. The voltage is then amplified and buffered
by the microphone preamplifier.

A "valve" mic is a tube mic, given that "valve" is British slang for the vacuum tube.

Earlier condensor mics required tubes for power supplies to provide bias voltage to the backplate, and for preamplification.

Fixed charge condensor microphones can be equipped with tube or transitor preamplifiers.

Quote

Am i right in understanding tube mics are better than the other mentioned types?

Not necessarily. There are many outstanding condensor microphones
equipped with solid state preamplifiers, as well as poor microphones that are equipped with tubes.

There are many other factors in microphone design that are far more important than preamp construction, assuming that the preamp, be it tube or solid state, is well designed and implented.

Quote
if so, what tube mic would you recommend for professional studio quality recordings (mainly vocals) within the $0-700 price range?

I can't personally recommend any tube mics in that price range, though I suspect there are a few decent ones out there.

Be aware that tubes are often used as marketing gimmick in low priced audio gear. Go try a lot of different microphones, be they solid state or tube, and find a mic that has the right combination of perforamnce (frequency response, self noise, pattern uniformity, sensitivity, desired pattern(s), good off axis response. rf immunity, etc.

There are a number of good to great vocal mics on the market, so there's bound to be at least one that is financially accessible, that works for your voice. Audition as many as you can, and use your ears to choose! And for more information on microphones in general, this Wiki page is readable and accurate:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microphone#DC-biased_microphone_operating_principle

There are some really good texts on microphone theory and use, such as:

The Microphone Book, Second Edition by John Eargle

Modern Recording Techniques by Robert Runstein used to have a very good chapter on microphones, don't know if it still does.

Good luck with the hunt.



Last edited by Noiseboy; 02/13/07 12:08 PM.
#474136 - 02/13/07 03:07 PM Re: A Good Mic For Vocals? [Re: Noiseboy]  
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Ray E. Strode Offline
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Ray E. Strode  Offline
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Brunswick, Ga. USA
There are tons of recordings, now transfered to CD that were recorded with tube equipment. Solid state devices really didn't become availiable until the early 60's. Upon listening to any number of recordings recorded with tube equipment you would be astounded at the quality of the sound. There are brand new tube amps made by many manufacturers such as Fender Amps. Solid state devices may have better specs but not necessarily sound any better in the final product. That is why tubes are still desired by some. I would not describe tube pre amps as cheap or low budget equipment.


Ray E. Strode
#474336 - 02/14/07 01:41 AM Re: A Good Mic For Vocals? [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Noiseboy Offline
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Noiseboy  Offline
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Ellicott City MD
Quote
There are tons of recordings, now transfered to CD that were recorded with tube equipment.

Agreed.

Quote
Solid state devices really didn't become availiable until the early 60's.

Agreed.

Quote
Upon listening to any number of recordings recorded with tube equipment you would be astounded at the quality of the sound.


Agreed

Quote
There are brand new tube amps made by many manufacturers such as Fender Amps. Solid state devices may have better specs but not necessarily sound any better in the final product.

I agree.

Quote
That is why tubes are still desired by some.

While I agree that many people try to attribute most, or all, of the magic of these old recordings to "tubes", the fact is that there were many other factors involved, including the quality of microphone transducers, microphone placement, minimal signal processing, room acoustics, great arrangements, talented muscians, engineers, producers, and writers.

Yes, great recordings were made with tube equipment.

Quote
I would not describe tube pre amps as cheap or low budget equipment.


I did not decribe all tube preamps as cheap, or low budget.

What I said was: "Be aware that tubes are often used as marketing gimmick in low priced audio gear."

Manley, Groove Tubes, GML, TL Audio, are all examples of high end, albeit high priced, tube gear. I won't point out the junkmeisters by name, I don't think I have to.

My point was, and is, that their are a number of outstanding microphones, mic preamps, channel strips, etc, that are not equipped with tubes.




#474436 - 02/14/07 03:26 PM Re: A Good Mic For Vocals? [Re: Noiseboy]  
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Shandy Offline
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Shandy  Offline
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New York City
Well, I agree and disagree with everything here, but rather than comment on all of it, I'll just go up to the original post:

While I can't think of any tube mics that I would recommend under $700, I would go with the K2 if you're locked into that price range and style. I've used one in a couple of studios and was impressed with the performance-to-price ratio.

The K2 also makes the whole preamp decision moot, as it comes with a power supply. I have no experience with CAD gear.

Okay, I do have to side with Noiseboy on the idea that FET mics can certainly outperform tube mics in many situations. Right now I'm pretty hot & heavy with a Charter Oak E700, which I prefer over many of the more expensive tube pieces I have in the locker.

And as far as tube preamps being high end, I had a kid bring a Presonus tube preamp in here a few months ago, and I was astounded at how it managed to make even the best microphones sound like garbage. Just 'cause there's a tube in there doesn't make it a better buy than a similarly-priced solid-state counterpart.


Shandy Lawson
ShandyLawson.com
#474438 - 02/14/07 03:29 PM Re: A Good Mic For Vocals? [Re: MacRian]  
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Larry Read Offline
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Larry Read  Offline
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North County,San Diego,Ca
For you since you are on a budget I highly recommend Blue Microphones Bluebird is has a list of $499 and around $400 street price if you fanagle at bit with the sales guy..
No it's not a tube mic but the sound is quite respectable and has the perfect curve for vocal. Comes with a suspension mount and pop filter in a nice wood box.

As Far as tube Pre Amps Go .. you get what you pay for.
Cheap pres don't really add much except a lot of hype.
However a great pre amp will change the sound dramatically
Such as a Universal Audio LA 610. Or a Blue Mics Robbie but they both come with a price attached.

Thier is only one tube mic in the price range you mentioned made by a company called Sterling model ST66 it has a good sound but not a knock you over sound. Of course I have no idea what are you are useing at this moment to record with. If you are using a Shure SM58 to record with then the ST66 will blow it into the weeds in one vocal line.
List $699 but can be had for $399.00 just about everywhere.

Let your ears decide... ultimately it is what your happy with and will do the job for you. But again I must warn you.
You won't know what you are missing until you actually hear it against the next level up. It's Kinda like compareing a Ford to a BMW and then compareing the BMW to a Ferrari

Please Do not expect it to sound like a $2,000 Neumann TLM 49 if you put it up against a microphone of this caliber your ears will be amazed but it's incrediable magical qualities come with a price.

hope this helps

Larry Read 40 year veteran of the Music Industry


your only a stranger once after that a new found friend
http://cdbaby.com/cd/larryread
http://www.LarryReadsMusic.com
Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist/Audio Engineer BMI &
Audio Engineering Society Member
#474920 - 02/16/07 05:58 AM Re: A Good Mic For Vocals? [Re: Larry Read]  
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MacRian Offline
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MacRian  Offline
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thanks for all the new replies, guys! it's all been very very very informative.
however... formerly a UK-based musician, I currently live and work in an Eastern-European country, where the try-before-you-buy scenario simply doesn't exist - as shops over here don't sell the kind of gear i'm looking for. hence, the only option is to find and order stuff over the internet either from the UK, Europe, or the States. all i've got at the moment is musical catalogues with lots of mic ads. that's where i spotted Rode k2 and CAD trion 8000...

anyway... to sum it all up... will i be able to effectively use a tube mic with just a 48 V phantom power equipped mixer (as opposed to using a mic preamp)? also, i'm really tempted to go for a CAD trion 8000, pricewise. would it be a wrong choice? i've read a few reviews. sounds like it's a great mic for vocals...

#474980 - 02/16/07 03:37 PM Re: A Good Mic For Vocals? [Re: MacRian]  
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Noiseboy Offline
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Noiseboy  Offline
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Ellicott City MD
Originally Posted by MacRian
anyway... to sum it all up... will i be able to effectively use a tube mic with just a 48 V phantom power equipped mixer (as opposed to using a mic preamp)?


Yes, the preamp in your mixer should be adequate.

Quote
also, i'm really tempted to go for a CAD trion 8000, pricewise. would it be a wrong choice? i've read a few reviews. sounds like it's a great mic for vocals...


If you can't try microphones before you buy, at least ask the vendor if you can return or exchange a mic should it not work out for you. Is the CAD Trion a wrong choice? No way to know until you try it.

One more thought. For $700 US, you could have Shure KSM/44, which is one of my favorite vocal mics, at any price.



#481603 - 03/10/07 07:06 AM Re: A Good Mic For Vocals? [Re: Noiseboy]  
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Larry Read Offline
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Larry Read  Offline
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North County,San Diego,Ca

Shure KSM/44..

I have one of these as well. I guess it's a personal choice. Because you are the first person I have ever met who likes the KSM44 so much.

I find it accurate but not as warm as other mics in the stable. It works well in the voice over dept and comes with a really nice aluminum carrying case and it's built by shure so you know it's rugged.

But I find for around $700 street price an AKG 414 will blow the doors off it. More transparent.. like the mics not there just the sound..and for $150 more at $850 street price
Blue Mics Blueberry will smoke them both at least in the recording vocal arena

again it's a personal choice.

As far as buying mics without trying them.. I would find another dealer.. thats B.S!.. it's all about ears and what works for you and in a market place where your spending hard earned cash for such an investment ..By god I want to hear it for myself.. forget all the ads and hype..let your ears decide.. set everything flat and do side by side tests!! You would not buy a car without a test drive.. gezzz!!

That's how I do it.. many mics do not live up to thier reputation.. Don't let fancy wood or aluminum cases fool you either..

One of my Favorite and yes abiet a very expensive mic is a Neumann TLM 49 which comes in a Cardboard Box. Your not recording with the box so unless you want to impress your friends with a fancy box let your ears decide.


your only a stranger once after that a new found friend
http://cdbaby.com/cd/larryread
http://www.LarryReadsMusic.com
Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist/Audio Engineer BMI &
Audio Engineering Society Member
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