I have what I think is probably a fairly typical mic closet for someone running a semi-commercial home studio. I have a few expensive flagship mics that I use as much of the time as I can. And I have a host of mid to lower priced mics filling up the rest of the cupboard for use when my top shelf mics aren’t right for the job.
Case in point - I have a matched pair of Neuman KM 184 mics that I love to death for stereo micing guitars and other acoustic instruments. But I don’t like them for drum overheads as much as some lower priced Avantone CK 7 mics that I feel do that particular job better in my particular room.
The thing I probably record the most these past years, however, is my own voice. Doing VOs for the various videos I do here and for groove3. And after years of trying various mics of varying pedigrees, I have settled on the humble Audio Technica 4040. If I had to choose just one mic, this would be it. Not just because it suits my voice better than all my others, but it also seems to be a general all-around good sounding mic that is usable in most situations I throw at it.
So why the AT 4040? Like most home studios, I have a less than perfect sounding room. And despite my best efforts at sound isolation, there is inevitably still some noise in here. I have metal heating pipes on the ceiling in my studio which reflects sound that although very subtle, is present. Although my external drives are outside my room, my iMac is not. It is relatively quiet, but not perfectly silent. The Audio Technica 4040 seems to reject the noise the best of all my large diaphragm condensers. Add to that the fact that it has exceptionally low noise, and it makes for the best choice.
It’s also got transformerless circuitry which virtually eliminates low-frequency distortion. The transients are nice and sharp. And there is something about the housing assembly that seems to minimize the reflections it picks up in my room. It’s got an 80 Hz roll off which despite what you may read on paper to the contrary, is practical for a real-world male VO. I leave it on almost all the time. The gain is very decent for a large diaphragm condenser mic, so I don’t need to push my preamp beyond about 2:00; avoiding the higher nosier range. And although it still requires some EQing after recording, it sounds pretty good on my voice.
I bought a Sure SM7B about a year ago, partly after hearing Dan rhapsodize its virtues. It just didn’t work as well for me on my voice in my particular room. My second choice would probably be my Lauten Audio Horizon tube mic. It is spectacular sounding on a specific female vocalist I record here from time to time. But there is another singer I record here occasionally, that this mic doesn’t work well on. All in all, my Audio Technica 4040, for my money, is the most practical and all around versatile mic in my particular recording environment.