Something other than a Shure SM57? A condenser mic?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by rubbersoul, Aug 1, 2020 at 12:26 PM.

  1. rubbersoul

    rubbersoul Member

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    Hi all,

    I do very simple recordings at home. Right now, my signal path is one of my guitars, into a few simple pedals, into a 1973 Fender Vibrochamp. I don't record at really loud levels just because I'm not able to in my household. Most overdriven sounds I try to capture come from pedals. I can run my amp around 4-5 on the volume dial for short periods of time...before it becomes a disturbance to others in the house.

    Right now, I am using a Shure SM57. I've tried close micing, as well as some distance micing, but more times than not...I think the recorded tones I get sound a little thin and underpowered. One might be tempted to say, "garbage in, garbage out". If you're using small tones it will record small. But, the amp sounds very full and warm in the room at 4-5 on the dial...it has nice fat cleans, especially when I warm it up with a nice reverb pedal. Thus, I don't seem to be capturing what I'm hearing.

    So, should I be looking at another mic? Perhaps a condenser mic instead of the Shure? Thanks for any help.
     
  2. John Quinn

    John Quinn Member

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    I use a Royer R-121 with a Shure SM57 - it is now a tried and true method to capturing a guitar amps full range. The R-121 colors the sound due to the Ribbon elements and figure 8 pattern. The only issue people have with it is the price - $1200 or so. If you want a similar setup at a more budget friendly range the Cascade X-15 Stereo ribbon microphone performs relatively the same as the R-121. The X-15 also has a figure 8 pattern and Ribbon elements at about $600 less than the Royer.
     
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  3. rubbersoul

    rubbersoul Member

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    Wonderful! Thanks for the help...I'll be sure to check out the Cascade.
     
  4. fjblair

    fjblair Silver Supporting Member

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    The two mic method mentioned is best for sure, but you should be able to get really good results with just the 57 in my experience.
     
  5. rubbersoul

    rubbersoul Member

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    Perhaps my micing technique just isn't good enough yet. I typically put the mic very close to the amp's grill...sometimes it's pointed at the center of the speaker (I don't always care for that), other times I have it just off center by an inch or two.
     
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  6. Captngeetch

    Captngeetch Supporting Member

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    Try moving the mic. I generally record with the mic closer to the outside rim. More centered is too bright for me. Also, adjust the tone of the amp. Just because it sounds great in the room live, doesn’t mean it will sound that way after some processing. I always use an SM57 to record my guitar tracks and the results are excellent. I do some times do a 3 mic technic, but usually it’s just the Shure. Or the Shure and a condenser as a room mic.
     
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  7. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    Start by moving the mic you have. Dead center tends to be bright and crisp/harsh...start sweeping the mic towards the edge. Usually somewhere around the dust cone is where it starts to balance out.
     
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  8. rubbersoul

    rubbersoul Member

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    Perfect. Thanks guys. I'll try this today.
     
  9. sants

    sants Supporting Member

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    I think a half decent large diaphragm should be in everyone home studio. I've used a lot of cheaper LDC mics and the shure sm27 has been great for me especially since I grabbed mine for around $100 used. I use them on many sources and they never disappoint.

    There are many good options that would work. I would definitely play around with mic placement though with the 57. The 57 should be able to get you some solid recordings all around.
     
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  10. navigate40

    navigate40 Member

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    I used to record an amp using an SM57. Good results, though a little thin for me too. I found mic position to be critical.

    BUT, that said... A LOT of major studio recordings have been done with these mics. And...being position sensitive can be an advantage, if you are after different sounds.

    I tried an SE Se7 pencil condenser mic, I had been using for an acoustic guitar. I really liked the results a lot. Much more consistent and fuller, than the SM57. Not nearly as position sensitive.

    [of course, MUCH more sensitive...but has a -20dB pad]

    It goes against all conventional wisdom. Have not compared it to a LDC mic (I do have an AT2035...which is a fantastic all around, in the under $200 price range).

    ymmv.
     
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  11. ToneDeVille

    ToneDeVille Supporting Member

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    mic placement & EQ in the mix will fix it.
     
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  12. marmalade cream

    marmalade cream Member

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    Lately I've been using an LDC blended with a 57 for bread and butter rock tones, and I like it. The full range response of the LDC fills in the bottom and air that the 57 is missing.

    IME the narrow nasal quality of the 57 is what makes (rock) guitar cut through the mix, but is not very exciting or satisfying to listen to on it's own.

    Plus, if you get an LDC you'll have something to record acoustic guitar with. Maybe vox too.
     
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  13. John Quinn

    John Quinn Member

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    I don't think it would hurt you to experiment with Microphone placement. By yourself is a little more difficult but still can be done. The way I did it in the beginning (a mentor showed me the way) - get headphones that are sealed cups (or the best you have) get next to the amp and microphone - and move the microphone around until you hear the sweet spot. FYI It's best done with a assistant who can move the microphone whilst you play.

    A good rule of thumb - Dead Center on the Cone will often be the Brightest (and some say harshest sound)- as you move the mic off center in a straight line the tone will smooth out - as you move the microphone off center and at a angle to the speaker (known as off axis) the best combination of bright and full the tones will come forward - and it will be smoother and still retain clarity.

    And remember to have fun and treat this like an sonic adventure - I loved my early days of microphone technique - for me it had a second benefit - I learned to play better including where I positioned my fingers or pick as well as combinations - for example direct on the cone with the tone knob on the guitar (or treble control on the amp) turned down. It's enlightening - and you'll start to hear how tones on different records were achieved.
     
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  14. Sendrith

    Sendrith Member

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    I have a Stellar X2 LDC coming in the mail -- supposedly a very close recreation of a U87. $200 USD from their site. I'm in Canada and got dinged a bit on duties, but still should be like $3k USD less then a Neumann. Check out a review on YouTube from Booth Junkie.

    The logical thing here IMO would be a load box like the Two Notes Captor. You can run the volume where you want it for tube sag and not bother the household, and there are thousands of free IRs using different mics and speakers. Probably the next thing on my list... GAS is life.
     
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  15. rubbersoul

    rubbersoul Member

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    Thank you!
     
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  16. John Quinn

    John Quinn Member

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    The Stellar X2 is indeed a nice microphone - but the X2 is closer to a Neumann TLM 103 than a mid 1980s U87Ai. The X2 Vintage model that has a K47 Style Capsule and a optimized K47 transformerless JFET circuit is closer to the mid 1980s U87ai.

    The X2 (non Vintage) has a K67 Style Capsule with differently built transformerless JFET circuit that attenuates High-frequencies - IOWs it smooths out the 5K - 8K high mid frequency harshness that plague many of the inexpensive Chinese LDCs

    Another difference - which may/may not be important to folks - both the X2 and X2 Vintage are Cardioid only polar patterns. The U87 Ai polar patterns are omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure-8 - important if you wanted to employ more advanced microphone techniques like X-Y, Blumlein, ORTF array, or mid-side (M-S). Hopefully those terms will have you guys on Google trying to figure out what the heck this old guy is talking about. :D
     
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  17. Sendrith

    Sendrith Member

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    Yeah I'm just looking to have one decent LDC -- currently have an AT2020 and a Lewitt LCT 240 Pro. You seem to have some experience with these Stellar mics, do you have other good recommendations in a similar price range?
     
  18. Robot B9

    Robot B9 Member

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    Open back cabinets can sometimes sound thin. I use a 57 in the front of my Fender amps, but I also mic the back of the cabinet with a Sennheiser MD421. I record them onto two different tracks and mix together. Just have to be careful of phase cancellation.
     
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  19. marmalade cream

    marmalade cream Member

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    Great point, miking the back of the cab can add some really nice low end when blended with the front mic. You'll have to flip the polarity on the back mic as well as watch out for phase alignment, to your point.
     
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  20. Zexcoil

    Zexcoil Vendor

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    I've had really good results with a Sennheiser e906 and an AKG 220 Perception.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020 at 4:33 PM
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