Microphone for vocals - advice needed

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The_G
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Post 31 May 2017

I'm going to record vocals at home for an upcoming album, and so am in the market for a microphone. My budget is not big; I am currently looking at the AT2035 (condenser) and the Shure Beta SM58.

So my questions for those of you who are more experienced with this stuff:

1. Where do you stand on condenser vs. dynamic for a home studio, given that I'd be recording in an apartment and not a properly soundproofed room?

2. Where do you stand on these specific two microphones?

3. Are there any other microphones in the sub-$200USD price range you would recommend I look at?

Thanks in advance!
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Last Alternative
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Post 01 Jun 2017

I have wasted years of money and time on cheap gear. It's cheaper in the long run to go all out and get good gear so in this situation I recommend the Austin Microphones Halo and a Neumann tlm102. Best setup I've ever had.
If that's absolutely not an option then stick with the sm58 and hang moving blankets and sleeping bags all around as a makeshift booth.
I hope you have a decent mic preamp.
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joeyluck
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Post 01 Jun 2017

I have used many microphones and always end up turning to my Shure Beta 57A. It's incredibly versatile...a Swiss Army knife of microphones. I use it with the magnetic wind screen. It sounds great on anything; including vocals (recorded and live). I've used it for sampling various sounds, recording voiceovers and sung vocals, and even had Molly Ringwald sing on it live! It's dependable and built very well and inexpensive. You can't go wrong with either the 58 or 57.

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gullum
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Post 01 Jun 2017

I have a Røde nt1 and if there is noice outside your apartment/house it will pick it up. I set it up and put on headphones and I could hear sounds from my sons iPad from downstairs that I could not hear without headphones. So a good condenser you need sound proved room or something to keep noice out. SM are always a good choice
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Marco Raaphorst
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Post 01 Jun 2017

There's a difference between the Sure Beta SM58 and the Sure SM58. Those are superb mics imo but I prefer the SM57 on vocal because it has a little more highend. These mics both SM58 and SM57 are the best for homestudios because they have great proximity effect and since they are dynamic not much of the room acoustics will be recorded. Condensors can be nice but you need a vocal booth or well treated room.

I put foam filter on the SM57. Works great.
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O1B
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Post 01 Jun 2017

sm57 here, but thanks for the sm58 info.
Dual ? I'm interested in trying. .. if anyone with experience shares to care... or something...
Image
Marco Raaphorst wrote:There's a difference between the Sure Beta SM58 and the Sure SM58. Those are superb mics imo but I prefer the SM57 on vocal because it has a little more highend. These mics both SM58 and SM57 are the best for homestudios because they have great proximity effect and since they are dynamic not much of the room acoustics will be recorded. Condensors can be nice but you need a vocal booth or well treated room.

I put foam filter on the SM57. Works great.
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joeyluck
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Post 01 Jun 2017

O1B wrote:sm57 here, but thanks for the sm58 info.
Dual ? I'm interested in trying. .. if anyone with experience shares to care... or something...
Image
Marco Raaphorst wrote:There's a difference between the Sure Beta SM58 and the Sure SM58. Those are superb mics imo but I prefer the SM57 on vocal because it has a little more highend. These mics both SM58 and SM57 are the best for homestudios because they have great proximity effect and since they are dynamic not much of the room acoustics will be recorded. Condensors can be nice but you need a vocal booth or well treated room.

I put foam filter on the SM57. Works great.
This is what used to be the US Presidential mic setup. It had been that way since the 60's. The current president changed it. He wanted one mic on a gooseneck so he could constantly play with it and adjust it. The two mics this way were mostly to have one for the room and the other for broadcast. I'm not sure if the current setup just sends the same mic to both of if they use a lav in addition. But this setup would likely not do you any good.

However, you can use a pair for recording instruments up close. Just not with that mic clip. I know 2 Beta 57A's are great on piano. Although you may still want condensers on a piano.

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The_G
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Post 01 Jun 2017

Thanks everyone. Sounds like the Beta SM57 and Beta SM58 are at the top of my list.

Does anyone have experience with the Audio Technica AT2035 or AT2020 condenser mics? Those had been recommended to me as well. As far as the Røde NT1 goes, it's very nice but too expensive here in Singapore--goes for S$150 (about $115) more than the Beta SM58. Unfortunately, I don't have the available funds for it, and the used market here is small. I'll look out for one, though.
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EnochLight
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Post 01 Jun 2017

The_G wrote:Thanks everyone. Sounds like the Beta SM57 and Beta SM58 are at the top of my list.

Does anyone have experience with the Audio Technica AT2035 or AT2020 condenser mics? Those had been recommended to me as well. As far as the Røde NT1 goes, it's very nice but too expensive here in Singapore--goes for S$150 (about $115) more than the Beta SM58. Unfortunately, I don't have the available funds for it, and the used market here is small. I'll look out for one, though.
I've spent a lot of time using various mics (Besides my Audio Technica, I own several Blue, an MXL ribbon, and a Shure 5575 LE) but time and time again, I find myself coming back to my Audio Technica AT3035 for vocals. If the AT2035 sounds anything like the 3035, I'd have to suggest you strongly consider one as part of your studio. As far as affordable mics are concerned, it's hard to beat. It sounds crisp, yet full, and seems to capture nuances that others fail to record.

It's super sensitive, though.
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adfielding
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Post 02 Jun 2017

I'll address your third question because, handily, someone asked me recently about my vocal chain on a SC track so I'll just copy and paste it here because it's a fun story.

When I was at university, we had a shit-ton of microphones available to us - naturally, the U87 was the coveted vocal mic but me, knowing nothing about mics, decided to try them all and pick the one I liked the most. So I tried them all. And I found that the SE2200a was my favourite for raw recordings. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was a budget mic. Now, I'm not saying that the SE2200a is better than a U87... just that, y'know, in a blind test, I found that it suited my voice better than everything else I used. And that's why I've been using it for my vocal recordings for the past decade or so :)

--

The point of this little tale isn't to say that the SE2200a is some kind of super mic or anything, because... y'know, it probably isn't :) Having used it pretty much exclusively for all of my vocal recording over the past 11 years though, I'd say it's definitely doing something right and might be worth a look. fwiw, here's the track that the comment came from originally-



Probably not an amazing example as there's liberal use of reverb, but the chain is essentially SE2200a -> RE-2A -> Selig De-Esser -> DR-1 reverb which has become a bit of a standard for me. Pretty sure there's no EQ (or very little, at least), but I did use the HPF on the mixer.

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QVprod
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Post 02 Jun 2017

The_G wrote:Thanks everyone. Sounds like the Beta SM57 and Beta SM58 are at the top of my list.

Does anyone have experience with the Audio Technica AT2035 or AT2020 condenser mics? Those had been recommended to me as well. As far as the Røde NT1 goes, it's very nice but too expensive here in Singapore--goes for S$150 (about $115) more than the Beta SM58. Unfortunately, I don't have the available funds for it, and the used market here is small. I'll look out for one, though.
I own an AT2020 and an AT4040. The 2020 is the first mic I ever bought and is a good cheap mic but it's bright lacking a bit of low end. I personally don't like it that much for male vocals in the lower register. Sounds fine on female vocals though. I bought the 4040 as it has a bit more of a balanced neutral sound that I feel I can use on anything.

The thing about microphones is your preference will depend of on the source material. With one artist I work with, we went to a studio where she recorded through what I believe was a Neumann TLM 49 into a Neve preamp. Sounded great, but we ended up continuing to record at my home bedroom setup with the AT2020 through regular Focusrite preamps in a Scarlett interface because there wasn't much of a difference in sound on her voice. Even she noticed it, and she suggested we switch back. I even tried to switch to using the 4040 on her after buying it and she refused preferring the brighter sound of the 2020. She's a soprano voice though.

As was stated earlier in the thread, condenser mics will pick up more background noise than dynamics but whether thats a problem depends on how much background noise you have and how loud it is. The thing though, is condensers pick up a broader frequency range than dynamic mics which is why many prefer it for studio use.

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Marco Raaphorst
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Post 02 Jun 2017

QVprod wrote:
The_G wrote:Thanks everyone. Sounds like the Beta SM57 and Beta SM58 are at the top of my list.

Does anyone have experience with the Audio Technica AT2035 or AT2020 condenser mics? Those had been recommended to me as well. As far as the Røde NT1 goes, it's very nice but too expensive here in Singapore--goes for S$150 (about $115) more than the Beta SM58. Unfortunately, I don't have the available funds for it, and the used market here is small. I'll look out for one, though.
I own an AT2020 and an AT4040. The 2020 is the first mic I ever bought and is a good cheap mic but it's bright lacking a bit of low end. I personally don't like it that much for male vocals in the lower register. Sounds fine on female vocals though. I bought the 4040 as it has a bit more of a balanced neutral sound that I feel I can use on anything.

The thing about microphones is your preference will depend of on the source material. With one artist I work with, we went to a studio where she recorded through what I believe was a Neumann TLM 49 into a Neve preamp. Sounded great, but we ended up continuing to record at my home bedroom setup with the AT2020 through regular Focusrite preamps in a Scarlett interface because there wasn't much of a difference in sound on her voice. Even she noticed it, and she suggested we switch back. I even tried to switch to using the 4040 on her after buying it and she refused preferring the brighter sound of the 2020. She's a soprano voice though.

As was stated earlier in the thread, condenser mics will pick up more background noise than dynamics but whether thats a problem depends on how much background noise you have and how loud it is. The thing though, is condensers pick up a broader frequency range than dynamic mics which is why many prefer it for studio use.
I believe the differences between dynamic and condensor come from sensitivity differences between dynamics and condensors.
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QVprod
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Post 02 Jun 2017

Marco Raaphorst wrote:
QVprod wrote:
The_G wrote:Thanks everyone. Sounds like the Beta SM57 and Beta SM58 are at the top of my list.

Does anyone have experience with the Audio Technica AT2035 or AT2020 condenser mics? Those had been recommended to me as well. As far as the Røde NT1 goes, it's very nice but too expensive here in Singapore--goes for S$150 (about $115) more than the Beta SM58. Unfortunately, I don't have the available funds for it, and the used market here is small. I'll look out for one, though.
I own an AT2020 and an AT4040. The 2020 is the first mic I ever bought and is a good cheap mic but it's bright lacking a bit of low end. I personally don't like it that much for male vocals in the lower register. Sounds fine on female vocals though. I bought the 4040 as it has a bit more of a balanced neutral sound that I feel I can use on anything.

The thing about microphones is your preference will depend of on the source material. With one artist I work with, we went to a studio where she recorded through what I believe was a Neumann TLM 49 into a Neve preamp. Sounded great, but we ended up continuing to record at my home bedroom setup with the AT2020 through regular Focusrite preamps in a Scarlett interface because there wasn't much of a difference in sound on her voice. Even she noticed it, and she suggested we switch back. I even tried to switch to using the 4040 on her after buying it and she refused preferring the brighter sound of the 2020. She's a soprano voice though.

As was stated earlier in the thread, condenser mics will pick up more background noise than dynamics but whether thats a problem depends on how much background noise you have and how loud it is. The thing though, is condensers pick up a broader frequency range than dynamic mics which is why many prefer it for studio use.
I believe the differences between dynamic and condensor come from sensitivity differences between dynamics and condensors.
Sensitivity as well. Dynamics require more gain, but also frequency response. here are a few dynamics.

SM58 50Hz-15kHz
Beta58 50Hz-16kHz
SM7b 50Hz-20kHz
RE320 30Hz-18kHz

One of the Condensers mentioned in this thread:
AT2020 20Hz-20kHz

In my experience, Dynamic mics tend to lack top end, which works in some situations but the frequency responses explain why.

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Marco Raaphorst
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Post 02 Jun 2017

I must say I love the SM57. I love the highend boost. Although it is not flat, it is lovely.
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Post 02 Jun 2017

Kombucha wrote:
joeyluck wrote: This is what used to be the US Presidential mic setup. It had been that way since the 60's. The current president changed it. He wanted one mic on a gooseneck so he could constantly play with it and adjust it.
While you are correct about the dual Shures in this instance, it should be stated that there's nothing particularly 'Presidential' about a matched pair of mics. Acoustic guitar is often mic'd with more than one. There's even a dirt cheap matched pair of mini condensers under $100 from Behringer that even come with a dual-mount clip array, that they market specifically as a pair.

Image
Condensers are indeed much better suited as a stereo pair. As spoken about in this thread; the broader pickup pattern and frequency response. Also, a clip (unlike the Shure VIP) that allows for adjustment for XY setups in addition to a wider AB might also be desired.

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EnochLight
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Post 02 Jun 2017

Kombucha wrote:
joeyluck wrote: This is what used to be the US Presidential mic setup. It had been that way since the 60's. The current president changed it. He wanted one mic on a gooseneck so he could constantly play with it and adjust it.
While you are correct about the dual Shures in this instance, it should be stated that there's nothing particularly 'Presidential' about a matched pair of mics.
Fun fact: according to Shure (who took over the majority of mic supply to the government since their military-grade manufacturing during World War 2), the dual mic setup for presidential speech was for redundancy - so in case one failed, there would always be a backup.

But, I digress.
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Post 02 Jun 2017

adfielding wrote:I'll address your third question because, handily, someone asked me recently about my vocal chain on a SC track so I'll just copy and paste it here because it's a fun story.

When I was at university, we had a shit-ton of microphones available to us - naturally, the U87 was the coveted vocal mic but me, knowing nothing about mics, decided to try them all and pick the one I liked the most. So I tried them all. And I found that the SE2200a was my favourite for raw recordings. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was a budget mic. Now, I'm not saying that the SE2200a is better than a U87... just that, y'know, in a blind test, I found that it suited my voice better than everything else I used. And that's why I've been using it for my vocal recordings for the past decade or so :)

--

The point of this little tale isn't to say that the SE2200a is some kind of super mic or anything, because... y'know, it probably isn't :) Having used it pretty much exclusively for all of my vocal recording over the past 11 years though, I'd say it's definitely doing something right and might be worth a look. fwiw, here's the track that the comment came from originally-



Probably not an amazing example as there's liberal use of reverb, but the chain is essentially SE2200a -> RE-2A -> Selig De-Esser -> DR-1 reverb which has become a bit of a standard for me. Pretty sure there's no EQ (or very little, at least), but I did use the HPF on the mixer.
Interestingly, I've NEVER seen a stock U-87 used on vocals in almost 40 years of recording in and around Nashville, and only one non-stock U87 (Stephen Paul Tube mod). U47 and SM7 are king there, as well as the 251, U67, and variants other oddball microphones from time to time. But never a U87!

BUT, when I was first learning audio, it was talked about a lot, fwiw!


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Post 02 Jun 2017

EnochLight wrote:
Kombucha wrote:
joeyluck wrote: This is what used to be the US Presidential mic setup. It had been that way since the 60's. The current president changed it. He wanted one mic on a gooseneck so he could constantly play with it and adjust it.
While you are correct about the dual Shures in this instance, it should be stated that there's nothing particularly 'Presidential' about a matched pair of mics.
Fun fact: according to Shure (who took over the majority of mic supply to the government since their military-grade manufacturing during World War 2), the dual mic setup for presidential speech was for redundancy - so in case one failed, there would always be a backup.

But, I digress.
I've heard it's both for redundancy and to split the feed, but redundancy is what I've heard the most.

Unless you're the Grateful Dead, then the second mic was used to cancel out the PA, as you sing into one mic (the second have it's polarity flipped). ;)


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selig
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Post 02 Jun 2017

joeyluck wrote:
Kombucha wrote:
joeyluck wrote: This is what used to be the US Presidential mic setup. It had been that way since the 60's. The current president changed it. He wanted one mic on a gooseneck so he could constantly play with it and adjust it.
While you are correct about the dual Shures in this instance, it should be stated that there's nothing particularly 'Presidential' about a matched pair of mics. Acoustic guitar is often mic'd with more than one. There's even a dirt cheap matched pair of mini condensers under $100 from Behringer that even come with a dual-mount clip array, that they market specifically as a pair.

Image
Condensers are indeed much better suited as a stereo pair. As spoken about in this thread; the broader pickup pattern and frequency response. Also, a clip (unlike the Shure VIP) that allows for adjustment for XY setups in addition to a wider AB might also be desired.
And don't forget ORTF, probably my favorite over A/B and X/Y for most near-field recording (A/B for wide field, as in orchestral recordings). Also, there's the Blumlein Pair setup with ribbons (figure 8 pattern) is also pretty cool for room mics such as those from Royer etc. :)


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joeyluck
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Post 02 Jun 2017

selig wrote:
joeyluck wrote:
Kombucha wrote:
joeyluck wrote: This is what used to be the US Presidential mic setup. It had been that way since the 60's. The current president changed it. He wanted one mic on a gooseneck so he could constantly play with it and adjust it.
While you are correct about the dual Shures in this instance, it should be stated that there's nothing particularly 'Presidential' about a matched pair of mics. Acoustic guitar is often mic'd with more than one. There's even a dirt cheap matched pair of mini condensers under $100 from Behringer that even come with a dual-mount clip array, that they market specifically as a pair.

Image
Condensers are indeed much better suited as a stereo pair. As spoken about in this thread; the broader pickup pattern and frequency response. Also, a clip (unlike the Shure VIP) that allows for adjustment for XY setups in addition to a wider AB might also be desired.
And don't forget ORTF, probably my favorite over A/B and X/Y for most near-field recording (A/B for wide field, as in orchestral recordings). Also, there's the Blumlein Pair setup with ribbons (figure 8 pattern) is also pretty cool for room mics such as those from Royer etc. :)


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Yes definitely! And mid-side as well I guess.

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selig
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Post 02 Jun 2017

joeyluck wrote:
selig wrote:
joeyluck wrote:
Kombucha wrote:
joeyluck wrote: This is what used to be the US Presidential mic setup. It had been that way since the 60's. The current president changed it. He wanted one mic on a gooseneck so he could constantly play with it and adjust it.
While you are correct about the dual Shures in this instance, it should be stated that there's nothing particularly 'Presidential' about a matched pair of mics. Acoustic guitar is often mic'd with more than one. There's even a dirt cheap matched pair of mini condensers under $100 from Behringer that even come with a dual-mount clip array, that they market specifically as a pair.

Image
Condensers are indeed much better suited as a stereo pair. As spoken about in this thread; the broader pickup pattern and frequency response. Also, a clip (unlike the Shure VIP) that allows for adjustment for XY setups in addition to a wider AB might also be desired.
And don't forget ORTF, probably my favorite over A/B and X/Y for most near-field recording (A/B for wide field, as in orchestral recordings). Also, there's the Blumlein Pair setup with ribbons (figure 8 pattern) is also pretty cool for room mics such as those from Royer etc. :)


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Yes definitely! And mid-side as well I guess.
Good one (how could I forget?!?).
;)


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adfielding
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Post 04 Jun 2017

selig wrote:Interestingly, I've NEVER seen a stock U-87 used on vocals in almost 40 years of recording in and around Nashville, and only one non-stock U87 (Stephen Paul Tube mod). U47 and SM7 are king there, as well as the 251, U67, and variants other oddball microphones from time to time. But never a U87!

BUT, when I was first learning audio, it was talked about a lot, fwiw!
Yeah, the way it was being talked about I assumed that it was just going to absolutely blow everything else out of the water when I was trying out vocal mics at university, really wish I could remember some of the other mics I tried out at the time. To be fair, ignorance played a big part in my decision making process because I had very few preconceptions about microphones before trying them out. But hey! Guess that wasn't such a bad thing though, after all - if it sounds right... it is right :)

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O1B
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Post 05 Jun 2017

"Would likely not do you any good".... Respectfully, my testing - with an even closer mic (H6) - shows otherwise..
That's why Id like input from someone who has actual experience trying the setup.
The shure sounds deeper/fuller than the H6 (without warming) so I'd like to make the switch from single to dual.

Thanks for the Presidential mic info, though...
joeyluck wrote: This is what used to be the US Presidential mic setup. It had been that way since the 60's. The current president changed it. He wanted one mic on a gooseneck so he could constantly play with it and adjust it. The two mics this way were mostly to have one for the room and the other for broadcast. I'm not sure if the current setup just sends the same mic to both of if they use a lav in addition. But this setup would likely not do you any good.

However, you can use a pair for recording instruments up close. Just not with that mic clip. I know 2 Beta 57A's are great on piano. Although you may still want condensers on a piano.
Antic604 "Well, he's been doing it - mentioning Eurorack hardware - in majority of his posts, so I'm not surprised anymore :? Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:19 pm

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QVprod
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Post 05 Jun 2017

O1B wrote:
joeyluck wrote: This is what used to be the US Presidential mic setup. It had been that way since the 60's. The current president changed it. He wanted one mic on a gooseneck so he could constantly play with it and adjust it. The two mics this way were mostly to have one for the room and the other for broadcast. I'm not sure if the current setup just sends the same mic to both of if they use a lav in addition. But this setup would likely not do you any good.

However, you can use a pair for recording instruments up close. Just not with that mic clip. I know 2 Beta 57A's are great on piano. Although you may still want condensers on a piano.
"Would likely not do you any good".... Respectfully, my testing - with an even closer mic (H6) - shows otherwise..
That's why Id like input from someone who has actual experience trying the setup.
The shure sounds deeper/fuller than the H6 (without warming) so I'd like to make the switch from single to dual.

Thanks for the Presidential mic info, though...
Just understanding how microphones work is enough to tell that two dynamic mics used simultaneously on a vocal provides no benefit. Stereo mic recording setups are usually with condensers aimed at different parts of an instrument or space. Not two microphones aimed at the same spot. One of the capsules that come with the Zoom H6 is a pair of condenser mics in an XY configuration and is meant for recording sound in a space. That's why they're aimed the way they are (not pointing center), to pick up sound in different directions often to be combined with a lav mic for film productions. The other capsule is for mid-side recording which (judging by the size is also 2 mics) one of the mics likely has a figure 8 pick up pattern pointing away from the center with the other mic pointing center. The reason the 57 sound's fuller is because those all of those mics with the H6 are small diaphragm condensers. They're not built to pick up a lot of lower frequencies.

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EnochLight
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Post 05 Jun 2017

Slightly unrelated, but here's a behind the scenes look at the fantastic mics by Shure (ending with a glorious plug of their limited edition Shure 5575LE):



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