I've been looking for a good budget mic for recording banjo for a while but whenever I look online most of the mic recommendations are for £500-1000 mics. Does anyone here use any mics cheaper than this?
In general, I like large diaphragm condensers. Small diaphragm condensers are often considered "best" for acoustic stringed instruments, but I think they require a lot more care in placement, where the placement of the large diaphragm seems more forgiving. If, like me, you're recording all by yourself, with no engineer or assistant around, there's plenty to do and think about without adding that stress to the process.
In general, most modern audio equipment, including mics and interfaces, has gotten so good that anything above the "cheapo" category will be fine for all but the most demanding listeners. Of course, that's not to say that a fancy Neumann or other fancy mic, managed by a competent recording engineer, is not gonna be better, just that the lower range gear can still sound pretty darned good.
I'm happy with the Gold Tone ABS system. It only takes a few minutes to switch between banjos, and works quite well.
Audio Technica AT2020 medium diaphragm condenser. $99 new. Often available used. For 60-75% of new.
Not fancy, but a Shure sm57 works great for banjo, and is worth owning as a general purpose mic.
You might want to look at the Shure SM 81. New they are about $350, but there are a number of used ones on ebay for under $200. I have one that I've used for live sound, and it works really well for that. It is a standard item in the mic locker of a lot of studios, or so I've been told. It has very flat frequency response so is very accurate.
the sm-57 is as good as they come for banjo.
The big difference I see between these suggestions is that the ABS clips on the instrument. You'll get a quite reproduceable sound, and it won't matter if you dance around while playing. On the other hand, if you sing while you play, you'll need a separate mike for that: I use an MXL V63M, but I think those are off the market.
On the third hand, with a standalone mike, you have to stay in relatively the same position from the microphone and any walking, jitterbugging, or whatever can influence the sound (and may introduce footsteps as background noise), but you can sing, play the harmonica, or yodel at the same time and it will get recorded.
All a matter of what you want to do and what makes you comfortable.
Bill Rogers (Moderator)
SM-57. Rugged; reasonably priced; multi-purpose; needs no external power.
AT2020 and Shure57 are my go to mikes. For recording the AT is my choice; live you can't beat the 57 for $$.
Guys, I think JCCBIT is inquiring for recording, not stage performance. There's a big difference, and I got the impression that he/she is using a home recording system, or going into studio. Large diaphragm condenser, as Loonsailor suggest is a great way to go for studio. Cheers, K
I own a home studio and have used the sm57 - if you're using it for professional bluegrass recordings, the 57 fits the bill for recording.
I have to agree with all the folks who suggested the Shure SM57. It's hard to beat in the budget category. The amazing thing to me is that the going price today for an SM57 is virtually the same as it was 40 years ago!
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