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best mic for a bass-baritone narrator with a silky string?

Discussion in 'Bass' started by griz, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. griz

    griz Active Member

    Just wondering what you folks with good ears would suggest.

    Back in the 60's I worked a Beyer birdcage ribbon (I don't know the model) that was pretty good with my voice (lousy radio studio). In the mid-80's I worked a U87 in a spectacular room and my voice never sounded so good, Unfortunately, the U87 I bought never sounded close to the U87 in that room (learned an expensive lesson). So I bought a TLM170 and promptly sold it. I've worked quite an array of mics over the years and have a NT1 Rode, RE20, Sennheiser 441 and a half dozen lesser microphones.

    Frankly, I cannot hear the difference between mics unless I splice the takes together (tin ears compared to most people I've found behind the boards). I never got that U87 sound I remember vividly out of my U87 and would really like to capture that. The sound of that U87 was the only mic I've ever worked where I could hear the difference in the phones and from the speakers. I know that U87 was hanging in a spectacular room and was plugged into a spectacular sound chain but this is the age of electronic magic. Correct?

    Is there a way to cheat? Is there a mic - magic black box combo that can provide the crystal clear, open sound I heard in all of the recordings I did in that studio?

    Are there any other mics worth trying? Or do I already have one of the best mics for my voice type in the U87 and need to put my money into a room?
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    If you've got the coin, then get a Groove Tubes ViPre and if you want compression, go to Vintage King and buy a DBX 160VU or a 165A. Use the U87. Enjoy the silky smooth sounds of pure voice made huge by vacuum tube technology, and German precision. The RE20 will kick serious ass with this setup too, as will ANY mic on earth.
  3. griz

    griz Active Member

    You mean this one?


    I have a Presonus BlueTube that I use with acceptable effect, but it cost chicken feed next to that baby!
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yep. The bluetube is a toy next to the GT ViPre. You own one of the best mics in history and if your pipes are worthy then you should have the signal chain that will not only last you the rest of your career, but give you that golden sound you have already experienced. The U87 likes that pre in particular. Not that it doesnt work with a multitude of others. Since you only need one channel, make it a GREAT one.

    BTW, you can find them used on occasion. Generally, folks that buy this unit do not sell it as it does everything its listed as.

    I would also like to add a Millennia STT-1 to the suggestion box. You can get one of these for about the coin of the ViPre alone and this unit has everything. EQ, two types of compression, two types of preamp...tube and solid state. A real nice machine.
  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    That "birdcage mic" was probably an M99, which Beyer still makes ( it's a dynamic). I have had one for the last couple of years and it works well with my baritone voice. So does a U87, and RE20, and an AT4047.
    Dave mentioned the Millennia Origin. After having the experience of doing a VO with one of those last year, I dream about that puppy! It made my 4047 creamy smoooooooth. Definitely worth a listen, not to mention an arm and a leg !
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I don't know about you but I think that if you get another U87, you'll want to pair it with an API microphone preamp. It's not that? Get one of those Neve 1272 microphone preamps. You can't afford a U87 again? Get a Shure SM58. Put an extra foam pop filter on it and either of the 2 above-mentioned preamps. Then you'll have the sound you want. Believe it. I wouldn't screw with any stinkin' tube preamp. It won't have the presence. It'll just muddy you up. You need to load a microphone into a good transformer connected to a good old-fashioned discrete transistor preamp. OK, you might also want to throw an in a UREI/UA 1176 for the full Monty. That's what I do. That's what I have. That's the reason for it.

    Announcers R US
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    While I totally respect Remy for all she knows without a doubt, There isnt ANY mud associated with a ViPre. Its not that kind of tube preamp.

    Its simply gigantic sounding.
  8. griz

    griz Active Member

    I expected everyone to tell me to build an open room to get that crystalline, open sound. I actually have an outbuilding to remodel this summer and was giving consideration to making it my office/studio. It's 20x24 with an open ceiling.

    I am really surprised by the suggestions of tubed pres, EQ, and compression; in terms of equipment, I was expecting something like, "use the mic dry and plug it into this "exciter" box" ... or something like that. :lol:

    I'm pretty certain that a better pre won't provide the quantum leap forward in sound I want from my U87. I have always used the BlueTube on other mics and never tried it on my U87, but I know the sound shaping I get from the BlueTube doesn't strike me as either crystalline or open.

    Hmmmmm...lots of money to spend. :roll:

    >>>"That "birdcage mic" was probably an M99, which Beyer still makes ( it's a dynamic). "

    I am certain that particular mic was a ribbon; it looked nothing like the microphone you referred to:


    It looked much more like this Western Electric. Cardioid Directional Microphone 639A found here:


    ...but that's not the mic. :shock:

    Oh...I'll have to try your suggestion, Remy. I have a bunch of SM58s and have always considered them the best, extra microphone to have in your bag when the other ones break.
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    An 87 through a better pre will ALWAYS give better results.

    I own an older 87 and it LOVES the great preamps.

    So for spoken word when you're really working the mic in an intimate way, theres this tremendous proximity effect on the 87 which is a lot of its charm as one of the premier VoiceOver mics. You want a mic pre that doesnt try to hide when the input from the mic gets serious. something that can accentuate the presence at that time.

    A better mic pre will do just that.

    Theres a bunch of em. I only suggested the ViPre because I've used one and it is amazing.

    For your use, you'd probably be better off with a channel strip that has all the EQ, compression and goodies you could want.

    The ViPre has something none of the others has and thats an adjustable slew rate as well as the variable impedance. You should hear a plain old SM58 through one of these things.

    Yeah, its a lot of cash....wish I owned one.

    My thinking was when you got that golden sound you were plugged into some serious high-end gear.
  10. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I have the BlueTube, but I've always thought it made a rather bad vocal preamp. I used it as a live preamp/direct box for my Nord Electro keyboard, and I use the settings to add a bit of dirt and grit to the Leslie simulation. I think of the tube stage more as a "stompbox" effect than a legitimate clean gain stage. Maybe I've never given it a real chance as a vocal pre, but it's just never worked for me in that application.

    Seems to me in your situation you could go with a lunchbox system. Go for single channel compression, eq, and preamp. That's more in line with Remy's view than Dave's. If you don't mind "wasting" money on an extra channel, if you were in my studio I'd plug your 87 into this. You could do worse.
  11. griz

    griz Active Member

    I really depend on a dry mic most of the time. A good, clear, clean pre is one thing, but adding EQ or compression is another.

    In a big dawg studio with ENGs listening and tweaking it can certainly work, but for self-recording I'm afraid I'm not that skilled.

    Isn't that why you buy a U87 in the first place...to get a great base recording without tweaking?

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