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mic recommendations; champagne recording on a beer budget

I've always had to attempt champagne living on a beer budget
throughout my musical career as a professional 
producer/drummer/percussionist/band leader.

Consequently, though I've tried out most of the expensive solutions for 
condenser recording
microphones in large commercial recording studios, I was never able to 
afford the
Neumann's, B&Ks, etc.

So this is one of the best solutions that I've ever come across for a 
great microphone

At one point,  Audio Technica put out a fairly pricey tube condenser 
microphone called
the ATM 4060.   It's list price was around $1,400.

Well,  as it turns out,   the ATM 4060 has the exact same microphone 
as an
earlier non tube version called the ATM 4033.

This microphone capsule in the ATM 4033 was identical to the more 
ATM 4050
that my brother owns and has highly tauted.

Well,  it turns out that the ATM 4060 has an A12 tube in it and multiple 
polar patterns,
both things the ATM 4033 lacks.

Well, I'm not sure if my brother has ever bothered to change the polar 
pattern on the ATM 4050 or
not,  but I certainly never have, so the polar pattern options are not all 
that interesting to me.

Then,  it is now possible to buy an ART tube preamplifier for around $80 
which has the identical
tube in the ATM 4060.

Sooooo,   the ATM 4033 originally sold at $350 but can now be found used 
online for around $200-$250.
At the top price of the ART tube preamplifier (which also has phantom 
and phase reversal switches on it)
you can have the absolute equivalent of the ATM 4060 ($1,400) for US $330.

Now at one time,  a friend who ran a really nice recording studio lent me 
his Neumann U87 ($2,000)
to compare to the inexpensive Rhode NT2 ($200 used) and Bill's ATM 4050 
(equivalent of the 4033).

We did a double blind listening on both headphones and on monitor speakers 
utilizing three singers,  Bill, myself
and my wife Chris (both of whom have  amazing ears as engineers and 

Here's what we discovered , not knowing what microphone we were listening 

Of all three mics, the one that had the most detail by far was the ATM 
which was noticeably more detailed than
the Neumann (if a tad colder) and vastly more detailed than the Rhode NT2.

Warming up the ATM 4050 with a tube preamplifier, however, adds a lot of 
warmth to the mic while still retaining more
detail than the pricey Neumann.

The Rhode NT2 was dead last in detail but oddly enough it had an amazing 

When listening to the recorded voice through headphones (we used ADATS at 
the time),  the Rhode NT2
had the amazing ability to make it sound like the person was singing 
straight into your ear.    It didn't have the detail
of the other microphones but it just sounded REAL!!!!!

What I've concluded and what I do when it is important to get a great 
performance out of a singer is I use
the RHODE and the Audio Technica simultaneously and then I can mix and 
warmth and detail.
I can get a really wonderful and warm (yet detailed) vocal sound with this 

Add the $330 for the ATM 4033/tube pre amplifier combination to the $200 
the Rhode NT2
you literally have a world class solution for vocals for only $530.   
pretty cheap if you know about
pricey microphones.

To add to all of that,   my good friend, Daniel Thomas won a NAIRD award 
best instrumental album of the year
in 1998 for Martin Simpson's recording,  Cool and Unusual.

His recording was so beautiful that he was asked by Acoustic Guitar 
to write an article on how he got
Martins' guitars to sound so great.  He used an ATM 4033 and a Neumann 
ganged up on the instrument (I believe it was the 4033 over the hole
and the K184 pointed at the neck).

Additionally,  I most of my percussion collection was recorded for the EMU 
World Proteus and I have done
literally hundreds of percussion sessions for clients over the years and I 
have always gotten fantastic results
with the 4050 (again, whose only advantage over the 4033 was multiple 
patterns which I have never used).

The detail in 4033 is amazing!!!!!      Nowadays, it is also very easy to 
use any number of VST programs
that have digital modellings of famous and pricey tube preamplifiers and 
tube compressors (check out the stunning
collection that Universal Audio puts out) to warm that sound up (while 
retaining the detail of the mic).

That's my best recommendation, for what it's worth.