Tutorial Hentai's General Microphone Recommendations

Many ask for opinions on hardware, I have many.

  1. Hentai

    Hentai Technical Admin Administrator Supporter Defender of Defoko

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    Hentai submitted a new resource:

    Hentai's General Microphone Recommendations - Many ask for opinions on hardware, I have many.

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  3. Kiyoteru

    Kiyoteru Local Sensei Supporter Defender of Defoko

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    I would actually recommend grouping microphones into sections solely by the quality of the microphone and not by any other factors like price or the connector. That information can be attached to each individual microphone. I think it's quite possible to have a cheaper mic sound better than a more expensive one. For a given quality tier, the microphones within it could still be sorted by price, and the average price of those microphones specified for that tier. Unfortunately, it's significantly more difficult to judge the quality of a mic than factors that are more easily distinguishable- but surely even a Snowball is better than a Rockband mic?
     
  4. Hentai

    Hentai Technical Admin Administrator Supporter Defender of Defoko

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    Everything on the list is a USB Microphone because for the purposes of UTAU they are the easiest to use. I am a big fan of analog gear, I have quite the collection of analog gear, 4 audio interfaces, 8 mics, but in general unless you are doing other stuff with your audio gear, I do podcasts and home studio music recordings, it's hard to justify the really large financial investment. If you do go the analog route, thankfully there are A LOT of resources available, years of hardware reviews, as music producers like their classics, and everything has been around for 10+ years, thus the healthy used market.

    As for why I specifically grouped mics by price range? Before a certain point, the quality is so bad, they simply aren't worth buying. A Rockband mic is a convenient recommendation because many already have it in their household, it is better than most built-in mics, headset mics, 3.5mm mics, store branded cheap dynamic mics, and other low priced USB accessories. Likwise I already eliminated the strictly bad stuff from my list, if it has poor quality I didn't list it at all. Thus if they are all USB, all "good" quality", price is the only logical metric to sort my recommendations by, as at its heart, my guide isn't intended to teach people HOW to record, but strictly to make hardware suggestions.

    I don't like the Snowball at all. I don't like its frequency response, I don't like its price. Of the Blue mics the only one I liked, the Nessie, got discontinued. Its a fine mic, I have one, it has its applications, but I wouldn't recommend it over other USB competitors and I don't like its frequency response. That being said I would take the Snowball over the Yeti any day.

    [​IMG]

    Look how the Snowball is colored, I don't like that at all. That being said the abbreviated frequency response on the Yeti is just bad. You lose like all your low-end definition. The main appeal of the Yeti is its multiple pickup patterns but for UTAU you will just be using cardioid, thus only 1 of the 3 capsule in that massive mic will be active. You get like 1 tiny ass capsule, that is a third the size of something like an AT20202's capsule, which isn't even that large to begin with.

    One thing to note: after a certain level of quality, the rest of the performance of the mic will be subjective and will vary in voice and application. If one mic could do everything, I wouldn't need a cabinet of 8 different kinds of them. Depending on your voice, the unique qualities that make you, certain mics that may be great for someone else might be terrible for you. Male, female, vocal range, delivery, genre your sing can all influence your mic purchase, but that is way too much nuance for a simple "buying guide" and the only way to learn the above is hands-on time with the hardware. Part of the reason I recommend Amazon is they have a generous return policy and you can always return/exchange it if it doesn't work out for you.

    For example here is the justification for the various mics I own and how/why I use them:
    Oktava MK-319 - Really good for voices and some instruments. Really unique, order style sound that is flat, warm, smooth, and has a slight presence bump.
    Rode NT1-A - One of the lowest self-noise mics around. It is a bit bright sounding, good for pop/rock male & female vocals and acoustic instruments.
    Behringer B1 - Big, heavy, and versatile. This mic is a beast that breaks shock mounts and is too thick and heavy for most clamp. Its main selling point is its versatility, it does everything "well" and if I could only bring one mic with me its this.
    Behringer C1 - If you want a flat frequency response... this is probably not it. Its frequency response is bright and skewed and seems like it was pre-tuned for modern pop vocals. It was my first mic. Honestly, I only keep it around for comparison purposes.
    Shure SM58 - My go-to dynamic mic, infamously sturdy, if I am doing anything live or on-the-go, this is the mic I take with me. It is also my favorite mic to use for voice/narrative recording and podcasts.
    3x Behringer XM8500 - My budget SM58. When I had guests on my podcast, and I couldn't afford SM58s, I bought 3 of these. Honestly it is not bad for this, and other applications you would use a SM58.
    Blue Snowball - Good for voice calls, internet streaming, and conferencing. I wouldn't use it for music applications. Nice because it has an omnidirectional pickup pattern to pickup multiple people/an entire room and is USB connector makes it easy to use.
    CAD U37 - As the lowest end mic on my old list I bought one to confirm it was not too terrible. Honestly, I found it comparable to my Blue Snowball. Not bad for those strictly on a budget.
    Logitech Dynamic USB Mic (Rockband Mic) - I used to have Rockband, thus I have the Logitech mic that came with it. Surprisingly good for gaming and VoIP, passable for singing if you don't want to make additional financial investments.

    Once you get into analog mics that's its own can of worms and honestly, the "quality" of any mic is subjective. There was a minimum level of quality to even make my list, everything else is fairly comparable. Generally, though I would try to save to one of the $70 tier and Get the Monoprice or MXL Studio 1. If you want more features, a higher bitrate DAC the Studio 24 is another great option.
     
  5. 幸兔雪 (Yukito Yuki)

    幸兔雪 (Yukito Yuki) Pronouns: They/Them Supporter Defender of Defoko

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    I can agree most of your recommendations.

    For RØDE, I want to add that NT-1 is better quality than their NT-1A one. NT-1 frequence range is much more balanced and especially suitable for male and mature vocals (NT-1A can be fine for female vocalists).

    Also, RØDE sells Complete Studio Kit for their various microphones (for NT-1, NT-2 etc). I recommending to getting one if having money to spend more than 200 US Dollars.

    So far, RØDE AI-1 studio Kit that has NT-1 has been so far my best set up and I would recommend to anyone who wants to invest a home studio quality setup.

    For a polished quality, I also recommended a sound shield that goes behind microphone. I personally liked Marantz sound shield live as it’s very light weight and can be attached to a microphone stand.
     
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  6. Hentai

    Hentai Technical Admin Administrator Supporter Defender of Defoko

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    Agreed, if I didn't get such a great deal on my used NT1-A (I bought it off someone who was upgrading to the NT1 which had just released at the time) and I was buying at MSRP I would have saved a little extra and gotten an NT1. The NT1 is like a more refined version of the NT1-A, same low noise, but much smoother, flatter frequency response across the board. In many ways, the NT1 vs NT1-A is like the AT2020 vs the AT2035. Both are very similar mics, just the more expensive version has a slightly more refined sound.

    That being said the kit for the NT1 runs like $270 MSRP, you are building a pretty serious home studio at that budget and if you are investing that much, I am sure you have a pretty good idea what you are doing and don't need me to make a buying guide for you.

    Speaking of Iso Shields, I made a small DIY one, but I think it was placebo more than anything, recording my my closet would likely give me better results, but if you are going to buy a store-bought solution, the smaller stuff are likely placebo, the Marantz Large is probably a good option. The one I would get if I were to buy one is the kit by Rockville.

    Recording Studio Microphone Isolation Shield + Heavy Duty Tripod Stand ($90)
    Its big 5-panel design with its full unfolded dimensions being 17.6" x 16.1", it's so big its ends need counterweights, it has a substantial amount of foam, and it even comes with a nice big heavy duty tripod. The main iso shield will also fold into itself when not in use or to better fit your use area, possibly your closet lol. It's also available without the tripod if you don't need it for $75.

    For a more permanent home studio solution it may be better to just treat your space, a bit of foam, or if you don't want it to look too tackey in a multi-purpose room, a bit of mounting hardware and some really heavy and drapey blackout curtains you can optimize your space for less than the $100 a high-end iso shield would have cost. Remember its the dead/trapped air that reduces the reverberations, not the curtains themselves. Space them from the walls 6-12 inches for optimal effect.

    Food for thought though, everyone should think of optimizing their recording space (or changing spaces). How you do so depends on your space / budget and how DIY you are. Don't do just the foam eggcrate, it's mostly placebo without doing the other stuff as well. There are a lot of guides on optimizing your space online, just beware of snake oil salesmen who are trying to sell you on specific products, however.
     

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