What's the best mic to record bass with?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by TwoColorsKiller, Jan 30, 2012.


  1. TwoColorsKiller

    TwoColorsKiller

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    I've recorded a couple songs for my band, however I've always DI'd my amp. I want to start using mic's, to create a fuller, more natural sound and to capture the air that gets pushed out. I was told that my band's SM57 isn't enough to capture the low end that my bass puts out. I have also been told to look at bass drum studio mic's, Any suggestions? (BTW I use a pbass with seymour duncan spb-3's, an Ampeg 4X10 HLF cab, and I play with a pick)

    Thanks
  2. kraigo

    kraigo

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    It depends on what you want. I don't tend to record a truly cranked bass amp, so I like large diaphragm condensers. An RE-20 is a good choice. If you're mixing with a DI signal, something with less low end capability like an EV N/D 468 can be fine.

    The biggest thing I'd recommend is to not use the same mic that you use on the kick as you do on the bass amp. It's hard enough to get them to cohabitate without doing that. In fact, I tend to avoid modern "kick drum mics" completely because they're all pre EQ'd in a similar fashion.

    KO
  3. TwoColorsKiller

    TwoColorsKiller

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Thanks, but is there anything for a more affordable price? lol I'm a college student on a tight budget. And I'm trying to stay away from DI, just to be clear
  4. bassgod0dmw

    bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Location:
    White Plains
    A Heil PR40 is cheaper than the RE20, but I have no idea if it's a more affordable price to you.

    Plenty of people use SM57's, and if you've already got one why not try it and see if you like the results? Lots use them in conjunction with a DI signal, but lots use it on it's own as well.
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  6. spigmu

    spigmu

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    NYC
    Here's the frequency response of the 57:

    [​IMG]

    The thing with using mics like a 57 on a bass cab isn't that they don't have any low end, but because of the way it drops off starting so high you have to deal with that deep slope when you eq your bottom up, which may be a bit of a wrestling match if you want to have a lot of the cab's 100hz and under up front. It definitely can work if you don't, or if something else has that covered. It works great live when the cab is rocking the riser. Recording not so much. If you can get ahold of anything that doesn't drop off so precipitously you'll probably be happier. RE20's are a sure bet, IMO. I used to have a Senn 421 that sounded great on bass, very wide range (no steep drop) Really good on loud cabs and a great all around mic! Whoops, just re-read your line about budget. I'll echo kraigo that you'll have plenty of options, including the 57, if you consent to sneaking in a bit of DI for it's bottom.

    For around $200 both the Senn e902 and the AKG D112 have pretty good reps as kick/bass mics, though I haven't used them. Give anything you can get your hands on a try, but if you can look up the freq chart of them you'll have a good idea of how much lows it give you and how much you'll have to dial back up.
  7. fokof

    fokof Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Mike the speaker , not the bass.


    :D



    Seriously , I use ATM-25 (Now called 250) for everything low end with good results.
    Hypercardioid , no scoop mids , good lows.
  8. bigchiefbc

    bigchiefbc Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    Location:
    Rhode Island, USA
    I'm looking for a good mic strictly for live use. The problem is that most of the mics that people tend to recommend for bass are kick mics, which all seem to have a bad mid scoop (at least 5db from 300-1k), and I'm really looking to avoid that. The mics that don't have a huge mid scoop are vocal mics that roll off the low-end a lot. Are there any mics out there with a flatter response that still get have decent low-end, that doesn't cost a fortune?

    edit:: oh, and I know people are going to tell me to DI. Sorry, not interested. A lot of the tone I'm going for comes from my amp overdriving, and the DI sound won't have any of that.
  9. bassgod0dmw

    bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

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    Mar 1, 2007
    Location:
    White Plains
    EV RE20 or Heil PR40...
  10. gfaulkner

    gfaulkner

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    Sep 2, 2008
    Location:
    Central Maryland
    Damn fine mic.
  11. bigchiefbc

    bigchiefbc Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    Location:
    Rhode Island, USA
    Hmmm, I just looked up the PR-40s specs, and it seems to roll off the lows below 100 Hz.

    PR 40 | Heil Sound

    [​IMG]

    The RE20's frequency graph definitely looks better, but it's about twice the price.

    Any others?
  12. bassgod0dmw

    bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Location:
    White Plains
    It's as noticeable in practice as it is on the chart. People got them because they sound similar to the RE20 without the price.

    An MD421 is the other mic I can think of off the top of my head, but I don't like it as much as the PR40. Just my opinion though, many swear by it.

    EDIT: I mean to say it's NOT as noticeable...oops.
  13. Spencer!

    Spencer! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle
    Disclosures:
    Stompbox designer/builder for 3Leaf Audio & Darkglass Electronics
    Sennheiser 421 and Electrovoice RE20 are my go-to studio bass mics. An SM57 can sound great if you blend it with a DI.
  14. bigchiefbc

    bigchiefbc Supporting Member

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    Oct 9, 2006
    Location:
    Rhode Island, USA
    OK, well the Heil, the EV and the Sennheiser are all a bit out of my price range. As awesome as I'm sure they all are, dropping 400 on a mic just isn't happening for me right now. So are there some less expensive mics that people have tried and liked for bass cabs?

    I've looked around and found that both the AKG P2 and the CAD D189 both have nice flat freq responses without any noticeable scoop, and not too much low-end roll off. Not too many hits on TB when I search for them though.

    Sadly, doing both a DI and a mic isn't gonna work. First of all, we're gonna run out of mixer channels pretty fast. Secondly, our mixer doesn't have phase switches and I don't want to start getting cancellation.
  15. fokof

    fokof Gold Supporting Member

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    Mar 16, 2007
  16. prd004

    prd004

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2010
    I find the AKG C414 to be the best, but it's spendy. (for studio that is)

    Second choice (first for live) is a tie between the EV RE-20 and the Sennheiser MD421

    If that's still above your range my third choice is an SM57 and a DI blend
  17. Hellbastard

    Hellbastard

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Location:
    Bremen, Germany
    This is a good option. If a lot of your tone is coming from the amp send the DI from the amp's speaker output. Just make sure you have a DI with a -20 or -40dB pad.
  18. prd004

    prd004

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2010
    Nah, the SM57 will pick up the sound of the amp, (the mid, the attack, and the distortion).
    I use a DI box for clean low end with this combo and it really is a great match!
  19. iCombs

    iCombs

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    1) Don't ever be scared of a 57. EVERY microphone has a roll-off in the bottom. EVERY ONE OF THEM. If you put a 57 up and it sounds like your bass rig...then don't sweat it. Move on. Recording, at the end of the day, is making calculated choices and compromises. You COULD put a 57 on a bass cab, for sure. You just have to expect to twist up some bottom end with an EQ. Whatev. It was going to get EQ'ed somehow ANYWAYS (at least, if you're in my studio or any of the studios I've worked in).

    2) There are definitely a few mics I would personally look at first...and probably BEFORE I put up a 57. Shure SM7B would probably be my first choice...followed by something like a FET47 (if you can find it) or one of its clones/"inspired by" mics...the AT 4047 is a pretty solid mic for bass duties and isn't ridiculously expensive. Also...the Sennheiser 906 doesn't suck...kinda splits the difference between a 421 and a 57...can be a winner in certain contexts.

    3) Don't be tempted by multi-mic setups on a bass rig. That would be opening the door to a QUAGMIRE of low-end comb filtering. There are some crazy assholes who do it and pull it off...but they are by far the exception in terms of being able to make it work consistently. Start SIMPLE, and try to keep things down to ONLY AS COMPLEX AS YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED. One of my few engineering maxims...but it serves me well as a mindset.
  20. mad harry

    mad harry

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    I just spent a week recording with an AKG D112, a Senn e906, both on the same cab. I also ran two DIs, one from a tube preamp, and one from a FET preamp. The point is not to necessarily use all of these together, but to have options when it comes to mixing. I'd say go for multi mic setups when recording if you have the tracks, and if you have the time to mess around listening, mixing, deciding what sound good and dealing with phase differences etc. If you're short on time, gear or know how, then just keep it simple. It's easy to get hung up on looking for that elusive killer sound. Do what you can with what you've got, borrow a few mics and just experiment.
  21. iCombs

    iCombs

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Man oh man...as an engineer/producer/mixer..."options" is my least favorite word in the whole wide world. I don't mind putting up a few mics in tracking to see what's going to fit the song...but once I figure that out, I'll just record the winner.

    If you want to make a truly cohesive recording...you have to make decisions...because every decision down the line will depend on the frame of reference. If the frame of reference is totally up in the air...you just end up with a compound cluster****. Decisions left unmade leading to more unmade decisions is, in the end, something that weakens the final product and eats up a BUNCH more time having to try to make all those decisions at once...when they should have been made one-at-a-time, as they came up.

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