Recently I posted the question “What are your favorite plug-ins?”. You guys gave me a lot of great responses. It’s helpful to see what other people are using and why they’re using it.

So today, tell me what’s your favorite microphone and why. This should be your “desert island” mic, the one you would pick if you could only have one microphone to record for the rest of your life.

I’ll go first.

If I could only have one microphone, I’d want something very versatile. If it has too much color or warmth to it, it might not be great for everything.

So, I’ll have to say that my desert island mic would be the…

…drumroll please…

AKG C414.

I’ve use the 414 on acoustic guitar, guitar amps, vocals, drum overheads, accordion, upright bass, choirs, piano, B3, etc. There are few mics that sound good on just about everything. The 414 is one of them. Is it the BEST choice for each of those instruments listed? Nope, but it certainly is versatile.

It’s got a nice, clean sound — not too bright, not too warm. Also, it has switchable polar patterns, which is always nice.

Unfortunately I don’t currently own a 414. If I had to pick from the mics I own right now, I’d go with the M-Audio Luna. It reminds me of the 414.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Leave a comment!

[Photo by mrlins]

  • J Scott- Indiana

    Shure SM-7 for me anyways it works well all over the place

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  • I have a vintage SM57 I love. Every time I listen back to a track I recorded with it, I wonder why I ever use any other mic.

    And I could dig clams with it when I wasn’t recording. Indestructible!

  • Phil Harmon

    I have to agree with Al. Julian is right on as well. I’ve owned a Rode NT1A and have a pair of NT2A’s. The switchable polar patterns on the NT2A make it my go to mic.

  • Matt

    Neumann U87, my favorite mic for vocals and acoustics

  • One more hail to AKG 414, I have a B XLS new one, and used oneverything. With a decent tube preamp, such as UA 610 or 710 twinfinity, color or colorless sound also can be achieved.

  • Al

    I’d definitely go with the Rode NT2-A, coz it was the most reliable mic I’ve ever used so far.
    awesome for vocals, guitar, bass, and specially for making abmient fx samples.

  • SM57 – I spent years renting and A/B testing really expensive LDCs and some of the pricier dynamics like the MD441 and RE20. The SM57 just flatters my voice and has a cool, almost compressed sound on strummed acoustic guitar, always works on snare and guitar cab. I have just sold ALL of my mics, preamps and Digi 002 Rack and have reduced my songwriting gear to an M-Audio Fast Track with PT Essential, one SM57, one acoustic guitar, a Pbass and drums loops. KISS principle keeps me focused on songwriting instead of constantly second guessing myself on gear choices.


  • I’ve grown fond of my Rode NT-2000.

    Its dial style polar patterns, rolloff and pads give a ton of flexibility and some creative options as well. The mic seems to suit all sorts of vocals, guitars and I use it pretty often as a room mic for drums. I’ve even used it as a kick mic from a couple of feet back.

  • Mike

    Like Jamie said, i’d have to go with the Neumann or Telefunken.
    But since i know I’ll never own those mics (boo hoo)!
    i’ll have to go with the Shure KSM32. Use to own one a few years back very versatile mic, sounds good on anything! I currently
    have been using an Avatone CV12 tube mic it’s not too shabby
    sounds good on vox and acoustic.

  • Scott Waldrep

    I’ve had the pleasure of using a Rode K2 in a last couple of sessions. I used it on vocals,guitar and drum room mic. All sounding great. So right now I’d love to have that one with me on an island.

  • pierre donald joseph

    I currently own a neumann u87 going tru a avalon 737 a got to tell u this combination is really hard to beat. i bought a akg 414 a couple years ago and sold it, because a needed the money and regreted it ever since great mic. its my next purchase for sure. Hey Joe i was wondering an akg 414 and a focusrite 430 or 220 pre combination???

  • jamie cerniglia

    If I were on a desert island, and it happened to have power and an acoustically treated room with a quiet air conditioner and I had the presence of mind to bring with me some instruments to record, along with some class a mic-pre’s, convertors and my laptop, but I forgot to pack more than one microphone(or a pair). The microphone’s I’d hopefully packed would be either a pair of Neumann U-67s or Telefunken E-lam 251s As for mic’s that I own, I really have fallen in love with my Telefunken M16’s Very sweet and open mics

  • Cliff

    Picking from what I have, I would go with my Cascade Fathead II’s. I have a pair of them with the blumlien bar, For the type of music I do (acoustic blues) they work great.

  • FamousPatrick

    The mic that I have had the most experience with is the old SM 58, which is perfect for live, but not so much for the studio. Of all of the mics I have tried, I would have to say that the R0DE NT1A is my go to mic right now. I just got a pair of Fatheads which I really like (possibly because they are different from anything else I’ve tried), but I don’t believe the Fathead is versatile enough for “the one and only.”

  • joe candee

    sm57 so good to me.but honestly i would choose my radio shack clone of “mr.microphone” coz it could be picked up on am radio possibly short wave too and i could be rescued.cant do that with fancy smancy mics can you

    • Gnoperhone

      Also, even if you don’t need to be rescued, INSTANT WIRELESS MIC!!!!!! just take the headphone output of a AM radio (tuned into the mic frequence…or not!) and get a converter from (snicker) 1/8 to XLR and you are all set. Make sure you have a good board like a Nieve or SSL or something, not this Pro-sumer crap!!!!!!!!!! HHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
      who needs fancy smancy mics????????????????
      πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  • Chris Bednar

    If I were stranded on a desert island, I would want something that I could crack a coconut with when I wasn’t singing into it to pass the time. Sennheiser e935 has a 10 year warranty, sounds awesome and it pretty heavy duty. If I busted it over a coconut, I could have it replaced when I got back to civilization.

    If there were no coconuts on the island, I’d say the Sony C800. It is an INCREDIBLE mic and I could take the tube cooling chamber off and use the tube glow to light my way through the woods at night.

    • Ryan

      You sir, are the MacGyver of the recording world.

      Guitar Center rep: “Hello sir, something I can help you with?”

      “Yes, Im wondering which mic you recommend for opening coconuts?”

  • Interesting topic being that I just got my matched pair of Royer 121’s in the mail today. I just gave them a quick test drive in x/y on my acoustic and holy crap do they sound great. Not sure how that will translate, but I expect them to be my go to for a lot of things.

    • Dave

      121’s are great. I recently used them as an overhead and got a really nice tone on cymbals and high hat, since we were trying a minimal miking technique. Piano sounded great too in a blumlein configuration just outside the curve of the piano lid.

    • Randall

      Absolutely the Royer R-121. I recently tracked three songs using a R-121 on every track; the bass was DI. It sounded great on everything, even vocals. Very smooth. Super natural (in ever sense of the statement). Just a really great microphone. Nothing sounds like a ribbon mic… that’s for sure. My only regret is not opting for a matched pair.

  • Probably my AT 4040, a very nice mic πŸ™‚

    I recorded a lot of sources with that: vocals, sax, nylon guitars, acoustic guitars, a brass band (separated), a room drum… and always was good, especially thinkin’ about the price.

    Ciao from Italy πŸ™‚

  • Going with what I own, Rode NT1a I think. I really enjoy the sound I get from it, but I recently got an SM81 and it’s such a nice acoustic mic. It’s down to those two I think, probably the NT1a still.

    I don’t have much experience from mics that I _don’t_ own, but if I couldn’t have any of the above, I do like the AT-4040 a lot. I was at a friend’s session that used it and boy did it sound nice and seem versatile.

  • Toby Baxley

    From my not-so-extensive mic locker, I would have to pick the AT-2020. It’s nice and clean without too much color. I currently have a Neumann TLM103 that I quite enjoy but I don’t think its owner would let me take it to a desert island.

    In a shoot-out between the AT-2020 and the TLM-103, I had a hard time telling the two apart. The main difference was clarity in the lower midrange. The Neumann had clarity across the spectrum that the AT lost slightly in the lower-midrange.

  • Choosing from what I have, SM58, 2xSM81, AKG 300B&CK91, CAD M9; I would go with the CAD M9. Certainly it has some character, but it’s a very nice character. The other mics are all less general and not as fun to use.