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Author Topic: Mics!  (Read 3260 times)

Zingoleb

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Mics!
« on: 21 Dec 2012, 01:08 »

I need a decent mic and someone's offering to buy me one (give me the money to buy one) for Christmas, like, and I'm COMPLETELY unsure which way I should go. They put what they can afford as around $60 - so does anyone have any good suggestions up to about $100 for a really nice mic? If I'm going to invest in something like this I'd rather like it to be something I'm using long-term, but if that's a horribly low price (I know nothing about this stuff) then I'll settle for a cheap one, I guess.

Mostly I'd be recording vocals, guitar, violin, mandolin - things of that nature.
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idontunderstand

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #1 on: 21 Dec 2012, 06:53 »

Shure SM57. Whenever someone asks me about a good mic and have nothing special to go on, I always say SM57. There are probably cheaper ones who are about as good, but with SM57 you know you will get a quality mic.
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #2 on: 21 Dec 2012, 07:35 »

I have a Rode NT1-A and an older Tascam Interface, about 150 each, and thats a pretty good setup the low-budget area as far as I know.
We do have lots of SM57 and 58 kicking around for live and stuff but I think a condenser-mic would be better suited for recording acoustic guitar etc.
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #3 on: 21 Dec 2012, 12:12 »

That I have to agree with.. The SM57 may be more suited for band-type stuff like loud amps and drums.
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Zingoleb

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #4 on: 21 Dec 2012, 12:50 »

I have a Rode NT1-A and an older Tascam Interface, about 150 each, and thats a pretty good setup the low-budget area as far as I know.
We do have lots of SM57 and 58 kicking around for live and stuff but I think a condenser-mic would be better suited for recording acoustic guitar etc.

that's also like 2-3 times the price of what I can afford right now.
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Zingoleb

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #5 on: 21 Dec 2012, 07:27 »

Great, that looks like it will in my price range. What else would I need to run it into my computer, hardware-wise?
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Jimor

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #6 on: 22 Dec 2012, 01:55 »

You need some kind of Audio to USB interface to go directly into the computer. The link gives you a good idea of the low end, but it looks like they start at $30, which is going to push your budget if you're getting a mic, too.  Unfortunately, good mics go for almost as much used as new, since they don't really get worse over time, but it still might be worth checking the local used market, particularly for the interface if one is available. You could probably get an adapter cheaper that will let you plug into the computer's mic input, but that's going to sound really crappy and defeat the purpose of getting a decent mic.

You might also look into direct to USB mics. This really limits you later if you start getting better audio equipment like a mixer, or want to use it with a friend's studio setup since it can't connect via XLR, but it gets you into the recording game quicker and cheaper overall. Looking at the $100 Sampson Condenser on that page, it's fairly flexible, and seems to have decent specs. Probably not pro quality, but still going to be light years ahead of most bargain mics (<$50). Even the $69 one might work fine to get you started.
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Zingoleb

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #7 on: 22 Dec 2012, 03:12 »

I got excited when I saw you posting in this thread, 'cause if anyone's gonna know what I need...  :lol:

The $70 one looks like it'll suit my purposes really well. Thanks!
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VonKleist

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #8 on: 22 Dec 2012, 03:51 »

Id be weary of these built in kind of things. Usually if you are going for "okay" quality youll have to invest more than 100$.

If you buy cheap you mostly buy twice.
Better to save up and buy a proper interface (which would allow you to records vocal + instrument simultaniously) and check out one of these here http://audio.tutsplus.com/tutorials/recording/10-best-affordable-microphones-for-the-home-studio/
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Jimor

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #9 on: 22 Dec 2012, 08:28 »

Yeah, that's why I made sure I pointed out the future limitations and that we're talking sub-pro quality, but still better than Radio-Shack specials. A large diaphragm condenser like this will have a nice "capture everything" frequency response, but most likely will be lacking in the self-noise (low level hiss) department. But for demo-level music recording, that's typically not going to be a problem. Another issue with the $70 mic is getting it on a mic stand, but there are always workarounds (Google DIY mic shock mounts for that).

The main reason I went there is that I know that when Unicorn talks about a budget cap, it really is a limit that's hard to overcome given the circumstances.
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riccostar

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #10 on: 22 Dec 2012, 11:10 »

Okay here goes, first off I would definitely recommend getting an interface.  Without one you won't be able to make any progress far past using a built in laptop mic so if you plan on doing any real recording in the future a usb audio interface is pretty much required in my opinion.  For recording acoustic stringed instruments, usually professionals use small diaphragm condenser microphones.  For around your budget I've heard pretty good things about the marshall MXL 603S. In terms of a more all around condenser mic that would probably be better suited for your vocal recording I might look into Audio-Technica's AT2020.  Having said all this, the shure sm57 is legendary.  Having been used for absolutely everything since the 60's, it's a cheap, all purpose dynamic mic.  With a little searching, you could probably easily get one for about 70 USD.
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Zingoleb

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #11 on: 22 Dec 2012, 01:28 »

Okay, so, I appreciate that y'all are trying to save me from the perils of buying cheap, but buying cheap is literally the only option I have. I don't have an income, and someone's offering to buy a mic for me, so I'm taking this chance while I have it. I understand it's not going to be professional recording quality, and I'm okay with it being okay quality - I'm not looking to record cleanly polished albums, I'm looking to get my ideas down. This is more 'demo track' recording I'm looking for, not 'final track'.
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idontunderstand

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #12 on: 22 Dec 2012, 02:17 »

Don't worry, you can get a good sound with hilariously shitty equipment. I used to do demos with a karaoke mic which I got for something like 8 dollars at a department store. Though honestly, I think you'd regret not getting an interface. At least over here used ones are sold fairly often.
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #13 on: 22 Dec 2012, 07:08 »

I agree -- you're going to regret not getting an audio interface immediately, not down the road somewhere. It's kind of a package deal -- one without the other and you're still not going to get anything recorded.

I'm going to mirror everyone else's suggestions here: a cheap audio interface, and a Shure SM-57 or a cheap condenser are the essential building blocks of home recording.
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #14 on: 23 Dec 2012, 09:07 »

I employ a Shure SM58 for vocals and an SM57 for instruments. Both of those are about $90 each, but buying used can slash those prices. Just make sure you get to test drive it first.

When recording electric guitar for our album, Matt and I generally close-miced with the SM57 and then we use his MXL condenser (he got it in a matched pair with the same MXL pencil mic riccostar posted) several feet off as a room mic. I'm not sure what the package deal of those MXLs is priced at, but I can find out.
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Melodic

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #15 on: 23 Dec 2012, 11:56 »

Oh man, can we just turn this thread into a big ol' mic nerdfest?

I just came into an awesome old Shure CB microphone (you read that right, like trucker-style CB) that sounds absolutely awful in the best kind of way -- think a subdued telephone effect, zero mids and has a real way of "eating" sound, like it's so eager to listen to everything that it chomps off tons of signal I didn't realize I didn't need.


Also, what's the deal with 57s mic'd against the grille cloth on guitar amps? I've never found a position that close that doesn't sound like complete ass. To me, the only thing that gets me even modest tone is outer-cone mic'ing around 8-12", or slightly closer and paired with a nice condenser.

Speaking of condensers, I got a chance to use a Neumann TLM-103 (a $1200 condenser) to record some songs the other day, and I love it to death. I sat it way, way back in the room and just recorded the entire chamber resonating with glee.
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Zingoleb

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #16 on: 24 Dec 2012, 01:22 »

Oh man, can we just turn this thread into a big ol' mic nerdfest?

I hope so!
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VonKleist

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #17 on: 24 Dec 2012, 02:20 »

Guh.. I tried to record my bandmate's guitar (Les Paul via Fender studio amp) using only an SM58 but it ended up sounding muddy and generally shit. After that I realized I hadn't set up the mic properly, I guess, which would have been not at an angle to the amp.
Next try, two 57s, one against the dust cab and one bit further away? Any advice? :)
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Jimor

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #18 on: 24 Dec 2012, 04:30 »

The recommended position for an sm57 on the amp is right up on the grill (but not touching to avoid vibrations), perpendicular, but NOT in the center of the cone. How far off center can change the character a bit, but I haven't had a chance to experiment with that to see what the exact effect is.

I just finished a music recording class at the community college here, and it was a very enlightening experience. This was the 2nd semester after a 1st semester in the lecture class that covered theory from the book. But this one was 90% lab where we set up the "studio" from scratch each week in the classroom, built around a Mackie 8-buss 24 channel mixing board, feeding a 14-track USB interface running into Reaper Software. Using a 3-way mic splitter, we also set up Pro-Tools on another computer running from the Pro-Tools Digio-3 mixer/input device, and a Mackie Onyx 16-ch firewire mixer also into Reaper. Essentially, we recorded each session 3 times simultaneously so that as many students as possible would have a job to do while the band played. Over the semester, we brought in about 10 different acts covering different styles for tracking sessions, and even brought some of the singers back for overdub sessions. We had a fairly decent supply of microphones to play with to mix things up and find out what worked best under different circumstances, so it was a really great opportunity to play with this stuff hands-on without the pressure of somebody paying for that time!

I initially took these classes to supplement my TV/video production tool box, but recording music is something I've wanted to do going way back. In an example of how networking eventually pays off, a guy who I helped with on his short film project from 3 years back is starting up a music studio, and has brought me on board to help him get things situated and for the contacts I've made in the local music scene with my live music videos, so I'll actually get a chance to do some real recording here fairly soon.

To get back on topic, the one mic I own, which I purchased to act as a "room mic" for my live-music TV show, is an Audio Technica AT2035 large diaphragm condenser. I stuck it up high on a mic stand about 2/3 of the way back in the room to supplement the feed I was getting off the board, and mixing just a bit of that actual room reverb (and audience reaction) into the mix has made a HUGE difference in maintaining the live energy that a too-clean board feed often loses. Also being on a very tight budget right now, it's about all I'll be able to get personally for a while. I'll probably use it for some experimental recording sessions with some friends at home so I can get some practice at all this stuff.
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VonKleist

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #19 on: 24 Dec 2012, 06:42 »

COol, thanks!
Ill be recording in a cold and mildewy practice-space with a tiny netbook computer and a 8track mixer, though, and I can't wait to have someone else do it alltogether :-P
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Melodic

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #20 on: 24 Dec 2012, 11:56 »

Here's the thing about close-mic'ing: try putting your ear right against the grille cloth. Move it around a little. Notice all those frequency shifts? You might be able to find the "sweet spot" -- where it isn't too muddy or too brittle -- that close, but it's fucking difficult. Move the mic a little further away, and all of a sudden those brittle highs and muddy lows are blending together and creating a much more balanced mix. If you're ever having trouble with close-mic'ing 57s or something similar, try putting the mic a few more inches back and trying again.

Additionally, it's kind of amp-recording 101, but generally speaking mic'ing towards the center of the speaker cone will bring out more highs, and the further you get towards the outer edge of the speaker the more lows you'll bring out. If you're looking for a good mix up close, try angling the mic pointing towards the speaker cone but at the edge of the amp.
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riccostar

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #21 on: 24 Dec 2012, 02:29 »

Also, what's the deal with 57s mic'd against the grille cloth on guitar amps? I've never found a position that close that doesn't sound like complete ass. To me, the only thing that gets me even modest tone is outer-cone mic'ing around 8-12", or slightly closer and paired with a nice condenser.

I haven't had great luck with a solo 57 on grille either.  I find I usually end up bringing it out several inches and placing it at the cone edge pointing inward.  I've had much better luck with putting it on the grille though if I can a condenser at long range picking up the hum.
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VonKleist

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #22 on: 25 Dec 2012, 06:21 »


My dad has one of the shure amp mics. You know the kind, you hang them off the top of your cab in front of the speaker and it sounds beautiful. I want one of them for christmas. Also a green bullet or whatever they're called, I forget.
Also, I have a beautiful Audio Technica dynamic drum mic that I use for recording bass.

Ayup, I was thinking about lending one like that somewhere because thats what most places have when we play live and they seem better suited.
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #23 on: 25 Dec 2012, 01:54 »

AT3035 was my 1st and only condenser. Be careful weith that phantom power.
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #24 on: 26 Dec 2012, 07:52 »

What do you guys think of the Shure Beta 57A as an all-arounder?
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Melodic

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #25 on: 26 Dec 2012, 06:40 »

I love mine. It's a little pricier than the SM-57 but it has a ton more uses because its frequency range is much greater. Anything you can't record with a condenser, it's genius.
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Patrick

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #26 on: 27 Dec 2012, 02:54 »

I don't like the Betas so much for live sound specifically because their broader frequency range naturally leaves them a bit more susceptible to feedback (simply because more frequencies = more gateways to get fuxd), but I've never used one to record. I want to try one for it, but I have no Betas at my disposal anymore. *sigh*
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idontunderstand

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #27 on: 27 Dec 2012, 01:46 »

How about using the SM57 for vocals. What do you guys think about that.

(It's, sadly, the only mic I have right now)
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Patrick

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #28 on: 27 Dec 2012, 01:52 »

Done it, doesn't suck. Just gotta make sure you don't fucking move an inch.
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Jimor

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #29 on: 27 Dec 2012, 02:36 »

The main difference between the 57 and the 58 is that the frequency response curve for the 58 has its peak in an area suited for vocals, but other than that they're pretty close to the same mic. That may explain what Patrick is talking about, since if you move out of the sweet spot, you'll really notice.

At the TV station, since most of the programming is talking heads, we have lots of SM58s, so we have the opposite situation where we have to use them on some instruments and amps for the music shows, but they work out fine.
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #30 on: 27 Dec 2012, 06:38 »

It's not just a frequency response curve that makes the 57 suck for vocals, it's that it's only designed to pick up sound +-30 degrees off its center, whereas the 58 is something like +-120. Which means if you try to sing into a 57 from the left, right, whatever, it'll be non-existent.
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idontunderstand

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #31 on: 28 Dec 2012, 03:24 »

Well that's what I call useful information. Thanks!
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #32 on: 28 Dec 2012, 07:56 »

That may explain what Patrick is talking about, since if you move out of the sweet spot, you'll really notice.

I'd say it's more an issue of 57s being meant to be up against a speaker cone spitting out 100db or so. To really use them for vocals you practically have to deepthroat the fucking things.
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Zingoleb

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #33 on: 28 Dec 2012, 10:16 »

Thank god I have experience.
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Patrick

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #34 on: 29 Dec 2012, 04:38 »

It's not just a frequency response curve that makes the 57 suck for vocals, it's that it's only designed to pick up sound +-30 degrees off its center, whereas the 58 is something like +-120. Which means if you try to sing into a 57 from the left, right, whatever, it'll be non-existent.

Exactly. The SM57 is designed so that you can pinpoint the exact sweet spot for your speaker cone or your acoustic instrument top or what have you. Since singers move around a bit when doing vocal takes, they're not ideal for vocal use. They're also not the best for getting cymbal wash as a result, but handy for nailing the sound of the bell top.

Fun fact: an SM58 was used to record Michael Jackson's vocals on Thriller. Can't hate dat fitty eight
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #35 on: 02 Jan 2013, 10:12 »

Okay, so ideally one would have a 57-type for the amp and a 58-type for the vocals, bare minimum. Yes?
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #36 on: 02 Jan 2013, 10:13 »

Some condenser mics cost about as much as a SM58 so I wouldn't say it's the most obvious choice.
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #37 on: 02 Jan 2013, 11:43 »

Dude, I don't know how I'd feel about using a condenser mic in the $90 price range without extensive testing and know-how. That's scraping the bottom of the barrel.
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idontunderstand

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #38 on: 02 Jan 2013, 12:00 »

Well, we found one in that exact price range which doesn't suck at all. I don't remember the brand though, get back to you guys.
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #39 on: 03 Jan 2013, 04:12 »

Have to keep reminding myself that you are talking Dollars, americaine..


(get the RODE one, it is excellent)
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #40 on: 04 Jan 2013, 05:26 »

I do know a few folks with great vocal recordings who use MXL condensers that are not very expensive, so there's that. We used Matt's MXL condenser and my SM58 at the same time to record most of his lead vox. We also used that condenser for the kick drum to great effect. I'm more impressed with our kick sound than the kick sound we got from the guy who recorded us at his school.
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #41 on: 06 Jan 2013, 11:32 »

Dude, I don't know how I'd feel about using a condenser mic in the $90 price range without extensive testing and know-how. That's scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Yeah, if you're not careful with that you could end up doing yourself a big disservice.  Put in a lot of research before going cheap with mics.
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #42 on: 06 Jan 2013, 04:10 »

Also, a lot of people think that using a cheap mic means that if they have a shitty recording at the end of the day, that they're somehow excused from responsibility. Nah man. That ain't a valid excuse. You're just a n00b, and everybody starts that way. Get a shitty mic to learn on, but if you think you wanna get serious from the get-go, you might as well invest and have something that still retains a bit of resell value after you've only used it once.
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #43 on: 06 Jan 2013, 11:21 »

I think the most amazing demo recordings I've heard were from my friend Ricky simply playing layer after layer of her keyboard's speakers into the MacBook built-in mic. They sounded a lot better than you'd imagine, but part of that was because you quickly get lost in the music and the depth of the arrangement.

Speaking of mics, here's a microphone reference app that looks pretty cool.

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #44 on: 09 Jan 2013, 06:28 »

Some of my favorite recordings are hella rickety

see Basement Tapes
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Re: Mics!
« Reply #45 on: 17 Jan 2013, 08:44 »

For fun, some early recording history geekery.
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The Butterfly Sorceress a fantasy serial novel (posting it here on QC forums now, link to other forum in first post)
Chapter 6, Part 2 added 11/12/09

Melodic

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Re: Mics!
« Reply #46 on: 02 Feb 2013, 08:48 »

Alright gabble fucks, I need to buy a condenser. Budget is $300, I've never bought condensers in that price range before so I need some advice. It'll be used for amp mic'ing mostly, but I'll also definitely be using it to record almost anything you'd bring into a studio, including vocals. Throw me a bone?
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And if you played too hard it'd flop out and dangle around by the wire and that is just super ugly
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