This blog is intended as a response to this thread: ?Mic Selections for home recording Studio
A $100 microphone is like your first girlfriend.This little blog will explain why you shouldn't overthink your first mic purchase.
I had a HARDCORE mixing day yesterday. I mixed or listened to my mixes in other system for about 12 hours yesterday.
There were basically 2 mics used on the vocals for this record. I noticed that each song had a drastically different vocal sound. The vocals that turned out the best used a $300 mic. Ironically, the vocals I had the most trouble with used that same $300 mic, an Audio Technica AT4050. It doesn't mean that mic is inconsistent. It means that humans are inconsistent....and they should be.
The mic that was always in the middle (in terms of my happiness with the vocal sound) was my $2500 Soundelux U99.
To get the sound I really wanted, I found myself using quite a bit of EQ and various degrees of de-essing on both the vocals tracked with the Soundelux U99 and the AT4050. These songs ranged from pretty ballads with quite vocals, to very loud, aggressive vocals.
So, in the end, I'm probably going to be selling my $2500 mic. Not because it's not a great mic, but because I don't want to have that much cash invested in a single microphone when I could have 3 $800 mics, or 5 $500 mics, or something in between. (Note: If my wallet suddenly became larger, I would probably just get 5 $2500 mics (or more) but because I'm producing all the time, there is not a lot of $ coming in.
It all comes down to character in the vocal. Some mics are going to flatter a certain characteristic of the vocal. Others are going to enhance something you don't want enhanced. This is not a only a “per -person” basis or "per-song" basis but even a "per part of a song" basis. A singer whispering in a verse has drastically different microphone needs than a person yelling in a chorus.
At the Wagener workshop, Wagener picked a mic that sounded quite dull and nasally by my standards at the time. See the Microphone pain test. Towards the end of the mixing day, he put a high shelf on the entire mix and everything went from being very thick, to thick with great high end as well.
I guess my point is that you can take a dull sounding mic, mess with it (EQ, compression, whatever) and come out with something great. This is how one big boy did it. I'd guess there is another big boy who just uses a mic that sounds about right at the time and doesn't use the high end shelf on the 2bus.
There is probably another big boy recording engineer who uses a really bright mic and then dulls it up in one way or another.
In the end, there is no single mic that is going to work perfectly on every single voice on every single song. Picking the right mic for a given voice is going to make the process MUCH easier, but you still may need to use compression, EQ, etc to get what you are looking for.
So after laying all of this out, stressing out over the purchase of a single $100 microphone is silly. It's like getting way too serious about your first girlfriend. You'll probably have 20 before you finally get one pregnant and get stuck with here.
Don't over think your first microphone purchase. Like your first girlfriend, your first mic is going to have things that not going to be desirable in your future and things that you look back on and miss. Of course, unlike girlfriends, it's easy to have 20 microphones in your mic cabinet.
So grab a Shure SM57 and a cheap condenser mic. As you get sucked deeper and deeper into the recording abyss, you can add more and more mics.