Good low budget vocal mics for your home studio (and tips)
I've been running a home studio for about three years now. I've spent countless hours researching, watching tutorials, etc. trying to find out how to get the best sound I could, and after all my time I learned a few things. Gear (while necessary of course) isn't very important. What is truly important is knowing how to use your gear properly and being able to squeeze out every drop of quality you can from it. But of course that doesn't mean you can use "anything" and "engineer" your way to a great sounding song.
Pretty much the minimum for good/great sounding songs are this: 1. a nice clean vocal mic be it dynamic or condenser (I will be focusing on the latter) 2. a nice clean preamp (you can use the built in one from your interface/mixer and get pretty good results but I highly recommend getting a separate preamp for recording). They're pretty much always much better than the built in ones on your interface/mixer 3. a decent audio interface.
Obviously I'll be talking about a few mics in this hub. These are mics I've personally used so I can truly say how they've performed in the real world. One of the first mics I had was the MXL 770. It was my first XLR mic (oh that special moment during the transition of USB to XLR). Its super cheap something like $100 and maybe even cheaper now. But it has a nice clean sound there's not a bunch of noise and you can get some pretty warm sounding vocals from it. It has a nice build to it very sturdy and it shouldn't give out on you anytime soon (provided you use proper care of course).
The next mic I had after that was another MXL since my first one was really good. The MXL v67g is a great looking mic the gold just really gives that "I cost much more than you think look". I checked amazon and they have this mic for only $96 right now. It also has a nice clean sound to it. I only had this mic for about two weeks but I did enjoy it during that time. Can't remember any specifics for this one but its definitely a mic I would recommend and definitely for rap since its what I used it for.
The next mic I had was the Avantone CV-12, it's a step up in price range from the others at $500. But its definitely worth it if you have the money in my opinion. This mic was used on one of Taylor Swift's albums. The engineer said he put her in front of the mic without telling her anything about it, she sang into it, and pretty much fell in love with it. To be honest I don't blame her this tube mic really has a nice warmth and professionalism about it. I listened back to a few songs I recorded with it in the past and was really impressed how great the vocals sounded. Especially considering my lack of knowledge in engineering at the time and despite that it still sounded great.
Unfortunately I had to sell my gear (including the avantone) so I had to get a new mic and after searching I decided to pick up the Blue Spark which is now my current mic. I have to say it really is fantastic. Its only $200 and it has a very great sound to it. Blue says its designed to be completely flat but in actuality I would say its kind of bright. But that's not bad as it isn't a harsh not fun to hear bright but a subtle with great presence bright. It's very manipulative in terms of plugins (compressors, eq's, etc) I can literally get a hundred different types of sounds from this mic and they all sound nice and professional. But Blue went a step forward and added a "focus" switch to it. Some people claim its just a highpass filter but its more than that. It does some changes with the power and circuitry as well. Its really a handy tool and I almost always keep it in (being that I record rap vocals). With the button in the mic focuses more on mids and highs but at the same time it cuts out a lot of sibilance you would usually get in regular mode. This helps a lot since the artist is usually very close and sibilance can become a big problem especially when the artist has poor mic technique. It gives a more "focused" sound that makes your job easier as it really does help the vocal to cut through the mix. Also with the great price of $200 you get a custom shockmount, pop filter, mic stand adapter, manual, and a great wooden box/carrying case.
In conclusion if your on a very tight budget go for the 770/v67g (being there practically the same price and obviously the v67g as the best choice there) if you have more to spend get yourself the avantone for a mic which will need minimal tweaking. But if you don't have that much or your ok with putting in a little more work to get great results and save money definitely get yourself a blue spark. You shouldn't be disappointed with whichever mic you choose. Thanks for reading please follow my profile and stay tuned for much more tips and tricks.
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