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Does the fullness of a vocal track come most from mic,pre,or

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by J-MADD, Apr 18, 2005.

  1. J-MADD

    J-MADD Active Member

    Does the fullness of a vocal track come most from mic, pre, or comp? Here's my problem. I do rock vocals AKG 414 B-uls to ISA 428 to Distressor brit mode engaged in the opto-compressor setting. The vocals are kinda thin and brittle sounding. My guess is the mic. I am trying to find another mic that would fatten up the vocals. Anyways, any thoughts much appreciated.

  2. gomp

    gomp Guest

    In order of importance:
    1. singer
    2. singer
    3. singer
    4. room
    5. mic placement
    6. mic pre
    7. mic
    8. converter (if digital)
    9. compressor
  3. gomp

    gomp Guest

    Damn, forgot the EQ/effects!
    in 7th place I think :-?
  4. Boltino

    Boltino Guest

    That's a pretty impressive signal chain. I'm not sure why you would have an overall thin and brittle sound. I've had good luck with vocals through a 414 - plenty big. Do you record different vocalists?

  5. Boltino

    Boltino Guest

    Just noticed you are from Missouri. Greetings from Columbia. What part of MO are you from?

  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I have a slightly different list...

    5.Working Ambience
    6a. mic-pre
    7.Everything Else

    Working Ambience is of course so overlooked.And underestimated.It can,under the right conditions, push an average track to above average results.As engineers, we sometimes fail to realize the absolute importance of the SONG while we fiddle with the knobs and the gear trying to create that special sound.The sound, no matter how special or good,will never be memorable without first,a great SONG.

    As for your question about the mic.That mic can be brittle on vocals.Brittle is a subjective word so my brittle may not be your brittle might not be their brittle etc etc...I like a good tube mic for rock vocals ...Your chain is fine and I think if you believe that the mic is your weak link,you should investigate from that angle.If you have a budget, I could give you examples...If I knew more about how you like to work the mic,it would make it easier...If you live somewhere where theres a recording services dealer who rents mics, you would do well to go through their closet and see what you like.Its really the only way you'll know and since you have a quality chain to try things through, you should.
  7. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    I've used pretty much the same setup on a project and I know what you mean. I had some thin vocals coming through, nothing horrid, just not 'in-your-face' like I wanted. It turned out to be the room, we were getting to much of it. The singer wanted to sing in the middle of a big room, so we had gone with it, but I convinced him to step into an isobooth, and bam, problem solved, I was even able to lighten up on the compressor significantly after that (had been trying to adjust it that way). I'm sure there were other methods of fixing this, but it was a school project, and time was an issue (I *HATED* being given 2 hour chunks of time once a week)
  8. J-MADD

    J-MADD Active Member

    Thanks for the suggestions all. My budget (by the way I won't be able to buy a new mic till next year, wife said no more for a while!) will be up to around $2500. I have been contemplating a U87, BLue Kiwi or some other higher end mic. My problem is there is nowhere here in Missouri (Lebanon MO) that will allow you to rent mics. I am gonna have to do lots-O-research on this as it will be quite a chunk of money.
    I have yet to record anyone else's vocals, so it may just be that my voice isn't quite right for the signal path. I think there is alot to be said for ambience like Davedog said. It's difficult when recording your own vocals b/c it gets frustrating when you are trying to come up with a good vocal performance and be the person running the equipment.
  9. J-MADD

    J-MADD Active Member

    Sorry forgot to answer Davedog's queston: I like to sing right up on the mic (1-2 inches). I loose power in the track if I back away.

  10. JeffSanders

    JeffSanders Active Member

    Try getting right up into the mic - and sing facing a blanketed wall.
    I use a portable bamboo "changing wall" that I drape a wool blanket over.
    Also try to physically double your vocal. That will thicken it up bigtime.
    Then, use a good compressor for added beef and a little bit of delay to taste.
  11. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    When you do finally have the $$ to pick up a new mic, for that kind of money, take home 4 or 5 on approval and do a shootout. Any retailer that won't let you do this isn't worth doing biz with.
  12. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    If I'm in a room that I can't do a lot with, I place the mic a foot or so from the centre of the room (nothing new in that of course). Then I stand at the wall facing the mic, and repeat something like bap-bap-bap and approach the mic VERY slowly. If you record this and listen back, you might hear a particular moment when the unpleasant colouration from the room disappears. I assume this has something to do with modes or reflections or whatever. I've been astonished by the difference this has made. It takes a lot of experimentation to find a position the mic likes, and where the room sounds good too. I always start with the diaphragm at mouth height, and ignore sibilance. If you're lucky, you'll find a sound like a good rcording with too much high end. Then I change mic height and angle and start the whole thing off again so that there's no sibilance. While this is far from an ideal recording strategy, somewhere in your recordings you should hear some surprisingly good sounds. Remember to make a note of mic position!

    This has helped me out so much in situations where there was no other option available to me. I know some might think this is laughable, but sometimes there aren't any other options. I don't know if this is a common thing to do, but I always try and have an hour or so set aside to position the vocal mic.

    Oh yeah, ambience should be a high priority as Davedog has pointed out.

    John Stafford

    PS I do this without using headphones, and judge the suitability of the position on playback.
  13. MistaG

    MistaG Guest

    I would need to know what converters you are using and what monitors. Both could be responsible for the thin sound.

    Also, do you have any shelving EQ engaged on the 428?

    If you feel good about all of the above, could be the mic. Generally when people mention thin sound, its the mic, EQ or Shelving followed by cheap converters.
  14. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    gomp, you've nailed it alright. That list is about the best I've seen for what's most important in getting the right sound, the "best" sound.

    When you have a singer that's "GOT IT", you'll know it the moment you hear it; everything (everyone) else is just a wanna-be, sorry to say. It happened to me this past weekend; three singers in a band, each going to their own tracks; two were just OK, the third just tore my head off, and all he was using was a Shure SM58, and his track just SMOKES compared to the other two. No effects, no compression yet, no nothing, just this guy's voice making the difference.

    It's always the sound of the talent in FRONT of the mic first, the rest is just details. (And sadly, sometimes those details are simply polishing the proverbial turd....)
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    This is a very important thread so I encourage all to continue with it.There are several elusive points here that I'm sure that most have dealt with at some time and possibly on a continuing basis. Great Job Guys/Gals....

    At that future dollar amount....theres no doubt in my mind you should go for the best you can find...perhaps a broker seeling off a closure sale....as was said,when you spend that kind of change on a single item, most supply houses will get you a demo and return policy.Of course you'll have to part with the coin first....

    At that price I'm talking Brauner....Soundelux....maybe a Korby...The new issue of tapeop has an article by David Bock aka Soundelux on basic condenser mics construction ...

    If you're not selling time then you dont 'need' the Neumann stamp.There's better stuff for less money.

    Theres also a vocalist tips and tricks article in the new Tapeop...very good stuff...

    I have a small studio at my house.I'm very aware of the recomended sizes of a room for optimum sound performance and such..I also have to have a place to house all the wifes shoes...So...I record at home. Its been a process...finding the nodes,killing particular reflections...The tracking area is separate from the control room which was originally a smallish bedroom.Its fairly dead now...at least in some spots...There was a large closet..almost a walkin...big enough for a vocal booth/dead booth/amp room...etc...Its where I have much control of the sound.I have a live wall,a dead wall,a reflective side and an absorptive side.It makes mics behave.The ones with the funny peaks in the highs and upper mids,smooth out well...The mics with the big PE bump now have a more gradual rise to proximity.A person can spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a problem when some times, a simple solution will do it all.If I want a bigger sound...more room, I mic up in the tracking room...if I want it tighter, the control room...if I want voiceover tight,its in to the booth.I have less than a grand in all the materials for these rooms.Now every over a grand mic that sits on a stand in here sounds like its supposed to and I have control.Its what we all want....control.
  16. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    One very simple thing to try is to hang some textiles in a corner. You could use a blanket or perhaps a duvet or whatever you have. The important thing is to get a good "background" of textiles behind the singer in head heigth.

    Now, contrary to what I have seen more than once, point the mic into the corner. And stand between the mic and the textiles and sing. This can help and kill a lot of the room. The cardoid setting is probably the best for this, but test the others as well.

  17. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    I think you should maybe look into getting a good tube mic to go with your solid state pre and compressor. Might be what yer looking for.
  18. J-MADD

    J-MADD Active Member

    Hi all,
    I do put a little high pass filter on the preamp around 80Hz or so. I do this b/c of the proximity effect I get from standing up against the mic. As far as converters, I dont think I deal with that as I run the xlr outs on the 428 into the xlr ins on my Korg 32XD. I turn the built in preamps all the way down and use the gain from the 428 to give me the signal. I monitor with MsP5a's.
    To be honest I don't know what the difference in sound is between tube mics and what I use now. I am very interested in learning more about different mics.
    So Davedog, you think there are better choices for the money than the U87? I am open to any suggestions for rock vocals. Like I said I have some time and I want to do my homework.
    Thanks to everyone for the responses.

  19. jamiey

    jamiey Guest

    What other mics do you have? When I need something a bit more full and smooth, I grab the sm7 - which often works more times then the Neumann especially with rock vocals IME
  20. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    A U87 is a great mic! It works well on everything.It can be the best vocal mic depending on the voice.It can be only so-so..again depending on the voice.Its not a mic you'll want to buy without trial.It is the most popular mic in most commercial studios.It IS a Neumann.

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