Condenser mic recs?

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by my bloody television » Thu Dec 10, 2020 8:41 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 3:08 pm
I'd recommend stretching to ~1100 and grabbing a Gefell MT71s (if pre-2005, even better). They are stupid good for the money, and have an excellent capsule (a true M7).
Thanks for the recommendation! Will definitely look into this one. Re: the 414...I’ve used various iterations and I do know that the comb and EB are outstanding but like you said, not within my current budget. 414s I could afford have left me wanting, at least from my experience.

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by my bloody television » Fri Dec 11, 2020 5:02 am

Ok, yeah, after doing a little research the gefell looks like what I’m after. Looks like I’ll be saving my pennies for a bit! Thanks again for the responses 8)

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by øøøøøøø » Fri Dec 11, 2020 5:36 am

Dok wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 7:22 pm
øøøøøøø wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 4:01 pm
marqueemoon wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 3:50 pm
To me the U87 has a flattering weightiness to it and is on the warm side of neutral. That’s what I like about it and those are the characteristics I’d want in my one good LD condenser mic if starting over.
Totally agree--a good U87 is really special. I don't know why they so often get characterized as "plain vanilla." They're really common, but that's because they're really good and flattering on a range of voices and instruments. And they're anything but "neutral," from my view. They sound like classic records.

Even U87s have gone through some changes over the years.... nothing like the 414, but there was a period in the early 2000s where they were trying a few things to substitute for hard-to-find FETs, and they didn't sound quite as good. The best ones I've ever heard have been a pair from the 1970s (that had the battery compartments inside).
So... Brad. I have a U87ai that I like quite a bit, but I've been tempted more than once to get a Gefell to compare. How much of a lateral move would it be to get a MT71s, price difference aside? I mean, I could buy a pair if I got rid of the Neumann... :D. Thing is I got such a good deal on the U87ai ($1500!) that I don't want to take for granted the good fortune that sent it my way.
I love the MT71s.

However, I would not trade a good U87 away for much of anything below $3k

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by øøøøøøø » Fri Dec 11, 2020 5:40 am

While I haven't gotten to try it, they're pretty enthusiastic about the Beesneez BU87i over on gearslutz forum.

It's cardiod-only and without getting into the debate about U87 clones, it's about $640 USD and has generated a lot of buzz. I wouldn't buy it chasing an accurate vintage U87i sound, but it's definitely a LDC worth considering on its own merit at its price point.
Ben Sneesby is one of the few who make their own capsules! I’ve never heard one.

But forum chatter around mics can be tricky, especially with newer products. Lots of mics sound good enough in "demo" or "shootout" circumstances (i.e. up close on-axis).

But a comprehensive view of a mic's performance is only really revealed in real-world use over time. What’s the off-axis response like? What does bleed into this microphone sound like? Those funky reflections off the piano lid... what do they do when they hit the back side of the capsule? This is the kind of stuff that separates an "okay" mic from a "great" mic, and it's hard to get from a quick demo.

It’s no coincidence that every well-marketed cheap mic gets lots of forum hype at first and then fades away. I remember when everyone on forums was raving about the M-Audio Sputnik, you know?

The U87s of the world, by contrast, become more valued with time.

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by øøøøøøø » Fri Dec 11, 2020 5:57 am

my bloody television wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 5:02 am
Ok, yeah, after doing a little research the gefell looks like what I’m after. Looks like I’ll be saving my pennies for a bit! Thanks again for the responses 8)
I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Sometimes you can find an older UM70s (not UMT70s) in a similar price range, and you might like that even a little bit more. Usually they’re a little more expensive but once in awhile...

The UM70s is multi-pattern and has a transformer on its output. It’s a little bit more personality, perhaps.

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by Dok » Fri Dec 11, 2020 7:14 am

øøøøøøø wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 5:57 am
my bloody television wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 5:02 am
Ok, yeah, after doing a little research the gefell looks like what I’m after. Looks like I’ll be saving my pennies for a bit! Thanks again for the responses 8)
I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Sometimes you can find an older UM70s (not UMT70s) in a similar price range, and you might like that even a little bit more. Usually they’re a little more expensive but once in awhile...

The UM70s is multi-pattern and has a transformer on its output. It’s a little bit more personality, perhaps.
Gotta love the Gefell naming conventions - the "T" in the UMT70s means it does not have a transformer!?
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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by øøøøøøø » Fri Dec 11, 2020 8:20 am

Dok wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 7:14 am
øøøøøøø wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 5:57 am
my bloody television wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 5:02 am
Ok, yeah, after doing a little research the gefell looks like what I’m after. Looks like I’ll be saving my pennies for a bit! Thanks again for the responses 8)
I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Sometimes you can find an older UM70s (not UMT70s) in a similar price range, and you might like that even a little bit more. Usually they’re a little more expensive but once in awhile...

The UM70s is multi-pattern and has a transformer on its output. It’s a little bit more personality, perhaps.
Gotta love the Gefell naming conventions - the "T" in the UMT70s means it does not have a transformer!?
Exactly, it stands for "transformerless."

Same with the Neumann TLM series... "Transformerless Microphone"

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by mbene085 » Fri Dec 11, 2020 12:20 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 5:40 am

Sneesby makes his own capsules, at least! I’ve never heard one, but at least it won't have the same capsule as literally every other cheap condenser.

But forum chatter around mics can be tricky, especially with newer products. Lots of mics sound good enough in "demo" or "shootout" circumstances (i.e. up close on-axis).

But a comprehensive view of a mic's performance is only really revealed in real-world use over time. What’s the off-axis response like? What does bleed into this microphone sound like? Those funky reflections off the piano lid... what do they do when they hit the back side of the capsule? This is the kind of stuff that separates an "okay" mic from a "great" mic, and it's hard to get from a quick demo.

It’s no coincidence that every well-marketed cheap mic gets lots of forum hype at first and then fades away. I remember when everyone on forums was raving about the M-Audio Sputnik, you know?

The U87s of the world, by contrast, become more valued with time.
You're right, of course, that they're unproven, but like you said, at least they're actually made in-house including the capsules, so they aren't just the same rebranded Chinese stuff like many lower end mics.

The nice thing about hot new mics is that you can generally flip them at a minimal loss if they disappoint you. I've seen used BU87is go for less than $100 cheaper than new ones.

But it's apples to oranges with a classic like an actual U87. You know what you're getting with the real deal, and if you have the budget for it, it's of course a safe bet.

I agree that hype around cheap mics can be misleading. But every once in a while you get the Squier JMJM - something cheap that turns out to be a great value after all. I'd never pretend a JMJM is the equivalent to a Thin Skin AV65, but it's amazing for what it is.

Kind of like the SM7B. To me, that's an example of a cheap mic that endures as a classic despite perpetual over-hype. There's a lot of internet histrionics claiming it can substitute for LDCs and be the only vocal mic you'll ever need, but for every inaccurate overhype, there's a professional putting it to good use. It's an enduring classic because professionals can easily find enough uses for it to justify its price.

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by NBarnes21 » Tue Dec 22, 2020 1:26 pm

I've got a Warm WA-47 and it is awesome- amazing bang for the buck (I think it's still on sale for $800 right now too). They commissioned a custom 47 style capsule for it, I use it as a mono room mic for my drums which it kills on, it's also really great on electric guitar (I like to pair it with a ribbon), acoustic guitar, and vocals, it's my main go-to mic for just about everything. Some of the warm audio mics really are an awesome value (I have heard mixed reviews about the new 67 though), I have a pair of the WA 84's that I love too, used for drum overheads. Works better in that application than some real 184's I used once at a studio, the WA-84's are nice and warm but still have that condenser fidelity.
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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by Drill » Thu Jan 07, 2021 4:39 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 3:58 pm
Sorry for over-posting, but re: the AKG C414--

There have been nine completely-different microphones called the "AKG C414." Two completely different capsule designs, four different body designs, two different finishes, and nine different impedance conversion amp designs, among other things!

The first two (the 414-comb and 414-EB) are absolutely incredible and way out of OP's budget. 2500 minimum (still a bargain for how good they are). Original brass-ring CK-12 capsule. God-tier microphones that we frequently choose over five-figure mics, depending on individual voice or application. These are silver in color, and when an old-school engineer says "414" this is probably what they mean. Gotta be careful that the capsule hasn't been replaced with the later nylon-ring one.

The next two (414-EB-P48 and 414-B-ULS) are not even close to the same microphone as the ones above. They are, however, excellent utility microphones and well in your budget. I never use them on vocal. It bears repeating that the capsule isn't in the same category as the brass CK-12.

The other five (B-TL-II, B-XL-II, B- XLS, XL-II, XLS) all date from the 1990s or later, and collectively represent another big departure. The only thing they retain from the B-ULS generation is that second generation capsule, and then they mate it with transformerless electronics that were... not an improvement.

It's a really shitty and confusing state of affairs, but with 414s you generally get what you pay for. If you ever buy a silver one, check that the capsule is right (many were replaced at the factory with the subsequent generation, rendering the mic much less valuable and desirable).
Everything you said agrees with most engineers I know except for the TLII. Some techs praise it more than the B-ULS itself.

Edit: It was based on their feedback I bought one of those :)

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by øøøøøøø » Thu Jan 07, 2021 8:20 pm

Yeah, it's interesting how subjective it can all be. In a similar vein, I know some people who love the Neumann TLM70 and others who have the exact opposite opinion.

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by mediocreplayer » Sun Jan 31, 2021 12:24 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 8:20 pm
...
Brad -- since you are the mic guru around here I thought I'd run this by you. I use an Oktava 319, and I am currently thinking of getting a set of Oktava MK-012, possibly with the 102 capsule. My main usage is vocals and I want a versatile mic under $500 that would complement the 319. I know the MK-012 is not primarily a vocal mic, but I read a few opinions (e.g. Gregory Scott on gearlutz) praising them for this application if they are "properly" used. Other contenders are the SE T2 and the Lewitt 441.

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by øøøøøøø » Sun Jan 31, 2021 8:43 pm

mediocreplayer wrote:
Sun Jan 31, 2021 12:24 pm
øøøøøøø wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 8:20 pm
...
Brad -- since you are the mic guru around here I thought I'd run this by you. I use an Oktava 319, and I am currently thinking of getting a set of Oktava MK-012, possibly with the 102 capsule. My main usage is vocals and I want a versatile mic under $500 that would complement the 319. I know the MK-012 is not primarily a vocal mic, but I read a few opinions (e.g. Gregory Scott on gearlutz) praising them for this application if they are "properly" used. Other contenders are the SE T2 and the Lewitt 441.
I have an MK-012 sitting on the desk to my left that--before I brought my homemade U47 back home--was for many years my "always patched in home demo" mic. I used it for all sort of things (now I use it for Zoom calls, primarily! But occasionally still demo duty)

I even used it for vocals sometimes, just because it was patched and ready when I had an idea. It worked fine--it's a microphone, and it definitely recorded voice to an acceptable standard for many, many demos!

I'm not familiar with Mr. Scott or his work, but I've not ever heard anyone else accuse the MK-012 of being a great vocal mic. I'd wager that your 319 is probably much more on the right track for what most people would be looking for in that application, but you never know until you try.

If my main application were going to be vocals, I'd probably not pop for the 012 unless I'd specifically heard one and knew I loved it in that application. I don't want to dissuade you... it's possible you'd get it and absolutely love it. It is a solid mic for its price... back when they were $99 or so they were absolute no-brainers, but they've risen in value over the past ten years to a level about commensurate with their utility.

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by mediocreplayer » Sun Jan 31, 2021 10:06 pm

Fantastic -- thank you so much for your detailed answer. I guess I might just swing for it and use it for remote teaching.

Can I slightly alter my question then and ask what would be a <$500 vocal mic that would complement the 319?

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Re: Condenser mic recs?

Post by øøøøøøø » Mon Feb 01, 2021 5:35 am

It gets tricky, because I'm still continually surprised by the things that work on individual voices. The very best situation (more difficult with COVID) is if you can try a bunch of things out, use them for awhile (ideally up through mixing tracks recorded with them!) and then choose.

Below $500, you have three basic paths:
  • take a flyer on a mic that aspires to "clone" a desirable condenser like the U87
  • take a chance on the inexpensive modern condenser-du-jour
  • buy a really nice moving-coil dynamic
For path 1, many companies (Warm Audio and Stam Audio are two popular ones) make cheap U87 copies that would probably fit your budget. Regarding their alleged similarity to the Neumann: I don't think it's really possible to draw meaningful conclusions unless you have extensive experience with the genuine article over a long period of time. So most online reviews should probably be regarded with a degree of skepticism... but that doesn't mean they won't sound good to you. Clearly many people are very happy with them.

For path 2, it's probably even more of a wilderness. Generally, it seems almost as though the company with the best marketing push at any given time will hold the title, and then used examples pop up all over forum classifieds 3-5 years down the line. There are exceptions, and there are overperformers out there. One popular choice in this vein right now seems to be the Aston microphones... the Origin in particular is well within your budget. I ended up with one for awhile, and also used it for demo duties. It was okay for the price.

For path 3, there are lots of options out there. I'd generally rather a Sennheiser MD441 (probably a bit out of your budget, but shop around used) over just about any other moving-coil dynamic as a starting point for vocal. Honestly, in the "affordable-ish" price bracket, it may be my top choice overall, depending on the voice.

I'm not quite the SM7b adherent that the rest of all internet seems to be, at least not on vocal, but clearly many people are satisfied with it. Then there are others that could do a really good job, like the Beyerdynamic M88 and the Sennheiser MD421.

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