I was fortunate to be invited to guest on Rodger Cloud's new "Mic Locker" podcast yesterday. I assumed, correctly, that the popular question of "what type of microphone is best" would come up. So I wired up one of each.
I considered putting up some heavyweight mics, but in the end figured that because 95% of the audience has fewer microphones than me, that I'd stick with affordable devices only. From left to right:
- Roswell Mini K47 ($349)
- MXL R144 ($99 at time of purchase)
- Electro-Voice N/D 468 (MSRP was $324)
The thing is, I wanted to be able to quickly switch among them, and I wanted Rodger to be able to hear me through this signal chain ... and I needed to record the whole thing locally in case the online recording failed. That meant I'd need two different audio outputs -- one to the Cleanfeed server, and one to my DAW. Hence the Mackie 804 mixer.
The Mini K47 and N/D468 were plugged directly into the Mackie, channels 1 and 3. The MXL ribbon went to a vintage Cloudlifter CL-1, then into Mackie Channel 2. I gain-matched them as best I could, although their behavior due to proximity effect is wildly different, so if I leaned in, the ribbon would get disproportionately louder.
All three mics were routed both to the Mackie's main outs, which were plugged via TRS patch cables into two channels of my main audio interface, into PT. (You can see two rack cases of audio gear in the shot, obscured by the RealTraps panel.) All three microphones were also routed via the AUX bus of the Mackie mixer to a Mackie Producer, which is a 2-channel USB interface. The Producer was connected to my laptop, which was sitting in the middle of all this stuff during the podcast.
That way I could independently control levels into Pro Tools and into Cleanfeed.
I monitored via headphones plugged into the Mackie Producer interface, which has a source/input knob. Rodger's voice came through Cleanfeed (which was essentially just a website), into the Mackie interface.
Anyway, it worked pretty well, at least from my perspective. My own Pro Tools track was very clean. The mic switching worked well; I'd keep two mics muted at all times, and flip between them by simultaneously muting one and unmuting the next. I'm not sure the Cleanfeed system worked very well. We had a pretty bad lag, like overseas telephone calls used to be in the 1980's.
The Mini K47 sounded really natural and balanced at a relatively broad working distance -- by which I mean, if I leaned in or away, the mic would change level, but not change its sound or character very much. That was my main mic for the session.
The ribbon sounded sort of muddy and thick. I love a good ribbon mic, but this isn't one of those. That said, if it was my only mic, I could make it work. It would need a high pass and high shelf (boost) too, and I'd probably want to stand back at least 10 inches. And make sure the rear lobe of the Fig-8 wasn't pointing directly at a computer with a fan inside it.
The N/D 468 is a bit thin at 8-10 inches, but I think there's a range around 4-6 inches where proximity balances out the top. It needs a good amount of preamp gain, or a Cloudlifter, to sound its best.
It was a fun exercise. It actually made me want to start a podcast of my own. I wouldn't use these same three mics again but I love the idea of having 3 different mics every time. Talking about what mics sound like while demonstrating what they sound like seems like a pretty appealing thing, for mic nerds anyway. I'd watch that.
Oh, by the way, this rig, as complex as it was, was actually missing a really important component -- it should have had compression inline. I just ran out of time during setup.
Anyone here have a favorite podcast setup? I'd love to hear about it.
I did a "shootout" of podcasting (aka broadcasting) mics a couple years back. We had the RE-20, RE-320, SM7B, M99, MD-421, PR40, SM57, and a couple others. It's hard to go wrong with the RE-20 or SM7B, of course. But it's sure fun to play with the alternatives.