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Didn't get much feedback at Gearslutz, so I'll try my luck here.

I am putting together a basic homestudio to record acoustic guitar + vocals (think Tallest Man on Earth, Joe Purdy or Iron and Wine...) primarily for demos and remote collaborations. I am a baritone with a fairly powerful voice (in the pop sense). Budget would be in the ~$700 range. 

DAW is Logic Pro with MOTU M2 audio interface. I already own a SM57 but am looking for something of higher quality .

I am not sure if I should be splitting the budget between 2 mic (one for vocals and another for guitar) or buy the best large diaphragm condenser mic $700 can get me. I was originally thinking 2 mics. I was set on a Rode NT5 for guitar, but after listening/reading a lot of reviews, for vocals I was torn between AT4040, AKG P420 and AKG C214. What do you guys think?

If I go with the one mic option, the ones I'm considering would be the Warm Audio WA87 or the TLM102. Looking for guidance there as well.

Thanks in advance.

 

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Hi Greg,

In my opinion, I would go with 2 mics, especially if you're both vocals and guitar at the same time. If you're recording each separately then you can probably get by with just 1 mic. Personally, I would go with a small diaphragm condenser mic for acoustic guitar. And either a large condenser or large dynamic mic for vocals, depending on how it suits your voice. Personally I use a Shure SM81 on acoustic guitar and a Shure SM7B on vocals. I also have a Rode NT5, which I have used on acoustic guitar, but I prefer the SM81 over it, especially if you need more fullness on the acoustic inside of a sparse mix. I have never used the WA87 or TLM102, but I've heard that they're quality mics that can be record most things well. Vocal mic choice is pretty personal, not only you need to consider timbre, but also singing style and dynamic range. Another detail worth noting, if you're planning to invest in a higher quality mic then you should also consider complementing the mic with an external mic preamp. Sometimes the built-in mic pres inside of audio interfaces aren't that great and can become a limiting factor to the quality of audio you can achieve.

What type of acoustic guitar are you using? (make, wood, shape)

 

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Posted (edited)

For the moment I use a Martin MMV (essentially a poor man's D28), but I'm about to sell it to upgrade to a D18, so I'll be switching from rosewood to mahogany. I like the 2 mic options because it gives me the option to separately or at the same time, or separately in stereo. I've heard great things about the SM81 and it's more expensive than the NT5 so that would reduce the vocal mic budget. The track would just be guitar + vocals. I'm going for a singer/songwriter dry type sound e.g. Tallest Man on Earth, Joe Purdy, Iron and Wine etc, Nick Drake etc. My vocal range is baritone. I can do the soft voice thing but get pretty powerful when I go up within my range.

This afternoon I came across 2 other other mics I wasn't familiar with: The Lauten LA-320 and Avantone CV-12. Even more food for thought. An external mic preamp would be down the line. 

Edited by Greg1075

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My AT2020 and Rode M5's are pretty awesome so I can't imagine that their more expensive cousins wouldn't do it for you :).

Is your recording room up to the task? Great mics will highlight all the deficiencies of your room :(.

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1 hour ago, Greg1075 said:

For the moment I use a Martin MMV (essentially a poor man's D28), but I'm about to sell it to upgrade to a D18, so I'll be switching from rosewood to mahogany. I like the 2 mic options because it gives me the option to separately or at the same time, or separately in stereo. I've heard great things about the SM81 and it's more expensive than the NT5 so that would reduce the vocal mic budget. The track would just be guitar + vocals. I'm going for a singer/songwriter dry type sound e.g. Tallest Man on Earth, Joe Purdy, Iron and Wine etc, Nick Drake etc. My vocal range is baritone. I can do the soft voice thing but get pretty powerful when I go up within my range.

This afternoon I came across 2 other other mics I wasn't familiar with: The Lauten LA-320 and Avantone CV-12. Even more food for though. An external mic preamp would be down the line. 

Yeah, IMO the SM81 is a lot better mic than the NT5. The SM81 is a fairly warm sounding mic as far as SDC mics go. I actually used it for vocals on my "Winter" song (yes, quite unorthodox.. lol). As RoadRanger mentioned, the Rode M5's are great mics . I have them too, I actually prefer the M5's on acoustic guitar more than the NT5. The M5's sound more balanced and neutral compared to the NT5. I would use them more but my Rode M5's are dedicated drum overheads. They're worth considering too. It's basically two mics for the price of one, and you can do stereo miking. Like I mentioned before, its difficult to choose vocal mics because its so personal. The best option is to somehow try to find a way to demo different models, maybe get a rental from your local music store. That's actually how I decided on a few of my mics.

20 minutes ago, RoadRanger said:

Is your recording room up to the task? Great mics will highlight all the deficiencies of your room :(.

This is a good point, I was going to mention at some point. The room acoustics can make or break a recording, especially when using LDC mics, I find them pretty unforgiving in an untreated room since they're so sensitive, they pretty much pick up everything, but the trade-off is that they have a lot of detail.

How is your recording space/ acoustic environment like?

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Posted (edited)

Interestingly enough a $32 Shure A81WS  (bigarse wind/pop filter) will convert an SM81 into a voiceover/vocal mic - and also fits the SM57 and M5 just fine (I found an article online about its use with the M5). I'm wondering if that and an M5 would be a superior choice (less pickup of room crud) in a suboptimal environment? I might try it on Monday instead of my AT2020...

Edited by RoadRanger

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The Audio Technica one is is a damn fine mic. The price is very reasonable too.

Shure SM7B is worth a  look.

 

There's been more than a few recording done using a Electro-Voice RE20.

 

I'm far from a great vocalist and use a Beyer Dynamic MC 840. I've had it for over 20 years. I have many of their mic, collected over the years.

A nice tube pre amp will make any mic stand out.

These are very decent instrument mics, better than a sm75

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M201TG--beyerdynamic-m-201-tg

Steve Albini quipped "if the SM57 were a microphone, it would sound like this.":lol:

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2 hours ago, Mikeo said:

Steve Albini quipped "if the SM57 were a microphone, it would sound like this.":lol:

I never could quite understand why folks still use SM57's except perhaps "we always have" and years of experience tweaking them to sound OK. OTOH I've seen folks used to an SM58 for live vocals struggle to "work" a more modern mic that has a faster drop-off with distance...

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2 hours ago, RoadRanger said:

I never could quite understand why folks still use SM57's except perhaps "we always have" and years of experience tweaking them to sound OK. OTOH I've seen folks used to an SM58 for live vocals struggle to "work" a more modern mic that has a faster drop-off with distance...

It a very common inexpensive mic. I think sound engineers just know what they can do and can't.

 

Live they mic up an electric guitar cab quit nicely, but so does a Sennheiser e 609.

I play a lot of acoustic.  I normally plug my acoustic in, but check this out.

 

Dave and Gillian, use nothing but  a 75 on guitars and a 58 on vocals. I've seen em live a few times.

 

 

There certainly are some very costly mics out there. I'm not sure I could make the best of them.

I have a AKG Solid Tube that bit the dust. I still have it, but it could be anything, including the cable. If I can't figure it out I may send it out for repair. I have never had a Beyer mic go belly up. Beyer mics are made in Germany. I think they still are. AKG repairs nothing that they don't make any more. Harman is really a crap company. I have 2 DBX compressors and tube pres, the pres are cheaply made and I have had them repaired. I just won't deal with  Harman/Samsung  any more.

Over the decades I have purchase a lot of stuff from them too. 

One of my sm 57 is so old, the black mate finish has gone bald.:lol:

 

I have some 58's and a 58 Beta, which is nice for vocal live.

 

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On 7/24/2020 at 11:31 PM, RoadRanger said:

Interestingly enough a $32 Shure A81WS  (bigarse wind/pop filter) will convert an SM81 into a voiceover/vocal mic - and also fits the SM57 and M5 just fine (I found an article online about its use with the M5). I'm wondering if that and an M5 would be a superior choice (less pickup of room crud) in a suboptimal environment? I might try it on Monday instead of my AT2020...

I've seen the grill covers for the SM81 on ebay. They're pretty expensive, I think they were used by some singers back in the day as stage mics. While I was recording my "Winter" song, I actually had to use 2 pop filters together to pull off using the SM81 as a vocal mic. Without them plosives would be unmanageable. I've tried the M5 on vocals before too, it sounds pretty good IMO, but similarly, you need to mitigate the plosives. 

 

On 7/25/2020 at 3:03 PM, RoadRanger said:

I never could quite understand why folks still use SM57's except perhaps "we always have" and years of experience tweaking them to sound OK. OTOH I've seen folks used to an SM58 for live vocals struggle to "work" a more modern mic that has a faster drop-off with distance...

I have a few SM57's but I don't use them on anything except for snare drum and toms. It is a decent mic for loud rock vocals though. Might be a good backup mic when you're forced to record something in a bad sounding room because of its off-axis rejection.

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The  $32 Shure A81WS is most often seen at outdoor events like Presidential inaugurations (often in pairs). I did try it on vocals with the M5 and it sounded fine - perhaps a tiny bit more warm than the naked M5 and no "pops" :). Shure does say it rolls off the high end 2-3 db.

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