Would an AKG Perception 200 be better than a Bluebird mic in my studio?
April 5, 2019 7:02 PM   Subscribe

I have a small home studio with a lot of noise issues in my apartment. I use a Blubird mic for everything currently — would something flatter like an AKG Perception be 1) less sensitive and 2) a decent choice to record both vocals, acoustic guitar, and percussion?

I really love how the Bluebird sounds, but my studio is in my kitchen and the mic picks up refrigerator sounds, baseboard heater sounds, construction sounds down the block, etc...

Someone recently told me I might want a "flatter" mic to block out the sound better.

Another issue is that my studio area is tiny and a single mic is probably all I want right now. Would something like the AKG be good for any room recording (vocals, guitar, etc)? Is it naive to think a single mic is ok for everything? FWIW I play electric guitar with a DI, so no amp mic'ing is necessary.
posted by deern the headlice to Technology (7 answers total)
The cheap AKG mics are not very good. I'd take most of the budget Audio Technica mics over them.

Someone recently told me I might want a "flatter" mic to block out the sound better.

The Bluebird has a hyped upper range tone curve but a flatter mic isn't going to block out the sound, it just won't have the high end elevated. If you boost it using EQ on a flat mic, you'd have the same issue.

You can look for something with a tighter pattern and use that to block the noise but to an extent it's something that you just have to live with with home studios.

Dynamic mics like the SM-57 or RE-20 are less sensitive and will avoid some of the problem noise as well. If you don't have a 57, I'd get that before a cheap AKG.
posted by Candleman at 8:28 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]

Microphones don't "hear" like humans do - i.e. we naturally filter out extraneous external noises like refrigerators and distant construction, but microphones make no such distinctions and faithfully record everything they're capable of sensing. A "flatter" mic (whatever that means) won't make a difference in your case; what might would be a less "sensitive" one, that is designed not to pick up any sounds not originating right near the mic itself. As a general rule a dynamic microphone (such as the Shure SM-57 or EV RE20 that Candleman mentioned) will do better at that kind of isolated picking up of sounds. More expensive microphones are often (though not always) condenser type mics, that are more sensitive to distant/quiet sounds overall and would only make the issue worse in your situation.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:51 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]

As another general rule that might help you narrow down what microphone to look for, mics typically used for live sound applications are good at the sort of isolated sound sensing that you'd need for your environment. That's still a wide range different-sounding mics left for you to look into and decide which one you like best.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:55 PM on April 5

Any particular reason you can't just turn off the fridge and the baseboard heater while you record?
posted by flabdablet at 2:53 AM on April 6

Nthing the others that replacing one cardioid pattern condenser mic with another is not going to solve your problem. You should certainly try to do what you can to reduce the environmental noise (hang packing blankets over windows? turn off appliances and heaters? stuff like that) and you can try just moving closer to the mic (and then adjusting levels) so the mic "hears" more of the sound you want and less of the sound you don't. And if that doesn't work then moving to a dynamic mic may also help.

Is it naive to think a single mic is ok for everything?

If you mean "Can I use the same mic for different instruments recorded separately?", yeah, sure, absolutely. If you mean, "Can I use one mic to record myself singing & playing guitar at the same time?", again, sure, it's a perfectly viable way to record. But in that case placement and distance are crucial to get the proper balance of voice and instrument, and you'll run into the same problem you're having now, where environmental noise will likely be more prominent in your recordings than you want when the mic is at a proper distance to pick up both voice & guitar simultaneously.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:04 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with those who say this kind of mic probably won't isolate the sound the way you want it to.

Another idea I wanted to throw out there is that just because your studio is in your kitchen doesn't mean you need to record in the kitchen. I once recorded vocals in someone's apartment closet, surrounded by hanging pants. If you record yourself by yourself, your recording software might have a way to remotely control recording from a phone app so you don't have to run back and forth across your apartment.
posted by bananana at 10:01 AM on April 6

I have owned both of these mics. I still have the Bluebird (used it today on some scratch vocals!), and it's solid on certain sources. Did not care for the Perception, and actually haven't much liked any of AKG's lower-end mics including the C214, although their higher-end stuff is really well-regarded.

In re "flatness," as others have noted, your problem here probably isn't frequency response. Flatness isn't the most desirable quality in a mic anyway, otherwise you could just record everything with those cheap Earthworks measurement mics.

The Blue is hyped in the highs, as is the Neumann U87 most of the low-end condensers are going after. It's actually still a little darker than a lot of the other cheap condensers out there, and comparably really quiet in terms of self-noise. I have nicer mics but I still use that thing all the time, and there's no reason you couldn't use it to record pretty much anything (with judicious use of EQ in some cases). I don't always like it, especially on female vox, but it's generally usable.

I would suggest A: recording at a lower volume; B: using a High Pass filter to trim everything under 100Hz, which is where the rumble is usually a problem (the newer Bluebirds have a built in one, but software versions or fine. Or your interface may have one); C: Put up baffling (throw a couple comforters over mic stands and build yourself a little fort - prioritize the area behind whatever you're miking).

Failing that, keep the Blue and get a decent dynamic mic. You're pretty much looking at Shure 57-58, here, unless your budget is over $300, at which point there are choices (Beyerdynamic, Electro-Voice, the classic Shure SM7B). Don't cheap out on the PG series. A Shure SM57 is something you can pretty much use for the rest of your life or sell it for 60% of cost until then, so not a bad investment.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:33 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]

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