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Can You Make Music With a $30 Mic?

Transcript
Hi, it’s Warren Huart here. Hope you’re doing marvelously well.

So today, I want to do something completely off the wall and different. What is that, you ask? Well, a couple of people have told me about some super, super cheap mics that you can buy online. One of them is this. I don’t really know how you pronounce this, but it’s Neewer. I don’t know. The thing about this is it’s a whopping $30. I have Amazon Prime, so it was $30 including shipping.

We went online and we saw that you can run this using phantom from a simple IO, so what we did is we went and used a really old Mbox. Digidesign Mbox. This was when Digidesign was Digidesign before Avid bought them. So we’re going back quite a bit.

So we’re going to run this using that on a laptop. Now, for $30 you get a base, the rest of a stand here, not only do you get the stand, a base, and a little telescopic part — let’s try it out here — so you get this little stand, and this telescopic part with it. You also get a little mic clip, which is like a proper suspension mic clip, which is kind of good for the price. It’s $30, remember.

Then you get the mic. So — and it also comes with a cable, which goes to an eighth inch, and you can use that apparently going into the soundcard on your laptop or your computer as well. It powers I think it said between five to seven volts, so we’re going to run it using phantom, because we went online and it said we could do that from our little Mbox.

So basically we’re going to use the Mbox, Pro Tools as our DAW, this mic, and see what we can do. What sort of music can be made for $30 worth of microphone? So let’s try it out!

We’ve got a little shock mount here. Now, I’m going to put this mic in, and I’m going to put the logo at the back, because I’ve been led to believe that it’s warmer on the front than it is on the back, which would make me think that is the front, but we’ll listen. Let’s try it out.

Okay, so it’s all done up. Here it is. Here’s el microphone. So this is going to be fun. I mean, [laughs] we could put this on a different stand as well, but I’m just going to use everything that’s supplied for a whopping $30. So let’s plug it into our Mbox here. And here it is.

Alright, so — okay, so what I’ve done is I’ve dropped the mic down.

[acoustic guitar]

I put it on a tabletop, and I dropped the mic down. So…

[testing voice]

It seems to be warmer sounding on the non-written side, so I want to take that as the front, but it is picking up equally — not equally, but similarly on both sides, so it feels like it’s kind of in omni most of the time. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true. So I’m going to try on the 12-14th fret like you normally would, rather than on the body.

[acoustic guitar]

Let’s make sure we’re in tune. I put a drum loop up and I’m just going to jam, like I normally do, and just make up a song idea and see what we get.

[mix]

Cool. So what I’m going to do now is Shift+Option+D to duplicate. So take the active playlist, I’m going to pan that 50% to one side a little bit. Somewhere over to the left. I’ll pan the new one over here sort of opposite. Now let’s do an overdub.

[mix, overdubbing, second acoustic]

Cool. I keep going to hit the main keyboard rather than the laptop keyboard. Uh huh. So I’m going to find a blend that works. Alright, so let’s just try it.

[mix, overdubbing vocals]

Alright. So that’s quite straightforward. Let’s have a listen.

[mix]

I mean, it’s totally functional. Is it like, award winning, greatest microphone I’ve ever heard in my life? No, but it’s thirty bucks!

So in continuation of trying out this mic, I’m going to stick it in front of the bass amp. Those of you who have watched my many other recording videos know that I use the same bass amp, I use the same bass, I use either this or my Peavey T-40, I use my Yamaha electric. I’m just going to work on this minor blues quickly thrown together idea, and play some bass.

So the mic is now in front of my Ashdown bass amp. So let’s create a brand new track. All I’m going to do is this Shift+Option+D to duplicate it. I’m going to call it bass. I will do Option, Pan, and center it again. I’m going to go into input here, go into record.

[bass]

Let’s have a listen.

[mix, tracking bass]

That last bar was dreadful, so what I’m going to do is I’m going to highlight a little bit before it, I’m going to do Option+K — Sorry, Command+K, which will give me some pre-roll. So let’s setup our pre-roll here. Just hit Apple+K is on/off. Let’s go to one bar and hit return. That’s where I want to punch in from.

[mix]

Alright, good enough for jazz. Okay, so let’s move this over to our electric guitar.

Alright, grabbed our trusty $200 guitar. $200 here.

[electric guitar]

Reminds me, I have to go to eBay and thank the guy I bought it from, because it’s a really amazing guitar for the price. Alright, Shift+Option+D, duplicate, create it again, call it electric. Electric Guitar. Okay, let’s see what we got. Okay, looks like good level to me.

[electric guitar]

Nice. Alright. Here we go.

[mix]

Yay! Fun. Alright. Going to have a listen.

[mix]

Alright. A couple of things. It’s a little darker. On the vocal, I started to hear that, but I would always brighten my vocal anyway.

[mix]

Alright, I’m going to overdrive my guitar sound and just do a little lead sound, just so you hear that response. I expect it will be something similar to what we’ve already had. It will be like, overdriven enough — you know, I think the mic is probably going to do the same kind of thing. Sort of naturally compress the signal, because it doesn’t have the sound pressure levels that you’d expect with another mic.

[mix, tracking distorted guitar lead]

Alright, so similar kind of results. So I’m going to put another solo down, because that was fun.

Hey, see how I am? Such a guitar player that I want to put another solo down.

[mix, tracking second solo]

Alright, so I got to be a guitar player and play a couple of guitar solos on it. I like what it’s doing with the signal. It’s compressing it. It’s probably the mic, quite frankly, not having enough SPL and dynamic range to kind of handle that, but the thing is it’s $30, as I keep saying.

I don’t think it would preclude me from making a full record. You know, obviously, live drums, I don’t know if I would put this anywhere near a drum kit close miked up, but would I put it back a bit as kind of a special effect? A room mono mic? Yeah, I think it could be really kind of fun. A mono room mic that’s kind of a little trashy sounding that had a little bit of a limited dynamic range that kind of crapped out a little bit could be fun.

It’s a good sounding mic. It’s a $30 mic, it’s kind of a little bit of a, I don’t know, it’s a novelty. It’s a bit of a novelty the way it looks and everything, but I do think you can make music on it.

As I was saying earlier, I think a used Mbox, a $30 mic, I mean, I can’t imagine how cheap this would be. You could get going really, really, really inexpensively.

So there’s not a lot really to stop us from making music for a pretty cheap price. Now, if you want real, super hi-fi sounding vocals, you’re probably going to want to spend a lot more money. This doesn’t have the top end response I’d expect out of a large diaphragm condenser, a decent one, probably two, three, or four times the price at the entry point, but for $30, it’s pretty remarkable, and if you’re doing dance music, or anything kind of — anything where you want to take some risks and do something a little bit more dangerous, I think a mic like this is great. It’s not about doing Jazz and perfectly recorded vocals, so $30 gets you up and running.

So thank you ever so much for watching. I had a lot of fun doing this. As you know, I love playing, I love being able to kind of create things on the fly, so this is really a lot of fun. As ever, please leave a bunch of questions and comments below, go to producelikeapro.com, sign up for the email list, get a bunch of free stuff, and thank you ever so much for watching, and I’ll put a link to the mic underneath, so if you want to go ahead and purchase it or whatever, you can do that.

Have a marvelous time recording and mixing!

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Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at producelikeapro.com.

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