Mic Choice on a budget (overheads)

westicle

Senior Member
Hi

By band is looking to do some recording soon. I can't afford studio time and nor can I afford mics but I figure mics are a better investment if I'm gonna gather a little bit of debt.

I'm gonna get an AKG D12 for the kick and I can borrow enought SM57s or Beta 98s (I think) for the snare and toms. The only thing I'm not too sure about is overheads. Last time I recorded I used AKG C3000s and they were way too sensitive, it was really difficult to stop them form peaking so I'm wondering what would make good overheads?

I'm looking at AKG C1000s as they are within my price range. Anyone have any thoughts or knowledge about these mics?
 

hawk9290

Gold Member
C-1000's are decent, but there's a lot of debate about them being sensitive as well. I thought they were fine, but I wanted a bit more dynamic range.

Sterling Audio is a fairly new brand but the make some kick-butt mics for fairly cheap. Check them out if you can find them.

MXL's are definitley unbeatable for the price though.
 

westicle

Senior Member
C-1000's are decent, but there's a lot of debate about them being sensitive as well. I thought they were fine, but I wanted a bit more dynamic range.

Sterling Audio is a fairly new brand but the make some kick-butt mics for fairly cheap. Check them out if you can find them.

MXL's are definitley unbeatable for the price though.
Hmmm well the overheads are purely gonna be for cymbals and I've got Projection crashes which I'm using all the time so if they're too sensitive I may not go for them.

I'll have a look round for Sterling Audio.
 

westicle

Senior Member
Can anyone explain exactly what these terms mean?

I've been looking at the specs for some mics and they list Max SPL and Sensitivity
E.G.

AKG C3000 B
Max SPL: 140/150 dB (k=0,5%)
Sensitivity: 25 mV/Pa (-32 dBV)

AKG C1000 S
Max SPL: 137 dB (k=1%)
Sensitivity: 6 mV/Pa (-44 dBV)

Rode NT5
Max SPL: 143dB SPL (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KΩ load)
Sensitivity: -38 dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (12 mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz

When I used the C3000 for overheads they were too sensitive but from the looks of the specs they can handle a higher SPL?
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Max SPL is the volume they can take. All of these have decent Max SPL and unless you use them for a bass drum, they'll be fine.

The sensitivity isn't the problem. What I suggest you do is to simply use a lower gain setting on whatever preamp you are using and then you won't have such a hot signal. You can still use the C3000's and get what you want out of them this way. Just use less gain. It looks like the C3000's also have a -10dB pad. Use that when you're micing.

Of the three, I'd use the C3000's - although if you really don't like them (and I suggest it's probably the way you were using them) the C1000's and NT5's are very similar and there really is very little to choose between them. I'd probably get the C1000's because they can be battery powered for field operations, but there's very little between them.

Incidentally, if you bought a D12 for the bass, hats off to you because those are excellent mics. You probably meant the D112 though - which is the newer model of the D12 and in my view is inferior to the original. Still pretty good though.
 

westicle

Senior Member
Max SPL is the volume they can take. All of these have decent Max SPL and unless you use them for a bass drum, they'll be fine.

The sensitivity isn't the problem. What I suggest you do is to simply use a lower gain setting on whatever preamp you are using and then you won't have such a hot signal. You can still use the C3000's and get what you want out of them this way. Just use less gain. It looks like the C3000's also have a -10dB pad. Use that when you're micing.

Of the three, I'd use the C3000's - although if you really don't like them (and I suggest it's probably the way you were using them) the C1000's and NT5's are very similar and there really is very little to choose between them. I'd probably get the C1000's because they can be battery powered for field operations, but there's very little between them.

Incidentally, if you bought a D12 for the bass, hats off to you because those are excellent mics. You probably meant the D112 though - which is the newer model of the D12 and in my view is inferior to the original. Still pretty good though.
Thanks MFB

I had the -10 pad switched on and the mics were about 1.5 metres above my kit, the preamp volume was off (which confused me) and they peaked every now and then. I am a very crash heavy player and it was that was causing them to peak ( was using rides as crashes at the time). The ceiling was low and reflective as well so I guess that won't have helped.

I meant the D112 cos that's the only one I know about and it seems to be what a lot of people rave about. I take it the D12 is not available any more, I'll check that out myself though.
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
A good old trick is to get a blanket and to suspend it between the two stands, with the blanket going over the back of the mic capsules. That'll help prevent any ceiling reflections. You really need to record in a room with a slightly higher ceiling. If you have any samples of those recordings, I'd be interested in giving them a listen.

You might want to use a slight compression on the overheads to help prevent some of the peaking, but really you'll need to use a minimal gain setting and raise the mics up. About four feet plus above the cymbals is probably about right for something of this nature. Just play around until you get it right - it's just about playing around.

The D12 is actually from the 1950's and has a separate isolation mount for the capsule within the windshield, it's really handy for helping prevent any excess rumble.
 

westicle

Senior Member
A good old trick is to get a blanket and to suspend it between the two stands, with the blanket going over the back of the mic capsules. That'll help prevent any ceiling reflections. You really need to record in a room with a slightly higher ceiling. If you have any samples of those recordings, I'd be interested in giving them a listen.

You might want to use a slight compression on the overheads to help prevent some of the peaking, but really you'll need to use a minimal gain setting and raise the mics up. About four feet plus above the cymbals is probably about right for something of this nature. Just play around until you get it right - it's just about playing around.

The D12 is actually from the 1950's and has a separate isolation mount for the capsule within the windshield, it's really handy for helping prevent any excess rumble.
I recorded everything straight with no compression and no gating - we had five hours to set up, check everything, record 8 tracks and pack down. There wasn't much time to run tests and stuff so I didn't want to compress or gate anything before hand in case I messed it up. We were doing the guitar and drums at the same. I learnt a lot of lessons that day!

You can hear the whole lot on last.fm here - http://www.last.fm/music/Trippy%2BWicked%2B%2526%2Bthe%2BCosmic%2BChildren%2Bof%2Bthe%2BKnight/Imaginarianism

Next time we'll be in the live room of a studio - they hire it our for rehearsals so I'll be using that for recording ourselves. The blanket idea sounds good and I'll keep that in mind.
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Actually these recordings aren't too bad. In the future (amongst the other tips I've given you) you're going to have to ensure that the drums are more widely panned and that your mix levels are better balanced.

http://www.myspace.com/disturbancewithin

The first two tracks are produced by me, although the band is nothing to do with me particularly.

This is an example of something I did a good while ago. This was all done in my dining room. I want you to guess what I used for the drums. Warning: it's a trick question. I had some problems with the vocals that day and in retrospect I would've done a few things differently. Not perfect, but a reasonable job for me given the time I had. If you listen to the drums (the playing isn't great, again, not me) they're deceptively high in the mix - something I think yours are actually suffering from. Incidentally, I played a bit of bass on one of these tracks.
 

westicle

Senior Member
Actually these recordings aren't too bad. In the future (amongst the other tips I've given you) you're going to have to ensure that the drums are more widely panned and that your mix levels are better balanced.

http://www.myspace.com/disturbancewithin

The first two tracks are produced by me, although the band is nothing to do with me particularly.

This is an example of something I did a good while ago. This was all done in my dining room. I want you to guess what I used for the drums. Warning: it's a trick question. I had some problems with the vocals that day and in retrospect I would've done a few things differently. Not perfect, but a reasonable job for me given the time I had. If you listen to the drums (the playing isn't great, again, not me) they're deceptively high in the mix - something I think yours are actually suffering from. Incidentally, I played a bit of bass on one of these tracks.
Cool. I'll have a listen to it later (MySpace is blocked at my work). Yeah I agree about the drums being too quiet - my mixing mistake. I was initially dissapointed with it but I'm treating it as a good learning exercise. Next time I'll have a better kit, better mics and a bit more knowledge.
 

westicle

Senior Member
Actually these recordings aren't too bad. In the future (amongst the other tips I've given you) you're going to have to ensure that the drums are more widely panned and that your mix levels are better balanced.

http://www.myspace.com/disturbancewithin

The first two tracks are produced by me, although the band is nothing to do with me particularly.

This is an example of something I did a good while ago. This was all done in my dining room. I want you to guess what I used for the drums. Warning: it's a trick question. I had some problems with the vocals that day and in retrospect I would've done a few things differently. Not perfect, but a reasonable job for me given the time I had. If you listen to the drums (the playing isn't great, again, not me) they're deceptively high in the mix - something I think yours are actually suffering from. Incidentally, I played a bit of bass on one of these tracks.
Yeah they sound ok. Trick question eh? errr....C3000s?
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
DI. They're electronic drums. That was the trick.

Wish I'd been able to use my actual kit, but I didn't have the gear available...
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Doh! I'm gonna have to go back and have another listen now.

I checked out your ambient stuff and it's cool. Very relaxing.
Thanks. That's what I do when I actually have access to a real studio...
 

westicle

Senior Member
Thanks. That's what I do when I actually have access to a real studio...
I had a go at doing some of that kinda stuff myself a while ago. I had some cool sounds and stuff but couldn't really string it together into a piece. It's wicked just setting up a nice trippy delay sound, having a beer and making some noises though.
 

westicle

Senior Member
Max SPL is the volume they can take. All of these have decent Max SPL and unless you use them for a bass drum, they'll be fine.

The sensitivity isn't the problem. What I suggest you do is to simply use a lower gain setting on whatever preamp you are using and then you won't have such a hot signal. You can still use the C3000's and get what you want out of them this way. Just use less gain. It looks like the C3000's also have a -10dB pad. Use that when you're micing.

Of the three, I'd use the C3000's - although if you really don't like them (and I suggest it's probably the way you were using them) the C1000's and NT5's are very similar and there really is very little to choose between them. I'd probably get the C1000's because they can be battery powered for field operations, but there's very little between them.

Incidentally, if you bought a D12 for the bass, hats off to you because those are excellent mics. You probably meant the D112 though - which is the newer model of the D12 and in my view is inferior to the original. Still pretty good though.
Hey MFB

I had a little test with one of the C3000 I'm currently borrowing. We were at our rehearsal studio yesterday so I took my gear along and set up the C3000 about 1.5 metres above my kit. I had the -10 pad switched on, the mic goes into my Edirol UA-25 (contains the mic preamp) and that's connected to a iBook. I had the input volume off on the Edirol and when I was playing it was peaking - mostly on snare hits.

The room we use is a recording room and not just a rehearsal room. It's very well insulated and there is no perceivable reflection - the whole sound in there when we jam is very focused and everything is crystal clear at whatever volume.

Any ideas if I'm doing anything wrong? I can't imagine my playing is that much louder than most although I know I play hard.

Thanks
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
It might actually be the case that you're hitting too hard. On your computer, was it going into the amber or the red? I'm guessing the red. That's too hot - it'd probably be absolutely fine on tape, but going into digital, that's going to clip. EDIT: On second thoughts, I'm guessing the 'clip' LED was going off on the Edirol rather than on your computer...

Again, the only thing I can think of is gain. AKG have the spec sheet on their website and it doesn't appear to have a particular bias for anything snare-related either. One solution might be to actually tilt the capsule slightly off-axis so that the snare is rejected more by the capsule, if that's what is peaking it. You'll have to do some playing around to get the right sound out of that method though.

EDIT: I'm just looking at the Edirol interface. Now, this probably sounds patronising so don't take it the wrong way, but just to make sure we're talking about the same control, it's the 'Sens' control that you're turning down, right? That may sound like a silly question, but stranger things have happened.
 
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