Microphone Advice?

$99 Guitar Ctr Bundle: a good deal?

I have the latest catalog from Guitar Center, and it includes a $99.00US mic + preamp bundle that looks great, but I don’t know enough yet about mics to know whether it’s too good to be true…

Here’s what it includes:

–MidiMan AudioBuddy preamp with two XLR and two 1/4" inputs, phantom power, etc.
– MXL 990 large diaphragm vocal mic
– MXL 991 small diaphragm instrument mic
– Carrying cases and clips for the mics

(If you want to see the catalog for yourself, go to http://www.guitarcenter.com/bgsignup/ and download the Buyer’s Guide for October '05 – it’s on page 28)

Anyone have any experience with any or all of these items? I don’t want to spend even the 99 bucks if the mics are total pieces of crap.

For perspective, right now I am recording through a cheap non-name dynamic mic that came with my daughter’s Karaoke machine. (I’m not making this up…) I run it directly into my Creative Soundblaster Live! 5.1 through the 1/4" input on my LiveDrive II. It sounds surprisingly good… :laugh:

I have little doubt that these mics would be better than what I have now, but I don’t want to be penny wise and pound foolish.

Thanks!! :laugh:

I have the 990. It sounds fantastic for the price. You will be happy with the upgrade. :)

Mind you, it won’t sound like a mic that might cost you a lot more, but it does sound fab for the price.

I also have the 990 and the price-2-performance ratio is great, as I acquired it from MF for $59. Sometimes they’ll bundle it with a pop filter for free at the same price, altho I didn’t get that when I bought it. Depends on timing, heh. If you need more feedback, check out the buyer reviews at the bottom of the page for the 990 at MF.

I tried out a 990 a few months ago, I was quite impressed with it considering it’s price. I felt that it was a little more fussy about placement then some mics I’ve used, and it also seemed to be more affected by the choice of preamp, but a little fiddling around with it pays off and I think it’s worth having.

mirage

They’re great for the money on their own, but I’m not sure how pleased you’ll be when using the 990/991 with the AudioBuddy. My experience has been that these mics are a little hot for the AB, but with some care ful tweaking you can probably get better results than with your current gear :;):

Tony

Thanks for the helpful feedback, folks.

Scantee:
Since I am going to need some kind of preamp to use any mic that requires phantom power, this seemed like a good way to pick up everything I need (and basically get the AB preamp for free), but maybe I’m wrong. Is this really a poor combination? Will I just need to watch the levels carefully? When you say it’s “a little hot” – is it likely to clip even at the lowest levels? Will I just end up having to replace the AB with something else anyway?

Thanks again! Now I just have to figure out how to get the purchase past my domestic financial council (aka MamaRomeo) ???

PR

Yes, I saw that ad, went to GC last night and bit. I;m very happy with my initial tests. I highly recommend it.

I currently use a Shure SM58 into a Behringer mixer, what I thought was a pretty good package, but I wanted to try some condenser mics, but have a limited budget. Last night I only spent a couple of hours testing the audio buddy with the two mics, but I was immediately impressed with how much clearer my recording was. My sound card is a Soundblaster Audigy.

It took some experimentation. I found that the Large 990 would “distort” if I sang too close to the mic, even though ntrack nor the Audio Buddy showed any clipping. At two feet, it recorded great. Don’t know if that was the mic or the Audio Buddy. The smaller 991 gave me an incredibly detailed recording of my Martin acoustic. I was stunned.

I guess I need to try the SM58 with the Audio Buddy to see if that improves its clarity.

I can’t believe how they package this deal. The Audio Buddy alone is $79, which put the TWO mics at $20. I just couldn’t resist. My better half gave me the green light after I had made some disparaging remarks last week about the cost of her Jenny Craig meals. She said this would make her feel less guilty about buying their food. Lay the groundwork PapaRomeo. BTW, what speakers are you using. I recently purchased KRK Rockit 5s ($330 a pair) and found they really improved my mixing quality. If your speakers are good enough, you’ll be surprised how much better this package will sound then your karaoke mic straight into the sound cards preamp. If you do buy the package, you’ll need cables to connect the AB to the soundcard (make sure it’s the line in, not mic). Two mono 1/4" plugs to a 1/8" mini stereo plug. GC only had the two 1/4" mono plugs to a 1/4" stereo plug, so I had to add a female 1/4" to male 1/8" to connect to the line in of the sound card.

Any suggestions on using this combination would be greatly appreciated. Should I minimize the gain on the AB to avoid that “distortion”?

The distortion could be pressure spikes whacking the LD’s diaphragm. Try a pop screen between you and the mic. Easy to make with pantyhose and coat hanger wire. LD’s are usually very sensitive mics and can be easy to overload.

TG

EDIT** 2000 posts! Ugh! I need to get a life…

Some condensors will clip no matter how you tweak your levels. Was it the plosives that did it (Ps and Bs etc etc) ?

DOH, TG beat me to it :)

I presently have a Shure SM-57 running into my M-Audio Firewire 410.

Besides being a good deal … would this be any sort of upgrade from a Mic point of view?

No question but that this is an excellent value.

It’s not unusual to record a bit back when using an LDC. I think it was Mac who said that sometimes, to keep a singer from encroaching, he’d set up an SM57 for them to sing into, and hang the LDC overhead – and just use the LDC. Definitely gets rid of the plosives (or in the case of some of use, EXplosives). It increases demands on the room quality, of course.

Quote (valrecorder @ Oct. 14 2005,13:58)
BTW, what speakers are you using. I recently purchased KRK Rockit 5s ($330 a pair) and found they really improved my mixing quality.

I bought these too and LOVE them. Besides, they look stylin.
Quote (PapaRomeo @ Oct. 14 2005,05:08)
Is this really a poor combination? Will I just need to watch the levels carefully? When you say it's "a little hot" -- is it likely to clip even at the lowest levels? Will I just end up having to replace the AB with something else anyway?

Sorry for the late reply...

Don't get me wrong...I have to agree with learjeff in that this is a very sweet deal. I got my AB about 5 yrs ago for $99, and paid the same early last year for a 990/991 deal at GC--need I say more? :)

BUT my experience with the 990 + AB was like valrecorder's. When I sing loud--and I'm not talking about screaming, or anything close to the 990's spec'd 130dB max SPL level---the AudioBuddy clips, even with all meters looking OK AND using a pop filter for the p-p-p-p-plosives. It's something no amount of gain fiddling could solve. Moving back worked, but then I got too much room reflection and lost the nice sound I was getting at closer proximity. At first I thought it might be the AB's lack of full 48V phantom power (I've heard it's in the high 30's to the very low 40s...the 990 is spec'd at 48V +/-4V), but using a separate phantom power supply didn't help either. After much fussing, I concluded that the AB just lacked the "headroom" necessary to handle the signal put out by the 990 when singing louder. If the 990 had a pad switch, I think things would have worked out better. The $79 Behringer UB1202 mixer worked much better as a preamp for this mic.

I haven't been talking about the 991 because I haven't used it as much with the AB as the 990, but it does sound quite good with acoustic guitar as valrecorder mentioned. The highs are exaggerated even moreso than the 990, but it has its uses.

In any case, I still think this is a great deal. Even with the limitations, I'm sure it's a step up from what you've got! And who knows, maybe the karaoke mic + AB will turn out to be a sweet combo! :D

Scan, the clipping you see is EXACTLY the same problem I have with two MXL57s and the Behringer ADA8000. That mic model has no pad either. At first I thought it was the preamp, but I can adjust the pad on the preamp and the clipping-limiting is still there, but goes up and down with the preamp pad level.

In the case of my two mics, it’s an asymmetrical clipping in that only the top of the wave is flattened. The SPL needed to hit this is low enough that any normal vocalist a foot away will hit it consistently. When used on drums - as these mics were marketed as great drum mics since they could handle 130spl - results in almost half of the wave. Adjusting the preamp pad down will lower the flat spot in the recorded wave. I’ve recorded samples that are clipped as low as -15db as metered. There is no clipping on the bottom of the wave. It’s as if the diaphragm is limited in its movement in direction only.

This doesn’t happen with any other mics that I have. The problem is in the mics. It’s no wonder they were on sale for $59 when I got them. I won’t be getting any more, and have found limited use for them, in spite of the fact that their tone is basically good.

I like their sound on voice a lot, and in an odd twist, the built in limiting adds a little sparkle. I don’t do much voice recording. I did use them on a what seemed like a quiet shaker and the result was very harsh in the mix. There little flat spots all through the stereo track even though the tracks were recorded in the 15db range at 24 bits.

I’ve switched to a couple of Behringer B-1 mics for overheads, with the pads on. I can hit the limit of the preamps with these mics when the mic pad is off, and it IS the preamp limiting. It’s very obvious it’s not the mic.

As much as I detest Behringer business practices I have to say the mics I have from them blow the Marshall mics I have in the dirt…limited comparisons with other models/brands should be taken into consideration.

Assuming the problem is the signal level, and not too much SPL for the mike capsule, the solution is an attenuator, like Shure A15AS.

Unfortunately, that’s not a small price ($50). This is an easy DIY project, but XLR connectors aren’t cheap. (Probably cheaper to buy the cheapest XLR cable and cannibalize it).

One advantage to making your own is that you end up with a short cable rather than a cylinder extension to your XLR connector. The problem with extensions like that is they’re more prone to breaking the jack. Of course, this is more of a problem with a heavy mixer than a small unit like the AudioBuddy.

I don’t have the specs for making one but I’m sure Mac would know, at audiobuddy.com.

Ah, here’s a diagram: http://www.dplay.com/book/pgs2e/pads.pdf. But the resistor values are for dropping +4dBu to -35 dBu, which sounds like a 40dB pad – I’d bet a 20dB pad sould be better.

Edit: here’s a cheaper source for the Shure, $38.50 plus shipping: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh…u=68600

One thing I’ve found about Guitar Center is they’re really hungry to make sales. If you whine, cry, and keep hammering at them with a good sob story, you can usually add on a couple of “extras” for the same price as the item you were originally interested in. At least this is my experience at the Guitar Center where I live. I always get at least 10% to 20% off their already low prices. I think they hate to see me coming and just give me what I want to get me out of there. LOL!

Quote (learjeff @ Oct. 15 2005,10:43)
I don’t have the specs for making one but I’m sure Mac would know, at audiobuddy.com.

Ahemmm… http://www.audiominds.com/forums/ :)

Picky picky picky. :)

Oh heck, you, of all people, knew that already :)