I'm look to start putting together a portfolio of my playing to use for auditions for festivals and such and was looking into getting a better set up for audio than my usb microphone. I know that in order to use an xlr microphone I need to have a preamp. I was looking getting one by Scarlett since it's a popular brand that people seem to like.
However, I'm not sure what microphone to get. I know brands like Audio Technica, AKG, and Rode are well-respected, but beyond that I don't know what model to get. I'm not looking to get something super expensive, but I still want something better than a usb mic. Does anyone know if the more affordable offerings from these brands or others like them are reliable/worth the money?
I use 2 AT2020's and a Scarlett with 2 XLR inputs.
What USB mic are you using right now? As far as I know, the Rode is somewhat better than, say, a Yeti. I think to use the XLR thing you first need to get an interface and then a mic. Personally I have not gotten myself an external setup because I don't need it but I'm just sharing what I know from my virtual ensemble circles becuase they have a lot of good advice lol
You would probably be better off with a large diaphragm condenser such as the Warm Audio WA-87 (ca. $600) or a ribbon mic such as the Royer R-10 (ca. $500). The AT2020 is a cheaper offering at around $100.
To the OP:
If you have the budget then get a Royer R-121 ribbon (with a decent preamp)
Chris that really looks like a fly-by-night operation, to tell you the truth. I looked at the website. No price. You have to click on an eBay link. No product listed. Doesn't inspire confidence.
Paul they have good street cred over on the recording forums like gearslutz.com. I bought 'Line Audio' mics based on recommendations like that that are legitimately decent and inexpensive. My issue with ribbons is that without additional external preamps it will be difficult to get them to perform well, unless they are 'active' with preamps built in. And at least with my AEA ribbon, whereas it sounds great in a smaller space, it is too dark in a large hall as a main pair. And since these are all handmade, if you have any issue, support from Royer and AEA is immediate and helpful. Not so sure about returning things to Russia though.
There are non-seedy-Russian active ribbons available at around $500, like the SE Electronics Voodoo VR2. Pretty good specs on that one. It's not going to beat the Royer 121 but that's a $1300 microphone.
Paul, why so much shade and negativity on the talented guy in the 3rd world who's built a world-wide reputation with very limited resources? I've corresponded with him before and he seems very smart and capable. He sells equipment all over the world, and his products are pretty much handmade. Do you have any reason for calling him seedy, etc.? Seems very judgmental and ugly.
Why so much shade and negativity? Because I went to this company's website. The website is dominated by a rant about someone who cloned his product. There is no pricing anywhere of his products. Despite searching all over his website, I have absolutely no idea what his microphones cost.
So we get a little frustrated things aren't done our way, and we attack and smear? Ok, as long as we can see what level of maturity we're dealing with. None of your criteria have anything to do with him or the mics. Some people have to do business in countries that have very repressive laws and currency restrictions, etc. It's a great challenge for many who do not live in the American bubble. Just buy the Royer!
I'll try and answer any questions, but thank you for the replies I've gotten so far.
> If it would help, I could record a little something with the microphone and upload it as an unlisted video for review
I was lucky enough to find both a Shure SM27 and an AKG P120 (both large diaphragm condensers) for half of their RRP on Amazon because their boxes were "damaged". I run them into a Scarlett 4i4. With my listening equipment, the difference between them is not obvious. One channel has more noise than the other, so I may have to buy a better cable, although the noise level isn't audible. I'm using Audacity, but I'm not convinced it's the most user-friendly.
Christian you asked how are Zoom recorders different from something like USB mics or even condenser/ribbon mics. I expect that the mics themselves are similar quality to what you find on a good stereo USB mic - inexpensive condenser mics, along with a USB interface. You can use these exactly like you'd use a stereo USB mic. However, these add what you find in a simple audio interface (metering, additional XLR inputs), plus storage (writes audio files in standard formats to a memory card). When you are recording, you don't need to carry a computer with you and you don't need AC power.
I have a Zoom H4n, and agree that they're great. Would probably suit OP's needs very well. The built-in mics are fine for general recordings, and you can plug external mics into it and use it as an interface if you end up with some nicer mics. You can put the files on computer and process them with other software. You can use them out of the box and simple recorder, and they have a lot of more advanced features to use as you grow.
Tom wrote, "None of your criteria have anything to do with him or the mics." Of course I don't have criteria about "him" because it's not personal. I don't know anything about the individual who designs microphones for Royer either.
Marco, I think recordings for auditions is something people take pretty seriously, but I also wonder if it's really necessary. The big question is whether the listener will really be seriously judging your tone from a recording, knowing that there is a great diversity in the quality of equipment that applicants are using?
But more simply, is the final result something that gives pleasure when listening ?
Marco, certainly that's true but the fact is that professional recording services are very expensive, at least here in the US. Meanwhile I guess a professional recording engineer would argue that DIY tinkering with production setup isn't likely to bring a professional result.
> "Meanwhile I guess a professional recording engineer would argue that DIY tinkering with production setup isn't likely to bring a professional result."
Well, even my $100 PreSonus interface is 24-bit ADC. I think that's the easy part nowadays.
Well, I recorded a little excerpt of a piece I'm working on. It's about a minute and a half of the first page of Vieuxtemps' 5th concerto. It is nowhere near perfect or where I want it so excuse the mistakes, but I think it shows what my microphone is doing for me at the moment.
The sound of your recording is very dry (could be a blessing), and the overall sound level seems low, and it's lacking brilliance (higher frequencies and overtones seem lacking to me). I certainly don't have the expertise one would need to pin all of that on your microphone.
What paul said, and I hear the room acoustics, which are soft. Try placing the mic closer to the violin. This might make it "drier", though. You could then add a little artificial reverb, but err on the side of too little, rather than too much.
Yeah, that's the word I'm looking for. It's very dry-sounding. I did lower the gain on the microphone because I wanted to avoid clipping. I probably lowered it too much. And Paul you're right the higher notes and overtones aren't coming through.
I think you recorded TOO close and probably the mic was in front of you or at your left, and not high (respect to the plane where the violin was), probably lower.
I think the general rule of thumb with 24 bit samples is record with peaks at -12dB, then normalize the result in your audio editor (scaling each sample value to effectively increase volume). I wouldn't add reverb or compression but a subtle equalization curve is virtually indistinguishable from using different mics. For something important, do reserve some time in a good-sounding hall or church, and get some experience recording there.
A checklist I go through for recording...
I've done a fair amount of chamber music recording with a variety of equipment and I'm going to say that you will get a lot more bang per buck by working to improve your mic placement, room ambience, etc. than by buying new equipment. Most equipment, even a phone, is better than the way it's used by someone with no experience.
I could not agree more with what Michael Darnton wrote.
In a sense it's like learning the violin. You learn to get the most out of your student model, and only when you are pretty sure that the instrument is limiting you, and not the other way around, then you trade up.
Paul. Burd Igor makes his microphones by hand and they are not always available on his Ebay site so you have to watch until he makes more and they become available. They are probably snapped up quickly now. He may not have the best site but I've contacted him before and he responds. I believe he sells direct. He has a presence and reputation within the audio community so I doubt he would be fly-by-night. The reviews were so good that I wouldn't be surprised if he has put his price up by now. He is one of those hidden gems but if you feel uncomfortable then nobody is making you buy.
Mainly I agree with Paul, but even then, there's only so far you can trade up the mic before the room becomes the weakest link. You can put a 3000 dollar mic in a toilet, but it will sound like a toilet.
Chris that is good to know. If he is respected in the audio community then I am happy to withdraw my statement that is business is "fly-by-night". Even though I didn't say that. I only said it LOOKED that way based on what I could determine based on the appearance and performance of his publicly available e-business apparatus. Still, I'm willing to give his product a chance, since a few hundred dollars isn't the most expensive experiment. I'd still prefer something with a warranty because I'm just basically a risk-averse person.