Recording Studio Mics the Good/Cheap/Best
Hello everybody this Jim from slick audio. Today we are going to discuss inexpensive microphones. And I was gonna use the term Cheap Microphones, but since cheap infers the poor quality. That is absolutely not the case here so I will use the term inexpensive microphones. However you use whatever word you feel is appropriate for you.
What’s the best cheap mic?
So anyways let’s just dive right in shall we? We had this request by the way from a gentleman on social media and he asked if we’d cover for this as the subject. So I’m gonna start I’ve got four of them on my desk right now. The first one that I want to show is from Sterling Audio. It comes in a nice little case here, and this is the ST159 microphone. This is a beautiful what you would call multi pattern condenser mic. It does cardioid omni-directional and figure eight. It’s got a -10 DB pad on it for those who wish I first heard of these guys from Pete Thorn. If y’all haven’t checked Pete Thorns YouTube channel yet or website you really need to use the guitarist right now for miss Melissa Etheridge. But he is one of the coolest cats around. And as far as knowing gear and playing guitar and anyways he did a demo, and you could check that out on his site. Just look up Pete Thorn on YouTube or his website. Pete did a fantastic demo of these microphones. So back to the mics it comes with a shock mount and everything. The best part about it is that mics about $200.00 bucks you know $199.99 you can’t beat that with a stick.
So that is is a great microphone for general use recording. Another Sterling Audio mic that actually is on the same video that he did because a ribbon mic and I actually bought a pair of these. Because they actually do sell them as a pair. This beautiful ribbon this is the Sterling ST170. And so they are. I’m looking at my cheat sheets guys so you know you gotta bear with the old man here and but they are I believe they are like $200.00 a piece or a pair something like $350.00 ($50.00 off) for a pair of them. (Why would you want to buy 2)? You always want to buy two so we’re gonna do stereo recording. You know do the old XY thing, so but anyways I’ll tell you what for the price. And these come with a shock mount as well. So and again right so okay so you know not shabby for for the price that we’re dealing with there. You know it’s just a great deal at that price.
There are others Rhode microphones they make. Some decent ones I just have personally heard these (Sterling Audio mics). And of course I own them they’re they’re phenomenal. Very good especially for the price you can’t beat it with a stick. So let’s go on and talk about the next little “Anna Mule”(animal)that I wanted to discuss . Let’s discuss and that is from a company called Blue. Baltic Latvian Universal Electronics so I know they’ve gotten bought out a couple of times. But the model called the Baby Bottle now. They make a pile of mics like Yeti. I’ve got a Yeti here on my desk that’s more of a podcast mic that sort of thing. So I’m talking about studio mics so don’t look at like the snowball the Yeti that kind of stuff they’re more podcast related you know. So I’m not counting that kind of stuff in even though they are condenser so the Baby Bottle. To me are now it’s called the Baby Bottle SL so this is the older one this is the original.
Sorry mine’s old, but you know ice little wooden case here. That they they put it in this microphone, was actually the first mic that I bought for my studio. It actually does have a shock mount I just don’t here with me it’s it’s it’s like back over there.
I’ll tell you what this thing kicks holy but it’s unbelievable the quality that comes out of this mic got like $400.00 bucks man. I’ll tell right now for the price absolutely untouchable microphone. The Sterling’s are very good for what they do. This thing takes it to another level. So I can imagine the SLS is a monster as well. Now they’ve got a bunch of other mics and I asked several myself my one of my favorite actually all-time vocal mics. And his really doesn’t fall under the inexpensive category of the Blueberry is $1000.00 bucks. My god that is one of the best vocal mics you’ll ever,ever sing through. The Neumann u87, in my opinion is so close to that anyway. You know there’s gonna be people out there going to say “BS” you know look you know your ears tell you what your ears tell you. My ears tell me what my ears tell me I think the Blueberry sounds better personally.
Best Microphone – Neumann U87
But hey whatever you want to be snow balled by some other companies, then have a time. Quite honestly it’s picked a teal I’m 103 before I pick you Neumann u87 and and a 149 for sure. For sure over any of them but if you got$5000.00 or $6000.00 grand to spend on the 149 so you know there’s a lot of great mics. Blue makes a fantastic microphone. They have some others,the baby bottle was just one that came to mind.
Cactus they have some funky names and some of them look pretty strange. But good company work with Audio Technica has some great microphones at very, very, very, good price. What they call the 2000 series is they start at $200.00 bucks my son actually has a
I’m a probably that’s wrong 2020 and I think it was like $100.00 and my god you know again for the price $100.00. You can’t beat it with a stick. I think they make a model 2040 that’s like$150.00 or $200.00 bucks and don’t don’t quote me. On the under the 2040 or 2030 thing I’m not sure that’s 20/20 I know is right because NDS but that’s you know Audio Technica makes a great microphones at some very, very good prices. The 2000 series they start at $200.00 the 3000 series is kind of a notch up so now you’re in the $400.00, $450.00-$500.00 dollar range.
So you’re kind of in the but that baby bottle range phenomenal. Like 4033 the 4040 if they still make it the 4050 fantastic mic. The 4060 one of my favorites. I’ve got one back there but now you’re into like $1,500 range. It’s a tube mic that things warm as warm could be. Incredible factor Zuka record. From Here to Where that we did back in 2000 that was we did all the vocals. Actually on the 4060 and my god just warm as warm could be. We had it that we actually recorded Anthony (Zuka lead singer) recorded vocals on our lead singer. And we did all these background tracks and, all these other mics and all of a sudden. It was like you know he bought this the 4060 and it was right before I bought mine, and he plugs this thing in and he started singing through it. And I was just like I just stopped where I was doing, and I went into the control room. I’m like what you know what the hell are you singing on? And he goes I just picked this thing up and so anyways I know that’s not actually in the inexpensive category. But for the quality quite honestly in my opinion that mic rival rivals $4,000 microphones.
For you know $1500.00 one could say that’s inexpensive for the type of mic.
Virtual Microphone Systems
I want to cover one more and this is kind of an oddball. It’s certainly some different and unique technology so if you’ve never heard of Steven Slate before. Steven is quite an amazing engineer, and in his own right and his gotten and is involved in the Ravens, which are the touch control surfaces I’m not a huge fan of that because this I want I want a fader. But I mean it’s cool they’re nice they work well they’ve got a lot of neat stuff you just have to learn the hand gestures and all that kind of stuff but you know once you learn it I mean it’s incredibly fast. Incredibly easy to use
So but anyways this is actually a slate the VMSML1. So “VMS” standing for virtual microphone system and what I mean by that is is this actually runs through it does connect through normal preamp like you typically would. But this emulates other microphones, it has a special plugin that the microphone is supposed to go through. And it emulates a pile of shall we say vintage and very respectable microphones. At seven hundred bucks not on sale. I’m here to fricking tell you or is it eight hundred $800.00 bucks. It’s eight hundred bucks it’s and I think it’s on sale. In my opinion very, very, very inexpensive. Because you’re actually getting you know virtual microphones that are you know from a thousand to four thousand dollars. And that would be several of them so it’s like buying a whole mic locker full of mics and you’re only buying one microphone.
So that to me is an extremely wise investment. You know and again look purists we’re gonna sit there and bash this kind of stuff. You can bash it all day long. But I’m here to tell you, I would HIGHLY advise that you that you at least. You never bust on virtual mic like that or something you know the technology’s come so close. Come on even with the guitar processors I’ve got you know the ten twelve tube amps. Sitting over there in my studio but at the end of the day. Most of the tracks that I’m recording anymore are you know through the Kemper or the Axe-fx 3 you know. Or the virtual you know plugin it’s just it’s amazing what they’re what they’re doing the quality and how quiet they are enough to screw around. You just pretty much do everything on the screen and in the box and you know. I don’t like that quite as much you tweak a little thing here and there after the fact so it falls into the mix a lot easier. A lot better and again once it’s in the mix. You know I’ll be honest you really can’t tell I mean I’ve seen tons of videos where people have gone back and forth with virtual instruments and you know whether guitar plug-in or microphones.
Quite honestly in the blind test people can’t tell a freaking difference it’s just true every once in a while you know you’ll get a bat. That’ll you know as in the flying thing (kidding) that I can hear that (the difference in sound). Good luck the point is that both have relevance guys so you know look the real tube amps are awesome. I love I wouldn’t have them if I didn’t like them but at the end of the day. There’s that there’s a reason for both and so we’re talking about inexpensive microphones here. So you know the slate microphone you know being a deal at $700.00 bucks or even bought yourself you know $10,000 worth of $15,000 worth of microphones right out of the gate and I believe you can add more on. I haven’t even registered mine yet, but I did hear it before I obviously bought the thing but you know. Absolutely amazing microphone.
So again just to recap. Sterling Audio great company to go with. Rode Microphones very good company to go with. Audio Technica makes some phenomenal microphones at very low price points and mid-range price points. Blue makes some phenomenal microphones at you know at reasonable price points and very high price points too. Norman actually is now starting to make out of Germany they’re actually starting to make some very inexpensive FET microphones that are fat field effect transistor. Just in case you want to know that that are in my opinion reasonably priced and you know and you’re getting the quality of anointment. It’s just some good stuff and of course then you have you know the the slate digital here and there’s some other few other microphones that are doing the modeling thing right now as well.
Quite honestly I believe you can get I think it’s waves that I have and don’t hold me to this but I’m pretty sure it was waves as a plugin it’s called microphone modeler. Or no Antares I’m sorry Antares it’s theirs. So yeah you can’t whole be that once I know I have I’d have the damn thing I just forgot who made it aunt iris makes microphone modeler. Basically what you do is you tell it what microphone that you have going in and then it emulates some of the vintage mics. You don’t need necessarily a special mic for,but it needs to know a lot about the microphone that’s going in. So there’s a particular range of microphones that it wants to work with, and I believe the 2020 is one of them. So at $200.00 bucks you know so that’s an inexpensive way into it but again the slate ones. Like really cool that’s just a different animal altogether so I hope that helps and gives you a good start.
We are a re-seller for most of these guys. Definitely Blue we are not for Slate, at least out at this moment. Not for Sterling Audio at least not at this moment,but we are for Audio Technica. I did say Blue, we are for Neumann and several other brands as well Mojave actually that’s when I left out Mojave. My god what a killer microphone that is they make FET versions and tube versions. I have one of their tubes the 300 it’s it’s just breathtaking, breathtaking microphone for the price. So you know they have some very inexpensive mics and we are now dealer for those guys. So as you can see I’m not trying to push the Slick Audio you know buy it from us you know hey you want to buy it from us. I’ll give you a great deal on a machine, if you’re the more you buy from us the better of the deal I’m gonna give you it.
Just is what it is that’s sales right so that about does it for microphones inexpensive microphones or reasonably priced microphones. Did I say so I hope that helps. We will be at Summer NAMM 2019 this year. I don’t know that booth yet we’ll find out I believe next week sometime. We will be at a AES this year at Jacob Jabits Center In October (16th,17th, and 18th 2019) don’t know the dates so don’t ask the NAMM show by the way Summer NAMM I believe is the 18th, 19th and 20th yeah 18, 19, 20 at in Nashville.
If you’ve never been to that show it’s a far smaller show than the one in LA, but any time but man it’s a beautiful show. Nashville’s a beautiful city the folks are just wonderful down there very friendly. A lot of good barbecue if you like barbecue, but it’s just just good stuff. It’s it’s an enjoyable trip it’s relaxing. You get to see everything so anyways Nashville great show.
AES we’re doing that and we will be of course at Winter NAMM again (JANUARY 16-19, 2020). I had the same booth we were last year and don’t ask you what the bloody booth this at the moment it’s I can’t think of it and neither can Chris. He’s looking at me all kinds of squirrely so as we’re both laughing sitting here going yeah hey be good by the way.
We have another being in the in the office now. Steve yell over and say hi so there you go that’s our VP of Finance and he joined us. He’s you know he’s going to be speaking the audio language here with us very shortly. But we’re he’s in deep training so anyways hey be good everybody have a wonderful and safe and happy and healthy weekend. I will talk to you for sure next week be good