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Good low budget vocal mics for your home studio (and tips)

Updated on June 2, 2016

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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    • profile image

      arthur 

      3 years ago

      @passion4music do you know how to make radio ready vocals in garageband

    • Passion4music profile imageAUTHOR

      Passion4music 

      6 years ago

      I've been incredibly busy with a lot of projects and whatnot so I haven't gotten the chance to post anything new here but I will do some new stuff soon now that I see people are interested. Do you guys have any suggestions of what you would like to read about? Anything from recording to mixing and mastering. Next year i'm doing a major upgrade to my home studio so when that happens i'll be posting reviews of all the new equipment I get and more tips and tricks.

    • Passion4music profile imageAUTHOR

      Passion4music 

      6 years ago

      Thanks I appreciate it. Yes audacity tends to be lower quality but I think the reason for that is pro engineers don't use it. I'm sure you could get some pretty good sounding results if you wanted to. But if you do get a free copy of Pro Tools or Cubase with your audio interface then it would be wise to start using that and learn it from the beginning. She's right garageband isn't bad I used that for a while when I first got a mac it has some pretty good built in plugins I especially loved the noise gate it was so simple yet so effective. The CV-12 was and is a great mic I was pretty sad when I had to let it go. Once you really get into engineering you'll see lots of different mics what I would like to say though is don't always fall for hype and higher price equals better quality. Usually you do have to spend a certain amount if you truly want professional sound but that gap is closing more and more. After your through the beginner stage you can explore custom made mics. There's a great company that made a copy of what is arguably the king of all mics (Sony C-800G). Pretty much all big artists have used that mic. It also comes with a nice price tag of over $8,000. But the custom made mic is less than $2,000 and in some ways sounds even better. There's lots of things like that in the recording gear biz.

    • brittanytodd profile image

      Brittany Kennedy 

      6 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      Passion4music, great hub! I voted it up. I hope I can one day afford a Avantone CV-12. Thanks for posting.

      Seattlemilehigh1, I use ProTools, Adobe Audition or Logic Pro to make my beats. Audacity is free, but it is very low-quality and doesn't allow you to move files around after you make a song. If you have a mac, GarageBand isn't that bad. It is very easy-to-use and has a ton of editable effects and functions. I hope this helps!

    • Passion4music profile imageAUTHOR

      Passion4music 

      6 years ago

      Well most people would say Audacity. Not only is it free but its one of the most basic recording programs which makes it good for beginners. Will this be your first recording program? When I first first started out me and a friend of mine were using Magix ringtone maker lol. Its super basic but not exactly what you want to use for recording songs. Do you already have an audio interface? If so did it come with any software? If you haven't gotten one yet when you do get one chances are its going to come with a basic version of either pro tools or cubase and etc. I personally use Cubase 5 (not really a fan of pro tools). I like it but at heart I'm a logic user just don't have a mac right now. But Cubase isn't that difficult once you research and find out what all the basics are. Do you know what compression, equalization (eq), and things like that are/do? If you have any more questions feel free to ask I'd love to help out.

    • seattleamilehigh1 profile image

      seattleamilehigh1 

      6 years ago from Seattle, Washington

      what is the best, most efficient (especially as far as memory space is concerned), recording program to use? I got my start now on a mic, thanks. Great article, voted up!

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