If you’ve been reading previous posts here on Cobalt Audio, you’ll know that in the past we have covered the advantages of borrowing mics, how to get the best from any dynamic mics or condenser mics you have been able to borrow from friends, or indeed own yourself.
Hopefully, this should see you well on your way to compiling a usable collection of mics to record a multitrack session, but it’s possible that you may need to invest in buying or even hiring a few to complete the set. You might even just want to expand your arsenal a bit to give you more choice.
Dynamic mics are extremely versatile for the price, and every professional pop studio will use them almost daily. Be on the look out for good deals on second hand sm57’s on ebay as they do pop up frequently, but beware of imitation brands. These would be my number one recommendation even if you want to buy new mics. You can stick them in front of guitar amps, snare drums and even on backing vocalists they will sound fine. If you are likely to be recording very loud bands, with a singer that tends to shout a lot then an SM58 is as good a choice as any condenser mic. It will give you some instant compression on the voice, and will help with a ‘live’ kind of sound which often works with heavy rock / metal bands.
For a brand new sm58, expect to pay in the region of £100. SM57’s although they are very similar, tend to vary more in price so shop around!
The other dynamic that is definately worth a mentionis the AKG D112. Expect to pay around £110 for one of these, but they really are superb kick drum mics and are often used on bass amps too.
Condenser mics are a lot more varied in my opinion, which naturally makes it more difficult to choose between them. If you’re looking for something with a small diaphragm, then a pair of Behringer C-2 mics will go a really long way for about £50! I’ve used them as drum overheads and on acoustic guitars, and have been amazed at how good they sound for the price. They come with a -10dB pad which means you can use them right up close to drums if you want to (will sound fine on the under-side of a snare) and an optional bass cut which makes them very useful in live recordings. You can also get omni capsules for them, which make them more versatile and the improved low end response is useful if you have something like a piano to record. If you are looking for a second-hand pair, try and find out if they were made pre-2007, as that’s the point when Behringer changed the innards to make them less noisy and to give them a fully balanced output.
If you’re looking for a large diaphragm condenser mic to record things like lead vocals, perhaps an acoustic guitar or even a double bass then take a look at the Rode NT1-A which I hear great things about from everyone who uses them. A new one will be around £150, so pretty good value too. I personally really enjoy using the Rode K2 mics, which are a bit more expensive (about £500 new, but can get closer to £400 if you shop around online) but sound beautiful on vocals and anything with strings.
Rode make some great small diaphragm condensers too, so it’s definitely worth checking them out if you get the chance.
Always keep an eye out for a second-hand bargain, because if you’re willing to spend some time looking, there are some really great deals to be had out there.
[image via Rusty Sheriff]