Let’s take a second to admire the affordability of the latest and greatest technology of 2021. This list would be entirely different if it were written 3 years ago, and let’s face it – within 6 months this list might as well be updated. I’d like to keep this list as simple as possible so I’ll name 3 microphones at 3 different price points and give my opinion on why I think they’re the best of today. These microphones were all chosen based on their versatility at their price point and not necessarily on the type of microphone they are. Lastly, I’ll keep this list COVID friendly and under $1000. Let’s get started!
Coming in at the most affordable of this list is the obvious AT2020. The little brother of the AT4040 (that’s been a workhorse for many studios) is a great start for anyone that wants to get their feet wet. It’s a simple and easy-to-use medium-diaphragm condenser microphone. Just be sure to flip that +48v switch and get started. Price $99.
This microphone has been put side by side with some of the most expensive big-name Neumann’s under the same signal chain and has stood its ground. It’s versatile, durable, and great on pretty much anything. Side by side and pound for pound this microphone will sound good on just about anything. Weighing in at $499, you’ll consider it money well spent.
There’s a lot of controversy over Slate’s VMS, but its groundbreaking technology has paved the way for a new niche in the market. One microphone that can emulate the sounds of other microphones with the flip of a switch. The only limitation is that sometimes you need more than one. A larger system will run a pretty penny, but for a single microphone in a home studio setup, this will go a long way. You can choose different microphones, pre-amps, and emulations until you drop. A vintage U47 can run up to 45,000 for a single microphone, and this system will run $999.
In this era of DIY and information, the craft of engineering has become neglected and seen as unnecessary. Today, it’s easier than ever to have world class sounds at your fingertips. Now that anyone can get the gear, modern recording seems to be an easy feat, but the truth is, the gear cannot do anything by itself. It’s not as simple as plug this in here, throw that on there, and magically it sounds like a hit record. Just like in anything, practice makes perfect and as a veteran in this industry, I can tell you it takes years of practice, so let me help you get started by giving you some tips to avoid as a beginner.
When it comes to anything in life, patience is key. In engineering, giving yourself time to learn is key. Just because you have the latest gear, doesn’t make you a pro. Educate yourself by watching tutorials, practice capturing good sounds at the source, and focusing on one element at a time. Rest easy if you don’t have very much gear starting out. Use what you have and make sure you know your setup inside and out.
Getting a good start
When it comes to any project, whether it’s photography, sound, or any type of art, what you begin with makes all of the different. Sure, editing software can make a difference, but make no mistake in thinking that it is a magician. Getting a good, clean sound from the beginning makes your project easier to work with and you will find yourself meeting little to no bumps in the road. And as an added bonus, it leaves more room for you to get creative.
Fear of Mistakes
As a beginner it can be daunting to jump into using EQ or adding compressors. As humans, we have a fear of not getting it right, but in order to become a great engineer, you need to commit to using effects often in order to become familiar with them. Sure you’ll make some mistakes at first, but like I said earlier – practice makes perfect, and by playing with effects, you’ll become confident in your use of them when you need them.
Organization is good in any field, but more especially when you are working on a project that will be handed off to a mixing engineer later. It will make their life easier when they receive your session. Make sure that everything is labeled properly, so that the person receiving it will know what goes where. For a limited time we are offering a free sample of our mixing and mastering services. Learn MoreUpload Files Here
Microphones are like ears – they listen to the instrument. Their placement makes a difference in how the instrument will sound to you and on record. It is vital to focus on becoming familiar with mic placement by moving the mics around and playing with them. More often than not, your problem is the mic placement.
Before putting your microphones through the feat of listening to the sound of your instruments, make sure they are tuned and working harmoniously with one another. This means moving people around, swapping instruments, replacing drum heads, etc.
After you have assured that all the instruments sound good, then you can decide where to put the mics.
Phase is a relationship between two or more frequencies. I’ll say it again.
Phase is a relationship between two or more frequencies. It’s not Polarity. We will talk about polarity in a different article all together.
The most common phase problems people have are in recordings with multiple microphones recording the same source. The problem is that one microphone may be closer than the other and although the source may sound good, when the recording is captured you’ll have something that looks like this:
The red line = y1 + y2. It is the sum of the two waves at different point in their wave cyles (or phases).
I don’t want to complicate this too much, but phase has the ability to completely cancel out your frequencies (more often than not your LOW end frequencies).
Now that we’ve established what that is, let’s get to the point.
It is crucial to develop a technique for a good phase relationship – in order to do this you must familiarize yourself with the basics of phase. When you get your technique down, you’ll be able to get great sounds with multiple microphones.