When it comes to recording, the variety of microphones at your disposal is vital to capturing the sound as you hear it. It’s all about mixing and matching the mic to the source, and you can’t do that with just one really good mic. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a fortune to create the variety you need. In fact, 4 mics should just about do it. In the past I’ve given general microphone locker suggestions, but now I’m going to provide more specifics on some mics to consider. As before, we’re locking at an example from each of 4 basic types of microphones.
DYNAMIC MICROPHONE – Shure SM 57
Did you expect anything else? The SM 57 is still one of the most versatile mics on the planet, and it sounds so much better than most people think when it’s run through a great mic preamp. A true Swiss Army knife of the microphone, it will work in many other applications that just miking guitar cabs and snare. You can pick one up for around $100, but sometimes there are deals where it’s even less.
LARGE DIAPHRAGM CONDENSER – Advanced Audio CM47 FET
There are a lot of really fine inexpensive LDCs that you could plug in here, but I like Advanced Audio gear because of the combination of price, pedigree and ears of founder Dave Thomas, and the fact that they can take higher SPL levels than most of the other cheaper alternatives. The CM47FET circuit is based on the extended headroom of the famous Neumann U47FET design. It features a capsule that’s a true reproduction of the original K47 capsule made in the late 50’s, with a two stage Class “A” amplifier coupled into a transformer balanced output. Sure, you can buy another brand, but you’ll wish you had this one the first time a loud vocalist craps out its diaphragm. The CM47FET is $295 directly from AA.
SMALL DIAPHRAGM CONDENSER – Advanced Audio CMC1084
I’ve always felt that the original Neumann KM84 was the finest SDC ever built because of its big and smooth sound. Another Swiss Army microphone, it was extremely versatile and at home in so many different recording situations. The AA CMC1084 doesn’t attempt to be a clone of the KM84, but borrows its sonic flavor. Again, this is a mic at home in different situations where you might need a SDC, and can take higher SPL levels than others in its class. Just $229 directly from AA.
RIBBON MICROPHONE – Royer R10
Every microphone locker needs a ribbon mic and Royer has been making some of the best and most affordable mics for a lot of years now. While its now studio-standard R121 blows our budget out of the water, the R10 still provides that excellent ribbon sound at a much more affordable price. This may be the most expensive mic on the list, but it will truly be the icing on the cake. It’s retail is $499.
If you add it all up we’ve spent over the $1,000 I promised ($1,123 before taxes and shipping). Bite the bullet and spend the extra hundred or so bucks. With these mics as the staples of your initial mic locker, you’ll be ready for any recording situation and it’s a great base to build from.