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My vocals keep clipping?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Caisson, Mar 17, 2005.

  1. Caisson

    Caisson Guest

    My Vocal chain is a Audio Technica 3035 into a Grace Design 101 into a Yamaha MG10/2 with a Samson C.com16 compressor in the line imput. If I turn my pre-amp down I can't hear my vocals in the headphones when recording. I really not sure how to turn down the incoming volume and still get a strong sound in. Im at the point of either getting a headphone amp or another mixer. Im really not sure what to do. I really just need a good set up for my incoming vocals. if any of you know this equipment or could explain the headphone amp, and also the volume problem/clipping problem that im having.
  2. Nika

    Nika Guest

    The problem can be coming from any number of places. You should have the mic going into the preamp and into the recorder and adjusting the signals of that totally independent of the level coming back through the headphones. Set it so that you're not clipping and have some headroom, but so that it's clearly making the meters work. If you're clipping back it off.

    Now, having done that, feed the resultant signal into your headphone box (Samson?) and plug in your headphones. Adjust the level on the Samson box until the voice is the right level in the phones. If you can't turn it up loud enough to get a good level in the phones then either the Samson is not giving enough juice, in which case a different headphone amp would be appropriate, OR your headphones are high impedence and are very quiet. A different pair of headphones may make the difference for you. See if you can find the specs on the headphones. If the impedence is, say, less than 100ohms then it sounds like you have a weak headphone amp - not adequate. If the impedence is much higher than that then try getting a different pair of phones. Perhaps Sony MDR7506 or Sennheiser HD280?

    Where do you buy your equipment? Your sales rep should have helped you assess all of this.

  3. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Why would anyone take a jewel like a Grace 101 and run it into...? My church uses a Yammie MG for the NURSERY! And the Samson...
    Sorry...ditch the mixer, get a real headphone amp (OZ or,hey, how about that new Grace model?). I have attitude today...I was up all night with a prima donna whose "arranger" kept changing the songs. How do you like the AT mic? Mine are faves...
  4. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Oh My!!!

    Moonbaby, you are absolutely tactless!!!

    I think I'm in love!!!

    Of course I agree.

    The AT mic - I might not mind knowing?
    The Grace - I'd like to know.
    The mixer - I don't need to know.
    The Samson - I don't want to know.
    What comes after the Sampson? A computer? What? I need to know. WHERE are you seeing this "clipping"?

    Still, the "calibration procedure" might be:

    Use the mic. Speak, sing, whatever. Get a good level into the Grace. How is that determined on the Grace? Read the manual.

    Then, feed the Grace's proper level to the compressor. How does one determine feeding the proper level to the compressor? Read the manual.

    Then, feed the proper level from the Samson to the mixer. How does one determine the proper level to the Yamaha? Guess!

    Now, adjust the headphone level to your liking.

    Hows that Moonbaby? I've had no mean clients to provoke me. Matter of fact, I've had no clients for about two weeks. Oh... maybe that's caused my even less than usual level of tact? What do you think..?

    Teddy G.
  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Teddy G...I'm tactless....You're priceless!! I have gotten such a kick
    from some of your posts.
    I really didn't mean to be so rude. Caisson is definitely on the right
    track with getting his "front end" right(I can't help his rear end!).I
    just have to say that taking a Grace and plugging it into the mixer is a bit like putting a Masseratti engine into a Fiat (the French tried that once and called it a Citroen).
    As far as your "dry spell" is concerned, welcome to the club! I have to work 2 jobs so that I can play with mics and knobs at night. Otherwise, Daddy's Visa will never work again! I started doing this 30 years and 2 U87's ago and never looked back.PEACE.
  6. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    My gear adicted friends- you are indeed priceless! I know, our visas will never be the same- not when there is gear to get- My lust gear list is so long I don't think I will ever see the end of it... (or want to anyway)
  7. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I hope that you haven't been run off by my comments. Please take what Teddy G. said as very sage advice and apply it to your situation. Recording chains,especially digital ones, can be very frustrating when it comes to gain structure. Have patience and ye shall prevail!
    Teddy G.: I just noticed that you list Lititz, PA as your base. Is the famous Claire Bros. Sound Co. still operating from there? By the way, check out the post in the live sound forum from a dude who says that he has 2-18" JBL speakers for PA (total!) and wonders why his vocals are "muddy"...!
  8. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    It's the weekend. Waiting for the worker in my family(My wife) to get home so we can go to our kids house for dinner(I did make a cake!).

    Yes. It is impossible to answer some of these questions, so, have a little fun at the posters expense(Many have had a blast at my stupid inquiries...).

    Clair brothers had moved to the next town for some years... Now, they're back! And BIG!!! Huge facility at the north side of town.

    Quick Claire Brothers story... No, TWO, unless the First National Bank of Karen, gets home...

    1. When I first moved to Litiz, about 19 years ago, I went down to the tracks(I'm a railfan) to take some pictures of the local(Very limited) rail "action". Found myself standimg in the middle of the tracks(Not very dangerous here, then or now.), looking at a familiar scene... Very familiar... How could that be? In a short time I learned that I had been standing right next to the Clair Brothers(Then) building... Apparently in the exact spot where someones' album cover/back cover(?) photo had been taken... Don't remember the album now, but...somewhat cool, none the less.

    2. In the days when touring systems were tested prior to the tour(Now they just test them in Hershey, or some other nearby arena, prior to hitting the world(And make money while they do it.), it was not uncommon to hear reports of the biggest stars hanging out here... A guy who did part-time work at a radio station I was programming at the time
    was a high school shop teacher, who moonlighted at CB. He was working on a speaker cabinet one evening and a guy came in, looking things over, said something like "Great job! This will really work well", shook his hand and left. My friend found out later(After a kid in one of his classes showed him a picture) that he had been apparently been chatting with Bruce Springsteen, about part of his upcoming tour-rig...

    3. Bonus story!

    I needed to record a short VO, to correct a narration done in Philadelphia, or something. Studio said maybe I could get it done up there and just ship it down, no hurry. SO, I called Clair Brothers and asked if they had anything to record with. They said, yes, come on over. So I did. From their studio you looked down into the "test area" - very cool...(Of course, being very cool myself, I did my thing, got the tape and I tried not to ask for a "tour', and thank God I didn't drool or anything...much... Anyhow(She's here, must hurry!), the recording gear was all in road cases and I asked why. "Well, one of our clients needed a little studio to do some stuff at home with, so we built this for him, he used it to do some stuff and sent it back." "Who?", says I... Billy Joel... I've got another BJ story, but that will have to wait(No, we never met - but it wasn't his fault...)


    Read the manual.

    Teddy G.
  9. Caisson

    Caisson Guest


    thanx for all the imput......
    what I found was that...I was leaving my mixer aux wide open, and I was using my control room level sorta like a volume control....so even when I would turn it down.....the incoming would still be clipping due to the aux. being wide open. Was I fiqured this out things have been beautiful.....Now Moonbaby? you said get rid of the mixer why exactly would I do that?
  10. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Whatever works, baby! I just saw no reason to run the Grace INTO the mixer if you are tracking with it, but I don't know all the details of your situation, do I? As to the mixer itself, I am very familiar with it. I honestly suspected that the clipping you were hearing was the 'phones amp in it. That mixer (and too many other mixers in its market niche) have no balls in the power supply and the headroom is zip. This doesn't mean it can't sound decent.It just means that there is no room for error. My church uses 2 of those mixers, plus a very nice Yamaha MC console in the sanctuary.I used to road-test live sound gear for Yamaha many years ago (think PM2000 mixers!) and believe that they are, in many cases, the best bang for the buck. But running a high-output Grace preamp into that mixer can be a balancing act.So, once again, to quote Ronnie VanZant (Lynyrd Skynyrd) when I scoffed at his using a Fender Twin Reverb as a floor monitor.."Whatever works, baby!
  11. Operadragon

    Operadragon Guest

    So what kind of mixer do you all suggest for a voice-over project studio?

    I've been working on a MG 10/2 since Christmas, and I've had no problems.

    I would like to upgrade some stuff, which includes buying a Rode K2 this week. Should I simply run the K2 into the DAW, or should I even bother with a mixer?

    Brad Venable
    Voice For Hire, LLC
  12. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    What are you recording to? You will need a decent preamp for that K2. I think the Grace101 is excellent. I have read many good things in this forum about the Sebatron, too. I have had very good results with a Drawmer MX60.It offers a good lot of features, including a very good de-esser and compressor. It also has features that I don't use, like a "tube saturation" stage. The phantom power stage is better than most small mixers offer (no artifacts or wierd noises). You might also look at the Valley Audio Model 401 ("Air Force One") voice processor from Galaxy Audio. They still support all the Valley stuff, too.I have had one of those for almost 10 years.
    Mixer? I have not A/B'd the Yamaha MG series against anything directly, so I don't know how it would do against, say a Mackie. But I have (2) Allen&Heath GL2 rackmounts that blow my Mackies away(features/headroom).These are the pre-cursor to the MixWizard series.Niether of my A&H's have given me an ounce of trouble and they both have been through hell and back.
  13. Operadragon

    Operadragon Guest

    Right now, I'm going out of the Yamaha MG 10/2's Rec. Out into my Creative Audigy4 Pro external box. I record in either Cool Edit Pro 2.1, or Sound Forge 8.0.

    My front-end chain is a FMR RNC, a Behringer Composer Pro-XL, and an Ensoniq DP/Pro (when I want FX).

    So do I really need a major upgrade?

    Brad Venable
    Voice For Hire, LLC
  14. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I think that we are opening a can of worms, here. I have an RNC and I have had some issues with it, but it is certainly a very useable compressor. I made the comment about your mixer based on my experiences at a couple of churches that use them. I stand by that. Ditto with the Behringer. Double-ditto with the Behringer! At least Yamaha has a decent track record in the audio biz, Behringer NEVER has. Unplug it and donate it to.....a church!
    As for mixers, I have read in some of the forums here that the Mackie Onyx is OK, then some folks have had issues with the interfacing via Firewire. RESEARCH this before you proceed.
  15. Operadragon

    Operadragon Guest

    The only thing I use the Composer for is the de-esser and gating. Trust me...That compressor is turned off.

    I have to rely on the meager dollars I get and the gifts I receive. I can't spend an entire paycheck on a single piece of equipment again. I'm doing that already with the new Rode mic.

    I know that I'm no expert here. I'm simply trying to get something that sounds good. Something that will be worth of tracking a demo so I can get VO *jobs*...not volunteer for everything, like fan dub projects and PC game MODs.

    This is what was meant to do, and all I need is some sage advice from people who have been there. All I need is "good enough" right now. When the gigs come, then the upgrades happen, but no sooner.

    Kurt, if you're referring to an earlier post, please link it, so you don't have to retype something, but if not, please e-mail me and let me know why you're banging your head against the wall.

    I just need some help here guys. That's why I started reading these forums.

    Thanks and regards,
    Brad Venable
    Voice For Hire, LLC
  16. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    I do voiceover. Last thing I need is to help someone else, who likely has alot better voice than me, do better... Last guy I(Kindly?) took along to a casting director for on-camera auditions has been in many national commercials since. I have been in... ahh... one? Oh well, I'm stupid... and old. Old and stupid.

    Before we even get to "The List" of neccessaries for VO, there is one needed item for all who record with computer, VO or not(Any damned Dell TV special computer can record/play more tracks than anyone has ever needed in the history of sound, so, the computer itself is no matter at all. Use what you have.) so I'll start with #0.

    0. The sound card. For me, just one brand - Lynx. Are they the best? Well, yes, they are. I will likely upgrade my LynxOne to a LynxTwo "A" model, I think, the one with 4 analog in's/4 analog out's, with converters and options good enough for feature-film work. If you actually need more converters, Lynx(Very soon, they say...) will sell them too. Digital I/O is accomodated. I use the AES/EBU where needed. Technically, I don't need a mixer either, just a headphone amp(Kindly included in ALL the cheapest amplified "computer-type" speakers.), but... I'd have one anyway(The more knobs, switches, lights, etc., you have, the more professional you are.)...

    One more thing before we get started. Who do you do VO, from home, for? 90% of mine is done for people who "monitor" with the 2" speakers that are on either side of a cheap TV. Keep this in mind when you're out there spending your hard-earned on some of this garbage. At least don't let it worry you much if you can't buy all of this fun stuff immediately. It's for YOU, not "them". If they were concerned about your VO, you'd be going to a real studio to do it, with a real engineer on the other side of the glass. Most of the people we work with, for VO, would be happy with two tin cans and a string, if we'd let them get away with it.


    1. For VO, the first thing is the recording space itself. As it's "just" VO, maybe the space can be smaller and cheaper than a studio for a 5 piece band... Still, do as much as possible to make your recording space "DEAD". Add everything else IN THE MIX.

    2. Best possible microphone(Sometimes.). Again, as we can add everything we want IN THE MIX, we don't even WANT a mic that "gives us" anything! No "SOUND OF IT"S OWN"! How a mic can be "worked" is more important than how it sounds, perse... True, a mic that might be great for a screaming car commercial might be completely wrong for a medical narration, but more because of what it picks-up that we don't want(Mouth noises, for instance), than for how un-realistically wonderful it makes our voices sound...

    So? What? Barring the confusing option of having one of every mic ever made and that you've got to start somewhere: My choices(Not the only choices, certainly, just those based on my personal experience) is one dynamic, one condenser. Like an Electrovoice RE-20 and an AKG C414B ULS(There's a "new" designation now, I forget. ). Each might have it's own uses. If only one, as much as I'd not worship it, the RE-20 dynamic would be my "sole" mic of choice.

    2. Best possible preamp. Solid-state. Nothing else. No EQ, no Dee-essing, no compression, etc. ALL of that we can, later, do IN THE MIX. Of course, you COULD use all of those things going in, but, if you get halfway through a project(That someone is SCREAMING FOR!!!) and you think, "Gee, I wish I hadn't compressed that quite so much...", you're stuck. Best to get the VO "DOWN", ON TAPE(Or , into the computer) BARE, RAW, UNADULTERATED, so you can do what you want, un-do it, do it again, etc. Same goes for the "SOUND OF THE ROOM". It might have a "nice" sound... Unless that's not the sound you want for this VO! Then you're stuck. Of course a fine tube mic or pre "might" be great? When you have the coin, buy them, use them when they are great, for the application at hand, period.

    Point? Don't get stuck with "a sound", anywhere in the system, that you cannot change.

    Quick stop: Do you "know" tubes? Do you want to learn tubes? Can you learn tubes today? If you aren't sure of any of these questions - stay away from tubes. Wonderous creatures - mythical even(Mostly?).

    A for instance: If, one day, "your sound" isn't the same as it was yesterday... is it "the tube"? Do you have the best tube? Is the tube working properly? Even if tubes are "the best", I can't know..... I just don't know...... I must leave tubes to the tube people(Of which I am not one - and I lived through the last of the tube era!). I will have tube gear when I don't have to depend on it. Period. My tube pre channel strip, purchased with not enough thought/knowledge, sits there in the rack... looking at me... dark(Turned off.)... Until I have time to play with it(It's been more than a year since it was last on...)...

    3. Run the preamp into the audio recorder directly(No run-arounds, overs or throughs.). Best way today? Mic to pre to A/D to sound card. Some pres have A/D's... none I've seen that I'd buy, so far. Most pre converters are "add-ons". Uh-uh... Not for me. Again, with my Lynx, I don't need an external A/D(Or D/A) at all.

    4. How to hear what you do? A mixer is fine for listening, monitoring, plugging your speakers into(Sometimes.), playing your keyboard/synth through, or running your vinyl turntable through(When you're between VO jobs.). Best possible??? I don't know. Whatever has the jacks you need. I like my old Mackie 1202 vlz. Truth? I'm using the Mackie pre('s, I only need one.), right into the only analog inpout the LynxOne has. I monitor with the Mackie - phones and speakers. I do everything through the Mackie. Sounds fine, damnit. No complaints from the video folks(Except, WHERE IS THE VO, TEDDY!!!???!!!). For a mixer, I'd prefer..? Doesn't matter(Cause it just doesn't matter.).

    With my LynxTwo "A", I'd run the mic to the pre, the pre to the sound card analog #1 in. Out of the card, I plug my amplified speakers right into Lynx analog out pair #1. My mixer into Lynx in pair #2 and out pair #2 - they don't meet or match. I don't care. Except for my headphones! Worst part could be the mixer screwing with my headphone sound? When the bucks are heavy I'll buy a better headphone preamp(Like maybe the Grace? God! What a price!). Then the mixer will truly be relegated to ONLY "other" crap, period... Alright, if you do VO, for a living, get the headphone amp first! The mixer(For "play"), if you want one, later... They even make these little widgets for $99 bucks, that you can go from sound card out to speakers/phones, with volume controls for either/both. Maybe one of those(Probably no worse than the Mackie? I don't know.)? Or the Grace? My VO just isn't that good...(For any of this?)

    5. Speakers/phones. You can't buy the best speakers - nobody can - as no one can agree what those are? Even if they suddenly did, tommorow there would be new "better" models. Don't even play that game. VO is mid-range. Any speaker can "do" mid-range. The teensy speakers in your computer video monitor can "do" mid-range. Get the ones you think would look best in your room and you'll be fine. On the other ear, get high-priced phones - spend $200.00! More? Goal would be to hear how you sound, as best as possible, as you are working the mic, before you "hit" anything else. Brand/model? Who knows? Spend more than the other guy and he won't be able to complain... If nothing else. NOTHING ELSE! YOU CAN afford really fancy phones, so... go ahead... Try your best to hear yourself how you really are, then, do what you want...

    My place(If/when I have the budget):

    Mics: RE-20 - AKG C414 - Plus, any tube mic that costs more than my old pickup truck. There is a "shotgun" mic, by Sennheiser, that I'd get to play with. Some people use them for VO. I'd have to have one, just because...

    Preamps: John Hardy(With the switch to switch in/out the optional Jensen transformer). Pendulum Quartet Tube Channel Strip(Because even I don't believe everything I say..! It Is s-o-c-o-o-l...). When the bucks are flowing, a Doug Fern tube mic pre(With the tube compressor, what the Hell.), will be an extremely haughty addition to my rack.

    Speakers: Emes "Blacks" with their "Amber" "sub" woofer. Again, speakers don't matter for VO(They really don't), so I'd be buying them because they are "point source"(Tweeter right in the middle of the main speaker cone), and I've always wanted to try a good pair of those. I could listen to the Beach Boys on them, I guess? Maybe go out and get a Diana Krall, CD? I don't know who she is, but her recordings are probably digital(To show off my system better than the BB's old analog stuff.) and with a name like "Krall", she has to sound good... For now(Emes Blacks/with Amber being 3000+), I'm upgrading to Yamaha SP5's(Isn't that the right #?), with their "sub"(Which is too big(10") to go with them, but who cares? The Beach Boys won't. Diana Krall? I don't know if she'll care..?), They'll be fine.

    Phones: I have Beyer Dynamic DT-770's. Great? I don't know. Best I could pay for at the time. The ones you buy that cost more than mine will be better for sure...

    Teddy G.
  17. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Nice job, Teddy! I just got a Beyer M160 for my VO work, replacing my workhorse RE-20. I have sworn by the RE for sooooo long as a VO mic, but my voice has changed a bit over the years and I was ready for a change. But I believe that everyone out there putting live sound to tape/HD should have at least one of those. I just took that RE and put it in front of a big band horn section that I record every so often. 1001 uses!
    I would add that, for phones, I have used the Sennheiser HD280s for a while, and for my $100.00 these are great, with little bleed-through. As for a 'phones' amp, I bought a Rane headphone amp at a garage sale for...$10.00!!! It beats anything in a mixer, is louder than my wife on her cell phone to the kids, and Rane stuff is very sturdy stuff. That Grace is kinda $$$$.
    Teddy, you mentioned in another post that you were told to replace the 12ax7 tube in your dbx pre with a Mullard. Have you looked into this at all? Is that socketed or is it soldered into place?
    I have a buddy with a keyboard-based studio and he wants to upgrade his mic pre's on a Tascam DMX24 to a dbx 376..what do you think based on your experiences?
  18. Operadragon

    Operadragon Guest


    Are the Yamaha monitors the MSP5As?

    That is the only model that has SP5 in it at all...

    And guys, if I'm running everything directly into the DAW, then if I'm still using phones to monitor, where should I plug them in, the computer, or rig them up another way?

    (I don't have a headphone amp, and right now, I'm plugged directly into the Audigy4 external box. Is there a better way to do this?)

    Brad Venable
  19. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    You might try taking the stereo line output from the sound card and putting THAT into one of the stereo input channels on the Yamaha, then dialing that up as a headphones amp ONLY. That would get the Yammie out of the "true signal path" and it wouldn't affect the actual recorded audio quality. For what it's worth, the Yamaha's phones output is very sensitive to the impedance of the phones you are using (a common issue with mixers). You would need to consult the owners' manuals for both pieces.
  20. Operadragon

    Operadragon Guest

    Great....the Yamaha manual says the phones' jack has an output impedance of 100 ohms, and the acceptable impedance is 40 ohms.

    And the headphones are rated for 60 ohms.


    Now what?

    Brad Venable

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