Best 1st Condenser / Most Versatile Condenser

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Bassman1, Nov 25, 2020.

  1. Bassman1

    Bassman1 SS.org Regular

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    Hey guys,

    I'm putting together a home studio, and I've been reading up a lot on the gear I'll be needing. I got myself an SM57, and I'm currently working on getting a Sennheiser e609 as well.

    My general question for you is: What's the most versatile condenser mic for a small home studio ?

    I will be using the condenser as part of my arsenal to record electric guitar, electric bass, and occasionally vocals. I'd like to be able to experiment with making my own podcasts in the near future as well.

    What do you think the best condenser would be for this application? My budget would be something below $400.

    Some of the mics I've read about for this application are: Sennheiser MD421, AKG P420, AT2020. What would you recommend to get my best bang for buck for recording bass/guitar amps, as well as vocals ?

    Thanks for all your help in advance!
     
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  2. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Honestly, for those applications... Well....

    Electric Guitar - you CAN use a condenser to support a SM57, but a dynamic or ribbon mic s much more common here. Ironically, the MD421 you mention IS a dynamic mic, and a very popular second mic to use in conjunction with a SM57.... but if I was trying to do two mics on a tight budget, I'd probably just buy a second SM57 and save my money. I like a SM57/MD421 pair more than two SM57s, but I don't know if I like it $300 more. Also, if you're dead set on a e609 anyway, I'd use that as your second cab mic (though again, don't discount two SM57s here).

    Bass guitar - if you have access to a really awesome bass amp already, then maybe micing starts to make more sense here, but even then I'd be more inclined to use a mic to capture the brighter grind and clank of the bass, which the SM57 you already own would be great for, and then support that track not with a second mic, but a DI, absolutely smashed in the mix to fill out the low end behind your mic'd track. Bass is the one instrument that, IMO, really takes well to a DI approach. For heavier stuff I might split it and use some sort of amp mpodeler for the high end, but these days for the most part unless I want a really grindy bass tone, I'm way more inclined to just run it through a good microphone pre to fatten it up some, straight in. So, SM57 plus a splitter/DI box of sorts if you want to use an amp, and if not, don't be afraid to do bass entirelty direct, either.

    Vocals - this is where it gets tricky, and if you want to get a condenser mic for anything, this is where it starts to to be a much more viable option (especially if you're actually singing and not doing a lot of screaming and growling, at which point the more traditional starting point would be a large diaphram dynamic, something like a SM7). That said, there's not really a one-size-fits-all mic that's great for all voices so I'd be hard pressed to recommend something in particular. For vocals I'd definitely start with a medium/large diaphram side-address condenser (the AT2020 is an example) rather than a small diaphram "pencil" front-address, but that's about as far as I'd recommend.

    So, um, I guess the helpful takeaway here is just worry about vocals, as I don't know if an affordable condenser is really going to be a better option for electric guitar or bass than what you're already doing.
     
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  3. Bassman1

    Bassman1 SS.org Regular

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    This is a really interesting post. I figured the SM57 would go great to mic my 15 inch cab, alongside going direct with my Darkglass B7k Ultra for bass.

    The guitar seems to be covered with the 57 and eventual e609 as well.

    I guess the vocals is more so why I'd like to have a condenser. To be fair, this would be used sparingly with some occasionally growl/screams and some podcasting.

    In that instance, do you think the MD421 would be Overkill?
     
  4. bjjman

    bjjman SS.org Regular

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    I used Rode condenser mics for years with great results but had to sell my pair a few years ago. I've been eying a NT1, reviews are great and value is certainly there. Probably worth a look.
     
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  5. Baelzebeard

    Baelzebeard Grinder of strings

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    If you're considering the AT2020, think about spending a little more for the AT2035. It has a pad and HPF switches, and a upgraded capsule for not too much more dough.
    I have a pair, and they sound really good on a variety of things.
     
  6. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    Rode NT1 is an outstanding mic if you can find one. The NT1A is also a really good value, but the top end can be a little harsh on certain voices. You can eq it out on most cases, and I think it sounds cool on aggressive vocals.

    The Shure SM7B is not a condenser but it’s a studio favorite on vocals in most heavy genres now adays. The Neumann TLM102 would be a good all purpose mic that’s at the base of their price range; maybe you could find one used for a decent price.
     
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  7. Bassman1

    Bassman1 SS.org Regular

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    So, is there a reason in particular why the Rode NT1 or the AT2035 are mentioned more often than the AKG P420 for these purposes ?

    I keep seeing reviews for the former. However, the latter keeps drawing my eye with all it's features. The AKG seems to have all the features that'd make it quite versatile for my purposes. However, the Rode and AT are mentioned significantly more often. Any reason why ?
     
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  8. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    On guitar, I usually mic the cab with an SM57 close and a large diaphragm condender (LDC) from a couple meters away.

    For bass, I tend to just use the DI track.

    For vocals, either a LDC or Shure SM7B.

    For drums, well, it's a long story and you didn't ask, but you can always use the SM57 on hihats or snare and the LDC as a room mic.

    Never done a podcast.

    I've never owned a Rode NT1, but I've used one before and it worked fine. AKG C214 also worked fine. I bought a bunch of AKG C3000B's way back and still use those myself for everything. They were super cheap and sound very clear with a wide frequency range, high sensitivity, etc. They've been rugged enough that I've managed to keep them in perfect shape after heavy use. You still see them used for usually under $150 each.
     
  9. migstopheles

    migstopheles SS.org Regular

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    Honestly, until you know what you need and why you need it (verified with your own ears and tastes) then just use your SM57 for everything. It is a perfectly good mic for home studio purposes, sure it won't sound like the next Dark Side of the Moon but it will do the most important thing - unblock your process. It took me years and years to learn to focus away from acquiring new gear and more on using what I have to make something that sounds cool.
     
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  10. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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    My first large diaphram condenser was the original R0DE NT1. I still use it all the time. I avoid SM 57's if at all possible because they are so ubiquitous but they are so for a reason... they dont suck.
     
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  11. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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    Im unfamiliar with more recent stuff like the AKG 240 but from looking at its specs and lore it seems like its not an ideal vocal mic... which is generally what your really want a large diaphram condenser for. The AKG is apparently well suited to acoustic instruments but it wont suck at vocals... you will just want some EQ help for making them sparkle in the mix. Im in your neck of the woods btw and there are a few decent cheap condensers on craigslist you can snag. At those prices you can feel your way around and figure out what you like.
     
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  12. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    The MD421 is a dynamic mic, not a condenser.

    Honestly, if you're working on a tight budget, and you're not going to be doing a ton of vocal recording or acoustic instrument recording or anything where you're really going to be reaching for a condenser a ton, I'd go cheap.

    http://www.mxlmics.com/microphones/studio/63M/

    Years ago I grabbed my dad one of these to give him a better-sounding way of recording his acoustic guitars than a SM57. For $80, I ended up being impressed enough that I grabbed myself one as well, just to have another option on hand if I ever needed it. It doesn't get much use at all - my go for acoustic guitars is a sE4400a, a take on an older brass-capsule C414, but it gets used here and there and when I've done the occasional live-in-the-room recording I've been glad to have another usable condenser to reach for. Never tried it but there's a V67g which has the benefit of being a very pretty green, and I'm sure would do the job as well.

    it's not a mic that will impress many people, exactly, but I've made perfectly respectable sounding recordings with it. I'm sure you can do the same.
     

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