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I realise the question is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string, but consider my scenario. I have a Berringer B1, which cost about €80 I think. I know that I can get a good vocal sound from it, but we are hoping to embark on recording an album for release and I want to buy ( if I need to ) a better vocal mic. My problem is I understand very little of the difference between an €50 mic and a €5000 mic in terms of how much it will add to the end result, other than the fact that I assume there is some 'law of diminishing returns' at work here.

I would be glad to continue using the B1 but I suspect that at €80 it may not be good enough considering the top of the pile mics cost several thousand.

Could anybody give me any guidelines.

I am looking mainly at recording single male and female vocals and acoustic guitar, mainly folk/rock/jazz in style.

My other gear (and studio):

  • A to D: MOTU 8pre and Traveller
  • Outboard: I don't compress or treat the sound going down, just straight into the Moto units. I have a DBX tube preamp but I dont use it that much. I would use plugins for my reverb etc.

  • DAW: Cubase sx3

  • PC: .. windows xp sp1 ... a bit out of date.

  • Mics: Other than the B1, a good few dynamics, 57/beta58's, a pair of cheap drum overheads ( tbone )

  • Speakers: Tannoy Reveals

  • Amp: Samson

  • Studio: single room, treated with panel bass traps ( 4 low 2 mid ) and a slot resonator. Natural diffusion via bookcases. Carpet floor though. Generally a nice room.

My own experience I have been recording on and off ( mostly off tbh ) for about 20 years and have actually recorded and released an album before ( and gotten satisfactory results ) but for that album I borrowed a friend's 2 grand tube mic and I haven't really taken taken that much interest in getting a 'great' sound, eg I don't even remember what my friend's mic was and obviously if i'm asking this question I don't know where the lines are drawn wrt mics. I built my own studio about 4 years ago ( hasn't been used much since actually ) but I would say that the area I fell down in was the vocal mic. I dont know why I spent 1500 on pre amps and 80 on my main large diaphragm mic but seemingly I did!

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what exactly is your question? A guideline with which to compare condenser mics? you also mentioned preamps and a HUGE difference in mic quality, so I don't even know where to begin. If your asking purely for personally opinion then AVP is probably not the best place. have you tried google or gearslutz?? –  Travis Dtfsu Crum Oct 14 '12 at 6:51
    
As I said in my question ... "My problem is I understand very little of the difference between an €50 mic and a €5000 mic in terms of how much it will add to the end result ... Could anybody give me any guidelines" ( ie how to set my budget ) ... yes I certainly have tried google and gearslutz ... if you have a particular article which you are referring to then please share it. I am not looking for personal opinion on which mic to consider or a comparison I am looking for guidelines on how to set a budget. Also I don't see how my mention of my preamp has anything to do with it? –  byronyasgur Oct 14 '12 at 12:28
    
    
I also still have the B1 as my only large-diaphragm! In fact, it was the very first studio microphone I bought. Now, I don't actually use it that much (I don't do a dramatic amount of studio vocal recording, and for most instrumental stuff I prefer small-diaphragm condensers) so I can't actually answer this question, but at any rate I wouldn't say the B1 is not a microphone you can't well work with, though it's that cheap. — Like Josh said, the mic is only one part in the signal chain, certainly an important one but in my experience far less critical than the room acoustics. –  leftaroundabout Oct 14 '12 at 20:57
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@byronyasgur Nobody can set your budget, but you almost have a decent question in asking what features/qualities to look for to meet your needs (be very specific) and in what ways do €50 vs €5000 mics compare. As you question stands, it would like be closed as simply too unanswerable and subjective. –  Robert Cartaino Oct 15 '12 at 15:12
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's difficult to answer because the microphone is but one link in the chain, and you don't mention what else you're using.

Having said that, the B1 is probably sufficient for basic studio recording. I've not used one myself, but there are many ways to overcome one deficiency or another.

If your mic is the weak link in the chain, a top notch preamp can help to keep you on par. If your preamp is lacking, a nice mic and compressor can pick up the slack. And even with less than stellar gear in general, a solid understanding of recording and mixing techniques can make up a lot of ground.

In short, I wouldn't worry too much about any one piece of gear, as chances are, you will have others areas that you can work to pick up any slack.

If you're dead set on picking up a new mic, more power to you, that's great! Get the best one you can afford, but know that "reliable professional sound" is a function of the whole package. No magic bullets. A $3500 U87 is no guarantee, you still have to know how to use it.

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Thanks for your answer. Yes of course you're right ... I completely forgot to mention my other gear ... I am editing my question. –  byronyasgur Oct 14 '12 at 0:35
    
this a good answer Josh, but maybe digging a little deeper would help figure out what hes asking. You could have summed what you said into question form... –  Travis Dtfsu Crum Oct 14 '12 at 6:45
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@TravisDtfsuCrum, I disagree. His question wasn't ambiguous. The answer is that there isn't a direct relationship between cost and "reliable professional sound". It took an answer to illustrate that. –  JoshP Oct 14 '12 at 12:18
    
I see your point I just still think its really open ended. many many many variables. I have problem myself too often which causes me to edit the crap out of my questions -_- –  Travis Dtfsu Crum Oct 14 '12 at 18:31
    
@TravisDtfsuCrum my question basically was 'Could anybody give me any guidelines' ... I never asked you to cover every variable, just if there were any any guidelines. Are you suggesting that if it's not possible to pin it down exactly then it shouldn't be answered. I can understand why stackoverflow has rules like this but if stack exchange AVP can't be a bit more liberal than a programming site then I think it'll be less useful than it could have been given the artistic and subjective nature of the disciplines themselves. I suppose this is really a discussion for meta so I'll leave it there. –  byronyasgur Oct 15 '12 at 19:18
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