3 Studios, 3 Budgets: What Would You Buy?

Mar 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Markkus Rovito, Kevin Becka, and Wes Maebe


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To cover all the bases, our list contains the usual suspects like Shure, AKG, Sennheiser, Royer and Neumann, and we’ll add some exotic large- and small-diaphragm condensers, a couple of valve mics and a ribbon or two. Once again, refer to the full list for these, but let's have a closer look at a few of the lesser known ones that made the cut.

For the main vocal mic, I’ve decided on the Australian-made BeesNeez Jade. This large-diaphragm valve mic is in their producer series. I’ve always been a fan of a Neumann Valve U47 on vocals, and these mics are really hard to come by—especially if you want one that’s in good working condition. When I heard the Jade, it blew my mind. It sounds exactly like a 47, with a nice full body, a crisp top end and the balls you expect from a valve mic. Almost every time I use this mic on vocals, I end up not using EQ when it comes to mixing.

BeesNeez Jade

BeesNeez Jade

As we’re talking about vocals, just to add another flavor to the mix, I really like the AEA KU4. This hypercardioid ribbon mic is stunning. I used it in combination with my favorite 47 on vocals. The result was unexpected and utterly amazing. It’s so warm and open at the same time and gives you a very smooth, vintage sound. It’s not cheap, but you will instantly fall in love with it.



We don’t have the biggest room, and that is why I have steered clear of too many stereo-miking options. However, we will be setting up drums in here and we can be pretty certain that we’ll end up recording small string sections, acoustic guitars and other acoustic instruments. One hot stereo pair of mics will cover that nicely. The Lauten Audio Torch ST221 are a matched pair of small-diaphragm valve condensers, and they sound ridiculously sweet. Once again, you get the round warmth from a valve mic, combined with the crisp, small-capsule sound. These mics may well turn out to be your main workhorses for strings, drum overheads, acoustics, room mics and piano.

You can have the best microphones in the world, but without great monitoring you’d be driving blind. Our main monitors are going to be the Focal Twin 6Bs. These monitors give you a clean and true representation of what’s going on in the recording process and will provide you with honest monitoring at the mix. In addition to the Focals, we’ll have a set of the AE Pro 22, giving us a more hi-fi/domestic reference. Sterling makes a nice custom monitor bridge for the API 1608 to hold the speakers and save on space. We’ll put our main monitors on a pair of Iso Acoustics decouplers, which do wonders for the sound.

Focal Twin 6B

Focal Twin 6B

For headphones, we run a Rane HC6S headphone amp, giving extra volume control for the artists and yourself, and the cans of choice are a pair of classic and very comfortable beyerdynamic DT250s.

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