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Could you rate my signal path?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by mannyr, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    I have one very simple question, would this signal path, if produced competently, yield vocals that to the untrained ear would effectively assimilate to vocal tracks heard in Top 40 music? Here's the signal path:

    (Wall-foam'd closet) > Neumann TLM 102 > BLUE Robbie Preamp > M-Audio Profire 610 A/D Converter > Macbook Pro

    Thank you very much!
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    There's a lot more to it than that. Having good vocal tone and skills is the #1 prerequisite, and there's often a ton of processing downstream. Also, get out of the closet and into a proper room.
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    There are no rules in music, especially Top 40. But there is compromising that we do all the time. Some go relatively unnoticed and others yield terrible results. We do what we we do. Anything goes and anything can be used as an effect. After all, its a creative world.

    VocalBooth makes amazing " vocal booths" . They come in all sizes from a 4x4 closet up to very elaborate sound booths. As one example, Lady Gaga takes a 4x6 portable vocal booth ( the size of a closet) on tour and her vocals sound excellent.
    Lady Gaga Uses VocalBooth

    You can create space with processors. The best I know of is the Bricasti. A vocal booth and a Bricasti make a really great package. So, yes, you can record in a treated closet but it most likely will not sound like a VocalBooth.

    Your gear chain will work but its by no means ideal.

    As Bouldersound said, There is alot more to it than that.
  4. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    Okay so assuming I have a keen skill of singing efficiently for recording, and the producing mixing etc was done flawlessly, would it to the untrained ear sound no different than top 40 vocals or at least sound professional? I know it's a fantasy land question but I'm trying to isolate it to the gear I have, because that's all I can actually prove to you guys
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    you are asking a hypothetical question and also something that was just answered. Start reading the forums on recording. You have a long ways to go.
  6. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    Please spare me the attitude, as well as the judgments, I'm no novice I just wanted opinions. Just because I mention top 40 vocals doesnt mean I'm some 17 year old bimbo with daddy's credit card who wants to be FAMOUS
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    How old did you say you were? Nothing wrong with Top 40. I love Top 40. I've been working with it for years. not sure what you are you talking about?

    My apologizes, if you know so much, you are not a novice, why are you asking such a stupid (ridiculous) question then? If you've taken my suggestions as an insult, I'm sorry. I was simply suggesting you start reading these forums now, there is a wealth of information that will help you. Its all in here. You are welcome. smoke

    Others may chime in here and have more to offer, stick around, we're happy to help if or when we can. The Neumann TLM 102 is a nice mic, I'd love to have a few, especially for nylon.



  8. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    I guess I was just asking for a confirmation review of my gear chain, I figure Neumann Tlm 102 is the low end of the high end (the very high end, the mics a Neumann after all), the blue Robbie is an awesome pre, though not top of the line, and I feel my weakest point is my profire.. I'm only using its a/d converters .. Do u think there high quality converters?
  9. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Great pop recordings have been made on lesser/cheaper gear, so there's no deal breaker in your signal path that I can see. But microphones aren't simply arranged on a scale from cheap/bad to expensive/good. They should be selected to suit the voice in question, which at this point is an unknown to us. For some voices an SM57 is the best mic and a U47 sounds like crap.

    Often an audiophile perspective can hamstring a project if it is too rigidly applied. Certainly there are parts of the process where accuracy is the goal, but at other times you need to create a sound rather than preserve it. "Better" isn't always better.
  10. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    what you said kind of shocks me.. that a u67 could sound like crap for some voices.. I mean is this really true? Don't you feel like there are thousands of Top 40 song out there that are produced like crap, but most people don't even notice?
  11. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    by the way how would you review the a/d converters in m-audio pro fire 610? It is a firewire interface that samples at 192khz/24 bit!
  12. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I dont have any experience with that piece of gear, but it has to be better than the 16 and 20 bit digital tape machines of the 90s which were used to make hit records. Converters are important, but I place them after mics and then preamps regarding their effect on the sound. Like I saiid, I don't see any deal breakers. It appears that you are well above the basic minimum requirements. But evaluating based on a gear list or sampling frequency only goes so far.

    Can you get your hands on some other mics and preamps? It's possible you'll find something unexpected to be the holy grail bit of kit for your voice.
  13. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    Sadly no, I mean I've used other pieces of equipment, ... all generally less valuable than what I have now; the Rode NT2, the BLUE Icicle Preamp/USB "stick", the SM58.. so far the best pieces of for my voice are truly the Neumann 102, but I feel like my preamp is too weak for my voice.. so I'm hoping a nice tube pre will give some more humanity to my voice.. as well as a little bit more power.
  14. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    If an opportunity comes up to try out any decent mic or pre take it. If nothing else you'll have more data points, more examples to compare to your current best (for your voice) mic.
  15. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    You should look into a presonus eureka. it has a digital out option. The converters in my personal m-audio 18/14 are pretty average. But the website said that some artist like katy perry or whatever used it to play the backing tracks for her show. I feel like i lose alot of low end in a home studio a/b when i recorded a nancy griffith cassette (to pt m-powered) through that interface, then hooked my mackie hr's directly to the 4 track to hear the difference. Not a deal breaker for my personal needs, and since the profire and 18/14 came out around the same time in similar price ranges, i'd doubt much of a difference in conversion accuracy.
    Professionally, i track through a mackie d8b (about 10yrs old) w/ appogee converter option. To me it sounds clear and clean, if not clinical and dated.
    As far as mics/pres go, I've used a Neumannn 87ai on acoustic guitar/room more often than vocals. It's what mic compliments the singer. A nasaly singer doesn't need a bright mic, i think of the mic as an eq. You want balance, if a singer is top endy, use a mic that's a bit dull. Regardless of options like a c12 87 414, manley tube pre/ 1176 (silver face), often enough a dynamic sennheisser (441) thru one of our eureka's makes the final cut. It doesn't matter about the nostalgia, or what worked for frank sinatra. I'm not gushing about my (lucky to have available) gear, i'm saying to match the chain to the voice, cuz our 'high end' stuff gets rejected a fair amount of time.
    Tubes will not offer a more 'powerful' vocal delivery, the singer will. they may make the singer muddy. Your weak point seems like your converters, because they paint the picture of what your performing/hearing. So very accurate converters, will help you determine what mic/pre is ideal.
    And to spew more beat to death concepts, that i've experienced to be true, it's the performance. I've recorded a hardcore screamer through a tascam portastudio pre/eq, into a 16 bit soundblaster usb soundcard, and that demo got them gigs in Europe. it wasn't my technical proficiency that got that, it was the amount of heart that singer/band put into it. the sound fit the rest of the band.
    You referenced top 40, i suggest that you find top 40 singers w/ similar characteristics as you, and see what they used.
    I'll put a 57 in front of any amp and be ok, but vocals are just too unique to have a 'standard'. You should post a link of one of your songs so we can get an idea of where your coming from. As far as 'rating' your chain, seems pretty mid-range all the way thru, which may or may not be just fine. Just test stuff until you find what is 'best' for you, bring a couple friends when your doing it. Expensive maybe the ticket, or maybe not.
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    (HehHeh) Theres thousands of songs that sound great that were probably recorded with an Sm57/58. Of course they were also recorded through API/Neve/Helios/Trident etc etc consoles in great rooms with excellent singers.. AND they had great producers making sure of the arrangements and all the instrumental support was exacting and spot on. THESE things make a great recording. This is what everyone so far is trying to say.

    Do you want an assessment of your chain? Its more than adequate. In the right hands with the right production values, with the right song and the right arrangements, with a singer who truly believes in what they're singing with great pitch and tone, there would no discernible lack of quality to it.

    As to the other part of this statement. Theres incredibly bad productions out of million-dollar rooms that no one cares whether it sounds like crap or not that sell a bazillion (sorry Eric.....) records. So go figure. This isnt just isolated to Top40 either.

    An example would be the Nashvillage Music Machine. When something comes out thats a little different and is found to be a hit against everyone elses opinion, they jump on it and every frikkin release for two years after the fact sound the same.

    Formula is for children and baby goats.
  17. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Wow, you may be an adult, you may have some experience? But the fact remains, I have original issue Neumann U-67's/87's/KM 86's/KM 56's and a lot of those can and do sound like crap on vocalists where a SM58 outperforms anything else. Sometimes they sound better on my API's sometimes better on my Neve's. Either way, I get that vintage quality sound whether they are in a vocal booth, bedroom, living room, basement, garage or, on the toilet, without any kind of acoustical crap on the walls. Do you think it was always the 21st century in the 1970s? I'm sorry that's probably before your parents screwed each other up to get you? Hey, I even had a Western electric 23 C, all tube radio station console from the early 1940s and a all tube Presto 800 recorder which sounded as rock 'n roll as Elvis. But it didn't sound rock 'n roll like Chicago, the Doobie's, Grand Funk Railroad, Billy Joel which is the equipment I still used today from the 1970s. So maybe you like that classic rock sound of the 1980s instead? So maybe you dig on that VCA fader based & automated IC chip consoles like Bob Clearmountain's SSL 4000 E, sounds like? Please define your approximate artistic and emotional age? Then we can better tell you what finger we can tell you to spin upon. Are you also speaking in terms of top 40 musically or the way top 40 radio sounded like in your Chevy Impala?

    Did you also like the sound of lacquer or direct metal mastering?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  18. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    Thanks for all the feedback, most of you wanted more details about my background/voice/music so to sum it up I'm 19 and as far as the genre of music I'd consider myself exporting here.. It's hard to label it but I'd say its like a "pop fusion", in that it's structured in a very pop form but I constantly include fusions of anything, rock, synth pop, funk, blues, r&b, etc.. And when I say pop I don't mean garbage Katy Perry or Justin Bieber, I mean Lady Gaga, I mean Michael Jackson, I mean Madonna, especially that new wave vibe from the 80s, but I always try to incorporate that uninhibited musical expression and intricacy of artists like Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, The Stones, Pink Floyd.. you get the picture. As for my voice.. it's very loud (don't take that negatively) at times very projective and powerful soulful but for many songs I change my voice stylistically to suit the sound of the song.. for instance I can sound smooth and mellow with less energy and power.. or on another track it's very dark and industrial pop so my voice is low and a bit raspy..

    Hope I've helped..
  19. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    It sounds like your voice begs for a SM58? For the preamp, you might want something a little more quality oriented with a transformer coupled input & pad switch. That along with a relatively decent compressor/limiter like a DBX 160 series. Then again, if you want that crispier quality with an extra edginess, and inexpensive small diaphragm condenser microphone might be in order? And the same transformer less microphone preamp found in most USB/FireWire computer audio interfaces and some software compression and/or limiting available in all software packages. Specialized plug-in compressor/limiter's can cost as much as hardware units of decent quality, cost. Again this is all based upon your budget. You are providing highly rated stars and their sound. And none of that came from the cheap stuff. Those were derived from vintage tube condenser microphones with $500-$1500 microphone preamps and $1500-$4500 compressor/limiter's. Not to mention any ambient room microphones nor effects from hardware and/or software. So it's more like the $25,000 question as opposed to the $250 question on a game show.

    The clock is ticking... tick tock... tick tock... ach! Times up... your answer please?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  20. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    So, here are some very rough edits (VERY, my voice sounds bad) and I'm just not satisfied.. it doesn't quite cut through the mix, sounds like I'm singing everything live... it doesn't have that professional "perfect" definition that I'm looking for, obvisouly its an early mix so I know it's not perfect.. but the thing is, does it sound like it has potential to have that definition?

    ALSO I recently acquired some more money as per recording budget.. so if I were to return the mic.. what Neumann mic should I exchange it for given that I can spend a little bit more money? (Around 1000-1300$) ?

    Red Nitelite.mp3
    All On My Own.mp3

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