Every vocalist is different. Way different. There are the kind that make youcry—either because they sing likeangels, or because they’re so awfulthat their caterwauling makes yourcerebral cortex jerk up and down like the pistons on a red-lined Porsche. Some whisper, others bellow. Somesing high, some low, and some workin the midrange frequencies. Some are masters of phrasing, while otherscouldn’t keep the beat if a free-range chicken pecked it out on their skulls.
So why do a fair amount ofhome-studio engineers seem tothink that one microphone will doit all, for all vocalists, and at all times?
Obviously, one’s budget has a lotto do with limited microphone options. Assembling a bountiful collectionof dynamic, condenser, tube,and ribbon mics is not an inexpensiveproposition. But if you are committed to finding the perfect microphone for your vocalist—or your own vocals—then some gear-acquisition compromises must be made. Inorder to ensure a particular voiceis recorded with the utmost detail,vibe, and clarity, you can’t justassume that the mic that sounded great on the hammy screamer isalso going to fastidiously documentthe timid and tortured whisperer. Youneed options. You need time toassess. And you need the mindset tolisten critically to what each singer isdelivering, and how different microphones capture—and color—thesound of the voice.
No one I know is taking champagnebaths or setting Franklins ablaze tolight cigars these days, so committing cash resources to buy mics islikely not very high on your prioritylist. The good news is that a “reasonable”vocal-mic selection can becomprised of a dynamic, a largediaphragmcondenser, and a ribbon. This selection should get you througha decent squad of singers with differenttimbres and approaches. You mayalready have a Shure SM57 or SM58on hand to track guitars, vocals, andmost everything else, so that cancover the dynamic. Now, let’s seehow much trouble we can get intowith the other models.
· Some Large-Diaphram CondenserMics Under $100: AKG Percepion120 ($99), Audio-Technica AT2020($99), Behringer C-3 ($59), CAD U37USB ($69), M-Audio Nova ($99), MXL990 ($69), Nady SCM 960 ($69).
· Some Ribbon Mics Under $150:MXL 990 ($99), Nady RSM-1 ($139).
· Some Extra Dynamic OptionsUnder $100: Audix F50-S ($59),Blue enCORE 100 ($99), Electro-Voice PL24 ($59), Heil Sound($98), Sennheiser e825S ($79).
So, depending on your preferences,you can assemble a two-mic cabinet(deleting the ribbon) for as low as$118, and a three-mic selection(including a ribbon) for around $217.You may desire some qualityupgrades, of course, but you canabsolutely get into the different timbres and characteristics of three microphone styles for just a couple ofbucks more than you’d shell out foran iPod Touch.
. . . You must use them. Musicians whoare accustomed to recording everythingwith a single microphone aren’tnecessarily hip to auditioning a numberof different options. Now is...