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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I did some recording in a local studio where I was hired to play some bass guitar tracks. The producer/engineer was using the Shure KSM44a for just about everything, including vocals, guitar and a drum set overhead. I wasn’t hired to play saxophone at this particular session so I never got to hear my saxophone through that mic. But the engineer tells me he would put this mic up against anything, especially for saxophone, vocals and guitar. He said he has a U87 and he prefers the Shure. He showed me the U87 so I know he really has one. Does anyone have any experience recording saxophone with the KSM44a? A thousand dollars is a lot of money, but if it can give me sound quality comparable to the $4,000+ U87, it is probably worth it. Has anyone compared the KSM to any lesser expensive alternatives? I have an RE20 which is fantastic for live performing but I think a large diaphragm condenser will warm things up a bit. I have an AKG C214 but I prefer the RE20. I am guessing the Shure will probably blow away anything in the price range?
 

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$1,000 is a bunch of money, and for that I think there are better options in that price range, and for a bit more that are going to be better than any mic Shure has ever produced, including some very nice ribbon mics.

When spending that much money for a mic, you really need to sit down and listen to them in your room and figure out which applications you like it on. Often one will sound better than another on one voice or instrument than another. That's why we have multiple mics for different uses.

Other mics to listen to are: AKG C414 XLS or XLII, The Audio-Technica AT4050, Rode NT-R ribbon mic and the Warm Audio WA47and WA87.

The U87 is often revered as the best mic choice there is, but it's not right for every voice/instrument or application. I'd rather have a (pair of) TLM107 than a U87.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
$1,000 is a bunch of money, and for that I think there are better options in that price range, and for a bit more that are going to be better than any mic Shure has ever produced, including some very nice ribbon mics.

When spending that much money for a mic, you really need to sit down and listen to them in your room and figure out which applications you like it on. Often one will sound better than another on one voice or instrument than another. That's why we have multiple mics for different uses.

Other mics to listen to are: AKG C414 XLS or XLII, The Audio-Technica AT4050, Rode NT-R ribbon mic and the Warm Audio WA47and WA87.

The U87 is often revered as the best mic choice there is, but it's not right for every voice/instrument or application. I'd rather have a (pair of) TLM107 than a U87.
Yeah I was also considering a ribbon mic. Chad Lefkowitz-Brown sure sounds fantastic on the AEA R84 pictured in some of his YouTube videos. I wish I could try or hear that mic in comparison to large diaphragm condensers in the price range. I tried a TLM107 and I wasn't that impressed with the saxophone sound.
 

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Things like this are always extremely subjective. I'm very skeptical that I'd prefer a Shure KSM44 to a u87. I also happen to know that the u87 works really well for my particular sound and taste, and that isn't true for everyone. But the Neumann and the Shure have fundamentally different designs and properties, and they're certainly not interchangeable. If you really want a u87 and buy the Shure instead, you'll be disappointed.

JC knows what he's talking about, and there are tons of options in that price range. If I were looking for an all-rounder with emphasis on saxophone, I'd look at the Austrian Audio OC818 (or less expensive OC18), Gefell M930, or AEA R84. The Gefell in particular has a much better chance of resembling a Neumann since it's essentially Neumann's sister company (founded by G. Neumann and still owned by the Neumann family), so their capsule architecture is similar and comparably renowned. All those companies are quality, well-respected, and will hold their value pretty well in case you want to sell later.

That being said, I think Shure makes very decent stuff, and lots of engineers love the KSM32 as a neutral versatile mic. It's less expensive than the 44, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Things like this are always extremely subjective. I'm very skeptical that I'd prefer a Shure KSM44 to a u87. I also happen to know that the u87 works really well for my particular sound and taste, and that isn't true for everyone. But the Neumann and the Shure have fundamentally different designs and properties, and they're certainly not interchangeable. If you really want a u87 and buy the Shure instead, you'll be disappointed.

JC knows what he's talking about, and there are tons of options in that price range. If I were looking for an all-rounder with emphasis on saxophone, I'd look at the Austrian Audio OC818 (or less expensive OC18), Gefell M930, or AEA R84. The Gefell in particular has a much better chance of resembling a Neumann since it's essentially Neumann's sister company (founded by G. Neumann and still owned by the Neumann family), so their capsule architecture is similar and comparably renowned. All those companies are quality, well-respected, and will hold their value pretty well in case you want to sell later.

That being said, I think Shure makes very decent stuff, and lots of engineers love the KSM32 as a neutral versatile mic. It's less expensive than the 44, too.
Yeah I am looking for the best mic for horns (sax, trumpet and trombone), vocals and acoustic guitar. I am thinking the AEA ribbon mic might be the best way to go in the 1,000 price range. The problem with the AEA is I would be limited to a figure 8 pickup pattern. That's also the reason I would prefer the KSM44a to the 32, as the 32 only has one capsule and is only capable of a cardiod pickup pattern.
 

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If you need a multi-pattern mic, the best in that range is probably the Austrian Audio OC818, which I think will sound a bit more "open" than the TLM107. If you're generally single-tracking horns, though, cardioid (or fig-8 for the AEA) is what you'll probably use 99% of the time, I would think. Unless you have a phenomenal sounding room and want to go omni for ambiance. That's not the case for most of us. (I have a couple great multipattern mics and I nearly always use card for remote sessions.) The AEA would be a great way to go, they seem to be pure magic on horns. That's probably gonna be the next mic I buy myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If you need a multi-pattern mic, the best in that range is probably the Austrian Audio OC818, which I think will sound a bit more "open" than the TLM107. If you're generally single-tracking horns, though, cardioid (or fig-8 for the AEA) is what you'll probably use 99% of the time, I would think. Unless you have a phenomenal sounding room and want to go omni for ambiance. That's not the case for most of us. (I have a couple great multipattern mics and I nearly always use card for remote sessions.) The AEA would be a great way to go, they seem to be pure magic on horns. That's probably gonna be the next mic I buy myself.
I do have a room with great acoustics, but the ribbon still is probably the way to go. I should be able to capture some of the room's ambience using the figure 8 pattern, right? Especially if I just back away from the mic a little and turn the gain up.
 

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Per the professional sound guy I learned from, the question for whether to use a ribbon mics is whether you like the sound of a ribbon mic for your particular application or not. While he generally likes them, he was clear that their sound may not be what you want for a particular instrument/recording. And he was not a fan of figure-8 pickup patterns unless you specifically needed one (like two singers facing a mic from opposite sides).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Per the professional sound guy I learned from, the question for whether to use a ribbon mics is whether you like the sound of a ribbon mic for your particular application or not. While he generally likes them, he was clear that their sound may not be what you want for a particular instrument/recording. And he was not a fan of figure-8 pickup patterns unless you specifically needed one (like two singers facing a mic from opposite sides).
That's why it would be nice to hear a comparison of saxophone recordings on a ribbon vs large diaphragm condenser.
 

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I can offer you a few different samples of myself, at least, on various condensers and ribbons. These are in great studios, so they won't translate directly to home recording, but they'll give you a general idea of how they sit in a mix. This one was done on a Neumann u87, and it's my favorite mic of the bunch:


This one was done on a lovely RCA 77 ribbon mic owned by Willie Nelson, which will be somewhat similar to the AEA R84:


And this is the "holy grail" of them all, a Neumann u67, which is an absolutely incredible (and expensive) mic, but I honestly slightly prefer the 87 on myself!


The above are my three favorite mics that I've ever gotten to record on, btw. I own a u87 but the big reason I plan to get an AEA eventually is because that RCA belonging to Willie was the first mic I recorded on that made me feel "wow, mics make a difference." They do indeed, but they're still third in priority after source (player) and room! 🍻
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I can offer you a few different samples of myself, at least, on various condensers and ribbons. These are in great studios, so they won't translate directly to home recording, but they'll give you a general idea of how they sit in a mix. This one was done on a Neumann u87, and it's my favorite mic of the bunch:


This one was done on a lovely RCA 77 ribbon mic owned by Willie Nelson, which will be somewhat similar to the AEA R84:


And this is the "holy grail" of them all, a Neumann u67, which is an absolutely incredible (and expensive) mic, but I honestly slightly prefer the 87 on myself!


The above are my three favorite mics that I've ever gotten to record on, btw. I own a u87 but the big reason I plan to get an AEA eventually is because that RCA belonging to Willie was the first mic I recorded on that made me feel "wow, mics make a difference." They do indeed, but they're still third in priority after source (player) and room! 🍻
Wow I love the music! Going to have to add Progger to my playlist!
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow I love the music! Going to have to add Progger to my playlist!
I just followed Progger on Sound Cloud and YouTube. I love the contemporary edge and feel! Excellent sax playing!
 
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Thank you! That's been my main focus for the last... man, ten years, just about... can't believe it's been that long. Before that I used to play and write quite a bit for Snarky Puppy (pre-Grammys and fame, sadly). Progger's been on hiatus because of COVID but we'll be doing a couple tours and a new record after the vaccine drops, if all goes according to plan!
 

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I did some recording in a local studio where I was hired to play some bass guitar tracks. The producer/engineer was using the Shure KSM44a for just about everything, including vocals, guitar and a drum set overhead. I wasn’t hired to play saxophone at this particular session so I never got to hear my saxophone through that mic. But the engineer tells me he would put this mic up against anything, especially for saxophone, vocals and guitar. He said he has a U87 and he prefers the Shure. He showed me the U87 so I know he really has one. Does anyone have any experience recording saxophone with the KSM44a? A thousand dollars is a lot of money, but if it can give me sound quality comparable to the $4,000+ U87, it is probably worth it. Has anyone compared the KSM to any lesser expensive alternatives? I have an RE20 which is fantastic for live performing but I think a large diaphragm condenser will warm things up a bit. I have an AKG C214 but I prefer the RE20. I am guessing the Shure will probably blow away anything in the price range?
I’m a sax player and have a studio. The ksm44a is a great sax mic. I also have ribbon mics and U87, Akg mics, Soyuz mics. I wanted the more expensive mics to sound better but they don’t. They sound different…. The ribbons are great for jazz combo style playing but for me when recording more contemporary stuff the ksm44a always sounds great. I usually use a Rupert Neve “Shelford Channel” seems to be a great fit for that mic. Hope this helps….
 

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Of all the newer mic companies, Soyuz has piqued my interest, for sure... their 017 and 013 models seem pretty phenomenal. I'd love to hear your experiences with any of them!
I absolutely love the 017 on vocals. It is my favorite vocal mic for singers with thinner, brighter sound. We did a specific shoot out on the 017 vs ksm44a. On vocals the 017 sounded better on on all vocals…. But my tenor sax still sounded better on the ksm44a. I play a selmer reference 54 with a Jody Jazz dv Chicago 7*. It’s on the brighter side. If your thinking about a new mic the 017 is definitely worth checking out.
 

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Interesting! Is your 017 the FET or the tube? I've only heard rave reviews of the 017 (both types) on vocals, but never heard it on horns. In my experience, great vocal mics usually make great saxophone mics, though.

A good friend of mine records his acoustic guitar on the 013 FET with fantastic results, and a drummer friend has a pair of 013 tube he uses for overheads. Those are cool little mics.

I'm fairly certain that one of my very favorite records from back in the day, Steely Dan's "Two Against Nature," was recorded mostly or entirely on Shure LDCs, possibly a bunch of 32s and 44s. I do love the sound of that record and I have a lot of respect for Shure's R&D, they make good stuff. I'll have to take a 44 for a spin sometime!
 

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Interesting! Is your 017 the FET or the tube? I've only heard rave reviews of the 017 (both types) on vocals, but never heard it on horns. In my experience, great vocal mics usually make great saxophone mics, though.

A good friend of mine records his acoustic guitar on the 013 FET with fantastic results, and a drummer friend has a pair of 013 tube he uses for overheads. Those are cool little mics.

I'm fairly certain that one of my very favorite records from back in the day, Steely Dan's "Two Against Nature," was recorded mostly or entirely on Shure LDCs, possibly a bunch of 32s and 44s. I do love the sound of that record and I have a lot of respect for Shure's R&D, they make good stuff. I'll have to take a 44 for a spin sometime!
My 017 is the tube version. I bet the way the tube and a fet handles the transients has a lot to do with how it sounds..... I was able to talk to the gentlemen who owned Ocean Ways studio. I had always used a tube mic to record horns, he told me, he usually used fet mics to record sax specifically. The head engineer at Sweetwater told me he typically used a combination of a ksm44a and a ribbon mic. He would blend the two.... I've been to lazy to try that, but I will one of these days:) Creating sounds is so fun!
 
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