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help finding best mics in the $50 range

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Posted on January 6, 2017 at 18:32:16
thump
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Joined: April 19, 2016
i just wasted a bunch of time on youtube viewing one useless demo after another of budget mics ALL recording just voice! even higher end mic demos seem to think there's only two instruments in the entire world, voice & acoustic guitar. UGH!

when i complete a mobile sound system i'm putting together, i'd like to make a reasonably high quality demo for it to put on youtube where so many system demos use lousy quality cellphones with bass distorting, if they can even record it, mics. speaker "demos" & reviews can be even worse when they're all talk and no actual demo.

i already own a fairly nice pair of shure PZM mics i used to make a binaural dummy head that would be perfect, but they're out of reach in storage in another state.

i also USED TO have a really nice samson large condenser mic i got bundled with a pair of headphones for just $50. i don't know how well it would have handled bass, but aside from a noticeable noise level, it was and excellent sounding mic and even less colored sounding than my $200 each PZMs that occasionally had a metallic bite. i'm inclined to look for a pair of large diaphragm condensers.

i don't want to spend a lot of money on the mics either as i only intend to probably use them ONCE to make the sound system demo i just don't want to sound as crappy as everyone else's can't be bothered with sound quality sound system demos. i MIGHT make a second "in action" video if my tastes in music inspire street dance parties at events or downtown on club nights.

i intend to cobble a system together using cheap components... a high def sports cam, a cheap digital recorder, and a pair of mics and probably a phantom power unit too for condenser mics i plan to use "french broadcast style" in an X/Y spaced pair setup to simulate binaural. i WISH there was an affordable camcorder capable of high def audio, but the cheapest way to do this seems to be taking the component route.

so, does anyone know of any decent sounding mics around $50 or less each that can handle high SPLs and bass at close range? recordings of voice are totally useless for this application. i looked into renting a binaural mic, and that would be $250 for one day! that's a pretty big investment for something i won't own even if i only use it once.

 

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RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 6, 2017 at 20:01:23
bullethead
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The Sure SM 57 is well cherished , but it is $100

That's what I use myself, I know some professional musicians and they all told me to get it for my sound experiments.

I record at insane levels, just make sure you set and test the levels first.

For $50 I don't have any experience.

 

"Shure", not "Sure"., posted on January 7, 2017 at 03:55:36
Inmate51
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Shure makes a lot of very good-to-excellent microphones.

:)

 

Hmmm..., posted on January 7, 2017 at 04:17:08
Inmate51
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Microphones happen to be one of my favorite areas of audio. So...

On the one hand, you scorn poor sound on videos. On the other hand, you expect to make a good (better) recording with a $50 microphone in a venue which you haven't described and with an unknown setup. Have I got that right?

Next, you mention the "French style" X/Y. I don't know what's "French" about X/Y, but ORTF is.

But let's move on to "high SPLs" and bass and low distortion. You are kidding yourself if think that's going to happen with a $50 mic. Sure, you might be able to find some used E-V 635As or AKG D200Es, etc. in that price range, but for new mics? - Ha!

For high quality sound, I'm partial to some AKG, Audio-Technica, DPA, Rode, Royer, Sennheiser, Shure and Schoeps models, any of which will set you back $300 to $1,800 each.

Did I neglect Neumann? Huh. ;)

I would suggest that you think about using your PZMs for the time being.

You're welcome.

:)

 

RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 7, 2017 at 06:49:59
b.l.zeebub
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I do know of a mic I would recommend for you but not for $50 because with that 'budget' you are looking at the cheapest of the cheap chinese stuff.

From your scant description I would recommend the Beyer M88 above pretty much all others.
It works well on almost everything from vocals via bass drums/bass/percussion to brass.
It'll set you back around $300 I guess but it is a hugely underrated microphone even at that price also it is dynamic so no need for phantom power.

 

I love my Schoeps CMIT 5U., posted on January 7, 2017 at 07:52:22
jusbe
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Heroic vocals time and again. Don't use it as much as I used to these days, though. Nor my Sanken clip mics.


Big J

"... only a very few individuals understand as yet that personal salvation is a contradiction in terms."


 

RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 7, 2017 at 12:25:08
Inmate51
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Yeah, I forgot to mention Beyer.

:)

 

RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 7, 2017 at 17:53:41
raya
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I agree with everything that has been posted. However, here is a mic that actually is cheap and sounds decent. You can get a pair on eBay for around 100. MXL 991.

Also, if you are nifty, there are several nice mods you can do that will help them compete with the big boys.

 

What SPL?, posted on January 7, 2017 at 18:06:04
Awe-d-o-file
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Most digital recorders supply phantom power for condenser mics. $50 each ain't cutting it though. Especially I it's high SPL.


ET

"If at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking till you do suck seed" - Curly Howard 1936

 

RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 7, 2017 at 19:12:04
HD Audio
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A decent condenser for $50.00 not available by usual methods. Decent pics in this price range would be AT Blue miss.

 

RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 7, 2017 at 20:16:32
raya
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Well, Michael Jolly introduced me to the MLX991and his mods inspired me to take a stab at it, too. Did it replace my schoeops ccm 4's, Neumann 140's, Akg 422 or 460's, or dpa 4022? No. But in their modded configuration they were not embarrassed, either.

Out of the box they are a bit hard and thin but certainly serviceable and a very good deal. They certainly beat the hell out of Shure sm 57's, which, are really only serviceable for snares and guitar cabinets.

 

RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 8, 2017 at 06:16:51
b.l.zeebub
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Somehow Beyer mics manage to continuously fly below the radar.

A shame really as they make a number of good ones but the M88 is a truly exceptional all round microphone in my view.

 

RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 8, 2017 at 08:06:58
raya
Industry Professional

Posts: 321
Joined: May 9, 2014
The m88 is a mic that can be used for a number of applications, however, it is not in this price range. And the Breyer that is really a sleeper is their 201.

 

RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 8, 2017 at 08:26:14
Bill Way
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For under $100, a used SM57 is hard to beat. Actually, impossible to beat - they withstand anything. (Find the youtube vid of someone running over an SM57 with an 18-wheeler, and showing the mic almost still worked afterward. In a full-day mic shootout at a studio with all the big guns (U47, U67, AKG C12/24, etc) we always put up a 57 at the end. It wasn't as good as the $10k stuff, but surprisingly close, and certainly not embarrassed by the comparison. 57's are very tolerant of high SPLs. (The SM58 is the same mic with a pop filter built in.)

Another option is the AKG D200E. Find it used (long out of production.) Very flexible due to having 2 capsules - mids/highs, and lows. The mids/highs are top-addressed, and have no proximity effect. Lows are bottom-addressed. With this, you can vary the freq response by the angle of the mic. Straight-on for mids/highs; 45-degrees for balanced, and; 90-180 degrees for lows only. Decent vocal mic, and very handy for guitar cabinets, as you can vary the tonal balance by tipping the mic.

Audio Technica also have a great range of very affordable vocal mics. One of the mics Tony Bennett used for his Duets sessions was an AE5400, which retails for under $400.

The first place to put money in your vocal chain is mic preamps. Differences there are not subtle.

WW
"A man need merely light the filaments of his receiving set and the world's greatest artists will perform for him." Alfred N. Goldsmith, RCA, 1922

 

RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 8, 2017 at 12:14:02
raya
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Joined: May 9, 2014
A shure sm57 is just not going to cut it for 2 point high quality recordings. Because of its far from flat response and limited dynamic range it makes for a great mic for live vocals, snares and guitar cabinets not for 2 pointt recordings.

The poster wants to make quality 2 track recordings.......not going to get it out of a sm57. Whether or not it can withstand being run over by a truck doesn't make it a good mic for 2 point recordings. It makes it a good mic for being run over though.

 

RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 8, 2017 at 12:19:49
raya
Industry Professional

Posts: 321
Joined: May 9, 2014
Btw, there are a lot of interesting things you can do with a PZM mic, like attach a polycarbonate plate to them. This can make them very serviceable as a free air mic in a two channel configuration. They do become a bit unwieldy, though, but they will handle high spl's.

 

RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 8, 2017 at 15:44:32
Bill Way
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You are correct. Unfortunately, a used 57 is by far the best mic I'm aware of for $50.

WW
"A man need merely light the filaments of his receiving set and the world's greatest artists will perform for him." Alfred N. Goldsmith, RCA, 1922

 

RE: help finding best mics in the $50 range, posted on January 8, 2017 at 16:39:04
thump
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OH NO! NOT the SM57! it might be OK for miking drums and guitar cabinets, but it also has a lousy frequency response of something like 50-16kHz. i had a roommate that had one, and there's no comparison with a condenser mic, especially when it comes to recording ambience

 

RE: "Shure", not "Sure"., posted on January 8, 2017 at 16:44:12
thump
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my shure PZMs (i think they were 90s, i bought the ones that had the flatter frequency response or deeper bass) are quite excellent. i wish i had them right now

 

RE: Hmmm..., posted on January 8, 2017 at 16:48:56
thump
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QUOTE: On the one hand, you scorn poor sound on videos. On the other hand, you expect to make a good (better) recording with a $50 microphone in a venue which you haven't described and with an unknown setup. Have I got that right?

yes, you have that right, and YES, a good pair of $50 mics will walk all over cheap and cheesy camcorder mics any day. the sampson i got with my headphones for $50 TOTAL was a high fidelity monster whose ONLY shortcoming was a slightly high noise level, but other than that, it's ease, fidelity and low level detail retrieval were awe inspiring and able to humble my $200 each PZMs, so yeah... $50 giant killers exist

the "venue" will be the great anechoic outdoors both near field and at a distance where low level detail retrieval is needed and a dynamic mic is useless

besides using lower quality mics (i'm talking entry level consumer gear) if a camera even does stereo, it's with close spaced mics, just like digital recorders like zooms. i'm looking to simulate binaural for a more accurate sounding headphone experience, but binaural also translates extremely well to speakers too.

QUOTE: Next, you mention the "French style" X/Y. I don't know what's "French" about X/Y, but ORTF is.

yes, i meant ORTF, which is the FRENCH broadcast version of X/Y. there's also a norwegian (NOS) version that uses 90 degrees (vs 110 degrees) and wider spacing not to mention the THIRD version that is more commonly associated with X/Y where the capsules intersect in the center more like side address miking. i just couldn't remember the letters, so i called it french instead.

QUOTE: I would suggest that you think about using your PZMs for the time being.

sure, when i have a couple thousand in travel & shipping fare for everything i have stored a few states away. if i had my PZMs, i wouldn't even be asking this question.

 

RE: shure SM57, posted on January 8, 2017 at 17:11:10
thump
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EXACTLY!
they aren't made for hifi recording, just high SPL.

 

i guess no-one has tried entry level chinese mics, posted on January 8, 2017 at 17:23:28
thump
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Posts: 133
Joined: April 19, 2016

all of you recommending $300+ mics are totally not getting it. i'm not looking to make the next "planet drum" hi-fi demo disc, just make ONE video that doesn't sound embarrasingly bad, and there are dirt cheap chinese mics out there that are about perfect for my needs like the $30 EACH Codio 0001B which is perfect for my disposable usage needs.

Polar Pattern: Unidirectional
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity: -34dB-+2dB
Output Impedance:1500Ω±30%
Max. SPL :130dB
S/N Ratio:78dB

shure, pun intended, it's not going to produce world class sound, but it WILL be GOOD ENOUGH to make a video or two and not sound like a cellphone. i've spent HOURS scanning youtube videos for cheap mic demos, and the large diaphragm ones like this sound quite acceptable, especially for one or two times use then mostly collecting dust.

i don't expect to be hitting 130dB, but MAYBE 120.


 

MXL is a GOOD recommendation, posted on January 8, 2017 at 17:29:25
thump
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one of the videos i watched pitted an MXL up against a pretty good $50 marantz and the MXL sounded smoother and did bass better. they weren't $50 each though. if i could find a pair for $100, then i might go that route for resale value if nothing else.

so far, this is the ONLY recommendation that's been helpful. thank you. :)

 

great cartoon that MORE relevant today!, posted on January 8, 2017 at 17:31:10
thump
Audiophile

Posts: 133
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techno artist and fans should NEVER be allowed to use the word FUNKY




EVER!!!!

 

RE: PZM mic mounting, posted on January 8, 2017 at 17:43:31
thump
Audiophile

Posts: 133
Joined: April 19, 2016
i bought my pair SPECIFICALLY to make binaural recordings after reading about frank zappa doing it by wearing a pair in some magazine that went a little bit further into their potential.

at first, i mounted the pair at approximately head width on a large format hardcover book and managed to make some really good, especially off center, pseudo-binaural recordings including one that REALLY captured a hot city weekend's ambience including a thoroughly convincing bus passing down the block, but traffic flowing in front of my apartment sounded slightly artificial and lost some imaging in the center.

later on, i was gifted a used (smallish) dummy head from a beauty school when i inquired about buying one. head shaped binaural mics are supposed to image and record better. once i had the head, i used a few packages of "steel putty" to make slightly forward and wider than the dummy's head mounts that i could velcro the mics to. it's made some EXCELLENT recordings including a train pass, except when its horn caused distortion at close distance, but otherwise sounded great, especially after it was in the distance and you could just about feel the cool summer sunset air in the recording made on a sony TC5DM portable cassette recorder.

sometimes though, the mics have a slight metallic resonant signature i've heard in other mics too.

 

then there's the Neewer NW800 for just $22, posted on January 8, 2017 at 19:26:56
thump
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the neewer is by far more popular as there's a bunch of videos featuring it, and it sounds pretty good for such a cheap mic that is only rated to 16khz. it DEFINITELY doesn't sound like a cellphone mic or even a $22 mic for that matter. a long time ago, i bought a $20 radio shack condenser that sounded like crap.

 

RE: MXL is a GOOD recommendation, posted on January 8, 2017 at 20:29:50
raya
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They do come up on eBay for 50 each used, the mxl 991. You just have to keep looking.

 

RE: MXL is a GOOD recommendation, posted on January 8, 2017 at 20:33:12
raya
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As matter of fact,, right now there are a few mxl 991 on eBay for a bin of less than 50. Btw th e mxl 990 is basically the same mic but made as a side address. So you could buy two of them, if you like.

 

RE: MXL and ebay, posted on January 9, 2017 at 02:21:51
thump
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the only thing is i lost the passwords to both my ebay account AND the associated email, but i'm not really a fan of buying big ticket items there or used electronics as there ARE people that like to unload useless junk in the world, ESPECIALLY here where i live.

i'm more inclined to go the cheaper route on a "no brand" chinese mic as i only intend to make a video or two... maybe three if i do one for another sound system i know.

if i intended to make more recordings or do a music video, the MXL would make more sense. i'm inclined to agree with you though that it's probably THE best around for $50 short of a really lucky deal on something else.

 

RE: MXL and ebay, posted on January 9, 2017 at 06:42:41
raya
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I would not hesitate to buy these mics off ebay, as most of these are like new. Guitar Center and other outlets often bundled these with other products and the buyers never used them and turn them over on ebay.

I've bought and sold hundreds of items on ebay and can count on one hand the bad transactions I have had and in these cases paypal protected me.

Establish a new account and and pick up the mics.

 

both ebay & paypal (same company really) stiffed me, posted on January 9, 2017 at 11:40:34
thump
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i've had mostly good luck with ebay too, but in the one case where i didn't get a pump up the volume CD i ordered, ebay KNEW the seller had turned scammer after about a dozen sales and ripped a few of us off, but that didn't stop both ebay & paypal passing the buck on my claim and then giving me an "it sucks to be you" after 60 days.

 

Blue Snowball, posted on January 10, 2017 at 12:39:09
MannyE
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I use it for my radio blog and the other hosts say it sounds great. I did some voice overs using audacity and wasn't impressed however.

 

RE: Blue Snowball, posted on January 10, 2017 at 17:25:51
thump
Audiophile

Posts: 133
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it was mentioned as a "top choice" in one of the videos i saw, but i don't think i was able to dig any info up on it.

 

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