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.
     
  7. Hentai

    Hentai Technical Admin Administrator Supporter Defender of Defoko

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    New Honorable Mentions: Marantz Professional PMP-1000U ($60) & Marantz Professional MPM-2000U ($120)

    Two really great USB Large Diaphram Condenser Microphones. The only downside is they are hard to find in stock, at MSRP. If you can get them in stock at, or below, their suggested price they are great deals and very high-quality microphones.
     
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  8. na4a4a

    na4a4a Outwardly Opinionated and Harshly Critical Supporter Defender of Defoko

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    It kind of just looks like you found every single USB mic available from a vaguely known brand and listed it.
    I would suggest actually recommending mics based on their value not just because they are available and what brand they're from.

    Especially if the mic has known issues or the price has shifted a lot.

    For example, the GXL2600-usb is known for bad noise issues on Massdrop, which is a shame for what it costs.
    The Marantz mics are decent but the price is often a lot higher than it ought to be.
    The Blue Snowball Ice is actually a good value for users short on cash since it's often so cheap and has a somewhat decent and full range response, just some noise. While the Yeti is just not good because it's LF roll off is too early.
    The Shure USB mics are just generally not great ever since they discontinued their last generation of USB mics.
    The MXL Studio 24 generally has pretty bad noise problems.
    Etc.

    It's a good idea to actually stay up to date on cheaper USB gear,not just list what you find on Amazon.. Especially if you plan on making recommendations.

    Price alone isn't enough to determine quality because
    1) Utau users need a balance between price and performance
    2) most users are kids
    3) a lot of USB mics are actually too expensive for their quality
    So on...

    Not only that but a frequency response chart is not a valid way to determine the sound of a microphone, only where it's range starts and ends. These graphs are always heavily smoothed so they can give a false impression as well.
    For example, the Shure SM7B has a very large dip around 5-6k that makes it sound dark but it's not in the graph.

    Having a lot of doesn't necessarily make you knowledgeable either so it's besides the point. XLR gear is better quality but just having it isn't enough if a user has no practice with everything else.

    Also pretty much everyone would disagree that the Rode NT1 and NT1 are similar. They are often a very different animal and have a completely different sound. The NT1a is overly bright while the NT1 is much more tame and honest.
    The at2020 and at2035, on the other hand, are literally the same mic minus a different noise spec.

    XLR only makes sense if you're going to get something reasonable. The Behringer interfaces aren't that good and have various problems. The minimum I would suggest is the Steinberg UR12 as it's affordable and as good as anything below $250.
    Going cheap with XLR makes no sense as you'll end up having to replace things anyways which is a waste of money. Either get something decent that'll last or stick with USB if you need affordability.

    The Logitech USB mics are not dynamic mics either. Most of them are cheap electret capsules.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020 at 12:19 PM
  9. Hentai

    Hentai Technical Admin Administrator Supporter Defender of Defoko

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    The list is crafted around price points because the primary concern for most beginners is first availability, and then price. There is a very specific reason no item on my list costs more than $200, because, at $200 I expect you already know enough about what you are buying, you don't need a list like this. You also mistake the intended audience, this us a BUYING guide, not a recording guide, if someones want to go into the nuance of setting up a home studio and all that entails, that's the topic for another resource.

    Also, the list at the time was crafted with extensive research and not a small amount of personal experience. I have owned interfaces for PreSonus, M-Audio, Focusrite, Behringer, and Yamaha. I've owned mics from Blue, CAD, MXL, Sure, Behringer, Rode, and Audio-Technica. The list isn't just a "best sellers" list off of Amazon from someone trying to make affiliate bucks.

    What's as important as what's on the list, is what's NOT on the list. Note the distinct lack of any Blue microphones, they are USB mics and I didn't recommend any of them. There is no Razer, there is no AmazonBasics, no Neewer, no ZekPro. Samson has other USB products, I didn't include any of them purposely. If you think this was just a random list of Amazon products you are underestimating the time and care I put into making my list.

    A lot of the information on Behringer Interfaces are grossly outdated and is heavily colored by old protectionist opinions of Chi-Fi. While that may have been true a number of years ago, their quality, especially in the context of their price has vastly improved, especially after Behringer's acquisition of MIDAS. While still made in China, a lot of their current generation of gear is actually designed in Germany now.

    I agree I owned some of the old Behringer gear from 10 years ago, the XENYX mic pres were noisy and hot garbage. I owned, then proceeded to immediately sell my Behringer USB mixer that had XENYX mic preamps. That being said to compare their old gear to equivalent their current generation of gear, and underestimate the UMC22 is a mistake, especially after Behringer's acquisition of Midas.

    I currently own both a Behringer UMC22 and a Yamaha AG03, which uses the same D-PRE mic preamps as the Steinberg UR12 and I can tell you the Behringer is UMC22's MIDAS mic pres are very much comparable and I don't think the price jump to the UR12 just for the D-PRE is worth it. The UR22Mk2 has some really great software features including a really great DSP, channel strip, and EQ built right in the device, but that is a significant price jump, and you wouldn't need those extra features unless you were live streaming.

    While Steinberg is a good recommendation, I recommend the UR12 it myself after all. Steinberg/Yamaha is the only brand I liked after using many interfaces. I am a firm believer that at its price point, $120 or less, there is no reason to get another interface beyond the UMC22 unless the interfaces have other features you feel you need, either software or hardware.

    This coming from a person who has bought, then sold, many $120 audio-interfaces including the Focusrite 2i2, PreSonus AudioBox, & M-Audio Fast Track, before finally settling on my Yamaha AG03 + Behringer UMC404HD combo. I still own the UMC22, but after I replaced it with its bigger brother the UMC404HD, its on indefinite loan to my brother for Streaming/Discord duty.

    Edit: As much as I praise the Behringer there is one caveat. Ever since they discontinued their specific Windows ASIO driver in favor for ASIO4ALL, the software experience is as bad as other AISO4ALL reliant hardware (read: not so good). Steinberg / Yamaha is the only brand that doesn't have a garbage driver/software package and it's why beyond the Behringer, who has price considerations, they are the only other interfaces I recommend.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020 at 6:49 PM
  10. na4a4a

    na4a4a Outwardly Opinionated and Harshly Critical Supporter Defender of Defoko

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    The UR22mkii doesn't have a DSP or any integrated software mix features. It's a standard audio interface. Those features require UR44 or higher.
    But the drivers are absolutely superior, I wouldn't trust anything Behringer to work reliably after even a Windows update, or for it to physically last long.
    Brands like Focusrite tend to force you to upgrade get new hardware to get driver updates too. So Steinberg (and maybe Roland) is honestly the only solid choice.

    Also, it should be stated that even with the same preamp the implementation can be different, especially with mixers. USB power is limited so more complicated devices will have less available to the preamps.
     
  11. Hentai

    Hentai Technical Admin Administrator Supporter Defender of Defoko

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    Aha, my mistake I thought they added it in the MKII revision. The DSP features are one of the main appeals of my Yamaha AG03. The Yamaha AG-series and Steinberg UR-series are the results of a collab between Yamaha and Steinberg, so it has the best of both worlds in terms of software and hardware as each company had their own expertise.

    Honestly, if you are on a budget do consider the Yamaha AG03. Because it's a lower profile than the UR12 and many don't understand it, the used market for it is a lot cheaper. Even if you don't need the extra features some of them are really nice to have and because it has only a single mic-pre I don't think the D-PRE amps suffer.

    I got mine used on Reverb for $65. I have seen them on Amazon Warehouse Deals for as low as $70 after stacking coupons. If you can get a good deal on an AG03, it may be even a better deal than the Behringer, because it's software and drivers are clearly superior.
     

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