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SM57 or cheap condenser?


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What you've got to understand is that you can't get a good recording mic for $100, let alone one that can do everything.


The 57 and 58 and similar mics are good solid mics. I've used them and my vocal mic is a beta 58. The thing to realize, though, is that these are all mics designed for live use. They are durable. They provide good, musical sound in a wide variety of situations, particularly with a loud sound source. They do not require phantom power, which is an advantage in many stage situations where phantom power is unavailable and the wiring of mic cables untrustworthy.


You can make a passable demo recording with them but it will not sound great by today's standards.


In general, soft solo acoustic sound sources are more demanding of microphone quality than loud electrified sources that are part of a big mix. For this reason, mic quality will affect your sound situation more than it would a five-piece rock band.


Depending on what you're trying to do you may find that a recording-oriented stereo condenser mic may be a better fit for your application. The Sony MS-907 for example, can be had for about the cost of a SM57 or SM58. Oftentimes solo acoustic instruments have to be miced in stereo to produce a convincing result, and if you have a good room, you could set up 6-8 feet away from the mic and have a go. The 907 is cheap, and there are similar mics at both lower and higher prices with varying performance.


I use a similar Sony mic (now discontinued I believe) for making demo recordings of piano and organ. These mics are useful for field recording and low-buck demos of all kinds. I've set them up at clubs and ended up with a better tape than I would get from the board.


One of the things to keep in mind is that if you know your material and can get it on tape in only a few takes, you'd probably end up with a better tape and be money ahead to book half a day in a demo-oriented recording studio. There are places you can book for $400 for a half day, and that won't come close to buying you enough gear to make a decent recording of your own.

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Yes but...


...somewhere on the web is a list of hit recordings that have been made with a 57 on the vocals. Perhaps compiled by (recording legend) Harvey Gerst? I know he referred to it, anyhow.


Anyhow, don't let the lack of funds for top notch recording gear keep you from recording. A 57 or 58 will pay for itself many times over. OTOH, I may never get $500 out of my BLUE Baby Bottle.



I played in an 8 piece horn band. We would often get bored. So...three words:

"Tower of Polka." - Calumet

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