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Problems with dull, muffled vocals

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by solis88, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. solis88

    solis88 Active Member

    Hello all. I've recently purchased a Tascam DP-008 to records a few songs and I purchased a Shure SM58 mic along with it. I transferred my vocal track onto my computer and loaded it onto Audacity and it sounded really bad as in lifeless, dull, and dampened. Using the reverb effect on my DP-008 it sounded much more decent however once I heard it on my computer it sounded as if someone put a light pillow over the vocals and it was somewhat muffled. It's kind of difficult to explain but I hope someone knows what I mean.
    Anyway, I was listening to other clips that people uploaded here and their recordings sound bright and full of life and very clear. My vocal track sounds unclear and almost muddy in sound that not even the DXReverb Light plugin in Audacity helped.
    Am I doing something wrong with my mic? Is it the wrong mic? Should I use a condenser instead?
    I have never done anything more frustrating than trying to figure out how to record music. In person in a room I sound much better than I did on this track so I know there's something wrong somewhere in the trail of equipment I'm using.
    I've recorded myself on a Tascam DR-1 which is a smaller handheld recorder and it sounds 100 x's waaaay better than what I did using an SM58 with the tascam DP-008.
    If anyone has any tips on how to record the vocals and/or any effects I can add to the track to bring it to life I would really appreciate it. I'm at the end of my rope here. Thanks!
  2. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Perhaps you could post a snippet of the recording so we can hear what you're talking about?
  3. solis88

    solis88 Active Member

    hey vttom how can I post a clip? I actually have 2 clips. One I made with a tascam DR-1 which came out decently better than the one I made with the sm58 and dp-008. They're both quite short so webspace won't be a problem. I can only attach picture files here unless I'm missing something. Thanks!
  4. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    You'll have to find you own hosting. Most ISPs provide web space for their users. You could start looking there. There's also Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace, MobileMe. They all provide means for sharing files.
  5. solis88

    solis88 Active Member

    OK I uploaded online here are 2 clips: The first one is the one I made on the tascam dr-1 with only reverb. However, it's not the reverb that's making most of the change. There's a muffled and lifeless sound on the 2nd clip I recorded with the sm58.

    1st recording I'm happier with"

    2nd recording I'm not at all happy with:

    Oh and I'd like to add that I recorded the first clip in my bedroom and the 2nd in a smaller closet. Could that be what's making the sm58 record in a muffled way? I'm looking for a clear, crisp, recording pre-reverb. Here is an example I found online of a vocal without reverb but sounds crisp and clear.


    It's louder and more "in your face" as in more powerful and closer to the listener WITHOUT any distortion at all. I'm looking for a sound like that so that later I can add eq and effects to as needed.
  6. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    How close to the SM58 were you?
  7. solis88

    solis88 Active Member

    Boulder, I was about 6-8 inches away from the mic and it was pointed towards my nose purposely directing it away from my mouth. Also, I was recording the 1st muddy clip in the closet. The 2nd one that I liked better was out in the bedroom and it was on the condenser mic that's built into the DR-1.
    I've been reading that a homemade portable vocal booth where I place the mic in a cube lined with acoustic foam also helps.
    I'm hoping those with much better ears and more experience could help me out since I have none. Thanks very much!
  8. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Are you sure you got "1st" and "2nd" right? They sound the other way 'round. The first recording sounds like a condenser in a bigger room and the second sounds like a 58 in a little booth.

    You could try moving a little farther from the mic, but that will just reduce what little proximity effect (low and low-mid boost from being close) is there at that distance. Aim it directly at your mouth and use a pop filter. It probably still won't get what I think you want, which is the sound of a good condenser. The SM58 is the default choice for many rock singers for live performance, but not particularly great for your style.

    You live in Los Angeles so there are hundreds of little studios within walking distance of you and probably one or two big time studios just a few short hours up the 5 or out the 10. Surely you can find someone who will demo a bunch of mics. Paying a project studio or two $50 to let you try all their mics will give you a ton of invaluable information. Just for kicks see of you can include one of the cheap measurement mics in the test.
  9. solis88

    solis88 Active Member

    Hey Boulder thanks for your input! I see your familiar with the la area. I'll go online and search for small studios around here see what they have.

    Actually, you're right I mixed it up. The 1st one was recorded with the condensers that came with the dr-1 and the 2nd was on the dp-008 with the sm58. I never thought there was a problem with the sm58 but now that I think of it a condenser does sound much better. I do play Mariachi style and what I'm looking for is something like this:

    YouTube - Javier Solis - Recuerdos de ipacarai

    That was recorded in analog and I think that has a lot to do with the way that recording sounds.

    Any specific mic or range of mics you can recommend for my voice type and style?

    BTW, nice website you have going on there.
  10. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure if I have the adjectives correct, but that was fluido y suave.

    The right condenser might do the trick, but I suspect that El Rey del Bolero Ranchero may have done that on a ribbon mic. You just have to try a bunch of mics to find the right fit.

    Thanks. Made it myself.
  11. solis88

    solis88 Active Member

    Haha! Fluido y suave is perfectly right. Yea he probably used a ribbon probably an RCA. I was thinking of getting a ribbon but not until I try a few since a decent one not made in China will run into the high 100's at least.

    As a matter of fact, I actually purchased a mic after trying a few out. I bought an MXL V69 Mogami edition. Honestly that thing really reproduces a sound I want. It gives such a vintage warm sound which is as close as I was able to get to the Javier Solis youtube recording. The Mogami cabling makes it's extremely low noise. Nothing at all like the hissing I had with the SM58. It felt I was using a pissed off cobra as a mic. I'm thinking of upgrading the diaphragm/tube at octavamod but I'll keep it stock for now to see how well it fares. So far really good! Big difference and the vocals are crisp and clear. Thx for the advice, Boulder.

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