Compact mic solutions for Octatrack

Octanauts! Any recommendations for Octatrack mic pairings that…

-are compact
-output unbalanced line level (1/4") to match the OT ins without the need for a preamp.

I believe the second condition will require any candidate to be battery powered, but I’m very happy to be proven wrong. On that note, maybe someone can confirm whether something like the old Sennheiser MD407 with its stock internal transformer is a worthy option?

Both condenser and dynamic options are of interest. …just please don’t tell me to use an XLR to TS adapter with a 57. :face_with_monocle::zap::flushed::laughing:

Aaaand go!

I’d take a stéréo mic, as Ot records stéréo only. :slight_smile:
Did you check recorders like Zoom H2 etc ?
Price ?

You made me think I have to try my U87 with batteries, with an Xlr to Ts adaptator.
That’d be a great solution for me at least ! :smile:
I’d be surprised to have better results than with my cheap Art tube preamp.


Thanks for chiming in! The thing with XLR to TS is, as anyone who’s ever been in a garage band without a proper vocal setup will tell you, you’re likely to get zapped! Hoping for a solution that meets the input specs of the OT… Thanks for the zoom suggestion too, but it’s added functionality I don’t really need. I’d like the OT to perform the recording functions. Stereo would be cool but I’m fine with a mono option too. Price isn’t a major issue as I doubt anything suitable would be too out of reach.

I run a 57 into a boss multitracker mic input (trs) then the line out from that into the OT. Not very compact but i like the effects and noise gate on the boss so…

Keen to hear any proper compact solutions too

1 Like

Thanks Clancy, yeah for sure there are a bunch more options once you commit to having another box take the XLR and convert it to line level. A little vocal effect pedal could fit the bill… but let’s keep searching for a one piece solution… anyone else?

1 Like

Yeah. A crowd.

1 Like

I haven’t seen many modern mics with a 1/4" output; other than Shures “Green Bullet” or older SH55, a quick search turned up a CAD paging mic in addition to those.

In my experience with OTmk1 and an XLR->1/4" with cable is usuable. This has worked for me with Dynamic Shure SM58 SM57, PG 57, Beyer M201 and M69, Sennheiser M421, and Shure Beta Green Electret Condenser powered by a battery.

I assume I would get similar results using a cable that does the XLR -> 1/4" conversion rather than using a cable and an adapter.

This seems completely doable to me, with the caveat that a Thru and Neighbor Machines would need to be used to emulate a channel strip… unless you’re getting exactly what you want at the mic, which is a better way to go anyway.


Feel like I’ve seen a few threads like this now. Mics with batteries but it’s just phantom because they’re condensers. Or pretty sure there are some xlr units that are like an extension to the mic body, but still meant to go through an amp…

I do the recorder thing too sometimes - in my case just an old minidisc on record pause with one of these mics attached.

Almost a single box solution but not mic-stand compatible so it can get fiddly pointing it at guitar or speakers…

Must be some nice battery powered mics with line out that are just mics?


Yeah the Zoom H1 might actually be the cheapest-matched-to-OT-ins option going. It has a stereo TRS out, which translates to 2 unbalanced line ins on the OT. I guess you can just look at it as a mic with a bonus recording system.

Those mini electrets look perfect, but I believe the TRS jack means you’re cutting the ground by plugging in to OT. As much as I hear about doing that being no big deal, I’ve been electrocuted enough times to steer clear.


It might sound crazy, but I got one of these or a few dollars at a thrift shop in the mid 2000s and used to use it to record shows onto a portable Minidisc recorder (also from the thrift shop) when I was playing out with bands a lot, and the recordings held up really, really well. Comparable to what I get with the Zoom h5 I use now if not better. Runs on one or two AA batteries (I forget which, haven’t used it in a few years) fr a few hours and has stereo 1/4" outputs. If you can find one cheap you could do a whole lot worse.

I can’t speak to the noise level though, since everything I ever recorded with it was loud music in a noisy environment, so any self-noise was completely covered.

It’s not quite compact, though, comparable to an SM58 (slightly bigger but also much lighter).

EDIT: these are from the same era as when Radio Shack was selling OEM versions of high end Crown PZM mics at really low prices, so it’s not totally surprising that it’s decent.

EDIT: I just checked eBay and it looks like you can still get them complete in the original box for $20-$25 easily (and more like $10-$15 without the box). That’s a lot more than they used to be but still reasonable in my opinion. Also, it has a 600ohm output impedence, which is dead on for most line level inputs.


I think you nailed it here with these three options, with my preference being the mic with built-in pre. The Zoom seems like the best contender here but I (and I imagine others) would still be open to more suggestions in that department. Googling ‘mic with internal preamp’ sure brings up a lot of external preamps! haha

That said the Eventide is a very cool option! An easy winner (IMO) in the compact external pre department.

Awesome! This is a decent option for sure!

I bet you could mod it easily, too - upgrade all the capacitors and transistors/opamp/whatever is in there. I’m sure it’s all simple and through-hole, although I never opened mine.

I used to use minidisc with cheap electrets I soldered on in ear headphones, in my ears for binaural recording.
Worked pretty well !


If you don’t find a one-piece solution, here’s two mic inputs with phantom power and relatively decent pre’s for the price, $99, pretty small, 6in x 7in… Something to consider, may provide some other uses for you as well…

1 Like

I had completely forgotten about those RadioShack / Crown PZM’s… 9V battery powered and terminated in 1/4".

1 Like

I missed out on those, but my freshman year in college happened to be when the Shack was selling an OEM version of a set of Koss headphones that retailed around $250 (and this is late 90s dollars) for $49.99, the only difference was the case was made out of cheaper plastic so one of the earpieces broke off after a couple years of not very rough use. But they sure sounded good for the money.

Interestingly enough, it was actually someone who worked at the location near my school who told me about that deal, and was generally pretty happy to let people know who the OEM manufacturers were for different things and which stuff was actually a good deal. I guess he got commission either way, and letting people in on what was underpriced and what was overpriced meant they’d come back and buy from him again, so it was a win/win.

Only time I’ve gotten deals like that since was a few years back when a friend of mine got a second job a a Guitar Center for a year and kept us all informed about which things GC had special deals on, since he got huge employee discounts on that stuff (over 60% off retail on Sennheiser products, and close to 75% off all Sterling mics, for example) Picked up a few things that year I’d never have been able to justify otherwise.

Those PZM’s were great… decent kick drum mics if the drum(mer) wasn’t too loud, and you could increase the bass response by taping them to a larger surface.

I’m going to miss radio shack. There were few places one could get MIDI cables, flux, solder, PCB, batteries, and cassette tapes in one stop. I used to hit that place more than the music store.

1 Like

If you don’t mind a ghetto solution, there are a lot of toy mics that have an internal battery and output line level from a TRS 3;5mm jack.

I have a ”Pringles” branded version of such a mike, got it when I bought two cans of Pringles chips during a ”Pringles Karaoke” campaing lol. But I think I’ve since seem comparable designs of toy mics around that output live level 3,5mm…

For a highend solution, I’m getting a Stam Audio 1073 micpre clone soon. Half-rack sized pres are easy to come by and are not that much bigger than a pedal sized pre, and no corners will have been cut in a half rack form factor.


I’ve had good luck with a pretty cheap Insignia battery powered supercardioid mic designed to clip on to DSLRs - They are on sale for $25 right now, “” - It’s not going to replace an SM57 on an amp or snare, but for sampling random kitchen utensils, spoken word, or acoustic guitar / piano it sounds pretty good for the money.

Since they have the preamp built in the signal is hot, so no need for a separate pre, this one also has a HP shelf switch. Can’t really beat the price and it includes the mount and windscreen.