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Using the cheaper alternative.

August 2, 2011

You’ll see in my last blog post that I recorded a local band, Cycle Schmeichel, and recorded guitars with an SM57 and an AKG D112 (my MD421 was being used on the floor tom). It seems there’s this way of thinking among home studio enthusiasts, and maybe even people with commercial studios, who think that by using more expensive equipment, you’ll get much better results – myself included.

This isn’t always necessarily the case. Of course, having more expensive gear will usually mean that the componentry of the equipment is of a higher quality meaning that the quality of the gear is a lot better overall; however you’ll find little hidden gems with the equipment you have and might not necessarily need expensive gear if you can acheive the results you want from your cheaper microphone.

Let’s take my AKG D112 for example, I bought this mic to use on bass amps because I felt that my Audix D6 was far too punchy and didn’t provide a pleasant bass sound. So as I’ve said right there, I’m using the cheaper microphone over the more expensive one in that situation. At the Cycle Schmeichel session, I used the D112 on a guitar cab alongside one of my 57s. This was a little hidden gem, I never even considered using the D112 on guitar cabs before just because I saw pictures from forums and studios of an MD421 being used instead. I actually prefer the sound of the D112 now as the MD421 (which is roughly three times the price of the D112) has an annoying squealy higher-mid frequency whereas the D112 doesn’t.

I think most of us are suckers for more expensive gear because we want to better ourselves and get more professional results. However, if you can get these “professional results” on a lower budget with cheaper microphones, this will make you a better recording engineer and save you a lot of money; because after all, audio recording isn’t a cheap hobby to take up. Find out what your mics sound best on and what they sound horrible on and use them on these sources. Once after that you feel you need a better mic, then by all means go ahead and buy it!


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One Comment
  1. There have been some radical practical developments in the microphone industry over the last twenty years. Many design patents have long expired and the technology required to precisely manufacture the neccesary components has fallen to a fraction of the costs incurred during the ’50s, ’60’s and 70’s.
    Next time you cut a decent vocal using your cut-price condenser try telling people you hired a Neumann’47 for it. You’ll get knowing, respectful nods of appreciation and comments like ‘you can’t beat the real thing’ etc, etc
    Let them bask in historic reverance and the security of ‘a name you know you can trust’ and spend the money you save diversifying you mic collection.

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