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These five under-$500 microphones NEED to be in your studio!


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It's a solid workhorse mic. It wouldn't be the first (or even third) thing I'd reach for if I was tracking vocals, but it should serve you well on acoustic guitar, and possibly on the violin and viola too, and may work okay as a drum room mic too.

 

If I do a write up on under-$200 mics, then the Rode M5 pair will definitely be on the list. They're somewhat similar but you can get a pair for right at $200 USD.

 

 

 

I also own the Rode M5 pair. They're really a really good value. It's been my main acoustic guitar microphone for some time, but they now basically live on top of my friend's drum kit. lol. So I needed another pencil condenser to take over as my acoustic guitar mic, which is why I was looking at the SM81 and the NT5 as an alternate pick. Wasn't able to find any SM81's at a decent price, but I did manage to find a used NT5 for about $110 USD.

 

I have tried the Rode M5 on my vocals before with pretty good results, so I'm guessing NT5 should at least be just as good, since they both have similar frequency responses, both somewhat flat. Some condensers with bigger presence peaks seem to either distort or sound like icepicks on higher notes. My old Studio Projects B1 seems to be almost unusable due to that fact. Most of the time I stick to using my SM7B for vocals, but sometimes it lacks the "airiness" needed for a softer style voice.

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I also own the Rode M5 pair. They're really a really good value. It's been my main acoustic guitar microphone for some time, but they now basically live on top of my friend's drum kit. lol. So I needed another pencil condenser to take over as my acoustic guitar mic, which is why I was looking at the SM81 and the NT5 as an alternate pick. Wasn't able to find any SM81's at a decent price, but I did manage to find a used NT5 for about $110 USD.

 

I have tried the Rode M5 on my vocals before with pretty good results, so I'm guessing NT5 should at least be just as good, since they both have similar frequency responses, both somewhat flat. Some condensers with bigger presence peaks seem to either distort or sound like icepicks on higher notes. My old Studio Projects B1 seems to be almost unusable due to that fact. Most of the time I stick to using my SM7B for vocals, but sometimes it lacks the "airiness" needed for a softer style voice.

 

If you ever get a chance to try one, give a Blue Baby Bottle a try. From the way you're describing your voice, I think it's a LDC that you'd probably really like the sound of. It's it's a reasonably affordable too. You'll get a lot "bigger" sound from it than you would from the NT5, but unlike some vocal mics with the heavy presence or HF peak, it's not harsh on the top at all, but it will give you the air and detail in the top that you'll never get out of a SM7b.

 

 

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Thanks Phil, I'll keep that one in mind.

 

The issue with choosing a vocal mic is that I tend to sing using a variety of dynamics, timbres and vocal styles. It can change drastically within one song even. Like sometimes I feel like I need a presence peak, other times its almost detrimental. The SM7B doesn't naturally give the best sound right off the bat, but it seems to sound dull enough for the high overtones not to sound scratchy or distorted, then I throw on some heavy EQ afterwards. I guess there are reasons why some people have "mic lockers", sometimes one mic isn't enough to cover all applications or situations. I'm trying to choose mics that are versatile enough for multipurpose. I've built up a bit of a mic locker over the past year from working with drum recording (10 track). I'm trying to utilize everything I have to its fullest. So anything that can double as a drum mic, violin, guitar mic, etc is always a plus. I have even been using the SM7B as an outside kick drum mic and an SM58 as a bottom snare mic, lol.

 

Anyway, I guess SM7B would be my rock/heavy vocal mic, and something else can be my pop/crooner mic. An SM81 seems to do okay with a bit of EQ. It's probably the darkest sounding SDC I've used so far, but I like that it's able to tame the transients. Any ideas of similar mics to the SM81 but a tad brighter? (AT4041, C451B?)

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Any ideas of similar mics to the SM81 but a tad brighter? (AT4041' date=' C451B?)[/quote']

 

The C451EB (or B) is definitely a brighter mic. I used to use them a lot in the analog tape era because that brightness worked well with that format. The AT4041 is a mic I still use a lot for various things today - acoustic guitars, drum overheads... they're a good sounding SDC. It's also a bit brighter than the SM81 - there's a bit of a boost at around 10 kHz.

 

But again... SDC's wouldn't normally be my first, or even second choice for use on a vocalist.

 

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The C451EB (or B) is definitely a brighter mic. I used to use them a lot in the analog tape era because that brightness worked well with that format. The AT4041 is a mic I still use a lot for various things today - acoustic guitars, drum overheads... they're a good sounding SDC. It's also a bit brighter than the SM81 - there's a bit of a boost at around 10 kHz.

 

But again... SDC's wouldn't normally be my first, or even second choice for use on a vocalist.

 

Phil! :smiley-lol:

 

I just took the plunge, I bought an SM81 (made in USA) off ebay and just received it today. I got this mic as a multipurpose mic, with acoustic guitar as its primary use. I just used my SM81 to do a quick test recording on my vocals (dry, no effects, no EQ). Let me know what you think.

 

 

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Acoustic guitar and drum overheads are common uses for the SM81 - vocals less so, but if you like the sound, that's all that matters. Make sure you use a good external pop filter if you're going to sing into one.

 

 

Btw, I ended up stacking two pop filters together.. lol

 

 

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Phil! :smiley-lol:

 

I just took the plunge, I bought an SM81 (made in USA) off ebay and just received it today. I got this mic as a multipurpose mic, with acoustic guitar as its primary use. I just used my SM81 to do a quick test recording on my vocals (dry, no effects, no EQ). Let me know what you think.

 

 

I love Bacharach. Nice song choice Davie! :cool2:

 

And yes, that mic sounds very nice on your (a cappella) voice. I'd love to hear how it sounds in the context of a mix.

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