Which mics would you get

for recording gigs?

I’ve got a neat little recording setup now with a laptop and a nice interface. It’s got 2 xlr inputs with phantom power.

Which mics would you suggest for recording gigs? I’m talking about small gigs. 5 piece band, 2 acoustic guitars, bass, drums, mandolin/violin, sometimes a percussionist. It’s usually in a carpeted place - pretty low ceiling that seats about 100 or 150 people.

PZMs won’t work because I can’t tape anything to the walls or ceiling (too rushed for time before the gig starts- and they probably wouldn’t let me anyhow)

I’ve got 2 so-so quality small condenser mics, I’ve also got one Studio Projects B1 and and some dynamic mics (sennheiser e835 and an sm57)

I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg. Should I use dynamic mics? Condensers? Large, Small?

Any recommendations? Anyone here do this kind of thing? What do you use?

Something for m/s recording perhaps? How about a C3 with the B1?

The Shure VP88 is a nice MS mic with which I have made some very good live recordings. It can be used either as a pure MS mic with the matrixing done on mixdown or you can choose between 3 stereo “widths”. I think it is normally available for about US$600 at discount but I haven’t checked in a while.

A hint for live recording is to remember that proximity trumps directivity. So if you place the microphone near a “gabby” audience member, they can dominate even a full-on rock band. In general, you do not want to listen to what a person who goes to a concert so that they can talk to their friends has to say. This is why so many concert tapers use very tall (10-20 foot) mic stands.


There’s a ripper MP3 that Rode were sending around of a single NT4 recording an orchestra - very, very impressive.

Other than that, I mic or di each intrument (kick, single OH, bass, 2x guitar and 3x vocals) and use inserts off the desk to my interface.


I guess the NT4 (an X-Y stereo mic BTW) does an impressive job. I swear by my pair of matched Røde NT5’s - I use them all the time when recording. So far I’ve recorded a grand piano, a church organ(!), several small ensembles, choirs, and some other things with them.

I use a Fostex MR8 (no-moving-parts-place-recorder-where you-want-it), a separate phantom power box (alas, the MR8 lacks phantom power), the NT5 pair on a stand with a stereo bracket (I usually use the X-Y configuration), and balanced wires. Gets me great results every time.

Save up and shop around for a good price on those NT5’s. They are worth the effort…

regards, Nils

I’m fairly certain the NT4 has the same capsules as the NT5, they’re just already set x-y.

Quote (Willy @ Mar. 22 2006,05:53)
I’m fairly certain the NT4 has the same capsules as the NT5, they’re just already set x-y.

You may be right, but the NT-5’s may also be used in (eg.)an A-B setup as well…

regards, Nils

EDIT The NT-5 pair is cheaper as well… :D

Check out the Studio Projects C4 pair… like the NT5, but you get cardioid and omni capsules.

C4 link

C4s on a stereo bar on a tripod in an ORTF configuration would work swell.

I would second the NT5 option. Great for chamber music recording. :)

If the room sounds nice, I’d using an omni spaced pair.

another vote for the Sony VP-88. We have one that almost never gets used in the studio, and almost always gets used for field recordings. Another bonus to the VP-88 is it can be battery operated. The downside is that it’s kind of a specialty mic that can’t easily be pressed into service for other duties, like a pair of SDC could. Still, it’s a fine transducer with a sound that’s on par with the Rode stuff…

The VP88 is by Shure, I assume “Sony” was a typo and that they don’t have a similar model number. I actually have used mine for drum overheads where it does a pretty good job. I have also used it as a stereo mic for vocal and instrumental pick-up. The most fun was to place it in a fixed location and simulate a group of background singers by having one singer stand in different locations on successive takes. If you have a really good room and want natural ambience that can work better than panning with reverb added.

This song was recorded live at a concert using a VP88 (yes, that is me on the harmonica). The mic was not in a particularly good position and the sound quality is largely due to the PA (as well as the various pick-ups on the instruments). You can also hear the necessarily prominent “room” sound which is unavoidable in such recordings. It is hard to position microphones where they pick-up the whole sound from stage but are close enough to minimize the room sound. That is why most live recordings combine a board mix with a room mic.

If I get time I will post a pure acoustic recording which will give a much better idea of the sound of the mic itself. I have a good recording of a Madrigal group in a pure acoustic setting.


Quote (jimbob @ Mar. 22 2006,16:40)
The VP88 is by Shure, I assume “Sony” was a typo and that they don’t have a similar model number.

Lordy, yes. Very sorry. Thanks for correcting that. SHURE VP-88. I’ve kinda had some bad Sony juju of late…bit on the brain, Sony is.

I almost never use the MS function and matrix it myself, I let the mic give R and L. I think I favor the narrow pattern in a smaller room (like maybe around 20x30 feet).

That’s a pretty darn good live recording there, jimbob…

I had linked to the wrong version initially and have updated the post to show a more typical recording of the same song that does use the VP88. Both are live but the first version was not the VP88, rather it was from a radio performance on KPIG (mic’d individually). For those who only are seeing the correct reference you can poke around the Previously Lost Dogs site to find the other version as well as other recordings some of which were recorded with the VP88.

An interesting one in this context is the song “Darkness” where the VP88 was positioned behind one of the mains and pointed across the stage so that it picks up the drums acoustically but is mostly picking up the rest of the band from the monitors (which are louder than the direct sound for these sources). While the monitors are on axis with regards to the mic, the mic is way off-axis from the perspective of the speakers so the frequency response suffers. In this case, it was the only place to put the mic.


On a budget, consider the Studio Projects B3 and B1 for M+S micing or they can be used in an A-B config. I’ve used my pair in an M+S config for drum overheads. $259 for the pair WITH spider shock mounts and a pair of nice 20’ cables. Keep in mind that if you are M+S micing you want to ideally have capsules that are as close to identical as possible. That’s why I chose the B3 and B1 combo, and then I can also use them X-Y or A-B. The sound is clean and accurate. The B3 has done a really nice job for me picking up the room for my in my overhead recording. Versatile, affordable…read the reviews. That’s my vote.

I vote for two Rode NT2-A (card, 8 & omni)

I have one (I think I will get me another one.)

With these two You could do anything (but critical matched stereo).
M/S (try this if you have not), spaced omnis, …

Just don’t buy any valve-mics. Cost more for lower quality. (Noisy, impractical … )
There is nothing special with valves they don’t sound different.

/Goran Sweden