On the subject of home recording. I think it’s really important for every singer song writer to get a mic that works the best (in which ever price range) for them instead of one that works against them.

Microphones all have their own EQ and sound. Certain frequencies get cut, some get boosted. If your voice is very mid and high frequency then you might not want a microphone that boost those frequencies. You want one that starts out sounding like you think you sound naturally. One that you don’t listen back to a recording of your voice and think, “I don’t sound like that” and then you need to do lots of EQing to get it back to sounding like you think you sound.

There so many mic choices out there now it can be confusing, dauntingly frustrating just trying to figure out where to start.

I would suggest getting the head phones that you use the most and have an idea of what they sound like with your voice and recorded music and taking them to your favorite music store that has a pro audio section. Probably best to do this on a slow day… early, maybe a Tuesday. Saturdays or mid days at lunch might not be a good idea… call ahead if you have to. Read up on reviews of some mics and write the brand and model number down. Ask friends what they use. And if you’ve been in a pro recording studio and liked the way your voice sounded, ask the engineer what that mic was and what the rest of the signal chain was (mic pre amp, compressor etc.). Keep in mind that they most likely have been doing it for a long time and their skill level might by high, it might take a long time and a lot of money to get the exact same sound they get but you want to be able to get the essence of the sound they did. Once you have some names and models ask the store if they have those mics? Or mics similar in all price ranges.

Price Ranges
Just my opinion. There are great mics in all price ranges these days. For every $5000 mic there is a much cheaper $100 -1000 version. Might not be the same but the intended character is there.

To me there is very little difference between most mics from $200-1000, mostly build quality. When you jump up to $2000-3000 dollar mics you start to really notice something and you can keep going up the price range. There are some cool mics for different styles that work great too and are not that expensive. A sure SM7b is a great vocal mic for some situations and singers. It rejects lots of background noise and can take loud sounds very well. It’s used by lots of rock singers and a few producers who like to capture the singers with a live feel right in the control room with the monitors on. It’s not the best for all but it’s cool.

Back to the Music Store
Ask the store to set up a mixer with maybe 5-7 mics that you think from research might be the sound your looking for or recommended for your voice. Bring your headphones and plug them in and sing through each mic. Muting the channels with the ones that you’re not singing through. Find which ever mic sounds like you! That is the best place to start. It might be a $200 mic or a $2,000 mic. But you’ll know what’s best for you.

I once went to a friend’s home studio to try and help her get her recording set up together. Just for capturing and documenting her own songs. I feel all songwriters should be able to capture a simple version of their songs as best as possible. Maybe not for final release but to catalog and maybe send to someone to add more production and mix. When I got there she had been recording but wasn’t happy with a few things… mainly her vocal sound. After sorting out reverb and compression ratios she still didn’t like the vocal sound. It was still too brittle with no EQ being done. I had some mics with me and tried a few that I thought would go with her voice better than the $2,500 mic she had bought. She ended up liking the $400 mic I had with me over her more expensive one, or the other expensive mics I had with me. It sounded like her to begin with and it didn’t push the high frequencies that she didn’t like in her own voice. It also brought out some of the low frequencies that she wanted to hear in her voice… without EQing!

The other plus side is once you find that vocal mic that’s right for you, chances are you’ll be happier immediately after each recording. That means a lot less virtual knob turning trying to make it sound right. And you just may find that you can use that same mic to record your acoustic guitar, mandolin, hand percussion, etc.

You can certainly benefit a lot by simply choosing the right microphone!


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