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improve vocal recordings

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by StevenColbert, Jun 30, 2007.

  1. StevenColbert

    StevenColbert Member

    What piece of gear made the biggest difference for you on your vocal recordings?

    I have about $2500 I can throw down on something to improve my vocal recordings..... but I'm not sure what to get. :?
  2. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    What mics do you have?
  3. StevenColbert

    StevenColbert Member

    Well, I have about 15 mic's maybe.

    Most of them being just the basic mic's. Nothing cheap though.

    Just your typical SM57, SM58, Audix D series. I have Studio Projects C4, and 3 or 4 other condensor mic's.

    I plan to get a U87 in the future. But I was looking to dump some money on a vocal pre, because the last few acts I have recorded... The vocals were not as lush as they should be.

    My API 3124 is just too fast and quick for vocals, for "my" taste. And my Great River is SWEET as all, but it's not the best vocal pre "ever made".

    I want to improve my vocal chain with a preamp first, then get "whatever" mic to compliment it in a few months, when I got some serious cash to throw down on it.
  4. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    The mic would be the first thing I would change. I recently got 2 Earthworks QTC50's, and I can not believe the difference. Upgrade your mic first, if you want dramatic improvements.
  5. StevenColbert

    StevenColbert Member


    FWIW-alot of my recordings are in small clubs. What's mic's are gonna be worth the money?

    I enjoy rock and metal music. And $2500 is what I am working with now.
  6. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Above Average:
    -Soundelux 251
    -brauner VM1
    -Earthworks QTC Series
    -AKG C12 (Best for Female vocals)
    -Neumann U87
    -Neumann TLM 103 (Not bad at all for the price)
    -Schoeps CCM Series
    -AKG 414414 B-ULS

    Not Bad:
    -ADK Hamburg Edition
    (I have heard one that was nice on a male voice)
    -Blue-baby bottle
    -Shure KSM44/SL
    -Apex 460 if you spend a bit to upgrade the capsule, transformer and tube.
  7. StevenColbert

    StevenColbert Member

    I am guessing from that list that a Neumann U87 would be my pick.

    But will it sound "just as good" going through my API or Great River pre's? Instead of a Vipre?

    I also do some live recordings. Just small clubs. But I wasn't sure if a U87 would be good for live use or not? :?
  8. kevinwhitect

    kevinwhitect Active Member

    With a willingness to drop that kind of scratch, any local music store worth its salt should allow you to audition various mics.

    Attempting to make a decision based on the written word is ... well, pointless. Mics, mic pres, and the sound source intended all have a unique relationship between each other that cannot be conveyed via a bbs.

    It has to be heard ... live. It's THE ONLY way to know what works and what doesn't.

    The music store ... if it's a larger style store, which most are these days to compete, should have a recording setup on hand.

    Call ahead, let them know what you want to do, and then book a time block to audition. Plan on a hour or so.

    If they don't have what you have in stock, bring some of your favorite mics, and your own mic pres.

    Play your mics through the various mic pres that they may have in stock. Try various styles of mic pres to check the tone of the pre.

    Take store mics and play them through your pres.

    Take store mics and play them through store pres.

    Record everything -- noting what mic and what pre are being tested ... prior to singing through the combination as your test.

    Ask the store rep to burn your session onto a dvd or multiple CDs (bring your own media ... but they should be able to do so).

    Then take the recording home and listen repeatedly to it.

    Eventually, one of the combinations will start to stand out as the best pairings for your specific sound source.

    THAT'S the one to buy.

    Trying to solve this via a bbs ... well, it's a shot in the dark, and you'll likely wind up with something less than perfect that you'll only have to sell later for less than you paid for it.

    Good luck!


  9. StevenColbert

    StevenColbert Member

    After surfing the net for about a week now.

    I still do not know "what" piece of gear will bring the most improvment to my vocal tracks. :?

    Some guys say a Neve 1272
    Some guys say a Urei 1176
    Others say a LA-2A
    I'm thinking maybe a Sebatron, or a Millennia STT-1, or a Manley Voxbox, or a GT Vipre, or a .......or a.........or a...........

    Sheeeeeesh :?

    Maybe all I need is a U87 after all. :lol:
  10. Crankitup

    Crankitup Guest

    you already have some great pre's, time for a nice mic
  11. VonRocK

    VonRocK Active Member

    I'm naive to your plight. However, Kev seems to have your solution. Trust your own ears. I will be doing exactly what he suggested some time soon.
  12. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Blue microphones makes a GREAT mono preamp called the Robbie for about $990. It is the quietest tube pre amp I have ever heard and it has no character whatsoever. What you put into it it comes out amplified. It is a very good vocal mic preamp and we use ours every week for a syndicated radio show. My current favorite microphone is a BLUE BIRD from, Blue microphones CCLI and it makes our female announcer sound GREAT!. I also like the RODE NTK http://www.rodemic.com/?pagename=Products&product=NTK which we have used for other announcer's with excellent results. Since microphones are very personal I would suggest what others have suggested and go to a store and audition some microphones where you can compare them side by side. You may find that the Neumann is not your cup of tea but only YOUR EARS will tell you this. Also make sure you get a good pop filter (I don't like the metal screens but you may) and make sure you listen to the microphone with and without the pop filter as you may want to use the microphone naked when recording some acoustic instrument.

    Best of luck and let us know what you finally decide.
  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Some good advice so far.

    Tom - something interesting - the Robbie is discontinued. If you can find a GC that has one, you can get it for around $350!!!

    Colbert -
    I know you seem a little set on the U87. I would advise against that. While it is a GREAT mic, it's NOT the mic you want if it's your "main" vocal mic. The U87 has a VERY distinct sound. With the right vocalist, it's impossible to beat. With the wrong singer, you'll want to hang yourself with your mic cables. The problem is, IME, it only works with about 30% of the singers in front of it.

    I do also like ribbons, but I rarely find that I dig the sound of a ribbon on studio vocals without some cajoling. And since I don't EVER like to cajole anything other than mic placement and type or mic pre, I can't genuinely recommend them for most vocal applications. (Operatic soprano...PERFECT. Screamo rock, country or just about any other kind of studio vox, nope. If you don't mind screwing with the EQ a lot, you can get a VERY good sound out of a ribbon on vox. Think about a 7-10 dB boost in the upper frequencies depending upon the ribbon.)

    My favorite vocal combo came from the following combination -
    Langevin DVC
    Soundelux U195

    The Soundelux has a full glorious sound without any of the upper end hype associated with most studio LDCs.

    The fat switch on it makes it THE PERFECT kick drum mic.

    In combination with the Langevin (a HUGE sounding pre with a GREAT EQ section) there isn't a vocal on the planet you can't get a great sound on!

    IMHO, I would take that moderately priced combo over any Neve/API/Neumann combo on the planet.

    Of course if you want to spend more money, Soundelux makes a lot more pricey mics, all of which are amazing.

    Good luck!

  14. StevenColbert

    StevenColbert Member

    Now I'm completely confused. :?

    Guess I'll keep reading....
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    No, No.....No need for that. Jeremy has it basically nailed for your budget. A Langevin DVC is ,perhaps, one of the least talked about mic pres in this price range yet is one of the best. The Soundelux is a GREAT mic and is untouchable in its price range. If you want to look used and want an ever so slight upgrade for around the same cash then a Soundelux U95 might be found...But, the point is, this combination of mic and pre , in this case, proves to be one of the best for a huge range of vocals. I will say that my older U87 is a bit better, but only slightly...mostly because of the patterns and the fact that the older ones dont exhibit the high-end boost the newer ones seem to.

    $2500 easily gets you a DVC and a U195 with some change.
  16. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member


    The Robbie is still around CCLI and they have just added a shelf adapter for it. Not sure where you are getting your informaiton from....
  17. ericzang

    ericzang Active Member

    I figure eqing a ribbon is often a given, and it usually works out quite well. I'm happy with my R84 on vocals.
  18. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I received the information from two different authorized dealers of Blue gear including Guitar Center right before I bought 2 of them for $650 (for the pair).
  19. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Agreed -

    The R84 is a great choice. Lesser ribbons need not apply though.

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