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Author Topic:  Favorite mic for steel
Nicholas Cox


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 2 Aug 2020 12:01 pm    
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There may be a post about this already but I didn’t see it. I was wondering what’s your favorite microphone for recording pedal steel, or steel guitar in general? I know SM57s, 421s and 441s are used a lot. I’ve also heard that ribbon mics are great if you have a more vintage tone.
At home I have tried SM57, 609, AT2035, and 441. Out of those I like the 57 or the 441. Looking forward to hearing some favorites.
Thanks,
Nick
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 2 Aug 2020 2:10 pm    
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It depends whether you love the sound coming out of your speaker just the way it is, or whether you're looking for that magic speaker/mic combo that creates something new.

The former case is easy - any half decent condenser.
Otherwise, borrow different ones to try. If you're already content with the SM57, stick with it - it carries authority that no-one will ever question Smile
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 5:13 am    
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A shure 57 is fine and will do the job. I’ve been lucky enough to work in really great studios and often had the time to A/B mics. I ended up with :
Vintage Neumann fet 47 , best mic overall for the sort of sessions I was doing at the time. I bought a Lawson version and it is astonishing.

Over the years I switched to a Royer 121 ribbon. Really great mic. Different flavor.
I use small diaphragm mics pretty often too. A Neumann 184 cardioid has a great sound.

If I’m looking for a super accurate and ridiculous frequency range a Schoeps Colette series omni is a different world. Omni mics do something different. There is no proximity effect to work around. that schoeps mic catches lows down to 20hz and up way past dog whistle absolutely clear , defined, even and accurately. This is completely unnecessary in most steel recording but very cool if you are doing something that uses that sort of range.
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Nicholas Cox


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 8:01 am     Interesting
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Cool. I never considered using an Omni mic. The Royer is something I have been considering looking into. And I have also been lucky enough to use some great Neumann mics in the studio and they do indeed sound fantastic.
Thanks,
Nick
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Dale Rottacker


From:
Washington, USA
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 9:08 am    
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I haven't use a bunch of mics, but am finding the Sennheiser MD 421ii the most transparent NON Tone Shaping mic I've used... I know Several full blown recording studio's plus top flight Steel Session Players and Bands that use them.... It's what I've been using for the past several months if you care to here some examples.

https://www.youtube.com/c/steelinatune/videos?view_as=subscriber
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Mark van Allen


From:
Watkinsville, Ga. USA
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 9:42 am    
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Experimenting with different mics is a lot of fun, and there are some very affordable choices. Choices in the rest of the chain can make a huge difference as well. Live I really like Sennheiser 609 or 906 and those or an SM-57 are quick in the studio. If you have a good sounding room, a dynamic on the cone and condenser back a couple of feet can rock as a blend or on stereo tracks. I like the sound of matched ribbons as well-Fathead II or Shinybox are really reasonable.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 10:23 am     Re: Interesting
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Nicholas Cox wrote:
Cool. I never considered using an Omni mic. The Royer is something I have been considering looking into. And I have also been lucky enough to use some great Neumann mics in the studio and they do indeed sound fantastic.
Thanks,
Nick


I am amazed by the sonic range and detail coming through the board when I use a schoeps omni. It is very different. Well worth checking out. I originally bought a pair to do remote recording of classical chamber groups. These days when I want it to sound perfect right away I set up a royer 121.
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John Macy

 

From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 3:26 pm    
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We have over 100 mics at our studios ranging from 57’s to $10k+ vintage Neumanns. While I vary here and there, about 90% of the time I use the Sennheiser 421 and carry one in my gear bag for sessions where they don’t have one. So
Much of the sound of the mic depends on the preamp used. 421 into a Neve puts a smile on my face every time!
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Nicholas Cox


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 4:29 pm     421
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I love 421s on so many different instruments. It’s a great mic! Definitely one of my favorites for toms and horns as well as some guitars and more. Good for live or studio. Any thoughts on how the 441 compares?
Thanks for sharing!
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 5:40 pm    
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John, What Neve are you into ? I have a portico 5012 but I’m thinking about upgrading to some sort of 1073 type pre.
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John Macy

 

From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 3 Aug 2020 6:21 pm    
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Years ago we did some blind listening with four original 1073’s and a pair of original Vintech X73’s (not the X73i) and no one could tell them apart and I use them all the time. Sold the1073s and bought mics. I suspiciously bought a pair of the Warm Audio 73 pre/eqs to keep at home and they are surprising good for the price.
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Gene Tani


From:
Pac NW
Post  Posted 5 Aug 2020 6:55 pm     miking cabs
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https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=345385

Depends on the whole chain:

pickup > Black box/preamp/compressor/limiter/EQ> amp head > speaker cab(s).

Also on mic placement and preamp.

If you want/need to get more than a few mics/preamps to try, track DI and a few large and small diaphragm condensor models (align capsules) from AT 2000 series, AKG Project Studio, CAD, SE, teh maker called Studio Project, also look at Fat head ribbons, I have't used one but I hear a lot about the modded ones beng good for a lot of things including guitar cabs.

Also recommend headphones from Senn, AKG, beyerdynamic, Shure, A-T, Yamaha and this review site tho not updated recently http://recordinghacks.com/
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Brett Lanier

 

From:
Vermont
Post  Posted 9 Aug 2020 9:56 am    
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I used a blend of a Royer 122 and 57 for a while but have since moved on to just using the 122. When I was using the two mics, I had them both set off center to the speaker, which is sorta the default thing to do.

One day I tried the 122 by itself, right in the middle of the speaker. I was really surprised to not hear any weird high end beam effect with it right in the middle, and it brought back some of the bite that I had been using the 57 for.

I'll second Bob's comments about the vintage fet47. You probably wouldn't go picking one of those up just for recording steel, but wow what a big full sound it is! If you were recording something that was just steel with no band accompaniment, that would be a great mic to get a big full range sound with a smooth top end.


Last edited by Brett Lanier on 12 Oct 2020 7:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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Gary Newcomb


From:
AustinTexas, USA
Post  Posted 10 Aug 2020 11:39 am    
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I bought a Beyerdynamic M-160 a few months back and I love it for steel.
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John Macy

 

From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 10 Aug 2020 4:42 pm    
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A 160 sounds great!! For me personally, the 421 works better in a denser track and the ribbon can sound great in a more open track.
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Jon Smorada


From:
Industry, PA USA
Post  Posted 6 Oct 2020 4:55 pm    
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I've used a Sennheiser 606 for a long time and have been quite happy with it. It's able to handle the high SPL my amp puts out and the sound engineers love the way they "don't" sound. Not all that expensive either. Just like John Macy I always carry one to the gigs run by pro sound companies just in case they don't have one.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 7 Oct 2020 12:56 am    
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We used a lot of M160s at the BBC back in the 70s when phantom power was not always available for condensers and Shures were not approved as broadcast quality!

They are great in a live situation as they are well nigh impossible to overload. The hypercardioid pickup pattern relies on the two ribbons being matched for frequency response, which is labour-intensive so they were pricy even then. But the transient response is great. Using them on drums is obvious, but consider also that the waveform from brass and saxes is a kind of sawtooth, and combined with the low sensitivity it's good for those too.

No reason not to mic a cab with it.
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Marc Jenkins


From:
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Post  Posted 7 Oct 2020 1:05 am    
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I’ve recently fallen in love with two EV DS-35 dynamics. Great for steel - clear and airy but subtly so, and nice in a small room. I’m using it when I used to use a 57, where I might use a condenser in a bigger room.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 7 Oct 2020 8:48 am    
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I've always been impressed at how smooth EV dynamics are.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 8 Oct 2020 7:01 am    
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It looks like sennheiser is currently having a sale on 421’s.
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Marc Jenkins


From:
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Post  Posted 8 Oct 2020 8:01 pm    
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Ian Rae wrote:
I've always been impressed at how smooth EV dynamics are.


So smooth! I’m liking these DS35s even more than an RE11 I borrowed recently.
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Brett Lanier

 

From:
Vermont
Post  Posted 12 Oct 2020 7:31 am    
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Been using an EV re27 a lot for kick drum and bass amp. Also the ev 635a, which is great for amps, whole drum kit, or as a room mic.

The AKG 414 has been getting a lot of use on guitar cabs. I think the one I have is the transformerless model, with the gold front grill.
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Keith Marlowe

 

From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post  Posted 12 Oct 2020 9:23 am     Re: 421
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Nicholas Cox wrote:
I love 421s on so many different instruments. It’s a great mic! Definitely one of my favorites for toms and horns as well as some guitars and more. Good for live or studio. Any thoughts on how the 441 compares?
Thanks for sharing!


Agree the 421 is the best for recording guitar amps including PSG. And as you noted, super versatile so can be used on vocals, drums, bass, etc. 57 or a ribbon would be my second choice but both roll of the top end too much for most applications (though I use them on sources I deem too bright and on more distorted sounds - though the 421 works in those cases too).
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David Mitchell

 

From:
Tyler, Texas
Post  Posted 14 Oct 2020 12:29 am    
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I'm a MD421 fan on a lot of instruments especially kick drum. I refuse to use anything else on kick. I might add that the room, gymnasium, closet, baffle, etc. the mic and amp is in influences the sound even more so than the amp and mic that is used. Also the louder an amp is played it starts picking up more nasty artifacts from it's sound bouncing off of walls and returning to the mic. The SM57, MD421, MD441, EV-RE20, Shure SM7 or favored mics for this very reason. They are the most directional and less sensitive to its surrounding. A 441 has the sensitivity of a good condenser but with a super cardiod pattern making it a very unique mic. I liked to use them on snare for a super crisp sound. Dynamics like the 57, 421, RE20, SM7 have the most rejection of exterior sounds returning into the mic. Sensitive large diaphragm mics sound awesome in a well controlled environment but they start telling all the things that's wrong with unpleasant acoustics because of their super sensitivity. Directional cardiod dynamic mics work best when the room is less than adequate or you have other instruments playing at the same time in the same room because they have good sound rejection around the mic. They only see what's directly in front of it. Decades ago I tried to record a band in a well built professional studio using four Neumann U87's, one Neumann U67 and a Telefunken U-47 on vocals. Sounded like crap. Bleed over city.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 14 Oct 2020 5:38 am    
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Brett Lanier wrote:
Been using an EV re27 a lot for kick drum and bass amp. Also the ev 635a, which is great for amps, whole drum kit, or as a room mic.

The AKG 414 has been getting a lot of use on guitar cabs. I think the one I have is the transformerless model, with the gold front grill.

This is quite a nostalgia trip! Back in the 70s and 80s when I worked on live TV and radio mics weren't as reliable as they are now, the 635a on a long cable was the emergency standby mic for everything. And you could knock nails in with it.

The C414 was quite new and some of the guys who did classical music broadcasts preferred it to the various Neumanns. It turned out to be very versatile but it was rationed on grounds of cost. It still ain't cheap!
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