Putting together a home studio, or even upgrading the one
you have, can be overwhelming no matter what your level of expertise.
With technology advancing on what sometimes seems like an
hourly basis, by the time youve moved into a comfort zone with your favorite
pieces of gear, the new and improved versions have already hit the streets.
With so many manufacturers vying for your time (and, of course, your money),
its almost impossible to keep up with who is doing what.
The Gadget Inspector spent three days at the winter NAMM
show last month, checking out the latest in all things music - from mics to
mixers and everything in between. Over the next three columns, well overview
some of the most reasonably priced and eye-catching new products on hand, as
well as a few standards you should be aware of.
But remember: At the end of the day, its all about what
sounds and feels good to you.
Audio-Technica has long been recognized as a leader in the
world of microphones and innovations. Their AT2020 USB cardioid condenser mic
is perfect for podcasts and home and studio recording. The 2020 was designed
for computer-based recording and is Windows and Mac compatible. It weighs under
one pound, and comes with a pivoting, threaded stand mount, adapter, protective
pouch, and USB cableall for $169.
Prefer a small-diaphragm cardioid condenser? Opt for the
AT2021, which is ideal for acoustic instruments, overheads, piano and vocal
groups. Or pick up both mics as the AT2041 Studio Pack for $249.
The AT3035 is your pick if you need extended frequency
response sensitivity, or extremely low self-noise is your greatest concern. Get
it for only $349.
Miking a band? The ATM450, part of the Artist Series, is a
cardioid condenser with side-address stick design. Its excellent for overhead,
acoustics and percussion, and retails at $369.
perfect for kick drums, thanks to its two polar patterns. It retails for $549.
When it comes to gear, you may think that it dont mean a
thing if you aint got that bling, but thanks to Rode, you can keep your
spending to a minimum without compromising sound. Guys like Snoop Dogg and
Bootsy Collins, who can afford anything they want, love Rode because of product
quality. The company also offers full 10-year guarantees on its mics.
Rodes M-3 condenser mic hit the streets in August 2007.
This $199 gem is known for its flexibility: thanks to its full frequency
response and cardioid pickup patterns, use it live and in the studio for
vocals. You can also mic instruments, including drums. Dual powered, it
operates on standard 48V or 9v battery.
The NT1-A is reputed as the worlds quietest studio
condenser mic, with only 5 dB(A) of self-noise, thanks to its advanced
circuitry. Rode spends a lot on research and development; millions went into
creating and perfecting the NT1-A, bringing a previously unachieved price point
into the market. Rode tells us that hip-hop artists swear by the NT1-A because
of its price and sound quality: its only $229.
In the higher end, the K2 dual 1 condenser mic offers fully
variable polar patterns, from omni to cardioid to figure 8. Its high-end
miking for $729.
The multi-award-winning NTK cardioid mic, with valve
circuitry, goes for $529.
Like it or not, R.E.M. was right: Its the end of the world
as we know it. Next year, UHF bands will be history. With UHF mics sharing
spectrum space with television stations, and white spaces soon to be up for
auction, if youre using one of these mics, expect it to be not only
nonfunctional but also illegal in 2009.
Sabine has a solution. Their wireless mics are in 2.4 GHz
realm and immune to interference and auctioning. They are license-free and
globally accepted. The Sabine SWM7000 series allows up to 70 simulteous
channels, functional worldwide.
The SWM7000 series isnt cheap. You can climb into the low
four-figure price range for mic and receiver, with built-in audio processors,
but its a lot of value for your money, no question: mic modeling, feedback
control, compressor, de-essereverything is built into the receiver. Sabine is
the only company to offer this space- and time-saving concept.
Additionally, unlike most wireless systems, which require an
endless cycle of buying, disposing of and changing batteries, Sabines systems
are rechargeable while in the transmitter, just like your cell phone. Never
changing batteries helps the system pay for itself, and it also means fewer
batteries in landfills, so youre doing our planet a favor at the same time. We
like it when manufacturers think green.
Avant prides themselves on making high-quality mics that
anyone can afford while still putting food on their table. They have a mic for
every need, a kit for every artist, and a price range that screams too good to
be true, and yet see for yourself.
A common complaint about drum mics is their plastic casing.
Avants got heavy-quality drum mics and theyre all hot-rodded, meaning you
dont need much EQ out of the box. They offer separation between the kick, tom,
snare, hi-hat and overhead. The CDMK-7 kit retails for $449. Its a seven-mic kit with
PRO-KLAMP drum rim mic mounts. Say goodbye to all the clicks and clacks of
The AK-Type VII Omni
mic is Avants most expensive drum mic, at $699, but its great for drum
overheads at a third of the cost of many other brands.
If ribbon mics are your thing, the CR-14 is a dual ribbon
featuring that unmistable, dark, ribbon sound, but expanded in range to also function
as an all-around mic, thanks to the dual elements. It even has that retro
look. You can pick it up for only $259.
The CV-28 tube is a small-capsule, front-firing mic
specifically designed for acoustic instruments. It sells for $399.
The CV-12 vocal mic comes with 6072A tube installed. Avant
understands that people like to tweak their gear. The ECC81 and ECC83 tubes are
included and interchangeable so you can change your gain structure. Power
supply, cable, mount, power cord, box and case: $499.
The CU-2 is Avants new cardioid USB mic. While most USB
mics have a 19-27 mm capsule, Avants has a 35mm for better bass response. Its
ideal for DJs and Internet streaming, and its only $199.
So many mics, so many choices, so much to learnand weve
only scratched the surface. But when making music is your passion, education
never stops. Where do you go when youre just starting out and the onslaught of
information is overwhelming? Rode Microphones can help. Go to www.rodeuniversity.com and learn all
about microphone techniques, recording, sound theory and more. Best of all,
its free. Thats right: FREE. Go to their website, get your free student I.D.,
log in and get started.
Next time, we mix it up all over the convention center