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EQ's - Pre-Amps - Mic's - Compressors ?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by boheme6, May 22, 2004.

  1. boheme6

    boheme6 Guest

    Hey everybody, wanted to introduce myself. I've been lurking around here for a while now and it's time to jump in and get some of your input.

    Warning - my first post is gonna be a long one.

    I've had a home studio for the better part of 15 years now, and used to do quite a bit of work in pro studios - but I've been out of the loop for a few years now, and I'm just starting to get back to home recording. I've been starting to update my studio recently - and my wife is giving me the thumbs up to redo the dreaded "vocal chain". So, while I see this question asked on here about once a week - I'm going to ask again and try to be as specific as possible... no, really... I promise.

    Currently - I'm using an older TL Audio mic preamp and a Klark Teknik DN500 compressor as my 'processing' chain. I record into the DAW either through my O1V (which connects via lightpipe into my computer through an M-Audio Delta 1010AI) or if I want to bypass the 01V, using the Delta's A/D converter.

    My main vocal mic sucks, IMO.. it's an older C3000 - got it when they first came out (one of the first budget LDCs) and while I've recorded good vocals for others with it - it's HORRIBLE on my voice. I can get a better sound for myself with an old, beer-soaked SM58 hands down. I think I've got a bit of a midrangey voice, so that the midrange hype on budget LDCs just accentuates it. Vocals that I record with the C3000 just will not sit in a mix no matter what I do - I don't like my own voice anyway - but through that mic it's like an icepick in the forehead.

    So it's time to upgrade the vocal chain. Now it's just for me - I haven't recorded anyone else here in a few years, and don't plan on starting again.. just me. Mainly - it's for recording vocals and guitars (electric and some acoustic) - I rarely record live drums.
    I have no problems getting good recorded electric guitars with my current equipment, but I've got really good guitars/amps which helps. My primary guitar rigs to be recorded are a Rivera TBR-1SL head through Rivera oversized 2x12 cab - and a '68 Fender Bassman through this same cab. The rig sounds amazing - so it's easy to get a good sound (ungarbage in..) so I'm a lot less worried about that than the garbage coming out of my mouth.

    I'm planning on getting a new primary mic - LDC. Not concerned if it's tube or FET, as long as it sounds good on me. Switchable polar patterns would be nice, but I'd be willing to sacrifice that for a great cardoid. I'm looking at mics in the 'under $1500' range..
    I'm currently looking at:

    Soundelux U195
    Rode K2
    Shure KSM-44

    What else should I be looking at? The local mega-lo-music stores don't like to have people return mics - so it's going to be hard to really try them out (which seems important, eh?). There seems to be a glut of mediocre budget mics - and not much until you get to a U87 and up.

    The other end is the processing chain - which I'm looking in the 'under $2500-ish' range. I'd like to get the whole rig - preamp, EQ, compressor if possible.. either as an all-in-one strip, or as a pre/eq and compressor.
    Currently looking at:

    Avalon VT737-SP
    Trident S40
    Amek Purepath CIB
    Pendulum Audio Quartet (not II)
    API 7600
    Vintech X73i/Empirical Labs Distressor
    Great River MP1NV/EQ1NV
    Universal Audio 6176

    Again - what else should I be looking at? There's a lot more of these to choose from. I'm hoping to borrow a friend's Avalon to see how I like that - but the others, I'll probably not have a chance to really try out.

    Thanks for any feedback, opinions, advice or abuse.
  2. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Mar 31, 2002
    Every mic and every pre on your list is exactly the right thing for someone on this list, but none of them will work for everyone.

    There is a tremendous range of color and features in your list as well.

    There is really no way anyone on this list is going to be able to help you pick the mic or pre you would like best from that list. You sound like you have plenty of experience and a developed enough ear to know what you like which makes guessing for you even harder.

    I have several of the pre's and mics you are suggesting, and I couldn't pick one until I heard you sing and even then I might be surprized if we took the time to experiment.

    Are you in the US? If so there are pro audio suppliers that will let you return a mic and a pre if they are not exactly what you want. Mercenary audio is one of them. I am sure there are others that people on this list can point you to.

  3. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    The AT4033 is a great budget condenser. Alan parsons listed it in an interview as his "current favorite vocal mic". Can be had used for $200-250 . If you have a great mic pre though, that SM58 you have or a Sennheiser MD 421 may be just what the doctor ordered. U87s often sell used on eBay for around $1500.

    Out of the pres you listed I'd go for the following:

    Api 7600
    Vintech X73i/Empirical Labs Distressor
    Universal Audio 6176

    I have the 6176 and love it. The other two are probably a little more versitile and are on my "Must Have" list.
  4. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    I think first you need to determine what it is that you don't like about your voice and the C3000 combo and then what you would like to hear from your voice. And while the C3000 is a low budget mic, it can be pretty well tamed with a slower, softer preamp.

    The API 7600, X73i/EL-8, GR NV & Eq, UA 6176 are all great units/combo's and it would hard to choose just one but it very likely would be either the API or the x73i/EL-8 as I think they offer the best tone, flexability, performance for voice as well as other applications

    As for mic choices based on your comments, you might want to look at in addition to the ones you mentioned: U87ai, AT4060, AT4050, C414-TLII, Dragonfly
  5. boheme6

    boheme6 Guest

    Thanks for the tips so far - I know it's hard to help someone else choose - just not sure how many shots I'll get at demoing some of this gear.

    I'm a little surprised at the lack of support for the 737 - reading back through the archives of this forum (as well as rec.pro.audio, etc) it seems like it's kind of the measuring stick.. or is that just because it was one of the first hi-end 'channel strip' type boxes that was widely available?

    As far as what I don't like about my current vocal results - the best way I can put it is... it just sticks out of a mix no matter what I do. It seems that the midrange hype on that mic (perhaps combined with the TL?) just jumps out too much so it won't ever sit nicely into a mix.

    I have an old song online (from '96 or '97) that I can point anyone to who wants to hear my "vocal stylings" - may give a better idea of the tonality of my voice, etc.. (I'm racking my brains trying to remember what I used for vocals on this track, though).
  6. maintiger

    maintiger Distinguished Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    Home Page:
    please post the link to your song. As for mics, I have a midrange voice myself and just bought a K2. Im extremely pleased with what it does to my voice, either through a Grace, Sytek or Motu preamp. Its a little more robust sound than an U87 for me and its a toss up as to which sound I like best. Formerly the '87 was the clear winner for vocals for me. :D
  7. boheme6

    boheme6 Guest

    I was about to PM it to you, but what the heck... just everyone remember that it's old, so no making fun of me (well - ok, maybe a little).

    I don't claim to be a terribly good vocalist, so...

  8. maintiger

    maintiger Distinguished Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    Home Page:
    Good song, I enjoyed it- your vocal is fine-too- a little too much high end (too bright) and silibance perhaps... hard to tell in the mix through headphones. Since you are set on getting a new mic and preamp I would definitely look into a place where you can try them out- It as been suggested that mercenery will let you do that, so check into it- also sweetwater will work with you, talk to your rep. Guitar Center doesn't want to let you try mics but hey, who knows?

    Since you got the money for the pres, get one of those high end api or neve clones- can't never go wrong with that- as far as mics, soundelux u195 is highly regarded but you might want to check out the K2. Its a darker sounding mic that I think might work good with your voice as it works with mine (and its about $700) sweetwater has them, maybe they will let you try it-
  9. boheme6

    boheme6 Guest

    Thanks for the feedback..
    it sounds like my top 2 choices for mics were a good starting point (U195 and K2) - I've heard nothing but good things about both.

    I like the idea of getting a Neve-A-Like.. though it'd cost me about $1k more than the Avalon, UA, API or Trident if I want to get a new compressor to match (Distressor, most likely). My K-T compressor is fine, but it doesn't add much to the sound.. just kinda there.

    I'm going to bug everyone I know with nice gear to let me demo theirs before bothering Fletcher or someone at Sweetwater. I'll probably be ready to order in a month or so, and will start talking to Fletcher, etc at that time. (the new vocal chain is from a deal I made with my wife, which will take me about another month to complete my end of the deal... I have a cool wife).
  10. boheme6

    boheme6 Guest

    and after racking my brains - I think the vocal on that track was recorded with an old C1000 through a Symetrix 528 into Saw+ (yes, I used to be a SAW user... all the way back to Windows 3.1)

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