View Full Version : Mic & Headphone recommendations for home project studio

03-19-2015, 10:54 AM
I'm putting together a little project /home studio for my ukulele stuff. What do you recommend for (budget yet good microphones) for a uke? I'm using a Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 into my laptop.

Also, any recommendations for inexpensive yet all-purpose headphones? I'm using iPhone earbuds now!:eek:

03-19-2015, 06:05 PM
Sennheiser HD-280 Pro headphones can be found for about $80. These are solid body over the ear headphones (help keep noise out) that have good frequency response, sound good, are comfortable for long periods, and won't break the bank.

Mics are another issue.

I often recommend the Behringer XM8500 Ultravoice dynamic mic for $20. It's affordable, solidly built, and gets the job done. Then there is the tried and true Shure SM58 dynamic mic for $100. I like dynamic mics for home environments where one does not have an acoustically treated studio because they pick up less ambient room noise (air from vents, fridges, cars outside, etc.) than condenser mics.

For condensers in the $100-$150 range look at the MXL 990, AKG Perception P120, AKG Perception P220, Audio Technica AT2020, or the Studio Projects B1.

Be sure to buy your mic from a store where you can return it without a restocking fee. This way can to compare several and return what you don't like.

If you are willing to spend $200 - $300 on a condenser mic...

AKG C214, AKG C3000, Rode NT1A, Studio Projects C1, Blue Spark, AKG Perception P420

03-20-2015, 07:13 AM
I've recorded guitar and mandolin with an AKG 414 (that belonged to the studio). I might be inclined to go the 214 route if it's in the same ball park.

I have an SM 57 and 58. Your point about the lack of susceptibility to external sound well taken, and that might be the better route.

The MXL mics look intriguing, but I haven't had any experience with them.

Thanks for the tips, Spots!

03-20-2015, 08:03 AM
I've recorded guitar and mandolin with an AKG 414 (that belonged to the studio). I might be inclined to go the 214 route if it's in the same ball park.

I have an SM 57 and 58. Your point about the lack of susceptibility to external sound well taken, and that might be the better route.

The MXL mics look intriguing, but I haven't had any experience with them.

Thanks for the tips, Spots!

If you have the SM 57 and 58 I would honestly stay with those for a while and save up for some acoustic treatment for your space, and/or a nicer condenser mic. The SM 57 and 58 may require a bit more drive from the mic pre amp, but they are solid mics. Very solid starting point.

I've owned and worked with dynamic mics ranging from $200 to $1,500+. Once you pass the price point for Chinese imports you begin to hear a difference in how natural the sound is, and the mics themselves begin to function better. Things like needing less power to drive them, having lower self noise, etc.

The flip side of that coin is that the good mics are sensitive, so unless you have a good recording space working with them can be frustrating. This is why I suggested some acoustic treatment. Acoustic treatment can make a huge difference regardless of what gear you are using. It will help with the SM 57 and 58.

The Scarlet 2i2 is a good piece of kit and should last a while. Down the road if you want to make a change there look at RME products.

03-20-2015, 09:24 AM
On the headphone side if you want to go cheapo I really like the koss ktxpro1 titanium headphones. No they aren't in the same league as one of the more expensive closed headphones (which I've had) but it's surprisingly good and more comfortable than cans.


after my last set of cans got really ratty some years ago and died I picked up a set of these at best buy when they used to sell them.

They are fragile so be careful with them.

03-21-2015, 06:14 AM
Larger diaphragm headphones will provide better bass response, look for 40mm drivers or larger.

Closed-back over-the-ear headphones will prvide better sound isolation between the recorded sound and the 'live' acoustic sound so that you hear MORE of the recorded sound for monitoring. Also closed-back headphones will NOT BLEED sound as much that can be picked up by your mic if you have to drive the headphones at higher volumes.

Also, headphones that have a greater than 32 ohm impedance will be significantly QUIETER than those less than 32 ohm impedance. Most studio headphones are 50, 60 or 100 ohms, and you need to make sure that the output of the Focusrite interface can drive them with enough volume (voltage).

Keep in mind that using headphones for mixing and setting eq is a bad way to go since most consumer grade headphones SIGNIFICANTLY color the sound by over-compensating for lack of bass response, and if you set EQ levels in headphones and then play them back on actual speakers, the levels and EQ will sound really bad. It's best to have 'studio monitor' speakers for mixing tracks and finalizing.

Studio monitor speakers are designed to have a near-perfect FLAT frequency response that does NOT colorized the sound, OR to have a specific type of known sound coloration to test the mix for an intended target listening environment.

For uke, the studio monitors vs. headphones is not such a big issues, but if you are recording 2 or more instruments or 2 or more singers, simple laptop speakers are about the worst you can use. If you mix on them, and then make a stereo file and play that back in your car for example, you will find that the bass is muddy, the midrange is buried, and the treble is WAY too loud.

I'm over-simplifying here, based upon yrs of recording experience, but hopefully these will guide you into the right direction.

As far as mics go, I could write a book. If you already have some decent mics, then mic placement is going to be very important, as well as isolating background noise from your recordings. Any cardioid, hypercardioid or supercardioid mic will help here.

I would AVOID all omnidirectional mics, unless you want to record a group, sitting in a circle, with the mic placed in the center of that circle. omni mics, pickup everything in 360 degrees. Cardioid and it's variants, are designed to pick up most what they're directly pointed towards and reject sounds that are off axis from the front of the mic capsule...

06-10-2015, 05:47 PM
I use a studio projects C1 large diaphragm condenser mic to record vocals, uke, and guitar....the build is solid and it's versatile.

For monitoring, I personally prefer a good IEM with a fairly flat response curve. My go to has been a pair of of custom fit Etymotic ER4S.

06-11-2015, 07:37 AM
A good compromise between the crisp quality of a condenser with the problem of increased sensitivity and the dynamic might be the Rode Podcaster which I hear good reports about. It's USB so you don't need to worry about a separate audio interface. (I use a Rode NT1a which is excellent, but in a sound treated environment.)

+1 for the Sennheiser HD280s - a sturdy, yet light closed headphone which doesn't break the bank and gives an accurate representation of what is being recorded.

06-11-2015, 09:09 AM
If I could only have one microphone, it would be an SM57. One of their (probably unintended) benefits is their proximity effect. The closer they are, the more bass they'll pick up. You can fine tune the response to the instrument or sound you're recording quite easily and noticeably by altering the placement. They work well on acoustic instruments, amplifiers snare drums, high hats and vocals. As an added bonus, they're one of the most rugged mics out there - you can also use them to roll out dough, prop doors open and hammer nails.