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SSStupid SSSSSSS's-mic recommendations

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by took-the-red-pill, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Hello all,

    I hope this is in the right spot. It may indeed belong in the microphone forum.

    My songwriting partner, geographically far away, is providing me with vocals for our songs. However, the 's's in the unaltered .wav files she's providing me have insane levels. I have to crank up my de-essing software so high it makes it sound completely un-natural. Also it sounds like there's a very nasty spike going on at about 500Hz.

    Personally I think it's the mic, which is a Tascam TM78. It's so cheap one can't even find a freq chart or specs on the net. Her interface is an M-audio Fast Track Ultra.

    I'll try to post a link to a vocal track, but if it doesn't work, she is in the soprano range. Can someone recommend a reasonably priced mic or two we might rent-with the idea of buying eventually-that might work well on her voice? I have a few ideas but I'll wait for input here. Unfortunately, we can likely only justify up to about $400, but I think there are a few out there in that range.

  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sorry Keith, this is a perfectly lovely sounding vocal track. There is no appreciable or even mentionable sibilant problems here. There is some background noise that can be easily eliminated. While this particular microphone and this particular QuickTime file does not have " gobs of air" in its tonal characteristics. In fact it sounds like a dynamic microphone and if you go with a condenser microphone in your " $400 budget", you're going to like it even less. I find this track 100% usable. I would certainly put a little downward expansion on it and you may want to manually remove any of the low frequency clunks that are sometimes noticeable but that's it buddy. Wanamaker sound a little more alluring? Try a couple DB at 12 kHz. You can use a bell shaped curve like her or simply a shelf. Perhaps a rack? I'm sure that if she looks as good as this track sounds that she doesn't look as sibilant as you think she looks. This track has the sound of a young Rachal Welsh looking person, singing into a Shure SM 7b. Better check your mixing chops instead. Not an insult just a suggestion. Of course you could dig it as an insult because I can't imagine why you're having any problems with this track? What exactly are you looking for? Perhaps you might want her on a ribbon microphone? Like one of those long geometry ribbons, Chinese or otherwise that gives you more of the sound of an old-school RCA 44 BX. Make no mistake, the shorter geometry ribbons and any of the phantom powered ribbons are not going to give you that same old-school ribbon quality. Shorter geometry ribbons while they still sound like ribbons don't quite sound like long geometry ribbons. And those phantom powered ribbons, ho ho ho boy they can be bright sounding. They sound more like condenser microphones and although they are fabulous sounding, they don't sound like a ribbon as much, in the old school sense.

    Try a Cascades Fathead and go for the optional Lundahl transformer. You'll get less sibilant nonsense, much greater warmth, nearly that old time radio sound from the 1940s. Otherwise you're talking about more crispy, more crunchy, more metallic, more sibilant. I don't think you want that. Don't go there. Con=condenser. Girls=look better in ribbons. Just remember that.

    Think passive ribbon although feisty is all right
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member


    Yes, my mixing capabilities are suspect and the problem could entirely be me, but I the alarm bells sounded when I had to max out the de-essing to tame this puppy. I've mixed my own voice, and a handful of other singers over the years, and hardly had it be an issue at all until this vocalist, with this mic.

    I suppose it could be that she sings very quietly, so the relative level of an S is pretty close to the vowels and other consonants when she sings. Just a guess, not an expert here.

    I will tell her you're comparing her to a young Raquel Welch, everything I say after that will just be "blah blah blah."

    Yes, maybe a ribbon is just the ticket. We'll see if we can score a Fathead to test out. Then again, maybe like Mr. Tweedy, "it's all in me 'ead, it's all in me 'ead."

    Cheers, and thank you.
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm with Remy, Keith. But I do here some 8k sss but its doable and/or easy to tweak. (I'm hearing this on a laptop so...) I'm wondering if your system (monitors) and/or song is hot in that area, thus... producing 8k adding to the mass?

    She has a very sweet voice.
  5. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Thanks for the info tree. I'll just suck it up and master the plugins. I'm using headphones, also on my laptop, for the preliminary stuff and then I'll put it on the monitors later. So it's possible my cheapo laptop card is sending out a really hot signal in that range.

    Though it's interesting to hear the difference between my friend's es's and the ones on Cucco's ribbon test. Just a case of 'sibilance rivalry' i guess.

    Here is the $200 Fathead ribbon on a female vocal.(Hope you'll forgive me for adding a link, Jeremy, in the name of science)

    (Dead Link Removed)

    ...and so it goes.
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Laptop cards are not the best to make decisions with but your headphones are more likely the culprit of uneven frequency response. There are very few "flat" response headphones. Most are hyped in the high end on purpose because John Q Public thinks irritatingly boosted high freq's are good. Wrongly. That part isn't that new as epitomized by the smiling graphic equalizer one often found back in the day. With more than 60% of urban dwellers exhibiting hearing attenuation from environment and self inflicted earbuds it is little wonder.
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Many here may have a different experience but I'll chime in.
    For a quality vocal sound (talent, performance and room aside) it is my experience, the better the mic, preamp and converter, the less I need to eq and the better the vocal sounds and sits in the final mix. This comes at a cost but its well worth it.
    Before any goodies, my choice vocal chain is approx a $7000.00 cost. That's one mic, a preamp and a converter.
    Until I went higher end with those three components, I always struggled more with the organic sounds. Poor quality gear, vocals tend to have less air, space and sweetness. Vocals are much harder to mix in busier music and stand out less.
    This doesn't mean you can't get good sounding vocals with whatever you have, its just not as sweet without those three matched and properly set pieces on the high end side. So, your vocals tend to be more muddy and sssy with lower end gear.

    Plug-ins IMO do not make better sounding music. They can ruin sound just by adding them into the bus. I personally cringe every time I use a plug-in so I use them minimal and have only a few which are the standard compression, delay and I'm desperately trying to get reverb out of the plug-in loop.. I use a great DAW (Samplitude/Sequoia) that has the eq built into the software. I don't load in additional third part eq plug-ins. I also don't find I need much eqing anyway. That's me though, others are different and seem to get great results ITB with 100 + plug-ins.
    I recommend not to rely on plug-ins to fix things caused from bad technique and low end gear. Use them precisely and remove any you don't use. Don't have them loaded up waiting for engagement. They are like bad cable to me, erk....
    Moving faders levels after that tracks are recorded is a whole other issue I don't do but that's another topic. I also don't trust meters. Especially close to zero.

    Cucco's mic comparison is very cool but any of those comparisons are not going to be the same for the next guy. You can't go by this when you are buying gear. I never trust mic comparisons and reviews for that matter. Mosts of them are tainted and subjective. There are so many factors that make a vocal sound the way it does.

    Your singer here sounds great. Post your mix with her when you feel ready for the next bout.

    Edit after I saw Johns response... I'm with TheJackAttack . If you are mixing on phones and using the laptop's basic soundcard, you will not get great results no matter what you do from a pro level POV. You are in a different sound bracket that we cannot help you much with.

    Good luck.

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