Building your own studio may sound like fun, but it is not an easy task. It requires lots of patience, time investment and technical knowledge in order to set up the equipment properly and know how to operate them. One of the main things required to build your studio, is money investment, which for most people, especially beginner guitar players, is one of the most challenging task they need to follow through.
You need to be able to save up decent amounts of money, make the calculations for all the necessary equipment and adjust your budget according to what you really need to purchase when you start, and what you can buy later.
Microphones are included in the necessary things you should purchase when you start equipping your studio. You need them in order to record your own vocals or other vocalists, or any instruments such as acoustic guitars or the piano.
The perfect price range for beginners that want to build a quality semi-professional or professional studio is around $300. At this price point, there are excellent mics available in the market, which deliver great sound quality results and will help you create high-standard recordings with your acoustic guitar.
One thing that would assist such microphones even more, is build a nice listening and recording environment. Assuming that you want to invest that amount of money into your microphone, you should also be able to soundproof appropriately your recording room with foam panels and isolation pads for your studio monitors in order to avoid sound reflections and noises.
Microphones considerations for acoustic guitars
The overall quality of the microphone you are going to buy is the main characteristic you should be looking for. Check out carefully the specifications of the microphone, as the little details are the ones that are going to define the sound results of your recordings.
Always make sure that your mic is functional. If you need a microphone with XLR ports in order to plug it in to your mixing console, make sure that your mic comes with such ports.
Watch out for microphones that use phantom power so that you are sure that you can use it with your console, and focus on the switches that are place on the main body of your microphone. They may seem irrelevant but they are not at all. Sometimes, they tend to be very useful when it comes to reducing noise or adding gain.
Most microphone come as bundles. Always look for such deals because the packages include many necessary items that you otherwise would purchase individually. Microphone bundles come in very affordable prices, usually a little higher than the microphone itself, and they can help you save up money.
The quality of the microphone you are about to purchase increases according to the amount of money you are willing to spend. Microphones that are more expensive deliver better results, but the price range of just under $300 is an excellent place to start, and acquire amazing microphones with excellent functionality level and extra features.
Best condenser mic for acoustic guitar
1 – Rode NT1KIT
The NT1 has a new HF6 capsule, which was engineered in order to capture sound the same way that some vintage microphones did, with the reduction of the low noise as the main difference. The Rycote Lyre system is used to suspend the transducer inside the microphone. This system is mainly used in order to avoid as many external vibrations as possible.
This particular model, is claimed by the Rode Company to be one of the quietest 1-inch cardioid condenser microphones in the world. This happens because of the extremely functional electronics inside the microphone that manage to maintain the self-noise levels to 4.5dbA.
The NT1 has no pad or low-cut switches. It is projected as one of the most strong and stable microphones for professional studios, with a very clean design and a dark grey finish.
The body of the microphone is made of aluminum and is nickel-plated in order to enhance the resistance against corrosion. In order to eliminate scratches or unwanted marks that may occurs during time, the mic is coated in a ceramic layer that makes it resistant over time.
Using the NT1, it is very easy to understand which side of the mic you need to aim towards the sound source because of the small gold inlay that was placed on the mic’s body. In addition to this, there was added another layer of protection with the black outer mesh basket.
In the package, there is included a pop shield and the SMR shockmount. This particular shockmount has a double-Lyre suspension system, which adds extra protection to the microphone. The second Lyre, is used to keep each Lyre in the correct position in order to prevent any kind of vibration.
The NT1 is an excellent large diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone, which delivers amazing results to the buyer. If your available budget is around $300 and less you should seriously consider purchasing this amazing product in order to record vocals or string instruments.
2 – MXL 4000
This model is a large diaphragm multipattern FET condenser microphone. It has a single dual-sided, large diaphragm, K67 styled capsule, which measures about 25mm diametrically. The microphone provides to the user three patterns, which can be switched on or off using the switches that are placed on the body of the microphone.
The mic comes with the additional switches that are built to control the volume level down to -10db, and the high-pass filter down to -6db. There is a shockmount included in the package which is pretty elastic, and a foam windscreen , which is a nice extra.
The MXL 4000 is a condenser microphone that was engineered and designed around a FET microphone amplifier, which was particularly chosen in order to match exactly the large diaphragm capsule. The capsule, was designed to deliver warm low ends with smooth and airy high ends.
The design of the capsule and the overall sound that it provides reminds some older classic microphone models. The internal components of the mic were picked up carefully, in order to deliver a sound that can be satisfying both for vocal and instrument recording sessions.
If you are one of those that are looking to boost the depth of the vocals, you can use the 8-figure pattern of the microphone and record the vocals from one side of the room, while the other side provides the appropriate room space to enrich the recording result.
In order to achieve this, you need to have a fully soundproofed studio room in order to avoid blurriness or unwanted sound reflections that will make the recording sound flat and noisy.
To sum up, the MXL 4000 is an amazing microphone, one of the best at its price point. It is one of the best choices both for beginners and for professionals and will enhance your studio experience, delivering sound results that were to be expected due to its specifications and high quality standards.
3 – Rode M5
The M5 was engineered, designed and manufactured in Australia. The microphone has a 0.5-inch capsule with a fixed cardioid capsule. It is an extremely low noise microphone and has a very wide frequency response.
In order to record acoustic instruments, or vocals that require room spacing, small diaphragm microphones are usually the best choice. Such recording usually need stereo pairs in order to capture sound from all angles equally. This is why the M5 is usually sold in matched pairs. To achieve better recording results, Rode makes sure that there is no more than 1db sensitivity variations between the paired mics.
A smart way to test the microphone’s frequency response, especially considering high frequencies, you can record high frequency sound sources such as hi hats. Some types of hi hats contain lots of HF energy, so this will make clear for you what your microphone is capable of.
The M5 has a great neutral sound when it comes to such high frequencies, and delivers a smooth sound that avoids disturbing the listening experience. Especially when the room is well soundproofed, the sound tends to be heard pretty clean and well positioned according to where it was initially recorded.
Being a stereo pair, the two microphones have matched sensitivity level and deliver great stereo results, very effective when it comes to room recordings with multiple instruments or vocalists. They are microphones intended for all studio purposes, and work well with any acoustic string instrument when recorded in a soundproofed environment.
The low ends of the microphones have a very warm sound that gives the impression of stability, and they sound matched and similar when combined. The M5 matched pairs come in a very affordable price, and they are completely worth the value of their money according to the high sound quality results they deliver.
4 – Sennheiser MK4
The Sennheiser MK4 is a condenser microphone intended for professional recording studios. It has a large 24-carat gold-plated diaphragm, which is engineered and manufactured in the same place as the all the rest condenser capsules of Neumann and Sennheiser.
It weighs 485g and it gives the impression of a strong and stable microphone that will last over time. It comes with an optional shockmount and it has a beautiful screw holder.
The MK4 has a fixed cardioid pattern with a neutral frequency response which makes the sound smoothly flat. One small characteristic is the subtle presence in the mid high and high frequencies, between 3kHz and 10kHz.
As all mics do, this microphone has its own perfect distance between itself and the sound source, which seems to be about 130cm to 150cm. Using this distance, you can produce extremely natural sound, with rich low ends that provide a certain depth to the recording.
The low self-noise figure of the microphone is very effective, because it prevents vocalists with very heavy voices and lots of low ends to come very close to the mic, in order to avoid too much depth and saturation issues that may cause dullness to the overall sound.
When it comes to acoustic instruments, the Sennheiser MK4 is the perfect microphone. It has a full frequency response, especially when the instruments are positioned carefully in front of the microphone, and it eliminates mud issues in the mid frequencies, where most of the other microphones face serious problems.
As for electric instruments, such as electric guitars, the MK4 delivers great sound results. It can manage high input volume levels amazingly and it can provide a clear and bight high quality sound. It captures the depth of the main body of the guitar sound in a fascinating way, and has a very broad frequency response.
5 – Audio-Technica AT2050
The AT2050 is microphone suitable for beginners that are just starting to equip their studios. It fits both amateur and professional studio engineers that want to record vocalists and acoustic instruments. The microphone works better in a well-soundproofed environment and it is an all-purpose microphone in a very affordable price of less than $300.
The microphones provides a very accurate representation of what both the mic and the user are hearing, especially in comparison to other similar microphones that only stick to looking professionally designed instead of helping the user determine the right sound levels.
The AT2050 provides an overall even frequency curve, adding a subtle presence in the mid-high frequencies, making the sound result excellent especially for beginners. Although it lacks some of the gain that other microphones such as the TLM have, it still manages to deliver lean and warm sound.
The microphone has 3 polar patterns: Omnidirectional, Figure8 and Cardioid. Those patterns are extremely beneficial and helpful for beginners, because it helps them get a better perspective over the acoustic, mic positioning and understanding in depth the stereo recording process.
Overall, the AT2050 is a great microphone, which deliver amazing sound quality results. It is both helpful for beginners and comes very handy for experienced professional studio owners and sound engineers who need an affordable microphone solution for their recording sessions, for less than $300.