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Female Vocal Mic, Pt 2

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by JoeH, May 21, 2005.

  1. JoeH

    JoeH Distinguished Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    I'm sure everyone's busy this time of year, but it's been rather dull lately reading the same two or three threads with little news to add... So, here's yet another topic about female vocal mic choices.

    I've got a project coming up in June that I've been doing a lot of advance research for, including mic choices, placement, etc. I've just found out there will be a world-class soprano joining the ensemble for roughly 2/3 of the music, and I'm thrilled. I'm also a bit apprehensive now that she's onboard (I'll fill everyone in on it when it's done) and I want to make sure I've covered all my bases. I'm fairly certain on which mic I'll use (I've recorded her several times before with good success), and since I'm producing as well as engineering, I'll have the leeway to put up a few mics and see which one I like the best. The difference THIS time, is that it's all on ME - no excuses - to get the sound right.

    So just out of curiousity, I thought I'd take an informal poll here and ask what others use as their "Go-to" mic for solo and ensemble vocal recording, in a baroque, classical setting. (Non-audience recording for a week in a closed church, ambient space, etc.) In addition to the soprano, there will be 4-5 instruments, depending on the work: Harpsichord, bass, viola da gamba or cello, 2 violins, recorder/flute, etc. I can also position them just about any way I'd like, and I'll be able to experiment a bit with them during rehearsals as well.

    What's your fav, and why?
  2. tmcconnell

    tmcconnell Guest

    .... no panacea but...

    I had an amazing soprano in here the other day. She had a 4 octave range. Problem was, each area of her range, for physical reasons needed a different mic. to cut a long story short I ended up with 2. An AEA r84 which caught the delicacy of her low range but got rid of a nasty rasp she had when she blew too hard, and a THE KR33 which got air at the right spot and the high mids nicely. My Baby bottle which often is great on FV was smooth until she opened up and then sounded bad. Very strange.

    What saved me was listening to her evaluate her own sound. She was high maintenance, but she was right. The U87 clones had too much mouth (I couldn't pull them back too far bacause of the room), or fizz in the wrong place - all of which she objected to.

    All said and done, I'm still not happy, although she was. When I heard her in the room I started listening to all these little vibrating parts of her body (embarassing), and I wanted to mic her chest, and head and.... the complexity was amazing. I never captured the lovely sound I was hearing.

    I put the two mics as close together as I could to keep phase more or less aligned. Sorry I don't have a magic bullet to suggest but I guess my point is you might have to use a combination.
  3. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Well I think I would experiment a bit. Sometimes what you think will work well does not. I just did some recording of a female vocalist that HAD to hold her microphone. I was originally going to use an AKG C-2000 or AT4050 but the hand held bit changed all that so I went with an AKG C-1000 and the soprano was pleased and so was I. Not a microphone that I normally would use but in this case it worked.

    I don't know what your microphone cabinet has in it these days but Schoeps always seem to sound good on voices. Depending on the model the AKGs can sound really good in given situations, The B&Ks also can have a very nice sound on voice. I also like the Rodes, the Earthworks and the A-Ts again depending on the sound you and the Soprano are looking for and the model and vintage of the microphone.

    As pointed out in the previous post maybe a combination of microphones (just be very careful of phase problems) but that would not be my first choice since it is hard to not have "problems" Also subtle EQ would be in order and depending on the Soprano's ability to stay in one place while she is singing a good quality compressor. (I don't like compressors on classical gigs but sometimes it is the only way)

    Sometimes placement of the microphone makes all the difference and whether or not you are using some type of wind screen/ pop protector as these can influence the overall sound of the microphone.

    Experimentation would be the ONLY way to judge the sound and I think if you set up three "test" microphones in front of the Soprano you could arrive at one that works in a fairly short amount of time.

    Best of luck on your gig. I too have one coming up shortly so I will be very interested in what you learn.

  4. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    This sounds like a FABULOUS treat! If it landed in my lap I would plan it thusly:

    MAINS- Schoeps M222/MK2H 20 inch spacing-- possibly Jecklin? Another option would be SF12/Millennia or similar "fast" micpre

    HALL- DPA 4003 50mm balls 20 inch spacing aimed up and to the rear 15ftup 20ft back

    VOICE- either Royer SF1 or TLM193 or CMC62

    Spots shouldn't be neccesary with the freedom to re-position

    That's one way-- 999,999 left!

  5. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:
    For vocals, I've been going to my Microtech M930's a lot lately. They seem to like the men a bit more, but they have just enough "bite" for clarity and at the same time that large diaphragm sound I like.

    The favorite vocal mic I've ever used for classical was the DPA large diaphragm high-voltage omni with the tube body on it... The sound was so natural, I just about melted.

    I've had good luck with Schoeps in good rooms (MK41 can be great as you can get some distance, but keep the clarity) as well as the Sennheiser MKH condensers (40s, 80s, 800s...). I also like the Royer 122's quite a bit, but with the rear lobe on the mic, you need to be careful of what is around it. Sometimes when recording ensembles like this I like to have the "solo" seperated from the ensemble and placed in front facing the group. I find it gives me good control on exactly how the solo should sound in the mix and it allows the group to hear the soloist well. Remember, in a session, it doesn't have to look good- just sound good.

    I also always put a pair of the B&K's up way far back spaced widely as ambience/room mics. I do "zones" of micing- a lot of close mics for detail (like every instrument is mic'd) that are kept quite low in the mix. A stereo mic that I use for the main image and "ensemble" sound and then finally the spaced omnis for distant room sound. When planned well, you don't even need digital verb. For the close instrument mics, I usually use my ribbons. You can place a Beyer 160 right over top of the strings and still have a good sound with plenty of gain.

    My $0.02 FWIW...


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