As it happens from time to time, I get requests for advice from fellow engineers. Sure, there's questions about compressors or methodologies, but the most common is the good ol' “what mic should I buy?” question.
This recent inquiry from Terry Moore of Abstract Studios in Houston—asking about affordable mic purchases for singer/songwriters—seemed like it might be informative for a lot of our readers. Terry was agreeable with sharing, so here you go:
Based on that info, I’m going to recommend that you pick up one single versatile microphone. That would be a large diaphragm condenser with multiple patterns. Such mics will typically have a pad (that you likely won’t use) and often have a HPF (high pass filter) that you likely will use from time to time.
Such a mic will have cardioid, omni and figure-8 patterns. Although we often use cardioid, more natural results are often achievable in omni (with a good amount of room ambience and air) or fig-8 (with less ambience than omni and more aim-ability).
Such a mic should be more flat than colorful because if it is colored at one frequency area, then all your recordings will emphasize that color and you’ll be whipping out corrective EQ all the time. I’m not going to recommend a tube mic, either; their response can be quite nice but sometimes a bit noisy and you may be performing some very, very quiet parts.
The Shure KSM32 you asked about would be a fine choice, but I think that multi-patterns are essential for you. So I’m thinking the KSM44A would be a perfect fit.
The Avantone CK-7 would be another good choice, based on my ongoing use of the CK40 (the stereo version), which is great on acoustics, drum overheads and group vox. The Sennhesier MK-8 would be good as well, with the added benefit of wide- and super-cardioid patterns and two HPF settings.
The RØDE NT2A is another good choice, with exceptionally low self-noise (excellent for quiet finger-picking), as well as high SPL handling.
An AKG C414 would be very good too. They are very versatile. They sometimes get bad user comments on forums/message-boards because they’re ubiquitous—not mediocre.
Blue has some more than suitable offerings that I'm not personally familiar with—the Cactus and the Kiwi. I've actually reviewed Blue’s Reactor; it’s mighty bright but beautifully defined if you’re willing to EQ a bit.
That oughta keep you busy for a couple of weeks. Lemme know once you buy something. Good luck!
Turns out, Terry bought the RØDE.
PSN readers: What LDCs have you recommended to your prolific singer/songwriter clients?