Help me spend $1800 on mics

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by garyjimmerson, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. garyjimmerson

    garyjimmerson Member

    Sep 5, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Hello good people of The Gear Page. I am in the market for LDC and SDC mics for the following applications. I have $1800 for a budget, and have a few options i would like to hear some input on. (My goal is to purchase both a LD and SD, and I will be buying used mics)

    Main Applications in order of importance are:
    1. Drum Overheads
    2. Vibraphone (Stereo)
    3. Vox (both male and female)
    4. Guitars (both acoustic and electric/amp)

    My set Up: Digi 003 with 4 channels Art MPA Pro pres. I only have about 3 feet between cymbals and ceiling creating the need for a closer than ideal mic placement.

    Option 1:
    Pair of Neumann 184's
    one AKG 414 BXLS

    Option 2:
    Pair of AKG 414 BXLS'
    one Neumann 184

    Option 3:
    Pair of AT 4051's
    one AKG 414 BXLS
    one AT 4047

    Option 4:
    Your choice

    Other mics i've considered: AT 4041, AKG 451, AT 4050.

    Thanks for your enthusiasm!!!
  2. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2008
    Southern California
    I tend to like the sound of LDC's in stereo pairs, especially for drum overheads. Some great choices in your price range would be:

    1. Blue Dragonfly
    2. ADK TL Series
    3. AKG 414XLII's
    4. This has nothing to do with mics, but if you want everything going through your 003 to sound better, check out the upgrades being done by Black Lion Audio (
  3. Big White Tele

    Big White Tele Member

    Apr 24, 2005
    Rocky Mountains
    How about a Shure KSM 32 for Acoustic, and Electric cabs? Ive got one and love it.
  4. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    A pair of Oktava MK012s for about $400.

    A Blue Mouse or a comparable Violet mic like the Globe for about $1300.
  5. dunara

    dunara Member

    Sep 6, 2006
    When I saw the thread title, my first thought was 'a pair of 414s and take it from there'. I'd always go the extra few bucks for the XL11 version.
    I was recently able to A-B a KM184 with a Rode NT5. The sonic difference was almost non-existent; perhaps the Neumann had a slightly higher output, but I'd thouroughly recommend the Rode. The NT5s come in matched pairs for less than the price of one KM184. :AOK

    So my choice is: 2X AKG 414 XL11. plus 2X Rode NT5
  6. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2002
    1. A pair of SDCs probably makes sense here.
    2. No idea what to try here, but I'd start with a pair of SDCs.
    3. Male, I've been really happy with the sound of an SM7. I haven't recorded any female singers.
    4. Acoustic guitars, I like a single SDC, a dynamic (SM57), an LDC, a pair of SDCs, or an LDC and a SDC. It depends on the track. Electric guitars, I really like ribbons, particularly Royers. An SM57 is a pretty traditional mic to pick for that purpose.

    So, I'd suggest a pair of SDCs. You can find some really good pairs for a reasonable price (Beyers, Josephsons, Oktavas, etc.). An SM57 would be good to have, as would an SM7. A multi-pattern LDC could be used for lots of things. I get a ton of use out of my AKG 414.

    Keeping within your budget, you could probably get an SM57, an SM7, a pair of Oktavas, a 414, and a budget ribbon (Cascade, for example). That would cover a ton of bases.

  7. garyjimmerson

    garyjimmerson Member

    Sep 5, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Thanks for all your input. (please keep them coming!) Just to help clarify a bit, i already have enough Sm57 & Sm58's to go around. i also have a pair Sennheiser 421's, so i am looking to stay with condensers in this purchase.

    Are the KM184's not worth the money? I'm getting a sense that Octava's MK012 or some AT 4051's are the best buy, suggesting the $1000 price difference isn't worth it.
  8. Veritas

    Veritas Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2007
    You'd be surprised how many producers in Nashville are using the Oktava MK012's. I can't say enough how good they are for the price.
  9. Greggy

    Greggy Member

    May 8, 2002
    The Antipodes To All That is Sacred and Pure
    I'm a big fan of the 184. My first thought was identical to your option 1. But i would first look into the Oktava offerings. Been meaning to do this myself for some time.
  10. kojdogg

    kojdogg Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2008
    Peekskill, NY
    The Oktava's are great values (try to make sure you get the Russian version-- not the Chinese "fakes" made for GC). I had a pair that I got modified by Michael Joly at Oktavamod and they sounded even better. There are a variety of capsules you can get for these too-- they come with cardioid, and/or hypercardioid and omni capsules (depending on which kit you get), Oktava also makes several LDC/MDC capsule heads for them, plus RED made a lolipop capsule head for it, and LOMO makes several well-regarded LDC heads to fit the preamps as well.

    The Mouse is a great mic as well (I've had two). Try to get the Black transformer equipped version--not the bluish transformerless version. The Kiwi and Blueberry are also great mics. You can often find BLUE mics used for about 1/2 of the new price.

    If you shop around and find some good deals, you could always add a cheap ribbon mic or two (e.g. Cascade Fathead). Those may come in hand for any of the uses you've listed.

    It's never a bad thing to have a Shure SM7/7a/7b around-- serviceable kick drum mic, good all around vocal mic, good for guitar amps.

    If drum overheads are your primary use, you might want to invest in some 703 panels or other treatment as well.
  11. PdL

    PdL Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2006
    United States
    The Neumann 184's are ideal for drum overheads and acoustic stringed instruments. I'd say start with a pair of these and then see how much money you have left to cover your other mic needs. IMHO, it's better to invest in one set of high quality mics than than trying to get by w/ three or four of lesser quality.
  12. zenfreud

    zenfreud Member

    Mar 20, 2002
    Portland OR
    They're certainly not cheap, but being Neumann they will have reasonably good resale value.

    I've got a pro audio dealership in Portland, pm me if you'd like to audition some Peluso microphones.
  13. Ulysses

    Ulysses Member

    Sep 29, 2005
    I always preach buying the standards and buying used. I would much rather have a pro studio quality dynamic like a 441 or SM7 than a consumer grade LDC. A pair of SM-81's or 451's, a Senn 441, an RE-20, and you'll have several hundred dollars left over. You already have your utilty mics. You can make a great sounding record, end up with staples in your tone pallette that are used daily in just about every major studio world wide. You'll also never need to upgrade from any of these and they will stay with you no matter how sophisticated things may come.

    Either this or just invest in a pair of SM81/451's and a great ribbon like a Coles 4038 (if you have a very good pre with +50db gain or more) or R121. If you can find a vintage 414eb with it's original CK-12 you may be able to afford that as well. This mic has the same capsule as the legendary $20,000 Elam 251. I'm not up on current prices for those but I would think one could be had well under $2k.
  14. KennyM

    KennyM Supporting Member

    Jul 24, 2003
    Burbank, Ca.
    As someone that has some really high end mics I'm of the opinion that I would rather have one mic of extreme high quality than several of medium caliber. This is not to say that there aren't some really good budget mics being made now, but it's pretty obvious when you compare them to one of the standards, exactly why they are the standards.

    My suggestion would be to first get just one of the best LDC's you can afford and then build your collection from there with a pair of SDC. The rest you can do with dynamics like 57's and 421's etc.

    The tip for buying used is a good one, but only if you can get it from a reputable source or have it checked out by someone that knows how to verify the condition of the capsule and diaphragm.

    Also, if you're looking at KM184's I'd suggest the SM69 from Mercenary audio. These are mics designed after the more sought after and much sweeter sounding KM84. I've heard tracks recorded with them and read some excellent reviews where they even beat out the KM84's. These are my next mic purchase and they are about the same price as a new pair of KM184's. Here's a link-
  15. gitman

    gitman Member

    Dec 29, 2004
    western europe
    1+ on the Oktava's but get them modded/upgraded. i'd spend the rest of the $ on the best vocal mic i could find- be shure to listen to as many as you can and spend some time on the Gear Sluts recording forum- all the info you'll ever need is right there !
  16. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    New Brunswick, NJ
    You can get new modded Oktava's in matched cardioid ($670) or with cardioid, omni and hyper capsules ($850)

    These are an excellent value. They won't hold their resale like a neumann but I don't think you'll want to sell them anyway. They are popular for a reason.

    The fact that you can attach an LDC capsule to the Oktava preamp body is another plus.
  17. ben_allison

    ben_allison Member

    Feb 7, 2006
    North SF Bay, CA
    Never mind the KM184's. Seriously. If you need a pair of SDC's, the original 84's or the Josephson C42's are the way to go.

    For you? Easy:

    Mojave MA-200 (x1)
    Shure SM7 (x1)
    Audix i5 (x1)
    CAD M179 (x2)


    The Mojave is a modern clone of a Neumann U69. It's made by the same guy who designs the famous Royer ribbon mics. Killer choice for a "budget" but killer LDC.

    The Shure SM7 is a staple. Killer on male rock vocals, snare, and of course, guitar amps. NOT to be confused with the SM57. The SM7 is a more versatile, useful, ephonic choice.

    The Audix i5 is what the SM57 wished it could be. Great choice for guitar amps.

    The CAD M179's are total sleeper mics. They have continuously variable pick-up patterns, and will blow most other inexpensive condensers away. Great choice for a stereo pairs.

    After that, I'd focus on getting a decent ribbon or two...

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