1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Improving my home recording setup - condensers, preamps etc

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by lomojim, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. lomojim


    Apr 15, 2012
    Hi all

    I'd like to improve basic home recording setup and move it to the next level.

    I've done quite a lot of scouting around on the web so I think I know roughly what I am after, but I'd really appreciate advice and recommendations from people have used or compared the mics mentioned below

    The aim:
    My main aim is to get some decent hardware in place to record good vocals and acoustic instruments. I am not too worried about fancy effects etc

    Current setup:
    1 x sm58, 1 x sm57, 1 x Roland Edirol UA5 2-input usb interface/preamp going into my laptop.

    My plan:
    I'd like to improve the setup in stages over the course of the next year, with probably about £500-1000 to spend overall.

    step 1- start with large diaphragm condenser - mainly for vocals but I'd also like to use this for instruments - acoustic guitar, double bass, occasional mandolin, banjo, violin. Thinking £300-500

    contenders I am considering:
    Rode NT1 or NT2 - cheaper, flexible option
    Rode NTK - I am attracted by the idea of the valve sound
    AT4033 or 4050
    AKG 414 - heard good things about it but getting more pricey...

    step 2 - maybe later add a couple of small condensers - again mostly for acoustic instruments. £100-200

    Thinking here about:
    Rode M3
    Rode NT3
    Rode NT5
    Shure KSM109
    Read good things about NT55 and AKG451 but possibly getting about of my price range

    Step 3- Should I be looking at a new preamp? the Edirol does ok in my current setup. Would it be better add a decent preamp going into this - or am I better off looking at a new preamp/interface altogether.

    have seen lots of recommendations for Focusrite (e.g. Saffire Pro) - also FMR and Summit Audio but would interested in other options. Maybe in the £200-300 range.

    Would it be better to put more cash into the preamp and get just one large diaphragm mic?

    Anyway, if anyone has any advice on this I'd appreciate it.



    PS A final point: it would be great to get condensers I could ALSO use for a 3-mic setup with an acoustic, bluegrassy band (large condenser central, one small condenser either side) - but this is a secondary concern to the recording...
  2. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
  3. Chromer


    Nov 28, 2012
    I have a NT1A, it's a little harsh in the upper mids. A fantastic value if you can find one used, however. And sometimes "a little harsh" is exactly the right thing.

    Ditto on sorting the room first. Players, instruments, room, mics, everything else. In that order, IMO.
  4. lomojim


    Apr 15, 2012
    thanks, the room is far from perfect but not too bad at the moment with my dynamic mics (57 and 58) - through trial and error I've some decent mic placements with the current setup. a little on the dry side, maybe.

    I cannot convert the room into a full-time studio (one step too far for my girlfriend!) so I need stuff that can be moved quite easily.

    I am sure I can improve the room with moveable bits of acoustic treatment (homemade or bought) - but surely the best way of judging what needs to be done is to get an LDC and start experimenting in the room...?

    I think my plan should be: take plunge on decent LDC -> do what I can with the room -> then think about more equipment.

    i'd still be interested to hear from anyone with experience of the above mics for vocals and acoustic instruments in a home setup

    thanks for you help
  5. You have mention the AKG 414. If you look for one good allarround LDC this is the one.

    Also a good pre-amp is key for recording and I don´t belive the edirol pre-amp are that nice.
  6. MOTU Interfaces :):)
  7. aasti3000


    Jul 18, 2012
    NO DOUBT! I had a MOTU 2408 and it was a beast. It took a house fire to kill it. Used it with cubase, Logic, and Reason on my computer.
  8. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    For Mic, you can listen to a lot of different ones here
    Read th caution about variances.

    You can always make a good mic sound like a bad. The other way around is not so easy. And with mic modeling you can make a good mic sound like another good mic. The specs and measurements are going to show you what a good mic is. Find a good source for the measurements.
  9. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    It's tempting in your shoes to just buy the most expensive large diaphram condenser that fits your budget on the theory that you'll get the best one. But mics have their own voices, and what's a great vocal mic on one singer's voice won't always be a good match for the next singer. If you expect that the lion's share of your projects will feature your own singing (or one or two singers you know), it's worth booking a couple hours time at a a studio with a good mic locker and trying out some mics in your price range to get a sense of how you (or your main vocal talent) sounds through the main contenders in your price range.

    It might also be worthwhile to let the engineer suggest and record you on a couple of upmarket mics that suit your voice. That *could* give you uncontrollable desire for a Neumann U87, say. But it will certainly give you an informed sense of whether the extra scratch for a $1000 or $2000+ vocal mic is worth it to you.

    Alternatively, you could see whether a library near you has a copy of the Allan Sides Microphone Cabinet CD-ROM. This is second fiddle to hearing your talent through your short list of mics, but it will give you a better idea of the voice of some fairly common mics. [EDIT: showing my age here. Seamonkey's Clipalator link is a better bet.]
  10. Not sure if you can get these across the pond but the Apex 435 LD condenser is a cheap but very decent mic patterned after the Neumann TLM103. You might do well to check them out.
  11. Chromer


    Nov 28, 2012
    That is an amazing resource. Thank you! Bookmarked!