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Discussion in 'Recording' started by mannyr, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    Okay, I need to know first, if I can get professional vocals out of the following things I have and second, how I go about it generally. I'm having a big vocal problem; everything music wise that I've arranged is perfect and solid; but the vocal quality of the recordings make everything sound so ametuer. Here's my chain:

    Rode NT2 (or SM58) Mic
    Blue Icicle USB Preamp + A/D converter
    Logic Pro 8

    The singer is a female, has a soft but still strong vocal and is very very versatile. I want it to POP i want it to have a lot of presence and not be so tinny like I'm getting it. It sounds weak and thin and I want warmth and presence and CLOSENESS.

    What do I do? I need to milk the best quality I possibly can out of these credentials. Any advice?
  2. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    I think a large part of your problem is the room. Check out the mic shoot out here. A condenser is more sensitive which means you need to keep distance. Because however your room is not treated, there is a lot of reflection getting back to the mic and actually means you need to be further from the mic. Unfortunately this also means that you have less proximity. More, absorption in the room would allow you better proximity and would lessen the reflected sound from the room.

    A good dynamic is better in this case. Listen to the mics in that shoot out. Personally, none of the condensers sounded good to me. The dynamics on the other hand all sounded very passable. More proximity. More bass. More chest tones.

    The Blue Icicle, well, you have to make due with what you have. A decent interface would help. Having control over gain is something that should not be overlooked. Also a pad can help in a lot of ways. Especially when you want to get as close to the mic as possible for the best proximity effect.
  3. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    I agree with you, I forgot to mention I'm recording in a little nook with concrete and flimsy plywood walls and the room mostly has concrete walls (its a basement). So I was thinking I could hang mats and position them in like a 6x8ft cube partition so that the corners of the 2 connecting couches I have in there are included in that partition - would this suffice in muffling the sound?

    My problem with dynamics is that I commonly ask people if they can hear the lyrics in the songs recorded with SM58's and they say "not at all" all the time, EQ'ing doesn't really help much and effects the mix of the vocal.

    I don't get how I have to be "farther away" from the codenser mic - the vox already sound so distant. shouldn't i just move closer to get a proximity effect?

    The Blue Icicle has a gain control - that it's only control actually. haha. And, the mic I have has a pad built into it already (you want me to set it to -20db? and then ... then I turn the gain up as needed on the icicle?) Is it seriously imaparing my sound quality? I know it's cheap but I wouldn't think Blue would make such a crappy device.
  4. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    mannyr "I know it's cheap but I wouldn't think Blue would make such a crappy device."

    It is $49.00. So how good do you think they can make it and market it for FORTYNINE DOLLARS? Production costs must be less than $20.00 for them to make any money with advertising, distribution and dealer profit, puh-lease. It is what it is and that ain't much.

    I can't imagine why people can't hear the lyrics when recorded with a 58. Gain during recording? Mix levels? Stereo placement? She should probably be only three inches from the 58 when recording and this will take most of a poor enviroment out of the recording where as hanging mats from the ceiling will make it sound like a persian rug dealer. Maybe if you really want better results you might consider spending $200.00 on a decent interface.

    I have never used a pad on a vocalist but if the Icicle has that much gain and sounds better that way great, but I would think it will only raise the signal/noise ratio.
  5. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    Look, enough is enough with all my topics going back to the Icicle, it is what it is - I'm on budget and it's already been bought, so my hands are tied and no strongly worded advice is going to turn that around. Am I sorry I bought it? Pretty much. But I'm stuck with it. So stop attacking the damn icicle. Consider it the third wheel that I can't afford to exchange.

    What else can I go about doing now knowing that I can't get an interface unless its dirt cheap?
  6. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Work on identifying which of the potential problems you are having with the SM58. Why do you think you can't hear the vocals because this is a very capable mic.
  7. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    I don't like the SM58. It isn't clear and has little definition to the vocals. These are girl pop vocals - there needs to be air in there no? Plus I always get distortion when the levels get just a little bit louder then normal when I use the SM58 - but when I use the NT2 it never distorts.
  8. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    [Warning: potential innuendo]

    Next time you get a girl in front of it, hold it in your hand and waggle it about while recording it.

    Change position, let her carry on for a line of the song or so, change again, etc.

    Then listen back, and work out what position you like best.

    All you need to do is put it in that place again, and hey presto - you've got yourself what you wanted.
  9. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    Is it seriously just that simple?

    Okay so is this in respect to proximity effect? I can get closeness and more stronger vocals from just her position? Well I also have to soundproof that nook don't I? Where should I tell her to move, or what positions will make what sounds?
  10. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    It depends. You can try throwing blankets and pillows and stuffed bears around the place to see if it absorbs the acoustics, but the general consensus is that too many bedsheets and similar fabric only muddy things up.
    Blocking off 1 side nearest a wall, or 2 sides in a V shape, might work. If you have bookshelves and say, a bedsheet, you could try something like this... (unless anyone thinks this is a bad idea?)

    Working on the mic position, you might get lucky. Too near corners, near walls, and at places which are in line with the midpoint of a wall seem to be bad news. Other places might work better. Proximity effect can be a good and bad thing - on some female vocals I think it's a bad thing. Depends on their voice.

    Being nearer to the mic will minimise the acoustics too. Being a few more inches off it, or being at an angle, might help.

    Remember, none of us have ever stood in your basement, so we can't give you the exact location to stand in.
  11. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    The boiling question I need to ask, given my chain of devices.. do you think anything I record is going to end up amateur (to a music consumer)? I want it to be clean, close, strong and clear.

    Even though... the pop music consumers generally have bad ears and can't tell whether I did a shitty or beautiful job with vocals unless its completely apparent. Have you ever heard "You're A Jerk" by New Boyz? I'm convinced they used a built-in laptop microphone for that song!
  12. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    yo dude, you keep saying you want pro results. and everyone's told you the weakest link is the icicle. but you also throw a fit when anyone warns you about the icicle.

    we have your problem solved, you just need a better A-to-D converter.

    so that's your answer.
  13. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    He said I want help but the mind like a parachute needs to be open to work. When trying to solve any problem it always best to remove all variables possible. That is the reason for trying to get a good recording from the 58. It removes as much as possible room acoustics, I have made many very good recordings in bad rooms/venues with this mic. If you can't get a decent recording with a 58 there is a little to no hope for for the Rode IMO. You need to figure out what is wrong before you can get it right. Give us a few sound clips of the vocal recordings 15 secs should suffice and not give away your songs content.

    "Even though... the pop music consumers generally have bad ears and can't tell whether I did a shitty or beautiful job with vocals unless its completely apparent." I love your respect for your potential audience.
  14. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Don't know if this link is still valid. This is from the Vocal forum posting that MannyR did a week or so ago.

  15. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    This is what I asked "Gain during recording? Mix levels? Stereo placement?" as to potential problems and I totally agree with Hueseph's comments regarding the mp3 in the above link. The bed tracks are overpowering the vocals, which if you want a pop recording should be the focal point, entirely overcompressed as a whole. The vocals are too far back to get a real idea as their clarity but certainly not bad. I think this could be corrected by remixing and stereo placement of the instrumentation in regards to the vocals.
  16. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    jg, for some reason the icicle just doesn't work well at all with dynamic microphones. I don't know why - it distorts easily, it doesn't come out clear.

    I think with room acoustic proofing and expirementing with position I could get a better vocal.

    And well - I'm not the artist, I don't need to have respect for my target audience, I just need to know them in and out, like a book. I leave it for the artist to show her love for her audience.
  17. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    mannyr"jg, for some reason the icicle just doesn't work well at all with dynamic microphones. I don't know why - it distorts easily, it doesn't come out clear."
    Is it overdriving? I know the icicle does not have a clipping light but what is the signal like in the daw? Also did you get this type of software with the device?
    "The Icicle is unique among these devices for offering a digital gain control within its driver software. Under OS X, in the Sound preference pane, the input level of the device can be adjusted. This feature can be used in conjunction with the analog gain knob on the Icicle to produce an appropriate signal level without overdriving any of the components in the signal path." Mattthew Mcglynn/recordinghacks.com ezine article.

    Because maybe the problem is that the mic is distorting in the Icicle itself.
  18. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I have no clue if this might help but it is inexpensive enough to try.
  19. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I must have been telling him that over a span of four threads over the past six months or so. It's not important to him so that's that. He wanted a new mic instead of better preamps and converters so that's what he got.

    Manny, you probably shouldn't be recording in a 'nook', you have already been told that recording in a closet was bad practice and shoving her in a corner isn't much better. You want some 'air' in the recording? Put some 'air' around the mic.
  20. mannyr

    mannyr Active Member

    It's just that - I'm working in a basement, that mainly has cement walls, it's got a large carpet and 2 couches but thats all sound absorbing material as of now. However I have like 100 of these cardboard egg cartons that I'm going to tape to the wall and maybe hang up some thick tablecloths. I think the main problem is the fact that in every vox mix I can hear the room. The mic may be harsh around the high-mid frequencies, but I can EQ that out; maybe use a saturation plugin? I think I'll be fine then... or am I wrong?

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